We're excited to continue Coast to Coast Casual (CCC), a blog series written by East2West, published on MTG Cardsmith.
As you saw last month I'm a fan of MTG lore, as someone who wants to one day become a fantasy writer I really enjoy that it's an aspect of the game. Through the years I've fallen in love with characters and, in true magic fashion, seen a lot of them die horribly. So, as a send off to Magic's 25th year of play, I'd like to talk about some of my favorite Magic lore characters. In no particular order these are 10 MTG characters that deserve a come back.
Before you ask that is her real name. I'm going to call her Asmor from here on out though. Asmor is featured in the Distant Planes anthology of Magic stories which takes place on Dominaria (mostly) before The Mending. She's a wizard and a chef who summons a demon named Vincent who demands she feed him. After running out of food Asmor makes a deal with Vincent so she herself is not eaten. For seven years and seven days Asmor is to become the personal chef of Vincent. During this time she wrote The Underworld Cookbook which is actually referenced on a couple cards. ( this one and this one.)
I won't spoil the rest of Asmor's story but it's one I enjoyed for its humor and plot.
Ixidor is one of the many characters that fell to the "Story cards must be weak." phase of Magic's history. In the books and lore Ixidor is an ex-illusionist who discovers he can actually warp reality itself! He discovers this power near death in the desert and uses it to create a beautiful oasis. Ixidor is also the creator of the angel Akroma, who was an attempt to resurrect his dead love. The story of Ixidor is sad and beautiful. I cried at multiple points through the book and I truly believe he deserves some attention, if not that then at least a playable card.
Bear with me on this because I'm not talking about actual Tibalt. See in the real lore Tibalt is a horrible man who tortures innocents and deals with demons. He's a pain born Planeswalker with a bloody past. Or at least he was before the fans saw his card. Tibalt is a horrible planeswalker card, there are whole essays about how bad he is. So almost as a joke the community latched onto him, reimagining him as this failed villain. In the minds of the fans Tibalt is this adorable little demon who tries so hard to be evil but he's just too cute! This is the Tibalt I support, screw the lore, fan Tibalt is the Tibalt we deserve!
7: Hamu and/or Ikenet
The second of three entries from Distant Planes the story of Hamu and Ikenet is beautiful. Hamu is a hurloon minotaur who lives in isolation. One day he finds a pregnant woman, Ikenet, dying in the snow. He takes her into his home and nurses her back to health. It's a story of love and emotion, when I read this for the first time I was smiling and crying at the end. You'll see tears are a theme of this list. Hamu and Ikenet is the sweetest and most wholesome love story I've ever read about in MTG lore
Kamahl's story spans a lot of the older books and it's a doozy. He's a great foil for a character we'll see later on this list and his arc is long, winding, and rewarding. He goes from revenge driven barbarian to druidic fighter and that journey is one to behold. Seeing how the writers go into his thoughts is an experience I find hard to describe, I found Kamahl to be so human that every time I read a book with him in it I felt like I was visiting an old friend. His cards are okay and the fact that both his Barbarian side and his Druid side have cards is nice but I urge you to read more about him. Let me share that feeling of friendship with you dear reader.
5: Helena and/or Illith
Did you know the demon on Demonic Tutor has a name? Because I sure didn't. The final entry from Distant planes is the story of Helena, a priest, whose father is whisked away by a planeswalker to fight a battle. This leaves Helena alone and afraid. She uses the powerful magic stones of her church to find the planeswalker but as she enters the plane a battle is underway. Caught in the middle she flees and hides behind some shrubbery only to encounter Illith. Illith is the Demonic Tutor and he was summoned to this battle and greatly wishes he wasn't. Illith joins Helena on her quest and the two become fast friends. This story is one of the ones that left me grinning ear to ear. Illith is a hilarious character and Helena is a relatable protagonist. This was hands down my favorite story from Distant Planes and I can't recommend it enough.
If you read last month's article then you already know a bit about the fine Phyrexian lass Xantcha. Unlike other Phyrexians, Xantcha realized that her actions were wrong and ended up helping Urza in his attempts to bring down Phyrexia. Xantcha is overlooked in a lot of the lore but she deserves a lot better that a simple mention. She's a canonically good Black and Red mana wielding character and that shows something. Xantcha rebels against her nature and is a great example of the way mana colors effect characters. Xantcha's black mana searches for power while the red mana showed her the way to rebel against the Phyrexian overlords. Xantcha deserves more than a backup commander card. More Xantcha or we riot!
3: The Brother's Yamazaki
Kamigawa legends as a whole are kind of glossed over lore wise since Kamigawa block was a mess, despite this I believe these brothers deserve a mention. The Brothers Yamazaki were two twins who left their small village to join up with Konda's forces during the war. After Konda made the decision to retreat from Sozekan Range, despite the fact that many innocents there needed help, the brothers left in disgust. The joined up with Godo for a while and soon became his most trusted lieutenants. After a failed assault of Eiganjo castle the brothers received a letter from their father saying their village was under assault. They returned home and defeated the Kami of Ice and Fire that had been attacking their village. During the battle their father was killed causing the brothers to reluctantly take up the mantle of village guardians. They defended their village through the war and never once did they lose. Their village never fell and still stands today, however this story does not have a happy ending. The brothers actions were never officially recorded anywhere leaving them to be forgotten and, due to the death of their father, after the war was over the brothers parted ways and never spoke again. This tragic tale of heroism and duty makes these two A+ heroes in my book. Their brotherly bond deserves an update for Commander. Kamigawa needs more love so take these buff bros into your hearts. Yamazaki forever.
I love the Weatherlight crew, the original one, none of this new fangled Jhoira shlock. It was a epic and tragic tale love, loss, friendship, duty, and the greater good. Every crew member was well written and well designed and I became so attached to each and every one. Hannah was the best character of them all, the true cream of the crop. Even though she was an artificer Hannah had a kind heart. She showed love and respect to all and left hope in her wake. Her death tore my heart out and probably represents the saddest I've ever felt about a fictional death. Literally anything new with Hannah would make me so happy, whether a canon resurrection or just a new card Hanah deserves a second chance at life. In truth though maybe it's best she doesn't get it, her sacrifice was meaningful and saved thousands. If she came back what would that be worth?
Chainer is hands down my favorite character in all of MTG lore. I picked up the book Chainer's Torment at a garage sale about a year after I started playing Magic and honestly that book is probably what kept me going. Chainer is a character whose flaws are on display and it makes him glorius. He's undeniably shifty, he is a black mana character, but he does try to be good. His deeds are kind half the time and he makes such a good hero. I'm not going to spoil the ending of his story but it's tragic. It made me close the book and have an all out cryfest before I could continue. Chainer is a good guy doing bad things and if there is anyway possible for him to return to the MTG story I hope it's taken. We need more characters like Chainer who can exemplify their color identity yet also advance it. Chainer is hands down the best character in MTG lore and it would take a miracle for me to change my mind.
Now that the gushing is out of the way below are some links to some of the books mentioned above. I highly recommend these three specifically with Distant Planes being tied for best with Chainer's Torment. Onslaught is good but it pales to the other two. So to all of you out there in the multiverse reading this, happy holidays.Onslaught Cycle
East2West is an aspiring writer from NJ currently seeking fame and fortune on the internet. She's been playing Magic since Zendikar block (the original one) and is a commander player with one deck for each two color pair and one for each single color. The only non EDH deck she plays is her own personal Pauper brew, Pauper Eggs. Follow her on her newly created and probably soon to be underused twitter @East2WestMTG.