A TL;DR intro to Magic: War of the Spark
Otherwise known as Magic: Avengers Endgame, War of the Spark is the culmination of many years and expansions in Wizard of the Coast’s card game.
Because it’s such a huge release, many people who are newcomers or returning after a long absence might have their interest piqued by the trailer (and also by the fact that Magic Arena is a great gateway.) However, because of how long Magic has been running, the lore might be pretty opaque to someone new to the game.
Fear not! After a hiatus of almost 20 years, I’ve also recently gotten sucked into the lore and game of Magic: The Gathering just in time for the final climactic battle, and I’m writing this for anyone else that might also be interested.
Nicol Bolas, one of the main big-bads in Magic the Gathering has been slowly amassing power over the pass few years and expansions. This is all an attempt to gain omnipotence. To do so, he needs the sparks of planeswalkers to channel an ultimate spell, and he’s thought of how to do so:
- Find a way to attract planeswalkers to a place. This beacon was invented in Ravnica, a huge city with guilds jockeying for power, and the current plane where the battle in War of the Spark takes place. Incidentally, I love the plane, because it reminds me so much of Eberron, one of my favourite role-playing settings.
- Find a way to trap planeswalkers to a plane. Planeswalkers are supremely powerful beings, and are able to cast spells and generally travel between planes. This dimensional anchor is known as the Immortal Sun, and was discovered and stolen from the plane of Ixalan, a cross between Monster Hunter, South American civilizations, and a Vampiric twist of the colonialization and pillaging of South America.
- Find a way to kill planeswalkers and take their sparks. A planeswalker spark is the essence that turns a person into a planeswalker. Most people either are born with it or not, but it doesn’t actually manifest until later in their life, and usually during some sort of moment of crisis or life-changing event. Think of this like a magical X-gene. The planeswalker spark generally stays with a person, but sometimes it can be transferred, and I suppose in War of the Spark, taken. It seems that the crazy zombie army seen in the trailer is what will be attacking and absorbing the sparks. The crazy zombie army was created in Amonkhet, a Egyptian-themed plane really into embalming. They are also being led by Liliana, a planeswalker that we will be discussing later.
- Find a way to bring the crazy zombie army en masse to kill the planswalkers. This planar bridge was invented on the plane of Kaladesh, a high magic/invention plane. It’s essentially Indian steampunk.
Over the past expansions and years, Nicol Bolas has managed to obtain the items needed to carry out his master plan. He is currently being opposed by the Gatewatch, a group of planeswalkers who try to protect the multiverse from huge threats. They’ve tried to beat Nicol Bolas back before, but was defeated and ran away. You can see why I would equate them with the Avengers, and this expansion with Avengers: Endgame.
Liliana, the zombie commander in the trailer, was a former Gatewatch member, but is now currently under the control of Nicol Bolas. However, by the looks of the trailer, it seems as if she’s had a change of heart and decided to send the zombie army against Nicol Bolas. It also looks like she’s suffering the fallout from her act of defiance.
Of course, we don’t know how War of the Spark is going to end yet. However, considering how long it’s taken to gather all the pieces for this final battle, and the fact that War of the Spark is the ‘planeswalker’ expansion, it’s going to be a pretty epic set from Wizards of the Coast.
War of the Spark will be released May 3 2019, with Pre-release and related events in 27-28 April 2019. More information (and some previewed cards) can be found on wizards’ related site.
Note: These are very very condensed Cliff Notes versions of lore that’s been developing for a very long time, and naturally might have some details missing or slightly incorrect. I’m making these decisions based on my (limited) knowledge and to aid newcomers or people that have not been caught up with Magic for years. That being said, feel free to discuss and add anything in the comments. Also, I will be sharing some of the reasons why I went back to Magic after such a long hiatus soon, so keep checking in if you’re interested!