Q:What are the chances of getting a humanoid Cockroach planeswalker?
Q:I find it interesting that Xenagos made it onto the Hero trait list (albeit in a fairly morally neutral category), but not onto the villain side despite being this block's antagonist.
Let me be super-clear: In my earlier post I was really trying to communicate that there are many ways of interpreting good and evil in planeswalker characters. I don’t mean that Ral is necessarily lumped in with eeeevil and I certainly don’t mean that Xenagos is a nice, wholesome person who you should invite to come and talk at your kid sister’s school. I was trying to point out that, rather than chop the planeswalker characters into two simplistic categories or place everybody on a single axis, we should think about the complexities underneath the labels (which probably means, in retrospect, that I shouldn’t have divided the lists into two chunks).
In listing Xenagos as “confident” and “self-actualized”, I wanted to show that someone who’s pretty clearly a villain can have positive attributes. As another example, Liliana shows up on both lists, and Ral could have, too. Magic revels in showcasing multiple points of view — rarely just good vs. bad. Similarly, Magic's characters have multiple values and traits — they are rarely definable as just good or bad.
Q:Is there any chance of a Planeswalkers Guide type thing for the core sets? Especially when a new Planeswalker introduced? I thought Garruk had been cured but after reading your answer earlier he apparently isn't? What's he doing now?
In the story, Garruk is still cursed. He tussled with Liliana, and she used her powerful Chain Veil artifact on him, leaving him stricken with a black-mana curse that has affected his summoning magic. The curse is now also affecting his mind.
I do think that recent printings of monogreen Garruk in core sets have really confused that issue, making it look like Garruk’s been redeemed and back to green again. We were kind of making “Platonic ideal green Garruk” (for example, Garruk, Caller of Beasts) in the cards, while not wanting the character to have moved on from his curse in the storyline. We want people to enjoy the story the way we think of it in our heads, and that kind of mismatch really doesn’t help. In the future, I hope we’re able to make planeswalker card printings correspond better to the content and chronology of the story.
Q:"spacejawa asked: Who would you say are probably the most good and most evil of the planeswalkers?" "Maro Answered: Most good? Probably Gideon. Most evil? Probably Nicol Bolas. Ask Doug. I’m curious what he says." So what do you say?
Oh man. It soooo depends on what you consider good and evil. I’m going to give this a try, but I have to be all complex and wordy about it, because of my debilitating allergy to oversimplification. Let’s do bullet points:
- Most likely to put oneself in danger to help others: Gideon. Runner up: Koth.
- Most conscientious (and therefore most likely to be wracked by guilt): Elspeth. Runner up: Karn.
- Most potential for joy and big-heartedness: Chandra. Runner up: Tamiyo, which feels strange to say, but I guess that’s how I think of her.
- Most calming influence in times of distress: Ajani. Runner up: Jace.
- Most confident, self-actualized, and capable of great things: Liliana. Runner up: Xenagos.
- Most focused on the greater good and plane-wide threats: Nissa. Runner up: Gideon.
Lots of good hero candidates in there. Which one is the Absolutely Most Shiny-Haloed depends on your values, or possibly on what’s going on in their lives around them. Grim circumstances can make heroes shine even when they weren’t picked for Most Likely to Help Old Ladies Cross the Street in their high school yearbook.
And now for eeeevil.
- Most hungry for vast power: Nicol Bolas. Runner up: Is it Tezzeret or Liliana? Or is Liliana actually first? They all want to be first, of course. I think Tezzeret is more of a “I’ll show everybody” guy rather than “I want to rule everything” guy, but I mean, the difference can be slim in practice. Vraska’s in the running here too, potentially. Oh, black-aligned characters! You love this category.
- Most power and resources combined with desire to harm others: Nicol Bolas, for sure (remember, we’re just talking about planeswalkers here — certainly there are powerful threats out there that are not planeswalkers). I think this makes Bolas a good candidate for “most evil,” just because his potential for wide-ranging harm is so vast. Runner up: It’s funny, but I am personally pretty scared of cursed Garruk right now — he is less stoppable than people think. But he’s a distant second — he’s formidable, but doesn’t have an organization like Bolas does. Tezzeret would love to be in contention in this category someday.
- Most interested in intentionally causing distress: Tibalt. Runner up: Ashiok.
- Most apathetic, or least caring about individual people: Sorin. Runner up: Tibalt. Domri might be in here too? Am I mischaracterizing Domri?
- Most unstable: Sarkhan. Runner up: Ral Zarek, maybe? You could put Garruk here too, currently.
There are many more gradations on the nuanced Morality Landscape. I think of it more as a complicated grid or multidimensional space than a simple sliding scale of “best” to “baddest.” All that said, Bolas probably wins for baddest no matter how you crunch the moral math.
What do you think? What are your picks? Should we consider other good/evil categories?
Q:Am I the only one in the world who cares about Endrek Sahr's future?
My money’s on no. Are you out there, dedicated Endrek Sahr aficionados?
Q:Maro said that the Lorwyn block was poorly received. It got me thinking, I really liked all the races/tribes in it and to me they fit perfectly together....except the flamekin. They look a little bit forced among all those classic fantasy tropes. What can you say in their defense?
That many players liked them most of all. Flamekin were designed to provide a humanoid Elemental race for tribal purposes. But they also ended up providing creatures that looked a little edgier, a little closer to Magic's usual aesthetic, for those players who weren't into Lorwyn's idyllic, storybook tone.
Q:Maro requests permission to make a Wall of Beebles today. We expect your compliance.
Is that some kind of pre-implanted psychohypnotic trigger phrase? Am I being Manchurian Candidated?
Q:Would you agree that Tibalt is the best dressed planeswalker?
Q:I was surprised Mark listed you as a developer! Do you often do development work, or is it just a sometimes thing?
I’ve been on several dev teams, yep (Theros, for example, and the upcoming fall set, code-named “Huey”). It’s handy for development teams to have a representative from the creative team to help be the, well, Voice for Vorthos for the set. That creative rep also helps playtest, offers card designs, leads special mini-teams as needed to tackle specific elements of the set, and serves as a consultant for any card or mechanic changes that might affect creative concerns. The developers are super-smart math-brain-people when it comes to balancing for Constructed, so when they start focusing on that I tend to bow out. But I do enjoy being on design or development teams when I have the time.
So I’ve been reading through the responses to Mark’s questions about various possible settings tonight (steampunk, high fantasy, Mesoamerican). And every time one of you guys says “Well, I’d be into that, but I’d want to be sure it had Magic's twist on it,” my little Vorthosian heart grows three sizes. <3
We love exploring the past, researching myths and legends, and taking inspiration from beloved source material — but we also like twisting expectations, inverting tropes, and burying surprises. Rest assured, world-building fans, we will do no setting or genre or mythology without giving it Magic's special twist.