The Real Story Behind Apocalypse

Daniel casts the bones, using flavor text to determine what Apocalypse holds for the Magic storyline.

When Planeshift came out, I took all the flavor texts off the cards and tried to interpret from them the basic storyline of Apocalypse before the book came out. I’ve been busy with the prequels to Dune and the Wheel of Time series, so I haven’t found time to read Planeshift; therefore, I don’t know how right I was. I do know, however, that the Phyrexians invaded Dominaria by means of the planeshift of Rath over Dominaria, and this is where Apocalypse picks up. It was an interesting exercise, and it allowed the often-overlooked flavor texts to find time in the sun.

Anyway, the point is that I’m going to do it again! I’ve gotten the following flavor texts off of the Apocalypse spoiler on MtG: News, so any incongruencies with the real cards are not my fault. I got them all in order to give the full overview of the set. After each quote, I’ll give my take on its relation to the current storyline.

So, here we go, on the road less traveled, as we examine the most intriguing parts of Magic cards.

~Nothing burns hotter than the fires of holy rage. ~

This appears to show that the resistance to the Phyrexians’ assault is fierce – at least among the angels.

~Giving little thought to their own defense, they carried the flag that united their army.~

This shows the morale and charisma that the defenders of Dominaria have, though its effectiveness is questionable.

~”There is no true equity of power. There is only more or less.” ~

Is this an allusion to the end war being a definite victory on one side or another instead of a stalemate? Perhaps.

~”It’s the oldest trick in the book,” said Guff.”And I ought to know – I wrote it.”~

Well, our old friend Commodore Guff is still with us! For those who don’t know, Guff spends his time in a plane with a huge library where he records all history, even that which has not yet happened. Apparently, that knowledge comes in handy as the planeswalkers fight Phyrexia.

~”Phyrexia is an unforgiving place, and I am an angry lord in an unforgiving mood.” –Lord Windgrace~

Looks like the Nine Titans are still attacking Phyrexia, and Lord Windgrace isn’t having much fun.

~Hope kept the defenders aloft, but only courage kept them in the fight.~

These quotes aren’t making the Dominarian resistance look too good in battle.

~The duty: to defend. The reason: to survive.~

Again, another quote displaying the persistence of the Dominarians.

~A shadowy version of its corporal cousin, this lynx hunts souls, not meals.~

This comes off of a white card (Spectral Lynx), but this creature doesn’t seem too nice. Perhaps the resistance needs to find harsher tactics than valiant fighting to defend is plane.

~The standard was a rallying point for the army and a target for the enemy.~

Personally, I’d rather do without the standard, thanks.

~”The sea holds all that you need. You simply must know how to ask for it.”~

This shows the unity of all of Dominarians, both of the land and sea, in their defense of their homeland.

~When the kavu emerged from their ancient nests, food chains long dormant became vibrant again.~

Once again, it seems that the Dominarians are being less conservative in their defense measures.

~Effective use of terrain is a lesson good commanders learn quickly. ~

Another point on the unity of Dominaria.

~Even the oppressive cold of the cave could not temper Eladamri’s ire.~

Well, we seem to have stumbled upon something significant! Apparently, Eladamri’s still around, but he’s been trapped in an Ice Cave. And, by the look of hatred on his face, I’m guessing he was put there against his will. If it was the Phyrexians that put him there, wouldn’t they have just killed or compleated him? I wonder how he got there.

~”Let’s see. . . Mercadia, mercenary, merfolk. . . you know, I really need a better filing system.”~

The is probably Commodore Guff speaking about using his knowledge of history to aid the resistance.

~”Calm down, everyone; it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.” –Sisay~

Well, Sisay’s still at it, and she’s large and in charge —and she sounds rather confident. A sign that things are going their way? I don’t think so, or else they wouldn’t be up against something so terrible that whomever she’s speaking to is very afraid.

~”You’re not my Hanna!” -Gerrard, to Yawgmoth~

Well, well, well. In Invasion, Hanna died (driving Barrin mad enough to destroy all of Tolaria – hence, Obliterate). This would seem to show that Yawgmoth is not only awake (!!!), but he’s trying to seduce Gerrard into complacency. He was so close to completion in Invasion – I wonder if Yawgmoth will be more effective than Tsabo Tavoc. {crosses fingers} I hope, I hope, I hope…

~The ship has a crew of three: the pilot, the gunner, and the ship itself.~

Cool defense – a Living Airship. Keep up the good work, chums!

~With one gesture, she can render a thousand years of navigational charts obsolete.~

I can’t tell you if that’s good or bad. It’s a blue card, so you never can tell. But seeing as how Rath is being overlaid on top of Dominaria, the ability to change the terrain doesn’t seem too terribly important.

~”Oh, is that all you need? Why didn’t you just say so?” -Reef shaman~

This goes on a card that changes basic land type. I would have to put this in the”Dominarian unity” category.

~Whatever nature makes, magic can modify.~

I like this philosophy. I wonder if it applies to artifice as well.

~”Sometimes when I look at the ocean, I would swear it changes colors.” –Sisay~

Sisay’s going crazy. Sweet! 😉

~Where the wind meets the water, change is inevitable.~

Maybe this is trying to point out that Dominaria has the home team advantage in this war. They can expect these changes and know the territory much better than the Phyrexians can. But, I don’t think it’ll matter.

~”Beautiful, isn’t it?” crowed Crovax.”They fought together. Now they will die together.”~

When Crovax crows, you know you have trouble! Looks like Crovax is still heading up the Phyrexian forces and is as sadistic as ever. I wonder about whom he’s speaking and whether or not his evil plans will come to fruition.

~The Phyrexians have one word that means both”evolution” and”pain.”~

I bet the Dominarians wouldn’t agree with that”evolution” bit, but it’s the Phyrexians making the decisions these days.

~Treated with a powerful mix of herbs and potions, its wrappings have a remarkable preservative effect, even for the living.~

This quote comes from Mournful Zombie, so I suppose it’s talking about wrappings that a mummy might have. I wonder if the Phyrexians are getting creative as well — not only specializing in completion, but also working in zombification.

~”The darkness merely hides the light.”~

Interesting perspective, though I’m not really sure what it means.

~An audience of one with the malice of thousands.~

This looks like more evidence that Yawgmoth is awake and alert and participating in world-changing events. In between attacking Dominaria, however, it seems like Yawgmoth can take a time-out to enjoy the niceties of being an immortal demi-god bent on planetary conquest.

~Other Phyrexians have nightmares about the gargantua.~

If the Phyrexians don’t like this thing, it must be one bad dude – more evidence that Phyrexia is apparently coming out on top of this war.

~It takes no prisoners, but it keeps the choicest bits for Phyrexia.~

I wonder if this is using Phyrexia as metonymy to mean Yawgmoth. If so, Wizards has become quite poetic.

~All of Dominaria recoiled as Yawgmoth and his retainers arrived.~

Well, I guess that cinches it. Yawgmoth is out and about, and he means business. And Dominaria knows it, too.

~As the druids had preserved their lives to preserving Dominaria, so did they devote their deaths.~

Dying valiantly is dying nonetheless, and if the Dominarians don’t get it together, it’s going to be happening much more often.

~It doesn’t need to feed, but still it hungers.~

Poor creature. But, I’m sure it satisfies Yawgmoth’s appetite well enough.

~It took all its strength to contain the fire within.~

Even red is opening up a can on Phyrexia, for this quote is from Bloodfire Colossus, and a Phyrexian colossus (excuse the pun) wouldn’t want to contain the fire at all.

~For them, the only honorable death is one that leaves a crater.~

These bloodfire fellows aren’t too keen on staying alive. However, they are adamant about beating back their aggressors.

~Heart of fire, blood of lava, teeth of stone.~

And yet, to use this Kavu’s fiery ability, you have to sacrifice it. Not quite as potent as it sounds. The invasion’s seeming easier as the resistance isn’t quite up to snuff.

~Dwarves never worry about who watches their backs.~

I believe that if they’re not careful, their backs will be implanted with metallic spines. Really, look who you’re fighting. Get with the program!

~”The strong can also be subtle.”~

Well, here’s a red creature that doesn’t rush into things blindly. Maybe the Dominarians have a chance after all.

~”They’re ugly, and they’re in my way.” -Tahngarth~

Well, Tahngarth is still around, and he’s as moody as ever. He’s part Phyrexian, you know. I wonder if that’ll come into play during the story…

~A cross between a jaguar and an armadillo.~

Well, this beast needs to pounce into a cloak (I know, I’m terrible), and go fight Phyrexian’s. I’m thinking that the red part of Dominaria won’t help much in the defense of that plane.

~”The blessings of Gaea alone are no longer enough.”~

Now, when green creatures take their faith out of Gaea, you know you’re in trouble. It’s looking like bad times for Dominaria.

~Not all of Dominaria’s defenders were nourished by the light.~

Too bad Phyrexians can see in the dark. 🙂

~Long thought merely a legend, the appearance of the gnarr was seen by the defenders as a sign of good luck.~

Then again, no one believed in the Phyrexians until a fleet of plague ships appeared over Benalia. I would take the gnarr’s appearance with a grain of salt.

~To the kavu, all Phyrexians are merely crunchy snacks.~

Well, that’s encouraging… Until you consider that all kavu are simply piles of nuisance flesh to the Phyrexians.

~Victory favors neither the righteous nor the wicked. It favors the prepared.~

Phyrexia’s attack was a surprise, so is this an allusion to the end of the war in favor of Phyrexia? Or, is it merely talking about a minor battle someplace?

~This cat has two lives and it’s hunting for more.~

And it’s a green creature? Times are strange indeed.

~”These kavu are so stubborn they even refuse to die.” -Tahngarth~

Now we see that the kavu aren’t only fighting against the Phyrexians. Things just don’t seem to be looking too good for the Dominarians.

~These omnivorous gorillas have no qualms about a diet composed of equal parts fruit and Phyrexians.~

Yum yum. But, watch those razor blades going down – they’re a doozie!

~”You know your orders, I know your hearts. Now the Stronghold will know defeat.” -Eladamri~

Well, Eladamri’s apparently out of his Ice Cave and back into the swing of things. He’s attacking the Stronghold, which is a good sign for the Dominarians. Maybe both sides will see some sort of victory on their respective offensive lines.

~Freyalise bought the planeswalkers the time they needed by clearing a path through the misshapen hell of Phyrexia.~

Well, that seals it, then. The planeswalkers are indeed attacking Phyrexia itself, and it seems like they’re not doing too poorly. Perhaps they really ARE going to be effective on the offense.

~The elves of Urborg are as deadly and capricious as the swamp itself.~

I didn’t know there were Urborg elves. Intriguing. I wonder what side they’re fighting on…

~Sisay discovered that the mirrored hull of the Weatherlight could be used as a defensive weapon.~

Perhaps this quote shows that, in addition to the planeswalkers, the Weatherlight is also making an appearance in Phyrexia. Meanwhile, back in the homeworld…

~As Multani’s troops invaded Urborg, the decay of the swamp became a feast for the living.~

…things are going too hot. Urborg was the site of a Phyrexian victory in Invasion, and it stands to reason that it would be a Phyrexian foothold in Dominaria. Multani, who has apparently left his decimated Yavimaya and joined the battle, is trying to retake the swamp, though I can’t imagine why.

~Yawgmoth’s greatest joy came from watching one hero defeat another.~

Crovax said a similar thing earlier. If these two quotes refer to the same battle, then I think we have quite a (Dominarian) tragedy on our hands.

~Crovax was nearly buried beneath the weight of his opponents.~

Once again, evidence that the Dominarian offensive line is effective. But Crovax is no weakling (having survived completion and the race to become evincar), so I feel relatively certain that he can make it out of this situation.

~A mane of flowstone and a mien of fury.~

Well, apparently the overlaying of Rath on Dominaria was successful, for this flowstone creature is on the attack.

~The grace of the forest and the spirit of the sea.~

Once more, the unity of the Dominarian resistance shines through.

~A heart of light and a soul of darkness cannot coexist.~

I wonder which character this is taking about. Perhaps one of the main characters gets completed, but tries to rebel against the Phyrexian domination. Interesting.

~The ground rose and formed into thousands of tiny warriors. This fight was far from over.~

The thing is, I don’t know if these warriors are fighting for the Dominarians or Phyrexians. Either way, this quote shows that the war is not a quick one.

~A massive pull of mana caused all of Dominaria to pause-Multani had transplanted Yavimaya to Urborg’s edge.~

Well, there’s an interesting turn of events! I never saw that one coming. That Multani must be one powerful tree!

~Just as leaves fall from the branches of a living tree, so too do the dead leave the elfhame.~

I think they wouldn’t be saying this unless there were quite a few elvish casualties.

~Honor the brave who fought; honor the dead who fell; honor the world they saved. -Memorial inscription~

The world they saved????? Does this quote alone show the end of war in favor of Dominaria? It certainly seems that way. However, a card from Mercadian Masques foretold the destruction of Mercadia, and that never happened, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

~Its fangs are in your flesh before its hiss leaves your ears.~

Thazzcool. Only thing is: Is it Phyrexian or Dominarian?

~The decay of Crovax’s ancestral home matched the state of his soul.~

Well, for those of you who don’t know, Crovax was an Urborg noble before he joined the crew of the Weatherlight. So we’re talking about Urborg here in this quote. Now, if Crovax’s soul is in decay, then either he’s just as evil as always… Or maybe he’s just misunderstood. Maybe his soul is just tainted by all the terrible things he’s had to live through: The massacre of his family, the robbery of his love, the loss of his humanity, and the madness placed over his will.

~”Yawgmoth,” Freyalise whispered as she set the bomb,”now you will pay for your treachery.”~

Interesting. Freyalise obviously hopes to destroy Yawgmoth in this endeavor. Also, I don’t know how”treacherous” Yawgmoth actually is. Sure, Dominaria is his home planet, but he was ridiculed and exiled from Halcyon back in the days of the Thran. He was only giving out just desserts back then (though he seems to be giving back tenfold what he received). I wonder how successful Freyalise will be and why she sounds so lonely. Did the rest of the planeswalkers leave the dirty work up to her?

~”We have fought this far and lost too much. We will not turn back.” -Grizzelgom~

Who the heck is Grizzelgom? He sounds like a Dominarian, so this looks like more evidence that the Dominarian offensive had some degree of success, though Grizzelgom doesn’t seem very optimistic about his odds.

~”I do not like it,” said Grizzelgom,”but I will take every soldier I can get.”~

I think that shows that Grizzelgom is a Dominarian general, and he’s open to whatever means necessary he has to employ to drive back the Phyrexians.

~The dwarves call their quicksilver techniques”improvisational weaponsmithing.”~

Ah, the dwarves: The little worker bees of the of the warrior class. It’s good to see them contributing. 🙂

~No one knew if they’d been lurking under the sea all along, or if they’d been created by Phyrexia’s overlay.~

This shows that Phyrexia is not just attacking with soldiers – it also has natural creatures at its disposal, as is apparent by the lack of knowledge is this particular creature is one of those that must have been encountered previously.

~They danced like puppets to a tune only Yawgmoth could hear.~

Yawgmoth’s getting his groove on! And, apparently, he has some mad mind control skills that he’s using in this war.

~One splash of the spring’s water knocks you clear into last week.~

Wow, that’s potent. The thing is, I would actually believe it if there were still a Tolaria!

~”Don’t mourn for me. This is my destiny.” -Gerrard~

Now, THIS has caught my attention! What could he possibly be talking about? Is he finally going to kick the bucket? Or is Gerrard simply being melodramatic? And, who’s he talking to? I eagerly look forward to the answers of these questions.

~In their hunger for the arch’s power, mages often forget that it only makes dragons easier to summon. It doesn’t make them easier to control.~

Well, that’s cool. It looks like dragons are going to play somewhat of an important role in the battle. We’ve still got some Dragon legends left, don’t we? Maybe they play a part in this whole dragon summoning business.


Well, there it is. Every flavor text from Apocalypse, with a little commentary to boot! Although I may have posed more questions than answers, I hope I achieved my goal of interesting you in the storyline and getting you to pay more attention to the flavor texts of Magic cards and how they relate to the reactions of cards with you and each other.

Until next time!

Daniel Crane

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