Well, Planeswalkers, it seems our time with Innistrad is starting to dwindle down. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of Friday Night Magic and Grand Prix events to go and other news and updates before we hit Eldritch Moon this July. But, with the Pro Tour over and Game Day weekend in the rearview mirror, the set and its top cards, decks and strategies have been pored over and analyzed in dozens (maybe even hundreds) of articles, forums and social sites. The only true mystery left to unveil is in the story and what will happen to the denizens of Innistrad as it builds to the climax. So, this week we’ll focus on the story thus far and what we can expect for the future.
Fear and Loathing in Innistrad:
As always, if you’re interested in reading the full story for yourself, you can head over to the story archive on Magic’s official site. If you’re strapped for time or don’t feel like poring over the chapters yourself, here’s a simple and concise recap of the story thus far (or at least, Jace’s side of it). So far, there are two particular story webs covering, intertwining, and soon connecting across Innistrad. One follows Jace as he searches for clues as to what foul madness is infesting the plane and the other concerning Sorin and his search for long lost Nahiri.
I’d like to first cover Jace and his psychedelic journey. While I still think Jace’s planeswalker card is the weakest of the set and I’m not a fan of how much Wizards seems to dote on him by hamfisting him into almost every set plot, his storyline has been a very interesting and pleasant read. If you’re a fan of stories with unreliable narrators (such as Fight Club or A Beautiful Mind) or ones containing surreal or abstract storytelling and imagery (a la Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or David Lynch films) Jace’s chapters are right up your alley.
The problem with Jace being in so many stories is that all aspects of his character are known to us. Just like in Zendikar’s story, he never really does anything unexpected or out of the norm for his character. His story arcs are either completed or exhausted to the point where he doesn’t feel like an evolving character anymore, just a setpiece there to help other Planeswalkers. In Innistrad, however, we’re getting aspects of his character we’ve never seen before. Jace, the master manipulator and illusionist, known for tricking enemies and messing with their minds for his own gain is now on the receiving end of his own games. Not only are they revisiting Jace’s emotionally abusive and manipulative relationship with the Planeswalker Liliana, but the madness of Innistrad has also taken hold. Through a series of hallucinations, Jace’s own mind has turned against him, leaving him to guess at what’s real. Seeing Mr. calm, cool and collected struggle with his own unraveling sanity while collecting pieces of a vast, inter-dimensional puzzle has breathed life and interest into a character I long thought overused and boring. If I’ve revived your interest in Jace, you’ll want to check out chapters 3, 5, 6, and 8.
Planeswalker vs. Planeswalker:
Now we’ll move on to one of my favorite Magic characters, Sorin Markov. To understand his part in the story however, we’ll have to review the impact he’s had on Innistrad. Sorin’s father became Innistrad’s first ever vampire and when the vampires his father created eventually grew so ravenous and out of control they were going to wipe out all of humanity, Sorin stepped in and created the Archangel Avacyn to protect humanity (and by extension the vampires’ only food source). His actions angered the Markov family, and he was exiled from Innistrad, from his home and family. From there, he teamed up with Ugin and Nahiri to trap the three Eldrazi titans on Zendikar.
Well, we all know how that last part worked out; but how does one of the oldest and most powerful beings in the multiverse get challenged in the story in a way that’s interesting to read? The answer is to turn his own creations and closest ally against him.
If you’re a fan of more traditional Tolkein-esque fantasy (armies of fantasy creatures fighting for the fate of the world, heroes struggling with the consequences of their actions, friends turned enemies and vice versa) then Sorin and Avacyn’s stories will be more up your alley. The story has always hinted at Nahiri and Sorin being more than friends, but no matter what they are, she knows his strengths and weaknesses and how to twist the proverbial knife just right to cause him agony and suffering. She’s enraged by the damage the Eldrazi have done to her home of Zendikar and she wants Sorin to feel the same pain. As the only one who can really challenge Sorin, she’s shown she means business by destroying his ancestral home and turning his own creation, Avacyn, against those she was meant to protect.
While Sorin may have been exiled from Markov Manor long ago, seeing it ruined and his family massacred as well as all his hard work being undone has angered him to the point where he seeks help from Olivia, the only uncorrupted angel left in Innistrad, and her allies.
Nahiri isn’t just sitting still, however. As Sorin builds his army to take her on, Nahiri seems to be forging one of her own based on clues from the cards.
So Where Does it All Lead:
In my opinion, the story seems to be building up to an epic confrontation between Sorin and Nahiri’s armies. A good, old fashioned, medieval battle waged at the Drownyard Temple, the source of Nahiri’s plan and the madness spreading across the plane.
What exactly Nahiri is doing has yet to be officially shown, but it is heavily implied she is luring the last Eldrazi titan yet to appear-Emrakul, the titan of corruption.
In the meantime, Jace’s purpose in coming to Innistrad in the first place was to find Sorin to help combat the Eldrazi. According to the art work seen on the mat won by players at Game Day last weekend, he succeeds in finding Sorin as well as another surprise:
That scene, Sorin having to destroy his once beautiful creation Avacyn, has yet to be addressed, but is definitely confirmed by the cards.
Easily one of the best flavor texts this set. Whether Jace will help Sorin in his fight against Nahiri or summon the other members of the Gatewatch has yet to be seen. Another easter egg hidden in the art above is also the reemergence of the Planeswalker Tamiyo. So far, Jace has been following clues from Tamiyo’s journal as to what’s happening on Innistrad, but apparently they meet up at some point. What Tamiyo’s ultimate motives are is a mystery, but this all but confirms a new Planeswalker card for her in the next set.
That’s all the speculation I have for now. Where do you think the story is headed? What do you think the climax will be? Do you have any theories of your own? Let me know, I’d love to hear them! Thanks for reading, see you next week!