Did you say Bolas foiled New Phyrexia's corruption of Karn? I must have missed that part of the story. Care to give a synopsis? =)
Hey there! Of course I can!
I’ll use bullet points to make it easier to follow for those who didn’t read Quest for Karn or Dark Discoveries.
Bolas sends imps after Tezzeret. Their message is never heard because those imps are killed before they’re able to finish it, so Bolas himself appears to him.
Once in Mirrodin, Tezzeret’s guide injects an antidote in his organic arm to protect him from the Phyrexian infection.
In Mirrodin, Tezzeret jumps into a lacunae and reaches territories occupied by the Progress Machine. Smaller Phyrexians and its praetor try to seize Tezzeret to study him, but he unleashes a powerful spell to scare them. He says no one will be harmed if they don’t harm him, and requests to see their leader. Jin-Gitaxias agrees.
Tezzeret is taken to Karn as a slave, but we know he always (and I mean this is his prime motivation) wanted to be the master. From his days at the academy in Esper, to his machinations with the Infinite Consortium, the Seeker was always trying to become the one in charge. Mirrodin, for him, became his new obsession. He decided to become its Father of the Machines, but first he agreed to play the servant’s role.
Soon, Tezzeret became the most influent non-Phyrexian in Mirrodin’s core. He gathered with Geth and Glissa in the throne room as one of them, trying to mess with their political movements (Glissa wanted Karn, who dropped the oil in Argentum, to become their leader, while others like Geth thought he was so deep in his madness that another one should take his place).
“Father of Machines,” Glissa said, her voice as smooth as the oil dripping out of her eyes. “We have council with you today.” She snapped her fingers at the minion, and the little creature scrambled over with the book, which it popped open and held up before Karn’s wide-eyed face. The silver golem looked down at the book, his face jumping to an expression of pain and then to one of anger and then to tears.
Geth could clearly see the rivulets of black oil popping out on his brow. Glissa noticed it too, Geth was sure of that. More fuel to the fire for those that said that Karn was not the true Father of Machines, no matter how much Glissa wanted to make him thus.
His body was fighting the oil, that much was certain. More times than not Geth found him that way at their councils. He found him raving mad, teetering between clarity and instability.
The oil could do that as it was moving through the pathways of the chosen’s neurological workings, Geth had been told. But that period in the transformation only took a couple of days at most. Karn had been volatile for months. His body was simply not accepting what they all were offering. At least that was what those in command said of Karn, when nobody was listening.
Glissa would not hear of it. Brothers had lost their hands and then heads. Sisters had disappeared. Since Glissa had become fully Phyrexian, with a right hand wrought and strong, and a dull scythe for a left, she listened to zero backtalk. She even refused to allow Karn his tantrums, if she could help it.
The minion, all silver and sculpted smooth, snapped his book closed and skittered away into a shadow. Glissa sauntered over to Karn and helped him stand straight. He looked down at her arm before peering around. “What is this place?” he bellowed.
“This is your throne room, Father,” Glissa said.
“Who is that?” Karn pointed.
Tezzeret stood at the end of Karn’s pointed finger.
“Father,” Tezzeret said. “It is I, your Tezzeret. Here to counsel you away from these bootlickers.” Tezzeret smiled and flexed his arm.
(Quest for Karn, chapter 6)
Everytime Tezzeret’s arrogance turned a Phyrexian against him, he used intimidation to prevail.
“How do we fix him?” Geth said.
“He is not broken, dunce,” Tezzeret said. “He is not a machine.”
“But he is metal,” Geth growled, his own exoskeletal framework swelling with anger.
“So are you, and nobody’s been able to fix what’s wrong with you.”
Geth moved to swipe Tezzeret’s neck with his huge claw. Tezzeret merely grabbed Geth’s claw with his etherium hand and in a moment the claw was bent into the form of a five-petal flower.
Geth bellowed and raised his other claw.
Tezzeret held up one finger. “Attention. I will turn your other hand into something more, shall we say, anatomically correct for where I will insert it if you continue this.”
(Quest for Karn, chapter 6)
From the inside out, Mirrodin was slowly turning into New Phyrexia, and while the Mirran resistance fought in the surface, Elspeth, Koth and Venser were delving down through the layers to find the Panoptikon and Karn. Tezzeret appeared to them surrounded by Phyrexian minions, but they seemed somehow subordinated to him and not to Phyrexia’s great design. He helped the three planeswalkers in their quest as a double agent, but a horde of Phyrexians appeared before them, and they knew it was their end. Then we had the book’s Deus ex Machina. The planeswalkers were almost saying their last words to each other, as they knew they couldn’t survive nor leave the plane because of the oil they would take to other planes, but Tezzeret appeared and commanded the Phyrexians to stop.
The new force of Phyrexians fell on them. Venser was forced back. He looked over just in time to see a pack of large Phyrexians encircle Elspeth so that he could only see the tip of her sword doing its grim work. Then, the sword’s tip, too, disappeared from sight.
This was when he could disappear, Venser knew. This was when he could blink into the darkness and away. He was sure that the guide was out in the darkness waiting. In all likelihood he could find him. But then what? He could not leave, as infected as he was with the Phyrexian oil. He turned back to the Phyrexians.
What had Elspeth said?
‘Heroes shed no tears.’
The Phyrexians hurled themselves onto him, knocking him over. They were on him, smelling like the sewer and popping their joints as they raked their frenzied claws over him. He could not move under the weight of them.
The voice came loud and clear, and the Phyrexians froze. Venser felt a cold drip on his forehead. A huge Phyrexian was dripping black oil on him from its left eye socket.
“Pull them up,” the voice said again.
Venser was yanked to his feet.
“Good to see you again and all that,” Tezzeret said.
(Quest for Karn, chapter 17)
Later, Glissa gathered another huge wave of Phyrexians around Venser and Elspeth, but Tezzeret interrupted again, revealing his role in helping the planeswalkers reach Melira and bring her to Karn’s chamber. Glissa realized she had to exterminate Tezzeret, but we leave the scene when he was in an advantageous position.
The Phyrexians were formed into a crescent around Elspeth, with the left flank facing Venser. Atop the pile Glissa stood watching.
Tezzeret stepped out of the shadows, to the right of the Phyrexians’ left flank. When the nearest Phyrexian saw him, it shied back. “This was not the plan,” Tezzeret said.
Glissa looked surprised to see him. The Phyrexian advancing on Elspeth stopped.
Behind Tezzeret a cadre of blue-glowing Phyrexians looked on. Tezzeret’s Phyrexians were fewer in number, but they looked to Venser even crueler in aspect.
“Plan?” Glissa said.
“Yes,” Tezzeret said. “You have your plan. I have my plan. You sent me to get the flesh creature. I had no intention of doing that. Why would I do that when it was I who gave them the creature in the first place?”
The expression on Glissa’s face did not change perceptibly at the news. But when she spoke, there was a hitch in her voice that betrayed her unease. “Why would you give them such a creature?”
Tezzeret waved his glowing metal hand dismissively. “The creature is no concern of mine, neither is her innate ability. They will not be able to do significant damage with her. They lack the knowledge.” Tezzeret smiled at Venser before turning back to Glissa. “No, I gave her to them to get you out here.”
Glissa glanced away quickly.
“Oh,” Tezzeret said sadly. “You know I have deactivated that portal you just looked to.”
“What do you want?” Glissa said.
“Only your death,” Tezzeret said. “Geth is already mine. With you gone I control every Phyrexian in this place.”
“The Father of Machines controls his children,” Glissa corrected.
“Can’t you see that he will never be Phyrexian? It is an impossibility.”
“How wrong you are,” Glissa said. “And without me, you will not be able to control him.”
“That may be true,” Tezzeret admitted. “But what if someone else were to ascend that throne of his? This thought has just occurred to me, but what if it was someone like me? I have some metal to me after all.”
Glissa did not speak for a moment. “Why would you want that?”
“What an army!” Tezzeret said. “I would be the master, after all. I could utilize such an army to great effect.”
“The madness from your arm has greatly affected your brain.” Glissa said.
Tezzeret’s smile disappeared. “That,” he said, “is uncalled for. You have hurt my feelings. You have never known a person more in touch with his facilities as me. Now, I have a choice for you.”
“You can step away from Karn, and let me take your place, or-and this next choice is possibly the more favored by me, as I don’t like to have an enemy lingering-you can die at my hand. Either way, I cannot endure anymore of my current situation. My master sent me here and now I will make of it everything that I can.”
Glissa nodded, as if weighing the pros and cons of Tezzeret’s plan.
Meanwhile, the Phyrexians from both sides waited. Some even sat down. Venser caught Elspeth’s eye. He pushed out his chin toward the end of the passage they had been traveling down when Glissa’s henchmen arrived. Elspeth winked.
Glissa spoke. “So you are here to kill me?”
“You were supposed to have died at their hands with the main force of your soldiers, I am only here to finish.”
“That was a bad plan,” Glissa said. “I’m sorry, but it is, and it shows your inability to read a situation correctly. That is a necessity in a leader. You must learn that, or you will make other more critical mistakes than this.”
“Enough talking now,” Tezzeret said, clearly not liking what Glissa was saying.
“I agree,” Glissa said. She snapped her fingers and the pile of Phyrexians she was standing on began to wriggle and then to shake.
Venser stepped forward and tugged on Elspeth’s tunic. He gestured her to follow, and they both took ten steps back, so they were not in the middle of what was about to become a battlefield.
The pile of mangled and melted metal lurched forward, Glissa standing atop it. Tezzeret stood still and then the pile suddenly unfolded arms and legs and stood crablike to fill the passage. It wasted no time in snapping a claw made of the spine and three legs of other Phyrexians around Tezzeret.
Glissa screamed in triumph, and smiled to show long teeth dyed green with lamina.
But Tezzeret started pushing his head into the creature’s fist. He appeared to be squeezing together into a ball, until only his banded ropes of hair were visible. In a moment even that was gone. The Phyrexian giant opened his hand, and to everyone’s surprise, nothing fell out.
Venser and Elspeth took ten more steps backward. It had worked before when the Phyrexians were searching for their portal. They had been able to sneak away then, why not again? The guide was somewhere in the shadows waiting for them. Elspeth tapped the fleshling on the shoulder as they stepped back. Glissa was busy staring at the giant’s open hand and did not seem to notice their movements.
The fleshling squatted down and with Elspeth’s help, they lifted Koth between them.
Two hands appeared on the giant’s chest. One was metal and one was flesh, but both parted the metal chest as if it was a fallen autumn leaf. Tezzeret’s head poked through the hole, his eyes glowing.
Glissa, standing on the giant’s right shoulder, reached around its head and swung her scythe in a wide arc.
Tezzeret held up his etherium arm. The scythe appeared to pass through the arm. A moment later the top of Glissa’s scythe hand fell away, a blue seam glowing on the metal where the scythe had struck the arm. But not before the metal of the giant’s shoulder began to vine up around Tezzeret’s leg. In a moment it was entwined up to his waist. Tezzeret pulled to free his legs, but to no avail. Glissa took hold and swung around the front of the giant’s head and planted her feet squarely in Tezzeret’s face, snapping his head back.
Then the Phyrexians who had come with Glissa and Tezzeret fell upon one another with the tremendous sound of metal crushing into metal. The ground became a melee of blurring arms and black oil spatter. A Phyrexian nearby punched another’s teeth in, still another tore off an arm and cast it spinning aside.
When they were sure that all the Phyrexians and Glissa were busy, Venser, the fleshling, Koth, and Elspeth took ten more steps back. The shadows began to fall in around them, and they turned and ran.
(Quest for Karn, chapter 19)
Melira takes the oil from Karn’s body, but his heart (the first source of Phyrexian oil in Mirrodin) is corrupted. She can’t clean him completely, so Venser sacrifices himself, teleporting himself onto Karn to exchange his heart with Karn’s. Liberated, the silver golem disintegrates lots, I mean lots of Phyrexians, but he can’t kill them all, so he leaves the plane trying to reach other planes he unwillingly tainted with the oil. New Phyrexia lost him as the Father of Machines. The praetors and Tezzeret compete for power, and they arrange a meeting to discuss who should be the new Father or Mother of the Machines, but Koth detonates a spellbomb there. This is where we where left… Bolas triumphed, using one of his pawns again.
We’d learned that the praetors were gathering in the throne room to select a new Father—or Mother—of Machines. Tezzeret was supposed to be there, too. But if so, it was probably so the others could decapitate him or steal his body parts for some grand new construct. We didn’t know if the praetors would ever be in such close proximity again. This was our last chance to do damage that they might actually feel.
Still, I couldn’t help but thinking: What is left on this world to save? I saw the praetors as the gods of New Phyrexia. I imagine that’s how they thought of themselves. “Behold, perfection.” Even if we succeeded and we killed all the gods of New Phyrexia, it wouldn’t bring an end to it. They don’t need a mind to drive that genocide—it’s inherent in the contagion itself. Elesh Norn, Sheoldred, Jin-Gitaxias—one head lost, another one grows in glorious perfection. And Phyrexia will spread, you know that as well as I do.
You know what Koth says: “If there is no victory, then I will fight forever.” But that night, I reached the edge of forever. Writing this makes me so tired, Ajani. I feel like shards of glass line my throat. I would go blind if only I could forget all that I’ve seen. Was I ready to die there, with Koth, to sacrifice myself for a greater good? He was willing. It was never a choice in his mind. Wherever he is, whatever he became, there is no doubt he is a better soul than me.
The Phyrexians zeroed in us even though we’d sealed the door. It was just a matter of time before they broke the defenses that Koth had slapped into place. The clanging of the weapons against the wall was a cadence, counting the seconds until they were inside. I felt no glory, no desire for greatness. I’ll tell you the truth—I just wanted it over. I wanted it done. I was wounded, starving, and burdened with the names of the dead from this world and others. Koth set the spellbomb.
Mirrodin is my favourite plane and I know it's probably a long shot but I was wondering if you could do commander reviews for the commanders from the mirrodin blocks?
Sure, that sounds fun.
In addition to being beautiful and stylish, she’s also a pretty solid token Commander. Spend the first few turns of the game generating tokens and then drop the Mother of Machines to give your guys a huge boost while weakening your opponents’ defenses. As much as I love her, she does have some notable weaknesses: monowhite is not the strongest color identity and she’s expensive, so there’s a danger of getting taxed to death in the long game.
All Jin-Gitaxias wants to do is make people better. Ezuri isn’t the only Mirran he’s converted to Phyrexia’s ways either. Today’s Bad Draws shows what other compleated monstrosities could have been in Commander 2015 Edition.
If you enjoyed today’s comic, don’t forget to like it, reblog it, and go read the rest!
Sometimes, a 10 drop is something insane like Omniscience. Other times, it’s not as great as you’d hope it would be for the investment. Jin Gitaxias has a pretty insane effect, but honestly? He’s a little bit too awkward.
Ok first things first. The flash. I mentioned in my review of Cryptic Command how leaving mana up is often a tell that will make players play around certain cards. While it’s quite unlikely you will be playing around Jin Gitaxias, a person playing blue leaving 10 mana up is essentially a giant warning sign in most situations. From a combat perspective, a 5/4 with flash is nothing to turn your nose up at, but for 10 mana it’s a quite lackluster. Still, it can be annoying to play against anything with flash because of how bad it can make combat.
But we all know the body isn’t what people play Jin for. Let’s take a look at that first ability. Drawing seven cards? Well then. If there’s one thing I hate playing against it’s opponents who always have cards in their hands. I don’t even really need to go into how annoying this is. Your opponent having a large quantity of cards over you just means you have infinitely less resources than they do. Magic is a game of trading off cards, trying to figure out an advantage, and drawing a huge amount of cards makes your opponent’s position hopelessly better than yours. That’s just not a good feeling because it essentially means all the work you’ve done in the game has been reversed, or at least a large portion of it. The worst part of this is that it happens at the end of your opponent’s turn, so without an instant speed response Jin’s worst form is a 10 mana draw 7, which is actually perfectly on par with a Stroke of Genius for 7. Kinda funny isn’t it?
The second ability is the worst though, and that seems to be the theme with these praetors. Your opponents gaining resources is annoying but it’s a part of Magic; it’s far more annoying when you lose all of yours. In the case of Jin, you have two options. Either dump all your cards on the table, or discard all of them. A few reasons why this is absolutely horrible and frustrating:
Instant speed responses are literally impossible to have unless you have some way to draw cards on board
You’re forced to top deck your way out of the game after your first turn, which doubles as protection for Jin because you have to find removal
Even if you manage to draw well and cast a lot of spells, odds are Jin made you discard SOMETHING of use, and your opponents get to operate with their huge amounts of resources safe in the knowledge that there are no tricks from your side
Having a hand is one of the most relevant things in Magic. Games are won and lost simply based on whose hand is better, and this just in: 7 cards are way better than 0.
So why isn’t Jin so incredibly annoying? Well there’s a couple reasons. First is his enormous cost. A 10 mana card is getting pricey even for EDH, and likely means your opponent can’t cast any other spell during whatever turn they cast Jin on (flash sorta gets around this but not really). Second, Jin’s first ability actually has a small downside in that it triggers on your opponent’s end step, meaning they will have to discard down to hand size before their turn is over (a small downside, but a downside nonetheless). Third, Jin’s second ability is easy to counter given the right cards. Yes they are few and far between, but cards like Reliquary Tower are pretty popular in EDH, and infinity minus 7 is still infinity. This makes his ability one of the easier ones to counter in EDH. It really all comes down to his cost though. 10 mana is just too much to invest in this card. It makes him easy to see coming, it makes it devastating for your opponent if he’s removed, and all in all his effects are a little bit too slow and flexible for him to be as backbreaking as some of his friends.
His abilities are insane, but they need a lot of time to kick in to their full effect. That’s a little bit flavorful huh?
au where Jin saves Sheoldred after Elesh wiped out her and her army, but Jin’s experimental methods left some to be desired as perfect. Sheoldred reawoke with memories of being married to Elesh Norn, and EN still wants to kill her, but Jin was also testing out highly regenerative tissue, so it takes more power than Elesh can muster to kill Sheoldred again. Also the mount thing is now like a giant dog and over-affectionately licks Elesh every time they meet.
Blue decks tend to not run many creatures. Riptide Shapeshifter perfectly complements this strategy.
All you have to do is make each creature in your deck a unique type, and the Shapeshifter’s ability becomes “2UU, Sacrifice Riptide Shapeshifter: Search your library for a creature, put it on to the battlefield, then shuffle your library.”
Types that you can run to abuse this ability include:
Eldrazi (Ulamog and Kozilek)
Golem (Solemn Simulacrum)
Discarding is the act of putting cards from the hand directly into the graveyard. What does this mean from a flavorful standpoint? Exactly what are you doing to your opponent in your magical duel? Here’s my take.
With a card like Mind Rot, the flavor is a general mental attack. It’s pain, agony, and torture directed at your opponent’s brain to cause trauma, induce memory loss, or remove defiance. The cards you lose can represent a skill ripped away in the attack, a spell forgotten, or simply the loss of ability to fight back.
Thoughtsieze is a more targeted approach. Instead of a overwhelming mental barrage, it’s idea espionage. It’s forcing open an opponent’s mind and making away with a single tactic. Being the self-preserving black mage you are, it’s likely going to be the spell that would cause you the most harm in the long run, even if taking such a thought can be painful in the immediate now.
Gnat Miser is a different case entirely. Nowhere on this card is the word “discard” mentioned, but discarding is still the goal. Your maximum hand size is usually seven cards, and represents the spells you’re thinking of right now. To have your maximum hand size reduced means something is hindering your coherent thought. In this case, it’s the constant buzzing of gnats in your ears and the pungent rat odor in your nostrils. Distracting, to say the least.
And then there’s Jin-Gitaxias. Functionally reading “each opponent discards their hand in the cleanup step”, the Core Augur denies your foes everything but the most limited functionality. Putting it simply, he lobotomizes them while overfilling your head with ideas (probably notions of Progress Engine perfection).
I hope you’ve enjoyed this sampling of various flavors of forced discard. Join me on Thursday, when I will talk about implications of tokens, their supposed mechanical/flavor disconnect, and my personal explanations for why certain cards care about tokens vs nontokens.
It was a little tricky to decide on how to distinguish envy and greed mechanically, because stealing your opponents’ stuff felt appropriate for both. In the end, I decided that greed was more about amassing things for yourself than taking from your opponents. While I entertained the idea of choosing Krenko (tons of tokens!) or Jin-Gitaxias (tons of cards!), I settled on Kruphix because I liked that it encouraged you, the player, to get greedy and hoard mana and cards.
I built the deck so that it could easily deny its opponents’ strategies but had very few ways to win; I thought it was cute/ironic that the easiest way to stop the cycle of greed and win the game is through generously targeting an opponent with a huge Blue Sun’s Zenith/Stroke of Genius/Braingeyser and milling them out.