DailyMTG is catching you up on some of the best articles from the past year while our whole crew enjoys the holidays. We’re replaying some of our authors' most popular works and some of your favorites December 15–26, but don’t be surprised if we have a special present or two for you somewhere during the holidays…
But in the meantime, enjoy the best of 2014. Happy Holidays!
History would remember it as a great battle between four titans, but Fblthp would know the truth.
Fblthp was to prepare the way for the Master. He had done this before, but each time it terrified him. He was told nothing else, but the Master endowed him with an ability and sent him to prepare. He was dropped into a foreign land and told to begin. He knew only that he had to prepare the way for the Master, but he was never told how. The first time, Fblthp had simply thought about what he would have to do and everything began to happen. It had been that way ever since.
When he cast his eye on his surroundings and thought about what his ability would do, it simply acted for him. A falcon appeared and settled on a branch of a tall pine nearby. It never looked at Fblthp, and Fblthp decided it was better that way. Homunculi often look like lunch to others. The falcon was followed by another falcon, then a rag-tag soldier, then another. The soldiers weren't even wearing matching uniforms. These were more rebels than well-trained, well-equipped soldiers. One of the rebels drew his sword and began sparring with another, while a third tested her archery skills. Fblthp had at least felt something before the falcon came, but for all of these others he felt nothing. It was as though they were calling each other.
While the army seemed to grow of its own accord, Fblthp could see why he was sent to prepare the way for the Master. He drew more tightly behind a nearby tree and watched a different army execute a well-organized attack. They were not coming his way, but instead advancing on a dragon! Normally, a dragon would not be drawn into such a fight, but this dragon was protecting her brood. The attack was coming from too many directions, and it was clear that the dragon was doomed.
The same army was sending a smaller force to attack what appeared to be a lone boy lost in a trance. He stood near what appeared to be a temple surrounded by fog. Fblthp thought the boy was not too bright, since he obviously should run away. The fog around the temple receded, and the boy seemed to redouble his chant.
The rebels had continued to multiply, and the army was getting ever bigger. They seemed willing to just sit and wait, and train. No one seemed to notice them and they didn't seem all that interested in fighting.
While Fblthp may have only had one eye, he could see trouble brewing further away than most. The army was now being led by a woman riding a wagon pulled by cows with horns. If ever there was trouble, that was clearly trouble. People with swords, being pulled by stampeding animals, leading an army, were always trouble.
Fblthp moved farther from the rebel group that just kept growing. It was only a matter of time until that army noticed the rebels, and Fblthp intended to be far away when that happened. He moved quietly up the hillside, hiding in the brush, with the trees and hillside to his back.
After getting well out of sight, Fblthp checked on the army and another huge animal had been added. The army continued its attacks on the dragon's nest and the boy. The dragon rose up again, but this time it faltered quickly to the poisonous darts from one of the rebels who had snuck into the fray! It was only a matter of time until the army and the rebels began to clash. Fblthp dug down even further into his hole.
The strange, lonely boy had other thoughts, though. The waves that had been gently washing on the beach grew larger and larger as each wave washed over the shore. Soon, the waves were crashing over everything. Fblthp crouched low in his fox hole, frightened of the suddenly angry skies. A single massive wave rose up and swept over everything, washing away armies, rebels, small creatures, and almost everything else in sight. Fblthp was convinced the entire sea had been dumped on the hills and shore. Fblthp was soaked, but his makeshift hiding hole, the bushes, the trees around him, and the high ground had all kept him from being washed away.
There was a calm without the armies, rebels, and dragons clashing. The trees glistened, droplets of water splashing onto the already-soaked ground. A rainbow could be seen arching through the sky, promising brighter days.
That promise would not be fulfilled today.
Fblthp could see another Rhino in the distance and the enemy's army was reforming. The idea that the army would eliminate the boy and the dragon's nest seemed without a doubt now. If a wave like that could not stop them, Fblthp could think of only one thing that could. He looked over at the spot where the rebels were, and repeated his thought. The falcon returned, and the number of rebels began to grow again.
The washed earth seemed to have caused the remnants of the fog around the temple to lift. The lone boy was exhausted and near death, but he still managed to raise his hands in triumph. Fblthp had seen people happy to be so close to death, but only through the doorways to Rakdos parties. He couldn't understand why the lone boy was so happy, at least not until the Leviathan appeared in the water.
Fblthp had never seen any living thing so big, other than the Master. The waters from the sea seemed to rise up again, but it was probably just because of how big the leviathan was! The army was locked on its hillside, unable to attack anyone. The dragon's nest appeared empty and the rebels were going nowhere, unless the falcons intended to go off alone.
When the kraken appeared, Fblthp didn't know there was a difference between it and the leviathan, but he did recognize the power in these two beasts of the deep. He would be swallowed and neither would even notice, he was so small in comparison. No army would be big enough to stop even one of these monsters, let alone two of them. The boy's hands danced and it was clear he could make them dip and dive wherever he wished. It appeared the lonely boy was not without friends. Big, powerful friends. The army that had tormented him would not be doing that again.
Yet, the army was even more powerful than Fblthp had realized. The leviathan, this massive beast that was so great that it could displace the water of the sea, was suddenly gone. The waters receded and the armies marched forth in a way that it was clear they knew the leviathan would not be there. A sorcery was at work that Fblthp could not see. He hoped it could not see him either. It certainly could see the boy, and the armies rushed upon him, and he was gone.
As the boy died his horrible death, the rebels chose that moment to attack. From appearances, one would think they were random fighters with heart but little skill. That notion would be dispelled on seeing their attack. The falcons scouted ahead and led the attack, while a small force of rebels made its move, attacking the army from behind. They were quick and vicious and just as quickly faded back into the trees. Even after watching this, Fblthp doubted the rebels had much of a chance. The army was powerful and once its full attention was on the rebels, it would only be a matter of time.
This is when things would get worse for the rebels. The army's leader emerged to engage the rebel forces. He was a dark, brooding type who appeared to scare his own army. When Fblthp saw the leader attack one of his own troops and consume the soldier, he began to understand why.
The rebels seemed to have their own leader, and they drew strength from his charisma and supernatural glow. He stood in the middle of the troops, sharing his strength with the rebels. Fblthp wasn't sure about the broom on his head, but he was sure that Broomhead would be better to work for than the Hungry Vampire.
The rebels, drawing strength from the appearance of Broomhead, attacked the army head-on. Numbers were clearly on their side, but Fblthp wasn't sure if it would be enough. It was an unusual battle. The rebels would focus on particular enemies, only to see the enemies disappear, gradually leaving only the Hungry Vampire, who had grown to an enormous size! He crushed his opponent and left the rebels confused about what to do. Hungry Vampire seized on their confusion and rushed directly at the heart of the rebels' strength. He exacted a horrible toll, leaving death and destruction in his wake. Even Broomhead, who appeared to be an unstoppable power, was overwhelmed by the assault.
The attack and counterattack appeared to leave both sides weakened and unable to do anything. Even the Hungry Vampire appeared spent. And with no one around to eat, he wasn't getting better any time soon. Both sides began to build up their forces and prepared to try again in what Fblthp expected would be a long, bloody battle.
Then the Master arrived. As always, the Master's arrival caused terror throughout the enemy's ranks. The Master offered no parley, no quarter, and no mercy. With the Master's arrival, the rebels relaxed. They knew they had completed their service and would not be called upon again. The army, and even their leader, Hungry Vampire knew the end was near. When the Master moved toward the army to deal with it, Fblthp turned his eye. He had seen the carnage that his Master wrought...and wished to never see it again.
This would be no great battle, only another massacre.
"I'll cast Spawnsire of Ulamog," Kevin announced. Josh knew he had enough creatures to kill Spawnsire with Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter, but it wouldn't matter. "When you kill him, I'll respond by spending one mana to use his ability to make 0/1 Eldrazi Spawn. It only costs one with the two Training Grounds in play. I can then sacrifice a Spawn to do it again and again, until I have enough mana to use his second ability to cast Eldrazi from outside of the game." Kevin showed us his package of Eldrazi and there was no way Vish Kal could stop all of them.
"Even if we could destroy the Training Grounds," said Josh, knowing the game was done, "you can still respond to the targeting by activating Spawnsire's ability. We needed to kill it earlier."
I considered myself lucky to still be alive when the game ended. My Dragon Broodmother deck could do nothing with Big Game Hunter and Vish Kal around to destroy it every time it was cast. I was a bit player through the entire game. I had hoped Jesse's Quest for Ula's Temple deck would make things interesting, but even with all his deck manipulation, he had a terrible time getting the quest counters on the card. It didn't help that I had cast Multani's Decree early on, but I wanted to hit Kevin's Training Grounds and Conspiracy before he could use the rebel chain to get whatever other creatures were in his deck.
Spawnsire of Ulamog as the finisher for a Rebel deck. I'll have to remember that the next time Kevin brings out his rebels.