Ahoy planeswalkers! After a couple of pretty heavy columns the last couple weeks, I’d like to take a step back for some fun future speculation. With Halloween bearing down upon us, I’m particularly feeling the urge to share some of my wilder theories and save my more earnest speculation for my next column. Don’t get me wrong, the predictions I make today all have a nonzero chance of coming true—but they are perhaps best enjoyed while wearing a tin foil hat. While I’m writing with a great deal of conviction, I’ll be surprised if I have more than one correct prediction here.

That’s enough of an introduction. Let’s start with a big one!

Rivals of Ixalan Will Be a Gold Set

So, our heroes are locked in a race for the Immortal Sun in the golden city of Orazca. Gold has a very specific connotation in Magic: it is the color of multicolor cards. This is a somewhat peripheral connection, but that’s not the only reason to suspect that the next set might have a gold theme as a surprising twist on Ixalan’s tribal themes.

Jay Annelli has pointed out that the combination of gold and jade in Orazca points to a shared past on the part of the Sun Empire and the River Heralds. The Brazen Coalition and the Dusk Legion, meanwhile, also have some shared history, hailing from the same continent. What if the quest for the Immortal Sun brings about alliances across tribal lines? From a design standpoint, I could see a set that enables builds based on two four-color alliances, with a few uncommons designed to help bridge the tribal synergies between the tribes (perhaps creatures with replacement abilities that, say, make vampire effects instead affect vampires or pirates).

In story, we already have had an alliance of sorts between the River Heralds and the Sun Empire in Huatli, Warrior Poet and Tishana, Voice of Thunder. Or, perhaps the set will permit a wider range of pairings? The last episode of Magic Story includes a strange alliance between Angrath and Huatli.

And speaking of Angrath…

Angrath, Son of Tahngarth

We got some nice new information about Angrath on Wednesday: he’s a minotaur family man, your average blacksmith with two beloved daughters who just happens to be able to jump between worlds. He’s turned into the vicious fellow we met because he accidentally got himself stuck on Ixalan and has been away from his family for years now.

I’ve flirted with this one before, but now I’m committing. Angrath is Tahngarth’s descendent, and I’m hoping his son. Sure, this seems like a wild guess when the only safe connection we have right now is that they are minotaurs and have similar names. But there is one more big connection that might just be the key here: Angrath is a pirate captain.

How many happily-settled minotaur blacksmiths know their way around a ship?

This is not a trivial question. Bolas had to dump an encyclopedic knowledge of sailing directly into Vraska’s brain to make her a credible captain. It is no easy feat to master this knowledge well enough to earn a crew on Ixalan. While Angrath isn’t from a plane we’ve visited before, we haven’t yet seen a plane in which sailing is a major part of minotaur culture. I suspect that, as a blacksmith, he isn’t much of a seafarer in his regular life. But what if his father knew his way around a ship?

When last we saw him, Tahngarth had survived the events of the Phyrexian Invasion of Dominaria as part of Captain Sisay’s crew (along with Squee). After his adventures sailing across the multiverse in a skyship, might he have eventually settled on the plane from which Angrath hails, which apparently boasts a fairly civilized minotaur population compared to some other planes? And if he had children, odds are reasonable that he would have taught them a bit about handling a ship. This seems to me to be among the most plausible explanations for how this sole minotaur pirate captain garnered the skills to lead a crew on Ixalan, and it doesn’t hurt that it would be a nice bit of fan service heading into Dominaria.

Breeches, the Goblin Commander of your Dreams

Breeches, a goblin member of Vraska’s crew, has become a quick fan favorite for his hijinks in Magic Story:

Rivals of Ixalan has a glut of legendary creatures who seem like they should or could be in line for cards: Kumena, Adrian Adanto, Arguel, Aclazotz, Emperor Apatzec, Captain Ripley Vance, Captain Brandis Thorn, Saint Elenda, and the Firebird have all seen enough name-dropping that they might get cards. And that’s to say nothing of Angrath’s anticipated planeswalker card. Compared to these characters, Breeches is pretty small potatoes.

Goblins, though, are a beloved tribe, and most blocks that feature goblins do produce at least one legend. Consider: Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker on Kamigawa, Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer on Mirrodin, Tuktuk the Explorer and Zada, Hedron Grinder on Zendikar, and the two versions of Wort on Lorwyn. This isn’t always the case, clearly—Ravnica’s Krenko, Mob Boss and Shattergang Brothers waited for a core set and Commander, respectively, while Tarkir’s Vial Smasher the Fierce also came in a Commander release. However, it’s at least reasonable to think that Wizards would prioritize giving players a legendary goblin pirate, which could have motivated his inclusion in the story. And, even if he doesn’t make it into Rivals of Ixalan, look for this murderous rag doll to make the cut for a Commander set in coming years. Look out, Krenko and Ib Halfheart!

There’s Another Player in the Race for the Immortal Sun

Ixalan has a lot going on in the foreground: four planebound factions and four planeswalkers, some with their own agendas, racing for the Immortal Sun. There are a few subtle things going on in the cards, however, that suggest that some big reveals still loom on the horizon. There has, in particular, been some buzz on Vorthos Twitter about the ecological thread of environmental destruction on cards like Spreading Rot and Blight Keeper.

There’s another thread I’d like to pull at, however, as we speed towards Halloween: necromancy. Consider these cards: March of the Drowned, Grim Captain’s Call, and Boneyard Parley.

What makes these cards stand out to me? They are the only places where we see non-vampire undead. Yet no zombies or skeletons appear on actual creature cards. This makes me suspect that there’s a reveal coming up—it puts me somewhat in mind of the scattering of Kozilek eldrazi in Battle for Zendikar. They were depicted underground—see Kozilek’s Sentinel, for instance—leading up to Kozilek bursting out of the ground during the set’s climactic battle with Ulamog.

I think we’re going to get a pirate captain who is a necromancer. So, get ready for some skeleton pirates or zombie pirates, possibly as part of the blue/black pirates subtheme for Rivals of Ixalan!

This Is All Part of the Plan

Alright, I’m closing with a theory that the Magic Story Team explicitly denied on Wednesday, but hear me out: Jace meeting Vraska on Ixalan is part of Bolas’s plan.

In Hour of Devastation, we saw Bolas supervillain-masterminding to a kind of absurd degree. He predicted when he would be done with the Gatewatch with astonishing precision, to the point that he rags on Tezzeret for being a couple of minutes later than he said. While he’s at it, he triumphs in the Gatewatch’s survival, suggesting that he sees its members as still useful to his schemes

And this mastermind, this millenniums-old planeswalker who learned everything about sailing just for fun, sends Vraska to recover the Immortal Sun (widely theorized to be the intended power source for Ral Zarek’s Planar Bridge). And he sends here with a broken compass? That Jace has to fix?

There are other viable theories here. It could be that this is one of several possible power sources for the next bridge, and Bolas sees it as a win-win mission. Either Vraska succeeds and he gets the Immortal Sun, or she fails and a potentially irritating planeswalker who has issues with authority gets trapped away. Jay Annelli has posited the idea that Ral Zarek may have made the Compass (noting that its planeswalker detection could derives from his Project Lightning Bug research on Ravnica) and he may have made it deliberately faulty. Ral does, after all, have experience lying to terrifyingly powerful dragons.

However, in spite of viable alternatives and the Story Team’s comments, I’m not ready to abandon the theory that Bolas squeezed Jace’s brain just right to send him to Ixalan, knowing that his presence could attract the Thaumatic Compass, relying on him to help Vraska claim the Immortal Sun. Don’t get me wrong, I hope the Story Team is telling the truth—this just feels like the option most consistent with the degree of predictive foresight given to Bolas in Amonkhet’s story.

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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