Ahoy planeswalkers! We sure got a veritable avalanche of exciting news on Wednesday (including the end of the Rivals of Ixalan story, multiple interviews with award-winning author Martha Wells, who will be writing Dominaria’s story, and a cluster of product announcements. While I would like to take a moment to pat myself on the back for anticipating that the vote for which faction should control Orazca did not necessarily determine whether the story of the factions’ battles had a “good” or “bad” ending.

I actually don’t have a ton to say about this information dump just yet. It can take me a while to process new information and think through its implications, and I just don’t have the time to do a deep dive on what all this means for Dominaria just yet. Instead, I’d like to try something a little different: an array of short, unconnected pieces. I’m calling this Vorthos Hash. This time around, I’m cooking with some promo speculation, minotaur socioeconomics, and the role of Magic in my personal fitness journey. Hope you enjoy!

The Extraordinary Ordinariness of Angrath

Planeswalkers tend to be characters of tremendous power, and that power typically translates into a level of prestige, leadership, and social importance on planes upon which they spend any significant amount of time (think Jace on Ravnica or Chandra on Regatha). Many times, they are already exceptional people or rising stars even before their sparks ignite (Koth, Samut, Saheeli Rai, Huatli, and Narset all fit this model, to name a few). So, when Wednesday’s story revealed Angrath returning home to a shack at the edge of town where he his little blacksmith shop still stands, it was striking in just how mundane his life was on his home plane.

I’m not sure any other planeswalker seemed so unexceptional among their people. Perhaps Dovin Baan, although he did climb rapidly through the ranks of the Consulate. Perhaps Domri Rade, although his talent as a beastmaster did catch the eye of the Gruul chieftain Borborygmos. And, to be fair, Angrath has had prominent successes of his own; after all, he did become a pirate captain during his time on Ixalan.

Even so, this humble life—working class, a blacksmith in a shack at the edge of town (symbolically at the margins of his town’s society)—is just so different from the other planeswalkers we typically see: an artisan who has seen things that the people who buy his weapons and horseshoes cannot comprehend. It’s a strong reminder of the potential vibrancy of the inner life of every person you cross paths with, and it hammers home the conceit of Magic’s fantasy: that every player has this capacity to leap across the multiverse, regardless of their role in day-to-day life.

His conspicuous location at the edge of town also raises an array of questions about his life upon his home plane. Is it unusual for a minotaur and his daughters who would drink the blood of an emperor to be granted even this much of a place in town? (Angrath’s issues with bumping his head certainly suggest that his foundry was not built with a minotaur inhabitant in mind.) Or is this a minotaur town, and Angrath’s marginal place points to his own shortcomings as a member of that society?

We probably aren’t heading there anytime soon—three years minimum is my best guess—but I can’t wait to see Angrath and his home plane. I want to know more about how this society fits together and to see what Angrath is like when he’s where he really wants to be.

The Return of FNM Promos

We’ve had a lot of big announcements since my last column, eh? And I’m not even touching on the Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf unbannings.

Last week, Wizards announced that, after trying out foil tokens as Friday Night Magic promos, they are bringing back foil, standard-legal cards as FNM promos. Assuming that Wizards was planning to stick with FNM promo tokens instead of FNM promo cards long-term, this is a really interesting development because the timeline is so wonky. A question we might be asking is, where might Wizards have some extra, high-quality artwork that might help make these returning promos feel special?

The answer may lie in another short-lived promotional initiative: the Masterpiece Series as a permanent fixture of new sets. A mere year before Ixalan, Mark Rosewater had announced that the Masterpiece Series would be a part of each new standard-legal set. If it was a scramble to have everything ready for Kaladesh a year after the enthusiastic response to Battle for Zendikar’s Expeditions, and given how far in advance Wizards works, it seems very likely that wheels must have been well in motion for Ixalan Masterpieces before they were scrapped. Which means that that some art was almost certainly commissioned for them before they were scrapped.

Therefore, Wizards likely has a stash of Masterpiece-grade Ixalan art that was meant to be printed in foil. Some of these pieces may have found their way into Ixalan and Rivals of Ixalan; did all of it, though? Odds are, Wizards is still sitting on some of this art. Which would be perfect for, say, switching back from foil tokens to foil cards as FNM promos on short notice.

In conclusion: look for masterpiece-grade artwork with Ixalan flavor for the standard reprints of this next FNM promo batch. And, while Blake Rasmussen’s announcement foregrounds standard-legal cards, I really hope Wizards does the smart thing and turns a piece of merfolk Masterpiece art into a promo Cursecatcher soon. If Fatal Push’s promo run in September had any lesson, it’s that ten-dollar uncommons are a heck of a nice incentive for FNM players.


I want to take a moment to write about #MTGFit, because this part of the community is having a pretty radical effect on my life. This one’s a bit off-topic, though Vorthos bigwig Mike Linnemann has been a major force in the MTGFit community, organizing quarterly challenges for the end of last year and the start of 2018.

Historically, my approach to fitness has been about treading water and trying to keep myself to a modest potbelly. Since getting married about seven and a half years ago, I’ve generally done some combination of half-hour runs and thirty-minute workout DVDs amounting to two or three workouts per week. I really hadn’t done anything aimed at strengthening myself in a dedicated and systematic way.

When I jumped into the 5,000 push-up challenge that Mike ran from October to December, I figured I might make it to 3,000 or so and that that would be pretty good for me. And for a while, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do that! At the start, doing ten classic pushups was a challenge—I mixed them with wide-armed push-ups, which I find easier. Not long after I began, I was fighting with arms so sore that I could barely do five in a row, and bouts of abdominal soreness that prevented me from holding push-up position.

But I kept going, and to my own immense surprise, I completed that challenge. I can now do sets of 20 classic push-ups. On a couple of good days, I’ve even managed to do 25 in a row. The 2018 First Quarter challenge is now underway, focusing on abs, and I’m pretty close to the pace needed for 10,000 abdominal moves by the end of March. With this baseline strength, I’ve also undertaken a thirty-day Jillian Michaels workout challenge.

I’m on the fast track to being in the best shape of my life. And I owe it almost entirely to being part of the Magic community, and having the nudge of the #MTGFit community that Linnemann’s challenges have more visibly brought together.

So, if you’re looking to improve yourself physically as part of a community of great people who also happen to play Magic, I’d strongly recommend joining the current abs challenge, giving it your best go, and staying tuned in the hopes that Linnemann cooks up another challenge for the start of April!

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.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.