5, May, 23

MTG Players Declare Desire for Flashback to Lost History!

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How did everyone enjoy the recent Brothers’ War set? In terms of MTG lore, The Brothers’ War is one of the most impactful times in the entire history of the Multiverse. The Phyrexians first made their appearance through this war (well, technically they didn’t but more on that later), and some of the most powerful Planeswalkers, and gastric cloud-beings, to ever exist appeared here. Unlike the rest of MTG’s recent core sets that outlined the Phyrexian Invasion that just concluded, The Brothers’ War jumped back into history, giving players a detailed glimpse of what happened in a contemporary setting. This was an absolutely fantastic opportunity to give a historic event a ton of modern details, and, as someone who got into the game always wondering what Urza would look like in a Modern setting, this was truly a treat to experience.

A lot of the community seemed to enjoy this blast to the past, because it appears that there may be more sets like this in the future. One of MTG’s designers reached out to the community, asking what points in history players would like to explore and, oh boy, did players ever respond.

Back Into History

This isn’t the first time that MTG designer Mark Rosewater reached out on his Tumblr account, appropriately titled the Blogatog, to get feedback and answer questions from community members regarding – well – whatever MTG topics they can think of. After being asked how The Brothers’ War was received earlier today from user sanfwoosstuff, Rosewater, in his traditional fashion, turned their questions regarding the future of flashback sets towards the comments:

“Do you all want more flashback sets? If yes, what would you like?”

Since different settings were not explored in detail in earlier MTG sets, there are a lot of points in early MTG lore that many players don’t really know very much about. Judging from the comments that replied to Rosewater’s question, and to the comments that discussed it on Reddit, the Thran Empire is, by far, the most requested location for players to visit in a flashback set.

“The Thran. Done. No more discussion needed.”

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What is the Thran Empire?

The Thran Empire was, well, an empire that existed during Yawgmoth’s rise to power. Before Yawgmoth became the Father of Machines, he was a medical genius born in the ages of the Thran Empire.

To my knowledge, there’s not a lot of detail as to how the Thran Empire was founded, but it was a massive civilization that existed on Dominaria before the Phyrexians appeared. The empire was based in the Terisiare continent, but expanded to Caliman and Shiv. According to mtgwiki, the earliest known point of the Thran Empire’s history was only 200 years before its destruction.

The empire was known for its proficient artificers and eugenics but, as the empire continued to age, various political parties started to host divided opinions on how to go about things. One example, backed by the Thran elite, favored “supported traditional powerstone-based machinery and a magic-centric worldview, especially in healing.” This created divided opinions amongst eugenicists in particular, who were leading in inventive medical techniques that lead to things similar to surgery and a recognition of the existence of diseases. That said, in what seems to be a sort of traditional fearmongering over evolution cliché, the eugenicists were driven into exile.

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Yawgmoth’s Rise

Yawgmoth, as you may expect at this point, happened to be the head eugenicist. He was summoned back when the Thran capital started to suffer from a diseases coined Phthisis. This is not the same as the Phthisis that exists in real life, and is instead a disease brought on by Powerstone radiation. Since the Thran couldn’t fix it themselves, they called on Yawgmoth to see if his foreign practices could fix the problem.

Many symptoms were attached to the Phthisis disease, some even may have been fabricated. This is because Yawgmoth convinced the Thran that the cure to this disease was the replacement of organic limbs with mechanical ones. These patients turned into experiments that slowly became the Phyrexians.

After tricking a Planeswalker named Dyfed into opening a portal to an alternate plane to help Yawgmoth threat Phthisis patients, the original plane of Phyrexia was born. Once the Thran discovered what Yawgmoth was up to, war broke out, and the Phyrexians won, ending the Thran Empire. If you want to read more about Yawgmoth, we have a more detailed breakdown of his character here.

Where Else Do We Want to Go?

The Thran Empire is definitely the most interesting time in history to visit in the opinion of many MTG players, but its not the only place that players are dying to visit. The thing in common with many of these suggestions is that they are all events that haven’t been explored in modern storytelling for the game. This quote from Redditor Cronogunpla is a good summary of a bunch of interesting options:

“Only for events that we haven’t seen yet. Here’s a fun list:

Thran War (dominaria)

The Blood Age (Arcavios)

The forming of the Guildpact (ravnica)

Nicol Bolas’ invasion of Amonkhet (Amonkhet)

A set about whoever Built Orzaca (Ixalan)

The Kor Empire (Zendikar)”

Cronogunpla

Notably, we have some storytelling of some of the events on this list, like Nicol Bolas’ invasion of Amonkhet and some history of the building of the Orzaca, but Cronogunpla is asking for more detail surrounding many of these events in the form of a core set.

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The Founding/Before the Founding of the Guilds of Ravnica

Aside a retelling of the fall of the Thran Empire, getting a fleshed out look at the age before the Guilds of Ravnica was established, or the conversion between these ages (the creation of the Guildpact), would be the most interesting thing to me personally and many other MTG players:

“I would love a ravnica flashback set to when the guilds were founded. We could get cards for the original paruns, including a planeswalker Azor. We could probably also get new versions of the nephilim and the cult that worships them.”

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“I would be interested in the founding of the guilds on Ravnica, as well as Yawgmoth’s story and the Thran empire. I think Yawgmoth’s story could be very effective because we’ve already seen cards of both him, Glacian, and Rebecc. I think the the BRO idea of creating multiple cards to show the same character at different points in their lives would work nicely here.”

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While there is lots of content regarding the Guilds of Ravnica after they were founded, we do not really know much about the time before they were founded, or of the founding of them.

We do know that Old Ravnica was lorded by the Nephilim, “powerful monstrosities with limited intelligence that were venerated by the Cult of Yore, who saw them as the “Old Gods”.” These were considered the symbols of the age before the Guildpact and exploring that, as well as the creation of the Guildpact, would be an incredibly interesting venture.

Regardless of where MTG chooses to go, players have made their love of the flashback set apparent. The Thran Empire seems to be the most popular choice by a mile, which makes sense considering the effect that Yawgmoth’s name has had over recent events. Unfortunately, unless Wizards of the Coast already has these destinations in development, it may take some time before we see these become actualized. Sets tend to be created two years in advance, which means we could be waiting even longer if they decide to start creating one of these destinations now. Whenever it comes out, I’m sure that I will swing by to experience the colorful lore illuminating these exciting points in MTG history.

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