Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby The Martini » 31 Aug 2015, 13:39

So, new info from PAX: not much. (note: I'm not there, been following on stream, YouTube, and Twitter).

Gideon's been spoiled, and he's still mono-white.

We haven't (I don't think) seen anything with Chandra on it in BFZ yet; I'm wondering if she won't show up until later?

The second set of the block will be Oath of the Gatewatch (see here and here). Chandra's certainly there :) No black represented, though.

The official BFZ site has a story section with the UA articles listed (see here).

Slaughter at the Refuge (Gideon and Jace show up)
The Silent Cry (Nissa loses her connection to Zendikar and joins Gideon and Jace)
The Believers' Pilgrimage (Jace heads to the Eye of Ugin to try to solve the puzzle)
The Survivors of Sky Rock (?)
Memories of Blood (Sorin?)
Nissa's Quest (To regain her connection to the land?)
Home Waters (Likely Kiora time!)
Nissa's Resolve (Let's kick some Eldrazi butt!)
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby The Martini » 02 Sep 2015, 11:40

Wednesday is Unearthed Arcana day! A Jace and Jori story (wooooo rhymed)!

The Believers' Pilgramage

Jace reads the details of the hedrons effect on the Eldrazi from Jori En's mind (note to self: Jori En is a lady merfolk. I thought that Nissa was assisted by a male merfolk who turned out to be Jori, so I called Jori him...will go back and check. Two different merfolk and I was wrong about who rescued her?). He sees in particular the use of magic on hedrons to herd and direct the movements of the Eldrazi. It's not nearly enough to make a workable plan from, so he decides that they need to go to the one place he knows is the heart of the problem: the Eye of Ugin. OK, it's the eye of the problem. Some bodily organ of the problem in any case.

Gideon and Jace argue over whether this is a good idea; they have too many people and too many injured to take everyone on the trip. Gideon further reinforces in my mind a much more red mentality (save these people here, now) while Jace and Jori En argue a more blue and white one (look at the situation and realize that NOT going to the Eye may likely doom everyone on the whole plane). Jace and Jori leave on their own, leaving Gideon to protect Sea Gate refugees.

Nissa had slipped out in the night before - I assume off to rekindle her connection with Zendikar.

Jori and Jace (J/J? No wait, that has other connotations...crap, now that's in my head. Off to fanfiction.net!) talk a bit about Jace's choice not to change Gideon's mind about accompanying them, and everyone else's mind, for that matter. He uses his illusion-power to go all Multiple Man so he can keep himself company and yup, that's now in my slashfic.

Days out on their journey, they finally encounter some Eldrazi. The ox-beast freaks and jackknifes their wagon, and J&J are stuck facing down a horde of spawn. Luckily for them, a Kor woman painted with hedron-like markings kills the beast, leaving it as a distraction for the Eldrazi, and leads them away into a canyon.

"Jace had eight or nine distinct bad feelings about this." He's Octo- or Nono-Solo (or Luke, or 3PO, or whoever else says that in the new Star Wars movies)!

Unluckily for J&J, she's indeed leading them right to the titan Ulamog. The kor and her compatriots are worshipers of the Eldrazi and are giving J&J as offerings. Before they can be chained to the rocks, Jace sets one of his capturers on fire with THE POWER OF HIS MIND. Then, with the Eternal Pilgrims watching their compatriot scream in pain, sets the rest of them on fire.

As they escape, Jace explains that, of course, he's not a pyromancer...but they don't know that. Go go illusions+mind magic! Ulamog is headed towards Sea Gate, and someone should warn the Survivors of Sky Rock (NEXT WEEK, ON UNEARTHED ARCANA!). Jace must go on, but Jori won't let him go alone, so...

...Jori is nearly back to Sea Gate after having argued Jace into going to the Eye along while she went to warn the others and crap, he messed with her head.

"Goddamn it, Jace," she says, but given that the major gods on Zendikar are corrupted memories of the Eldrazi, it might be too late for that.

Good stuff in this one, I think. From the spoiled card art and flavor text, we know that Jace is going to meet up with Ugin, but looking at the story titles, I'm not sure if we'll see this in UA, or at least not until after the set is released in the post-Battle For Zendikar/pre-Oath of the Gatewatch articles.

Which, speaking of...is the Gatewatch referring to Sea Gate, where the Planeswalkers and the allies of Zendikar will likely face Ulamog as he heads for the yummy snack that his minions have been 'tasting'?

Once all of the cards are spoiled, I may do a Vorthos'y look through the art and flavor text.
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby The Martini » 09 Sep 2015, 13:58

Speaking of flavor text, apparently the choice of name for the leader of the Eternal Pilgrims is not at all random - she shows up on the flavor text on a few cards from Zendikar and Rise.

Survivors of Sky Rock

Gideon is wrangling giant chunks of floating land, like you do on Zendikar, to try to get a safe supply of water for the hedron-dwelling refugees that he's protecting. Unfortunately for him, Tazri is playing the part of the jealous second-in-command and thinks the whole thing is a waste of time. She's expecting to be in charge after the dying Commander-General Vorik finally bites it and is convinced that Gideon's plan is going to get them all killed for no reason while they wait for Jace to get back.

Gideon thinks that Jace won't be gone that long, as he'll planeswalk back. Still seems not that clear about when and where they can planeswalk to specific places.

While on a hunt, Gideon and an elf riding a sky-manta (not just for merfolk anymore) see a group of refugees heading for Sea Gate, and a big flying tentacled Eldrazi is heading for the refugees. Gideon is not familiar with aerial combat, though, and finds out that attaching the (admittedly pretty big) manta to the (much bigger) Eldrazi in an attempt to slow it down was perhaps not the best idea. Still, he gets his Legolas moment, jumping onto the back of the creature, and riding it to the ground, and killing it.

Gideon returns to Sky Rock. Tazri is trying to convince the refugees that Sea Gate has indeed fallen. She's trying to push her point that the survivors should head to Zulaport and across the sea to Ondu, but the latest group of refugees just CAME from there. Everyone, everywhere is getting overwhelmed and is heading for Sea Gate, believing it to be the last place that will have held out from the Eldrazi attack.

Vorik is on his last breaths and calls for Gideon and Tazri. They come into his tent and get into a big argument. Vorik eventually has to shout them down from his deathbed. In a move with no possibility of pissing of Tazri, he passes leadership to Gideon and assigns her to be his second.

Gideon solves this with the power of Inspiring Speech at Vorik's funeral, proving that in his time in the multiverse, he's seen Bravehart, Lord of the Rings, and Independence Day at least four times each. He swears the he will Battle...for Zendikar! /credits roll

Nice random character moment: Gideon can't sing on key.

Next time: vampires fight to avoid enslavement by the Eldrazi as they are forced to leave Guul Draz.
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby winterpanda » 09 Sep 2015, 16:02

First time poster, long time reader here!
I can't wait to see how this goes, especially with Nissa's storyline which is to come in 3 weeks. I waiting for an entire week is not my strong suit.

Also, next time's vampire leader is an actual creature card.
http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/ ... eid=389490
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby The Martini » 10 Sep 2015, 10:45

Ooh, good find. I re-entered Magic after getting out around Ice Age briefly during Alara and only really during Khans, so my knowledge of original Zendikar block cards is not great.

The card previews are really starting to 'spoil' the story. For now, notice that:

1) Ulamog is the only titan we've seen, and almost all of the Eldrazi that we see on cards are Ulamog's brood.

2) The one(s) that aren't are Kozilek - a Channeler, and a Herald. What does a herald do?

3) Something's wrong beneath the surface of Zendikar, which may be related to what ripped Nissa's connection to the land away.

4) Based on cards like Stasis Snare and confirmed with Hedron Network (translation from Japanese, and it looks like from collector's number vs alphabetical it won't be quite called that), it's pretty clear what will happen with Ulamog when the standoff at Sea Gate happens.

So....yeah. Who's going to be the threat in Oath of the Gatewatch? :roll:
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby RedNightmare » 10 Sep 2015, 22:04

Personally, I expect Oath to be the wrapup set. Where they finish the problem. Battle mostly seems about reaching the stand still. It would make sense for Kozilek to come back here. He has the whole Blind Eternities to wander through.

Btw, I really loved the latest Uncharted Realms. It nailed how desperate things are getting.
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby The Martini » 14 Sep 2015, 09:58

I don't the the UR's will 'catch up' to the full extent of the story show in the cards by the time the set releases; I think we'll have a few more weeks of BFZ before they do stories on other things before we start building for Oath. I am going to wait til the full set is spoiled (end of this week?) until I do a deep-dive on cards, art, and flavor text, but here's a quick series of things that happen in BFZ:

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Jace reads Jori En's memory to see how the Zendikari have been using hedrons to herd or control the Eldrazi.

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Jace makes it to the Eye of Ugin, where the Spirit Dragon himself is (as we know from Sorin's Restoration) waiting for Sorin and Nahiri to show up.

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Using the information from Ugin and Jace's ingenuity (see what I did there), the Zendikari set up a trap for Ulamog when the titan reaches Sea Gate.
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby RedNightmare » 14 Sep 2015, 23:58

Oh shit, I just noticed that in that last one Ulamog is turning into stone. Major story spoiler there :)
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby necargoface » 15 Sep 2015, 15:48

SPOILERS I GUESS.


So, Ulamog will turn to stone at Sea Gate, and then OOTGW will have the Zendikar Avengers swearing to watch over Sea Gate so that Ulamog will never escape again.
Also, I see that in the far future, some idiot will destroy the network, releasing ulamog again.
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby MowDownJoe » 16 Sep 2015, 05:53

Some idiot? How about a brutal warlord who currently is in a demon's body that would love nothing but Zendikar to be turned into a barren wasteland? *coughObNixiliscough*
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby The Martini » 16 Sep 2015, 14:29

M:tG earns its 13+ rating today.

Before we get into the thick of it, a brief note on vampires on Zendikar, as far as I know, from the UR articles and the book Zendikar: In the Teeth of Akoum. A lot of Nissa's backstory and probably a lot of the Eldrazi lore has been retconned from this time (the book is from 2010), but it stands up pretty well - most of the exposition is from Nissa and Anowon, who don't actually know what's going on, and Sorin, who does know what's going on, has about zero incentive to tell the truth and mostly refrains from correcting their misconceptions via eyeroll or sigh. A lot of the actions that the Eldrazi spawn and their vampire slaves are taking in the book are interpreted wrong by Nissa and Anowon. For example, they see them trying to rebuild a "Eldrazi temple" and replicate hedrons, and wonder why their efforts seem so crude compared to the ancient artifacts and buildings. The answer is, of course, that the Eldrazi never built any of these things in the first place. These spawn are basically the Titans' fingers, reaching out blindly through a crack in the door of their prison and fiddling with the lock, trying to break free.

From Stirring From Slumber, we know that vampires didn't appear on Zendikar until after the Eldrazi titans were imprisoned there. Many of the vampires are slaves to the Eldrazi, and the horns and spikes that protrude from them are supposedly created so that the spawn have an easier time restraining and controlling them. According to the vampires, a particular vampire, named the Mortifier, betrayed and enslaved the race to the Eldrazi. Nissa spends most of the book suspecting Anowon as being the Mortifier, but Anowon, and later some other vampires, accuse Sorin of the deed.

Nissa spends most of the book completely ignoring the obvious clues that Sorin is a vampire. To be fair, his gothic-horror vampire is pretty different than the Zendikari version. Between that and the fact that it seems very, very unlikely that he would enslave anything to the Eldrazi, it doesn't seem like he created the Zendikari vampires and then sold them off into bondage.

So, where did the Zendikari vampires come from, and why are they slaves to the Eldrazi?

With that, on to

Memories of Blood

This week's story is pretty intense, as you might expect from a group of desperate vampire-led survivors that contains "The Orphans Brigade". Read it for the details, if you wish. I'll sum up. It does have a preview card for Drana, Liberator of Malakir!

Drana had defeated the attempt to turn all of the vampires of the city of Malakir into slaves of the Eldrazi. Now, though, it's not deception or slavery that they have to worry about - it's destruction. Her forces have long since had to abandon the city as the great hosts of Ulamog turn everything into dust. She now leads a small force of vampires and thousands of mortal refugees, most of which are injured, exhausted, and starving.

They are constantly on the move; the only plan is to survive one more day.

They reach the coast of Guul Draz and see Kor flying in on kites. They are bringing a message from Gideon: the Zendikari are making a last stand at Sea Gate. With the uncountable foes of the Eldrazi, including a massive sire, they can't leave without abandoning the refugees. Drana manipulates and convinces Enkindi and his kor flyers to make a stand here.

Drana has been alive for thousands of years, but her memory is not so long. She feels that, if this may be her last day, she should try to retrieve those memories. Perhaps they will be important to the vampires surviving the war. Drana, half-starved herself, needs power to retrieve the memories.

She gets it. By torpedoing into the massive Eldrazi Sire and sucking the life from its heart.

The spell she casts lets her go back into her memories - and also the memories of the Eldrazi. Or are they the same thing? Drana was Ulamog before she was Drana, as much as any of Ulamog's brood.

Were the Zendikari vampires, creatures of hunting and consuming, created by the corruption of the Eldrazi, creatures of devouring?

We were made in the shadow of our makers.

Drana also learns that the Eldrazi are not from here - and by inference, that there's a "not here" for them to be from...or go back to.

The power of the Eldrazi's life-force explodes out and she grows a mass of lashing tentacles. She consumes every last bit of the Sire's energy and the monster explodes. With her near-infinite power, she considers leaving to wherever 'not-here' she's discovered (hello, planeswalker spark), or finding Ulamog and destroying it right away. However, she sees that the refugees are being slaughtered here and, though she says she does not care for them, decides that they belong to her, and her things will not be taken away by the Eldrazi. She lets the power flow into her people, healing their wounds and making them powerful and invulnerable. They destroy the rest of the Eldrazi force, and Drana is left without the alien power.

Using this technique, she could in theory retake Guul Draz, but between the fight to retain her identity against the all-consuming fixation of the Eldrazi power and the fact that there's not much on the continent worth retaking, she orders her people to make preparations to leave for Sea Gate.



This one's real good. Like, probably the best serious UR I've ever read (the one with the soup-pot carrier wins for silliest!), but it's really intense. Interested to see what others think!
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby The Martini » 18 Sep 2015, 10:32

The full spoiler is out! I'm planning to do a dive into flavor text this weekend - there's some very interesting stuff there (see Dispel, for example).
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby The Martini » 21 Sep 2015, 09:35

Time for Magic: the Flavor-Textening (and to a lesser extent, the Artening)! I'm not going over every card, and I'm sure I'll miss something cool - if you see something, post it!

Non-Ulamog-brood Eldrazi

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Emrakul's off...somewhere else. There's just one card of the brood to represent the few drones that are left. Emrakul-brood recognition guide: big coral- or bonemarrow-like bits.

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Strong hints that Kozilek will be the big bad in Oath of the Gatewatch. The Channeler and the Sentinal are underground, and as noted in the Channeler's flavor text, something horrible is growing down there. I can't tell where the Herald is, but a herald announces your arrival, so... Kozilek-brood recognition guide: eyes on limbs.

Jace and Ugin

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Ugin the Spirit Dragon is waiting for Sorin and Nahiri in what used to be called the Eye of Ugin, before Jace, Chandra, and Sarkhan busted open the lock that was hidden here. You can see Ugin in the art behind the rows of hedrons, which match the art from the web comics of the Eye, though it's a bit different that the art on the Eye of Ugin card itself.

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Jace bringing on the snark. I wonder, though, if Ugin considers himself so ancient and all-knowing that he assumed because he could not find a way to destroy the Eldrazi titans, there was no way to do so. I bet that Jace will figure it out. Bonus points if he can one-up some other schmo who also finds the solution and takes all the credit.

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"Fine. Let's deal with the one that's currently eating the entire world and then consider the other two."

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Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Looks like Jace came out on top of this...argument.

Retreat!

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Emeria is the floating ruin of a fortress on the continent of Tazeem that was believed to be the home of the merfolk god-version of Emrakul (also see Cloud Manta).

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Coralhelm is only mentioned in Coralhelm Commander, and now on Coralhelm Guide, both merfolk creatures.

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Hagra is a flooded, sinking ruin near the vampire city of Malakir on the continent of Guul Draz. Given the choice, I'd rather retreat to Coralhelm.

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Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle is a big-ass volcano. From the art style and subject, I'd say it's on the hyper-mountainous continent of Akoum, which also contains the Eye of Ugin and hid the petrified forms of the Eldrazi titans, before Nissa freed them.

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Kazandu is an area of canyons on the continent of Murasa. The trenches and caves are full of giant roots, as can be seen in the art for this card.

Kiora

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What's our favorite planeswalking merfolk up to? Apparently, being bored. Not a fan of this art.

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Kiora joins the allies at Sea Gate.

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Thassa's bident let her pit tentacles vs tentacles.

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Making sea creatures huge!

Kiora also shows up in this piece of art. Am I missing something, or did this not make it onto a card?

I assume we'll learn more about what Kiora is up to next week with "Home Waters".

Random Finds

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Bala Ged is the continent where Nissa is from - she's holding the last of the seeds of several plants that are native to that now-lost jungle.

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Kalitas is the Eldrazi-bound vampire that Drana fought off to become the liberator of Malakir.

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The merfolk were the original trainers and riders of the flying manta. Elf on Manta = green blue, for sure.

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Note that the Eldrazi is chucking a goblin (return creature to hand) and sucking the life from another (2 damage and exile if it dies).

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Is Nal someone specific? I did a quick look but didn't find anything.

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Ulamog's been taking notes on how to conduct an alien invasion from Half-Life.

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Apparently begin second-in-command to Commander-General Gideon gives Tazri the title of General. It sounds a little less silly when the refugees from other continents start pouring into Sea Gate (especially Drana's group) and they got an army of thousands instead of a few.

What did I miss?

I'm sure there's lots. I didn't go into Nissa in detail - it looks like we'll hear a lot about here this week ("Nissa's Quest") and in two weeks ("Nissa's Resolve").
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby winterpanda » 22 Sep 2015, 11:52

Things you may want to look at:

Ob Nixilis (Ob Nixilis planeswalker card, Altar's Reap, Demon's Grasp, Void Winnower)
Angels (2 of them seem to have halos around their eyes)

Also, fun fact (according to MTG tumblr): The Hedron Grinder goblin is female
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby Phi » 22 Sep 2015, 13:18

The Martini wrote:Image
Jace bringing on the snark. I wonder, though, if Ugin considers himself so ancient and all-knowing that he assumed because he could not find a way to destroy the Eldrazi titans, there was no way to do so. I bet that Jace will figure it out. Bonus points if he can one-up some other schmo who also finds the solution and takes all the credit.

If I am not mistaken, in the UR story that described the imprisonment of the eldrazi, Ugin told Nahiri that they don't know the consequence of destroying the eldrazi, and that is why they should be imprisoned.
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby The Martini » 22 Sep 2015, 13:28

Phi wrote:If I am not mistaken, in the UR story that described the imprisonment of the eldrazi, Ugin told Nahiri that they don't know the consequence of destroying the eldrazi, and that is why they should be imprisoned.


Good catch.

"Hence the dilemma," Ugin went on. "If we face them in the Blind Eternities, we face their full power in an environment where even we can barely survive. But if we defeat only their physical extensions—no mean feat in itself, as you have seen—still we accomplish nothing, for their true forms reside in the Æther."

"We must find a way to destroy them," said Sorin.

"That may not be possible," said Ugin, "and it certainly isn't wise."

"Worlds are dying," said Nahiri. She rested her hand on the hilt of her sword. "What wisdom could there be in leaving these things alive?"

"Do you know what they are, Nahiri of Zendikar?" asked the dragon. He lowered his enormous head to look her in the eye. "Do you know if they inhabit some unseen ecology, or what will happen if they are destroyed? Do they deserve death? Does your moral judgment extend only to beings you understand? Can you answer any of these questions?"


I think Jace's (and certainly Gideon's and Nissa's) answer to this will be, "YES. Yes, we can destroy these creatures."
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby The Martini » 30 Sep 2015, 09:09

I'm a week behind! Last weeks story was a solid 'meh', plus I was working mad hours, so I had neither energy nor enthusiasm. Let's get caught up, though, with

Nissa's Quest

Nissa's back where she lost Ashaya and her connection to the land of Zendikar, following the age-old advice of "if you are lost, hug a tree and someone will find you". It isn't working too well, and she is continually dodging Eldrazi.

Eventually, a goblin comes fleeing past Nissa, trailing dozens of spawn. She grabs her sword and fights the Eldrazi in a losing battle. Before she's forced to planeswalk away to save the seeds of Zendikar that she still holds, a Kor arrives to help, and the two clean up the remaining spawn. It's Munda!

The goblin, Pili, was trying to find her friend Leek. Nissa and Munda track her down. The find Pili at the mouth of a cave-in, trapping a large group of goblins inside. Unfortunately for Pili, Leek is dead. Munda convinces her and the other goblins to join the fight against the Eldrazi with Commander-General Chad Jura.

Nissa realizes that, like the goblins, Zendikar itself may have retreated to a safe place, and so sets out on an Expedition to Khalni Heart.


This one was just ok. It seems like it's trying to be a tear-jerker, 'humanizing' goblins, which is pretty at odds with how they are treated previously. In the Teeth of Akoum book, they are played for comedy as the group accompanying Nissa, Anowon, and Soren gets a little smaller each night (nom nom nom) and are considered not quite above animals. It's almost like telling a serious, heart-breaking story about Lemmings. I'm not sure if they're just trying to play up the horror and loss here, or if it's more in line with their general rewriting of previous stuff (e.g. Nissa not being Captain Megaracist). Thoughts?

Spoiler alert on Khalni Heart, since I didn't get to this article until now: I had previously supposed that Kozilek, lurking below the surface of Zendikar, had severed Nissa's connection to the land, but thanks to the preview for next week, we know that a certain demon just wants to watch the world burn...
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby The Martini » 02 Oct 2015, 11:04

I hope to write up this week's story tonight or this weekend (spoilers: it's great), but to note:

The Battle for Zendikar survey includes a story quiz section! Those who are reading along, go ace it.
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby The Martini » 05 Oct 2015, 09:28

Late night weekend software testing for production deployment is on a delay, so let's catch up on what our favorite laugh-in-the-face-of-a-god merfolk planeswalker is doing!

Home Waters

Kiora is remembering the stories of the gods told to her and her younger sister Turi. Adults hear stories about Ula and Emeria, but only the children are told stories of Cosi, the trickster.

She arrives on Zendikar in the present day, having just escaped Theros and the angry god Thassa. She doesn't come empty-handed, either - she has Thassa's bident. The weapon is smaller, and the magical starfield effect of Nyx is gone, but she still has it.

Kiora is relieved to find that Zendikar isn't completely destroyed, but soon finds a beach that's been drained by the minions of Ulamog. She tests the surface with a crab to make sure that it won't immediately kill her - it won't but it's unpleasant. The bident allows her to have MegaSonar; she can feel the dead spots throughout the oceans of the world.

Looking for her people, Kiora runs across an abandoned settlement crawling with Eldrazi. Nearby, she finds a cliffside shrine to the merfolk gods/Eldrazi titans. She reflects that perhaps the stories of the Titans as gods were not so bad after all - the stories of Cosi taught that the gods could be laughed at - not feared, not trusted.

The next day, she saves a group of merfolk from aquatic drones of Ulamog. Besides calling to the animals of the sea, Kiora also experiments with the bident, using it to create vortices that pull some of the smaller Eldrazi down to the crushing depths. The survivors make it to the beach; among them is Kiora's sister, Turi.

Kiora remembers her spark moment - she and Turi had been exploring and found a giant serpent. Kiora stayed and distracted it so that Turi could escape and was swalloed, her spark igniting to allow her to escape.

After hearing that Ulamog is heading to Sea Gate, Kiora plans to go there as well. The refugee merfolk try to argue her out of it, but she leaves along with most of the tricksters, merfolk cultists of Cosi.

They are going to find a god, and spit in its eye.


Super-good one this week! I looooooooove Kiora's character - the crab-tossing, being annoying to the pompous leader of the refugees, her devotion to saving Zendikar that is very different than Gideon's or Nissa's.

Up next: Nissa vs Ob Nixilus!
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby winterpanda » 08 Oct 2015, 17:21

Kiora's story was great. I liked the story she told and how it reflected what she did and what she will do.

On the topic of Kiora, I was talking to a person who opened Kiora at the prerelease and they were surprised when I told them she was holding Thassa's bident. I mean, do they not read up on the story?
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby The Martini » 13 Oct 2015, 08:29

In the manner of washing your dishes before you use them instead of after you use them, let's catch up with the latest UR article before the next one comes out!

Nissa' Resolve

Nissa returns to her original home, the now-fallen continent of Bala Ged, in search of the soul of Zendikar at Khalni Heart. The corruption of the Eldrazi has collapsed even the white, chalky remnants of the great forest of Oran-Rief, leaving nothing but a desolate plain. Nissa makes her way to the Khalni Heart and defeats teh few remaining Eldrazi drones in the way.

She's attempting not to use her 'former power' or 'be the elf she used to be'. Having reread her Origin story, I'm not entirely sure what is being referenced here. Is she trying not to use her animist powers without being connected with the Soul of Zendikar?

She finds the first sign of life on Bala Ged - a rim of moss around a cave entrance. Descending into the ground, Nissa finds a nearly-complete ring of hedrons, placed deliberately in the cavern and propped up by claw-marked mounds of dirt. In the center of the ring sits the plucked flower of the Khalni Heart. She rushes to retrieve the magical flower and restore Zendikar's connection, but we then find out it wasn't the Eldrazi who ripped it from the ground.

Hello, Ob Nixilis!

They fight. Ob Nixilis seems to think that Nissa was sent by Nahiri (who had smacked a hedron into his head, reducing his power and trapping him on Zendikar). Ob Nixilis intends to drain the power of an entire world; not surprisingly, Nissa has issues with this. Because the big demon is blocking the only opening in the ring of hedrons surrounding the flower, she decides to make a new hole and pummels one of the hedrons.

Ob Nixilis tackles her, but the hit worked. After a few seconds, one of the hedrons shatters and explodes. Nissa dashes for the flower, while Ob Nixilis attempts to hold up the remaining hedrons to keep the entire cavern from crashing down around him. Once she has her hands on the Khalni Heart, he desperately moves from holding up hedrons to putting his giant meat-hand around her neck.

Rather than using her remaining power to fight off the demon, Nissa instead feeds it to the Khalni Heart, restoring the flower. Ob Nixilis grabs it, but is too late: the growing roots of the Khalni Heart reach the ground, and the soul of Zendikar is reconnected with the land. The rock itself reaches up and grabs the flower from the demon. Nissa's connection is restored as well; she gives herself some Earthen Arms and rock-punches Ob Nixilis ("It's clobberin' time!").

She escapes as the cavern collapses on the demon. Along with the restored elemental Ashaya, they set off for Sea Gate. Time to save the world!
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby The Martini » 13 Oct 2015, 08:49

So, what's coming up next? Well, the story insert from the BFZ fat pack gave an outline, and they also put out an article on it, detailing the story moments that are shown on cards.

Battle for Zendikar Story Events

Gruesome Slaughter card is the Slaughter at the Refuge UR article.

Nissa's Renewal card is the Nissa's Quest and Nissa's Resolve UR articles.

Ugin's Insight card is the meeting between Jace and Ugin (which we also see referenced on Hedron Archive and Dispel). I'm hoping that will be this week's UR article - sounds like an informative and fun one; hopefully Kelly Digges or Doug Beyer will be on this one (writers of Catching Up and The Belivers' Pilgrimage respectively) - I like their characterization of Jace.

Outnumber card is the liberation of Sea Gate by the ally army, led by Gideon and helped by Jace, Kiora, and Nissa. There will be an UR article covering this, assuming next week.

Aligned Hedron Network card is the trapping of Ulamog when the titan reaches Sea Gate. Just then, Ob Nixilis shows up (dun dun DUN!) and wrecks everything, siphoning the power of the hedrons to reignite his spark. This will be in a few UR articles, assmuing starting the week after next.

There have been both complaints about 'spoilers', and thanks from the community that less-Vothos-y players have any idea what is happening in the Magic story at all from the community. Wizards has responded to the complaints with both, "You don't know more than the outline of what will happen," and, "We can't tell a story completely linearly on cards and in fiction."

I'm ok with the 'spoilers'. If I want a linear fantasy story, I can find those anywhere. I like finding 'hidden' information (and obvious) in the cards, art, and flavor text. I don't mind knowing some of what is coming, and I don't mind being wrong in my assumptions either.

It's not clear if they will defeat Ulamog at Sea Gate, or just drive it away and continue the fight in Oath of the Gatewatch. I'm still calling Surprise Kozilek popping out of the ground for Oath, though! They've laid in too many hints and been too precise with saying that Kozilek hasn't been seen, but not expressly left, to leave the Butcher of Truth out.

Emrakul is going to be hunted down in a future set, though, and/or be a recurring threat to whatever other plane we are visiting. I don't 100% think they'll tie the Eldrazi only to a third Zendikar block some time in the far future - I feel like if we return to Zendikar again, it's going to be Adventure World once more.
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby The Martini » 14 Oct 2015, 09:23

It's Yake/Eugene today!

Revelation at the Eye

Jace is perilously edging his way up the Akoum mountains, which have been slightly rearranged since the three Eldrazi titans were freed from it some time ago. He runs into a Salvage Drone (which in gameplay I can say now is WAY more annoying and useful than I thought it would be) and is saved by a goblin. It's Zada of Slab Haven (so a Slab Hammer is one of their creations?)!

I missed it in the art, but of course, since she's the Hedron Grinder, she has a mortar on her back full of hedrons and bashes Eldrazi with a giant pestle.

Jace asks for Tuktuk, the leader of the local goblin tribe. He's stone dead (hur hur). Also, the tribe ate him. Yes, he turned to stone and they ate him. Also, they eat hedrons. Yum! Zada leads Jace to the entrance to the Eye of Ugin.

Jace goes in. The place is less wrecked than he (and Chandra and Sarkhan) left it, as Ugin is there working on the restoring the Eye. The Spirit Dragon initially thinks that it's Sorin and warns the vampire (as he had before) that he'd better not be alone. Unfortunately for Ugin, it's just one of the snot-nosed kids who helped let the Eldrazi titans out. They make with the introductions; Jace is completely unable to read Ugin's mind.

They talk of the hedron network. Ugin, being thousands of years old, is focused on the long-term goal of keeping the Eldrazi from devouring all the worlds in the Multiverse. Jace, though less than Gideon might be, is more concerned with the people remaining on Zendika and the coming battle at Sea Gate. Though they disagree on methods, Jace agrees to help if it means stopping Ulamog as soon as possible. First, Ugin proposes that he go looking for Sorin (Jace notes that he has an "ally" that is familiar with his home of Innistrad) and, if that fails, Nahiri. The young planeswalker refuses to abandon Zendikar while a last-stand is taking place, so instead the Spirit Dragon shows him how to corral Ulamog in a circle of hedrons.

Ugin explains why killing the manifestation of Ulamog won't solve the problem - the Titan itself is in the Blind Eternities, and the thing that they see is only a hand reaching in (the same metaphors are evoked here as in Flatland and The Boy Who Reversed Himself). The brood are simply cells or organs, connected to and feeding Ulamog itself. The original hedron network trapped the physical manifestations in Zendikar, preventing them from moving elsewhere; Jace wonders if he could metaphysically pull on the manifestation once they have a grip on it with the hedrons to pull the actual Titan into Zendikar and kill it for good.

He doesn't bring this up to Ugin.

Jace heads back to Sea Gate with the hedron-trap plan, promising that they will not wound or kill the manifestation of Ulamog - that will simply drive the Titan away from Zendikar to other planes with no defenses. If something goes wrong (WHICH IT TOTALLY WON'T RIGHT GUYS?), Jace is ready to try pulling Ulamog fully into Zendikar. Can't wait!



An excellent UR. I liked Zada, Jace was not a combat person but not a weenie either, Ugin's conversation was great, and a lot of the flavor text quotes were worked in without sounding artificial or forced. I think I understood the metaphysics of the Eldrazi before, but this makes it much clearer to people what they are and how killing what you see doesn't do a lot of good. Next week's article should be the retaking of Sea Gate by Gideon and the allies.
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby The Martini » 20 Oct 2015, 10:46

Two quick things!

1) This thread is at over 1100 views, which means either that ya'll find it interesting, or everyone uses the "next unread thread" and look sat everything that's been posted. I'll assume that it's the former :)

B) The BFZ Story page is still updating with the titles of UR articles to come, and a blurb about the next week's as soon as the current week goes up.

I'll be here tomorrow (hopefully) for "Shaping an Army", a story about Noyan Dar just for Paul (ref Friday Nights: Zendikar Murder Mystery).
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Re: Vorthos Story Corner: Battle for Zendikar

Postby The Martini » 21 Oct 2015, 08:37

Noyan Dar and Gideon meet up at the Retreat at Coralhelm, and it's so good. SO GOOD! I'll summarize, but you should read

Shaping an Army

At Coralhelm, floating in a Tazeem canyon, Noyan Dar is surrounded by his incompetent, irritating roil-mage initiates. Their discordant practice rituals are interrupted as a kitesailer arrives, dropping of its passenger hundreds of feet from the ground.

Gideon meteor-drops into Coralhelm in a blaze of golden light.

The Commander-General of the Allies asks for the help of Noyan Dar as his elementalists; he is direct, genuine, and earnest. This irritates the Merfolk to no end and it's fantastic. Noyan explains that they are not elementalists and relates to Gideon a Cosi story (see Home Waters) wherein the trickster god convinces Ula to take a pearl from the heart of the ocean. Ula's arm makes the heart sneeze, which traps him in snot (ew). The point is, the Roil is Zendikar's sneeze to the Eldrazi's irritation. The Roilmages encourage and control the roil so that it destroys the Eldrazi and not themselves. They evoke the irritation by being uncontrolled, chaotic, and dissonant.

"Maybe . . . maybe this was not a good idea," croaked Gideon.

This annoys Noyan even more, so he insists on a practical demonstration. The roilmages and the Commander-General find the biggest swarm of Eldrazi they can spot nearby and start irritating Zendikar, much to the protest of Gideon.

Gideon balked, asking many annoying questions regarding contingencies Noyan assured him would not come into play. Eventually Gideon was reduced to communicating through raising eyebrows. He displayed a remarkable facility at raising both his left and right eyebrows. He was a man of many talents, this Gideon Jura.

Noyan and the roilmage initiates begin working their magic as Gideon fights the endless swarm of Eldrazi. They irritate the land, but refuse to let it release the tension, building up massive power. Finally, just before they are overrun, Noyan Dar releases the roil, and the entire host (and Gideon) are swallowed in a chasm.

Gideon, of course, is fine. He agrees that their power is great, and can't wait for them to join him at Sea Gate.

"I am sorry, Noyan, for any doubt. That display was amazing." Gideon smiled, and Noyan stood there, silent and stunned at how proud he felt, just because an idiot warrior had praised him.

Before he leaves, Gideon asks who ended up with the pearl in the story. Cosi did, of course; in many of the stories, Cosi tricks Ula into doing something foolish, and Cosi benefits.

Let me restate that for anyone wondering what Oath of the Gatewatch will bring: Kozilek tricks Ulamog into doing something stupid, and then Kozilek sweeps in and benefits.



Why is this story SOOOOOOOO GOOD (/teen girl squad!)? Noyan is the voice of us, the players, pointing out everything we find annoying about Gideon: he's simple, he's earnest, he's obnoxiously Lawful Stupid. That'd be ok, a funny story so we could laugh at Chad. But then, it flips it and shows that Gideon knew exactly what he was doing the entire time! Gideon is simple and earnest and good, but he's also incredibly competent and a powerful leader.

And then the dreadful hint of things to come is just icing on the cake.

Seriously, y'all should go read this one. There's a reason I used a bunch of quotes here - anything snarky that I'd usually say in these articles has already been done, three times snarkier, in the story. Good job, Ken Troop!
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