Hello folks! Welcome to the coolest plane in the cosmos and the only one that is actually fleshed out and not a planet of mono-culture hats. It’s a world with multiple cultures, continents, architectural styles, and more. Multiple conflicts have rent this plane asunder, and countless awesome people have called it home.
Given our eminent return to the plane that started it all, it just made sense to look at my own favorite ten characters from the plane.
In order to make this list, a character must have been originally from Dominaria. So, a person like Xantcha, who is from Phyrexia but lives on Dominaria for a while won’t count. Ditto Starke of Rath who is from . . . Rath. Dominarian people only.
While any such list will be innately subjective by definition, I am not including a character who is clearly an archetype rather than fleshed out. While I have read some books and short stories and comics, I haven’t read every single work of fiction out there by a long shot, so it’s certainly possible that my understanding of some characters may not be as fully fleshed out as others. I admit that up front.
These are, in my opinion, the most compelling characters in the Dominarian Saga thus far.
Here, let me give you a few examples of popular characters that aren’t interesting at all to me:
Gerrard Capashen — So boring!
Ertai — Wow, is he so one-note and boring. See above.
Urza — Is way too much of an annoying know-it-all that I just want to cuss at in this article but without being interesting in any meaningful ways. Venser is a more interesting Urza, for example, who is weaker in power and stronger in character, by far.
When reading a novel which Urza as the protagonist, I am struck by how unfleshed out he is. Much like Tevesh Szat, he’s a one-note character that is far too powerful to make convincing. He’s not an interesting character. There’s nothing here save for a person who will betray (or manipulate) friends and allies alike in order to get his way and always wears his “#$$hole hat” set to 11. There’s nothing to like with Urza, much like Tevash Szat. There are villains written better than Tevesh Szat and heroes more interesting than Gerrard or Urza.
But I do have heroes and villains both below for your consideration! Let’s take a look!
Imagine that your father, Sidar Kondo, has invested a lot of his life in you, like any father would. You are preparing yourself to succeed him. Everything you can, you will do. And then this perfect baby arrives. Crafted to excellence by Urza’s Genetic Experiments, everything you worked hard for he got by birth. Annoying, right? Then your father adopts the child. But you deal with it. Eventually you become good friends with your adopted brother. You head out to take your place with your culture’s rite of passage. But your rite is unfairly manipulated with (by someone poisoning your ritual paints that your culture used for the Rite of Passage; Yes, it was Starke). By sabotage, you fail. Gerrard saved him, but ritually, he should have followed the mores of the culture and let him fail and die. Volrath is cast out as an embarrassment. He was not allowed to retake the Rite of Passage honorably without deception.
Well, I’m sure you can understand how little boy Vuel fell to Volrath. He claimed the power he should always have had if he hadn’t been betrayed. He captures Starke’s daughter to get vengeance on him. Starke, in desperation, recruits Gerrard to help him, and the Weatherlight heads to Rath, to secure Captain Sisay and Takara, and then everything moves quickly from there.
9. Akroma // Phage
The backstory on these two rivals is very interesting. These are characters done right, and Akroma is arguably a villain in her story. Phage is originally the little sister of Kamahl, Jeska. Jeska is turned to Phage after the intervention of the Cabal Patriarch. Meanwhile, while fighting in the Grand Coliseum, Phage kills the love of Ixidor’s life, and he makes Akroma in his dead-love’s image and sends her to get vengeance against Phage, and that leads to a war that erupts across the region with Akroma at the lead of Ixidor’s created army, and then the Cabal, Druids of Krosan Forest, and more all involved in the battle. A third faction, led by Zagorka was involved as well. Kamahl’s great sword was destined to end the madness, and he kills all three leaders in one great swipe of the sword, killing them and making Karona, False God from their combined essence. (Jeska’s planeswalker spark would enable her to remain Jeska-only)
We find out that Phage was actually Phage because the magic that made her also made these powerful rending creatures that were called deathworms, and each time she killed someone, another deathworm was made and kept inside her. She chose to keep them in and keep herself as Phage in order to save others, rather than release them and harm others, so Phage was, in reality, the hero of the story, and Akroma, the Vengeance-mad Illusion Angel who led the entire area to war was, in essence, the antagonist. That’s interesting. That’s cool. That’s detailed. These are fleshed out characters that live and breathe. They have faults. They have redeeming qualities.
To Phage and Akroma!
8. Dakkon Blackblade
I’ve talked before about just how cool Dakkon is, right? His backstory is very intriguing. So Dakkon is one of the best smiths out there. Then he is approached by a powerful planeswalker who purchases his services, and to make the most powerful sword in the multiverse. As a reward, the ‘walker will give Dakkon the ability to planeswalk.
So, our good smith takes up his new task with relish. Each day, for ten years, he slakes the blade in the soul of a slave. After making the blade, Dakkon heads out and tries it. And yes, in battle, each strike makes him stronger. After hearing he was using it for his own gain, the ‘walker returns, takes her sword, gives him the ‘walker ability, and then drains his soul with the blade leaving him to wander aimlessly. Sol'Kanar the Swamp King acquires the sword and carves a swath of death. Eventually, Dakkon Bladeless takes out Sol’Kanar and then regains many of his powers, with the ‘walker who made him growing stronger as well.
Now isn’t that cool? A smith turned evil soul-sucking sword-wielder who became a planeswalker?
Barrin tries to be Urza’s Voice of Morality and Reason although he fails at it, and he sees how bad Urza can be. For example, after seeing the massive soul power it would take to ignite the Soul Bombs to destroy Phyrexia, he tells Urza that it can’t be done morally. Urza sacrifices a fellow ‘walker to fire those bad boys up. Barrin was manipulated by Urza’s Genetic Experiments, after Urza finds the perfect mate for him to have an ideal child. Urza brings Rayne, Academy Chancellor to the Academy, and they marry and have a child, Hanna. That makes Barrin very interesting, as he has a wife and child while also helping the Tolarian Academy at the height of its powers. After his daughter dies in the early stages of the Phyrexian Invasion of a Phyrexian disease, Barrin takes her body back to Tolaria and sees the Phyrexians here taking hold of the academy. He casts a spell he swore never to cast, and ends himself, the island, and his family, as well as the huge swarm of Phyrexians here.
And that is why Barrin is #7 on my list.
6. Crovax of Windgrace
Crovax is an interesting Fallen Hero. Much like Captain Sisay, Hanna, and Gerrard, Crovax was one of Urza’s Special Genetic Projects that was created to help fight off the Phyrexians. The Phyrexians found out about it and sent many different missions to interfere with the plans. For example, the Capashen clan was taken out in order to ferret out the ones that were Urza’s Genetic Heroes and Gerrard was the only one to survive after being saved by Karn. It’s how Sisay’s parents were found and killed. You get the idea. And while three of those stood against Phyrexia, Crovax ultimately joins them and becomes the Evincar of Rath, leading the invasion of Dominaria.
How did that happen? Phyrexians took out his home estate(led by Morinfen and Gallowbraid) in Urborg. Crovax blames himself because his love for Selenia, Dark Angel caused him to take the object that kept her guarding the Windgrace Estate so they could head out together for years on the Weatherlight. That self-loathing blame fell to madness, and Selenia’s death by his hand would curse him to vampirism and leave him behind on Rath.
But it was all masterminded beautifully by the Phyrexians. Selenia had been created to fight the Phyrexians and others on Serra’s Realm and was a servant of Radiant, Archangel. She was captured by them in battle, and then changed by the Phyrexians. They then give her a task to take charge over Crovax, and manipulate him into thinking she was the Windgrace Guardian Angel, when she was nothing of the sort. She willingly served the Phyrexian cause, and her manipulations ended with Crovax’s fall and curse, and thus turned Crovax into leading the fight against his own plane. That is a good Fallen Hero.
I can understand why people like Karn a lot. A created planeswalker is a cool concept. Karn is also peaceful, which makes him interesting. For example, in order to torture him on Rath after capturing him because he refused to fight, Volrath tortured him by putting him into a room where the room tumbled, and Karn would kill the Mogg goblins in the room. Karn the Pacifist. Karn the Planeswalker.
And then Karn makes a turn to be the creator of Mirrodin and then leaves behind enough of a taint of Phyrexia that it falls and becomes New Phyrexia and Karn it’s dark leader until Venser frees him by teleporting his heart into Karn. Karn is an incredibly interesting character, that feels and lives. He has opinions and friends. Karn is a very cool character!
4. Captain Sisay
Sisay is the coolest member of the Weatherlight crew. She’s interesting, capable, a better Captain than Gerrard by far, and has a lot to offer. She’s an ideal hero, and much more fleshed out and interesting that Gerrard. I wish she would have been center stage instead of Gerrard. She’s confident, capable, listens to her subordinates, and is a very strong leader. She has a talent for connecting people, and gained the loyalty of various people like Tahngarth under her aegis and brought them to her side. She is captured by Starke and spirited away to Rath to help secure aid for Takara, and Tahngarth finds Gerrard and gets him to join a rescue mission.
Captain Sisay survives the invasion and is given a new ship, the Victory, which Squee, Tahngarth, and Sisay use after dropping off Orim with Cho-Manno on Mercadia so they could marry. Sisay, Hero of the Invasion would be a cool card for her, right?
I think the idea of a wizard who loves his home so much that he dials out when war comes and pulls them out of time itself is a resonant idea. Imagine it’s World War II and the evil empire is invading left and right. It’s easy to think of just pulling out, and flying off Earth and heading elsewhere. Out of the madness, just you and your people. No thanks, I don’t want to participate in your death war. That’s Teferi's Response. No thanks.
And Teferi is interesting too. He’s true and honest and the anti-Urza. He can be irritating, but he has to lead this post-apocalyptic time-rending destruction that has hit his home plane of Dominaria, and in so doing, has to fix a bleeding multiverse. He willingly sacrifices his planeswalker spark to begin to end the time rifts. Teferi is an ideal choice to help heal the plane moving forward. Teferi has always cared more about protection than destruction.
2. Yawgmoth, Father of Machines
Yawgmoth is interesting as the big bad. He has never been shown on a card. Yawgmoth is interesting because he isn’t immoral like Tevesh Szat or Leshrac or Lim-Dul. Instead, Yawgmoth is amoral. He doesn’t care about right or wrong. He does experiments on living creatures, creating diseases, not because he revels in their death or hates their life but because he is experimenting and he sees the living Elves of Argoth or the Minotaurs of Talruum much like a modern scientist might see bacteria or viruses or fruit flies. These experiments were essential to his understanding diseases and science. He uses this knowledge to heal others back home. He sees the human body as a magnificent machine, and machines can be improved upon.
His discovery of Phthisis is key in leading to his seeing diseases and eugenics as a key to unlock the body’s machinery and to improve it. Yawgmoth is a grand, ordered, mind, that seeks growth, but is more than willing to do anything to achieve it, and kill anyone to do so. But he prefers to growth and strengthen and improve the body’s machine.
In fact, his new home plane of Phyrexian is so well-ordered, clocklike, and striking, that Urza pauses his counterstrike and bows to the majesty of Yawgmoth after seeing his full plans. Yawgmoth wants to do to his home plane what he has done with Phyrexia. And there is an interesting take there, not as immoral, but instead as amoral, as if Yawgmoth is above right and wrong, and just cares about results and knowledge.
1. Nicol Bolas
Nothing else could be here. For a moment, in my initial list, I had Yawgmoth at #1 and Bolas at #2, and then our good Elder Dragon reminded me most imperceptibly where my true allegiance lay. “Thank you, Oh Great Magnificent Horned One, for your munificence in allowing me to live and to remind my readers of your grandeur.”
Nicol Bolas is the best character from Dominaria, period. Ain’t nothing else getting in there! Bolas gets better with time, and his recent growth in the plotline of, well, everything, seems pretty grand. From Nicol with Love!
And there we are! I hope you found a cool friend in there! Did you see any of your favorites in my list? Any of your favorites that are on my own list as well? Thanks for reading!!!