Bust Out the Soap, It’s the Simic!

Posted in Feature on May 31, 2006

By Matt Cavotta

Matt has worn many wizard hats in the 18 years he has worked on Magic—art-mage, logomancer, lightning bard, and (of course) Planeswalker.

It is the ninth out of ten Ravnica block guild theme weeks. Back at the beginning, these theme week articles were pretty down and dirty with the basics of the guilds’ themes, attitudes, and characters. Now that we have had since September to experience the guilds in art, flavor text, novels, and game play, I just don’t feel like it’s necessary to rewind back to the basics. Instead, we’re going to have a little fun at the expense of the guild that, in my opinion, has the least fun of them all.

Okay, I think I should qualify that statement. First of all, I do not mean the guild is not fun to play with or look at or read about. In fact, it is quite entertaining to contemplate a Omnibian. Take that, Prince Charming. What I meant is that the folks in the guild are the ones having the least fun. The Simic Combine is all about progress and research and the odd bioluminescent lighting of the lab. If the Izzet are the zany geeks, the Simic are the lab rat nerds. They are the sort that would be talking Cytoplasm at “½-Off Day” at Hooters. Even the Azorius have more fun at parties than the Simic. At first I thought they would be the party-poopers, but now I think that they would be the ones preening for the ladies, shining up their armor just so, and polishing their rank insignias to impress (if the party hosts had filed all the proper paperwork, of course). The Izzet would be reconfiguring the keg tap to work in reverse, sucking the beverage out of the cups and rerouting it to their own secret bumbat dispenser. The Boros would be lighting everybody’s cigars at once, the Gruul would be crashing the place, and the Selesnya would be 95% of the guests, all hugging each other and singing songs. (We must assume that the Rakdos are not at this party – it would take a whole article to explain what they would be doing.) If the Simic are represented at all at this party, it’s one, maybe two (so they can talk to each other) Simic Initiates who managed to crawl back from the undersewers. If either of them musters the courage to actually talk to another guest, rest assured the conversation would not be far from:

Simic: “With cytoplasty, all things are possible with regard to the shape and form of the body”

Golgari: “What’s wrong with the shape and form of my body right now?”

Simic: “According to the teachings of Momir Vig, Simic Visionary, nature can always be improved upon through addition or deletion of biomatter. Our studies have sho-“

Golgari: “Are you saying my butt is too big!!!?” (throws bumbat in Simic’s face.)

If you think I am exaggerating, just consider all the flavor text in which the Simic are mentioned. Total lack of emotion. Complete focus on progress. Just ask the Simic Initiate how much love and affection is felt out there at Novijen, Heart of Progress.

Simic initiates begin their training as experimental subjects. Failures are flushed to the undersewers.

Listen to Yolov, a typical Simic biomancer, and see how much he “feels” for the homeless.

"Infused with autochthon blood for size and hellion cells for speed, the ragworm is perfect for clearing the undergardens of both rats and vagrants."

Apparently, Simic and non-Simic alike are viewed as little more than nutrient agar or sewer pests. Look at all the “Simic Research Notes” and you’ll find all manner of cold, calculated observation, but zero emotion about what is observed.

“When the bony terminus gets too large, it’s shed from the tail in coinciding periods of heightened aggression and hunger.”
—Simic research notes

“Though used as a piercing weapon, the tusk is more akin to a stinger, spreading pain instantly throughout the body of its victim. This specimen deserves further study.”
—Simic research notes

"An indrik's howl has destructive power much subtler than that of its crushing foot. The sound is mundane, but inaudible vibrations scatter and sunder magical contrivances."
-Simic research notes

“Its darkened sap penetrates natural fibers and spreads its own genes. Emulation experiments are underway.”
—Simic research notes

It is technically an ooze, but its lifespan measures only seconds. In that short time, its appetite for magic is extraordinary."
-Simic research notes

When I read these “research notes,” I cannot help but hear them in the monotone voice of Lieutenant Commander Data, or Mr. Spock, or any random talking head from your local news. It’s almost paradoxical – that the Simic would be moved enough by these creatures to record their findings, but not moved enough to actually exhibit any moved-ness. In a way it is disturbing. But, in another way, it is comforting. While you can find plenty of Orzhov selling you sand in the desert, or Selesnyans misrepresenting their cause, or pretty much every Dimir there is lying through their fangs, it’s nice to know that the Simic are just too busy to bother embellishing or distorting the truth.

So the Simic are not going to be the life of the party. That’s not always a bad thing. In fact, it is their focus and determination that make them powerful - and that makes them fun for us to read about/play with. That is what we’re going to do today - read about and play with the Simic. Since they are not about fun and games themselves, we’ll have to do that part ourselves. Here’s the program: We’re going to crack open a super-secret tome, squirreled away deep in the heart of Novijen’s undervaults. It contains the Simic Research notes for all of Magic’s biological entities since the beginning. I am going to give you selected passages from the Research Notes and you will test your knowledge of Magic lore by guessing what creature is being described. If you’re stumped, you can reveal another line from the research. Once you’ve guessed, or given up, you can click “Reveal” to have a peek at the specimen. Have fun... Krokt knows the Simic don’t!

“This specimen represents the pinnacle of a strange cannibalistic food chain. Fascinating to observe. Recommend monitoring potential species extinction.”


“Observations in-habitat have revealed that this specimen is, in fact, unique- but belongs to a larger family of uniphagous species.”



“Note: strong sulphuric odor to creature’s breath- not present in other species of its family. Employing olfactory dampeners, I was able to find two hard, rough, rock-like growths in the throat. Observation in the wild necessary to determine their function.

Fascinating. The hard growths are clicked together, like flint, to create an ignition spark. The naturally flammable gas in the creature’s breath becomes a fiery belch with an impressive range. ”


“Further observation has revealed that the “tinder growths” in the throat wear down with use, sometimes taking months to grow back and toughen up.”


Flametongue Kavu

“This semi-sentient vegetation is host to multiple sporogenic growths. Upon maturation, these growths split from the host and live independently.”


“This particular strain grows long, hair-like fronds that drape over its trunk, shielding its growths from view and potential harm.”



“This species does not breathe as other do. It takes in breath, but does not exhale. Instead, it holds each breath in its furnace-lung like a great distended balloon. When agitated or struck, acrid gas and magmous bile are expelled violently.”


“Unlike common firebreathing species, this one purges its fiery build-up through a system of small cone-like vents upon its back.”


Laccolith Whelp

“This species belongs to a family of creatures with a unique organ of peculiar dual-function. It is like a telepath node, but also acts as a gland, stimulating genetic change based on receptions from similar nodes.”


“This particular specimen is resistant to any experimentation. Recommend a post-mortem examination.”


Crystalline Sliver

“Upon initial observation, I thought my subject an unremarkable creature- nothing more than common rodentia. Then my lab partner arrived with a gorgonoid specimen. I thought she had the more interesting subject until I noticed that my rodent had become gorgonoid itself.

Subject has taken my own form several times. Note: I feel no effects of any kind when this occurs. Unable to identify the mechanism by which this takes place. Conducting range experiments until a proper thesis comes to mind.”


“After exhaustive study and observation, I have deduced that this species has no natural form of its own- taking on the characteristics of any bioform within several hundred feet. I fear such a finding will result in my demotion.”


Vesuvan Doppelganger

“Moments after death, this creature emits an energy pulse, giving me temporary amnesia and returning it to its natural petrasomnic state. Upon regaining my awareness, the creature would be of living flesh once again. This specimen has proven difficult to study.”


“It is my theory that the amnesia-inducing pulse is a defense mechanism, protecting the creature when it is in its vulnerable, stone-like resting state. The creature offers a rare opportunity to study its pre and post-mortal behavior over and again. Note: Remote observers must be present to avoid data loss due to amnesia.”


Ivory Gargoyle

“Initially intrigued by a cold-blooded creature thriving in sub-zero environs, I found that my serpentine subject was even more fascinating than I had initially thought.”


“Further study revealed that the snake’s cardiovascular system was not poikilothermic. The snake’s vascular system courses with an antigelid liquid that keeps the creature warm in frigid climes. This liquid is also injected through the fangs into bitten victims, burning away the tissue of their fragile vascular tubules- resulting in a swift death. ”


Ohran Viper

So how’d you do? Go ahead and brag if you nailed a few of them. If all this fun and games has left you craving more cytoplasmous info, more plax-o-matic skinny, more graft-a-licious flavor, then have a hop over to Rei Nakazawa’s Simic short story "Life is Fiction" or to my Cytoplast Manipulator card preview article. Do it now, Vig commands it of you!

Wondering what the “Soap” is all about? Have a Simic Signet.

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