The Many Looks of Ob Nixilis

Posted in Arcana on September 9, 2015

By Blake Rasmussen

Blake is the content manager for, making him the one you should email if you have thoughts on the website, good or less good (or not good). He's a longtime coverage reporter and hasn't turned down a game of Magic in any format ever.

One of the coolest cards to come out of previews so far is Ob Nixilis Reignited. And I don't mean "cool" as in powerful or that it'll see Standard play—although both are probably true—I mean cool in that it builds on a story that's been happening on the periphery for years now.

Ob Nixilis, as you might know, has had many forms over the years, and if you've played Magic Duels in the past, you might have even played out some of his story. But what's really cool is that you can now play decks that include his entire transformative process, from human Planeswalker, to de-winged Demon, all the way to terrifying Demon Planeswalker!


Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath | Art by Daarken

Color: Black
Location: Creepy setting
Action: This is a Planeswalker, one of Magic's iconic, world-traveling mage characters. Ob Nixilis is a black-aligned Planeswalker who eventually gets transformed into a Demon. This card represents him as a Human before becoming a Demon. Ob Nixilis stands over six feet tall and is broad across the chest. He is clad in black armor that parallels his torso in Demon form. He is bald. He has sunken but intense eyes, and he has the look of a person who has seen some seriously dark stuff. Or perhaps he looks like a sort of black-magic addict. Your choice. Under one arm, he holds a helm that is fashioned with the same horn pattern he will have as a Demon. Ob Nixilis stands in front of a bloodstained altar.
Focus: The Planeswalker
Mood: Power granted by Demons is still power.

This was the most recent version of Ob Nixilis we'd seen prior to Battle for Zendikar, but, chronologically, it's his earliest known form. Prior to the Demon we've come to associate with Zendikar, Ob Nixilis was a full-fledged Planeswalker of the Human variety—and a pretty terrifying one at that.

Demon, Minus the Wings

Ob Nixilis, the Fallen | Art by Jason Felix

Color: Black creature
Location: Swamp environment
Action: This is a unique, nonflying Demon character (see bio below). The creeping roots of his swamp surroundings have wound around him and have actually grown under his skin, giving him a veiny, tattooed appearance. Show him brooding with hate and malice, a badass Demon lord (again, no wings). He's not from this world, so keep his design different from the Demon in the style guide.
Bio: Ob Nixilis is a cruel Demon who was once a Planeswalker. He was tempted by the powerful mana of this world, but the world fought back, fracturing part of his soul and leaving him stranded on the plane. Now, bitter and spiteful, he schemes for a way to restore his power and escape the plane.
Focus: The Demon
Mood: He won't hesitate to destroy anything that doesn't help him escape this world.

The first version of Ob Nixilis printed was when he was at, essentially, his "lowest" (though being a terrifying Demon is hardly a low point). Stripped of his ability to planeswalk and with his wings clipped, Ob Nixilis was stuck firmly on Zendikar.

Now with Wings

Ob Nixilis, Unshackled | Art by Karl Kopinski

Setting: Zendikar
Color: Black legendary creature
Location: Guul Draz, Zendikar
Action: Show the Demon Ob Nixilis. He is in his 2.0 state, which means he is more powerful, has wings, and no longer has the hedron-shaped cross in his forehead. He looks at us like a starving tiger would look at a helpless fawn.
Focus: Ob Nixilis
Mood: Epic. The badass of all Demons.

The story of how Ob Nixilis had his hedron removed was part of last year's Duels of the Planeswalkers story. At this point, he's got his wings but he still lacks the ability to planeswalk.

Reignited and It Feels So Good

Ob Nixilis, Reignited | Art by Chris Rahn

Setting: Zendikar
Color: Black planeswalker
Location: Your choice
Action: This is the glamour shot of the winged Demon Planeswalker Ob Nixilis. He's standing on top of a floating hedron, reveling in a moment of triumph.
Focus: Ob Nixilis
Mood: Evil, sadistic, dangerous.
Background: Ob Nixilis spent millennia robbed of his ability to planeswalk and trapped on Zendikar. He has just regained his planeswalker spark by REDACTED.

Which brings us to today and the planeswalking Demon you see before you. How did Ob Nixilis regain his spark? Stay tuned to find out!

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