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  • posted a message on The Wildered Quest (spoilers ahead)
    Quote from user_938036 »
    Quote from Perkunas687 »
    I felt Oko was one of the better villains we've had in quite some time. Makes me want to build a deck around him. The writer protrayed him as far more devious and intelligent than even Bolas in the WAR book. Not genius-level intelligence, but you got the sense in reading about him that he was smarter than anyone else around him, and it made you nervous whenever he was in a scene.
    This is interesting because I partly agree but I never actually saw him as intelligent. He easily is smarter than most of the people he interacted with in the story, which isn't saying much as it includes a deranged Garruk, some children(17 is a child) nearly every adult proves to be smarter than him or at least smart enough not to listen to him. He is almost certainly regularly the most knowledgeable person in a room because he is the one running whatever scheme he's got everyone else wrapped up in and by nature of being a walker who is interested in knowing things he's better learned than plane bound people living on planes set in the dark ages where intelligence was a rare trait. Overall no part of his actions or schemes seem intelligent but they are great in their simplicity. Kidnap the king and trick people into killing him to start a war isn't complex and that makes it easy to get behind rather than the multistep rube goldberg machines that other scheming villains build to prove how smart they are.


    It could be that intelligent wasn't the most precise word. It's been a long day.

    I read the story in scattered bits here or there, but to me it takes intelligence (tactfulness? street smarts?) to be able to study a foreign society for only a small space of time (a day or so?) and immediately come up with a plan that has a high likelihood of plunging the plane into war and chaos. He took all the info Rowan was vomitting out and knew what levers to pull. To us as readers, and to denizens of Eldraine, those levers might be obvious. But he was a brand new arrival, and quickly came to understand intricate relationships and long-simmering resentments. He also successfully played both sides of the possible conflict through understanding of their cultures and motivations. If it was so easy, one of the elves who wanted war for all these generations would have pulled something similar off, I suspect. But it didn't seem that easy to do, and Oko did it all while appearing perfectly relaxed about it. And all without knowing much about the plane before speaking with Rowan.

    Some elves were suspicious of his motives, but not all. The human realms had no idea he even existed at all. Some random interloper almost caused a war. That's not something an individual of average intelligence could pull off. He may not be Bolas level genius, but he almost accomplished something Bolas would probably be impressed by. I can't think of a puppet-master in literature I've read who wasn't smarter than most if not all of the people they were manipulating.

    Not saying your view is incorrect. Just supplementing my previous post.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on The Wildered Quest (spoilers ahead)
    I felt Oko was one of the better villains we've had in quite some time. Makes me want to build a deck around him. The writer protrayed him as far more devious and intelligent than even Bolas in the WAR book. Not genius-level intelligence, but you got the sense in reading about him that he was smarter than anyone else around him, and it made you nervous whenever he was in a scene.

    I thought the cauldron scene with Garruk was difficult to understand, and I thought it was a bit easy to liberate him, but I'm happy to see rational Garruk again. Many happy returns!

    Overall, the author fleshed out a world and gave me some characters I liked in a limited amount of space. A vast improvement on WAR. And I didn't miss the Gatewatch whatsoever. I'm actually far more interested in Garruk and the Kenrith Twins, and Oko, than any member of the Gatewatch. Like, I am fired up to see the adventures of these walkers.

    I am content with the money I paid.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Urza vs Bolas (It's not what you think)
    Quote from 5colors »
    Quote from Perkunas687 »
    Quote from 5colors »
    Quote from ArixOrdragc »
    Even ignoring nostalgia goggles, I vastly prefer the old Urza storyline. I've said it before, but my biggest issue with the whole Gatewatch story is how bland and utterly devoid of ideas it is. It's content to just mimic the popular trend, without contributing anything of substance. The Urza storyline, although far from perfect and with problems of its own, at least tried to be its own thing, to have its own identity, to contribute its own ideas. I've seen the Gatewatch story told a thousand times before, and this incarnation has nothing to set it apart from those that have come before it (and likely those that will come after it).

    There's another issue too. It's obviously trying to mimic the comic book superhero trend, that's no secret. They were even introduced as Magic's answer to the Avengers. 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.

    The Weatherlight saga may not have been perfect, but here we are nearly twenty years later and I still remember it. The mythical "feel" that italofoca mentioned certainly contributes. It felt like something made by fantasy fans, for fantasy fans. The Gatewatch story feels like something made by marketing execs for the mass market.


    You do know the weatherlight saga was based on Star Trek as much as the gatewatch is based on the Avengers right?


    As someone who's watched a lot of Star Trek (95% TNG), I'm not seeing the parallel. Beyond 'people on a ship,' which could apply to many, many things.


    Per Maro;
    https://markrosewater.tumblr.com/post/146371928278/the-weatherlight-saga-was-the-highest-point-in
    corveroth asked: The Weatherlight Saga was the highest point in Magic's storytelling. It had a continuity without reducing to the Star Trek formula or needing an Avengers team.


    A: We literally modeled the Weatherlight Saga when we made it after “Star Trek”. We had a captain, a first mate, an engineer, a security guy, a healer. They travelled in a ship from world to world.


    as well as Phyrexia is an expy of the borg and from Karn and the weatherlight we do explore the trope of an AI finding selfhood.


    Fair points. Though Maro essentially describes any ship crew (understandable, as Enterprise was a human ship with our standards), and Weatherlight went to only . . . three planes, I think? (Serra, Rath, Mercadia). And the purpose of Weatherlight vs. Enterprise was very different.

    But I'm generally picking up what you're putting down. Borg and Phyrexia also good comparison.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Urza vs Bolas (It's not what you think)
    Quote from 5colors »
    Quote from ArixOrdragc »
    Even ignoring nostalgia goggles, I vastly prefer the old Urza storyline. I've said it before, but my biggest issue with the whole Gatewatch story is how bland and utterly devoid of ideas it is. It's content to just mimic the popular trend, without contributing anything of substance. The Urza storyline, although far from perfect and with problems of its own, at least tried to be its own thing, to have its own identity, to contribute its own ideas. I've seen the Gatewatch story told a thousand times before, and this incarnation has nothing to set it apart from those that have come before it (and likely those that will come after it).

    There's another issue too. It's obviously trying to mimic the comic book superhero trend, that's no secret. They were even introduced as Magic's answer to the Avengers. 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.

    The Weatherlight saga may not have been perfect, but here we are nearly twenty years later and I still remember it. The mythical "feel" that italofoca mentioned certainly contributes. It felt like something made by fantasy fans, for fantasy fans. The Gatewatch story feels like something made by marketing execs for the mass market.


    You do know the weatherlight saga was based on Star Trek as much as the gatewatch is based on the Avengers right?


    As someone who's watched a lot of Star Trek (95% TNG), I'm not seeing the parallel. Beyond 'people on a ship,' which could apply to many, many things.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    Quote from mapccu »
    So am I understanding this correctly that there is no formal reconciliation between liliana and the gatewatch? :/


    You understand correctly. If I *remember* correctly, Jace speaks into her mind and tells her to leave, after Bolas is beat, and she takes off.

    ---

    This week's story was quite literally a waste of time. It provided no additional background. Nothing substantively new. Just a total waste of time. Can't wrap my head around it.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    Quote from Serpent Steve »
    I was always under the impression that the reason Wizards led with human planeswalkers was that they were popular because people could find pieces of themselves so to speak in these characters. As an example with the new set Ral Zarek is revealed to be in a realtionship to Tomik, appealing to that demographic. Narset has Autism, Gideon shows classic signs of recovery from abuse and tragedy, Huatli is inspired by an area of Latin America. Things like that are why I thought they were more prominent?


    Nothing wrong that thouugh I should note that most of the time its White Characters getting all the screen time besides Tarkir. Chandra pre Teferi only human providing diversity to the Gatewatch and if you don't know Chandra suppose to be Indian well can you really tell? I mean did anyone think she was anything but White pre Kaladesh?

    Series did a better job with diversity when Urza and Gerrard were steering the franchise quite honestly. Which made Magic stand out honestly cause most Fantasy back in the day was pretty white lol. All downhill since we entered the Gatewatch Era quite frankly.


    That's a decent point, the Weatherlight crew (including those who went bad) consisted of (in part) a goblin (Squee), a minotaur (Tahngarth), a cat warrior (Mirri), two people of color (Sisay and Crovax), a maro-sorcerer (Multani) and an artifact golem (Karn). After Tempest and Masques blocks, going into Invasion block, the main crew consisted of three males (Gerrard, Tahngarth, Squee [1 human, 2 non-human]), three females (Sisay, Hanna, Orim [3 human]), and a maro-sorcerer and artifact golem (Multani and Karn).

    The Weatherlight crew was arguably the most diverse main cast of characters Wizards had, or has had. And each of the crew had a purpose and a plot.

    But still. Let's get a centaur planeswalker.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    Quote from Onering »
    Quote from user_938036 »
    Quote from Onering »
    Quote from user_938036 »
    Quote from Onering »


    And they failed. Miserably. They made the most of him in Amonkhet. He was mustache twirlingly over the top, but he was effective. They did a terrible job before that, and they did a terrible job this set. There were flashes where they did well, with him brushing Gideon aside and shattering the blackblade, but overall he just failed and looked like a chump. And while imprisoning him without power is a better punishment, it's really stupid to do, as it leaves him a window to come back. It's also not what they actually did. They imprisoned him without a spark, so he can't planeswalkers and he has less power, but he's still Nicol Bolas Elder Dragon. He still is nigh immortal and graced with magnificent powers. He had basically all his powers before sparking. It's just such a clear case of a story decision being made for meta reasons over what's right for the story. What's right for the story would have been ending the threat he poses to the multiverse. They didn't. And we've already seen lesser beings get their spark back, so Bolas, an immortal genius and one of the most powerful beings in the multiverse, is almost assured to do so narratively, and absolutely going to do so when wizards decides its time.
    Did you not finish the novel? Because your comments on his power read like you did t finish but were just told what happened. Bolas is indeed completely without power he couldn't even muster the simplest of healing spells. Should they have killed him? Honestly no and for the exact reason they gave in the novel he died once before and came back killing him with anything less than a soul destroying method would be more pointless than imprisonment.


    I'm choosing to believe that he was temporarily weakened from the shock of losing his spark and being depleted after casting the elder spell, because the alternative explanation is stupid. Bolas did not derive his power from his spark, nor did it increase his longevity. The post mending spark only grants the ability to planeswalk, unlike the oldwalker spark. That was the entire point of all of Bolas plans. We see all the other harvested walkers die, and Bolas become severely weakened, so it seems likely that being harvested is a shock to the system that kills most people, but Bolas being an elder dragon let's him live. He will eventually recover. It's possible, of course, that they've decided to retcons the nature of the spark for no reason, but that would be stupid.

    And you need to go back and check out why Bolas was able to come back last time. Umezawa tricked him to have an out of body experience and follow him to the meditation realm so he could trap his spirit there by killing his body. Bolas' spirit didn't escape to the meditation realm, his spirit went there to kill Umezawa and this was what allowed Umezawa to kill his body. We have zero evidence that killing Bolas while his spirit is in his body would fail to kill his spirit. All it proves is that if Bolas' spirit is in the meditation realm, you can kill his body and trap him there.
    Why is the alternative explination of Ugin seal/stealing his powers stupid? If you meant to stupid idea of it being tied to his spark I can see why you would think its stupid, but as that isn't what was implied at all by the fact that he was stil casting spells after his spark was gone but not after Ugin did whatever he did to him it makes no sense to assume the spark connection.

    I can't find the exact source but it seems that Bolas' body was destoryed while he was in the meditation realm and he was defeated in the meditation realm. If this is the case then 100% killing him doesn't work. If not the I still have questions about what exactly happened but in story we saw a dragon survive the destruction of its body and then be reborn. This dragon wasn't even an elder dragon and Ugin strongly hints that as an elder dragon Bolas wouldn't need the same convoluted plots Niv used and could pull it off with completely different convoluted plots. Even flat out saying he could have come back as a Spirit Dragon like Ugin.

    If you want to choose to believe something completely outside, or even contradictory to what we are told in lore you need a much better argument than "Doing the thing they said was a bad idea, for reasons, would have been a much better idea than what they actually did."


    Umezawa told Bolas he was going to kill him, killed his second in command, said he was going to the meditation realm, and vanished. Bolas, perfectly healthy, separated his own spirit from his body to go to the meditation realm to pursue him. Umezawa had not yet left and took the opportunity to blow up Bolas citadel to kill his body, then went to the meditation realm to kill his spirit. He owns spirit Bolas and thinks he's killed him. He is able to do so because Bolas cannot planeswalk after his body has been killed and his Mana has been severed. Flash forward to Time Spiral and we find out that a trace amount of Bolas Spirit manage to survive because of the Madaran time rift. The growth of the rift enabled his spirit to take on a weak human form. He then used Vensers spark to gain more power, and pulled his sleeping body through the time rift before umezawa kills it in the past. His resurrection relied entirely on the time rift. First, it kept him from being totally destroyed. Second, it's growth enabled him to become more than a harmless shadow of a spirit. Third, it enabled him to retrieve his body from the past. Characters present in this story had knowledge of this (Karn, and especially Teferi).

    So we know Ugin is full of *****, because if Bolas' had a way to restore himself he would have done so without having to rely on events outside of his control and every bit as convoluted as Nivs. He didn't even plan the first step, he got lucky that the rift saved enough of his spirit, and then got lucky again that enough plane wrecking disasters happened to cause the time rift crisis and grow the rifts thus causing his spirit to grow. And he'd have certainly done it much, much earlier. The evidence is clear, Ugin is wrong. That's why I said it's stupid. Characters present in this story should know this, Teferi especially as he ******* witnessed it. That's either one of two things, an intentional retcon created solely so that they could have a reason not to kill Bolas (a major retcon for the character btw, that changes fairly recent history), or the author/creative making a huge plot mistake. The former is cynical and the latter is stupid. Neither are good narrative reasons for this happening.

    Had they killed Bolas after he desparked, he'd have been dead. Even had he managed to somehow, at the last minute, decouple his spirit from his body and send it to the meditation plane, we would at worst be in the same spot we are now, Bolas trapped on the meditation plane, except he'd just be a spirit instead of alive. If his spirit stayed on Ravnica, Kaya was on hand to finish the job.

    They went out of their way to come up with a reason not to kill Bolas, and it doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Maybe Ugin is just lying and is taking a risk solely because he doesn't want to kill his brother, but why anyone would go along with that is a mystery. There is no evidence that Bolas is permanently neutered and will not recover, so this plan relies on Ugin staying on the meditation realm and keeping Bolas weak. What happens when Ugin is inevitably required to leave to face a major threat? Bolas recovers. And Bolas on Alara was a planar threat before he powered up a bit off the maelstrom.


    Thank you for the lore breakdown, I've always been unclear on what happened with Bolas there, even though I read the Time Spiral books.

    Also, I think we can all agree it's high-time we had a centaur planeswalker.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    She is a Blue character that relies on Summons?

    I am simply not excited for more Human Walkers.


    But we finally got a viashino walker in War of the Spark!

    And then it was promptly killed.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    Quote from Couver »
    I may have missed this so apologies if it was already mentioned. I did look and didn't see it though. Does Ilharg appear or do anything in the story? It seemed like a big deal that Ravnica suddenly became a plane with a physically manifesting god...and then we got nothing?



    Apologies if I screwed up the spoiler formatting on my phone.

    No mention whatsoever of Ilharg. Just did a word search in the ebook. No mention of Ilharg, no mention of boars except by comparison, no mention of 'raze.'

    Domri's card (Anarch of Bolas) and the story setup had it appear that Domri was always on Bolas' side. In the story, however, Domri is fighting Eternals until deciding, after witnessing some event, to pledge loyalty to Bolas. He goes over to Bolas, and is promptly harvested. Domri is never an agent of Bolas in the book, witting or unwitting, and there's zero mention of the Raze Boar, which essentially makes all the other backup stuff pointless.

    The whole book is like this.

    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    Quote from Onering »
    Quote from leslak »
    Ye ashiok was from what i readed just to “remember what happened on Theros underworld” and was kinda weird looked alot like the autor was trying to introduce him/her/it/their/anyotherwordyouthinkisnecessaryorcorrectcauseidon’twanttoofendanyoneontheirinterpretationofthecharacter and then forgot to use it, like he checked the ashiok is on the story lets go to another one.

    The story is not all bad soo far but it could have been better, probably not the author’s fault he probably had to follow guidelines and had to tell the story he was told to, like “this character needs to do this and that”.

    Maybe if the story was more centered on few characters, like the narrator just following those characters and not bothering to do charapters for 36 characters then maybe the ratings of readers would be better.


    The biggest fix would be to just give the authors more time. For something of this nature, the culmination of a 10 year arc, wizards really should have known what they wanted 2 years out and given the author that long to write the story.


    Yeah, they definitely need to give more time. I still think Wizards had the writer write a long outline with 'walker names blank, because a bunch of the interactions seemed just off.

    I also wonder why they went first-person for the story. It's very limiting, especially when we already know X, Y, and Z about Ravnica, but we have to read through characters, new and old, explaining it or experiencing it. I feel a global narrator would have been better, with each chapter describing groups and what they were feeling and experiencing, instead of being trapped/locked into the perspective of one walker at a time. First-person works for some stories. I don't think it was a good choice for a story of this scale, because you don't get a good sense for the scale of the story.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Nature of the Spark (Novel Spoilers)
    Before reading further, this is a question relating to a significant War of the Spark spoiler (it's kind of spoiled in the cards, but the specifics are not). Don't read further if you haven't read the book.

    .

    .

    .

    Has War of the Spark, officially deemed canon by Wizards, changed the nature of the spark?

    A few years ago, I put forth the theory that Bolas would try to suck up planeswalker sparks to repower himself (albeit at the time, I predicted Karn v. Bolas because of the spark transfer stuff on Mirrodin, and because Ugin didn't yet exist in the lore). It led to a lively debate about the nature of the spark. Wizards has addressed the spark over the years as well. They've more or less repeatedly informed us that the spark, after the Mending: 1) no longer makes 'walkers gods, and 'walkers are mortal now; 2) only people with magic abilities can have a spark (forget the source, but I remember reading that); 3) the spark only serves to protect a 'walker as they planeswalk, and no longer gives them increased power.

    War of the Spark had 'walkers being harvested. Their sparks were pulled out, and they shriveled and died while Bolas absorbed the spark into his gem, making him more powerful with each one.

    I'll quote from the ending here, after Bolas is brought to the Meditation plane by Ugin:

    'He felt like something was missing, too. His Spark, of course, but something else, as well.'

    '“I don’t think so, brother. Look at yourself, weighed down by mortality. You don’t have the power to kill me in a few minutes or a few millennia. And you no longer have the life span to hold out beyond that. You no longer have your Spark.”'

    'You have plenty of time. Not eternity, of course. Not anymore.'

    'He automatically summoned a healing spell to correct this minor annoyance. No magic came. The shoulder continued to ache, but his lack of power was the greater injury. He struggled to suppress a tantrum.'

    'Still in denial, the mortal dragon roared, “No prison can hold the mighty…” He trailed off, confused. He knew his names. The one he had hatched with and the one he had given himself. It wasn’t that he couldn’t say them—It’s that your names no longer belong to you, thought the Spirit Dragon to his dragon brother. Neither of them. You’ve forfeited any right to your true name and lost the power inherent in your chosen one. You are nameless. Nothing. “No!” YES. To make his ultimate point, the Spirit Dragon straightened to his full height and beyond. He seemed to fill the realm and his brother’s consciousness all at once. The mortal dragon winced and found himself…cowering. Know this, brother. I am your jailer for what remains of your mortality and will make quite sure you never escape. Your schemes, your machinations…all your little dramas are at an end. The curtain has fallen.'

    ---

    Okay, so let me break down what I see here. Bolas is without his spark, without his magic, and eventually, without his names, and Ugin is suggesting Bolas won't be living as long as he otherwise would have. We don't know what Ugin did during his invisible fight with Bolas, nor what he did to Bolas on the Meditation plane.

    What we know from the book: Being harvested killed every walker except for Bolas, who not only had all the harvested sparks pulled out by an eternalized god, but also his own personal spark yanked out. Yet, he didn't die. This suggests to me Elder Dragons are made from tougher stuff.

    However, this is the first time that we see someone lose their magic along with their spark. Teferi gave up his spark but could still perform magic. Karn lost his spark, but was still capable, one assumes, of magic. Ob Nixilis lost his spark, but reignited it. Before he did so, he still had access to magic. I'm trying to think of who else lost a spark since the Mending time. The Keldon/elf girl? If so, she could still do magic.

    Anyway, absent Ugin somehow snatching away Bolas' magic without telling us, the readers, how or when, I'm left to assume Bolas lost his magic when he lost his spark. This doesn't make sense to me, as he was a supremely powerful Elder Dragon before he was ever a walker. He was also powerful as a post-Mending walker. I don't see how he would lose his magic with his spark.

    There's also a faint suggestion that Bolas will not be long-lived after losing his spark. Was he not going to be long-lived before the events of War of the Spark? As far as I knew, Elder Dragons can last a good long while. Teferi seemed to age 'normally.' Nixilis was a demon so didn't really age, and Karn was an artifact dude. If Bolas was a long-lived Elder Dragon before War of the Spark, shouldn't he remain so after?

    Then it appears Bolas also loses his identity for some unknown reason. I'm leaning toward this being Ugin's doing, but I'm not so sure.

    ---

    So all this being said, has the nature of the spark changed? Is it now not only reliant on your magic, but the source of your magic? Is it now more than just protection in the Blind Eternities? Does it have an impact on your power and your aging/mortality? If so, this seems a significant change. If accumulated sparks lead to god-like power, then the sparks seem to be more than what they used to be. And yet their fundamental nature also seems to be changed.

    I realize this may not be as important for future sets and blocks, but the book is canon, and I'd like to be clear on what the new rules are.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    Quote from Istredd »
    Quote from Perkunas687 »

    - So, nothing biological can pass through the Planar Bridge . . . except for planeswalkers. What? This was another point they hammered ever since the Planar Bridge was made. Yet, in this story, Ob Nixilis, Dack, Karn, and Samut just walk/fly through the portal into Amonkhet. The explanation is that their sparks somehow protect them.

    Didn't the Planar Bridge destroy organic matter due to sending it through the Blind Eternities, from which effects the spark specifically protects? Not that it makes the whole book any better, but still.


    I don't remember 100% the method behind the portal. I think when it was first being developed, it might have transported a vase, but not the flower, on the same plane. Then Tezz saw the possibility of using it between planes. Was it the energy of the portal surface itself that destroyed organic matter, or the Blind Eternities? It has to interact in some way with the BE, but the portal is instant transfer from one plane to another.


    Bolas was cooked and injured by being transported by Ugin to the Meditation plane after he was desparked. Apparently it might have taken months to heal. But this, too, was usually impossible. They removed his Magic and his long life along with his spark, so why he would still survive the BE more or less intact, I don't know. It's canon, though.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    So I read the whole book yesterday, and I have some thoughts which some may find disagreeable. I’m going to attempt to put them under a spoiler thing:



    If I had to give a rating “x/10,” I would give 3/10. I’m not a Bolas fanboy, so the rating isn’t coming from that. The rating also only has partial relevance to my earlier postings about stakes, but takes more than ‘deaths’ into account.

    1) For an end of the Bolas arc, Nicol Bolas did remarkably little. True, I read this pretty quickly, but I took a lot of screenshots as I was reading which back up my general conclusion here. Bolas was presented as far more dangerous, far more powerful, and far more . . . Nicol Bolas-y in the Amonkhet short stories than he did here. 85% of the time that he was mentioned in War of the Spark, he was described as sitting around and smiling. I can’t say my memory is perfect on this next score, but apart from blasting away Oketra and protecting Liliana for a few seconds by tumbling some buildings, did he do anything substantial before being defeated? I can’t think of anything. He never went toe-to-toe with any walker that I can recall (apart from invisible Ugin when he was desparked). And as the Elder Spell progressed, we are told Bolas is sucking in the odd spark here or there into his gem. Yet we see no god-like Bolas at any point. We don’t see astonishing power that outshines anything he did in the beginning of the story, or in any other story. Bolas simply didn’t feel like a godly threat. How could this happen? He is presented as far more impressive and powerful in the cards than in this story. Very disappointing.

    2) I had a general “What the hell?” reaction to many things, including:

    - The Beacon. Ral says “[N]either the dragon nor his minions will be able to shut it off. Hell, *I* can’t even shut it off.” They repeat this over and over in the story. But wow, later on in the story, we figure out that we can just cut the power to the Beacon. What an ingenious flaw!

    - We are set up in Ixalan, after the friendship/love story between Jace and Vraska, with Jace blocking away Vraska’s memories of him so that they could unlock their alliance when Bolas least expected it. Instead, in this book . . . a kraul telepath unlocked Vraska’s memories long before Bolas’ arrival, but then she . . . went ahead and killed people and Isperia anyway, because she was angry? What? Her whole relationship with Bolas and her actions are so convoluted now that her part in the story was just nonsensical.

    - Bolas has an Eternal army created to invade Ravnica, but then: “Eternals, despite their years of training on Amonkhet, stood little chance with their limited free will and limited agency against these Planeswalkers.” What? The Eternals fought with some semblance of free will and agency on Amonkhet. They weren’t exactly marching morons. They also exhibited a lot of their previous skill in combat and killing. Yet . . . Bolas makes them the droids from the Star Wars prequels that need a command ship (Liliana) to do anything? Nonsensical. In War of the Spark they’re just automatons, plodding around instead of being written as truly terrifying. What a lost opportunity.

    - The Eternals trained all their lives to be the most dangerous warriors Bolas could bring to bear on Ravnica. Yet throughout the story, almost every named person is killing them easily. They’re being melted, shattered, stabbed (in their eyes? I lost count how many times the author had Eternals stabbed in their eyes, by nobodies too. How do they even have eyes???), chained, on and on. Neheb, the cream of the crop? Easily beheaded. You never really feel like the Eternals are dangerous (but they're slaughtering people! Yes, but they're being slaughtered en masse, too), and that could be because of the writing style. I might address this again later, but the writer seemed to have written a long outline first, and then just added details later. There was a lot of movement in the story without a lot of meat on the bones. You would think that Neheb would have a moment of fear-inducing violence. Nope: Samut jumps on his back and cuts off his head, easily.

    - Planeswalkers throughout the story make strange observations. Ral at one point is like, “That leonin Ajani is likely from Alara.” What? There are several, at least, planes with leonins. Teyo also seems to be the writer’s mouthpiece, and the writer mentions almost all the named walker cards throughout the story, almost in passing, like he was crossing names off a list to make sure they made an appearance. (Tibalt leading forces in battle? Doesn’t make sense, but sure.) And apparently Samut knows the name of every Eternal she kills? What? Also, I think it's Teyo near the end who reflects that it was hard to feel a certain way for all the unnamed walkers who died. It's almost like the writer knows we're thinking the same thing.

    - I may have been a fool, but weren’t we set up to believe that five of the guilds were being led by five walkers loyal to Bolas, or working indirectly for Bolas? Yet when the story starts, there’s only one walker working with Bolas, directly or indirectly: Dovin. Domri doesn’t appear to be working with Bolas until he watches the Selesnya elemental get torn apart by the god-eternals. Until that point, he was fighting and killing Eternals. Then he ‘woo hoo’ed and went over to Bolas, and was promptly killed. What? What happened to the Raze Boar set-up? What happened to what I felt was the set-up of Domri working with Bolas from the start and then getting betrayed? What? Ral and Kaya are not with Bolas, and Vraska is on Ixalan for half the book.

    - The Beacon doesn’t force a planeswalk, it just strongly suggests it. How did Sorin free himself from the wall on Innistrad? We’ll never know. Why didn’t he free himself before this battle? No idea. Obviously he chose to planeswalk to Ravnica, which means he could have planeswalked from the wall any time, which makes that whole part of the Innistrad story meaningless. At most, we are told Sorin and Nahiri are fighting on rooftops. That’s it. What a waste of a story set-up.

    - So, nothing biological can pass through the Planar Bridge . . . except for planeswalkers. What? This was another point they hammered ever since the Planar Bridge was made. Yet, in this story, Ob Nixilis, Dack, Karn, and Samut just walk/fly through the portal into Amonkhet. The explanation is that their sparks somehow protect them. Then somehow, for some reason, Sarkhan Vol is on Amonkhet and helped Hazoret restore the Hekma shield (didn’t that take more than one weak god to maintain?). And feel free to inform me otherwise, since I could be wrong, but when did Sarkhan and Karn ever meet?: ‘“Sarkhan Vol.” The golem didn’t sound particularly pleased to see this Vol again. Sarkhan Vol’s attitude toward Karn seemed no more welcoming. “Karn.” Then he turned to the demon and with even less warmth said, “Nixilis.” Ob Nixilis eyed the newcomer with suspicion, “What brought you here?” “I had word – from . . . Goldmane . . . . ”’ Suddenly all these walkers know each other? I may be wrong, and if I am, I will be humbled and thankful for the education.

    - People are walking all over the city to recruit guilds to the fight, ***while people are being hunted and slaughtered***. This seemed to be a rejection of reality to me. The city is being attacked and people are being killed, yet we have the heroes mosying to different guilds to try to convince them to take up arms. There is so little sense of urgency!

    - Can we talk about the fact that Jace knew a 9-word spell to deactivate the Immortal Sun, because he somehow pulled it from Azor’s head on Ixalan? In the story, they turn *off* the Immortal Sun, then turn it back *on*, which, obviously, no one else would be able to figure out (*cough* Bolas-if-he-was-trapped *cough*). The Immortal Sun also gives god-like power to the one who stands on it, yet . . . neither Dovin nor Bolas stand on it. It just rests on top of an Azorious citadel. Then Chandra, Saheeli, and Lavinia (I think) face down Dovin and hundreds of his thopters, and *survive.* Then Dovin gets ninja stars thrown into his eyes by Lazav. Where was Chandra’s Triumph? Never happened in the story. Dovin escapes, blind, and ‘walks away. And ***no one uses the Immortal Sun against Bolas.***

    - Bolas setting up the story of the Blackblade in order to trick the Gatewatch into directing all their attention to it as the weapon to beat him. Possible, but man, did it make my head shake. Bolas doesn’t even brag about the steps he took to make it unable to ever kill an Elder Dragon again (it killed an eternalized god and Elder Demon, but shrug).

    - Throughout the story, the writer keeps pointing out that Gideon can’t share his invulnerability and must stand in the way of danger so that he takes the hits. But then, Gideon *somehow* gives his invulnerability to Liliana and takes her curse. And somehow that invulnerability immediately starts reconstituting Liliana, where never before did it ever heal (it was just a full-body barrier of light). That, too, was just head-shaking all around.

    - The Immortal Sun was still (re)activated when Gideon died. Yet he has a vision of Theros. Does he truly depart to Theros? This should be impossible. Does he just imagine it? That would make more sense, but we don’t know for sure, so it’s just nice and confusing at the same time.

    - The whole thing with Hazoret’s spear piercing the God Bolas, and him being unable to dissolve it despite being a God Bolas because he had been the one who created it, was so, so ridiculous to the point of upsetting me.

    - Another favorite: Bolas asks Ugin how Ugin managed to get past the safeguards on the Meditation Plane that Bolas had put up. They must have been considerable, considering Bolas created them. Ugin’s response? “Oh, Sarkhan helped me, because you made him angry.” What? No other explanation.

    - The Spirit Gem that Bolas has been carrying around was a piece of Ugin? What? What kind of hand-wavy nonsense is this?

    - Ugin rubs it in to Bolas that Bolas didn’t expect Hazoret’s spear to be dangerous to him. But no one knew Hazoret would give her spear to Samut and the good guys, or that it would get into the paws of Niv-Mizzet. So what the hell is he bragging about? Sarkhan didn’t really convince Hazoret to give the spear, as Ugin implies. I quote: Sarkhan: ”I came to Amonkhet with the hope of finding something on this plane that could defeat its former God-Pharaoh.” Hazoret: “Unfortunately, We know of nothing here that can defeat Nicol Bolas.” Sarkhan: “Perhaps your spear?” Hazoret: “Perhaps, though it is unlikely, as it was his creation.” No one knew for sure that the spear would be of any use! And it would take four of them to lift it!

    3) Four or five years ago, in these forums, I had put forth the idea that Bolas might try to harvest planeswalker sparks to make himself a God again. It started some heated debates, but the end result is this story clearly shows that the mere spark provides Bolas with more power (how much more? Very ill-defined. We never see super-powered Bolas do anything really impressive). But are the sparks also one’s connection to Magic? When Bolas is harvested by Bontu, all the sparks he had absorbed, including his own, are pulled out and then they dissipate. On the Meditation Plane, Ugin tells Bolas he is no longer long-lived because he is spark-less, and then we find out Bolas is also Magic-less. But Nixilis lost his spark, no? As did Teferi. They both continued to be able to use Magic though. Since this book is officially canon, what impact does this have on the past stories of walkers losing their sparks? Is your tie to Magic a result of your spark? If not, how did Bolas lose all his powers in addition to his ability to planeswalk? Is the spark also the source of Bolas’ long life? I always thought that was a result of him being an Elder Dragon. None of this is ever explained, but it’s all canon.

    4) It honestly felt like the writer wrote the story before being told by Wizards which planeswalkers would be involved in the story. It reads like an outline that is only later fleshed out. Planeswalkers are mentioned throughout the story almost in passing, a lot like the writer was told to make sure they pop up somewhere. We have Tibalt leading fighters into battle, which is crazy. We have Angrath trash-talking the Gatewatch even though he only just now found out about the Gatewatch and Bolas, and has no idea of their history. We have strange conversations and strange information about various walkers. I honestly would not be surprised if the first draft of the story simply had blank spaces for the names as placeholders until the writer knew who Wizards wanted him to put in there. It also feels like there was very little literary meat on the bones. I rarely can read through 363 pages in one day, especially on a work day, but there was so little juiciness to the story that it took me no time at all to finish it. It seemed like the reading grade level was pretty low.

    Final Thoughts:

    This story did not do justice to the conclusion of Bolas’ story arc. We’ve been led up to this moment with so much hype, and all the action takes place in less than a day. Medieval battles took longer to sort themselves out. Bolas barely does anything of note, and all his best laid plans have immediate solutions (cut the power to the Beacon, say the magic words to turn off the Immortal Sun, walk through the portal the close it from the other side, stab Bolas with a spear). How is this anything other than ridiculous? Again, I’m not a Bolas fanboy. I’m not coming at this from the perspective of someone who lives and breathes Bolas. I think, as an objective matter, this is a particularly big dud. Not well-written, way too many strange plot points or throwing out of plot points. Honestly, the story told in the cards is way better. Very disappointing.

    I had a lot of other points I wanted to make, but between yesterday and today, I’ve forgotten them.

    Sorry for the wall of text.

    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    Quote from Chalsis »
    Time Spiral: Along with Apocalypse and War of the Spark, this is the Big One, with the whole Multiverse at stake and a vast host of heroes arrayed against the big threat. But really, among the heroes, only Freyalise and Jeska die. Windgrace sacrifices his spark.


    Windgrace did more than sacrifice his spark. He turned into a giant panther's head after putting a slice of himself in the soil of Urborg, and attacked/chomped the rift above Urborg with such fury, until both Windgrace and rift devoured each other. Windgrace died.

    I won't go into the other story points because it's easy to diminish certain story points and elevate others in order to make an argument.

    ---

    As the guy who brought up Rogue One, I want to retirerate that Rogue One, along with (Yule Brenner) Magnificent Seven and Lord of the Rings, were brought up to show the cost/stakes for good guys in trying to defeat overwhelming bad guys. I defined 'stakes' for myself this way. Arguing that I want the story of Rogue One (all new characters dying) is intellectually dishonest and willfully misrepresenting my point.

    ---

    I would also compare the Bolas arc favorably, in fact very favorably, to Yawgmoth's arc, as far as their similarities. Both involve extremely powerful entities with 'outcast-y' origins, who are seeking to reattain that which they lost at any cost, across any number of planes. Yawgmoth was plane-bound. Bolas was not. Both caused untild suffering among many in order to achieve their goals. Both used a side-plane that they structured for themselves to facilitate and assist their invasion of another plane (Rath/Amonkhet). Both used powerful individuals to work through. Both, ultimately, failed.

    Both also threatened to destroy the plane upon which their final fight was to take place.

    I already listed them in a previous post, but Yawgmoth's arc ended with at least 8 planeswalkers losing their lives, and very many named non-walker characters dying (including the hero). Bolas (to be fair; I endeavor to be a straight-shooter) is responsible for a lot of death for the entirety of his arc. Without question.

    The issue for me is that the majority of deaths for Yawgmoth, according to the story, of named characters occurred in the end of the story, during the invasion and apocalypse. And it should have.

    Was Bolas' invasion of Ravnica different? Yes. It wasn't an overlay of the whole plane, and was centered in the middle of the city. But his purpose was explicitly to kill and drain planeswalkers. Yawgmoth's was to conquer Dominaria and kill everything if he had to.

    So my issue remains, if Bolas' explicit purpose was to kill walkers, and only three walkers we know died, how is that not a cop out? They didn't have to write it that walkers had to die to be drained. But they chose to, and then killed almost no one. That's not our fault.

    Yawgmoth set a high bar. He's the Ineffable (why is Ugin called the Ineffable? That was a very well-known Yawgmoth title). I don't expect all the walkers to die. I just expect that if Wizards decides draining a walker requires the walkers dying, and Bolas' plan was to kill as many walkers as possible, then only three deaths is ridiculous.

    I'm not bloodthirsty, I just want them to follow through on their hype.

    ---

    It's Easter weekend, so I won't likely be responding much. For much of this, it's agree to disagree. We don't have to hate each other over this.
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
  • posted a message on Ravnica Allegiance (RNA) and War of the Spark (WAR) General Discussion
    Quote from Omnirahk »
    Quote from Perkunas687 »
    Those of you who have seen some of my other posts know that I get a bit wordy. But whatevs, I will word it up again.

    Stakes. Stakes, man.

    One thing I really, really liked about Star Wars: Rogue One was the concept of ‘stakes.’ The fate of the universe hinges on this one team pulling off the impossible. And as they start proving successful, we’re feeling good, until, uh oh, one of them dies. Okay, well, that’s just one. And then another main character dies. And then another. And another. Suddenly, you realize this is *for real*. The Good Guys have gone up against the Bad Guys, and you begin to realize there’s a chance the Good Guys don’t make it out. Every moment, every death, has gravitas now, even though we’ve only just met them. Now we see just how powerful and dangerous the Empire is. Now we see why the galaxy is right to fear them. So much death and loss, and then, at the very end . . . Hope.

    I can’t remember another movie like that. Maybe the original Magnificent Seven, with Brenner? In LOTR, none of the major characters really died apart from Theoden and Boromir.


    Rogue One is arguably on of the worst movies to use as an example of setting the stakes well.

    As a prequel, we knew the team would succeed in their mission because we'd already seen the results of their success in a movie that came out long prior to Rogue One. There was never a chance of failure.

    You could argue that the deaths raise the stakes, but even that falls through when you put a bit more thought into it:

    Who dies? Characters introduced specifically for this movie who we have no prior interest in (a small step above no name background characters since they are our central protagonists for this single movie).

    Why do they die? Simple, the Star Wars franchise has experience with prequel-related plot holes. By killing off any and all new 'important' characters introduced in this prequel, they avoid the question of where these 'important' people were during the movies that followed them and why they weren't helping out. And we know this is the case, because they used that same tactic with the Solo movie and killing off characters in it.

    With no chance of failure and the no chance for brand new characters to survive, how were the stakes high again?

    I mean, would people really be happier with the War of the Spark storyline if instead of what we have we got 5 brand new planeswalkers that worked together to beat Bolas but all/most were killed in the process/


    The stakes refer to the character's lives being in jeopardy, not to the success of the mission. Everyone knows the Empire is eventually defeated. What we didn't know going in (I left my future sight at home) was how the plans were delivered to the Alliance, and who was going to live and who was going to die. A bit presumptuous to say that anyone not in the original trilogy but referenced or appearing in previous movies must be dead just because they don't show up in the OT.

    Also, and I would think this was obvious, but the Rogue One reference, and the Magnificent Seven reference, and the LOTR reference, are all about stakes as far as lives. Heroes dying at the hands of the bad guys. Facing overwhelming odds and losing people along the way.

    Your last paragraph is therefore probably a strawman argument. You're debating with yourself a point I never made.

    (Also, for what it's worth, we all had a good idea of how the Bolas story was going to work out in the end, just as we knew, watching Rogue One, that the Empire was eventually going to lose.)
    Posted in: Magic Storyline
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