We are less than a month away from the release of From the Vault: Lore and I’m more excited than ever. Ever since the announcement, I’ve regularly bounced ideas off of friends to gauge simply what exciting cards could be in there, but something always felt off or cards didn’t add up. It wasn’t until I started this current list I really read that announcement many times over and made sure I knew exactly where we could start from, how the story could be covered, and what inclusions fit the theme.
Starting at the beginning, here is what has been stated in the FTV: Lore Announcement:
- “includes cards from throughout Magic's history that are renowned for both their power and the stories behind them”
- “Fifteen premium foil cards and one token, including three with new art.”
- One of those new arts depicts what most agree to be Momir Vig
What immediately stands out here?
First, the artwork depicting Momir Vig. Most people reasonably assume this will be a reprint of Momir Vig, Simic Visionary from Dissension. While it could be a re-flavored Worldly Tutor or some similar spell, Momir already has all of the tutoring you could ever need built into his abilities.
Art by Victor Adame Minguez
Second, Momir’s updated look narrows us down to two new arts in the product. Curiously, the way it is worded allows for new art on any of the fourteen remaining cards or the token. Speaking of which . . .
The token is something we haven’t seen before in a From the Vault product, despite the presence of token generators in From the Vaults past. It brings plenty of questions forward, but the conclusion most have come to upon hearing this singular inclusion is that it’s more than likely a Legendary token permanent.
To condense more than twenty years of story into 15 cards and a token is difficult. The product can’t hit everything, but I think FTV: Lore will cover a surprising amount of that past by choosing to give glimpses into major storylines and utilizing different lenses. Characters, events, locations, and more that maximize each block window; and, at the value peak of it all is a character who has threaded through multiple storylines.
|Name||Market Price||Block Represented||Card Type|
|Lim-Dul the Necromancer||$1.36||Ice Age||Creature|
|Helm of Kaldra||$4.73||Mirrodin||Artifact|
|Momir Vig, Simic Visionary||$8.55||Ravnica||Creature|
|Radha, Heir to Keld||$2.13||Time Spiral||Creature|
|The Great Aurora||$1.65||Lorwyn||Sorcery|
|Karn Liberated||$37.16||Scars of Mirrodin||Planeswalker|
Let’s dive right in with some support for these choices.
Antiquities gave us the Brothers’ War. Gate to Phyrexia, the Mightstone, the Weakstone, Golgothian Sylex; all the artifact flavor you could ever want on . . . reserved cards. Here, Hurkyl's Recall gives us some Third Path story value on a sideboard card for Modern and Eternal formats alike.
Hurkyl's Recall by Ralph Horsley
“Hurkyl's research at the College of Lat-Nam wasn't enough to stop the two brothers, but for centuries thereafter her spellcraft taught artificers restraint.”
—Lim-Dûl, the Necromancer
The Sylex Blast concluded The Brothers’ War and ascended Urza to Planeswalker status, but it also drastically shifted the climate and ushered in the Ice Age. Though Mairsil and Leshrac pulled some of the strings, Lim-Dûl the Necromancer led armies of undead across Dominaria during this time and would later nearly conquer the plane of Shandalar. Lim-Dûl isn’t the most competitively costed or popular Commander choice, but his abilities remain true to villainous flavor of the era.
Whether you want to trap Mangara of Corondor, Kaervek the Merciless, or one of your opponent’s threats inside, Amber Prison remains an important pivotal event for Mirage block, starting the Mirage War. Is this the lowest powered card in the list? Probably. Does it have great flavor, stellar art, and story significance as an artifact? Definitely.
A plane-hopping story vehicle that tutors and counts as part of the Legacy. We stuck with the Weatherlight and its crew for quite a few years, so this card certainly takes on more of a spanning representative role in the list rather than an insider look. Whether it has the pricy left-facing ship art or not, finally getting this card into a modern border alongside Captain Sisay, Gerrard Capashen, and Hanna, Ship's Navigator will be refreshing.
Skyship Weatherlight by Kev Walker
When Snack Time Podcast covered From the Vault: Lore (an episode you should really check out), Ant briefly argued for Planar Collapse as a choice flavor pick, and I couldn’t agree with him more. In summary, the artificial plane known as Serra’s Realm became tainted by Phyrexians, was evacuated, then collapsed to fuel the Weatherlight’s travels. This event was cleaned up and expanded upon in its Planechase appearance, Sanctum of Serra, but paying 2 mana for a triggered board wipe on your upkeep isn’t the worst investment. Urza art and flavor text is just an even bigger bonus.
After Urza lost his head to Gerrard in the Phyrexian Arena, Gerrard escaped with Urza’s head, later using the powerstone eyes contained within to finally activate the Legacy Weapon, destroying Yawgmoth and ascending Karn to Planeswalker status. One life for an extra card per turn is strong and this will always be a couple bucks due to frequent play in Commander, but more interesting is that Phyrexian Arena hasn’t been seen in foil since its printing in Ninth Edition (or since Apocalypse for foil of the pivotal event art).
The Grand Coliseum was where your Otaria pit fights happened during Onslaught. Want to matchup your modern border Eternal Masters pit fighters (Arcanis, the Omnipotent, Rorix Bladewing and co.) with a modern printing of this historical location? It may not the fastest way to fix mana, but flavor points are what really counts with From the Vault: Lore.
Helm of Kaldra and Kaldra Token
Now we approach the most controversial selection on the list: the Helm of Kaldra and Kaldra as the token included in the set.
Weighing the legendary token options by power level, it’s hard to deny Dark Depths. People love getting their Marit Lage token, and who can really blame them when it’s a 20/20 indestructible flyer; but, most tend to overestimate the amount of lore surrounding the demigod. Lage played no role in the storyline of Ice Age.
Weighing the legendary token options by story relevance, Kaldra becomes a top pick. During Mirrodin, Glissa Sunseeker manages to find all of the pieces of equipment for Kaldra, the avatar is summoned, then Kaldra accompanies Glissa, Slobad, and Bosh in battle against Memnarch (who simply steals control of the Kaldra avatar). Helm of Kaldra accompanies as the card that actually produces the token and it’d be a wonderful first printing for a token that has been exclusive to MTGO since release.
Many thanks to @TheProxyGuy for his outstanding card mockups.
When you steal the daughter of the mightiest kami as Konda, Lord of Eiganjo did, you can’t be surprised when O-Kagachi fills its maw with a pretty fair number of your troops in a Final Judgment. Sure, it wasn’t an attack that killed Konda, but mass exile remains a clean way around indestructible creatures like Konda himself.
Momir Vig, Simic Visionary is the one we all saw coming. He was a villain in Ravnica, having created Experiment Kraj in his goal to wipe Ravnica clean and start anew. Momir is a good card, has very unique abilities, and foils with Victor Adame Minguez’s new art will be more than worthwhile.
As the third and final legendary creature in this list, Radha, Heir to Keld gets us to her participation in The Mending. Jeska brought Radha to aid in the closing of rifts across Dominaria, including the final Otarian rift; and, these acts spent her unignited spark. Radha would be a third in the list of Mending rift-sealers in From the Vault, following Venser, Shaper Savant and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir. She is a quick and powerful mana accelerator and the premier low cost choice for faster RG Commander decks.
It’s a bit odd that the card which best encapsulates the theme of Lorwyn/Shadowmoor comes from Magic Origins, but it really is a late flavor all-star for showing us the world’s signature transition. The Great Aurora is much more of a natural pivotal event focus than a story event with characters, but the shift between idyllic Morningtide and grim Shadowmoor hits perfectly. Green, as a color, rarely gets to sweep cluttered boards of threats and this card is an efficient, albeit costly, way of achieving just that.
Rafiq swinging his sword through Malfegor’s undead army, soon to slay the ancient demon-dragon abomination himself with the help of Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Asha’s sword. As a three color card, it’s certainly a difficult to mechanically fit into just any deck, but Bant strategies do hold the Commander damage potential with the second attack and boost granted here. I despise dying to Rafiq of the Many, but sometimes even the flavor lines up too well.
From Urza’s initial Stroke of Genius to the Weatherlight, the Mogg tumbling pit to the Legacy Weapon activation, the Mirari to Memnarch, Corrupted Conscience to Venser’s sacrifice. Karn has seen it all.
Karn Liberated by Jason Chan
A staple in Tron, the reprint here will be appreciated, though the inclusion does soak up the MSRP value in itself. Karn Liberated has the Legacy Weapon exile ability and an iconic time travel flavored ultimate ability. Karn is both power and story, weaving through so many of the blocks of Magic. Jeremy Jarvis, who was on Product Concept and Development on From the Vault: Lore, noted exactly that when answering a question about picking up and continuing the pieces of old creative in the Battle for Zendikar Worldbuilding Panel.
Finally, we come to Hero's Downfall. Elspeth, Sun's Champion struck down by Heliod, God of the Sun in the card that everyone wanted to see printed. The art catches it all, the pivotal moment value is high, and the removal value is premium. This was a pivotal event that came shortly before pivotal events were officially a thing, but relatively fresh in our minds, it is the obvious choice and gets the updated art that was shared during Journey Into Nyx.
Thanks again to @TheProxyGuy for his help with the card images (do give him a follow) and both Mike and Ant for their Snack Time episode dedicated to brainstorming and discussing their speculations for this product.
Have any thoughts or comments? What would your ideal list look like? Leave it in a comment below and, until next time, happy planeswalking!