July 08, 2015 / by Margot Martell

Dear readers, who also happen to be wizard people, hello! I am writing to you from A PIT OF FIRE. I AM ON FIRE. REGATHA IS BASICALLY ALL FIRE ALL THE TIME OH GOD IT HURTS PLEASE MAKE IT STOP.

I apologize profusely for my long absence from this blog. You see, one night in July 2013, shortly after my last post, I went on a bit of a bender, and got lost in the Blind Eternities while planeswalking away from local Seattle law enforcement (I wasn’t relieving myself on that fire hydrant; that’s slander. SLANDER I TELL YOU).

Once I sobered up and oriented myself with the nothingness, I spent some time stumbling from plane to plane, partially in search of fellow Magic philosophers, mostly in search of aspirin because OH GOD HANGOVERS WHILE DRIFTING THROUGH THE BLIND ETERNITIES ARE THE WORST. Aspirin apparently does not exist in the Magic multiverse. I have had a headache for the last two years. It has been mightily unpleasant, to say the least.

Fortunately, I was able to meet some fellow philosophers on my journey to relieve my eternal hangover. I became fast friends in particular with one I encountered on Rath — fast indeed, because she grew up among heart slivers — a planeswalker named meat hooks.

Yes, dear readers, meat hooks is a sliver. Probably the smartest sliver I’ve ever met! She will be writing the rest of this post for me, as I’m currently struggling to remain conscious, because, as I mentioned earlier, I AM CURRENTLY ON FIRE IN A PIT OF FIRE ON A PLANE PRETTY MUCH MADE OF FIRE. meat, you’re a doll. Well, okay, you’re actually a sliver, and not of the doll-like Metallic variety (meat can be a bit too literal for my tastes sometimes…). Thanks so much for assisting in this Magic Origins prerelease primer while I attempt to use my magic to keep the very core of my being from being set ablaze!

Hello, readers! My name is meat hooks, and, as Matthew mentioned, I am a sliver. But I am also a planeswalker, a feminist, a philosopher, and avid slinger of red spells in this game we all adore!

With that in mind, I’m here to help you choose your prerelease pool, but not by the metrics many other Magic writers might recommend. Power level of overall card pool? Who cares! Expected monetary value of rares within that color? Sliver Hives are collectivist and reject capitalist economic ideas out of hand (or, erm, hook, really)! Color preference based on any number of personal predilections? That’s fine, I suppose, but we as a community can do better! I’m here to help you choose your prerelease pool based on the most important factor: how feminist the planeswalker’s origin story/overall world is!

For those among you who are not avid Vorthoses like myself, I’ll be providing summaries of each Magic Origins planeswalker’s, erm, origin story, before jumping into the reasons why you should or should not choose to align yourselves with that ‘walker during prerelease. Let’s dive in, shall we?

White: Kytheon Iora/Gideon Jura
Kytheon, Hero of AkrosGideon, Battle-Forged

TL;DR origin story:
Kytheon Iora and his Irregulars (aka friends/soldier bros) are vigilantes on the streets of Akros (a city in Theros); Kytheon gets arrested for stealing food for his family/friends; Kytheon learns hieromancy (law magic) from some dude named Hixus while in prison; Kytheon saves Akros from some harpies and cyclopes using said law magic; Kytheon gets tasked by Heliod (Theros’s Zeus impersonator/gigantic asshole primary god) with killing a zombie titan thing made by Erebos, the god of death; Kytheon kills said zombie titan; Kytheon kills his Irregulars, accidentally; Kytheon planeswalks to Bant; (later) Kytheon Iora becomes Gideon Jura, because Bant has angels and inexplicably Christian names and shit, yo.

Is Kytheon/Gideon’s origin story feminist?
Not explicitly, but it definitely doesn’t shy away from pointing out how Akroan society/general Theros mythology is full of patriarchal assholes, so kinda?

Does Kytheon/Gideon’s origin story pass the Bechdel test?
I think there is one woman featured in the entire story, and she doesn’t even have a name. So, NOPE.

Should you play white at the prerelease?
If you like laws and burly dudes with tragic, classically Ancient Greek origin stories and overpowered common and uncommon creatures, yes!

Blue: Jace Beleren
Jace, Vryn's ProdigyJace, Telepath Unbound
TL;DR origin story:
Jace Beleren lives on Vryn and has no friends because everyone thinks he’s a freak; Jace is a telepath, so basically he IS a freak; Jace accidentally lobotomizes a bully because mind control is a helluva drug; Jace finds a teacher named Alhammarret, who is also a telepath AND A SPHINX!!; Alhammarret is a bad dude-sphinx who is using Jace to keep up an endless war on Vryn that isn’t well-explained or particularly detailed in the lore; Jace makes Alhammarret forget how to breathe during a MIND DUEL; Jace loses most of his memories during said MIND DUEL and winds up planeswalking to Ravnica; Jace goes to find Emmara Tandris, because apparently she likes orphans or something.

Is Jace’s origin story feminist?
Unclear, but I think we can safely determine that it is very anti-Sphinx.

Does Jace’s origin story pass the Bechdel test?
There are only three women in it, and none of them ever interact explicitly. So, NEGATORY MORNING GLORY.

Should you play blue at the prerelease?
If you like bounce spells and drawing cards and a light artifact sub-theme, yes!

Black: Liliana Vess
Liliana, Heretical HealerLiliana, Defiant Necromancer
TL;DR origin story:
Liliana’s brother is dying because Dominaria has always been a shitty place to live; Liliana talks to a man who is also apparently a raven (who might be Nicol Bolas??) while searching for some healing plant; Raven Bro reminds her she is full of dark magic and heck-of powerful; Liliana kills a bunch of witches while searching for said healing plant because she is heck-of powerful; Liliana gets into a fight with her mentor Lady Ana over using dark magic to heal people; Liliana kills her brother and brings him back to life as a tortured soul/zombie/demon thing; Liliana planeswalkers to Innistrad; Liliana lives a hojillion years until the Mending happens; Liliana makes a demonic pact with the help of Nicol Bolas in the interest of living a hojillion more years; the fourth demon is named Kothophed and he gives her eternal life but warns her that one day he’s gonna go all Rihanna on her over her debt, which is her soul, or something?

Is Liliana’s origin story feminist?
A robust feminist worldview accounts for the possibility of female villains and/or anti-heroes, and also Liliana is , so yes!

Does Liliana’s origin story pass the Bechdel test?
Liliana and Lady Ana argue about Liliana’s brother, but it’s not romantic or sexual and they mostly discuss necromancy, so I’m gonna say: YES!

Should you play black at the prerelease?
If you like overcosted spot removal, zombies and really cool but probably not playable enchantments, yes!

Red: Chandra Nalaar
Chandra, Fire of KaladeshChandra, Roaring Flame
TL;DR origin story:
Chandra’s parents run an underground Aether smuggling ring, because the consuls of Ghirapur (a city on the plane of Kaladesh) are militant dickheads; Chandra isn’t great with machines, or book-learning, or most intellectual endeavors, so her parents enlist her as an Aether courier; Chandra’s first delivery is interrupted by some Ghirapur guards because there would be no drama in a successful delivery; Chandra starts shooting fire from her hands, because she is a pyromancer, and anger makes her catch on fire; Chandra torches a big machine factory in Ghirapur, destroying a bunch of robots and pissing off the consuls; Chandra and her parents flee to the countryside of Kaladesh, where she keeps setting things on fire; the Ghirapur military catches the Nalaars; Chandra’s parents die and she gets captured; Chandra planeswalks after exploding some bad military douches moments before she is to be executed; Chandra tries to explode some more people on Regatha, but they’re not explodable because the plane is BASICALLY JUST ALL FIRE (see Matthew’s story, above); Chandra is like Batman now, except poor and not a man named Bruce Wayne and less about bats and more about fire.

Is Chandra’s origin story feminist?
All of the women are fierce, the bad men get exploded, and Chandra gets to become the fiery lady version of Batman, so YES YES YES!

Does Chandra’s origin story pass the Bechdel test?
Chandra pretty much only ever talks about how she can set things on fire, regardless of who she’s talking to. Plus the other two strongest characters in the story are women so: DING DONG! BECHDEL TEST PASSED!

Should you play red at the prerelease?
If you like solid creatures and solid removal and solid late-game finishers and setting your opponents on fire, yes!

Green: Nissa Revane
Nissa, Vastwood SeerNissa, Sage Animist
TL;DR origin story:
Nissa Revane has night terrors about the darkness within Zendikar (read: Eldrazi); Nissa leaves her tribe of the Joraga so her mother doesn’t get exiled along with her; Nissa realizes her visions are of the soul of Zendikar; Nissa realizes her dumb friend Mazik has tailed her; Mazik and Nissa go on crazy adventures while following the soul of Zendikar, wherein Nissa realizes she’s basically the Zendikari version of Toph Beifong (but not blind); Nissa kills some vampires using her nature magic (read: earthbending); Nissa and Mazik locate the darkness within Zendikar (read: ELDRAZI, again) at the top of a cliff in Akoum; Mazik runs away with Nissa’s Zendikar-soul-pet-thing, which is presumably Ashaya (?); Nissa planeswalks away from the Eldrazi’s oppressive darkness and ends up on Lorwyn; Nissa befriends some Gilt-Leaf elves, including the head Daen in charge, Dwynen; Nissa gets invited to go on an eyeblight hunt, before realizing “eyeblight” usually means “helpless boggart goblin”; Nissa becomes an enemy of the aforementioned Gilt-Leaf elves; the Great Aurora arrives to transform Lorwyn into Shadowmoor; the Great Aurora tries to make Nissa into a powerful Lorwyn god-being-elf-thing (??); Nissa’s all like “LOL NOPE” and planeswalks her elf self back to Zendikar, because apparently the Eldrazi are less scary than horned elves and the northern lights.

Is Nissa’s origin story feminist?
Strong female protagonist with awesome only-you-can-save-your-world mission, sweet-ass connection to all living things, sick bow/spear/sword hunting skills. DARN TOOTIN’ IT’S FEMINIST.

Does Nissa’s origin story pass the Bechdel test?
She only talks to Dwynen for like four seconds before she peaces out of Lorwyn, but they do kill a couple goblins together and talk about her lack of horns instead of boys or whatever, so soft yes?

Should you play green at the prerelease?
If you like ramp spells and fatty creatures across all rarities and not much else in the way of card diversity, or if you ship Toph/Nissa (Topha? Nistoph?), then yes!

So there you have it: your complete feminist decision matrix for which color to choose at the Magic Origins prerelease. I’m going to turn you back over to Matthew now, as I promised him I’d call my sister Valerie to see if she could help ease his pain. She’s a frenetic sliver; we’re hoping we can phase him out of the fire!

Take care, everyone! May your prerelease pools be intersectional and filled with red spells bomb rares!

OH GOD EVERYTHING IS STILL BURNING PLEASE SEND HELP–oh hi everyone. I hope you found meat’s discussion regarding the Magic Origins prerelease to be informative and educational. I’m sure I would have found it to be exactly that, was I not too busy being on fire and whatnot.

Until next time,
Matthew “ALL I KNOW IS BURNING” Martell