Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Hours of Devastation Arrive

Magic is about to show us the defeat of the Gatewatch, and so the Hour of Devastation comes nigh!

If you haven't seen the stories, you can find them all in the Amonkhet world article, found here.

The prophesies of Amonkhet tell of 4 hours, and each is winding up to be a Magic card of large power and explosive strength! Each week we've seen a story progressing through them as we approach prerelease. Want to be the expert on what they were said to be, and what they brought?  Here's a basic summary for you to quote the prophesy.


This can be your guide to discussing the prophesied hours!

The Accounting of Hours:
"When the Second Sun rests between the horns on the horizon, so begins the Hour of Revelation. Then the Hour of Glory, the Hour of Promise, and finally the Hour of Eternity."
—The Accounting of Hours (Throne of the God-Pharaoh)

"And thus the sun reached its zenith behind the horns of the God-Pharaoh, and the promised Hours began. And the last of the people of Amonkhet fell to their knees, and there was much gnashing of teeth for fear of what was coming in the world, and wailing from babes and children, and the gods did mark the moment with solemnity, all as foretold."

The Hour of Revelation
"All questions will be answered during the Hour of Revelation." (Naga Oracle, blue)


"And so the Hour of Revelation broke upon the land, and the promised time arrived when all questions would be answered. And lo, the Gate to the Afterlife opened, and from behind its gleaming walls, the true visage of the coming tide poured forth."
-From the story, Feast.


What actually happened:  The people and gods gather at the Luxa river, where the Gate to the Afterlife opens.  Only Razaketh the demon arrives, and he casts a spell that turns the Luxa to blood and begins to dry.  The Gatewatch gang up on him, and with Liliana's animated animals, tear him apart.

Analysis: So this prediction was a flat out lie.  No questions were answered, other than the Razaketh revealing himself.  The "coming tide" is definitely shown, though- devastation. 



The Hour of Glory
"In the Hour of Glory, the gods and the untested will prove their worth before the God-Pharaoh."

—The Accounting of Hours (Nimble-Blade Khenra, Red)

Beginning of the article:
"And as the Luxa, the lifeblood of Naktamun, turned to the foul blood of the great shadow Razaketh, the Hours turned to that of Glory—the promised time when the gods themselves would prove their worth before the God-Pharaoh."

What actually happened: The three missing gods appear, as the Scorpion God, the Locust God, and the Scarab God.  The Scorpion God approaches and attacks Rhonas.  He defeats it several times, but it surprises and overwhelms him, killing him with its sting. 

Analysis:  The gods were tested, or at least, Rhonas was, their strongest and best fighter.  He lost, and an immortal was killed on the plane- meaning, perhaps, that the world's leylines can reform gods.  Amonkhet's leylines and heart is damaged and killed, as we learned from Nissa, however, so there may be no returning gods after this set. 



Hour of Promise

"When the Hour of Promise arrives, the God-Pharaoh will tear down the Hekma, for its protection will be needed no longer." —The Accounting of Hours (Winged Shepherd, White)

Beginning of the article:
"And lo, the three dark divinities returned, and as they felled the gods, the Hour of Promise arrived. And so the great locust god fulfilled the great promise, and thus the Hekma was torn asunder, its protections cast aside before the return of the God-Pharaoh."

What actually happened:  Kefnet and Oketra fall to the might of the recurring Scorpion God.  Hapatra and others physically feel the death of their gods.  The Locust God released his locust summoning spell, and the locusts tore and ate the magical barrier protecting Naktamun apart, allowing zombies and horrors into the city.

Analysis:  Two other gods fought the Scorpion god, and died.  Their goal was the prevent the Hekma from being destroyed at this point by the Locust god, but failed.  The prophesy was correct, and the gods failed to stop it. 





The Hour of Eternity
"When all doubts have melted away, the worthy will meet the Hour of Eternity and earn a place at the God-Pharaoh's side." —The Accounting of Hours  (Dissenter's Deliverance, Green)

What will the Hour of Eternity bring?  That comes next week on July 2nd, 2017, and this blog will update thereafter.

What we expect:  The Scarab god will create or bring forth the eternals, zombified and lazotep covered minions to be controlled by Bolas.   Bontu and Hazoret are the two remaining Naktamun gods, and they will either fight each other (as some spoilers suggest) or stand against the Insect Gods.  Bolas may finally appear, and we may see a battle with the Gatewatch.  The hour is called eternity, so we definitely should see the Eternals (zombies) arrive at very least. 



Some fun speculation at this point- there are only 4 hours listed in the "Accounting of the Hours", and the set's name is Hour of Devastation.  There have also been 4 cards revealed with the hours' names, so I would now fully expect an "Hour of Devastation" card in Red (the color missing). 

Also interesting, each of these quotes of the Hours (listing what actually happens instead of the prophesy) are written in past tense.  So someone must survive these hours, and live on Amonkhet beyond this story.  Perhaps we'll see a survival of desert-folk in the future.

Update:  As expected.  There is an Hour of Devastation.  And Bolas meets the Gatewatch!


Monday, June 5, 2017

Magic Story, where to start?

A question players often come to, when regarding the magic storyline, is where to start? 

Magic: the Gathering has a rich history of 24 years, and with it comes a lot of lore, from books, articles, stories, and Q&As.  There are ebooks and hard to find novels, short stories, and AR games.  Compilations gave some insight, and podcasts now add more. 

But where to start, you ask?

This article is here to help be a guide for where in time, and where in the multiverse, are good places to begin reading.  There is a very long timeline for magic's events for the card game, so there are, of course, a variety of options. 


Old:

The Brother's War by Jeff Grubb

Most people who play Magic have heard of Urza, and sometimes of his brother, Mishra.  This is the story of how the brothers grew up, and found to hate each other, leading to war across the entire world of Dominaria.  This is a good story starting point for those who want the old stories- from Revised era sets, with Ice Age, Mirage, and Tempest being relevant to this starting era. 

or

The Thran by J. Robert King

Thousands of years befor Urza and Mishra, there were a race of people, a country, known as the Thran.  They possessed amazing artifacts and countless wonderful machines- but there was a sickness spreading among them.  They call upon an exiled surgeon, Yawgmoth, to cure the disease, and this tale shows the slow downfall of their civilization.

This is a prequel to the Brother's war, and tell the story of a race far before Urza or Mishra.  You'd want to start with this book if you plan on reading the entire sage of Urza, the Tempest block novels, all the way to Invasion. 




Old-ish:

Rath and Storm, edited by Peter Archer. 

This story begins with the Rath cycle, the tales of Gerrard Capashen, Sisay, Squee, and Mirri, among the rest of the crew of the Weatherlight flying ship, on the journey against the evincar Volrath. 

While this is a middle ground starting point for story, it allows the reader to find a good set of characters to go with, and then delve deeper with Urza, or the Thran, and lead up to the Invasion.  Readers can then go back in time and see how Urza or the Thran began, or continue from there, following the crew of the Weatherlight. 



New 2015 Story:
Magic Origins stories, of planeswalkers (aka: neowalkers) Jace Beleren, Chandra Nalaar, Nissa Revane, Liliana Vess (alternate comic origin story), and Gideon Jura.  This begins the neowalker storyline, and introduces us to planeswalkers after the mending has occurred, a shift in the magic in the multiverse, and making the main characters much more relatable. 

From there, read the novel: Agents of Artifice, by Ari Marmel, which is the beginning of interaction between Jace, Liliana, and Tezzeret. 

Other important early stories:  Ajani's Spark igniting

The neowalker plot is described further with articles and stories, books and lore pages, which are mostly summarized here

The more structured Gatewatch story starts with Battle for Zendikar, directly after Origins, which you can find here

No matter where you begin in these tales, there are many books, articles, and stories from there on out.  Please comment for further information, if you're curious for more.