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  • posted a message on Urza vs Bolas (It's not what you think)
    Quote from ArixOrdragc »
    The problem is that it seems like they're trying to mimic two different eras of comic book superheroes - both the over-the-top cheesy fun of the Saturday morning cartoon, and the more mature and realistic modern day take. And maybe it's possible to mix those things in a way that works, but Magic just isn't doing it well. It takes itself way too seriously - and expects to be taken too seriously - to properly capture the sheer fun of the Saturday morning cartoon, but it's too silly and generic to be worth taking as seriously as the modern take on superheroes.

    This. I feel like this is especially apparent with some of the dialogue. Too many of the characters talk in this casual Joss Whedon style, where they act like they know they're in an action flick. Not to the point of outright fourth wall breaking, but they'll treat life-threatening situations like an exciting game and reference the story's tropes within the story. I have nothing against gallows humor, and I don't mind some action movie one-liners here and there, but it's really annoying when characters are always making quips that make light of the plot itself and lampshade the cliches that the story relies on.

    The flavor text for Lazotep Behemoth is a perfect example of what I mean. A monster like that should be absolutely terrifying, it's an enormous undead zombie beast, it's definitely not something that a normal soldier should be taking lightly. If the quote was from a character who was meant to be a badass who isn't fazed by anything (as opposed to some random grunt), then I wouldn't have minded a generic action movie quip like "the bigger they are, the harder they fall." But when a character says something like "LOL look how ridiculous this thing is," then at that point, the story is just making fun of itself. Which is fine for a story that's meant to be ridiculous like Deadpool or the 60s Batman show, but it really doesn't work in a story that's otherwise meant to be serious.

    This is a huge part of why I hated the character of Rat so much. Not the only reason, by a long shot, but a big one. She talked in Whedon speak like that all the time, and it was even more grating in the bonus chapters told from her POV, since even her internal monologue was filled with comments that poked fun at the whole situation she was in.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    So I read the War of the Spark "bonus chapters" on the MtG website and I have to say, they're very disappointing.

    I'm not going to complain about the fact that 95% of it covers the same events we already saw in the novel. The bonus chapters were meant for people who wanted to follow the story without buying the book, so it makes sense there'd be a lot of redundancy, it's the only way to make sure the people who didn't read the novel were still getting the same story. If anything, I appreciated the fact that there were a few extra scenes here and there, like Kasmina's appearance or Kaya's meeting with the Orzhov ruling council.

    My real problem was with the decision to have Rat be the point of view character for all of them. I already mentioned that I thought Rat was irritating: she's a one-note character with an overly contrived conflict, her dialogue is so casual that it takes the reader out of the story (I really dislike the trend of using Buffy/Marvel-style dialogue in otherwise serious works), and she's just such a Mary Sue (the fact that this random untrained teenage girl can take out Eternals with ease makes absolutely no sense). Between her annoyingly cutesy comments, her effortless slaying of Eternals, and her concern over relatively unimportant personal drama in the middle of an active warzone, all of her scenes just serve to make the stakes of the conflict seem lower and make Bolas and his army seem like much less of a real threat. In the novel, it was grating enough, but at least she wasn't that prominent outside of the mission to recruit all the guildmasters. But having six short stories entirely focused on her is just unbearable. Her habit of referring to every single character as "Mister" or "Miss" in her internal monologue was particularly obnoxious, along with the fact that she kept calling the Eternals "creepies" as if they were just normal zombies who weren't worth taking seriously.

    Also, leaving aside my many complaints with Rat as a character, I feel like telling the story through a single narrator was just a poor decision for a plot like this. They should've switched between characters so we could see things like the mission to Amonkhet; someone who didn't read the novel and only read the short stories on the website would miss out on so much of the plot. And a lot of the plot points we did see were stripped of all meaning and emotion, like Liliana's betrayal and Gideon's sacrifice; not only were we seeing the moment from the perspective of someone who doesn't know or care about either of them, but we didn't even get to hear any of their dialogue! And this was also a missed opportunity, since there were much more interesting characters we could've gotten perspectives from; for instance, it would've been great to actually find out Dovin's motivations, or what caused Sorin and Nahiri to stop fighting, or how the hell Ashiok was even involved in this event.

    The free "bonus chapters" get a 2 out of 10 rating from me. If I'd read them before reading the novel, I would've been incredibly disappointed with War of the Spark as a whole. I doubt I would've even gotten the book, especially knowing it was written by the same person.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    Why wouldn't they just post the story on the website? :/
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    Where can I read the prequel story?
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Just how powerful is Urza?
    As others have said, Urza wasn't the most powerful oldwalker, he was just the best planner, tactician, and strategist. Given sufficient time and resources, he could find a way to defeat just about anyone. He was also a creative and brilliant mad science wizard who was constantly experimenting and coming up with new spells and new works of magical artifice. But in a straight up fight where he was caught off guard, he would be no match for a truly godlike oldwalker like Bolas.

    Don't get me wrong, he was definitely a high-tier oldwalker. He also had one major advantage over other oldwalkers: He was a totally unique entity by virtue of the fact that his soul/spark was stored in the Mightstone and the Weakstone. He wasn't really human after his ascension, he had become something more like a powerstone lich. This made him uniquely hard to kill - he could survive as a severed head! - and it also provided him with a nearly limitless mana source that he always had access to. Still, in terms of raw power, I see him as being at the lower end of the upper tier. I think most other high-tier oldwalkers like Serra, Windgrace, Tevesh Szat, and Sorin could've overpowered him.

    And for what it's worth, I consider Bolas and Ugin to be the most powerful entities in the MtG multiverse, with the possible exception of cosmic entities like the Eldrazi and Marit Lage. It's speculative, but the impression I get is that Bolas and Ugin have always been leagues and bounds above other planeswalkers. They literally broke the fabric of reality in their first battle, and that was before either of them had reached the apex of their power. Teferi and Leshrac were among the most powerful oldwalkers, and Bolas was able to defeat them almost effortlessly, to the point where he was able to toy with Leshrac and let him win for a while before instantly turning the tables on him. Among oldwalkers who weren't elder dragons, I think Taysir was the most powerful, since he had five sparks. (It was also outright stated in the old lore that he was the most powerful planeswalker in existence, although neither the characters nor the writers were aware of Bolas or Ugin's existence at the time.) As far as power levels go, Urza was far below those three.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    My review of the War of the Spark novel (SPOILERS AHEAD):

    So I've seen a lot of negative responses to the War of the Spark novel, and honestly, I didn't think it was bad. I'm not saying it was particularly good either, and I certainly had some complaints, but I don't think it deserves all the hate that it gets.

    On other forums, I've noticed plenty of criticism about the book's writing style, but a lot of that involved cherry-picking a few especially clunky passages and/or taking bits and pieces out of context. I would consider the writing to be functional: It's not great or even good prose by any stretch of the imagination, but it's not particularly bad writing either; the narration style is fairly bland, but at least it manages to be unintrusive, there was never any point where it took me out of the story. The writer did have an annoying tendency to focus more detail on things he was personally interested in than things that were actually important to the plot (for instance, the fact that the description of Rakdos' volcano dungeon received so much more attention than the description of Rhonas and Kefnet's deaths), but I can forgive that.

    As for the dialogue, I thought it was mostly good. A lot of people were upset about the characters talking in modern parlance, but I have no problem with that. These are alien worlds, all the dialogue is presumably being translated anyway, there's no reason to translate it into an older form of English rather than modern vernacular. (I actually can't stand the trope where people in historical and fantasy settings always talk in some goofy pseudo-Shakespearean dialect, it always reminds me of corny renaissance faire LARPers hanging out at "ye olde tavern" and D&D players doing terrible faux-Scottish accents.) I did have a problem with Chandra and Araithia's dialogue, just because they sounded so casual about everything, although you could argue that it's fitting for their characters. I also didn't care for Bolas talking like a stereotypical pretentious Saturday morning cartoon villain or Ugin sounding like a smarmy jerkass all the time, but again, I suppose it's in-character for them.

    The characterization seemed mostly on point, although some characters were better developed than others. I actually really liked Dack's story arc, he was very likable and relatable. I actually considered him a better audience surrogate than Teyo, he acted like a relatively normal person would act in such extreme circumstances, he was in way over his head and he knew it. Jace and Vraska's chapters continued their story from Ixalan, and I was glad they got a happy ending. Liliana was a compelling anti-villain/anti-hero, the writer did a good job of getting in her head and showing us the inner conflict raging inside her. And Gideon received the sendoff he deserved. I actually considered him a fairly boring character for most of the Gatewatch arc, but Amonkhet, Dominaria, and War of the Spark really made me take interest in him for the first time. Ral and Kaya received some much needed development too, they were fairly one-note characters before this, but the novel really showed what makes them tick. The only POV character I had a problem with was Chandra, she came across like a flippant and emotionally immature teenager who really didn't understand the seriousness of the situation she was in. Also, while he was a fairly minor character, I didn't understand Dovin's motivation at all. The novel didn't give any indication of why he was working for Bolas, the closest we get is a line where he says he's just trying to prevent people from getting hurt, but that doesn't make any sense when Bolas' whole plan involves slaughtering people en masse.

    Finally, there was the plot. This is pretty subjective, and I know a lot of people hated how things turned out, for one reason or another. Personally, I really liked it, with the sole exception of Vraska having her memories restored by a random shaman before the story began - that plot point was just plain dumb, and it really undercut the ending of Ixalan's story. But I liked the fact that each of the major planeswalkers had something to do, I liked the fact that most of the guilds and guildmasters had a role to play, I liked the twist with Chandra's Triumph actually depicting Lazav, I liked the reveal that the Blackblade prophecy was actually a trick by Bolas, I liked the way that Bolas ended up being outmaneuvered by Ugin and Niv-Mizzet (with some help from Sarkhan, Gideon, and Liliana), and I like how Bolas and Ugin's shared story arc finally concluded. I know some people think that WotC only kept Bolas and Ugin alive to bring them back again later, but I don't think that's the case here; the Core 2019 story established that Bolas always feared being powerless and being constrained, so this just seems like the proper way for his story to end. I also liked the set-up for the sequel, with Ral, Vraska, and Kaya being sentenced to track down the other planeswalkers who worked for Bolas as atonement for their own affiliation with the dragon.

    I do wish we'd have gotten a few more named character deaths, just to make it feel more like a real war. Samut and Vivien's character arcs have nowhere left to go now that the Bolas arc is over, Kiora's been aimless since the end of Battle for Zendikar, Nissa seems to be an entirely different character in every story she's in, and Jaya's death seemed like such an obvious choice that I'm genuinely surprised it didn't happen; if any or all of those characters had died, I think the story would've been better off for it. I also didn't like that Araithia was such a Mary Sue, she was killing Eternals left and right despite the fact that she's not even meant to be an especially skilled or powerful combatant, even though everyone else who wasn't a planeswalker or a guildmaster was struggling against them. Still, those are fairly minor complaints.

    All in all, I'd rate the novel 5.5 out of 10. More favorable than Perkunas' rating, but less than Caranthir's.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Modern Horizons Flavor and Story
    I'm just glad we finally got Urza and Yawgmoth cards. (Yes, I know we had Blind Seer and the joke Urza from Unstable, but they don't count.) Still hoping we eventually get cards depicting them at full power, though.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Nature of the Spark (Novel Spoilers)
    The best possible scenario and explanation would be that since Ugin is at or near the top of the food chain when it comes to powerful entities, his powers are left open ended within a reasonable extent. Add to that the fact that they are both elder dragons and may possibly share some unexplained relationship where Ugin is able to manipulate Bolas' ability to use his magic which would have nothing to do with the spark itself.

    As you posted, Bolas knew his name(s) but couldnt say them.......Ugin says he's forfeited the right to those names AND the powers that went along with them (key point there) as well as Bolas cowering down before Ugin.......so what it sounds like to me is Ugin has put some kind of mental whammy on Bolas that has cut him off from his magic. It could be an actual spell, it could be a mental block (like what Professor X did with Jean Grey and the Phoenix Force)or it could go back to that Elder Dragon connection. Whatever the case, it doesnt seem like losing the spark is what causes the loss of magic.

    As far as the how long Bolas would live afterward, I see some people saying he was already ancient way back when and we still see Ugin saying he has plenty of time left just not eternity. I don't see anywhere a set in stone amount of time he has left.......and even if Ugin said he didnt have much time left, time for a nearly immortal Elder Dragon would be much different so not much time for Bolas could be anywhere from 2000 to 5000 years on the downside. Without trying to break down and scrutinize every little detail, it's basically just saying Bolas has nothing left. No spark, no magic, no name, no freedom, no more immortality........he's lost it all. And it's not so much that he won't continue to live for a very, very , very long time by human standards, it's that he won't live forever as the Dragon God he fancies himself to be.

    If he lived another million years it wouldnt be enough for him because he's the physical manifestation of evil and a large part of that is greed as evidenced by his plans to obtain unlimited power at the expense of the entire MTG multiverse.

    Yeah, Ugin specifically says that Bolas might still live for thousands of years, he's just emphasizing that Bolas isn't a true immortal anymore. It's never suggested that Bolas is going to die soon.

    And Bolas losing his magic and his names isn't a result of him losing his spark. After Bontu absorbs all the stolen sparks and explodes, he recasts the Elder Spell in an attempt to gather them up again, only to find that they've dispersed back into the Aether. And he gives one last speech along the lines of "This cannot be! I am the great Nicol Bolas!" before dying/falling unconscious/whatever happens that Ugin is able to take his body into the Meditation Realm. So we see that he can still cast spells and still remember his name in the moments after losing his spark. It's only months later, when he comes back to life/consciousness in the Meditation Realm, that he's shown as being unable to use magic and unable to remember his names.

    One popular theory is that Ugin got Ashiok to erase his names, since we see Ashiok in the Meditation Realm on his/her card. Or maybe Ugin did it himself using the psychic link he had with Bolas. In any case, it's clearly not just because he lost his spark.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    Quote from Dom4419 »
    Has Vraska regained her memories? What happened between her and Jace?

    Vraska got her memories before the book starts, we don't actually find out the details because it was supposed to be explained in the prequel novella that still hasn't come out. Her and Jace get together in the end.

    Haven't read the book but presumably Teferi did nothing correct? So he is on the gatewatch has a connection to Bolas and he is just on the team for what diversity brownie points? I don't have a problem with diversity in magic for the record I do have a problem though with faux diversity where we had diversity to the team and then have those characters do nothing of note. Made even worse when said characters is more powerful and has more experience then all the rest put together.

    Teferi does a lot of fighting. It was mentioned that he was using his time magic to slow down time right at the entrance of the Planar Portal and may have saved more lives than anyone else by delaying the Eternals' advance so much.

    He was also part of the team that attempted to kill Liliana, along with Jaya, Jace, and Vivien. He slowed down time around Lili to prevent her from reacting while the other three attacked her with fire, mindblasts, and arrows. Lili only survived because Bolas intervened on her behalf and destroyed the buildings they were sniping her from.

    Teferi wasn't as instrumental in Bolas' defeat as Gideon, Liliana, or Niv Mizzet, but aside from those three, he probably had the single biggest impact of all the heroes.

    Wasn't Jeska on Dominaria when she expired? While Gideon is not on the right plane with the right afterlife... Is it explicitly wrote down that it is an allucination of the last sparks of elettricity in Gid's brain?

    So... Ral was NOT working directly for Bolas... Then the end of the Amonkhet story is proclaimed retconned?

    There's just a brief scene of Gideon being reunited with his companions, with no explicit confirmation on whether it was the Theros afterlife or if it was Gideon's dying hallucination. (The story team may have deliberately wanted to leave it ambiguous, it's never been established what happened to planeswalkers' souls after they die. Elspeth went to the Theros afterlife but that was because of her deal with Erebos, not necessarily just because she was on Theros when she died.)

    As for Ral, he was working for Bolas, it just turned out that he was a triple agent who was actually loyal to Niv the whole time. But Bolas was also aware of Ral's true loyalties, which is how he was able to manipulate Ral into activating the beacon. To make things even more complicated, Niv knew that Bolas knew, and had secretly been working with Ugin to outmaneuver Bolas from the very start.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    Quote from Xeruh »

    I feel like Maro really gets why just killing characters off haphazardly is pretty bad. There isn't any merit in just tossing characters into a grinder, even if some people like it that doesn't really resonate with most people.

    I get that, and I agree they shouldn't have just killed off a ton of walkers for the hell of it. But Vivien and Samut have no purpose now that Bolas is dead, their entire story was based around getting revenge on Bolas and now he's gone. And the writers haven't known what to do with Kiora since the Eldrazi plot ended. Keeping some of these characters around is pointless, I get the sense we won't even see them in any major capacity again.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    Also gee WOTC talks a big game about diversity puts Teferi on the Gatewatch then proceeds to have him do nothing of note in War of the Spark. After having him do very little against Belzenlok in Dominaria besides job with Jaya and Karn to the like of Urgoros. Classic at least Ajani got flavor text in this set.

    I'd wait to actually read the full story before assuming that Teferi didn't do anything. I'm sure there are plenty of plot points that the cards and leaked summaries didn't mention. Just because Teferi didn't get the final blow on Bolas doesn't mean he's irrelevant. I do agree with you about the Dominaria story though.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    Didn't expect Lili to turn on him. One, he is a telepath. Two, he only got control cause she just killed 4 demons so trusting Lili would be dumb for Bolas. But I see plenty are fine with using arrogance to justify any amount of stupidity from Bolas.

    He had a contingency plan for Liliana turning on him: using her Demonic Pact to kill her instantly. It makes sense that he wouldn't have expected Gideon to switch the contract to himself. As far as I know, Gideon hasn't even used his hieromancy abilities since he initially sparked.

    Also they apparently forgot Bolas can Fly, is a Telepath and a Necromancer. So even if Lili wanted to turn on Bolas, she should be mind controlled into submission. Last I checked Gideon's Invulnerability didn't come with mental protection.

    Where did Bolas find this spell again? I think it make more sense for him to research it himself then find it....

    Even if I buy your logic it doesn't work. Cause he can fly out of range, use his necromancy to control Oketra or just mind control Lili outright.

    How much time do you think passed between Liliana's betrayal and Bolas' death? From what I can tell, everything happened within the span of a minute or less. Bolas got dogpiled by two gods and by a dragon as large as him wielding a third god's weapon, he didn't have a lot of time to do much of anything other than reflexively try to fight off his attackers.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    Quote from Kman »
    Um..screw the I dont DIE if an eternal takes my spark magic.....how about I (Bolas) make them so if they touch me I dont get desparked.

    Why are you assuming that's even an option? It might not have been possible to make the Eternals' spark-draining ability work selectively.

    So he protected himself from deathtouch but not Spark removal?

    First off, Bolas didn't expect Liliana to turn on him, and he definitely didn't expect her to survive if she did betray him. He probably didn't think she'd be capable of taking control of the Dreadhorde from him either (the rules and flavor text for Command the Dreadhorde show that it took a lot of mental effort and the power of the Chain Veil).

    But more importantly, Bolas can't be harmed by the normal Eternals because he's physically invulnerable, so even if someone did manage to steal his army, he still didn't have too much to worry about. Remember, they have to actually hurt a planeswalker to steal their spark; it's not like they can do it automatically with just a touch, otherwise Teyo would've lost his spark when that Eternal was pinning him down. Only the gods and their weapons can hurt Bolas, and he probably figured Liliana didn't have the strength of will to command them (and maybe she didn't, the flavor text for Despark makes it sound like she just set them free to take revenge of their own accord, rather than controlling them directly).

    Quote from Ulgrim »
    Exactly this!
    Bolas goes so far to make sure that Blackblade doesn't harm him but he forgets to make himself immune to his own Eternals? wtf?!

    He was already immune to the normal Eternals by virtue of being effectively invulnerable. He specifically protected himself from the Blackblade because that's one of the few things that could have potentially harmed him, along with Hazoret's spear and Oketra's bow and Bontu's fangs. I suppose he made a mistake in not protecting himself from the gods too (assuming he even had the capability), but it's an understandable one.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    Quote from Perkunas687 »
    So Maro said the Eternals kill when they despark someone. We have a 'Despark' card with two big Eternals apparently desparking 'someone,' but that someone appears later on a card in a different area.

    I hope this is cleared up at some point.

    It's the same as Bolas' first defeat. His body is destroyed while his spirit is trapped in the Meditation Realm. Judging from Finale of Revelation, Ugin takes advantage of the link they have through the Gem of Becoming to contain Bolas' spirit after he falls.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    That's exactly how I feel. I was following the leaks from the start, and initially they seemed fairly disappointing, with some plot threads apparently dropped and seemingly random new ones thrown in. But as more details started coming in, it all started making sense, and I'm actually pretty happy with how everything turned out.

    The twist with Chandra's Triumph is probably the best example of what I mean. When I first read that, I just thought "wow, that's really weird and totally out of left field." But then I found out why things happened that way and it's actually pretty brilliant.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
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