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Magic Market Index for March 16th 2018
All Sets Are Good: Saviors of Kamigawa
Dominaria Spoiler Digest - Who's Who and What's What from the Release Notes
  • posted a message on Dominaria General Discussion
    Dominaria looks all wrong to me. The art, I mean. Yeah, I get it - sleek digital art is the new norm for Magic, but Dominaria was given form by the likes of Rebecca Guay, Kev Walker, Daren Bader, Ron Spears, John Avon, Mark Tedin, rk Post, and Matthew D. Wilson. These are the artists who breathed life into the world and sculpted it like clay. Obvious and prevalent CG art works fine for other worlds, but seeing it here on Dominaria is... sad to me. It doesn't feel at all to me like Dominaria. Even when the older artists used computers to help generate their work, they typically still sketched their work out by hand and were able to maintain a painted quality.

    In particular, that paladin. She looks like she belongs in Return to Ravnica block, not Dominaria. The artwork for those elves is also too sleek, too polished--it looks almost like a piece for Zendikar.

    I'll get used to it, maybe. But it will take a while.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ask Wizards your Dominarian history and geography questions!
    I, too, would like to hear more about Caliman--there's a map of the continent in the Portal 2 booklets, but it's always faded and in the background. You guys have to have a clearer version of it somewhere, right?

    How did the war with Tojira the Swamp Queen and the Nightstalkers play out?

    What were an ancient Thran city and old Phyrexian technology doing in Dakmor Marsh on Caliman to begin with? Did the Thran Empire (and the Thran-Phyrexian War) extend beyond Terisaire?

    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ixalan General Discussion
    Kumena actually held the city for several hours, at least. His "Seize the city, get overthrown" scene painted events like they happened very fast, in a matter of minutes, but subsequent stories make it clear that really hours went by, the sun moving in the sky, between the time that Orazca was raised and the moment Huatli and Tishana entered the city, and when Tishana caught Kumena falling from the tower. Maybe it just felt like a few minutes to Kumena, drunk as he was on the Immortal Sun's power.

    According to the art book, Kumena was supposed to have wielded the Immortal Sun (that is, we were originally supposed to see its power in action) raining down storms and throwing obstacles in the path of the Vampire, Pirate, and Sun armies even as they skirmished each other and raced through the city toward the temple. He was the "Tyrant of Orazca," and his card name itself refers to this reign he was supposed to have. Why the online fictions decided to kneecap their villain's story the way they did (and in the first scene of RIX, no less) is a completely dumbfounding choice to me. Kumena was a great character in the making. Villainous, in his way, but with a realistic personality and understandable, perhaps even sympathetic motivations.

    Edit: I will agree, though, that when you step back and really look at how the whole online story played out, Kumena comes out looking much better than Tishana. More like a failed hero than the misguided villain the writers were probably aiming for.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ixalan General Discussion
    ^ This is one more thing that's so vexing. They actually conveyed the moral nuance quite well in the artbook and supplementary materials. It was THERE; they had a compelling conflict laid out between four factions whose virtues and flaws were well thought out. But again, like practically everything in the story aside from the Jace and Vraska arc, the great ideas laid out in the creative boardroom did not translate to the keyboard of whoever ended up writing the online fiction.

    As someone else here already observed, it feels like this world and it's story were planned out by a team that really took the effort and cared, only for the writing to be handed off to people who didn't really care much at all.

    All the ingredients for a wild, amazing story were right there! It's almost like a perverse imp troll was sitting on the writers' shoulder:

    "Exciting adventure world to explore? Cut the adventure and exploration parts. Just make it a race, people loved that in Dragon's Maze."

    "Realistic, morally nuanced villain?(*) Delete his coolest parts, relegate him to a side character, and chuck him out a window in the first scene of RIX."

    "Badass guardian golem mechs? Cut 'em."

    "Five newly-awakened Elder Dinosaurs, one for each color? Mention them briefly, then move on."

    "A SIXTH Elder Dinosaur? A Super three headed Cerberus Rex Primal Calamity? Make it a Taxi."

    "Four factions locked in an epic battle for the Immortal Sun? Make it a seven-person playground brawl with no casualties or sacrifices."

    "Dangerous and powerful doomsday artifact that's difficult to control? Phase it out before anyone mishandles it and we see what it's truly capable of. Whew, that was close."

    "A couple villains are slated to claim the Immortal Sun regardless? Eh, just have them stand on it for a bit without actually using it's power."

    "Zacama blasting through the Temple of the Sun? Yawn. No one wants to read about that."

    "Intense emotions to capture in prose? Hit caps lock. The readers will get it."

    (EDIT: I love Ixalan. I love the world, the art, the factions, and the feathered Dinosaurs. I admire the creativity and inspiration that went into its design and mythology, and it truly is one of my favorite planes. But I abhor, and in fact deeply resent, the amateur and dishonest way the story has been presented to us.)


    (*)Note: The artbook shows Kumena as originally set up to be the Big Bad, who the other factions had to fight through as he (along with a band of renegade River Heralds!) wielded the might of the Immortal Sun and tried to stop them from reaching the temple. But that would have been cool, so it had to go.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ixalan General Discussion
    ^That would still have been a far more epic finale than the scuffle for the Immortal Sun turned out to be.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ixalan General Discussion
    Battle for Orazca? That wasn't a battle, that was a scuffle.

    Between eight people.

    With no casualties.

    What a letdown. The card flavor and product info promises a titanic clash between four armies. The card art shows battles, golems, and giant Elder Dinosaurs stomping around the city (the artbook also describes a big, climactic struggle). But then all the writers can manage now is this playground fight, with a few bloody noses and a couple bruises?

    Bait and switch, much? This isn't a mere case of disgruntled fans not having pet theories met. This is a case of Wizards deliberately setting up specific expectations, previewing actual battles and events, showing key moments and conflicts in the art... Only for the fiction writers to finally dismiss it all with a shrug.

    It's a disservice to the game, disrespectful to the readers, and diminishing to the world they created.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ixalan General Discussion
    The Rivals of Ixalan Story has just lengthened. We're getting 6 chapters now, not 5.

    That's much better, I think, and will give this world and its native peoples more room to breathe. Jace and Vraska have maybe one story worth of material left, and frankly, as well-written as they are, their story could have taken place on practically any plane. I much prefer material on the inhabitants of the plane and their factional struggles. Hopefully this extra fiction allows us more focus on the four tribes.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ixalan General Discussion
    One thing that has always really, really bothered me about Ravnica is the impossible and simplistic notion that ten guilds could last largely unchanged, and in a constant balance of power, ten thousand years. (Tarkir has a similar problem)

    Ten competing guilds, established with specific names, identities, cultures, and goals, remain more or less intact for ten thousand years. Not one of them splintered, not one of them fell apart, not one of them was replaced or subsumed or conquered, not one of them struck off to forge a new identity for itself or underwent significant revolution. Either Azor is an unparalleled genius, or the plane was designed with little appreciation for how history or societies really work. This is fantasy, I know. But it's a trope that still bugs the hell out of me. For comparison:

    - The Mongol Empire lasted three generations, then splintered apart and collapsed.

    - The Roman Empire lasted intact from 27 BC to 395 AD, just over 400 years. The Western Empire fell a century later.

    - The British Empire lasted just over 400 years.

    - Writing has only existed for about 5,000 years.

    - The wheel was invented between 7,000 and 8,000 years ago.

    - The agricultural revolution occurred about 12,000 years ago.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ixalan General Discussion
    One of the best moments in this chapter was a very subtle and overlooked one, but I felt it was extremely moving. That was, Tishana crying out in despair for Kumena, catching him when he fell, and then having her followers tend to him. This was the guy who defied her, broke with centuries of tradition, and physically attacked her -- but to Tishana, he is still her former apprentice, "the one student she failed the most."

    She could have been angry. She could have lectured him, cursed him, banished him, or even just let him splatter. But instead she did everything that Kumena, in her place, surely would not have done.

    That sequence was short, but it was probably my favorite moment from Rivals so far.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ixalan General Discussion
    Quote from Etherium Sage »
    Quote from Pollaski »
    - So UGIN is the one that sent Jace to Ixalan with his "tripwire" more or less. So basically, the guy is prepared to banish Jace to a world forever to keep his existence a secret from Bolas. I'm sure big picture and all, but Ugin's kinda a jerk (then again, what do you expect from oldwalkers?)

    Is Karn literally the only still-living oldwalker we have that may actually not be a **** at this point?

    Ugin casting Jace away as a liability doesn't make him an ****. Being incredibly ancient can make one callous, perhaps, but it also tends to give one perspective, and Ugin is looking at a much larger game board than most planeswalkers can even imagine. He is a general and a strategist on an infinite battlefield, with the multiverse itself as the stakes. Jace was born thirty years ago and he will be dead in a matter of decades. Why should his wellbeing matter so much to Ugin?

    On another topic, a question about Kumena -- does he still effectively have the City's Blessing? Both the game mechanics of the City's Blessing and the flavor text of the card itself indicate that the blessing is "forever." I have a hunch that Kumena is going to wake up from his fall and realize the power is still his. Vona and Mavren Fein are now permanently touched, too, and all these figures will only lose the Blessing once Tezzeret carries the Immortal Sun away from Ixalan.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ixalan General Discussion
    Wait... is Kumena *done*? Already? After all that buildup? What about the Tyrant of Orazca? What about the dangerous opponent that Tishana was so determined to stop? He was such an interesting villain with believable goals, and he just gets punked like that in the opening scene of Rivals by a two-dimensional cartoon like Vona?

    Either he'll be back, or that was just the biggest waste of potential I've seen from the Magic story in ages.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ixalan General Discussion
    Though I would like either the Sun Empire or the Heralds to take Orazca (it was originally theirs, after all), I confess that the conquistadors winning would be amusingly problematic.

    Anyway, as for the JacexVraska plot, I suspect that when Jace wipes Vraska's mind, he will leave her heart intact. She will retain the feeling of having loved someone, but she just won't be able to remember who, or why she has forgotten.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ixalan General Discussion
    Quote from Etherium Sage »

    Vona isn't so much boring as she didn't have enough screentime to herself.

    Vona is *atrociously* boring. She has appeared in two fictions, and has had about as much screentime as either Emperor Apatzec or Kumena--both of whom are far more interesting (Apatzec because he hints at being more than he first appears, and Kumena because he's simply a good villain -- coming back to that in a moment). With Vona, we have a cutout psychopath who lacks any scrap of the moral nuance the vampires are supposed to have, and her first real effort to present herself as a threat ended with her getting swatted aside by Huatli. Her role so far is to either say or do whatever happens to be most blandly evil at the moment; almost every sentence with her name in it serves just to drive home what a lunatic she is, a wanton whose only motivation is causing pain to chuckle at.

    But it's not too late to save her character, of course. The writers could add a new dimension to her by perhaps:

    --Giving her some sort of inferiority complex within the Legion, or

    --Giving her one thing in her past or present that she feels awful about, and which she thinks securing the Immortal Sun will fix for her, or

    --Some sort of inner conviction that she feels the Immortal Sun will help her realize, or

    --Some other quality to show us *why* she matters and what her personal stake is, and makes us feel something about her at a human level. As it is, she's too bland (and frankly ridiculous) to even be loathsome.

    Quote from OathboundOne »

    If Vampires can't have the City, then I'm also okay with the Merfolk getting the place, provided that somebody kicks Kumena's sneaky, blue finned butt! I'm actually loving the Villiany of the guy, he's relate-able and detestable at the same time!

    Those are always the best villains, IMO.

    The ones where you as the reader can put yourself in their place and fully understand and appreciate HOW they got to where they are. Where you can look at the situation and say "Yes, in his/her place, I might have done those things as well." The ones who really make you think about their actions and their viewpoint instead of just being "evil fur teh lulz."

    Here's a villain that I'm actually rooting for. And not because it would be fun to see him trounce the main cast (like Bolas), but because he's full of traits I actually admire. Kumena is willful, bold, and decisive. He takes the path that *he* believes is right, even if no one else stands with him. He's a merman of action, with personal ambition mixed in with a desire to serve the greater good. In his own mind, he's the hero of this story, the only one of his people willing to do what needs to be done.

    Even if he ends up becoming more overtly evil as the story goes on, his character is still built on motivations I can understand and sympathize with.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ixalan General Discussion
    Quote from jshrwd »
    Some interesting implications for the story in that card.

    I don't think so. I bet Huatli, Kumena, Angrath, and Vraska are getting Ascend cards, too. It could easily be a cycle.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Legendary Creatures in Rivals of Ixalan
    Maybe I missed something these past few days -- we've concluded that the sphinx art *isn't* from a legendary creature, then?
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
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