The Real Story Behind Planeshift

What storyline hints lurk within the masses of flavor text within Planeshift? Daniel ferrets ’em out.

~*~*~ Begin pre-article statements. ~*~*~

I apologize for my email address being incorrect on my article "How Richard Garfield Made You Jewish." If you have any thoughts on that article but couldn’t reach me due to the incorrect email address, please feel free to use the correct version in this article.

Also, when I looked back at my last article, "More Trading Tales," I realized that the format was not as I had intended it in my copy at home. So, for those of you who were confused by the formatting, here are the trades that I made:

4 Adarkar Wastes FOR 4 Sulfurous Springs
3 Force of Will, 1 Undermine, and 1 Avatar of Hope FOR 1 "Hammer" Hammer, 3 Saproling Burst, 1 Jade Leech, and 1 Foil Staunch Defenders
1 Phyrexian Dreadnought and 1 Thorn Elemental FOR 1 Greel, Mind Raker and 1 Alexi, Zephyr Mage
2 Deranged Hermit, 1 Yavimaya Hollow, and 1 Multani, Maro Sorcerer FOR 2 Pyre Zombie and 1 Avatar of Will
4 Enlightened Tutors and 1 Foil Arrest FOR 1 Foil Latulla, Keldon Overseer
1 Stroke of Genius, 1 Thran Quarry, and 1 Thorn Elemental FOR 3 Ghitu Fire and 1 Foil Collective Unconscious
4 Sneak Attack and 1 Utopia Tree FOR 1 Prerelease Avatar of Hope, 1 Treva, the Renewer, 1 Dromar, the Banisher, and 2 Foil Plains
3 Grim Monolith, 1 Deranged Hermit, 1 Avatar of Might, and 1 Avatar of Fury FOR 1 Foil foreign Plains, 1 Foil foreign Forest, 1 Kavu Titan, 1 Crosis, the Purger, 1 Blazing Specter, and 3 Fires of Yavimaya

Sorry for any confusion.

~*~*~ End pre-article statements. ~*~*~

While the rest of the Internet writers drool over hot Planeshift cards like Meddling Mage, Phyrexian Scuta, and Orim’s Chant, I’ve decided not to dwell in that mundane area. Instead, I’m going to show you what’s really going on in Planeshift. In other words, I’m going to focus on the storyline. (Don’t I always?)

Here’s a quick review to catch everyone up with the set in which each event happened in parentheses: Gerrard and the Weatherlight storm Rath, looking for the captain, Sisay (Tempest). The crew goes into the stronghold of the Evincar Volrath (Stronghold) and hightails it outta there. On its way out, the Weatherlight drops Mirri. Crovax has since fled into Volrath’s stronghold, and Ertai was left on Rath because he had to hold the portal open (Exodus).

The crew goes on a random planeshift and happens to end up in a strange world in a strange city that just happens to be run by Volrath (Mercadian Masques). Starke meets his demise. Then, the scene switches back to Rath, where there’s a struggle for the seat of Evincar between the Phyrexian emissary Belbe, Crovax (who’s now been at least partly completed by the Phyrexians), Ertai (who was unwittingly put into this whole mess by Belbe), and Greven. At the end, Volrath comes back to claim his throne, but he’s thrashed by Crovax; Crovax gets the position of Evincar; Greven stays second-in-command while Ertai is completed and made to serve Crovax. Belbe is offed, but she allows Takara, Liin Sivi (which IS spelled correctly), and Eladamri to escape (Nemesis). These three land in Dominaria and help Urza and Gerrard rally Dominaria into war against Phyrexia (Prophecy).

Finally, that war occurs, and many alliances are formed and battles are fought (Invasion). Just as a key battle is won by the forces of good, Rathi soldiers begin to materialize on the battlefield (cue the beginning of Planeshift).

{wipes brow} Wow, I wonder if seven books has ever been more concisely summarized. (Believe me, if you read the books, you’d realize that I WAS being concise.)

So, where does that leave us? Urza and his eight planeswalker allies are at the head of a ragtag army fresh out of battle – when all of a sudden, a whole new Phyrexian army primed for battle appears. Can we say uh-oh?

Well, of course, the book hasn’t been released yet, so I don’t know what happened. So, I went to the next best thing to try to enlighten you about the storyline: Flavor texts!

I went to the spoiler at Wizards’ webpage and read all the flavor texts. I pulled out some that looked important to the storyline in order to bring the goings on of Planeshift into the light. Also, I haven’t included the cards where the flavor texts come so that you can get more of a feeling of what’s going on instead of what people and things are doing. I’ll show the flavor text, then give my opinion of what it means. I basically hope that this exercise will let you get a broader scope of what all those cards would REALLY be doing if they were interacting with one another. And, isn’t that what Richard Garfield wanted in the first place?

~The Phyrexians don’t want to conquer Dominaria. They want to remake it.~

I think this is pretty self-explanatory. The mission of Phyrexia is to mold Dominaria into an extension of itself. Very cool. 🙂

~While Dominarians fought for their world, Rath stole it from under their feet.~

The whole plan for the Phyrexian invasion was to use Rathi flowstone to literally planeshift all of Rath into Dominaria. In other words, Dominarian landscapes would be replaced by Rathi ones. Phyrexian soldiers would also be included in the planeshifting in order to kill or compleat the current population of Dominaria.

~"That didn’t happen naturally," said Multani. "Rath’s overlay is interfering with the ?ther itself."~

It appears that the Rathi planeshift has more drastic consequences than those of the tangible world.

~Stage two of the Phyrexian invasion included the complete alteration of Dominaria’s landscape.~

Fight first, morph later. Am I the only ones who think that the Phyrexians sound like Power Rangers? … Probably.

~"Behold," said Freyalise to Eladamri. "Your Skyshroud home has followed you to Dominaria."~

Just another reference to the planeshift of Rath.

~The elves had the edge in guile, skill, and valor. But in the end, only sheer numbers mattered.~

Of course, as in all wars, many battles will be fought. Whether these elves are from Yavimaya (which barely beat off the Phyrexians with nature’s ability of self defense), Llanowar (which could hardly be said to have "survived" the Invasion), or Freyalise (which is pretty much untouched at the end of Invasion), I don’t know. What I DO know is that some elves somewhere just can’t hold their own against Phyrexian hordes.

~The mere sight of our undead allies sickens me. What unholy bargain have you struck? – Grizzlegom, to Agnate~

In order to combat the offworld Phyrexians, all Dominarians have to fight together. That means that vicious kavu are going to be shoulder to shoulder with the remnants of the Serran angels, that necromancers of Urborg will fight alongside Metathran elite. This Grizzlegom character doesn’t seem to understand that yet.

~Sacrificing mortal dragons to satisfy your immortal hunger ends here. – Darigaaz, to Rith~

It seems like there’s going to be a bit of ill humor among the ranks of generals here. The five dragon legends all fight under Urza, but they obviously have differences of opinions. Here, Darigaaz confronts Rith about what appears to be selfish actions on Rith’s part. I, for one, am totally looking forward to the interactions between all these legendary characters.

~Each commander looked at the others and wondered who would be first to break the alliance.~

Just another example of the distrust one faction of the Dominarian army has for another.

~Like his mother before him, Darigaaz gave his life defending Dominaria from the tyranny of self-styled gods.~

In case you hadn’t heard, Rhammidarigaaz was a mere pup when Urza came to Shiv asking for use of the mana rig to aid in his first attack on Phyrexia. His mother agreed to help him after much deliberation and lost her life doing so. I’m sad to say that its seems as though martyrdom runs in the family.

~Altered by Phyrexian science, corrupted by black mana, and twisted by rage, Ertai still looked in the mirror and saw only glory.~

Ertai is by far my favorite Magic character. His completion was totally amazing, and although I was disappointed that he didn’t become Evincar of Rath, I’m very pleased that he didn’t die. (The authors of the books almost decided to kill him, but Paul B. Thompson, author of Nemesis, saved him.)

~"Don’t worry, Gerrard," said Ertai. "I’m sure the crew will come to your rescue as quickly as they came to mine."~

Finally, some justice! That charismatic Gerrard is finally getting what’s coming to him. It’s apparent that the Phyrexians captured him and took him to Rath. Here, Ertai refers to the time when Weatherlight didn’t even slow down to pick him up off of Rath, leaving him to fend for himself. I don’t blame him for being a little peeved.

~"He is Yawgmoth’s reward to me. I shall kill him a hundred times a day." –Crovax, to Ertai~

I hope they’re talking about Gerrard!

~"Crovax knows we’re coming now," said a grinning Sisay. "I just sent the Predator crashing into his stronghold."~

Most likely, this is going to be another daring yet successful rescue attempt. It appears that Sisay commandeered Predator and sent it into Crovax’s stronghold – probably on her way to save Gerrard. I hope that she fails! (I don’t have anything against Sisay – I like her. But, I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing Gerrard go the way of Teferi.*)

~To save Dominaria, nine planeswalkers sought the annihilation of Phyrexia itself.~

So, while the Dominarian’s defend their homeland, Urza and his eight allies force Phyrexians to defend there’s. This is the official Best Part(tm) of Invasion and Planeshift: The alliance of nine different planeswalkers (known as the Nine Titans) to defend Dominaria and attack Phyrexia. They have these HUGE battlesuits that make them hundreds of feet tall and immensely strong with laser canons and grappling hooks and all sorts of artillery in addition to their normal planeswalker abilities. I can’t wait to see how Phyrexia deals with this threat.

~"I’d be happy to stop contradicting you, Urza, just as soon as you start being right." – Bo Levar, planeswalker~

But, even planeswalkers aren’t perfect. Here, we’re shown a quarrel between Urza and the pirate Bo Levar. They’d better get their act together before something terrible happens…

~"After four thousand years, you learn to plan for betrayal." – Urza~

Or, is Urza ready for that terrible something?

~"Did I know Szat would betray us?" Urza asked quizzically. "I was counting on it."~

It appears that he is. Apparently, Tevash Szat, the dark planeswalker, gets a little ambitious while in Phyrexia. The other eight planeswalkers seem to have it under control, though I wonder what Szat did and what the others did about it.

~Deep in Yawgmoth’s realm, Urza stopped dead in his tracks and rubbed his soot-filled eyes. Mishra?~

AHH! Do you know what this means? Urza’s whole drive for the war against Phyrexia has basically been the fact that the Phyrexians compleated his brother Mishra. He had hoped that he could somehow save Mishra – he devised time machines and invasion plans and elaborate plots, but nothing ever worked. He even once wanted to believe so hard that he could save his brother that he believed that some random guy (by the name of Ratepe) actually WAS Mishra. Is this the real Mishra, saved somehow from his brother’s annihilating attack? Or, is it some creation of Yawgmoth’s to confuse Urza? If it were to only find out this one fact, I would read Planeshift.

So, there you go. Flavor texts take those that don’t bother to read the books into the world of Dominaria. I’ve tried to perform the same service to those that don’t even read the flavor texts.

Until next time!

Daniel Crane
[email protected]

* – Teferi faded himself out of existence for the duration of the Invasion. I don’t really want Gerrard to die; I don’t dislike him THAT much. But, I would definitely like for someone ELSE to be the main character of a book. Karn was the main character of Planeswalker – can’t they try that again??