Welcome to Shandalar

Posted in Arcana on July 16, 2014

By Blake Rasmussen

Blake is the content manager for DailyMTG.com, 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.

Magic 2015 is something of a greatest hits compilation of planes recently visited. There's Theros, Ravnica, Innistrad, Zendikar, and even New Phyrexia. All five of the planes that have highlighted Magic's universe over the past several years make an appearance.

And Shandalar.

Shandalar?

Shandalar.

Here's what the M15 Player's Guide has to say about Shandalar:

Unlike other planes, Shandalar does not have a fixed location in the Multiverse: it forever drifts through the Blind Eternities, the space between the planes. Abnormally mana-rich, Shandalar is a place where magic flows freely, from the wilds of Kalonia and the kingdom of Thune to the shadows of Xathrid, the peak of Valkas, and the remote Evos Isle. It was once home to the Onakke, an ogre civilization adept at using the plane's abundant mana to craft artifacts of terrible power. Now the inhabitants of this unusual plane must combat the growing hive mind of the slivers, an ever-evolving race that threatens to consume their world.

To the oldest of old-school gamers, Shandalar evokes the first Magic computer game, one published by MicroProse in 1997. The game, simply called Magic: The Gathering, was set on Shandalar and was, for a time, the only peek into that world. It was similar in tone to early Magic's "default" setting of Dominaria, with its own locations and conflicts, but it never showed up on cards.

But as Magic has expanded across the Multiverse, the creative team took some time to flesh out Shandalar when it became clear that there was a need for an approachable setting that could host Magic's fantasy staples: elves, goblins, dragons, angels, and so on. Dominaria had developed its own distinct post-apocalyptic look, so Shandalar stepped into the spotlight as the setting for a number of "baseline fantasy" core-set cards, including Xathrid Demon; Talrand, Sky Summoner; Archangel of Thune; and Kalonian Twingrove. It's also picked up some added story significance as the home of the long-dead Onakke civilization, creators of The Chain Veil that cursed Garruk, Apex Predator and threatens to consume Liliana Vess.

So we took a journey through the Multiverse—the super-secret Wizards database, not the multitude of planes—to figure out what creatures you might see on a safari while traveling through Shandalar.

Soul of Shandalar | Art by Raymond Swanland

And why not take a trip through Shandalar? It's a fantastic world, full of Paragons of several virtues, assassins that strike from the dark, the cruelest of sadists, and inventive aeronauts.

Wildlife is prevalent—and dangerous—on Shandalar, and beasts of all shapes and sizes roam the land, including symbiotic hydras, squid horrors, and, yes, flying fish.

But the more civilized denizens of Shandalar don't make life much easier, either. Massive, wall-smashing constructs roam the land here, as they do in many other planes, as do goblins who rouse rabble, salamander wizards who always seem to find the right path, and majestic sphinxes ready with a riddle.

We might just revisit the plane later on to check out the spells and the kinds of Magic that are common (or uncommon) there, but with the look that Altac Bloodseeker is giving me, it seems best to save that trip for another time.

Welcome to Shandalar!

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