As I’ve been doing with every set since Invasion, I was planning to read and share with you the flavor texts of the cards in Odyssey. I would try to predict their significance (without having yet read the book) while simultaneously bringing more awareness to the public about the storyline of Magic.
But upon reading the quotes in Odyssey, I found something that hasn’t been true in a long time: For the last three sets, there has been a set storyline with developed characters. Sure, new faces like Belbe or Grizzlegom could make appearances… But for the most part, the sets were dominated by Dominaria’s struggle with Phyrexia. But now, with Odyssey, there are no set characters, no established plot. It almost seems like Arabian Nights or Legends.
This apparent randomness is also evident in the flavor texts for Odyssey cards. Normally, I would choose quotes that reflect the main ideas in the set; however, I can’t seem to find many. What I can find, I’ll present to you without the backup of quotes, for such”evidence” would be few and far between.
Despite being somewhat lacking of strong plotlines, there are definitely some consistencies. For instance, there seem to be several bands of creatures, including Cephalids, Elephants, Bird Soldiers, and the Nomads. Additionally, Atogs seem to be making their comeback. The dominant theme of Odyssey apparently is that the best (or only) way to survive in Dominaria a hundred years after the Invasion is by pit fighting.
But, the key to any good story is good character development. Therefore, let’s take a look at the legends of the set. The flavor texts on those cards might give us a less ambiguous look at Odyssey.
“His strengths are pride, devotion, and ambition. His weaknesses are the same.” -Pianna, nomad captain
A bird soldier, Kirtar is probably of the Aven, a collection of flying blue and white creatures. They seem to be unfriendly with the nomads. Judging by Kirtar’s quote, it seems like they’re a noble race, with perhaps grandiose visions of themselves over their human brethren.
Pianna, Nomad Captain
“Some find inspiration in their swords. Others find it in their leaders.”
Apparently opposite the Aven, Pianna seems more down-to-earth, chummy chum with the common folk. They seem to admire Pianna and take confidence in their leader. I guess the rallying behind charismatic leaders didn’t die with the Invasion.
Aboshan, Cephalid Emperor
“No one can fight the tide forever.”
The Cephalids, judging by some of the flavor texts, seem to be a vicious race bent on world domination – or at least they’re more pugnacious than most. The bellicose quote spoken (presumably by Aboshan) shows the Cephalids’ warlike nature. Seems like all is not well in the”new” Dominaria.
Braids, Cabal Minion
“Home is where you can find a decent graveyard and strangers can disappear without awkward questions.”
Obviously a morbid servant, Braids represents the Cabal, a group of people who I anticipate will be an evil race. If a minion is talking about the comfort of graveyards and murder, the masters must be unspeakably gruesome.
As an aside, the Cabal Patriarch, who has no flavor text, has the innate abilities to sacrifice his minions in order to annihilate his enemies.
Kamahl, Pit Fighter
“I didn’t come to play. I came to win.”
Shortly, sweetly, and to the point-ly, Kamahl’s quote summarizes the lifestyle of the common man in post-apocalyptic Dominaria.
Seton, Krosan Protector
“Survival of the fittest is not only the law of the pits, it is the law of nature. That is why I fight.”
Hmm… Even the base creatures of nature have been drawn into the employment of pit fighting.
“It relishes old-fashioned family meals.”
Although cleverly punny, the Atogatog doesn’t give much towards the cause of identifying the storyline. Oh well.
Mirari (a legendary artifact)
“It offers you what you want, not what you need.” -Braids, dementia summoner
This quote shows that the new profession of pit fighting isn’t the sole occupation of Dominarians. Magic still exists and Braids, who was before known as only a minion, is now defined as a mage of some sort. Along those lines, the Cabal masters must also be powerful magic users. (The Cabal Patriarch is a Wizard Legend.)
And it is this line of opportunity that I see to further the Magic storyline. The simple acknowledgment in the quote on Mirari that magic and (powerful users thereof) exist opens the window to powerful main characters that can engage in battle. Just as the Legacy, first mentioned in Weatherlight, opened the gateway to the next three years of storyline, so might locally powerful mages open the storyline to confined conflicts and interwoven plotlines.
So although the quotes on Odyssey cards might seem rather randomly placed and more humorous than serious at times, overall they combine to create an atmosphere of potential for future sets. The Rath, Artifact, and Invasion Cycles took me by surprise when I was only warned by Weatherlight (and I had only started playing), but this time around, I anticipate a rich fabric of fiction to be woven in the upcoming years.
And I put full confidence in future flavor texts to reflect this.