A Vorthosian Dream

Posted in From the Lab on June 18, 2014

By Mike Cannon

Mike Cannon started writing From the Lab at the end of 2012 after two years with GatheringMagic. He is an ardent casual player and loves finding uses for bad cards.

Hello, and welcome to From the Lab! A few weeks ago, I issued a challenge to all of you fair readers to come up with flavor-based decks built around some part of Magic's storyline. I received a wide variety of submissions, based on stories new and old. Today, I'll be highlighting a few of my favorites.

Maze's End Art by Cliff Childs


A few readers decided to build decks around the running of the Implicit Maze in Ravnica. My personal favorite was a five-color, 60-card singleton deck.

A. Hayden's The Maze-Runners

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Maze's End is there of course, surrounded by all ten Guildgates. Nine of the ten maze runners are also present. Melek, Izzet Paragon is notably absent, since Ral Zarek forcibly replaced him as the Izzet representative. The Supreme Verdict that would have occurred if the maze had not been completed successfully also makes an appearance.

Maze Glider and the other members of its cycle are a fitting choice for the deck. In order to represent the ten guilds, Hayden also included two other cycles, the Charms and the Guildmages. Last but not least, the deck wouldn't be complete without the story's protagonist, Jace, and its main villain, Lazav.

Another reader decided to look at Ravnica through a narrower lens. Rather than focusing on the story as a whole, this deck represents just one person: Teysa.

Alex Allen's Teysa's Grimoire

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Rather than include Teysa herself, Alex decided to create a deck of the spells that she might cast. Holy Mantle was a great choice. Not only does it line up with the ability on Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts, but the +2/+2 it gives nearly matches up perfectly with the power and toughness boost the new card has over Teysa, Orzhov Scion. Seize the Soul is also a pretty accurate representation of the second ability on Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts.

"Creature-wise, I see her as more likely to rely on bound spirits and thrulls than her own guild mates, whom she does not trust very much," wrote Alex. "She may deal with them as part of her job, but I think it makes more sense for her to summon spirits and thrulls, given her on-card abilities."

Teysa is also a former "advokist," or lawmage, so she has access to a number of binding enchantments. Debtors' Knell represents that, like most members of the Orzhov, Teysa desires wealth and power.

Old School

Some readers decided to go back in time a bit further. Raymond Hickey III chose to take us all the way back to Stronghold.

"A story from Magic's past—there are so many, and some much larger than others," he wrote. "My ultimate choice was a section of a much larger story. I've chosen the ascension of Crovax from tormented noble to Evincar of Rath."

Raymond Hickey III's Crovax's Ascension

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Raymond said that Crovax was a Lost and Tormented Soul after the murder of his family. After being on the Weatherlight, he went into hiding, represented by Homicidal Seclusion. One choice I particularly like is the decision to include Selenia, Dark Angel, with no white mana to cast her. Instead, the player must use Quicksilver Amulet, representing the artifact Crovax used to enlist Selenia's aid.

Crovax's Descent into Madness was slow, but eventually his Mind Shattered and he dealt Selenia a Death Stroke. A few inclusions that seem odd at first, such as Razortooth Rats, fit due to their flavor text. For example, Shattered Crypt tells the story of Crovax first joining the Weatherlight. A few others, like Slaughter, show Crovax in their art. Raymond's use of every aspect of the cards is pretty impressive.

Another laboratorian also decided to go way back with black. Garla Mapit built a deck representing the terror of Phyrexia.

Garla Mapit's Phyrexia

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COMMANDER: Geth, Lord of the Vault

"I started Magic at a young age with Stronghold and I've always loved how evil and corrupting Phyrexia is in its goals," wrote Garla. "I stayed true to its heart (or lack thereof) and remained all in black mana and focused heavily on corrupting, killing, and turning my opponents' creatures against them, all while endlessly returning my own creatures to combat."

Glistening Oil Art by Steven Belledin

A number of Phyrexian cards make an appearance here, as does Yawgmoth's Will, the driving force behind the invasion. Glistening Oil, Phyresis, and Phthisis are the means by which Phyrexia infects and changes the population. Geth rules from his throne in the Vault of Whispers, while Sheoldred controls her faction of the Phyrexian invasion on Mirrodin.


Another popular choice was Magic's most recent story, that of Theros. Alex Watkins decided to blend the story of Elspeth's journey on Theros with the journey players take as each new set is revealed. Aside from a few notable exceptions there to support the storyline, Alex used only one- and two-mana spells from Theros, three- and four-mana spells from Born of the Gods, and five- or higher-mana spells from Journey into Nyx. Thus, when using the deck, the player is taken on a journey through each set of the block in order.

Alex Watkins's Journey Through Theros

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Alex included a detailed description of the deck and the choices that were made during its construction. Therefore, I'll let Alex take it from here and tell you what this deck is all about.

"Our journey through Theros starts with Theros block itself. For me, this block clearly hints at the appearance of a GW Ajani, so Fleecemane Lion is the deck's prominent two-drop creature. The Soldier of the Pantheon also takes center stage as we are introduced to the gods and the soldiers who fight for them. Elspeth, Sun's Champion is included despite her high cost, as she is key to our journey and has a key role to play. As Elspeth is the Sun's Champion, our creatures must pass an Ordeal of Heliod to be included in this deck. The Hopeful Eidolon signifies the hope all of the races on Theros that their new hero will lead them to salvation.

"We are then introduced to Born of the Gods and how the gods bestow gifts onto mortals and create enchantment creatures. The Courser of Kruphix is one of the more powerful enchantment creatures and helps this deck, and the Planeswalker piloting it, to draw spells and control the battlefield. The Eidolon of Countless Battles also arrives to bestow creatures and strengthen them. Brimaz is revealed as the king of the leonin. Although still reluctant to get involved with the gods, he becomes the catalyst that unites Ajani with Elspeth and turns the fight to overthrow Xenagos.

"Now we Journey into Nyx and our path as a Planeswalker becomes even more perilous. For this peril, I have allowed three more breaches of my cost rule (for flavor, obviously). The first being Solidarity of Heroes. Uniting these two Planeswalkers and linking with Brimaz and the Leonin army is important, so the card is justified. Godsend also makes an appearance as the weapon of choice to kill Xenagos. And as the act of doing so is deicide, I had to include Deicide into this deck. Ajani, Mentor of Heroes joins the fight as we journey into Nyx. Elspeth, now armed with Godsend, is joined by Ajani and brings down the tyrant that is Xenagos. But Heliod still distrusts Elspeth and his Dictate is that she should be killed, and as Elspeth returns to Theros, Ajani is torn away from her and she is killed, destined to once again journey into the Underworld and into Nyx"

From the Past to the Future

This look into a few of the stories from Magic's long history brings back memories, and I really enjoyed looking at the decks you all submitted, despite being unable to feature all of them here. However, it's now time to turn away from Magic's past and look to its future. Magic 2015 is on the way, and I have a special preview card I get to show you next week. Make sure to come back and visit next Wednesday to see the awesomeness I have in store for you all. See ya!

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