Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Duelist #23-26 (Stronghold)

The Duelist seems to have found a format that it likes. Storyboard putting all the cards in the correct order? Check! Dominian Chronicles functioning as a de facto Planeswalkers Guide? Check! Dominian FAQ? They even managed to keep the name the same this time!

The main story of course continues in the cards, ordered and summarized here in the Storyboard.

Well, what can I say? The story is still pretty good. If you have been following the story in The Duelist from the get go I think it even manages to get across the emotion in certain scenes. It's hard for me to gauge, since I knew all the twists of the story going in, but if for months you've been hearing about Crovax and Starke looking for Selenia and Takara respectively, and then suddenly Crovax is forced to slay Selenia and Starke is blinded by his own daughter... those are some scary developments! I think there would've been a lot of sad Crovax fan art, had Tumblr existed back in the day!

That said, the complaints about the format I made in last review still apply. If you're collecting the cards and have one on which Sisay is mindcontrolled into fighting Gerrard, and another in which a shapeshifter impersonated Sisay, how do you know which comes first? Heck, how do you even know they are separate scenes? You really need this storyboard to make sense of it. It does an admirable job with that, but I still prefer the actual novelization.

Again, these articles also appeared on The Duelist Online and have been saved from internet oblivion by MORT over at MTGSally (Here and here). Having described the plane itself in the Tempest issues, the Stronghold issues obviously deal with the inside of Volrath's Stronghold. Some notes:
  • Here it is mentioned that the Slivers and Licids were probably created or mutated by Volrath, and it is said that Volrath has a personal planar portal, although it is unclear whether this portal can go to anyplace other than Dominaria. Combined with the fact that there is again only mention of creature being taken from Dominaria, this seems to reinforce the idea that Rath's inhabitants all came from there. Again though, it is not stated explicitly anywhere, so the Zendikari Kor are fine.
  • We are given an explanation about Flowstone, which says it is made of "nano-machines". Since I started getting into the story around this time I've always accepted this, but looking back this does seem to be a step in a direction that is perhaps a bit too sci-fi. There were certainly some people, like Jeff Lee, who didn't like it. Perhaps it would've been better to just say it's a magical rock and be done with it.
  • A very small detail that I like is that the cables seen pointing to the map on Invasion Plans are made from the same stuff as Greven il-Vec's implanted spine. That's a nice bit of Phyrexian body horror, using the same things you use for your machines as implants in your warriors.
Speaking of which, with this card the map we've been seeing on the top of the Dominian FAQ articles makes it into the game itself! It doesn't get more canon than that. As a result I've always had a soft spot fort this -otherwise pretty meh- card.

Dominian FAQ stretches its legs a little in these issues, talking about writing flavor text and making some humorous replies. With issue 25 it even gets a full pages for itself! That issues also gives us a bunch of good lore bits, including the fact that the Tamigazin wizards are descendant from the School of the Unseen, and that Segovia is a miniature plane. It also starts teasing a possible Magic RPG that I am very sad never got made.


  • We get another peek at cool things to come, as issue 26 contains an advertisement for the Brothers' War novel!
  • Phil and Dixie continue to weird me out by having Krosp interact with the Weatherlight crew and even having him hook up with Mirri!
  • Starting with these issues the advertisements get really bizarre. I mean, look at this:
  • ...creepy much, Yahoo? Hrm, maybe it was the early days on the internet when that sort of stuff didn't have any weird connotations yet.
  • ...Oh come on. And then there is this next one...
  • They really thought that was a good way to promote things to geeks?! There's a bunch more advertisements like that in upcoming issues, which really seem to embrace the stereotype of nerds as male weirdos without girlfriends. Very baffling to see such portrayals in a magazine like The Duelist.
  • Nah, if you want to promote stuff to me, go with an add showing King Kong swinging around Skyship Predator!

Eh, yeah, short article this week. Not all that much new stuff to comment on here. But don't worry, next time I've got something cool for you all. Sisay's Quest wraps up in issue issue 25, so now it's time to take a look at how Sisay met Tahngarth! And after that we've only got one more week of The Duelist issues before it's time to cover the comics and novels you were probably actually expecting when I said I'd begin covering the Weatherlight Saga!


  1. The suggestion of a Sliver that grants "Bands with other Slivers" is interesting considering Banding was on it's way out at that time, and "Bands with other" hadn't been seen since The Dark.

    1. Correction, "Bands with other" was last in Legends, not The Dark.

  2. King Kong swinging the Predator left and right? And I thought that Pacific Rim was cool! :D

    Not bothered too much by the nanomachine explanation, honestly. The could have used another word or expression, though—like a "synthetic elemental" or "machine spirits".

  3. I might be out of line, but here we go: you are clearly using scans of The Duelist to write your reviews. I've been looking for scans of The Duelist (and Topdeck) several times in the past three years and i've always came up empty-handed. So i was wondering, once your serie of articles on the magazines has ended, would there be any chance that you'd share your scans with the public?

    1. I'm working of actual issues of The Duelist, and scanning them myself. I'd love to be a Good Guy Squirle and just scan the whole collection for everyone to enjoy, but I am rather short on time, having just started a new blog. On top of that I don't have my own scanner, so scanning the whole lot would require a lot of the nice people lending me the use of the scanner. Finally a large part of the collection is actually also borrowed from a friend, who will want them back at some point.
      So... maybe I can work something out sometime in the future, but I can't make any promises at this point.

  4. Ah well, i had to try. Thanks for taking the time to answer.
    And since i have you here, thank you for the work you do: i've read every comic and every novel related to magic, and i though i knew everything there was to know about the lore of the game. Seeing you cover every short story, every merchandise and even some unpublished story document was a blast, and your efforts to consolidate the timeline into a cohesive whole is invaluable.

  5. Huh. You know, that really DOES look like Gerrard on Eye For An Eye. Granted, the timeline is off by thousands of years, but that's still something neat to think of - maybe at some point, the "market where everything is for sale" was intended to be on Rabiah!