Saturday, January 23, 2016

Chapter 3

My head is beginning to clear. But something is very different. I remember Sea Gate. I remember fighting. And then one of those things... I remember teeth and tentacles, I remember all being lost. I went through something that Ulden Mar didn't survive. But I could still remember him. I wasn't ready to let him go. And whatever I was, there was fire within me. So wherever I had gone, I pulled me back into myself and then I made me walk back to somewhere.

Karn had gently gripped Ulden's shoulder with his large hand and 'walked them away the enslaved workers and the frozen Phyrexian demon.

"It's good that you made it through the Blind Eternities awake. You will master navigating them in time."

The feeling of being between planes had reminded him of the vague trauma of the Eldrazi that he had tucked into the corner of his mind, but he was determined to keep himself somewhat oriented as they planeswalked. He was in Tazeem. He could hear the Halimar tides lapping at the shore. He was home.

"I have brought you here because it seems like the only fair place to ask you to ask you it you will join me," Karn said. "Of course you still have questions, and I can answer many of them in time."

"That's a bit of an understatement, isn't it?" yelled Ulden, suddenly angry. Karn's strange and deliberate patience was making Ulden anxious. "Do you understand that I'm still trying to figure out who I am and what in Emeria's name is going on and you're asking me to go on some nonsensical trip through space? Forget "Phyrexia", how about who the hell are you? What are you?"

"I was created—" Karn started.

Ulden wasn't finished. "I'm a lullmage! My identity is being the guy who tames the Roil and you want to take me somewhere where there IS NO ROIL? This is where I live. 'Zendikar' is where I belong."

"I think you will find that you are know longer simply a denizen of one plane. We planeswalkers all experience wanderlust eventually."

"Well I greatly appreciate the concern for my emotional well-being".

"There is something I would like to show you before I leave you alone, then. If you will permit me."

Ulden could feel mana being manipulated around him, but it felt odd. Karn wasn't gesticulating or muttering incantations to focus his magic. He simply pointed at the air in front of him and it split open with a loud crack.

Through the tear was a vision of horror. Black Glistening Oil dripped from the hedrons floating in the sky, and evil beasts made of machinery were strip mining the beautiful geography of his world.

"The Phyrexians will do to your home what they did to mine, given time. They will spread through the multiverse, taking root wherever they are able. It is their nature to corrupt life with their unnatural artifice until it is unrecognizable.

"At one point they were all but defeated. I was foolish. The only trace of their existence left in the multiverse was in the one place I could not find it. Within my own heart. I payed for that mistake. Now there is no room for mistakes.

"Most planeswalkers are driven by their own self-preservation, but if you do not find motivation there, perhaps the nobler notion of saving your kin will help you make this decision."

The notion was awfully noble.

Chapter 2

Snake-like metal cables whirred as they uncoiled from somewhere in the creature's chest. Its metallic feet rose from the ground as it the cables dug into the ground below it. It took an asymmetric stride towards me and covered a third of the distance across the wide plain I had seen it from. I was aware of all this, but all I could see was the bright red light of its eyes piercing into the center of my forehead, feeling around for something. Searing pain shot through my spine and out to my limbs for minutes or hours or days in malicious bursts. The now-familiar void of unconsciousness enveloped me.

Ulden awoke with the dim light of dawn in the strange world. For a moment his heart leapt as he saw the horrific creature looming above him. He realized that the creature was frozen in place; or at least it seemed that way at first. Upon closer inspection sparks of electricity jolted across the exposed metal wiring under its chest plate at frequent intervals. There was a faint whirring coming from the thing, and it was posed in an advancing position. With fascination his hand wandered towards the nearest reaching cable-leg.

"I wouldn't touch that. Well, I would, but you shouldn't."

Startled as he was, the voice behind him was so calm that it pacified him before he had turned around. A few yards behind him was a man made of what looked like pure silver. He had huge shoulderpads that bent up to partially cover the sides of his head, and his chest seemed to be made of platemail. Ulden knew of artifice, but there was no artifact built so... perfectly. He quickly concluded what stood before him was a man in a suit powered by magic.

"How do you produce a voice with metal? That's the only part I can't figure out."

The being smiled a sad smile. "Interested in artifice? Or perhaps just an inquisitive mind. In either case wouldn't you sooner know where you are or anything else about your situation? I've invested a significant amount of time making sure I'd know when you woke up."

Ulden rubbed his eyes for a second. "Yes, of course, please explain. I'm sorry I'm having trouble staying... here. In time. I'm myself but I'm not quite in my body. Don't be afraid to tell me I sound mad, I'm used to it... I think..."

The metal man looked upon Ulden with disarmingly apparent empathy. His face was only partially articulated, yet his eyes were full of wistfulness and suffering.

"First of all, I am called Karn."

"Ulden," He replied. He wasn't sure what else to say.

"There is much to explain to you. The best place to start would be to deal with the nature of the multiverse. The planet on which you grew up exists on one material plane among countless others."

"And we're on a different one."

"Intuitive," Karn remarked. "You and are among a precious few beings in the multiverse that can travel between the planes. I have the same capabilities."

The notion hadn't exactly sunk in when Karn asked his next question.

"Do you remember the liberation of Sea Gate?"

Ulden thought for a moment. "I don't, no. But I know I was there."

"That confirms a theory I had. Ulamog and Kozilek were defeated nearly 20 Zendikar-years ago. From what I gather you've been unconscious for most of that time. I found you several months ago." The metal man reached out and with surprising grace and gentleness plucked a single hair from Ulden's head. The strand shone silver like Karn himself. "You've aged a few years, but not 20. There's something special about your spark; the thing thing that enables you to walk between the planes. I have something to ask of you for that reason."

Ulden had no response.

"I ask that you travel with me to the edge of time, to the plane of Equilor, where I hope to find aid against an indescribable enemy," he said. He motioned to the metal creature nearly frozen in time behind Ulden. "I'm not one to explain things away with luck, but while I was monitoring outposts of the enemy I happened upon you and was able to intervene. I left that beast here to make a point. It is one cog of a massive and nigh-unstoppable machine that threatens all life in the multiverse."

It meant nothing to him, but the next word made him shiver.


Chapter 1

I remember it looked at me with too many eyes. It saw too much. And when it opened its mouth, and it pulled me in, I was pulled in every direction at once. It was the opposite of gravity and though there was no light to see I saw time. But something exploded inside of me in that moment and suddenly light and time became one. I didn't move, but I walked. And then it was over.

Ulden awoke to a Zendikar much calmer than he had been expecting. The word for "calm" in Zendikarii had a very different meaning than it did on most planes, but he had grown up knowing a natural world, even if it did tend to get restless. Despite the peace around him, something was bothering him. He felt damp.

He looked at his hand and pulled off the leather glove. His hand was glistening with sweat. Wait a minute, isn't it winter? The sun was shining brightly through the thick leaves of a tree above his head. He rubbed his eyes with his free hand and pulled himself up to the trunk of the tree. As he oriented himself he noticed that the copse around him was on something of an incline. A few small cliffs jutted out here and there, but it was mostly a gentle slope that he tracked with his eyes from left to right going up until the treeline closer up obscured his view of the ground. He stood up and pulled off his cloak and more of his winter garb.

He tried to think back to his last memory before waking up, but he found himself unable to organize his thoughts. His memory felt frail and slow, like he was an infant drawing the very first pictures in his mind. His name was Ulden and he was a lullmage. He remembered his mother and father, and he became sad, but he wasn't sure why. Sifting around his mind made him very tired, and he drifted back out of consciousness as the phantoms of his parents floated into the mist.

His eyes were met with darkness when they opened again. He hoped it had only been a few hours and not a few days this time. The sun was peaking out from the mountains ahead. That wasn't a good sign. He spent a few hours stretching out and trying to find some food to eat; he had woken up starving. By dawn he was growing more and more anxious about how confusing his situation was. On Zendikar, unfamiliar territory was not... unfamiliar territory. He was used to being lost. But there were supposed to be people around him, he was sure about that. He had been part of something larger, he was sure of that. A common goal of some sort...

It didn't take long to find a tree that seemed like it would be easy enough to climb to get a little bit more info of his surroundings. He pushed the thin higher branches away and pulled himself above the canopy, shielding his eyes from the morning sun and the unusually strong wind. The forest ended a half-mile away; grasslands and trees stretched down a long slope that curved back up into mountains far in the distance. He looked to his right and saw the same thing. The left was similar. He was in the center of a valley, but it seemed to be roughly circular.

Ulden worked his way back to the ground and mulled over what he had seen as he started to dig through his pack to see what tools he had to work with. He knew the Roil. It worked in three dimensions. If the ground had been pulled up on all sides, it had probably been pulled far above sea level into the sky, which meant he was trapped; possibly alone. That thought faded away and he returned to the Roil. Three dimensions... The thought seemed simplistic. Incomplete.

Reality seemed to flicker. Ulden's mind raced. And then he was standing on a beach. In front of him were countless graves following a hill rising up from the sea. And looming across them was a massive shadow with a form that made him freeze in place. His mind was both blank and full to the brim with thought as he witnessed the shadow shrink back to the sea. The sun came into view over head and he realized he had been standing in place for hours contemplating what was becoming a more and more familiar scene.

He turned around and saw the inconceivably huge figure of Ulamog trapped in stone above him. Reality flickered again.

He was on his knees. He was on the top of a hill in a world he'd never seen before. It was dark and the air was thick with smog. In the distance he could see a large camp. There were humans breaking rocks with large pickaxes in groups around the tents. Towering over the working men and women was an unnatural looking creature with winding skeletal arms each holding long whips. Its hunched back was covered with spikes that looked as sharp as razor blades and its feet were cloven and tipped with cruel talons. It turned its head directly towards Ulden and its red eyes seemed to glow.

The thing knew something Ulden didn't. And it was angry.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Modern Show and Tell

So, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is a pretty good Magic card.

When you find a new way to slam an Emrakul at a reasonable point in the game (i.e. not turn 15), it's usually worth exploring that. Well, enter Fold into Æther:

This is an odd one. You certainly don't want to counter your opponent's Delver of Secrets with it, only to have them drop a free Gurmag Angler thanks to your spell. However, there are instances where it's a perfectly serviceable defensive card. But I'm sure you can guess where I decided to take it. Here be Emrakuls.

No sweat, Clyde indeed; if we counter our own spell (preferably something cheap and instant-speed, like a Snapcaster Mage or an Anticipate), we get to Cheatyface in the biggest of Big Daddies. So let's build a deck around this interaction, shall we?

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Path to Enlightenment is long and full of Belches

Take the words "Goblin Charbelcher" and tell me what you think of. Hastily put together by a team of half-wit Goblins, prone to misfires and maybe even backfires. Imagine laying siege on your enemies via belch. I'm going to welcome you into a strange and beautiful new world today. The world of Modern 8-Land Belcher.

credit to

Monday, November 10, 2014

I Tron, U Tron...

I've found myself writing at length about the Modern Mono-Blue Urzatron deck lately on reddit, which seemed to suggest I should probably get all my thoughts written down somewhere so I could stop repeating myself and just link to this. I'm not in much of a rhetorical mood today, so I'm just gonna lay out some information about the deck without my usual pomp and circumstance. I'll be starting to stream it soon on my Twitch channel, so look out for that.

Okay, so... yeah.

A Mono-U Tron Primer

I guess people generally start with the "why" of a deck when they explain it. You might be attracted to U Tron for a couple of reasons. The shallowest of which is how incredibly cheap it is without being some boring aggro nonsense. This isn't Burn; you get to play very interactive skill-testing games for like, 150 MTGO tickets (about $200 paper). That's always good.

So, there's that. Another appeal to the deck is the sheer power level of the spells you get to cast. Sundering Titan is a pretty good Magic card. I don't know if you guys have ever Mindslaver'd a Storm opponent and then played out their deck and made them Grapeshot himself for 20, but... it's a pretty good feeling. Don't have removal? Hey look, a Platinum Angel.

I guess if you want to talk about the competitive side of things, the actual reason why Blue Tron can be the "correct" deck choice is your top-notch inevitability. Your one weakness is man-lands, which you need Dismember or Tec Edge/Ghost Quarter for. That aside you have the best Inevitability in the format. In other words, when the game starts to go long, your win percentage skyrockets. Not only do you have Sundering Titan, Mindslaver locks, and occasionally Platinum Angel to win the game on the spot, you have a LOT of countermagic to land those as well as Spell Burst to hard-lock your opponent out of the game.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Veil

Blows the dust off the tubes.

Boy, it's a been a while.

Well, it's been about two months. That's not that long, when you think about it. Hell, people disappear from blogs or podcasts or whatever for years, and then come back and pick up right where they left off. But to me it's seemed like forever.

When we last left our hero, he was struggling for topics.

My tastes in Magic change pretty rapidly. One week I'm aspiring to be a Pro Tour Champion, the next week I'm playing Burn at the Stake combo at FNM. For a while there, though, I was stuck on this whole competitive thing. Reading articles, playtesting constantly, checking the MTGO daily decklists multiple times a day. I couldn't get it out of my head that I wanted to get better and better and go pro and change the world of Magic forever.

It all came to a head when I went to a PTQ with my Merfolk deck. I wrote a detailed article about it that'll be going up on some time later this month, but the short version is, I just barely fell short of a 6-2 finish. Given my expectations going into the event, I was floored. It was an amazing experience, and I felt what it was like to play competitive Magic. As the day went on I learned a lot. Not just about the game itself, but about being a Magic player.