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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jul 30 2018 12:00pm
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Art by Wesley Burt

 SUMMARY OF CONTENTS


INTRODUCTION

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 Another one of the Lorwyn Five, the spunky, fearless Chandra is the epitome of the fire mage: fierce, rash and independent, adverse to authority, and unwilling to let anybody tell her what to do, think or feel. Despite her considerable moxie, Chandra is also possibly the most relatable figure in the neowalker pantheon, strong-willed and confident most of the times, but not without her deep-seated insecurities; yearning for love and acceptance, yet quick to run away when upset; loud and somewhat abrasive by nature, yet instantly likable and beloved by all.

 Red is the color of passion, and Chandra is indeed the most passionate planeswalker you'll ever find. Wearing her emotions on her frequently scorched sleeve, Chandra feels everything, constantly. But she doesn't mope for long, and she always acts on those feelings, however reckless and destructive those actions will be. In other words, she's the stereotypical fiery redhead brought to a literal extreme. Warm and friendly but with a quick temper, she also embodies youth, as a lot of Chandra's depictions and stories make her look and sound like a troubled teenager (she's still in her early 20s indeed, which makes her the youngest member of the Gatewatch); this has become more evident after Magic Origins slightly retconned her back story, and she started to behave in more naive and childlike manners than we were used to.

 Destruction and mayhem may be her first instincts, but Chandra is a true hero with a conscience, always trying not to harm sentient beings as much as possible. With a heart that's "the size of a moon", in Gideon's words, and "a baloth", in Nissa's, Chandra is, out of the leading planeswalkers, the one who most closely resembles an anime character, divided between inner pain stemming from the scars of her past and some truly endearing traits, like a certain awkwardness or her comical craving for food. It's not surprising that she's an orphan – or at least she believed to be until proved wrong by a crucial homecoming trip, in which she was assisted and incited toward her most questionable impulses by a representative of the proverbial devil on red's shoulder: black, in the form of incorrigible Liliana.

 The relationship between Magic's two original female planeswalkers has inspired an infamous piece of speculative art by Steve Argyle, for which he sort of got in trouble – not due to the content per se, but because an official Magic artist making such a "dramatic statement", as he himself put it, runs the risk of being taken as canon. Granted, Liliana's seduction probably knows no gender and Chandra's passion certainly knows no bounds, but canonical stories about the two of them depict Liliana's interactions with the messy, younger walker as more maternal than anything else, despite betraying a certain chemistry. 

 Of course, Chandra's tumultuous and emotional nature makes her the perfect vessel for all kinds of intimate relationships, like the big brother/little sister dynamic she has developed with Gideon (with some hints of romance peppered in), and the more conflictual one she has with Jace. But her more significant rapport so far has been the one with the aloof yet caring Nissa, of which Chandra often seeks the companionship, finding solace and peace from the incessant, frantic fluttering of her heart in the elf's more centered, calmer nature, particularly after the two of them had to fuse their powers in a spiritual bond to defeat the Eldrazi on Zendikar (an episode which was later affectionately nicknamed their "Channel/Fireball" moment). Chandra's inner life seems to spark the most reactions and debates among the fans. After all, unlike black, which only revels in its own accomplishments, red does seek interactions with others, as volatile and antagonistic as these might ultimately prove to be.

 The in-game frequency of Chandra's planeswalker cards has been the same as Liliana's, popping up so far once every 1.33 years, but with a more even distribution across the waves, never seeing hiatuses longer than one year in between incarnations, despite many of them feeling sub-par compared to the character's prominence in the storylines.

 Her powers, as represented on cards, include:

  • Direct damage to creatures: 6 instances
  • Direct damage to opponents: 4 instances (plus two other instances grafted onto another ability)
  • Direct damage to any target: 3 instances
  • Universal damage: 5 instances
  • Impulsive drawing: 2 instances
  • Wheeling: 2 instances
  • Fork: 2 instances
  • Mana production: 2 instances
  • Regrowing non-permanents: 1 instances
  • Token creation: 1 instances (Elemental)

FICTIONAL BIOGRAPHY

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 We first met Chandra Nalaar on her native plane of Kaladesh, when she was an adorably rebellious 11-year-old moppet with no patience for invention, and too short an attention span for art. Unsurprisingly prone to fights with other kids in the halls of the Consulate schools and on the streets of the capital city, the wondrous Ghirapur, Chandra was a hyperactive and restless kid, but not an angry one, as she was very much loved by her sweet, eccentric parents, Pia and Kiran Nalaar, both inventors by trade as per Kaladeshi custom (a former back story from the 2009 novel The Purifying Fire mentioned two sisters she disliked and an older brother she adored who died in some war, but they all seem to have been retconned into oblivion by Magic Origins, where Chandra appears to be the Nalaars' only child).

 

 So Chandra's childhood had been happy until that point, but the Nalaar household was a peculiar one: Pia and Kiran were "renegades", part of a network rebelling against the rigid, fascistoid Consulate, the governing body in control of Kaladesh's society; to that end, they would illegally smuggle aether to provide amounts of it beyond the assigned quota to the most deserving, forward-thinking inventors. Infusing their strong ideals of freedom and equality into their young daughter, they encouraged her to follow in the footsteps of their activism, even to the point of trusting her with the delivery of canisters of highly volatile contraband aether. And this was probably a not very well thought-through decision, as little Chandra's very first aether run (to renegate collaborator Oviya Pashiri) ended with her blowing up the Foundry of the Consuls, after (literally) igniting her pyromancer powers while eluding the Consulate enforcers, lead by the ruthless and imposing Baral, and their exquisitely crafted, filigree-embroidered killer automatons and spy thopters.

 

 Being able to wield magic on one's own without the use of artifices is a very big deal on Kaladesh, since the Consulate forbids everything that would make its very existence pointless, and pyromancy in particular is bluntly condemned because of its destructive nature. In order to protect their daughter, then, the Nalaars flee the city, forced to move from village to village to escape capture. Finding her true nature is simultaneously exciting and upsetting for Chandra (though it might explain why she's a redhead with freckles despite having a Sanskrit name and being born in a world where most every other human looks South Asian), as she starts seeing herself as a freak that only brings troubles to the people she loves. Poor thing doesn't know the half of it, as Baral and his men ultimately catch up with the Nalaars in the village of Bunarat, where the vicious officer, secretly a mage himself and acting outside his Consulate mandate, sets fire to the buildings to frame Chandra, then eviscerates Kiran in front of her. Devastated, with her powers suppressed by a contraption her father designed to help her control them, the numbed little girl allows herself to be captured.

 Brought back to Ghirapur for public execution, believing her mother to be dead as well, and feeling empty and defeated, Chandra waits apathetically for her destiny, for the blade of a triumphant Baral to put an end to the life she now perceives as meaningless. But in those fateful moments she catches sight of Mrs. Pashiri in the crowd, and the old renegade makes the secret signal her father had taught her, the Nalaar signal; suddenly, a new resolve kicks in, and her old "fist logic" turned into a newfound "fire logic": Chandra fury's surge, making finally clear "What it means to be a pyromancer. What it means to be alive. What it means to be Chandra." Her planeswalker spark ignites, dramatically, engulfing her persecutors in unrelenting flames; and she's suddenly elsewhere.

 That "elsewhere" turns out to be the plane of Regatha, where Chandra is welcomed by the monks of the monastery of Keral Keep, who immediately take the little, disoriented pyromancer in, treating her as nothing less than a peer. Founded on the volcanic peak of Mount Keralia by followers of the ancient planeswalker Jaya Ballard, the strongly red-aligned Keral Keep is a place devoted to the study of a particular form of ascetic pyromancy. Here, Chandra has the chance to learn how to control and master her powers, eventually growing up into a free-spirited young woman, raised by the monks under their unshakeable principles of personal freedom and individual choice above everything else. On Regatha, Chandra would forge her own persona, without ever forgetting her traumatic past, wearing her mother's shawl and her father's welding goggles as eternal mementos of where she came from and the price she had to pay to be herself.

 During one of her interplanar travels, at the suggestion of a shady shaman planeswalker named Ramaz (eventually discovered as being yet another minion of Nicol Bolas), Chandra visited the totalitarian plane of Kephalai, where she stole the prized Dragon Scroll from a museum called the Sanctum of Stars, filled with relics from across the multiverse. In order to get the scroll back, the Kephalaian authorities contacted the Infinite Consortium, which assigned the case to one of their best agents: Jace. The blue mage successfully tracked Chandra on Regatha and regained possession of the scroll. Later, Mother Luti, the resident mysterious old lady of Keral Keep, who had always tried to teach Chandra all kinds of things she didn't have time for, sent the young pyromancer back to Kephalai to reacquire the scroll, believing its secrets resided not in the words written on it, but in its physical form. The mission is kind of a disaster, as Chandra ends up destroying the Sanctum of Stars and losing the scroll. She also meets Gideon, who at the time was working for the Regatha branch of the multiplanar Order of Heliud, a white-aligned society purportedly pursuing peace and order in the multiverse (their possible links with Heliod remain unexplored). Believing in the need for a law-abiding society no matter the cost, Gideon betrays Chandra's trust when he decides to turn her over to the Kephalaian authorities (she did commit several crimes, after all); when she escapes custody, he follows her on the plane of Diraden, a dark place of eternal night, where only black mana flows; rendered powerless by Diraden's mana shroud, the two opposite-minded planeswalkers find themselves forced to work together to get the hell out of there, and Chandra's rage ends up destroying the black shroud altogether, along with his creator, the Vampire Prince Velrav.

 Back on Regatha, Chandra has to surrender herself to the increasingly oppressive Order of Heliud to save Keral Keep, whose monks would soon all die than infringe on her freedom. Walbert, the Order's leader, plans to strip Chandra of her unholy powers by forcing her through the Purifying Fire, a magical cold combustion of white mana that's supposed to cleanse any soul of sins and imperfections, including a planeswalker's spark. What actually happens, though, is that the Purifying Fire accepts Chandra's soul as it is, in the process removing the wards and shields placed around her to contain her powers; Chadra achieves a degree of clarity and purpose she never had before, while also getting to burn to a crisp yet another congregation of repressive, patriarchal jerks hell-bent on taking away her right to simply be. Gideon is bothered by Chandra's murderous wrath, but also comes to the realization that he might have been working for fascists, so she sort of had a point in wanting their clique violently dismantled.

 Tired of Regatha, Chandra departs for Zendikar, searching for the Eye of Ugin, which is what the Dragon Scroll pointed toward. The quest ends with a three-way confrontation between Chandra, Sarkhan and Jace, who had all ended up in the Eye at the same time, for different reasons. Chandra emerges victorious thanks to her casting Ghostfire, which she had learned from the scroll. However, this very act weakens the lock on the Eldrazi's prison, precipitating the upcoming reawakening of the unspeakable monstrosities, and after tracking down Ramaz on Kaldheim, Chandra learns Nicol Bolas had been manipulating this outcome all along, as he does. Returned to Regatha, after the death of the beloved abbot Serenok, Chandra is chosen by the monks and Mother Luti as the new Abbot of Keral Keep and she reluctantly accepts. She had started thinking about Jaya, of how the celebrated pyromancer's legacy was simultaneously an inspiration and a burden, wondering if she could offer a higher degree of commitment to the monastery, the one place in the multiverse that welcomed her when she was a scared child, a place where nobody ever tried to change or control her.

 Once the Eldrazi situation escalates on Zendikar, her frenemies Jace and Gideon come seek her help, but Chandra refuses: she has responsibilities now, she made a promise to stay at Keral Keep, no matter how much she wanted to just dive into a new adventure. Later, though, her curiosity gets the best of her, so she takes a quick planeswalk-peek to check on the others. Zendikar is, at this point, a chaotic turmoil of Eldrazi devastation, and she beholds firsthand the disconcerting rise of Ulamog, one of the monstrosities she had inadvertently helped release. Retreated back on Regatha, she turns her first address as abbot into a resignation speech, and with Mother Luti's cautious blessings, she rejoins the battle at Sea Gate, just in time to witness all hell breaking loose: the demon planeswalker Ob Nixilis hijacks the hedron trap that had temporarily detained Ulamog, in order to reboot his own powers and spark, and the summons a second titan, Kozilek. Chandra tries to locate Gideon and Jace, ultimately discovering they had been taken prisoners by Ob Nixilis, along with a local elf planeswalker, the animist Nissa. Chandra manages to free all of them from the demon's clutches, and together they are able to chase him away from Zendikar. Realizing how much they can accomplish when working as a team, they take the Gatewatch oath. Chandra's version outlines that what really matters to her above all is freedom, not just for herself, but for every single being in the multiverse.

 With the help of the merfolk Kiora, the Gatewatch attempts to destroy Ulamog and Kozilek. In the final strike, Nissa and Chandra meld their souls and connect their powers, with the animist allowing the pyromancer to Channel a gigantic Fireball directly through Zendikar's ley lines and toward the Eldrazi. And this is how Chandra got to incinerate two of the most powerful beings in the entire multiverse (something Ugin didn't take well. Because, you know, balance. Not Chandra's forte).

 

 They would later attempt the same trick against Emrakul on Innistrad, but Nissa's unfamiliarity with that plane's ley lines, and Chandra being forced to relive the trauma of her ignition under the Eldrazi's influence caused the plan to fail. It would take Liliana's unexpected selflessness and Tamiyo's lunar expertise to save the day, resulting in the last of the Eldrazi titan's moon imprisonment.

 Three months later, Chandra is living in Jace's Guildpact sanctum on Ravnica, along with him, Gideon, Nissa and the frequently visiting Liliana (who has chosen to take up private residence elsewhere in the city). The sardonic necromancer has taken a liking to the unruly fire mage, seeing Chandra as her "delightful walking powder keg". After a visit from the Consulate Minister of Inspections, the stiff Vedalken walker Dovin Baan, rekindles in Chandra the torturous memories of her orphaned childhood, Liliana pushes her young protegée into a vengeful homecoming. Back in Kaladesh for the first time in 12 years, Chandra sets up to find and assist the renegade leader that Dovin had just asked the Gatewatch to apprehend, fearing dangerous disruptions at the upcoming Inventors' Fair. The Gatewatch is unable to meet his request, as they don't intervene in simple intraplanar matters of security, but Chandra and Liliana are more than willing to go rogue and have a wild night across the streets of Ghirapur, searching for the so-called Renegade Prime. They find instead an undercover Tezzeret, whom Liliana promptly recognizes from her own time with the Infinite Consortium. The metal-mage is acting as Head Judge of the Fair on behalf of the Consulate, and is himself on the hunt for Renegade Prime, ultimately revealed to be the last person Chandra would imagine to reconnect with during her impromptu trip home: her definitely non-deceased mother.

 

 Before the two Nalaars can react to the shock of stumbling upon each other after so many years, Pia is forced to surrender to Consulate guards. This is about the moment Nissa walks in as well, along with a disappointed Dovin, after volunteering to look for the Gatewatch's two resident troublemakers while Jace and Gideon are busy on Ravnica. Chandra had tried to reach out to her elf associate before leaving Ravnica, longing for the calm and peace Nissa naturally radiates, smelling like "anyone's best childhood memory". On her part, Nissa feels sorry for not being able to properly relate with Chandra, not to mention confused by her own unexpected feelings toward someone who's not the elemental manifestation of a plane. While Liliana, deeply worried about Tezzeret's presence, leaves to pursue a different line of action, Nissa accompanies her impetuous friend in a poorly planned quest to retrieve her long-lost parent. The two soon acquires an ally in the form of an old family acquaintance of Chandra, Mrs. Pashiri.

 Still part of the renegade network, Mrs. Pashiri leads the two planeswalkers through some of her contacts, ending up at the aetherborn party of the socialite Yahenni. Here, they learn Pia is held at the Dhund secret prison, and that's bad news, because the prison's warden is none other than Baral, the man who murdered Chandra's father. Upon hearing this, Chandra's agitation and rashness get to dangerous levels, and Nissa is hard-pressed to use her powers to track aether flows, thus detecting the location of the underground complex. Once in the tunnels, though, the trio is caught in Baral's trap: a sealed, solid metal cage with counterspell wardings, slowly filling with poisonous gas. Neither Chandra's fire nor Nissa's control over the elements are able to work from inside the trap. Fortunately, Mrs. Pashiri had a muscular and resourceful friend who eventually came to the rescue of his "Grandmother" and her guests: the leonin Ajani. But not before Chandra and Nissa had another intimate moment of true connection, concluding the Gatewatch is for them as much a way to help others as is a surrogate family, forcing Nissa to acknowledge that she was surprisingly ready to die for this hot-tempered human, while both of them were irrationally unwilling to just planeswalk away and let Mrs. Pashiri die alone in Baral's trap.

 

 Tezzeret announces a public "battle of ingenuity" between himself and Pia at the Inventors' Fair, which is clearly just another trap Chandra can't help but fall into, and the group is suddenly rejoined by the rest of the Gatewatch, as Liliana had gone to fetch Jace and Gideon on Ravnica. Eventually, Tezzeret and Pia's artificer duel at the Grand Exhibition unfolds, the Gatewatch emerges from the crowd to rescue Chandra's mom from Tezzeret's unsanctioned assassination attempt.

 

 Turns out it was all just a ploy to distract them from Tezzeret's true scheme, as he requisitions all the inventions, institutes martial law and essentially takes control of the government acting as a Grand Consul with emergency powers. But what really matters is that, once the dust settles, this happens:

 In the weeks after Tezzeret's coup, the group hides and investigates, then moves to action, helped by the renegade network, the planeswalker inventor Saheeli Rai, and the aetherborn Yahenni and Gonti. Chandra's aggressive approach to the fight is questioned by Gideon, who reminds her the Gatewatch is about intervention, not imposition. She reaffirms her hostility to tyrannical, oppressive regimes, but promises to keep the collateral damage to a minimum. This proves difficult during an attack to the central Aether Hub of the city, when Baral provokes Chandra almost to the point of implosion. But hey, at least she gets to lead an armed revolution with her mom, from a flagship named Heart of Kiran after her dad.

 

 In the culminating attack to the Spire of Industry aimed to destroy Tezzeret's Planar Bridge, Gideon shields Chandra with his indestructible arms, so she can go supernova safely, marking a new chapter in the Nissa-Chandra-Gideon love (?) triangle.

 In the end, Tezzeret escapes, but the Consulate is finally restored to pre-fascist state, with Pia elected new Consul of Allocation, to more democratically supervise aether distribution. Tearfully saying goodbye to her mother, Chandra follows the Gatewatch (now including Ajani) to Amonkhet, where they plan take the fight directly to Tezzeret's own boss, the one and only Nicol Bolas. It doesn't go down very well.

 Regrouping on Dominaria after the Amonkhet fiasco, several conflicts explode among the Gatewatch members. Nissa is outraged by Liliana's manipulations, and leaves the team to return to Zendikar. Chandra is deeply hurt, both by Liliana's actions and by losing her best friend and spiritual counselor. Deciding she needs to increase her powers if she wants to stand a chance against Bolas, she also separates from the others and goes back to Regatha, with the intention to track down Jaya Ballard herself, whom everyone believes dead but whose aether trail Chandra is almost sure to have briefly detected on Dominaria.

 At Keral Keep, she snatches one of the monastery's relics, Jaya's goggles. Her characteristically haphazardous plan is to give them back to Jaya, to convince the legendary pyromancer to train her. Mother Luti catches Chandra during her little heist, but she planeswalks away back to Dominaria. She follows Jaya's potential trail to the city of Argivia, where she gets word of an upcoming battle between an unnamed pyromancer supporting the Argivian troops of steward Baird and the dragon Prossh with his kobold followers. After catching up to the Argivian column just in time to prevent a kobold ambush, she heard from Baird that Jaya was actually with them, but left to seek an old friend on the island of Yavimaya, farther south. There, she meets Karn, assisting him during a battle between his automatons and an army of mindless animated trees, a subliminal defense system created by the semi-conscious Multani.

 Once the battle is over, Karn introduces himself as Jaya's friend. And then Mother Luti shows up in front of a flabbergasted Chandra, revealing she was a disguised Jaya all along; she had been hiding at Keral Keep after the Mending took away her oldwalker immortality 60 years prior and she decided to remain at the monastery to guide from the shadows this weird religion born out of her former visit from a couple centuries before. After all, teaching pyromancer kids is not the easiest task, but they need all the help they can get. Too bad Chandra has refused Luti's help one time too many in the past, and has now exhausted Jaya's patience (she might be old and wise, but she's still monored!) and her chances to get such help from her. Chandra's pleas come to no avail, soon morphing into increasingly loud arguments, then degenerating in a day-long shouting contest between the two proud fire mages.

 In the meantime, Karn had been directing his automatons in a concerted excavation work aimed at the retrieval of a buried Urza's weapon called the Cylix, which he intends to take to New Phyrexia to obliterate the Phyrexians out of existence. Multani fears the giant bomb greatly, and in his unconscious state tries to stop Karn's party from unbury it, launching waves upon waves of walking trees at them. The arrival of the rebuilt skyship Weatherlight, and Teferi's time magic, bring the situation to a halt, allowing our heroes to leave with the Cylix; but that's when Chandra steps in, refusing to abandon Multani to his destiny. Using a calming technique she has learned from Nissa, Chandra manages to bring the elemental back to full awareness, which might just be the most unexpected accomplishment ever for an impatient pyromancer whose least favorite words are "not yet". This feat alone, proving Chandra's maturity and budding knowledge of self, finally wins over Jaya to her side, which, along with a subquest with Gideon to retrieve the Blackblade, eventually ensures the demise of the demonlord Belzenlok. Little Chandra is growing up.


INCARNATIONS 

1.  

  • Name: Chandra Nalaar   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: October 2007
  • Versions: Lorwyn, Duel Decks: Jace vs. Chandra, Magic 2010, Magic 2011
  • Converted Mana Cost: 5
  • Turns to Ultimate: 3
  • Ultimate's Power Level: Moderate, 10 damage don't guarantee a kill
  • Self-Defense: Adequate, she can get rid of a large-sized threat right away
  • Role: Board Controller
  • Evaluation: For being the game's most iconic fire mage, featured in so many promo images and marketing campaigns, Chandra has rarely been graced with a card version that would entirely do her justice. It was part, at first, of a broader issue with monored, a color that most design teams couldn't find a way to properly translate into an effective planeswalker card, too often focusing on direct damage as the primary attraction. This is the case with the first Chandra too, who on top of an overly cautious plus ability, gets a second ability that essentially amounts to a few points of creature damage that you can divide over several turns. If you use them all up right away, that would kill a 6-toughness creature, but you would have paid 5 mana for it, essentially turning Chandra into a slightly cheaper, sorcery-speed Heat Ray. The step from CMC 4 to CMC 5 is a big one in general, and even more for planeswalkers, as they need to impact the board in a sensible manner to justify the higher casting cost. And Chandra Nalaar, alas, doesn't. Her ultimate feels powerful enough and it's not that hard to reach (if through a couple of really cringeworthy turns where the wild, hyperactive Chandra just pings the opponent for 1), and it's the reason the original Chandra has seen some amount of play in casual and budget builds. Chandra's personality was already there, as well as her propensity to set her hair aflame, her signature goggles and her array of asymmetrical armor pieces; mechanically, though, there was still a long way to go.
  • Rating: 4

2. 

  • Name: Chandra Ablaze   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: October 2009
  • Versions: Zendikar
  • Converted Mana Cost: 6
  • Turns to Ultimate: 3
  • Ultimate's Power Level: Weak, its effect strictly depends on how your game went until that point
  • Self-Defense: Weak, she can kill a reasonably large threat, but at the cost of another card
  • Role: Strategic Assistant
  • Evaluation: Two years from Lorwyn, here comes Chandra again, this time with a discard theme that, luckily, would never show up again in later incarnations. Zendikar is the block where she basically lets the Eldrazi loose, so you can see this card as a painful reflection of that blunder. Basically you get to pay 6 mana (?!) and discard another red card in order to cast... a sorcery-speed Lightning Blast? And that's the plus ability?! C'mon, Chandra, focus.
  • Rating: 2

3. 

  • Name: Chandra, the Firebrand   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: July 2011
  • Versions: Magic 2012, Magic 2013
  • Converted Mana Cost: 4
  • Turns to Ultimate: 4
  • Ultimate's Power Level: Weak, it's even less impressive than Chandra Nalaar's
  • Self-Defense: Mild, most threats remain unscathed by her direct attack, with some notable exceptions
  • Role: Tactical Assistant
  • Evaluation: Third time's the charm? Not really, but we're getting there. At least Chandra's third incarnation doesn't immediately feel like it sucks upon reading its text. For one thing, she just costs four very splashable mana now. And there's a bit of versatility to her ping this time – granted, by turn 4, gunning those Birds of Paradise might not be that relevant anymore, but killing some Dark Confidant, Vendilion Clique and Delver of Secrets certainly is. And in face of an ultimate that's too long and painful to reach and doesn't put you even remotely close to win the game, we get a second ability that can be explosive. The only problem is that it's also awfully situational. If your deck is filled with fast damage-dealing spells, chances are you won't have a use for a 4-mana Fork. And if not, sure, you can duplicate your Banefire for the full X. But how frequently you'll be doing that? And in the meantime, what's Chandra supposed to do? Pew-pew-ing every mana dork around? Pinging the opponent? Again?! Also, what's a "firebrand" exactly? Where did this epithet come from? I couldn't find any lore about it.
  • Rating: 5

4.  

  • Name: Chandra, Pyromaster   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: July 2013
  • Versions: Magic 2014, Magic 2015, Archenemy: Nicol Bolas
  • Converted Mana Cost: 4
  • Turns to Ultimate: 4
  • Ultimate's Power Level: Weak, there's a chance it'll do next to nothing, and it's very hard for it to be really consequential
  • Self-Defense: Mild, same as Chandra, the Firebrand
  • Role: Card Factory
  • Evaluation: Two core sets later, Chandra is still the face of red and they're still trying to find a way to put her name on a good planeswalker card. And this time, they more or less succeed. The Pyromaster was Chandra's most successful incarnation up to that point, meaning the only Chandra's incarnation that was actively played, finding a home at the time as a card-advantage engine in some Jund builds in Modern. The 0-cost drawing felt like a nice change of pace, even with the "now or never" clause that would later be nicknamed "impulsive drawing", becoming a regular feature of red cards. And it's amusing to review the progression of the various Chandras' plus abilities: from pinging only the opponent, to pinging either the opponent or a creature, to pinging both at the same time (and, as an added bonus, the creature can't block that turn). A nice improvement in that department that reflects the trial-and-error approach to produce a worthy Chandra. The ultimate takes forever, considering it's more likely you want to draw rather than ping, and it's a complicated wording intended to make Chandra do some free casting; just like in Ral Zarek's case, it might even amount to nothing, even if the back luck here would need to be cosmical – but it doesn't even matter, because nobody ever pinged for 3 turns in a row and then killed Chandra only to try and find a good spell to duplicate. All in all, this Chandra feels like a legitimate, if slower, alternative to Phyrexian Arena in the right build.
  • Rating: 7

5.  

  • Name: Chandra, Roaring Flame (transforms from Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh)   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: July 2015
  • Versions: Magic Origins, From the Vault: Transform
  • Converted Mana Cost: 3
  • Turns to Ultimate: 4 (starting from the turn of the transformation)
  • Ultimate's Power Level: Moderate, it takes a long time to kill, but it does eventually kill
  • Self-Defense: Moderate, she's able to get rid of a small threat immediately
  • Role: Burn Factory
  • Evaluation: By this point, four out of five Chandra's incarnations have been printed as part of a core set, which may somewhat explain why it's been so arduous to come up with a good card for her, since core sets have typically a lower power level than regular expansion sets. Magic Origins brings along a flashback Chandra who's, once again, not the best card in her cycle. Transformation is not extremely difficult, it involves either to attack with her and then cast some red card that'll untap her for the third damage, or alternatively to ping in the turn we cast two red cards. The real problem is that she's a red pinger for three mana, with double red in her cost, to boot, and no haste. The only justification to include her would be an amazing planeswalker version on the other side, but that's not exactly what the Roaring Flame looks like. The plus ability is once again just a ping, this time for 2, but with no tactical variance. And the minus ability is something that's only occasionally useful, so this Chandra is basically just a steady source of a little amount of damage per turn, until she ultimates, causing a larger chunk of damage, and creating an emblem (the first Chandra emblem!) that'll do some more damage per turn. So all in all, from the turn of the transformation, an undisturbed Chandra will deal 21 damage on her own in... six turns? Not exactly reliable. Then again, she's the cheapest Chandra so far, a crucial milestone associated with such historical representation. The artwork is actually a bit weird: Both Chandra's spark and her pyrokinetic powers ignited when she was 11-year-old, but the girl on the Roaring Flame side is clearly not a tween anymore (which on some level makes sense: we don't know how much time she spent at Keral Keep after her first "walk", but she definitely grew up there), and yet she still seems amazed of being aflame?
  • Rating: 5

6. 

  • Name: Chandra, Flamecaller   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: January 2016
  • Versions: Oath of the Gatewatch
  • Converted Mana Cost: 6
  • Turns to Ultimate: 1
  • Ultimate's Power Level: N/A, it's not actually an ultimate
  • Self-Defense: Severe, she can cast Slagstorm the turn she enters the battlefield, Savage Twister later
  • Role: Tactical Superiority
  • Evaluation: Joining the Gatewatch has been a boon for Chandra, because the Flamecaller is a very powerful incarnation with three different applications, all of which are available since the first turn (leading to one of those peculiar planeswalkers without a real ultimate). The couple of Zendikari Elementals she summons essentially means she can swing for 6 right away, but she can also sweep the board, or replace a few useless cards with a built-in card advantage, so that in topdeck mode, she generates straight-up additional card draw. Of course, given the cost, she won't hit the battlefield very soon. Bur her roles are many, and she fulfills them all with panache. And it's not like a high CMC necessarily denotes a successful card. In fact, the comparison with her previous six-mana incarnation, Chandra Ablaze, is positively embarrassing. Our fiery girl grew up so much since those awkward times, didn't she?
  • Rating: 8

7.  

  • Name: Chandra, Torch of Defiance   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: September 2016
  • Versions: Kaladesh, San Diego Comic-Con 2018 Promo
  • Converted Mana Cost: 4
  • Turns to Ultimate: 4
  • Ultimate's Power Level: Severe, it doesn't take much effort to win after that
  • Self-Defense: Adequate, 4 damage can handle most serious threats
  • Role: Strategic Superiority
  • Evaluation: There she is, the queen of Kaladesh-Amonkhet-Ixalan Standard, back in her home plane, with a confident smirk on her face. Big Chandra may not be precisely at the same power level of Jace, the Mind Sculptor, but she comes with four abilities for four mana, too, and she's by far the best Chandra ever designed. Most of the times, she'll play like Burn Aid, adding two damage to the barrage of pain already administered by any RDW build, turning any further land draw into fuel and occasionally doubling down on the available cards for the turn. In fact, aAs far as Chandra ability combinations go, this is the Pyromaster's impulsive drawing (land drops aside) mixed with the Roaring Flame's superior ping, except better in multiplayer. All as a plus ability, which isn't even the only plus ability she gets, as she can also boost your mana when needed (a first for Chandra, probably coming from her close association with Nissa). And she can Flame Slash creatures, and has an ultimate truly worth pursuing. In the art for the Comic-Con promo, she's measuring herself against a young (Jaya Ballard). And now she can finally stand the comparison, win it even.
  • Rating: 9

8. 

  • Name: Chandra, Pyrogenius   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: September 2016
  • Versions: Kaladesh (Planeswalker Deck only)
  • Converted Mana Cost: 6
  • Turns to Ultimate: 4
  • Ultimate's Power Level: Weak, more or less the same as Chandra, the Firebrand
  • Self-Defense: Adequate, just like Chandra, Torch of Defiance
  • Role: Board Controller
  • Evaluation: 2016 has been a very Chandra year, with three different incarnations coming out, two of which have been the best Chandra has ever been. The third one is, well, not, but it's just a Planeswalker Deck planeswalker, so we can cut it some slack. It's basically a lamer version of Torch of Defiance, with the same minus ability, but no mana boost, no impulsive draw linked to the ping, and the Firebrand's underwhelming ultimate. For six mana. Just to make sure we get that the Planeswalker Decks are for beginners. But hey, she looks so happy on that artwork, all bright-colored and smiling, possibly due to having been reunited with her long-lost mom AND her favorite breakfast food.
  • Rating: 4

9. 

  • Name: Chandra, Bold Pyromancer   >> back to top
  • First Appearance: April 2018
  • Versions: Dominaria (Planeswalker Deck only)
  • Converted Mana Cost: 6
  • Turns to Ultimate: 3
  • Ultimate's Power Level: Moderate, same as Chandra Nalaar
  • Self-Defense: Adequate, she doesn't kill threats as large as other Chandras do, but she can target planeswalkers, too
  • Role: Strategic Assistant
  • Evaluation: Speaking of combining abilities from previous Chandras, now we have a double pings married to Torch of Defiance's mana boost, which is a nice plus ability, to be honest. Lightning Bolt is also a solid minus ability, and the ultimate is decent, going full circle to her very first incarnation. The only real problem with this Dominaria outing (a Planeswalker Deck card divorced by any Chandra presence in the actual set) is that it shouldn't cost six mana. Had this been printed in a regular set, it would probably cost two fewer mana, which would make it a great card. By the way, after "pyromaster" and "pyrogenius", they seem to have exhausted the monikers with the pyro- prefix, so now she's just a regular pyromancer, albeit bold.
  • Rating: 5

CHANDRA'S CARDS 

   

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 All the non-planeswalker cards with Chandra in their name:

 Chandra has had so far two Story Spotlights focusing on her:

  • Deadlock Trap sees Chandra trapped by Baral in the Dhund, along with Nissa and (not pictured) Mrs. Pashiri.
  • By Force is her helping people on Amonkhet with the rest of the Gatewatch, still thinking they're going to kick Bolas's butt.

   

 Other cards depicting her or her family as the central subject:

CHANDRA'S GEAR

 I wrote earlier that among Chandra's signature equipment it's her father's inventor goggles. They're not physically his, though, because the only item Chandra was holding when her spark ignited was her mother's embroidered shawl that she picked up in the confusion of that fateful day at Bunarat, and that she would later wear as a loincloth of sorts. The goggles, instead, she acquired during her youth on Regatha, based on the ones safeguarded at Keral Keep, a relic the monks were keeping as a memento of their original owner, the pyromancer Jaya Ballard, whose teachings (in the form of casual, drunken quips she never intended to be taken as a way of life) Keral Keep's entire philosophy is based on. They remind Chandra of Kiran's protective eyewear, nonetheless.

 The pyromancers use this kind of goggles to see through their own fire. We can see Young Pyromancer wearing them, too, and no, he's not Chandra's missing brother, but he's definitely a Chandra fanboy (look closer at his medallion and belt inscription – not to mention that dye job).

 Chandra also built, or more likely made the monks build after losing interest five minutes later, a special gauntlet to better funnel the red mana into her destructive bursts of power. She may be seen wearing it on her right arm in many occasions.


IMAGE GALLERY

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Monk Nalaar of Keral Keep. Uniform strictly customized. Art by Eric Deschamps.

Chandra gets angry witnessing injustice, or alternatively, finding Gideon ate all her muffins. Art by Steve Argyle.

Chandra's heroics: showing Jace, Nissa and Gideon how you scare a big bad demon away. Art by Svetlin Velinov.

It comes as no surprise that Chandra was born to be part of a rebellion. Art by Clint Cearley.

Still one of the most emotional moments ever consigned to collectible card. Art by Howard Lyon.


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