A Vorthos Guide to Kaladesh Block: The Story in the Cards
Hello, Magic readers! Greetings, Vorthos!
No doubt you are enjoying the new Modern Masters 2017 set, but soon it will be time to dive into the new world of Amonkhet. That’s right, Nicol Bolas is up to his usual schemes and it’s up to the Avengers- I mean, it’s up to the Gatewatch to stop him.
There has definitely been a shift in the way MTG sets are constructed these days, with a huge focus being put on not just hinting at, but explicitly stating the story through various cards in the set. This has recently become a point of contention in the Magic community (with Reddit threads popping up about it even as I was in the process of writing this article), and can lead to some… shall we say, interesting games of Magic that are sure to cause every Vorthos within a small radius raise their hand and yell, “Flavor judge!”
I miss magic spells that aren't called "Tactical Defense", and wizards, and fantasy, and crystal balls, and elves that live in the woods. pic.twitter.com/QGMGSb8Wjl
— Tolarian Community (@TolarianCollege) January 18, 2017
Would be nice. Maybe if we just has spells that sounded like SPELLS instead of casting "Strategic Retreat" or "Jace Sits Down"
— Tolarian Community (@TolarianCollege) January 18, 2017
For many years, Wizards of the Coast has provided us with clues as to the storyline of each Magic: The Gathering set, if we’re clever enough to put the pieces together. These days, with the addition of “Story Spotlight” cards, every set is jam-packed with so much story, it can become quite overwhelming to piece together.
This week, I endeavour to do just that, and present to you a guide to the story of Kaladesh block, through the cards themselves.
Sure, we can read about the full stories as they are published on the WotC mothership, but what if we gleaned the majority of the story based solely on information provided on the cards themselves (and the occasional trip to the MTG Wiki)? During the course of this article, I will utilise cards from Magic Origins, Kaladesh, and Aether Revolt to tell the story of the plane of Kaladesh and the Gatewatch’s battle with Tezzeret. Primarily, the sets will be presented chronologically, but for the purposes of telling the story in as accurate a manner as possible, some cards have been shifted around (such as various Foundry related cards across all three sets being grouped together at the beginning).
Surely we can piece it all together fairly easily, right? (Cue the collective groans of the Vorthos community.)
So, sit back and enjoy the ride as we dive into the saga of Chandra Nalaar, inventors, fighting, revenge, automatons, gremlins, chases, escapes, friendship, and Impeccable Timing…
Magic Origins: Setting the Stage
The majority of this story takes place on the plane of Kaladesh, in a city called Ghirapur.
Kaladesh is a plane of inventors, a place where its carefree inhabitants…
Ghirapur’s is a society driven by curiosity and the need to invent the next big thing. Artificers fill the sky with Thopters, and members of high society are accompanied by automatonic escort.
The Consulate, who rule over this society, have set up a fully automated factory of constructs known as the Foundry. The Foundry’s primary export is a network of Thopter spies, which is purely for its citizen’s protection.
Among the artificers of Ghirapur, a lovely couple named Pia and Kiran Nalaar who clearly will go on to have a long, illustrious future together become the proud parents of a girl named Chandra. Chandra doesn’t get along well with others, and has a strange habit of making fire come out of her hands. Apparently, this is illegal in Kaladesh and Chandra is eventually pursued by the authorities. Chandra stumbles across the Foundry and, as any of us would have done such a situation, she burns it to the ground.
In order to protect their misunderstood pyro, Pia and Kiran move to a village outside Ghirapur. Unfortunately, they are tracked down by Dhiren Baral, an officer of the Consulate, and he does what any of us would have, burn down the village and kill everyone. Chandra is arrested, given a short trial, and sentenced to execution for the crime of making fire. At her moment of reckoning, Chandra’s planeswalker spark ignites and she teleports to a faraway fire world where she is taught the fiery ways of fire by fire monks.
Kaladesh: You Can’t Go Home Again
Fast forward to the present, where Chandra is still an ill-tempered pyromancer but plot twist, she’s a grown adult now.
In the opening set of the Kaladesh block, we get a glimpse at two members of the Consulate: Kimbal and Padeem. In addition to the Consulate’s constant surveillance and strict laws, they also have a flagship at their disposal to keep everyone in line.
The Consulate employs guards and automatons to keep the peace. Dwarves comprise the majority of the peacekeeping force in Kaladesh, though sometimes the robots are called in.
As we return to the story of Kaladesh some years later, we see that the Inventors’ Fair has begun! What’s the Inventors’ Fair, you ask? The Herald of the Fair will be all too happy to give you a tour during the Commencement of Festivities. The head inspector of the fair is a vedalken named Dovin Baan, and inventors travel from far and wide to gain his favour.
Through certain cards in the Kaladesh set, we get a glimpse at the aspiring inventors in attendance.
Not everyone likes playing by the rules, though, and sometimes accidents happen. The Consulate has a designated emergency response team of, you guessed it, dwarves. Because dwarves are awesome.
Who is behind these accidents at the fair? Some such incidents are brought about by the mysterious denizens of Kaladesh known as Aetherborn, who occasionally sponsor inventors at the fair. While little is known of the Aetherborn through the cards themselves, we do know they are the organisers of the “night markets”, which move locations from night to night.
The Aetherborn have a gift for artifact creation, like most inhabitants in Kaladesh. Gonti and his network of kingpins and traffickers rule the criminal underground.
Aetherborn assassinations aren’t the only accidents that plague the Inventors’ Fair, however. Kaladesh also has a rodent problem in the form of artifact-hungry gremlins. In fact, this year they are invading the fairgrounds looking for inventions to eat.
The architect of the Aether Hub, a dwarf named Sram, has had about enough of these meddling gremlins and gives the order to fumigate the gremlin population. Oddly enough, the card Fumigate doesn’t just kill gremlins, but a little Collateral damage never hurt anyone.
In addition to watching inventors wow the crowd with their gadgets and robots, crowds flock each year to watch the big race. All manner of vehicles are brought by aspiring daredevils hoping to bring home the prize.
Dwarves and humans are the most represented races at the speedway and feel most at home when piloting a vehicle.
Not all inventors in Kaladesh focus their efforts solely on winning a prize at the fair. Rashmi is a powerful inventor on the verge of an important discovery – a gateway to the other worlds in the multiverse.
Rashmi is a follower of the Great Conduit, which is not explained in detail in the cards themselves but essentially amounts to a nature- and aether-based religious philosophy akin to feng shui. Though the inventors of Ghirapur are provided by the Consulate with aether with which to power their creations, aether abounds freely in the untamed wilds of Kaladesh.
Rashmi shares her findings and her multiverse theory to Saheeli Rai, fellow inventor and planeswalker. Saheeli fears the power of Rashmi’s newest invention and tattles on her friend by reporting it to the Consulate, but this doesn’t figure into the story until later, so we’ll move on.
For reasons, Chandra is returning to Kaladesh now! She is accompanied by her wai- I mean her friend, Nissa the racist elf. Nissa is immediately blown away by the strong presence of aether in Kaladesh.
It’s important to remind our readers that Chandra believes both of her parents are dead. She’s only half correct; Kiran is definitely dead, but Pia Nalaar has been leading a rebellion against the Consulate and recruiting inventors to her cause.
Liliana accompanies Chandra so she can be a bad influence, but before they can get into too much trouble, Chandra runs into her mom. Also, Tezzeret is there, and he’s the Head Judge of the Inventors’ Fair, and he’s totally a bad guy after all.
Baral lets out an evil laugh, because he’s also a bad guy. You may recall Baral is the bad guy who killed Chandra’s dad and burned down their village. His face was badly burned when Chandra’s planeswalker spark ignited, and he’s still pretty sore about it. Baral arrests Pia, and everyone sort of lets him do it.
After Tezzeret and Baral leave with Pia, Chandra and Nissa try to rescue her and fall right into Baral’s bad guy trap. Impeccably and conveniently, a giant cat shows up and rescues them so Ajani can be in Standard.
Meanwhile, at the Fair, Tezzeret has forced Pia Nalaar into a showdown that amounts to Pia cobbling together Servos and Tezzeret using his planeswalker powers to create huge constructs.
Fortunately for Pia, Chandra shows up to save her. Fortunately for Chandra, the rest of the Av- the rest of the Gatewatch shows up to save both of them. Even Jace and Gideon are here now, and Tezzeret is forced to run away and hide.
The day is won for the Gatewatch, or so it would seem…
Aether Revolt: Let’s Be Bad Guys
Unfortunately, as a result of this turn of events, Tezzeret uses his authority to confiscate all the inventions from the Fair so he can use them to beat the Gatewatch. The Consulate is still convinced the rebels are the real threat and crack down on the populace.
The Foundry goes into overdrive and cranks out automatons to enforce the peace, and the dwarven peacekeepers are out in force.
The Consulate Crackdown has put the citizens of Ghirapur on edge, and many are starting to join the rebellion. Chandra joins the cause, and the rebellion forces construct their own airship navy to battle the Consulate’s dreadnaughts. Also, something happens with Dovin Baan on the Heart of Kiran and Chandra uses fire to stop him.
More than ever, the everyday citizens of Ghirapur have joined the cause: humans, dwarves, and even the short-lived Aetherborn.
The rebellion also has the support of the followers of the Great Conduit. Look, a giant hydra!
A teenager named Kari Zev joins the rebellion with her fleet of airships, and they kick many soldiers.
The speedway daredevils are rightfully upset about the Consulate’s confiscation, and gladly lend their vehicles to the cause.
Each inventor who joins the cause lends their unique abilities to the revolution: some subtle, some less so. Pictured below: a construct from Tezzeret’s Metallurgic Summonings meets a blunt end.
Ever the resourceful bunch, the rebels also employ the clever use of gremlins to fight the Consulate automatons.
The Gatewatch is also helping.
The Gatewatch have befriended an Aetherborn named Yahenni. The Aetherborn are mobilising to fight the Consulate, but Gonti has his own plans.
With only so many cards left in the set to show bad guy stuff, Baral returns after his Disappearing Act and faces off with Chandra. He comes close to defeating them by exploiting Chandra’s psychological weaknesses and countering her fire magic.
Nissa helps defeat Baral and he is arrested by Dovin Baan, who hears him admit to murdering Kiran Nalaar.
Meanwhile, Liliana realizes that Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas is the real threat. After Liliana defeats Tezzeret, she learns that Nicol Bolas is on Amonkhet and is up to no good. Tezzeret escapes, and the Gatewatch is left to come up with a plan.
After Tezzeret’s disappearance, the rebels defeat the Consulate and make their own Consulate, with blackjack and thopters. Pia Nalaar takes Kambal’s place and becomes the new Consul of Allocation, while Padeem retains her position as Consul of Innovation. Chandra blows up a building and falls asleep in Nissa’s lap. It was a good day.
All is well in Kaladesh… for now.
Community Question: What is your favourite artwork from Kaladesh block?
Thanks for reading,