Wizards Asks: 4/6/2010

Posted in Feature on April 6, 2010

By Wizards of the Coast

Who's your favorite villain in Magic? Outside of Magic?

Brady Dommermuth: See, to me, this is a trick question. I don't like villains. But I love antagonists. I know that might sound high-minded or puffed up, but let me explain: To me, a villain is a moustache-twirling cliché. Why is s/he evil? Because it's so delicious to be evil! MWA HA HA! An antagonist, on the other hand, is someone who opposes the protagonist, someone the protagonist must contend with or overcome to achieve his/her goals. An antagonist has the ability to be complex, sympathetic, motivated. A villain is just evil.

I admit I'm exaggerating to make a point. In reality the terms are often used interchangeably. Why the semantics? Because to me the reason Magic: The Gathering is so great is because when Magic stories are at their best, they don't boil everything down to good and evil. Instead of having two forces in a tug of war, Magic has five in balance, and good and evil exist in all five of them. That five-way struggle is at the crux of Magic's soul.

One more caveat: I have a weird view of Magic characters and stories. I have a hand in creating most of them, and I have clear pictures of them in my head. But when they leave my hands and are taken up by others—flavor-text writers, novelists, comic writers, and so on—they change and grow beyond my conception of them. So sometimes my opinions about the characters differ from players' and readers' because my view of them is, well, kind of outdated.

Okay, okay. Time to stop dodging the question. My favorite Magic villain at the moment is Tezzeret. I want to say Liliana Vess, but she's just not quite villain material, at least not yet. Tezzeret is compelling because he's smart, resourceful, talented, ambitious ... and just never quite good enough to get what he wants. In a way, he represents what Jace Beleren could become if he made all the wrong choices. And in a way, that makes him more interesting than Jace, to me, anyway.

My favorite villain outside of Magic? Now that's a huge question. I'm tempted to say the Joker (Batman) or Iago (Othello), but to me they're not even really characters—they're more like forces of nature. Instead I'll say Antonio Salieri, the mediocre composer from Peter Shaffer's Amadeus. That character is so well painted, so thorough in his villainy yet so sympathetic and human at the same time, that he's more memorable to me and more real than any standard "evil incarnate" character.

Who's your favorite villain in Magic? Outside of Magic? Click the Discuss link below to tell us your story and then see what everybody else has to say!

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