The flavor of the the Magic universe is one of the most important parts of the game. Each year the creative team brings us to a brand new world. Often accompanying these worlds are stories helping introduce the players to the place they are spending the next 12 months of their Magical lives. This week we got the first large look at Elspeth’s story in Theros.


The first of three Theros books, Godsend, finally was released last week. I had pre-ordered it some time ago and was definitely looking forward to it. For sometime now we’ve known that the main story in Theros revolves around Elspeth, a planeswalker we haven’t heard much from since the war that turned Mirrodin into New Phyrexia. That was three years ago.

What’s great about Jenna Helland’s storytelling in Godsend is the depiction of all of the gods of Theros. Instead of all-powerful beings she manages to humanize them in a way that allows the reader to relate to them. However, they still exist as all-powerful beings and manage to constantly ruin the lives of the humans who worship them.

Godsend includes a who’s who of Theros which helps the players relate to the cards they’re playing with. Many of the gods appear in the story, which highlights Heliod and Purphoros with appearances by Nylea and Thassa. Plenty of other gods also make an appearance. The main villain of the story, of course, is none other than Xenagos.

By connecting the players to the world they’re playing in, Wizards enriches the experience of playing Magic. What’s a bit surprising is that the novels are the extent of the branding we get for Theros. IDW publishes a Magic comic book but it doesn’t take place in Theros. Sure, we’re getting a movie soon, but also not connected to Theros. Hopefully the brand department is on top of this for the next block.

Ultimately though, Godsend delivers in painting the setting of Theros and setting up the major plot of the rest of the story, pitting Elspeth and Xenagos against the gods of the world. In true Greek mythology fashion we are introduced to a fantastic world with larger than life characters, incredible monsters, nefarious villains, and heroic deeds. The gods are fickle and the humans rise to the challenge to overcome them.

Part two releases in a month and I am looking forward to finding out what Born of the Gods really means for Elspeth and Xenagos and the gods of Theros.

Pro Tour Update

Top 25 Update

Wait, wasn't there only one tournament last week?

Wait, wasn’t there only one tournament last week?

Well this is what happens with a revolving point system, I guess. Even though there was only one Grand Prix last week, there was a significant amount of movement around the middle of the top rankings. The top-of-the-top were safe from this shake-up but nearly everyone else was impacted.

Grand Prix Phoenix


Over 1,400 players arrived for the Standard Grand Prix in Phoenix, AZ this weekend. At the end of day one, sitting at the top of the standings were (6) Shahar Shenhar and (23) Eric Froehlich. Chasing on their heels were (11) Alexander Hayne and (18) Paul Rietzl. 172 players returned for day two and when the dust settled only Froehlich was left representing the top-25 in the top-8 of the tournament.

The top-8 featured a handful of characters all hoping to defeat the heavily favored Froehlich. The 23rd-ranked player in the world would have an early exit from the final tables, losing 2-1 to former Arizona State Champion Gary Wong. Wong would go up against California student Nathan Holiday while on the other side of the bracket Robert Berni and William Levin faced off.

The finals pitted Holiday with Texan planeswalker Robert Berni for the top prize of Grand Prix Phoenix champion. The match pitted Mono-U against Mono-B, the defining match-up of this Standard environment. As usual, Nightveil Spector pulled its weight on both sides of the board, but came up biggest for Berni in the third game of the match.

Congratulations to Robert Berni, Grand Prix Phoenix 2014 champion!

The Quick Hits

  • Mark Rosewater breaks down the tenets of Lenticular Design which is the practice of making cards that are easy to understand by new players but still provide depth of strategy for experienced players. It’s very compelling [Making Magic]
  • Peyton Hahn is the latest writer to throw his hat in to the ring of proponents of being a nice person when playing Magic [Peyton’s Place]
  • Brian Demars shares some of the great advice about tournament Magic that he’s received over the years [StarCityGames]
  • Mike & Tifa Robles share their Magic-themed wedding with the community. Bonus points for a Zendikar full-art land station [Gathering Magic]
  • Mike Linnemann wrote a brilliant guide about shipping original Magic artwork [Gathering Magic]
  • Wizards announces the next set in the Duel Decks series [Magic Arcana]
  • The Planeswalker’s Guide to Journey into Nyx has been released along with the stunning reveal that Ajani will make an appearance to come to his close friend Elspeth’s aid [Daily MTG]
  • PVDDR talks about what makes a deck hard to play and rates some of the current decks in different metagames [PV’s Playhouse]
  • Evan Erwin kicks off his new Forgotten Lore series with a look back at the excitement that was Zendikar [Forgotten Lore]
  • Adam Barnello dreams about playing Magic, or perhaps it’s a nightmare… [Recurring Nightmares]
  • Jason Alt shares some altered images of the Theros gods as members of the Polyphonic Spree, or Arcade Fire, or something [Quiet Speculation]
  • Corbin Hosler’s research reveals that more people currently play Magic the Gathering than the highest population that World of Warcraft ever reached [Quiet Speculation]

Wallpaper of the Week

Someone should write an Atlas Shrugged for socialists.

Someone should write an Atlas Shrugged for socialists.

This week’s wallpaper, Weight of the Underworld, is as dark as last week’s wallpaper was light. In a play on the Greek myth of Atlas who bore the weight of the planet, the artwork depicts a titan bearing the underworld of Theros. The result is a highly flavorful desktop well worth downloading.

Grade: A-

The Week Ahead

Next weekend brings us a Grand Prix double-header with two Theros/Born of the Gods limited tournaments. The first one comes to us from Nagoya, Japan. The city of Nagoya, located an hour west of Tokyo as the crow flies, was last home to a GP in December of 2012. Yuuji Okita emerged victorious in the Standard event with a Cavern of Souls-fueled four-color Humans deck.

On the other side of the planet, plenty more packs of Theros and Born of the Gods will be opened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The City of Brotherly Love has been the home of many major Magic tournaments in the past. This will be the sixth Grand Prix held in Philly, which has also been home to two Pro Tours in the past.

Meanwhile, Boston will once again be host to Penny Arcade Expo: East this upcoming weekend. Yours truly will be on-site for the annual Magic panel. Last year Wizards used the panel to announce the Theros block and the year before they announced Return to Ravnica. Expect to know much more about “Huey” on Monday. I’ll be live-tweeting the Magic panel and wrapping up the fallout next Monday right here.

What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. Each week we will take a look at the past seven days of major events, big news items, and community happenings so that you can keep up-to-date on all the latest and greatest Magic: the Gathering community news.

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