Back to the Future Sight

Posted in Feature on April 9, 2007

By Rei Nakazawa

clockspinningTime is not a kind or merciful force. It marches relentlessly on, uninterested in those whom it tortures and toys with. And it tends to be really, really cranky when someone tries to mess with it. You don't have to be Marty McFly to know that the space-time continuum is a tricky thing, and needs to be treated with special care. Otherwise you might end up with the mess of fractures and chaos that is the current state of Dominaria.

The future is all about possibilities, about hope, and hope is the one commodity Dominaria needs most of all. How much Future Sight offers, and whether it's enough, is a matter of speculation. All the characters you know and love have been through the wringer again and again, and Future Sight is no exception. However, don't just expect threats from the usual corners, because just when you drop your guard, surprises will come around to shake you up.

The remaining planeswalkers of Dominaria would be wise to heed my warnings, but unfortunately, they don't have the benefit of my expertise. But they're doing their best, trying to prevent the very fabric of space and time from ripping apart at the seams, and taking all of the multiverse with it. Terrible sacrifices have already been made in the form of power and lives. Teferi, the ex-planeswalker, and the artificers Jhoira and Venser are still scrambling madly trying to fix the last and biggest of those nasty time rifts that have been causing so much chaos, sorrow, and destruction. They've been joined by other familiar names from the storyline's past, and not all of them have come out of it unscathed, or even alive. They've faced down their own pasts, as well as a dark alternate present where things are somehow even worse than they are in the "real" world. But the worst is yet to come.

Academy_RuinsUp until now, fixing the time rifts has been "easy." The processes have required a lot of sweat, blood, and tears, but they've been doable. But that still leaves the worst time rifts yet to deal with, and the worst of all is in the place where, perhaps, all this trouble began: Tolaria. Known for its residents' experiments in time, and their particularly gruesome crimes against the continuity of the timeline, Tolaria houses a rift that is, as you may expect, huge. In fact, the damage here is so severe that it's impossible for even the strongest planeswalkers to stitch time back together.

So what are our heroes to do? First, they must once more gather old allies, whose names will again be familiar to long-time Magic players. Then, they must embark on a challenge that few before them have ever succeeded in if they want to have any hope of setting things right in Tolaria. The odds are against them, but they have to grasp at even the smallest chance if Dominaria and the multiverse are to see another day. But there are still more complications. The group must still deal with the continuing temporal chaos, and then there is another threat, a familiar threat, that will rear its ugly head before too long. It has been hiding, biding its time, waiting for the right moment to strike. And when this shadow finally chooses to step out into the sunlight, everything will be turned on its ear. Pretty soon, it won't be clear whether the multiverse will be spared or subjected to a fate far worse than mere temporal dissolution. To find out what happens, check out the Future Sight novel by Scott McGough, with assistance from John Delaney (who, like Timothy Sanders in Planar Chaos, was found by the book publishing group's open call from a while back).

Now that we've covered the basic storyline, let's take a look at the cards themselves from the creative standpoint. As with Planar Chaos before it, there are two distinct sets of creative forces at work in Future Sight, perhaps even more distinct than any of the other sets in this block. Following the lead of the other sets in this block, most cards in Future Sight will deal with the current state of Dominaria. You'll find the effects of time rifts, struggling people and creatures, and spells that display abilities that have never before existed in Magic in quite the same way. In fact, you can probably get a small sense of how the Time Spiral trilogy story will resolve just from these cards.

But as with the previous sets in this block, there are also the "timeshifted" cards. Given that this special set of cards showed reprinted cards from the past in Time Spiral, and offered alternate views of the present in Planar Chaos, it's only natural that Future Sight offers a glimpse into possible futures. The timeshifted cards give you the slightest of glimpses into mechanics, settings, and storylines that Magic may, or may not, visit in the future. These small windows allow your imagination and speculation to run wild. What is it like in a subterranean world, where the only light comes from luminous moss, and nature must survive in a vast network of darkness? What sort of people live in a world where the most powerful influence is secrecy, and citizens must remain mysteries even to those closest to them? How would you survive in a plane where a single leaf is as broad as an entire city block, and even the most mundane creature towers as a goliath above you? Future Sight offers a unique opportunity for interested players to take a look into all the creative riches the multiverse still has to offer. And who knows – maybe your favorite world will pop up in a new Magic set one of these days!

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for: the preview card. This time out, I'm featuring a character who's been present throughout this entire trilogy, but never before seen in cardboard form. (There's another in this set who's been waiting even longer, but that's a revelation for another time!) He may be from Urborg, but he is blue through and through. So without further ado, here he is.

Venser, Urborg Artificer

During the Time Spiral block, Venser's gained a lot of knowledge and a lot of power, so much so that he's starting to "outgrow" the artifacts he once dealt with. He still has a ways to go, even at the point represented by this card, but even now, he's obviously a force to be reckoned with. Returning permanents to its owner's hand (a.k.a. "bouncing") isn't anything new – a mere jellyfish could do that with eight tentacles tied behind its back, although a creature able to handle any type of permanent so easily is relatively new. But returning spells... That's an entirely different story, and much more complex than the card's simple wording may lead you to believe.

Venser can bounce spells on the stack that have yet to resolve. Much like Time Stop, those spells won't be around to resolve, so they will fail to work. But as with Time Stop, they won't be countered – just removed from the stack and thus unable to resolve (but remember, they're still considered "played"). This makes Venser a fine way to deal with such uncounterable annoyances as Scragnoth or Obliterate. Note that suspended cards, being neither spell nor permanent, aren't vulnerable to Venser's unique form of meddling (at least until that last time counter comes off). But that's okay, because his applications are already mind-boggling.

Momentary Blink
Even alone, Venser can turn the tide of a game by getting rid of annoying permanents or spells, or saving one of your own from destruction or countering. But it's those two card combos that really make this wizard shine. Any repeatable way to bounce your own creatures, from the classic Obelisk of Undoing to the modern Tolarian Sentinel, turns Venser into a lean, mean dissipating machine. Things get even juicier with cards like Astral Slide and Momentary Blink. With Venser on your side, the possibilities are endless. The times in which he won't be useful to your cause will be rare indeed!

And so, we take a last look at Dominaria for the time being. What does the future hold? Is it represented on one of the cards of Future Sight, or does it lie in another world entirely? You'll find out soon enough. Until then, consider the possibilities of things yet to come, and enjoy the glimpse of them that this new set brings you. Will you be prepared when the future becomes the present?

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