Soldiers of Fortune

Posted in Making Magic on May 26, 2003

By Mark Rosewater

Working in R&D since '95, Mark became Magic head designer in '03. His hobbies: spending time with family, writing about Magic in all mediums, and creating short bios.
Soldier Token

Welcome to Soldier Week. This week we'll be tipping our hat to the army of fighters that have proliferated throughout the game. While doing research for this column (yes, I actually do research), I realized that there were a lot of interesting little tidbits. This set off Trivia Mark.

Who is Trivia Mark you ask? Well, I'm sort of R&D's answer to Sybil. Tucked inside my head are a variety of different personalities. This might explain how my column goes from goofy goblin jokes one week to deep insight in some philosophy of the game. Anyway, Trivia Mark is the part of me that's fascinating by all the interesting little tidbits of the game. Trivia Mark runs a daily trivia column over on the Sideboard called "Question Mark". He also does live trivia game shows at every Pro Tour.

Trivia Mark brought it to my attention that in the sixteen months that "Making Magic" has been around (yeah, it's really been sixteen months), I've never let him have a column. I felt it was only fair, so I'm turning this column over to Trivia Mark. Please remember to check the answers even if you don't know them (that's where the article will be secretly snuck in). With that said, take it away Trivia Mark.

Hello everyone. It's time to test how much you know about soldiers. After each question is the answer for that question, hidden from view. Click the words "See answer" to see it. Click "Hide answer" if you feel like making it disappear again. Please read each answer before progressing onto the next question. I hope you have fun.

One last thing. The point of this quiz is for you to answer the questions without the aid of anything else. Okay, if someone else is in the room, I guess you can ask them, but no looking up databases online or anything. You're on your honor.

(Note: This article uses technology that may not work in all web browsers. If the answers do not appear for you, you can go here to see the static version with all the answers revealed.)

The Quiz

1) What was the first expansion to have a Soldier in it?

Icatian Javelineers

Fallen Empires. The set was all about a series of conflicts. Thus, it had numerous Soldiers. The most important contribution though was that Soldiers were one of the key races for white. This was the beginning of a long history between white and Soldiers.

The reason I started with this question was I wanted to point out how some staples of Magic don't go all the way back to the beginning. That said, I should point out that the basic concept of the soldier did go back to Alpha. Except there it was called a Knight and there were just two cards that reflected one another. The reason Knight didn't become the key creature type was that it was a little too limiting. People have a very specific thought of what a knight looks like and it wasn't the kind of concept that you could put on too many cards. But R&D likes the Knight enough that we haven't rolled it into Soldier.

2) How many colors have had Soldiers?

All five. So how'd that happen? The answer lies in the fact that Soldiers are not a race but a class. Races are things like Elf, Goblin or Human. Classes are roles such as Cleric, Wizard, or Soldier. Any race pretty much can be mixed with any class. This is why Soldiers have spread out over time over all the colors. Not equally mind you, but hey that's the next question.

3) Rank the colors in order from the most Soldiers to the least. (Based on their number in Type I tournament legal expansions.)

White (by a long shot), blue, red, green, black. This answer surprised me a little when I first saw it. Obviously, white is number one. Blue was near last place until the Aven showed up in Odyssey. But a flock of "Bird Soldiers" pushed it up to number two. Red, as the other color of war, comes in at number three. In recent years though we've moved away from red Soldiers as we feel Soldiers implies a sense of order that red doesn't have. Now green beating black was a true surprise. It's only by a few cards, but I just don't associate green with Soldiers. Black's "Soldiers" tend to be Zombies more often than not, thus its role in last place.

4) What was the first card to have the word "Soldier(s)" in its title? (Hint: It's before Fallen Empires.)

Yotian Soldier

Yotian Soldier (in Antiquities). The funny thing is that if we printed him today, he would probably be a Soldier, but back then we were very gun shy about giving creature types to artifact creatures.

5) Following this trend of non-Soldier "soldiers", can you name a blue card with "soldier(s)" in its title that is not a Soldier?

Vodalian Soldiers (from Fallen Empires). They were Merfolk. Once again under today's creature type philosophy, we probably make them Merfolk Soldiers. Starting with Odyssey, we've been much more aggressive about using multiple creature types. (And as Mirrodin will demonstrate, this isn't about to change anytime soon.)

6) How about green? What non-Soldier does it have with "Soldier" in the name?

Spike Soldier (from Stronghold). It's a Spike. My gut is that today it wouldn't be concepted as a Soldier. The Spikes are a little too unstructured a race to have Soldiers.

7) How about red? Red has two non-Soldier "Soldiers". Name them.

Soldier of Fortune

Dwarven Soldier (from Fallen Empires) and Soldier of Fortune (from Alliances). The Dwarf Soldier is obviously a Dwarf while the Soldier of Fortune is a Mercenary. Really. When we made the Mercenary mechanic in Mercadian Masques, this is one of the cards we flagged as a previous Mercenary (along with Rogue Skycaptain). The Dwarf Soldier today would be a Dwarf Soldier. The Soldier of Fortune would either just be a Soldier or possibly a Mercenary Soldier.

Also, for future trivia sake, I want to point of that Soldier of Fortune was one of the few cards I designed in the first set I ever worked on after I started at Wizards.

8) There have been numerous Soldiers with numerous abilities. Four of the most common keyword abilities are banding, first strike, flying, and protection. Can you put the abilities in order based on how many Soldiers they've appeared on from most to least. (And yes, I'm counting creatures that can activate to give themselves the ability or conditionally can have the ability.)

The order is: flying (39), first strike (19), banding (10), protection (8). For those that want to see them all (which includes everyone but the guy here that has to code each name [Thank goodness for macros - Doug B.]), here you go.

Flying (39): Aerial Caravan, Ascending Aven, Aven Archer, Aven Brigadier, Aven Cloudchaser, Aven Envoy, Aven Farseer, Aven Fisher, Aven Flock, Aven Liberator, Aven Smokeweaver, Aven Trooper, Aven Warhawk, Aven Windreader, Balshan Collaborator, Battlewise Aven, Cloudreach Cavalry, Coast Watcher, Commander Eesha, Dive Bomber, Dragonstalker, Gustcloak Harrier, Gustcloak Savior, Gustcloak Skirmisher, Helionaut, Keeneye Aven, Kjeldoran Skycaptain, Kjeldoran Skyknight, Lieutenant Kirtar, Major Teroh, Phantom Flock, Possessed Aven, Saprazzan Legate, Shoreline Ranger, Skywing Aven, Soulcatcher, Swooping Talon,Treetop Sentinel, Wingbeat Warrior

First strike (19): Advance Scout, Battlewise Aven, Daru Cavalier, Daru Lancer, Enlistment Officer, Fault Rider, Ication Infantry, Ication Scout, Kjeldoran Phalanx, Kjeldoran Skycaptain, Kjeldoran Skyknight, Longbow Archer, Lowland Tracker, Master of Arms, Ranger en-Vec, Renegade Warlord, Sandstone Warrior, Serra Zealot, Wingbeat Warrior

Banding (10): Benalish Infantry, Ication Infantry, Ication Phalanx, Ication Skirmishers, Kjeldoran Escort, Kjeldoran Phalanx, Kjeldoran Skycaptain, Kjeldoran Skyknight,Shield Bearer, Volunteer Reserves.

Protection (8): Aven Liberator, Aven Smokeweaver, Cho-Arrim Legate, Coast Watcher, Commander Eesha, Dragonstalker, Scalebane's Elite, Treetop Sentinel

Flying being first is no real surprise. White is the number two flying color. First strike beat out banding I believe only because we stopped doing banding five years ago. Most impressive is that despite that fact, banding still beat out protection. The major reason for this is that we tend to put protection on Clerics in white. The reason banding is so high is that it was very flavorful on Soldiers.

9) How about some of the lesser used keywords? Can you name the two Soldiers that have trample?

Gerrard's Irregulars (from Mercadian Masques) and Lancers en-Kor (from Stronghold). The reason the number is so small is that Soldiers are used primarily in white and white due to its smaller size seldom has trample.

10) Can you name the two Soldiers that have haste?

Gerrard's Irregulars

Gerrard's Irregulars (from Mercadian Masques) and Whip Sergeant (from Prophecy). If you missed the first one, shame on you. Once again, this keyword appears very little because it isn't used in white.

11) Can you name the one Soldier with regeneration?

Ranger en-Vec (from Tempest). Yeah, this is the guy I picked on in my "Design 101" column a month or so back. An interesting little extra bit of trivia. Originally the Ranger en-Vec was supposed to have regeneration and banding, but banding was cut as of Tempest, so we had to change the ability. (Hmm, maybe that's the excuse I can use.)

12) I talked about mono-colored Soldiers, but Ranger en-Vec brings up the existence of multi-color Soldiers. There are five total. What are the other four?

Goblin Legionnaire (Apocalypse), Putrid Warrior (Apocalypse), Scalebane's Elite (Visions), and Soltari Guerillas (Tempest). White/Red, White/Black, White/Green. Where's the White/Blue Soldier? Maybe I'll have to put that in the next set with gold cards.

13) Of all expansions every produced (and I mean all the expansions), which one has the most Soldiers?

Shu Foot Soldiers

Portal: Three Kingdoms. It has 41 Soldiers. I like to think of this as the "top down" expansion. Designed by Henry Stern this set took Portal and dressed it up in a classic Asian legend. As the story revolves around numerous armies, it made a lot of sense that it was filled to the brim with Soldiers.

14) Of the Type I tournament legal expansions, which one has the most Soldiers?

Onslaught. It had 19. This question shouldn't have been too tough as Onslaught was the first set that cared about "Soldiers" mechanically.

15) What expansion has Soldiers appearing all of five colors? As a clue, this expansion also happens to be the tournament legal set with the most Soldiers after Onslaught.

Good 'ol Tempest. It has 15 Soldiers. I'm not exactly sure why this is true. Let's chalk it up to my subconscious fondness for Soldiers. Here's how they shake out:

Yeah, yeah, green's Soldier is a multi-color card. Ain't I a sneak? I just didn't feel Ranger en-Vec has gotten enough focus in this column.

16) Can you name the set that only had two Soldiers, one blue and one green?

Mirage. The blue Soldier was Dream Fighter and the green one was Jungle Patrol.

17) Sixth Edition reprinted and functionally changed three cards by turning them into Soldiers. What are the cards? And what type were they all originally?

Longbow Archer

D'Avenant Archer (Legends), Longbow Archer (Visions), and Femeref Archers (Mirage). They were all originally archers. I put this question in because I wanted to point out that not every Soldier started a Soldier. When Sixth Edition came out, R&D condensed a number of creature types (still a topic heatedly debated around R&D) and archer was one of the casualties.

18) I've talked a lot about Soldiers. How about cards that affect Soldiers? Can you name the four cards in Onslaught that have the words "target Soldier" in their text box?

Daru Encampment, Grassland Crusader, Pearlspear Courier, and Piety Charm. For the anal out there among my readers (and I know you're out there, I read your mail), I know Grassland Crusader's text box reads "target Elf or Soldier" so the words "target" and "Soldier" are not technically next to each other. To quote the rules insert from the game Outburst (at least the early versions): "I make-a the game, I make-a the rules".

19) But wait there's more. What is the one card not in Onslaught (or even the whole Onslaught block) that has "target Soldier" in its rules text?

Icatian Lieutenant (from Fallen Empires). Are you getting the key parts of Soldier trivia: white, Ranger en-Vec and Fallen Empires.

20) Now we get to some trivia about random Soldiers. What Soldier shares its name with a giant?

Foriysian Brigade (Weatherlight). Because it was able to block an additional creature it was named after the Two-Headed Giant of Foriys (from Alpha) - soon to be an avatar at an online Magic game near you thanks to Bill Rose winning the Wizards Invitational. Foriys is a play on "four eyes", by the way. You see, the Two-headed Giant has two heads and thus four eyes. Yes, even Richard Garfield is capable of bad puns.

21) The look of Gerrard of the Weatherlight crew was based off the illustration of what Soldier?

Master of Arms

Master of Arms (from Weatherlight). You see, when we were commissioning Weatherlight art, we gave a bunch of artists the opportunity to try their hand at designing a few of the Weatherlight crew. Some experiments like Master of Arms worked out. Others like Steel Golem (which was originally Silver Golem as the art was going to be Karn, Silver Golem), not so much. (A little tribute for the eight other Firefly fans out there.)

22) What Soldier could never die in combat?

Dream Fighter (from Mirage). Come on, I just mentioned it eight questions back. Whenever it got in a fight it phased out itself and the creature it was fighting. Thus, it never died.

23) What Soldier has two abilities that are identical except the +'s in the first ability are -'s in the second?

Flailing Soldier (Mercadian Masques). ": Flailing Soldier gets +1/+1 until end of turn. Any player may play this ability. : Flailing Soldier gets -1/-1 until end of turn. Any player may play this ability."

24) What Soldier is a 1/1 when alone but a 2/1 when two of them are in play? (Hint: it's not a Sliver.)

Dauthi Warlord (from Tempest). It gets +1/+0 for every creature with shadow in play.

25) And let's end with an extra tough question. Besides Dream Fighter, what other Soldier is not destroyed when blocked by a Thicket Basilisk?

Mistform Ultimus

Mistform Ultimus (from Legions). As it's a wall in addition to a Soldier (and a Beeble and a Squirrel and a Chicken, etc.) it is immune to the Basilisk's special ability. Why did I include this question? Because since Legions, every trivia quiz must have at least one card whose answer is Mistform Ultimus. If you don't plan one, it will sneak its way into another answer.

Scoring

For those of you that need to grade yourselves, here you go:

Each question is worth 4 points.

90-100 - You're good! I'm talking "I'm a little skeptical, I think you might have cheated" good. But if you did this honestly (and those of you that did know who you are), good job. You are among the trivia elite. I salute you.

80-89 - Not bad. Hell, pretty damn good. You don't get a salute, but I will nod in your direction.

70-79 - Still pretty good. Remember this is C range in school and hey, C's are respectable (okay, not in my house growing up, but I hear there are many parents who get excited by C's.)

60-69 - Think of it this way. If you were taking this column pass/fail, you would have passed.

40-59 - No matter what anyone says, this isn't that bad. Sure, all the guys who did better will tease you, but deep in your heart, you know you're not really a trivia person. Hey, Magic trivia is hard. You did okay.

20-49 - You don't even get my pity speech. You suck.

1-19 - I admire the fact that you did this badly and managed to read it all the way to the end.

0 - Zero? You couldn't get one question right? A few of them were gimmees. I don't even think you were trying. Get out of my sight. I don't want to talk to you. Good day. I said, good day! (Yeah, I also like That 70's Show.)

I hope you all had some fun today. Join me next week when I explain why Magic has formats.

Until then, may you whisper "I knew that" to yourself when you hear the answer to a question.

Mark Rosewater

Mark may be reached at makingmagic@wizards.com.

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