Monday, 24 July 2017

InQuest Gamer #74 (june 2001)

A bit beat up, as 13 year old me wasn't that careful with his magazines. It's a wonder I still have it at all!
On this blog we've looked at all issues of The Duelist, and at all the (somewhat) relevant parts of Top Deck, but those were just two publications in a once thriving market of cardgame magazines. So far I've completely ignored the rest. Partially this is because I don't own many of those issues, and I don't really feel like collecting 131 issues of Scrye, 150 issues of InQuest and whatever else is out there without knowing which issues include lore stuff. But mostly it is because these are all third party publications. Often when they talk storyline it is just parroting things from the novels, and when they go beyond that the canonicity is often in doubt.

I wanted to highlight this problem by looking at this specific issue of InQuest. It contains a hype article for the then-imminent release of Apocalypse that became quite famous in storyline circles for containing the only clear picture of Yawgmoth and (for a long time) the only picture of Karn as a planeswalker. The article was written after consulting with a WotC employee, uses concept art that we also saw in the Apocalypse novel, and the description of cards not yet released at the time is spot on. So far, so canon, you'd say. But when we delve into the storyline tidbits we'll find a number of inconsistenties, making things difficult. But let's first just look at this article, so we know what we are talking about.


Sunday, 2 July 2017

www.MagicInvasion.com


In the final issues of The Duelist we were told that Wizards was moving its magazine fully online. The medium then got a little reprieve in the form of TopDeck, but the move really was inevitable, and with Invasion block we've finally reached the point where there is no longer an official Magic magazine in print. Third party publications like Scrye and Inquest held out a few more years, and over in France Lotus Noir is somehow still going, but for official Wizards of the Coast content we have to go online from this point on.

For us storyline folk this exciting new digital era actually had very little to offer. Magicthegathering.com was at the time little more than a list of product releases. In addition to that there was SideBoard, which catered to tournament players, but if you wanted storyline stuff, or behind the scenes R&D info, you were out of luck. In 2002, around the release of Torment, their website adopted its now-famous daily articles format, with the occasional Arcana or feature article on the storyline. Not until the tail end of Kamigawa block did we get a regular article on flavor stuff.

But that is not to say there was nothing for us at all during that time. We already seen that product pages sometimes contained little stories, like with Nemesis and Prophecy. And for Invasion block Wizards created a whole sub-site! It's very early 2000's, complete with flash animations, looping background music and downloadable wallpapers. But there actually is some interesting Vorthos stuff hidden in here. For starters the Kev Walkers comics we have been look at for Masques, Nemesis, Prophecy and Invasion continue here. More importantly, in addition to that this site also gives us the most complete maps of Dominaria we've ever been given!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Invasion cycle: the review


We are finally here people! This post contains my review of the Invasion cycle, but you might want to read the summaries of Invasion, Planeshift and Apocalypse first, if you have not already done so.

Initially I wanted to split this review into two parts, first talking about whether the Invasion cycle worked as a story, and then about whether it worked as a capstone to the Weatherlight Saga. But that division is not so easily made. The story is that it is the capstone of the Weatherlight Saga. If you are not already invested in that arc large parts of these books are just a random bunch of monsters attacking a random place with random people defending. There is some characterization here, some of it is even very good, but most of it is in broad strokes, or very short. Tahngarth’s apprehension towards meeting other minotaurs rings hollow if you are not already familiar with his attitude towards his mutations seen in Rath and Storm or Mercadian Masques. And Barrin’s suicide is set up mostly by his relationship to his daughter shown in A Timefor Remembrance and the death of his wife in Prophecy.

Still, there is something to say about the writing style that has nothing to do with the rest of the saga, and some continuity concerns that have little to do with the quality of the story. So I’ll start off talking about the story itself before moving on to continuity stuff. It will just be more of a gradual development than a clear divide.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Apocalypse


Writer - J. Robert King
Cover art - Brom
Interior art - Brian "Chippy" Dugan, Dana Knutson, Todd Lockwood, Anson Maddocks, R.K. Post, Mark Tedin & Anthony Waters.
First released in June 2001

SUMMARY
We open up on Gerrard and Urza kneeling in front of Yawgmoth in the Ninth Sphere, which has been formed into an arena. Yawgmoth tells the two to fight for their greatest desire: the resurrection of Hanna and the chance to study under Yawgmoth respectively. So they do. For almost half the book. Urza has a number of near-wins, but each time Yawgmoth comes up with a reason why it doesn't count. During the fight Gerrard learns to manipulate the flowstone all around him and eventually he manages to decapitate Urza. Yawgmoth then blesses Gerrard with a tenfold increase in strength, endurance, intelligence and will. But Gerrard had shaken off the command of Yawgmoth during the battle, and when it looks like Hanna comes forward to collect Urza's head, he strikes her with his halberd instead, correctly guessing that the Hanna-simulacrum would be where Yawgmoth hid his essence. Before he can follow it up with a killing blow Yawgmoth ejects him from Phyrexia, back to the Stronghold.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Planeshift


Writer - J. Robert King
Cover art - Brom
Back cover art - Donato Giancola
Interior art - Brian "Chippy" Dugan, Dana Knutson, Todd Lockwood, Anson Maddocks, R.K. Post, Mark Tedin & Anthony Waters.
First released in February 2001

SUMMARY
We pick up directly where the last book left. Everyone is still at Koilos as the Rathi Overlay starts dumping hordes upon hordes of invaders all around. The coalition army braces itself for the oncoming wave, but then the nine titans suddenly planeswalk away, transporting the troops to various positions across the globe. The Weatherlight and the metathran army end up on Urborg, where Crovax has set up shop (after eating Tsabo Tavoc for her failure). Eladamri and his half of the army are taken to Keld, where the Skyshroud forest has just materialized.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Invasion


Writer - J. Robert King
Cover art - Erik Peterson
Back cover art - Michael Sutfin
Interior art - Brian "Chippy" Dugan, Dana Knutson, Todd Lockwood, Anson Maddocks, R.K. Post, Mark Tedin & Anthony Waters.
First released in October 2000.

As mentioned in my previous post, I'm doing things a little differently for the Invasion cycle. Today I'll put up just the summary, trivia and continuity references for Invasion. Tomorrow you'll get the same for Planeshift, and next week for Apocalypse. Next week I'll also do a separate post with a review and continuity/timeline discussion for the entire trilogy.  They reason for this is that this trilogy is really just one big story, written by the same person. As such a regular review of Invasion wouldn't be able to go into a whole lot of plotlines that don't wrap up until later in the trilogy, while any comments on the writing style in the next two reviews would just go "Wel... what I said last time still counts".

SUMMARY
We open up on the Weatherlight desperately trying to get to Benalia, but their planeswalking is disrupted by three massive Phyrexian portals in the sky. Eventually they manage to close them by going through them to Rath and blowing the portal generation ships up from the other side. But when they finally land in Benalia City to warn the people there of the invasion they get chucked into jail for Gerrard's desertion, alongside a mysterious Blind Seer who was preaching doom at the Weatherlight's landing spot. Benalia is utterly Routed by the Phyrexian commander Tsabo Tavoc while the crew escapes. They head of to a prison colony and recruit the prisoners there for their crew, and face Tsabo again, as she had stowed away in the ship. Again they escape, but Hanna ends up infected by the Phyrexian plague.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Quick update!

Hi everyone!

As you probably noticed, things have been pretty quiet on the blog this month. What a tease I am, dropping of the map so close to the conclusion of the entire Weatherlight Saga! Don't worry, I have not lost interest in the project! The entire Invasion cycle has been read, and I've already got all my notes in order. All that remains for me to do is turning it from a pile of cliff notes into a text that's actually readable. It's just been a really busy month for me. I finished the last essay and presentation of my traineeship and am now a certified Record Manager (think archivist, but with computers and digital files instead of paper and filing cabinets) and I'm currently on a Prince2 management course. Oh and, you know, I've got my regular job in addition to all that. Which is eating into my Magic time as well. Oh, the joys of adult life...

In addition to that, I've also been delayed because I'm actually writing all three reviews of the Invasion cycle at the same time. Which brings me to the other thing I wanted to talk about: I'm going to use a slightly different format than usual for the Invasion cycle. You see, this cycle is, surprisingly enough, the first time we cover a trilogy that really is just one long story. We've done the Ice Age cycle a while ago, and Greensleeves a loooooooooooooong time ago, but in both cases it's more like one story with two sequels. Here though, the story just barrels on with only minor breathers between books. As such my reviews were ending up a bit skewed. In the Invasion review I was constantly saying "Well, I'd love to talk about this character/this plotline/etc, but let's see how things turn out in the next novels first", while in the Apocalypse one the phrase "what I said last time still applies" was used in overabundance. As that wouldn't make for the best reading, I decided that instead I'll first do three posts covering just the summary, trivia and continuity references of the individual books. Then I'll do a fourth post with the review, continuity problems and timeline sections.


So, that's why it's been very slow going here. But things are nearing completion (compleation?) now, so the Invasion and Planeshift summaries should be going up this weekend, with Apocalypse and the cycle-wide review following the week after that! Hope you will all forgive me for the delay and stick with me a little while longer!

If you are dying for some Magic storyline stuff, I've put up a post with a quick look at the Invasion promo comic that appeared in TopDeck. You can find it just below this one, or by following this link. And while I'm sure most of you will already have listened to it by now, I also want to plug the Magic Story Podcast that went up on the mothership a week ago. In it we got the reveal that the Mending happened 60 years prior to the current story, which for me was probably the biggest bombshell to come from the Magic storyline in years! Which might sound like I'm slamming the regular stories, but is really just showing my own idiosyncrasies. I had expected that after Future Sight I would have to break my timeline into two, one pre-Mending and one post-Mending, but this might just enable me to integrate the two! Obviously that's still a good long while away, but it's exciting to me nonetheless!

Thank you for still sticking with me, and hopefully I'll see you all this weekend for the new, proper, review!