This year is going to be big for Magic and Wizards has made no secret of that fact. With Magic: Origins comes both the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. We’ve been told that Origins will set the stage for the stories over the next few blocks, introducing us to the new two-block paradigm. To put the cherry on the top of this Magic sundae, Wizards has made it abundantly clear that people should be paying very close attention to the coverage of PAX Prime. So what does this all mean? Let’s look at the Magic: Origins stories and start some wild speculation about Battle for Zendikar and beyond.

Magic Origins

Origins will be the final core set ever released (assuming we don’t return to three-set blocks). The set will revolve around five major planeswalkers who will be the focus of the game’s main story for the next few blocks. The ‘walkers featured are Chandra, Gideon, Jace, Liliana, and Nissa. Origins will, as the name implies, introduce us to the home planes of each of these walkers and also show us the moment that all five of them had their spark ignited. Mechanically this will be done through double-faced cards that are legendary creatures on one side and planeswalker cards on the other.

Before I spend 2,000 words explaining myself, I’ll share my theory with you. The Battle for Zendikar is only the beginning of an epic multi-block story the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Tempest saga culminated with the mutual destruction of Urza and Yawgmoth in the Apocalypse on Dominaria. Yes, I’m talking that level of storytelling over the course of several years spanning almost all of the major planeswalkers and ultimately resolving one of the main threats to the multiverse.

I’m not just thinking about something small like the Eldrazi being re-captured by Ugin, Sorin, Nissa, and Nahiri. Not something as minor as Jace and Gideon bringing order to Ravnica. Not something as individualistic as Liliana slaying the rest of her demons, or Chandra settling her score with Nicol Bolas. Think bigger and then think bigger than that.

Think, Eldrazi versus Phyrexians. Think Nicol Bolas forging uneasy alliances with Jace and Ugin in order to achieve mutual goals. Think friends turning on each other and enemies becoming allies and all the time a war raging across the multiverse. It’s a lot to take in, so let’s start with the Origins.

Chandra Nalaar

We last saw Chandra chasing Ramaz, a planeswalker who had manipulated her into going to Zendikar to seek the Eye of Ugin, Ramaz had been sent by a mysterious dragon which we now know to be Nicol Bolas. According to Doug Beyer she has returned to the monastery on Regatha where she studied her pyromancy at the school based on Jaya Ballard’s teachings. Chandra has been biding her time, something very out of character for a red mage. It’s possible she’s just been waiting for the right moment to seek out Bolas or she’s been honing her pyromancy in preparation for that meeting. Either way, she could be on her way back to Zendikar to find out more about why the Elder Dragon Legend sent her there in the first place.

Gideon Jura

Gideon’s story is that of a zealous paladin of sorts. He’s first seen trying to bring order to the chaos of Regatha, where he comes face-to-face with Chandra. He then followed after her to Zendikar but did not find her there. Instead, he came across the Eldrazi menace and fought some of their horde valiantly. Realizing the battle odds were too far stacked against him he ‘walked to Ravnica seeking the help of a planeswalker organization known as the Infinite Consortium. What he found instead was a plane in even more chaos. He signed up with the Boros legion and has been attempting to bring order to the City of Guilds.

Jace Beleren

Jace has seemingly been everywhere including the Eye of Ugin on Zendikar when the Eldrazi awoke. Now he has made his was to Ravnica, where he was once a member of the Infinite Consortium that Gideon sought (see how things start to connect). At the conclusion of the Dragon’s Maze, Jace became the living embodiment of the Guildpact, the magical contract that maintains the delicate balance between the guilds of Ravnica. It is unknown whether he can even leave Ravnica anymore, given the importance of his role to the city’s stability.

Liliana Vess

Our favorite necromancer’s story has become very dark as she continues her search for the remaining two demons who own a piece of her soul. She is currently, according to Uncharted Realms, holed up on Innistrad where she is recuperating from the effects of attempting to rid herself of the Chain Veil. It would seem that the Veil, according to MTGSalavation, is an ancient artifact of a long-dead civilization that left it as a means for their return. Surely Liliana’s demon-hunting quest will soon be renewed. Perhaps her path is destined to cross with her former lover Jace, or her former employer Nicol Bolas…

Nissa Revane

Poor Nissa. Her spark ignited at a young age and she was exiled from her tribe for her wanderlust. She soon found a new tribe and became wiser and once more set out into the Blind Eternities. Nissa traveled far and wide including stops in Lorwyn, Ravnica, and Mirrodin before returning to her home on Zendikar. After some time, the Eldrazi deep within the world began to stir and Sorin Markov sought out Nissa to help reinforce the binding spell that kept the monsters asleep. Instead, Nissa believed that if freed the Eldrazi would leave her world. She was wrong and they wreaked havoc on her world. Since then she has left to find Sorin Markov to set things right.


Now that we know where we are with the five planeswalkers of the upcoming Magic: Origins expansion, let’s talk for a moment about Zendikar, the setting for the fall block. The story of Zendikar begins hundreds if not thousands of years ago when three ‘walkers made a pact to use the world to create a prison for the Eldrazi, three massive titans who were wreaking havoc across the multiverse. These three succeeded in their goal, at least temporarily. Now, their story has been reignited by the events that have transpired on Tarkir. Let’s catch up with them as well.

Nahiri, the Lithomancer

Nahiri was the lynch-pin of the plans to imprison the Eldrazi. She is a native of Zendikar, coming from the Kor race of humanoids. Her magic comes from a long line of lithomancers whose talents still live on in modern Zendikar. Nahiri crafted the prison within the world that held the Eldrazi in place. Her current whereabouts are unknown, but in a recent Uncharted Realms it was revealed that Sorin Markov knows where Nahiri is, and that he had done something to her. The wild speculation is that she was transformed into another pale-skinned, dark-mascara, white-haired character: Avacyn.

Sorin Markov

The vampire planeswalker Sorin Markov has found himself at the center of events on Zendikar twice now. First, he was there as a member of the trio that imprisioned the Eldrazi and then later he guided Nissa Revane to the Eye of Ugin where she freed the monsters from their slumber. After a return to his home of Innistrad he was shocked to find that Avacyn, the protector he had left in his stead, was missing. Those events sorted themselves out thanks to Liliana and Sorin was able to return to his mission to re-capture the Eldrazi. He left for Tarkir, traveling for the first time ever to the home of his ancient friend Ugin.

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

The story of Tarkir was about Sarkhan Vol, but ultimately the benefactor was Ugin. Originally, in a timeline that no longer exists, the Spirit Dragon was killed in battle by Nicol Bolas. In the new timeline he was saved by Sarkhan and ended up in a coma-like state for 1200 years, after which he was awoken by Sorin Markov. Upon being informed that the Eldrazi have returned, Ugin sent Sorin to fetch Nahiri. Presumably Ugin will take stock of what has changed on Tarkir in 1200 years before making his way to Zendikar to meet up with Sorin, and possibly Nahiri.

The Battle for Zendikar

So where does that leave us? We have eight planeswalkers all with a direct or indirect tie to Zendikar. In fact, the only ‘walker on this list who hasn’t yet stepped foot on Zendikar in the canonical story is Liliana Vess. However, she has close ties to Jace Beleren and an indirect connection with Sorin Markov. It’s also possible that the demon Ob Nixilis plays into Liliana’s story in some way. It is no stretch to imagine all of them making their way to participate in the epic Battle for Zendikar.

And honestly why shouldn’t they? Everyone loves a blockbuster and we have the makings of a massive epic here. So we’ve gotten the run-down on the good guys, who are the bad guys?

The Eldrazi

It’s no secret that the Eldrazi are going to be the entry point into this epic story. We already have the reunion of the three planeswalkers who imprisoned the Eldrazi impending, likely taking place in the fall set. It is also likely that Nissa will make here way into the story. The monsters run rampant across the land and the survivors are all but powerless to stop them. Even though the three titans, Emrakul, Ulamog, and Kozilek, have left, there are still many Eldrazi spawn left running wild.

If the Planeswalker Avengers, so to say, want to put the Eldrazi back where they belong then first they’ll need to re-take Zendikar and prepare the prison. Then they’ll need to track down Emrakul, Ulamog, and Kozilek and force them back to Zendikar so they can reseal them within the world. That’s where things could get interesting.

The Phyrexians

We left the Phyrexians on the corrupted world of Mirrodin, but we certainly haven’t seen the last of them. There are, in my mind, three ways this can play out in epic fashion:

  • The Eldrazi titans, in their search for planes to devour, make their way to New Phyrexia. The Planeswalker Avengers track them down there and have to contend with both sides in order to return the Eldrazi to Zendikar.
  • Karn carried the phyrexian oil with him to many planes, not just mirrodin, so its possible that the virus has taken root on other worlds and the Eldrazi or the Planeswalkers will come across one or more of these places in their attempts to re-capture the Titans.
  • The phyrexians on New Phyrexia rediscover the ancient technology that allowed them to create portals to travel between planes, and travel to Zendikar to hunt down the Eldrazi themselves.

I’m sure there are other means by which it can happen, but ultimately I think it’s well within the realm of possibility to have the Eldrazi and the Phyrexians cross paths. I don’t think that this epic is going to be about putting an end to New Phyrexia. That’s a threat for another day. Ultimately I believe this story resolves itself with the Eldrazi being put back in their place on Zendikar. However, the Phryexians could make for a very interesting speed-bump in this story.

Nicol Bolas

Last but not least is Nicol Bolas, who I consider the most prevalent threat to the multiverse. In continuing the Avengers metaphor, Nicol Bolas is Thanos, manipulating the manipulators all across the Blind Eternities. As someone who is interested in self-preservation and amassing as much power as possible, the fact that the Eldrazi (and Phyrexians) are traveling from world to world devouring everything is a bit of a conundrum.

Bolas plays into our story in so many ways it’s virtually impossible for him not to show up in some way, shape, or form. He manipulated Chandra into going to Zendikar. He has battled with Jace on several occasions. He has manipulated Liliana into betraying both Tezzeret and Jace. He thinks he killed Ugin 1,200 years ago. As far as we know he’s had no interaction with Gideon, Nissa, Sorin, or Nahiri but honestly, Nicol Bolas’s presence in this story is inevitable. It’s a matter of when, not if.

Final Thoughts

The story that begins this fall with the Battle of Zendikar may be a self-contained story that begins and ends with the two sets in the block. However, I think Wizards would be missing out on a huge opportunity to create a great epic multi-block story if they went down that route. Instead, they should give the fans what they want and travel across the planes from Zendikar, to Ravnica, to Theros, to Innistrad, and possibly even New Phyrexia in a fantastic tale of the planeswalker coalition hunting down and capturing the Eldrazi once and for all.

Besides, isn’t there a Magic the Gathering motion picture coming out sometime in the next few years?

The Quick Hits

  • Travis Woo took to social media to explore the many reasons why we build decks of Magic cards [Channel Fireball]
  • PucaTrade’s IndieGoGo was fully funded which means they’ll be developing a way to trade paper cards for digital cards and that’s pretty awesome [Indie GoGo]
  • Adam Prosak and Ian Duke talk about the design and development of Tempest Remasters [DailyMTG]
  • Gianluca Aicardi organized an online competition using decks consisting only of cards with the same artist and the results were interesting [PureMTGO]
  • The TCGPlayer Invitational will be inviting any player who made the Top 8 of a Grand Prix or Pro Tour between June 2014 and June 2015 because we couldn’t have a nice tournament circuit for amateur players could we? [TCGPlayer]
  • MJ Scott cosplay accompanied by Ant Tessitore fan fiction. Go enjoy [Gathering Magic]
  • Sean Uy kicks off a new puzzle column featuring a limited stalemate challenge for all us nerds [Gathering Magic]
  • Mike Linnemann takes a look at 11 of the most controversial artists in Magic’s history [Gathering Magic]
  • John Dale Beety is not happy with the rewriting of Gideon Jura’s character [Star City Games]
  • Hall of Fame Pro Player Raph Levy takes a look at brewing your own decks versus net-decking [TCGPlayer]
  • Reid Duke shares a personal anecdote of his time learning martial arts and how he’s applied those lessons to playing Magic [Channel Fireball]
  • I have to admit that I thought Super Standard League was an April Fool’s joke but it’s totally a real thing [Quiet Speculation]
  • Hallie Santo talks about playing against opponents you think are better than you and how not everyone is perfect [Gathering Magic]
  • Sam Stoddard reveals a card that development thought would be a constructed staple but never panned out [Daily Developments]
  • Matt Sperling has some valuable life lessons/magic lessons so pay close attention [Channel Fireball]

Wallpaper of the Week

Happy April Fools Day Wallpaper!

Grade: A++

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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