Ahoy planeswalkers!

In my first column, I speculated about the planeswalkers who might show up and play a role in the story of Amonkhet. Now, twelve days out from the start of the Amonkhet story and just over two weeks away from the start of spoilers, it’s time for more predictions about just what Amonkhet holds in store!

1. We will have new gods, but they will not be enchantment creatures.

Indestructible enchantment creatures are, of course, the manner in which we saw gods on Theros. The Professor has expressed some anxiety about the looming specter of new gods, noting that enchantment creature gods on both Amonkhet and Theros would make the two planes less unique. Chief Hipster Rich Stein, meanwhile, boldly predicted the return of devotion last year, again envisioning gods on Amonkhet that will be similar to those on Theros.

While it is tempting to expect that Amonkhet’s gods would work in a similar way, especially with Cataclysmic Gearhulk seemingly built to seed the return of enchantment creatures, I don’t think this is what we’re going to find. Devotion and enchantment-creatures were meant to capture the flavor of Theros, a plane whose natural magic allows belief and worship to grant power. By contrast, I would expect the gods on Bolas’s plane to have been created by him to serve his interests—and his schemes.

In terms of how this might translate to an actual Magic card… With their metal heads on otherwise humanoid bodies, they might be typed as construct gods or golem gods, although I could also see them just being gods. If you look at the art released on the Magic website, each god’s clothing is trimmed with one of the five colors, so they should be a mono-colored cycle. Mechanically, I think that they will keep the indestructible keyword, and they will probably offer a powerful boost if you meet certain in-game conditions (to represent earning the god’s blessing by completing their trial, much the way devotion captured the flavor of the Theros god gaining power from worship).

2. We will see a legendary creature from Amonkhet become a planeswalker in Hour of Devastation.

This is the biggest long shot of my predictions, and I’m not sure I expect to be right, but I also think this is a perfect block for Wizards to do something like this. One of the theories floating around about the Trial of the Five Gods is that Bolas is trying to create new planeswalkers who are loyal to him. Planeswalker sparks ignite in moments of great stress and agony; by creating a cult of feeding every denizen of his plane through these taxing trials, Bolas could be trying to ensure any person with a spark ignites that spark. Bolas can then seek out the new planeswalkers and try to ensure their loyalty—and probably kill them on the spot if they will not pledge their loyalty to him.

Added to the strain of the trials themselves is the apocalyptic suggestion of the title of the second set: Hour of Devastation. This gives us another way that a spark could ignite. If the God-Pharaoh of Amonkhet returns and comes to destroy the plane to augment his own power—and let’s face it, Bolas has a history of doing just that—the crisis of faith and the stress of the attack could ignite someone’s spark.

Again, this is a long shot prediction, but I really think that this might be the right spot for Wizards to do something like this.

3. Chandra will help Liliana fight Razaketh, and the battle will be costly.

Since Liliana learned from Tezzeret that chasing Bolas will also bring the Gatewatch to the doorstep of one of her demonic masters, she’s gearing up to try taking another one down. One reason she joined the Gatewatch was, after all, because she thinks she will need help killing the last two. However, most of the other members of the Gatewatch have concerns about Liliana: she and Gideon rarely see eye to eye, Nissa finds her magic and her manipulations repulsive, and even Jace is a bit fidgety about her. Chandra, though, is poised to be won over by the necromancer: Liliana, after all, brought her back to Kaladesh, setting into motion the chain of events that allowed Chandra to reconnect with Pia Nalaar and bring Baral, Chief of Compliance to justice.

I predict that Liliana will bring Chandra to her battle with Razaketh, and Razaketh is going to wound one of them badly. Most likely, Razaketh is going to wound Chandra, giving Liliana the opening she needs to slay her demon but forcing Liliana to get the injured pyromancer to safety after. (Although perhaps Liliana will be forced to choose between killing Razaketh and saving Chandra, resulting is Razaketh being able to get away.) It’s also possible, however, that Razaketh nearly kills Liliana and Chandra makes the save. No matter what, though, I think this fight is going to leave the Gatewatch shorthanded by one or two members heading into the final battle with Bolas.

4. If the size of Gatewatch changes, it will increase, not decrease.

Speculation is circulating that the Gatewatch might suffer its first death, while John Dale Beety at Star City Games posits that the Gatewatch is getting too big, predicting that someone’s about to leave the group. I don’t buy either of these theories. A larger Gatewatch would actually open things up for the Gatewatch to split up more, dispatching in smaller teams to different worlds as their reputation grows. This would help space the characters out and actually help limit character burnout. Also, Wizards has prioritized diversifying the face of Magic in recent years. At some point, this needs to translate to its flagship super-team, because right now, #GatewatchSoWhite.

There’s no obvious Gatewatch member in my “smart money” trio from my last column of Domri Rade, Ashiok, and a new green planeswalker. My two wild cards, however, might fit right in. Kaya might be on the Gatewatch fast-track. It’s clear from Kelly Digges’s and Monique Jones’s comments that Wizards has bigger plans for her. She makes sense for the Gatewatch along the same lines as Chandra: while she’s a mercenary, she has a clear moral code and a commitment to facilitating personal freedom.

Koth, meanwhile, is probably the biggest slam-dunk future Gatewatch member in the multiverse. He has seen the Phyrexians take his home plane. Now there’s a group dedicated to protecting the people of the many planes from just such interplanar threats. As soon as he slips from the Phyrexians’ grasp, he’s going to be taking the oath.

5. Vraska is going to show up in a wild finale.

It is widely felt that the Gatewatch is due for a loss. I don’t think they’re heading for a total loss, and I certainly don’t think this block is going to be where we see the first Gatewatch death, but I do think the ending of this story is going to be rough on them.

My theory is that Bolas is coming back to harvest the plane in order to reclaim his pre-mending power, similar to his scheme on Alara. This will be the Hour of Devastation. I think the Gatewatch will foil this scheme—Wizards isn’t going to blow up a new plane on the first visit—but it will be followed by a duel with Nicol Bolas, who is going to lay a beating on the Gatewatch.

I also theorize that Vraska is working with Bolas. Visiting Bolas’s Meditation Realm feels like a viable explanation for Vraska leaving Ravnica for an untraceable destination. The two also seem like logical allies: Vraska might be willing to serve Bolas if it will bring her revenge on Jace, and Bolas certainly could use a planeswalking master assassin.

So, we have the Gatewatch (probably the Origins Five minus Chandra and/or Liliana) in the midst of the final battle against Bolas (and possibly Ashiok). The Gatewatch is trying to stave off Bolas’s assault. They’re on the ropes but holding it together, when suddenly Vraska flanks them, injuring someone—Nissa? Liliana?—and causing the Gatewatch’s formation to buckle. Now it’s time to planeswalk away, but Vraska tells Jace, “Come find me on Atlazan.”

After the end of the block, several members of the Gatewatch need time to recuperate on Ravnica, but Jace heads after Vraska, knowing he’s probably heading into a trap, but not daring to let her operate unchecked.

Some have suggested that Atlazan will be a side story featuring Ajani’s adventures while the Gatewatch is on Amonkhet, but the leaked packaging doesn’t back that up. A block’s protagonist is generally in the first set—Jace in Return to Ravnica, Elspeth in Theros, Sarkhan in Khans of Tarkir, etc.—but Ajani seems to be featured in the second set. If Atlazan is real, mark my words, one of the Origins Five will be at the forefront of the story. And given Jace and Vraska’s history, I think it’s got to be Jace.

Beck Holden is a Ph.D. student in theater who lives in the greater Boston area. He enjoys drafting, brewing for standard, and playing 8-Rack in modern. He also writes intermittently about actually playing Magic at beholdplaneswalker.wordpress.com.

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