Magic: The Gathering is a card game that features fantastical settings and compelling characters, but if you are new to the story it can be overwhelming to connect all these dots.
Welcome to Magic Arcanum. I'm Ryan Gomez, and I'm going to help make sense of what's going on.
Today, we're looking at The Chronicle of Bolas: The Twins, the first episode in an eight-week saga leading up to the Core Set 2019 set later this summer.
The story begins by introducing us to Naiva and Baishya, sisters. The two are trying to quietly make their way toward a Qal Sisma mountain, and that gives us our setting. We've heard this name before, on a plane called Tarkir.
Tarkir is presently controlled by a group of dragons, but that wasn't always the case. You see, Tarkir is somewhat special in Magic thanks to some time-travel that changed the fate of the plane.
For a long time, dragons were plentiful on Tarkir. They were created by powerful storms called, surprise, Dragon Tempests. But one day those storms stopped, and new dragons ceased being born. Eventually the humans were able to thrive and wipe out the remaining dragons.
Well, a Planeswalker named Sarkhan did not like this one bit, and he went back in time to undo whatever had stopped the Tempests.
He learned that the Tempests were coming from another planeswalker: Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. Ugin had gotten into a fight with yet another dragon, this one called Nicol Bolas.
In the original Tarkir timeline, Bolas killed Ugin, and the storms stopped. But, with Sarkhan present, he was able to influence the battle ever so slightly, and managed to keep Ugin alive in a protective cocoon. The Tempests continued, and now present day Tarkir is ruled by dragons.
Back to our story - the twins are about to be buried by an avalanche when one of them uses magic to create a protective barrier. This is a big deal, because under the current rule of the dragons, this magic is forbidden.
After digging their way out of the snow, the girls encounter a pair of windfolk. These are a sort of elemental creature that lives high in the mountains of Tarkir and is rarely seen.
They impart a message to one of the girls, and then vanish.
The girls make their way back home to deliver this message to their grandmother, who we discover is Yasova Dragonclaw. This is a character we've seen before. She's the leader of the Temur tribe on Tarkir, but since her position and title are forbidden under the rule of the dragons, she's been living in secret for some time.
The girls and their grandmother share in a vision given to them by the windfolk, and it is a doozy.
We see the birth of dragons by way of The Ur-Dragon, a sort of father of all dragons. His wings create storms that breed dragons, which should already sound familiar.
Other dragons come to life as they fall through the sky. Chromium Rhuell. Palladia-Mors. An unnamed dragon falls into a volcano and is happy about it, presumably Vaevictis Asmadi.
And, falling together in a tangle, we get two more: Ugin, and Nicol Bolas.
This is a pretty big reveal for anyone who has followed Magic story a long time. Nicol Bolas has been a major player for years, and we knew he fought and killed Ugin on Tarkir many years ago, but we never knew they were also twins.
I could fill several videos with what Nicol Bolas has done, but I'll try and keep it brief - he's currently the biggest threat to the multiverse, and almost all of our hero characters are uniting in the hopes of stopping him from unleashing an army of undead warriors onto the unsuspecting plane of Ravnica.
So seeing him as a newborn dragon is meaningful. We see his first experience in the world is one of frustration, of helplessness, of anger toward "lesser beings" as he watches hunters take down one of his dragon siblings. He is captivated by how they work together to do something a single one of them could not.
I'm going to speculate here that this will be a recurring theme for Nicol Bolas, and part of his great undoing. The good guys in Magic, the Gatewatch as they're called, vastly outnumber Nicol Bolas, but in their last encounter he managed to defeat them all, head on. He's made it his quest in life to become powerful enough that he doesn't need to depend on others for success, and I think we witness the beginning of all that in this first chapter of his story.
The vision ends with Ugin saying "Someone is looking for you, Yasova Dragonclaw. Come to me."
This is an impressive trick for a dragon who is assumed to be dead. Yasova takes the news pretty well, and immediately decides to venture toward the last known resting place of Ugin in his cocoon on Tarkir, and that concludes the story.
Remember, this is leading up to Core Set 2019, which isn't tied to a specific plane, and has the freedom to tell whatever story it wants while serving as an introduction to the game for newer players, so if you have any theories as to what will happen next, we'd love to hear it in the comments.
Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time for more Magic Arcanum.