If you have been following the storyline on Zendikar you are likely very familiar with the plight of the Zendikari. They are at the edge of their very existence. Ulamog and his Eldrazi spawn have run rampant across the plane, Sea Gate has fallen, and the people of Zendikar are facing extinction. However, Gideon and his army have mounted a mighty counter-offensive and started to push back and take back Zendikar. With the help of some unexpected allies and some old friends Zendikar has fought back and has a chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The latest installments of Uncharted Realms see Gideon and his army having reclaimed Sea Gate and making plans to ultimately stop Ulamog and the Eldrazi onslaught. Gideon gathers his allies which include Nissa, Drana, and Kiora to discuss what the next steps should be. Shortly after they meet Jace arrives with knowledge about how to trap Ulamog using the Hedrons setting up a plan to trap the Titan and save what is left of Zendikar.
We have met many of these characters in isolation up to this point or in small groups, but to see the larger group dynamic is truly interesting. Drana comes across as being very aggressive, and that seems to be in keeping with her nature as a vampire and being a rather militaristic society. Her role becomes essentially a backer of an aggressive assault on Ulamog without much consideration for strategy. Clearly she is to be a minor figure in this act of the story, but I hope not forgotten.
Nissa seems to be slightly downplayed in the early part of this sequence despite that she is extremely powerful now that she is in possession of the Khalni Heart and has reconnected with the Soul of Zendikar. Up to this point she had come across as being very
determined and focused in her pursuits, but she seems muted in what appears to be a pivotal moment in the future of Zendikar.
Gideon continues to be the noble leader charged with maintaining the order and discipline in the ranks. His every decision is paramount for the success of his forces and he seems rather at odds with it. Perhaps I am reading more into this than there is really there, but I get the sense that Gideon is very much at odds with this role and is not unlike a caged animal waiting to pounce. Yes, he is the best suited to being the leader of the Zendikari, but he also wants to kick some Eldrazi back side around. I still think he’s tragically flawed, but I like my heroes kind of messed anyway.
The character who is most interesting, and most infuriating in this exchange, is Kiora. She comes across as being a brat and a ridiculously impulsive kid. She controls such tremendous power that she is so over confident that they can defeat Ulamog in a full on assault that she is prepared to forego her allies and attack alone. That ridiculous over confidence when facing a foe like an Eldrazi titan seems so out of place when for so long the people of Zendikar have been forced to retreat time and time again. Perhaps she is just hasty and looking to try and bring a conclusion to the struggle, but her attitude is frustratingly impertinent and juvenile. As the reader I want to see my heroes win, not bicker and act like petulant children. So, while I find her fascinating, she is very frustrating and I spent my time reading her exchanges wishing Gideon would just put her in her place.
Jace arrives on the scene and is exactly what you expect the mind mage to be. Of all the characters he’s probably the least interesting because he is by far and away the least volatile personality at the meeting and we’ve already seen so much about him in previous sets/stories of the multiverse. However, he’s the guy with a plan and as a result everyone stops and listens carefully on how to spring a trap to catch Ulamog and to settle things once and for all.
Well, Ulamog approaches Sea Gate and they go to set the trap in action. After a glitch, in which one of the Hedrons is out of alignment, the trap seems to work when all of a sudden Ob Nixilis arrives and pretty much wrecks the whole project as he aims to reignite his spark. In the article At Any Cost we can trace how Ob Nixilis gets back to Sea Gate but it is his pure unadulterated ambition that comes through more clearly than anything else. Lilianna is the iconic Black Planeswalker because of her lust for power, but I think that good ol’ Ob Nixilis does a better job of embodying that ambition and greed coupled with the need to destroy. I’ll borrow a term from Dungeon and Dragons and if I had to pin Lilianna that she would be Neutral Evil. She’s totally out for herself. But she doesn’t lust uncontrollably for death and destruction (much as she’s capable of doling it out). Ob Nixilis is far more in line with being Chaotic Evil where he lusts to destroy and enslave. I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked. The Dude is a demon after all. But it still feels like it is a steep departure from our benchmark black Planeswalker.
Ob Nixilis reignites his spark by sabotaging the trap and using the energy in the Hedron series and is infused with a huge boost of energy. His newly attuned senses allow him to sense another immense power source deep within the plane of zendikar and he calls to it and commanding it to rise. The story stops there for now but we hardly wait for the next installment. This cliff hanger can really only be one of two things. Either he has inadvertently summoned the most powerful, primal essence of the plane to wipe away the Eldrazi blight, or he’s calling another titan. Based on some of the early spoilers we’ve seen, i’m betting it is Kozilek. Besides, WoTC has a penchant for essentially letting the good guys lose. C’mon. Think about it. Mirrodin loses to the Phyrexians. Innistrad seems like it is in the clear with Avacyn back, but it looks like just a matter of time before things go back down the drain ( see the Spring trailer if you don’t believe me). I guess Ravnica is ok, but Elspeth is killed by Heliod despite being the hero he wanted on Theros. Dragons was weird, but time travel always is. But it wouldn’t shock me in the least if Creative blasts the remaining Zendikar forces with a second scary titan.
Speaking of titans, have you had a peak at the spoiled version of kozilek ? Ohhh my goodness. This guy is spicy. Ok, so he is a 12/12, is a massive card draw engine, has pseudo evasion, and can counter stuff. Those are ridiculous abilities. Now, I do notice he’s not indestructible (thank goodness) so Ruinous Path and other removal work on him, but he’s still pretty wild. However I think the more interesting thing is that new Mana symbol in the top right corner. That means a new basic land…And that’s awesome!
Why is that awesome? We’ve gotten pretty accustomed to the traditional color pie and what we can and can’t do in each color. However, now, there doesn’t need to be any limits. R&D can literally do anything they want with this new color. Draw cards. Ramp. Kill things. Mill. Anything. And there is no colour pie holding them back. The options are pretty amazing and far reaching. This one change ( which could be considered trivial to the untrained eye) could be pretty far reaching and change a pretty wide range of games, decks, and landscape of playing Magic. Now, it is still up to R&D to make good use of this new type of land and really spice things up, but I hope it doesn’t break stuff. This sort of fundamental change could be very risky because if they push the new land and carve out a niche for it that is fairly busted then it risks doing long term damage. These lands could migrate into established constructed formats and really turn things on their ear. Conversely, the new land could stink which would mean that
nobody touches them and they are just one more discarded gimmick along the mtg highway of new things to try. The bottom line is that we will need to watch very attentively to what new abilities cards with this new Mana are given and to see if they are reasonable or have been pushed into some new unexpected directions.
I can hardly wait for the rest of the Eldrazi titans to make their appearance because I have to say I find them fascinating. I don’t want them to demolish Zendikar, but to see new versions of these massive monsters and to get to play with them (and the new Mana) is extremely cool. I can hardly wait…c’mon January pre release!
Thanks for taking the time to stop in for a read! Have yourself a great mtg day wherever you get to play!