What’s Happening in War of the Spark? | Magic Arcanum

What’s Happening in War of the Spark? | Magic Arcanum


Welcome to Magic Arcanum. I’m Ryan Gomez, and I’m so glad you’re
here because it’s story time! I’m really excited. We just crossed two million total views for
the series, and we get to celebrate by talking about War of the Spark, so get comfortable
friends, because this story time will be epic. For this set, the story cards are identified
on the bottom edge of their frame instead of having a full watermark behind their text
box. I’m going to break these cards down in three
acts, just like they do on the official story page. You can find a link to that in the description
below this video, as well as a page with all of the cards I mention on TCGplayer.com. I’ve also got my Twitter account down there,
where I sometimes share jokes about lore and card art, or tease upcoming episodes, so come
follow me if you’re an Arcanum fan. Alright! Let’s talk about Act One for War of the
Spark!Cool it, Letson. The first thing I need to address is actually
how spread out this story really is. We’ve got the cards themselves, but to really
understand what’s happening, you have to read the book. And, sometime over the summer, they are going
to release “missing chapters” from the book each week via email, so additional insights
are going to trickle in for months. That said, for this episode I’m trying to
summarize as much as I can with what we know today, based on my initial reading of the
book combined with what we see on the cards and how they are organized into acts and scenes
on the official story page. The first thing we see on that story page
is Dreadhorde Invasion. This represents the Eternal Army of Nicol
Bolas, poised to enter the plane of Ravnica. How will they get there? With the help of Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge. The bridge refers to the Planar Bridge, an
artifact that currently resides within Tezzeret himself. Don’t think about that too much. Ok so this bridge is a big deal, because it
allows for inorganic matter to move from one plane to another, and that’s how this zombie
army is going to get from their home plane, which is Amonkhet, over to Ravnica. But wait, zombies are just dead bodies and
those are organic and Ryan you said the bridge only works with inorganic matter! Yes, hypothetical viewer, that’s what I
said. That’s why these zombies have been coated
in a magical mineral called lazotep. In addition to making them even more durable
in combat, the lazotep coating permits these undead warriors to pass through the bridge. Which again, kinda comes out of Tezzeret’s
belly button. Anyway, the story really kicks off with the
introduction of the Interplanar Beacon. This is a device created by Ral Zarek to call
other planeswalkers to Ravnica to help in the fight against Nicol Bolas. Going into this story, I wasn’t sure how
this beacon was going to work. Would it magically force planeswalkers to
come here? Would it signal them but give them the choice
to ignore it? According to the book, it is a little of both. Planeswalkers on different planes start to
see dazzling lights that only appear to them, and they get a strong urge to follow these
lights right to Ravnica. Gideon is able to walk from Dominaria to Kaladesh
to meet up with his friends but he admits it was really really hard for him to not just
go straight to Ravnica while the beacon is lit. So this beacon does act as a sort of Siren’s
call. A strong enough planeswalker can avoid it,
but probably not for long, and that explains why so many wind up on Ravnica. The Magic Story website shows Vraska next,
presumably to remind us that she’s still the Queen of the Golgari Swarm and suggest
she’s going to be a big player in the immediate battle, but the book takes a big departure
here. Vraska actually leaves Ravnica as the other
walkers start arriving. Her reasons for doing so are kind of unclear
this early in the story, but we’ll get to them later. In the meantime, if you need more information
on Vraska, we’ve got a great video that will bring you up to speed on who she is and
why she’s one of my favorite characters. The second scene of this act gives us Emergence
Zone, and Ravnica at War, which both kinda depict the same event: the Planar Bridge is
opened, and Eternals start to march through and invade the streets. I want to point out here that we haven’t
seen a Nicol Bolas card yet, but he’s actually already on Ravnica. He even built his Citadel and Statue, and
our hero characters are also already here and planning their strike before this portal
opens. That’s important because the portal opens
right on top of the Chambers of the Guildpact, and that’s Jace’s home when on Ravnica,
along with being the source of his powers while there. Before the portal opened, Jace was planning
to arrest Nicol Bolas and use the powers of the Guildpact to hold him in place, while
Teferi also slowed him with time magic, and between the two of those, they hoped he’d
be immobilized enough for Gideon to slay him with Blackblade. As the trio was approaching Bolas to do this,
the portal opened and Jace lost the powers of the Guildpact. Even worse, Chandra, Jaya, and Karn were inside
the Chambers and were nearly killed when the portal appeared right on top of them. Invade the City shows what happens next – the
Eternals come pouring through the portal, and in the book, Gideon charges right into
them to try and save the civilians in the immediate area. Jace wants to move forward with the plan to
neutralize Bolas, even though he’s unsure they can hold him in place without his Guildpact
magic. With each passing second, the number of Eternals
is increasing, and eventually Jace agrees they cannot be ignored. So the Gatewatch tries to evacuate the citizens
and contain the Eternals to the space near the portal, when they discover Liliana is
among them and acting as their controller. And so we have Liliana, Dreadhorde General. In her hand she’s holding the Chain Veil,
an artifact that amplifies her already incredible powers, though usually at the cost of great
pain. In the book she wears the veil, almost as
much to protect herself from the stares of her friends on the Gatewatch as to help control
the massive Eternal army. The book also gives us more insight into what
Liliana is thinking during all of this, and tells us that even though she is bound to
Nicol Bolas and must serve him, she actually has a bit of wiggle room in there. For example, she must command the Eternals
to kill anyone they encounter, but she doesn’t have to make them go inside buildings. So, anyone who hides indoors, at least initially,
is safe from the slaughter. She’s also struggling with who to root for. She knows if Bolas wins, her friends will
all be dead, and she’ll be a slave forever. But if Bolas falls, she might not get a chance
to explain her involvement before everyone turns on her too. Either way, Liliana recognizes there’s going
to be a lot of death in the future, and that doesn’t sit well with her, even being a
necromancer…heh, got it. With the Widespread Brutality all around them,
the Gatewatch is now desperate for help. The Eternals are continuing to flow through
the open portal and Jace and company certainly have their hands full. The card Ignite the Beacon would suggest this
is when they, you know, ignite the beacon to call other planeswalkers, but it’s actually
been lit this whole time. One neat bit from the book though is that
Ral Zarek has a pair of goggles that can identify planeswalkers, and Karn grabs them, studies
them for a second, and then is able to create a spell that gives that power to all the Gatewatch
members without even needing goggles, and Ral is like, “…dude.” I think this is actually what we see in Ignite
the Beacon, because planeswalkers get a glowing gold outline in the book, much like they do
in the art here. So as these random planeswalkers start showing
up and getting enlisted to help in the fight, Jace realizes they won’t be able to leave
until they win, or die. That’s because Nicol Bolas still has the
Immortal Sun, a device that prevents planeswalkers from being able to planeswalk away from their
current location. He’s given it to Dovin Baan, who is now
protecting the artifact atop the Azorius towers. We see this in No Escape, where Jace acknowledges
this is a trap, but at this point in the book he hasn’t actually worked out what the trap
really is yet. He knows Bolas wants to keep everyone on Ravnica,
but it’s not clear why. That’s the end of the first Act, so let
me recap real quick: The beacon was lit and drew planeswalkers
to Ravnica, where Nicol Bolas was already putting his schemes into motion. Just as the Gatewatch was about to strike
the first blow, the Elder Dragon simultaneously cut off Jace’s connection to the Guildpact
and began flooding the streets with an army of lazotep coated zombies being led by Liliana. Tons of planeswalkers are already present,
and we’ll get a look at their cards now in Act Two. I’m going to start with one of the more
interesting ones: Teyo Verada. This is a brand new planeswalker from the
plane Gobakhan, which we’ve never been to, but the book makes it sound a bit like Tatooine
from Star Wars, right down to having two suns and sand everywhere. I hate sand. It’s course, gets everywhere. Teyo is a low-ranking acolyte in the Order
of the Shieldmage. His job is to protect people from harsh diamond-storms
that naturally occur on his home plane. He does this by summoning geometric shields
that are nearly impervious to damage. That’s really handy, since his first trip
away from home dropped him in the middle of a city being ransacked by zombies. He’s also impressed by indoor plumbing so
take that for what you will. He’s not technically alone, but the book
doesn’t tell us much about these other new characters. Planeswalkers like Kasmina, Davriel, and The
Wanderer get less than a page of coverage each, so while we do get to learn a lot about
Teyo, there are still plenty of mysteries for future stories to answer. One familiar planeswalker who shows up is
Nissa. Her entrance in the book is pretty dramatic. Eternals have pushed their way into Selesnya
territory and are attacking Vitu-Ghazi, an ancient tree that also serves as their guildhall. Nissa uses her animist powers for the Awakening
of Vitu-Ghazi, turning it into a massive elemental creature that starts stomping on the comparatively
diminutive Eternals. After clearing the immediate area, Nissa guides
Vitu-Ghazi deeper into the city and uses it to Topple the Statue put up by Nicol Bolas. The citizens of Ravnica start to think this
is going to be the turning point. Help has arrived, the Eternals will be beaten
back, and Bolas will fall just as easily as his statue did. Their cheers stop, quite abruptly, as the
God-Eternals enter through the portal. Bontu, Kefnet, Rhonas, and Oketra make short
work of Vitu-Ghazi, to the horror of the watching Selesnyans. These were the gods of Amonkhet, immensely
powerful when alive, and just as fearsome now with a fresh coating of lazotep. Their arrival would have crushed the spirits
of everyone present, were it not for Gideon rolling a natural 20 on his Charisma-check,
and inspiring folks to stand their ground with a riveting Pledge of Unity. So, the battle continues. Gideon joins with the Boros Legion to get
the skies under control. He hops a ride on a Pegasus named “Promise”
and fights alongside Aurelia and the other angels, while Parhelion II provides heavy
firepower, at least until it gets chased away by the God-Eternals. And yes, I know Feather is a card in this
set, but she gets zero mention in the book, so I’m not really sure how she got her wings
back. I have also been losing to Feather decks left
and right on Magic Arena so out of spite, I’m just not going to talk about her anymore. Anyway, Nicol Bolas has been just chilling
on top of his citadel, watching this battle play out, and not really caring, because for
him the game hasn’t even started yet. It’s not until he casts The Elderspell that
everyone realizes how profoundly screwed they are. The first to illustrate the new level of danger
is Domri Rade. He and his “mates” as he calls them in
the book boldly charge into the fray, planning to club Nicol Bolas over the head with rocks
I guess, when an Eternal manages to grab Domri. Now previously this wasn’t a problem. You could wrestle with an Eternal, break free,
kill it, whatever. But now, under the magic of the Elderspell,
a single touch from an Eternal will instantly begin to drain a planeswalker’s spark. As this happens, all the fluids also leave
their body, rendering them a dried out empty husk. Domri finds this out the hard way. Hey! I gave him a pretty high chance of death in
my prediction video! Well at least I got one right. After an Eternal has harvested the spark of
a planeswalker, they send it up to Nicol Bolas, who collects it in the gem suspended between
his horns, seen clearly in Deliver Unto Evil. This is called the Gem of Becoming, which
for flavor reasons alone goes into every Nicol Bolas commander deck. So our hero characters are now in pretty much
the worst possible spot they could be in. More and more planeswalkers are arriving,
following the signal from the beacon. Each one of them is now super vulnerable to
any of the thousands of Eternals, which Liliana is now forced into sending indoors, by the
way, and none of them can flee thanks to the Immortal Sun. And, each planeswalker touched by an Eternal
brings Bolas one step closer to his goal of achieving ultimate god-like power. That’s the end of the Act Two cards. Nicol Bolas seems to have the upper hand and
it’s going to take a series of small miracles – or the intervention of at least one other
dragon – to stop him. So off we go with Act 3. Jace rallies all the planeswalkers he can
get, and starts to formulate a multi-step plan for saving the day. It goes something like this: They’ve got to stop any more Eternals from
getting onto the plane, so Ob Nixilis, Dack, Karn, and Samut decide to go through the portal
and over to the other side, which is Amonkhet. There, they find Tezzeret, and defeat him
using a small bomb given to them by Saheeli, which destroys the Planar Bridge. Tezzeret basically lets them do it, and confesses
he’s glad someone is trying to stop Nicol Bolas, because as evil as Tezzert may be,
he’s not like, excited about wiping out every other planeswalker the way Bolas is. While on Amonkhet, we get one of the book’s
better moments. Samut offers up a plea to the last remaining
God of the plane, Hazoret. She answers, and bestows upon Samut a gift. It’s her two- pronged spear, which is massive,
but Karn says he’s able to planeswalk back to Ravnica with it, no problem. We also learn that Sarkhan was on Amonkhet
looking for weapons to use against Nicol Bolas, and had helped Hazoret restore the protective
barrier over the great city of Naktamun. So, Amonkhet may be taking its first shaky
steps toward rebuilding, but we’ve still got a lot going on back on Ravnica. Ob Nixilis decides he’s done his part, and
since he’s not under the grasp of the Immortal Sun here, he planeswalks away. Sarkhan pledges to come help though, so he,
along with Karn, Dack, and Samut, return to Ravnica. Meanwhile, another group was working on disabling
the Immortal Sun. Chandra, Lavinia, and Saheeli climbed their
way to the top of the New Prahv towers to face Dovin Baan and his army of thopters. Dovin puts up a pretty good fight and even
boasts to the trio that he was ready for all of them, because his power is seeing weaknesses,
and he was fully confident he had the upper hand against these three particular women. He starts to taunt Chandra specifically, when
another Chandra starts to roast the base of the pedestal holding the Immortal Sun. The first Chandra reveals she’s actually
been Lazav, the shapeshifter, using a borrowed Izzet flame thrower to fool Dovin and keep
him distracted. Lazav also then proves he’s part ninja and
tosses two metal throwing stars at Dovin’s face, catching him in the eyes. Dovin screams and planeswalks away, since
the Sun is now out of commission thanks to Chandra. So, the next time we see Dovin, he will likely
be blind, but not dead. I’m going to give myself partial credit
for my prediction on him, too. What, Nicole? It’s not like anyone is actually keeping
score. Anyway, other planeswalkers had their role
to play, too. Vivien was eager to take a shot at Bolas,
but realized Liliana was going to have to be dealt with first. So Vivien, Jaya, Teferi, and Jace set up an
ambush for Liliana. Teferi opened with his time magic, slowing
Liliana down, so that Jaya and Vivien could rain fire and arrows down on her. The Chain Veil ends up saving Liliana’s
life, and Nicol Bolas realizes what’s happening from atop his citadel, so he used his own
magic to crush the buildings Jace and friends were using for elevation. Teferi slows time again to prevent anyone
from getting crushed by falling debris, and the group retreats after realizing they won’t
get another chance to attack Liliana now that Bolas is aware of their presence. While all of this is ongoing, Vraska returns
and offers to help Ral and Kaya with their mission – to unite all ten guilds of Ravnica
for something called “Operation Desperation,” which will bring Niv-Mizzet back to life. What’s that? You didn’t know Niv died? Yeah me either. It doesn’t happen in the book and it’s
not depicted on any card in either War of the Spark or Ravnica Allegiance. So while the book does have some neat moments,
like Hazoret showing up, and Dovin getting shuriken to the face, it also frustratingly
leaves out huge plot points like this.…maybe let’s not do sound effects anymore. The guilds still don’t really trust each
other but realize they don’t have a lot of options here so they begrudgingly agree
to try this very long shot. And what do you know, it works! Niv-Mizzet is reborn from the cooperative
spirit of the ten guilds of Ravnica, and he somehow gets the Guildpact powers, thanks
to Nissa fudging the leylines I guess? Anyway, the dragon, now with a sporty new
color scheme, charges into battle against the God-Eternals and…almost immediately
dies again. Seriously. The people of Ravnica have had a rollercoaster
of emotions today. And we’re not even to the best part yet. With the portal shut down, at least the number
of Eternals has been dwindling. Jace and Gideon agree that they must press
the attack, before Nicol Bolas can absorb any more sparks and become any more powerful
than he already is. Their main fear now is that Bolas will flee
if they get too close, so Jace has Saheeli reactivate the Immortal Sun, locking everyone
into a fight for their life once again. And so begins the assault on the Citadel itself. The plan is still similar to what it was earlier
that day and YES this all happens on one supremely long day: Get Gideon close enough to use Blackblade,
whatever it takes. So Gideon mounts up again on Promise and takes
to the sky, along with whatever remains of the Boros air force, while everyone else charges
on the ground. The planeswalkers use every trick they have
left. Dack figures out how to hex the Eternals so
that their lazotep becomes magnetic and they stick to each other and fall over, but one
of them manages to grab him from behind and we get our second named death in the entire
book. Poor dude didn’t even get a card, but was
at least in that trailer that got 11 million views. Anyway, Bolas sees Gideon coming a mile away
and tells Liliana to use Oketra to knock him out of the sky. She has…I’ll say…reservations about
this. Remember, she still wants to help her friends
but doesn’t want to get herself killed in the process, so she makes Oketra aim for Promise
rather than Gideon. At first Bolas is furious with her but she
says hitting Gideon wouldn’t have done anything because he’s indestructible, and Bolas accepts
this logic. So Gideon is knocked off the horse…pegasus…and
falls out of the sky but is caught at the last second by Rakdos himself, as we see in
Unlikely Aid. The pair continue onward toward Bolas, and
everyone watches as Gideon leaps off Rakdos and performs a Down+B sword attack against
the Elder Dragon. For like the fifth time TODAY, everyone’s
hopes are dashed as Blackblade shatters against the hide of Nicol Bolas. Bolas then reveals he was the one behind the
hype for Blackblade. He wanted the heroes to think it would work,
he made it hard for them to get so they’d think it was powerful, he played them like
a fiddle, and this is the closest Bolas comes to behaving like a believable evil mastermind. Gideon falls to the pavement like a cement
truck, with no demon to be the wind beneath his wings this time. Things are at their absolute darkest, but
you know who’s really good at being the hero when that happens? Let me tell you. When Emrakul was about to consume all of Innistrad,
who stepped in with an army of zombies and became literally “the last hope?” Liliana. When Razaketh was turning rivers to blood
an ushering in the Hour of Devastation on Amonkhet, who stepped in with an army of zombies
and became literally “Death’s Majesty?” Liliana. So in a move we should have all seen coming: When Nicol Bolas is about to ascend to godhood
and become the most powerful being in the multiverse, who will step in with an army
of zombies and become literally their…general? Liliana. She realizes death is a better alternative
than living under the rule of Nicol Bolas for all eternity, so she turns the Eternals
upon the dragon. Immediately her skin starts to burn and she
feels herself flake apart as she pays the Price of Betrayal. As she’s melting away she feels a hand on
her shoulder and turns to find Gideon, a bloody mess, but standing beside her proudly. He recognized what she was going to do and
he gifted his power of invulnerability to her. Her skin stops dissolving and starts healing,
while the damage starts piling up on Gideon. It doesn’t take long before Gideon is reduced
to a pile of ash and charred bits of armor, but by then, Liliana has managed to get the
God-Eternals within striking distance of Nicol Bolas. And, you’ll never guess who else gets in
a sucker punch against Nicol Bolas – Niv Mizzet! He didn’t die earlier, he just had to go
rest a bit, apparently. Anyway he picked up Hazoret’s spear and
rammed it right through Nicol Bolas, and that’s one of those poetic irony things, because
Nicol Bolas had made that spear himself and gave it to Hazoret when he ruled Amonkhet. So now his own weapon, made with his own power,
was used against him, and the God-Eternals latched on to him and harvested his spark,
while also spilling all the ones stored in the Gem. Now here is where things get tricky. To everyone watching, it looked like Nicol
Bolas died in this moment, but the book tells us it was an illusion pulled off by Jace. Jace had been approached by Ugin, who told
him that a dead Nicol Bolas would be more dangerous than a live one, since he’s come
back from death before and certainly had plans in place to do it again should he fail here
on Ravnica. So Ugin instead proposed trapping Nicol Bolas
on the Meditation Realm, where he will act as guardian until the end of time, because
there is no way Nicol Bolas could have anticipated that. Ugin didn’t want anyone else to know Nicol
Bolas lived, in case those other planeswalkers wanted to seek him out for vengeance and kill
him themselves, so he conspired with Jace to pull off this grand illusion. And thus, Nicol Bolas is defeated and cast
into the shadow realm – I mean, Prison Realm, sorry. That’s, uh, that’s another game. Ravnica rejoices and breaks out the party
hats and cake almost immediately, but there is one last bit of dirty business to attend
to. The leaders of the guilds agree that the enemies
of the day should still be punished. Ral is given the task of finding Tezzeret,
Vraska will hunt down Dovin Baan, and they ask Kaya to find and assassinate Liliana,
who vanished after the battle was over. Just before that, Kaya took her Oath to join
the Gatewatch, so this will be a test of her loyalties and commitment, and certainly a
major part of stories yet to come. The book also gives us a bit of closure on
Gideon. After he dies, he enters a sort of afterlife,
back on his home plane of Theros, where he is reunited with his old friends and retakes
his original name, Kytheon Iora, which we see in Heartwarming Redemption. And that’s the story of War of the Spark,
as told by the spotlight cards and the book, available now. Suspiciously absent is any mention of Ilharg
the Raze Boar, Krenko, Massacre Girl, or Fblthp. Neheb’s name appears in exactly one sentence
as Samut cuts him in half, and other planeswalkers like Kiora, Angrath, and Ashiok barely get
anything to say or do. We do also get a little advancement on the
relationship between Chandra and Nissa, who does retake her oath and I guess technically
rejoins the Gatewatch, by the way. And, we learn that Ral and Tomik are lovers
from very different guilds but somehow find a way to keep the sparks flying. Ha ha, see what I did there Nicole? …she’s shaking her head. I think she’s mad at me. Overall, this was a really ambitious way of
telling a massive story that spans the last several years worth of Magic sets. I don’t think they quite pulled it off,
especially when you put it up against other current pay-off events like Avengers End Game
or Game of Thrones, but I do still think this set is super cool and can’t wait to make
an amass deck on Arena. I’m coming for you, Feather! What do you think of War of the Spark? Where are we headed next? What will become of Liliana? Give me your best guesses in the comments,
and then like this video and subscribe to the channel so you don’t miss the great
stories you’ll only find here on Magic Arcanum. I’ll see ya!