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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2020 8:52 pm 
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Something that has been on my mind for a while, approximately halfway through the Gatewatch junk and the fifth Nissa, is that there's an undeniable problem that needs to be addressed with the planeswalkers, and it's not one that can be satisfactorily handled in any way I can see.

Chiefly, the cast has gotten too large.

While we crave variety, and diversity makes the game stronger as a whole, the cast has really grown far out of control. This was exacerbated terribly by the new faces introduced in war of the spark, but I'd actually step in to defend a lot of their inclusion. The problem really narrows down to the follies of slavishly following an over-centralized cast during the Gatewatch era and the problems inherent in their previous, unaligned story telling method as well.

I'll start with the latter. In setting up characters to have continuing stories, an inherently good thing, they unfortunately shot their foot clean off by just opening too many plot threads at once, dragging literally any progress on any front to an absolute standstill. How the hell long was Garruk cursed, for example? And how perfunctory did the cure finally feel when it came?

The sad matter is that in reaction to try to address that, they swerved so hard in the opposite direction that it destroyed a good portion of goodwill people were willing to offer. I'm talking about the Gatewatch (duh) in which we myopically followed a group that never felt cohesive so that every block could smear their brand on the face of the product. Naturally, this had the adverse reaction to trivialize anybody not directly attached at the hip to the group.

The biggest flaw was that there never seemed a real, natural reason for the Gatewatch to involve themselves in a lot of the matters, diminishing the story space available for characters whose involvement made sense.

The reason I'm bringing this up now is because I genuinely don't feel like War of the Spark did enough damage to the ranks of walkers we have. Gideon is the only long term walker that died. His death did not free up nearly enough space to let someone else move into his niche, but that particular matter is made all the worse by Elspeth's return.

All this is a long winded way of saying that there needs to be a balance between new characters and old. There needs to be CONCLUSIONS to walker's stories so we can get fresh faces in, but there should also be genuine reasons for walkers to even be in places. We can't take too many Tibalt and Tamiyo appearances (That is to say "we're also here for reasons!" kind of appearances, akin to the original Innistrad)

The closest thing to any sort of balance they've ever struck with characters being relevant was with Alara.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:58 am 
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I'm not really sure what sort of story structure suits a game like magic. I imagine having some form of macro-narrative that creates a narrative thread between the planes we visit, and each plane having its own micro-narrative, or several if you'd want to commit the resources. I think what is currently most lacking is a sense of scale and events being organic. I'd like planes to have their own problems, propagated and solved in large parts by its own inhabitants, and not have everything revolve around planeswalkers, whether existing or to come. And then you have planeswalkers journey to planes for their own reasons, and shape, but not define, the story that transpires, but ultimately pursue a different goal.

Ixalan is a decent example in this respect. Sure it all happens because Bolas and Azor and Ugin and whatever contrived 1000 year schemes, but for the most part the story is people in Ixalan doing things that relate to Ixalan, and then Jace, while being a part of it, has a story that primarily revolves around different things. It lets Jace have a story arc and Ixalan have a story arc, which intersect without swallowing one another. I don't love Ixalan since it has an unnecessarily large cast of planeswalkers and I would maybe like to see more motivations that didn't tie directly in with the Immortal Sun, I'd like settings to feel more like interactive ecosystems, but it's probably the closest exmaple that I know of. I wouldn't really mind magic having a large cast of characters and a messy web of interconnected events, as long as the individual stories contained in that web had proper build-up and payoff, and made causal sense within it.

The Gatewatch's story doesn't work because they swallow the narrative with "save the day" scenarios wherever they go. They don't really have a motivation as much as they have a plot, and it's not really a good one. Eldraine doesn't work because Garruk shows up years after he got cursed, not having it used for anything, only for him to briefly become Oko's boytoy and then being cleansed. You can't just toss Chekov's gun into the water without shooting someone with it, when you reintroduce the guy that upticks to kill planeswalkers the first thing that happens isn't him being elked no matter how high you area on Oko memes.

I think THB is mostly fine as a self-contained story given how it was set up with the original set, although I'm not sure where Elspeth is going from here. It works in a micro-scale, I don't know how it fits on the macro-scale, and I don't think Ikoria or Zendikar will tie it together. The story is presumably building up to something, but between ELD and THB I can't discern what.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2020 1:23 pm 
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"Depressing fact: Our characters (and most characters in TV and film) are created using corporate resources, and thereafter become corporate revenue streams. Ending a revenue stream requires permission from the corporate entity to do so. Not impossible but not easy. Think of how casual and reversible death has become in comics, for example." -Brady Dommermuth, Ask Brady thread


I agree with some of the points brought up and disagree with others so I guess I'll comb them over while I parse how I feel about the subject.

Quote:
I'll start with the latter. In setting up characters to have continuing stories, an inherently good thing, they unfortunately shot their foot clean off by just opening too many plot threads at once, dragging literally any progress on any front to an absolute standstill. How the hell long was Garruk cursed, for example? And how perfunctory did the cure finally feel when it came?


Garruk's curse and the Chain Veil plotline were apparently supposed to be wrapped up in Dominaria back when it was still two sets but had to be axed when the block structure changed. It felt perfunctory in The Wildered Quest and Forsaken because it was...future storylines relied on cut story beats so they got shoehorned in elsewhere. Not a satisfying solution, but one we unfortunately have to accept when Magic is a card game first and a story second.

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The sad matter is that in reaction to try to address that, they swerved so hard in the opposite direction that it destroyed a good portion of goodwill people were willing to offer. I'm talking about the Gatewatch (duh) in which we myopically followed a group that never felt cohesive so that every block could smear their brand on the face of the product. Naturally, this had the adverse reaction to trivialize anybody not directly attached at the hip to the group.


On the one hand, it frustrated me greatly during Kaladesh block to have Saheeli Rai, the face of the set, do almost nothing as far as the story was concerned. To offer a counterpoint, however, having a regular cast of characters that people could follow week to week lead to a large increase in investment in Magic story among a larger group of people. While the Origins retcons (among other things) may have destroyed goodwill among the old guard, it also created greater goodwill for the story for new Vorthos (which was subsequently squandered with Wots: Ravnica and Forsaken but I guess time is a flat circle).

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The biggest flaw was that there never seemed a real, natural reason for the Gatewatch to involve themselves in a lot of the matters, diminishing the story space available for characters whose involvement made sense.


They said more or less the same thing in Metamorphosis 2.0, which is why they've dialed back their presence since Hour and we appear to be having a whole year breather from them after War of the Spark.

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The reason I'm bringing this up now is because I genuinely don't feel like War of the Spark did enough damage to the ranks of walkers we have. Gideon is the only long term walker that died. His death did not free up nearly enough space to let someone else move into his niche, but that particular matter is made all the worse by Elspeth's return.


I've seen this sentiment here and there, and it's fair, but according to blogatog, more people complained about who they did end up killing than not killing enough characters.

Quote:
All this is a long winded way of saying that there needs to be a balance between new characters and old. There needs to be CONCLUSIONS to walker's stories so we can get fresh faces in, but there should also be genuine reasons for walkers to even be in places.
I agree that a balnce would be a nice, but seeing how I (and many others) hated HOW Gideon, Dack, and Dovin's stories got concluded, I don't really have much faith in their ability to satisfyingly end other walker's stories (although, fingers crossed Nissa pulls a Windgrace and infuses herself into Zendikar to save it in Zendikar Rising).

I also want to draw your attention back to Brady's quote at the top of the post; as far as corporate is concerned, characters are revenue streams first and foremost. As long as Jace and company keep making money, they aren't going anywhere fast.

Quote:
I think THB is mostly fine as a self-contained story given how it was set up with the original set, although I'm not sure where Elspeth is going from here. It works in a micro-scale, I don't know how it fits on the macro-scale, and I don't think Ikoria or Zendikar will tie it together. The story is presumably building up to something, but between ELD and THB I can't discern what.

I think these are supposed to be breather one-shots to wrap up loose ends (Garruk, Elspeth) with maybe some vague ties to Phyrexia on the horizon. Ashiok went off to find New Phyrexia after learning about it from Elspeth's nightmares and with Elspeth out of the Underworld, dealing with NP once and for all is really the only thing she still has going for her.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2020 3:12 pm 
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I think the root of the problem goes back to when the planeswalker card type was introduced into the game, or shortly after that. Remember those innocent times when WotC said 'walker cards would be deciduous rather than evergreen, i.e. not every set would have them, and that they wouldn't necessarily force colour balance among existing 'walker cards? Yeah, things escalated pretty quickly from there, didn't they? And now it's way too late to walk that back and reduce them to a deciduous element, because people have come to expect them in every set and would probably set something on fire if you dialed back the number of 'walkers. I agree with Barinellos that the 'walkers we saw on Alara fit pretty organically, but in retrospect, that was precisely when WotC started setting up those expectations.

Another problem of the sheer number of planeswalkers is that every single one of them needs a laser-focused and clear-cut identity, both mechanically and creatively. Which is precisely why most of them are one-trick ponies that feel more like X-Men characters with one specific (and often inborn) "superpower" rather than the planeswalkers of old, or even "proper" MtG wizards that interact with the established magic system in a meaningful way. That's more grating with some characters than with others, but it's a general issue that bothers the heck out of me. Liliana couldn't even slow down her own aging after the Mending without selling her soul, despite the insights she must have gained as an Oldwalker, despite her access to other planes, and despite the fact that Barrin, Jolrael, Mangara, Kaervek and many others managed to live for hundreds of years without issue. Or take Vivien, a character so pathetic she needs a magical bow to even summon creatures. Which is supposed to be a really widespread ability among 'walkers, considering it's what we're all doing when we sit down to play this game called Magic: the Gathering. But nope, Vivien needed a gimmick to make her stand out, and the Arkbow is exactly that. I could go on about why the heck they gave her a really big, Bolas-related backstory and introduced her right before War of the Spark, only to do absolutely nothing with it (as far as I can tell anyway), not even turn her into cannon-fodder, but that's another issue (and one she shares with Samut)...

Those narrow identities can even lead to glaring inconsistencies when they take away powers from characters to trim them down to a more narrow identity. Jace summoned real sphinxes and drakes in Agents of Artifice you say? Nope, can't have that, he's a mindmage after all. Karn still commands "world-shaking power"? Yeeeaaah, maybe he does, except when that power would be needed to blow up a dastardly demonlord and his hideous henchmen. (Seriously, what can Karn still do, except for building constructs to help him dig stuff up? Not very world-shaking by most standards.) I realise a throwaway line in a piece of flavour text isn't the best ground on which to build my criticism, but it's simply frustrating how little Karn in particular actually accomplished on Dominaria. He even needed Chandra to deal with Multani, but that's perhaps more of a narrative issue than one of power. Don't even get me started on Bolas, though...

Teferi at least didn't seem too limited in the stories he was in (although I would argue he has no business being a planeswalker again in the first place), and there are a few good examples of well-written 'walker magic, like that story by Kelly Gigges in which Kiora Bests the Sea God. (Seriously, Kiora is one of very few characters that still feel like planeswalkers.) Or take those who technically have a fairly limited premise to their magic but end up doing a whole lot of different and interesting things with it, like Tamiyo or Davriel. But by and large, the X-Men syndrome creates too much of a gap between clear-cut identities and the way in which characters should work to not only earn their powers, but to grow them beyond their current limit. Not everyone needs to follow Mairsil's advice of becoming a five-colour "rainbow mage", but could they at least encounter thematically apropriate creatures and add them to their repertoire of summon spells? Something like that? Anything to make them feel magical again?

When we complained about the Mending, we were promised it would lead to better stories. Funny how that worked out. Also funny how they weren't afraid to kill off beloved planeswalker characters left and right back in the day, and when War of the Spark is finally upon is, they instantly turn it into a joke and destroy its entire premise by killing off three people. Even the big bad survived. Don't introduce large-scale events into your story that are specifically designed to kill as many 'walkers as possible if you don't have the balls to follow it through, is what I'm saying. By the same token, don't introduce a cursed, planeswalking axe-murderer into your story whose sole motivation it is to kill as many planeswalkers as possible, only to have him kill absolutely nobody (who wasn't specifically introduced to be killed by said axe-murderer in the very same story) in all those years he was cursed.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2020 2:50 am 
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I don't really see this as a problem. The multiverse is vast so they can just put characters on hold if they don't know what to do with them. Honestly MTG actually has it made compared to superhero comics, where the earth feels overpopulated with gods.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2020 11:11 am 
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My issue is that back in the beginning with Agents of Artifice and The Purifying Fire it seemed like WOTC was setting a solid foundation for the new planeswalkers. This applies, to a lesser extent, to the original lore covering Liliana Vess and Garruk as well. But then it feels like they went wild with the story in an attempt to force it into becoming something it was never meant to become.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2020 3:40 pm 
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My issue is that back in the beginning with Agents of Artifice and The Purifying Fire it seemed like WOTC was setting a solid foundation for the new planeswalkers. This applies, to a lesser extent, to the original lore covering Liliana Vess and Garruk as well. But then it feels like they went wild with the story in an attempt to force it into becoming something it was never meant to become.
Very much this. Look no further than Magic Origins... I find the retcons and the change in direction especially infuriating because the original lore behind the characters featured in Origins was what got me back into the storyline again and made me care about the new characters enough to give them a chance after the Mending (which I found very upsetting). We could have had a lot more good stories if they hadn't discontinued the planeswalker novels and brought Laura Resnick and Ari Marmell back to write them. Of course that would have required them to do some actual quality control so that Test of Metal wouldn't have happened...

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2020 1:22 am 
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My big question is why the formula isn't working this time when it was so successful early on in magic's history. Antiquities, Weatherlight, Tempest block, Urza's block, Masques block, and Invasion block all followed the same story formula of a central ensemble of characters jumping from plane to plane to plane and dealing with that plane's own miniplot as part of their overarching quest to take down the big bad. It's almost exactly the same as the Gatewatch vs Bolas storyline, so why was that one so beloved while this one fell so flat? Is it that the characters are less engaging this time around, or is it just their storytelling?

My issue is that back in the beginning with Agents of Artifice and The Purifying Fire it seemed like WOTC was setting a solid foundation for the new planeswalkers. This applies, to a lesser extent, to the original lore covering Liliana Vess and Garruk as well. But then it feels like they went wild with the story in an attempt to force it into becoming something it was never meant to become.
Very much this. Look no further than Magic Origins... I find the retcons and the change in direction especially infuriating because the original lore behind the characters featured in Origins was what got me back into the storyline again and made me care about the new characters enough to give them a chance after the Mending (which I found very upsetting). We could have had a lot more good stories if they hadn't discontinued the planeswalker novels and brought Laura Resnick and Ari Marmell back to write them. Of course that would have required them to do some actual quality control so that Test of Metal wouldn't have happened...

What was it that you disliked about the character retcons? Was it just that they got retconned, or was it that you found the retconned characters and backstories to be less compelling than the originals?

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2020 1:59 am 
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Cato wrote:
My big question is why the formula isn't working this time when it was so successful early on in magic's history. Antiquities, Weatherlight, Tempest block, Urza's block, Masques block, and Invasion block all followed the same story formula of a central ensemble of characters jumping from plane to plane to plane and dealing with that plane's own miniplot as part of their overarching quest to take down the big bad. It's almost exactly the same as the Gatewatch vs Bolas storyline, so why was that one so beloved while this one fell so flat? Is it that the characters are less engaging this time around, or is it just their storytelling?

Well, part of it is the amount of space they had to dedicate to fleshing things out. The amount of material we have these days is... questionably comparable.
The other aspect is something we actually touched on elsewhere. A sense of aesthetic continuity. I'll just quote Tevish for that.
To expand on what Barinellos said, I think the problem is not that the planes are different, but that the planes don't have a common internal thread.

Rath, Mercadia, and Dominaria (as well as Phyrexia and Serra's Sanctum to lesser degrees, everywhere visited in the Weatherlight Saga) were all slightly odd Fantasy-punk settings. Some skewed one way or another but they had a kind of 80's fantasy vibe where high concepts existed alongside fairly simple themes, integrating magic's 'hallmark' of Artifice as part of the setting. And Rath was the Dark World and Dominaria was "big" and Mercadia was all about treachery but you could see them being parts of the same story. Recent sets, though are more complete genre shifts from each other. Ravnica and Kaladesh match with all the old stuff, but Innistrad, Theros, and Eldraine feel more like Arabian Nights than like entries in a the consistent multiverse.


A key example to that is how Amonkhet was squandered. It didn't really benefit being egyptian themed for what Bolas had planned, and further, tying it to Bolas screwed up the chances we'd get to see a more benignly themed egyptian set.
If there were more commonality inside the different planes,at least a distinct visual motif or theme, then it wouldn't be so jarring to jump from Egypt World to Dinosaur Aztec world, neither of which feel natural lined up next to city world.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2020 7:32 am 
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The problem is, those constraints are pretty set in stone. There's no way they can go back to doing the more thematically reserved planes of earlier expansions after doing Dinosaur World.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2020 11:53 am 
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Cato wrote:
My big question is why the formula isn't working this time when it was so successful early on in magic's history. Antiquities, Weatherlight, Tempest block, Urza's block, Masques block, and Invasion block all followed the same story formula of a central ensemble of characters jumping from plane to plane to plane and dealing with that plane's own miniplot as part of their overarching quest to take down the big bad. It's almost exactly the same as the Gatewatch vs Bolas storyline, so why was that one so beloved while this one fell so flat? Is it that the characters are less engaging this time around, or is it just their storytelling?
I think it's absolutely both, less engaging characters AND weaker storytelling. And maybe we should file that under "storytelling" as well, but there's one thing in particular that I want to point out (with the caveat that I only got into Magic around Invasion block and thus didn't get the full picture until many years later and didn't follow the Weatherlight Saga in real time). With the Weatherlight crew's adventures and the adjacent parts of that storyline, it was always clear what their goals and motivations were and what it was leading up to: Their mission was to collect all parts of the Legacy in oder to defeat the Lord of the Wastes.

And sure, new information was added along the way, such as the big bad being Yawgmoth and Phyrexia, Urza's role in creating the Legacy etc., but that didn't detract from the basic premise of the larger arc, it simply added some needed context (while also tying it together with some of the older material to bring it in line with the rest of the story). The Weatherlight's adventures also involved more personal stories, most importantly Volrath's connection to Gerrard, which in turn motivated him to kidnap Sisay in order to lure the crew to Rath, but I'd argue all of that added to the story and tied well into the main arc. The whole thing then got a definitive ending with the Invasion trilogy, it didn't just peter out and lose focus until people got tired of it. And some problems with how J. Robert King handled the big finale not withstanding, the Weatherlight Saga ended in exactly the way it had promised right from the start: They used the Legacy to defeat the Lord of the Wastes.

The Gatewatch, on the other hand, never had a clear thread like that. They didn't form in order to fight Bolas originally, they basically stumbled into the Eldrazi storyline and vowed to do some general do-gooding. Yeah, they tried to tie it all together in various ways, but it was way too forced for it to feel organic (and the inconsistencies, plot holes and retcons along the way really didn't help with that either). Every member of the Gatewatch except Gideon is still alive, and they even anticlimactically added Kaya to the bunch, but it's not clear (at least to me) to what extent the group still exists. I guess Kaya and Liliana are off to do their own gatewatching, Chandra is on a solo-tour as well (or maybe kinda with Ajani?), Nissa quit but then kinda came back anyway... It could go anywhere from here, they could just disband them and move on, but they could also force another Gatewatch story somewhere down the line because their "arc" was never concluded. The "Gatewatch arc" isn't really an arc, it's an open-ended, random, amorphous mess.

Cato wrote:
What was it that you disliked about the character retcons? Was it just that they got retconned, or was it that you found the retconned characters and backstories to be less compelling than the originals?
Same answer here: It's absolutely both. I can further break it down into the most important bullet points, but I'll put it in spoiler tags and try to keep it short because most people probably knew me as "that guy who won't shut up about Magic Origins" for a while, and I don't want to give everyone annoyed flashbacks. (I regret nothing, though.)

Spoiler


Cato wrote:
The problem is, those constraints are pretty set in stone. There's no way they can go back to doing the more thematically reserved planes of earlier expansions after doing Dinosaur World.
I don't think I quite agree with that. All of those constraints were made up by someone at WotC, so if they wanted a different approach to their worldbuilding, they could adopt it. Sure, they've created and continued to foster certain expectations among the audience, but it's not like they aren't constantly experimenting and changing how stuff works in other areas. If they went about it slowly and subtly enough to make it a gradual transition, they could get more experimental with their planes again. As I said in the Ikoria thread, I'm not even sure their current system of visiting planes is even going to be sustainable. There might be a day when they'll practically be forced to change something.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2020 2:15 pm 
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Cato wrote:

Spoiler

Didn't realize all this had taken place. I missed out on about 7+ years of Magic between Kamigawa up to Guilds of Ravnica and just assumed my fuzzy knowledge about the new walkers was due to that, but it sounds like there are deeper reasons for a lack of clarity about who they are, why they exist, etc.

It sounds to me like WotC is prioritizing drawing in new fans at the expense of old fans who value things like story and continuity. Not sure if that's a sound strategy in the long run, but this is a corporate entity we're talking about; they can't see beyond their next quarterly report. The Hasbro-ification of WotC is real.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 12, 2020 3:20 am 
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Upon reflection, it occurred to me Lucca is a perfect example of what's wrong with just adding planeswalkers.
His story is intimately tied to Ikoria, along with his history and dreams of the future. Even his gimmick as a bonder is questionable at being useful on other worlds.

So... why is he a walker? What's the point other than to push his exposure?
What even are the circumstances that MAKE him a walker?

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 11:16 am 
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I missed a couple years, what happened with Liliana?

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 6:28 pm 
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Cato wrote:
I missed a couple years, what happened with Liliana?

She gave up being Liliana.
Now that there's no demons, she burnt all her bridges and is feeling exceptionally sorry for herself, but wants to try to be a better person, so she took a new name and is going to traipse around with Kaya and Teyo.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2020 5:56 am 
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Why did she burn her bridges? How did she burn her bridges? Why does she want to be a better person?

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2020 11:25 am 
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In War of the Spark she decided to rebel against Bolas but did so too late on the war so most of her former friends and Ravnica want her scalp. At the same time she was inspired by Gideon's example.

End result: she's basically on witness protection program.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2020 1:51 pm 
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Barinellos wrote:
Upon reflection, it occurred to me Lucca is a perfect example of what's wrong with just adding planeswalkers.
His story is intimately tied to Ikoria, along with his history and dreams of the future. Even his gimmick as a bonder is questionable at being useful on other worlds.

So... why is he a walker? What's the point other than to push his exposure?
What even are the circumstances that MAKE him a walker?
Lukka is exactly the DoA kind of character that goes straight to my extensive 'walker deathlist simply for being pointless and not pulling his own weight (for pretty much exactly the reasons you stated). Because yes, in a world in which we have way too many 'walkers as it is, being pointless and trivial is a deadly sin.


@Liliana: In addition to the things people have already mentioned, I'd like to add that Dominaria tarnished her pretty badly as well. The whole premise of Gideon agreeing to hunt down Belzenlok first hinged on the retcon in Magic Origins according to which Bolas was the one who brokered Liliana's demonic contracts, and so did the ending of the Dominaria stories that was used to set up War of the Spark and left her In Bolas's Clutches. Between Magic Origins and Dominaria I could at least delude myself into believing that retcon wouldn't really matter, but then they pulled it out of their butt to ruin the demon arc I'd been following for 10+ years... It's basically supposed to make her look stupid for not knowing what she was doing with those demon deals, which not only hurts her character but also falls flat because it's based on premises that simply weren't there originally.

Dominaria also established the fact that - contrary to what was shown in Alara Unbroken - planeswalkers just aged normally after the Mending, which means Liliana would have had about 60 years to figure out immortality on her own, or at least in a way that wouldn't have involved selling her freaking soul to demons, and especially without accidentally enslaving herself to Bolas. All those retcons surrounding her character just add up in the most ridiculous and unfortunate way.

And I only know the War of the Spark stuff from summaries and hearsay, but apparently Liliana was suddenly able to just give the damn Chain Veil away or something? What happened to that "Root of Evil! Vessel of Destruction!" stuff the Onakke spirits would always go on about? And I still don't get how Gideon sacrificing himself to save Liliana from Bolas's contract is even supposed to work. Bolas threatened to just age her by 100 years on the spot and thus kill her if she disobeyed him. I'm pretty sure Gideon's ability was only ever shown to make himself invulnerable, and even if he was able to grant it to Liliana, how would having an indestructible aura around your skin prevent you from aging to tatters? But the effect of the contract actually didn't magically age the target anyway, but burned it to cinders or something? Really, nothing about this sounds remotely consistent to me.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2020 12:06 am 
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WOTC just can't keep to one story long enough for any kind of long term payoff.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2020 11:09 am 
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TPmanW wrote:
WOTC just can't keep to one story long enough for any kind of long term payoff.
And I haven't even mentioned the Raven Man or Liliana's just-kinda-forgotten-about feud with Garruk... :roll:

But you know what kinda surpsises me, especially after War of the Spark? We've got so many 'walkers, and the card type has been around for so long, and yet three-colour planeswalkers are few and far between (and most of them are Bolas anyway). We don't even have a five-colour 'walker yet, although making a five-colour version of something feels almost like an inevitable thing Magic tends to do eventually. I know a five-colour 'walker is hard to design, though, and I hope they're saving that honour for Taysir. (In before "Don't worry, Sarkhan will get there eventually!")

So far, our only 'walkers with three-colour cards are:

- Aminatou :w::u::b:
- Estrid :g::w::u:
- Lord Windgrace :b::r::g:
- Narset (one out of three versions) :u::r::w:
- Nicol Bolas (5 versions) :u::b::r:
- Sarkhan (one out of 7) :g::u::r:
- Tamiyo (one out of three) :g::w::u:

Now, admittedly that's more than I thought, but depending on how you want to frame it, it's also not as many as it looks at first glance. For starters, the whole thing is heavily skewed towards Grixis thanks to Bolas. Story-wise, there are also several characters that they can't (or won't) really use going forward. Aminatou is an abomination and needs to die in a fire, and they sure can't tell worthwhile stories about that brat while maintaining any semblance of internal logic.* Estrid sounds boring af, and they already stated they aren't fond of using her because her signature magic is going to look lame in animation etc. Lord Windgrace is awesome but dead. Narset... yeah, I guess they're going to use her, and her new card fits the direction for her and her homeplane that they teased in Dragons of Tarkir. That's something at least, but I hate Narset like the plague because timetravel, so personally, I'm not happy to see her. They also probably regret having established her as being neurodivergent or autistic, considering there was a bit of backlash originally, and they'd constantly have to walk on a tightrope to both acknowledge it and also do it in a way that doesn't feel clichéd or offensive. Bolas is currently unavailable, at least until the "Franchise Team" as they call themselves now runs out of ideas and brings him back. Sarkhan never had any business being :u:, neither in terms of flavour nor card design. Looks like both the :u: and the :b: were just a phase. Then there's Tamiyo, but Doug outright admitted that she actually has no business being Bant and that it was just filler because of course they couldn't do without Jace being the :u: 'walker of the block back in the day.

So realistically, that only leaves Narset going forward ( :gross: ), and especially the wedge-colours don't have a 'walker except for her. The only missing colour-combination for the Shards is Naya, but that slot shouldn't be hard to fill. Samut's creature card already had :w: in her abilities, and Huatli has had :w::r: and :w::g: cards. I guess Ajani is kinda over the :r: from Alara at this point... IIRC, Brandon Sanderson suggested Tacenda might be Naya as well, and he purposefuly left it ambiguous whether or not she became a planeswalker at the end of Children of the Nameless. I'd say make her one, at least she'd be a 'walker with an interesting kind of magic (that basically works like Almaazi song magic, so it would even match stuff from the old lore). Besides, Tacenda has ties to Davriel, Innistrad and a bunch of interesting side characters (all of which is great in my book), and giving her the exposure only a planeswalker gets in Magic would allow us to further explore the mystery of the Entities (more on that below).




*Actually, Aminatou is DoA to me for three reasons: 1.) Her completely unearned, obviously OP and potentially multiverse-destryoing abilities that make Commodore Guff look like a well thought out, fan favourite character by comparison, 2.) the cringey girl-power "muh diversity" article by Alison Luhrs that introduced her, and 3.) the things said article suggested about her homeplane possibly becoming Magic's trademark "West African setting", which is outrageous all by itself when FREAKING ZHALFIR exists and Teferi's quest to phase it back in is probably the oldest unresolved plot thread in all of Magic right now. Luckily, I don't think they currently intend to replace Zhalfir, since they were actually going to bring it back in the axed sequel to Dominaria...

HOWEVER, there is ONE route that I could see working for an Aminatou-centric story. So the main problem with her character are her insane, godlike abilities, right? And writing a story that backtracks that would basically be a retcon, right? If you forced me to outline a story about Aminatou with these concerns in mind, I would do the following. I would start showing Aminatou and her abilities from her own perspective, but I would reveal sooner or later that, unbeknownst to her, she actually has an Entity inside her (like Davriel and Tacenda from Children of the Nameless) that may or may not give her some actual power, but that is largely just deceiving and manipulating her, making her believe she has godlike abilities. The things about the future or other random information Aminatou has supposedly seen could have been shown to her by the Entity and might not actually be true. We already know Entities can evoke sensory perceptions in their hosts, so an Entity fooling a little girl in all sorts of ways seems perfectly consistent to me. That way, you could dismantle the walking bomb of insanity that is Aminatou while leaving the information we got about her sort of intact (basically the Obi Wan school of providing information that is "true, from a certain point of view", namely her own).
I would probably have Tacenda appear in that story as well. I would simply establish that being born with an Entity attached to you results in you getting a planeswalker spark, which could be a part of Aminatou's backstory and would also explain what happened to Tacenda at the end of Children of the Nameless. Tacenda (or rather, the Bog Entity inside her) could realise what's going on with Aminatou, and by having them interact, you could even make it a girl-power story (just, you know, a good one) in the spirit of Aminatou's introduction.

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Tell why Truth must fight with Falsehood, and why Truth will always win."
—Love Song of Night and Day


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