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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Mar 11 2015 1:00pm
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It's coming back around again with a new Core Set on the horizon.  It was announced on the mothership of 8th February that the latest set would be called Magic Origins - the story of which would be an origin story for five of the existing planeswalkers.  It was confirmed that these planeswalkers would be Gideon Jura, Jace Beleren, Liliana Vess, Chandra Nalaar and Nissa Revane.
Gideon JuraJace BelerenLiliana VessChandra NalaarNissa Revane
Why these particular planeswalkers?  Apparently each of the above five planeswalkers will be playing a big part in some of the future Magic storylines.

If you missed the initial announcement of Magic Origins, which took place at Pro Tour Fate Reforged you can check that out here:

Magic Origins is going to be the last Core Set prior to the new 2-set Block format.  However, things are going to be done a little bit differently this time around.  Magic Origins is going to feature more new cards than any previous Core Set and will also feature two brand new mechanics.  We are also told that the mechanics are flavorfully linked to the idea of the life progression that the characters go through.

Unlike previous years they streamed the Panel Live from PAX and have already uploaded the full panel to YouTube so you can check it out here if you haven't already:

So let's delve further into those announcements and particularly into Magic Origins.

Let's take a look at what we already know about each of these planeswalkers' backstories:
(Disclaimer: I have not read all the source material for this information so have had to rely on various sources on the internet.  So I apologise if any of the information is not correct.  Shout out to the MTGSalvation Wiki for providing me with the majority of this information)

Gideon Jura

Gideon grew up without a father and his mother died when he was young.  A charismatic individual with high ideals he joined a gang and started stealing from the rich.  This caused him to end up in prison but he was eventually released under the tutelage of a man who taught him Hieromancy, the magic of Order.  His teacher also provided him with his unique three-bladed whip weapon, known as a sural.  Gideon's spark apparently awakened after a fight with a far stronger opponent that he managed to win.  His victory despite overwhelming odds was a moment of enlightenment for Gideon.  However, the moment of clarity faded and Gideon started to walk the planes to rediscover enlightenment.

Jace Beleren
We have previously been told that Jace revealed himself to have the power of telepathy from an early age and his parents, unsure what to do with the boy, handed him over to a local mage who made Jace his apprentice.  Jace's planeswalker spark ignited sometime after that but the mage tried to hide it from him.  Jace would eventually learn of this when, increasing in strength, he used his powers on the mage - Jace's anger at the betrayal caused him to destroy the mind of his master and he fled his hometown and plane it seems.  Apparently, Jace also chose to erase his own memory of these events through guilt - apparently this act also caused him to forget his own home plane.

Liliana Vess
Liliana apparently comes from a privileged background with her father being an important general/ruler.  Liliana was a temptress from a young age and very troublesome to the people who were designated to watch her.  However, her brother Josu was poisoned by their father's enemies.  Liliana was tasked with producing a cure for her brother but was deceived and her cure ended up curing the poison but driving Josu insane.  As a result, Liliana was cast out of her family.  It appears that this transition from healer to attempting to master death is a major part of Liliana's backstory and future character.

It's not clear when Liliana's planeswalker spark ignited so there certainly seems to be more to cover for Liliana.  Also, it is believed that Liliana is actually one of the older planeswalkers in existence - being born before The Mending (a big event in Magic lore which changed the nature of planeswalkers and limited their powers).  It's possible that we will get a better idea of where she fits into the timeline of Magic lore history with this release.

Chandra Nalaar
Chandra was born on a plane that has yet to be named, with a strict mother, a gentle father, two sisters she hated and a brother she adored.  Her brother died during a war at some undisclosed point.  As Chandra grew she had a natural affinity for pyromancy, however, such magic was banned on her home plane.  Her family looked to 'cure' Chandra of her powers and looked to marry her off to focus her on family matters.  Chandra, unhappy with this plan, caused a fire in an attempt to scare off her parents and her prospective husband.  The fire would cause several of the village huts to burn as Chandra ran into the mountains.

In Chandra's absence, the police of a local temple rounded up the villagers in the belief that they were a group of fire magic wielding rebels.  They placed the villagers into the burning huts where they would burn to death.  Chandra returned to see her village burned and her family killed.  On seeing the destruction, Chandra surrendered to the authorities.  Her punishment was immediate execution and a blade was swung at her neck as she kneeled - this was the moment her planeswalker's spark ignited. 

Nissa Revane
Nissa Revane grew up on the plane of Zendikar in the jungles of Bala Ged as part of one of several tribes of the Joraga elves.  It is thought that her spark ignited when she was very young, however, her abilities and knowledge of the multiverse would lead her to be an outcast among her tribe.  Growing up tough in the Bala Ged jungle she eventually found another Joraga tribe who would accept her.  She dedicated her life to the tribe and took the ritual of adulthood, eating a poison mushroom to stop her heart and poison her blood against Vampires.  Her exemplary lifestyle eventually earned her a place as a leader among the Joraga Council - as part of her role she would learn of the other elven tribes of Zendikar and, using her powers, the multiverse.
It is known that one of the first worlds that Nissa visited was Lorwyn, which could very well be her First-Planeswalk Plane (see the section below).

In Doug Beyer's article on the set, he highlighted the fact that the cards in the set would showcase ten different planes.  Each planeswalker's origin story involving two planes: their home plane and their First-Planeswalk plane (the first plane they travelled to when their planeswalker spark ignited.  So far the only plane that is confirmed for the set is Zendikar, which is the Home Plane of Nissa Revane.  The rest of the planes are currently unknown, however, Doug Beyer confirmed that the majority of the planes will be ones that we have visited before.

There a variety of potential options for planes to revisit including: Dominaria, Alara, Kamigawa, Lorwyn/Shadowmoor, Theros, Ravnica, Innistrad, Mirrodin and Shandalar.  What impact will the planes have on the mechanics and feel of the set?  Will we see returning mechanics, such as Landfall from Zendikar?  I somewhat doubt that but I am hoping they will do something to capture the flavour of the planes - at least better than they did with the Soul cycle in M15.
Soul of InnistradSoul of RavnicaSoul of ZendikarSoul of ShandalarSoul of TherosSoul of New Phyrexia
Of course there is also the potential for new worlds to be unveiled which may lead to future locations for Blocks.  It has been confirmed that Chandra's home plane is somewhere that we have never been before.

Currently I am a little concerned that the flavour of the planes will be more in the art than the actual cards - given the potential difficulty of displaying 10 worlds in one set.  That said it is certainly far too early to criticise without seeing what WOTC have done with the set.

With the focus currently being on Dragons of Tarkir's release obviously there was not going to be too many spoilers from the Magic Origins set just yet.  That said we did get one preview card and it was a very significant and exciting one.  Ethan Fleischer discussed how he had the idea of bringing back flip cards with the front side being a legendary creature and the other side being a Planeswalker - this being to demonstrate the transition from regular mage to planeswalker.
The preview we got was Liliana's flip card:
Magic: The Gathering
Magic: The Gathering
That is certainly a powerful and exciting card.  A 2/3 Lifelink creature for 3 mana that drops a 2/2 into play and then returns as a pretty powerful planeswalker is certainly very cool.  Who knows what the Standard format will look like when Magic Origins rolls in but Liliana certainly looks like she will see some play.  It's interesting to note that the Legendary creature version of the card exiles itself and then returns to play as a planeswalker - to mimic the igniting of the planeswalker spark.  The new Liliana has a more of a reanimator theme to her, reflecting her master of necromancy, which is an interesting approach that I don't feel we have seen done with Liliana previously.

This cycle of cards looks very exciting and is something that has not been done before in Magic.  It's always interesting to see the envelope be pushed with what cards can do or be.

In terms of other information relating to Magic Origins the only other thing I found noteworthy was that they discussed that there would be other significant characters in the Planeswalkers' stories featured on cards.  Will Liliana's father get a card?  How about the mages who taught Jace and Gideon?  Certainly the potential to see some interesting new characters featured.

We got more Dragons of Tarkir previews, the most significant being the new Sarkhan Vol card:
Magic: The Gathering
Yes, a tri-coloured Planeswalker.  Sarkhan has gone all Temur on us with this very cool Planeswalker card.  He's drawing cards, making Dragons and his ultimate is an infinite Dragonstorm.  The new Sarkhan just oozes cool.

We also got a couple of previews for Modern Masters 2015, which is always of interest to me.  It was confirmed that Tarmogoyf will once again be printed as a mythic in the 2015 set, which will hopefully continue to drive it down in price, and also that Karn Liberated will be reprinted again as a mythic.
TarmogoyfKarn Liberated
I don't think we should be surprised by either of these cards being included in the set but it's nice to have the confirmation.  I suppose it was also possible that they would give Tarmogoyf a year off if this is going to be an annual product from here on out.  However, I think demand for the card is high enough that it certainly still warrants a reprint.

The final juicy morsel we were left with is that the Block following Magic Origins will be 'Battle for Zendikar'.  So we will be returning to Zendikar in the not too distant future.  More fetchlands, more landfall, more Eldrazi, enemy manlands?  I guess we'll have to see but that is certainly exciting news.

Again there seems to be a lot to be excited about around Magic.  Magic Origins looks like it will be one of the more interesting Core Sets experiences to date and we have a lot more cool products to come too.  I like that they are upping the complexity of the Core Set product, in keeping with the move to the 2-set Block format which is coming up.  There is also the promise of returning to Zendikar to settle some unfinished business with the Eldrazi coming in the not too distant future.

How do you feel about the announcements?  Have the preview cards got you intrigued?  Any ideas on what might be coming in Magic Origins or further afield?  Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)


I'm hooked. I might make an by Joe Fiorini at Wed, 03/11/2015 - 19:51
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I'm hooked. I might make an standard or modern deck again. I love walkers.

Pod by JXClaytor at Wed, 03/11/2015 - 22:31
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Birthing Pod into Origins walkers might have been a little bit sick.

Yeah, that would have been a by olaw at Thu, 03/12/2015 - 15:02
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Yeah, that would have been a really great combination in Modern. Hopefully they will be good enough to find their own way into a current deck.