Welcome back, Lore Seekers, to my 100th Article for CoolStuffInc! I'll be celebrating by... putting out a normal article! Modern Horizons 2 is chock full of great flavor references, and I got a head start on them last week by talking about the first batch of returning characters in The Legends of Modern Horizons 2. This week, I'd like to start out with returning characters that didn't make the cut last week.
More Returning Legends
Captain Ridley Vance by Mathias Kollros
Captain Ridley Vance, of Vance's Blasting Cannons fame, isn't exactly a deep cut - her name is right there on a fairly recent card, but it's cool to see nonetheless. We don't get a ton about Captain Vance:
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer (Pronounced RUH-guh-vuhn) is the monkey belonging to Kari Zev, Skyship Raider. We got a story featuring the two of them way back in Aether Revolt called The Skies Over Ghirapur.
Kaldra Compleat is a new card based on the iconic Kaldra equipment: Helm of Kaldra, Shield of Kaldra, Sword of Kaldra. In the original Mirrodin block story, Glissa Sunseeker fights her way across Mirrodin with the Kaldra sword, only later to learn by collecting the other two artifacts, she can summon the powerful Kaldra avatar. Believing this to be her best chance of defeating Memnarch, she and her allies summon Kaldra, only to have Memnarch gain control of it and turn it against her. Now fleeing her last hope, she escapes to the Radix where the green sun finally bursts from the core, destroying Kaldra. Or, it appears, merely destroying the avatar and scattering the indestructible equipment, which have now been compleated - or made Phyrexian.
Grist, the Hunger Tide by Victor Adame Minguez
Grist, the Hunger Tide is a new planeswalker, so we don't have any lore of it other than that it is some sort of planeswalker hive. The concept here is very interesting, a hive being gain a spark is fascinating, and we've seen (with The Royal Scions) that sharing a spark is possible. It'll be cool to see what develops from Grist in the future... if anything.
Lonis, Cryptozoologist is a new Simic Combine character, who appears to be flavored as a cryptid hunter (an amusing take for a guild that creates cryptids).
Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp is a Mirran artifact creature, presumably native to the Glimmervoid, based on the name.
Break Ties by Tyler Walpole
Break Ties depicts a locket or cameo with the images of Barrin, Tolarian Archmage and Rayne, Academy Chancellor. The locket is being destroyed, so I wonder if this perhaps belonged to Hanna, Ship's Navigator, their daughter who leaves Tolaria behind to forge her own way.
So Shiny is just the cutest artwork and the perfect flavor for a card like this. For the ADHD generation, this card is incredibly relatable. It's the kind of silly, quirky card Magic hasn't been doing a lot of the last couple decades. In a similar vein, Late to Dinner features two 'animalfolk', a Rhox and a Loxodon, having their standing dinner date even after the Loxodon hasn't moved on. I can't describe how great this card is, from the 'late' pun (for non-English speakers - late can also mean dead) to the elephant never forgetting their appointment. It's another kind of card I'd love to see more of going forward.
Young Necromancer by Paul Scott Canavan
Young Necromancer is a Liliana Vess themed version of Young Pyromancer, and I'm here for it. I'd love to see a full cycle of these kids inspired by planeswalkers. Note the Liliana cameo around her neck. Vile Entomber is Entomb on a stick, a fact exemplified by the fact that the art references the modern art for Entomb. Flame Blitz features another planeswalker, the one colloquially known as The Unluckiest!
Scion of Draco is a callback to Draco, the mysterious Invasion-era card that everyone misremembers as a Legendary (it isn't). Well, thanks to the presence of the Phyrexian creature type on cards like Skirge Familiar, we now know for sure that Draco was on the Dominarian side of the Invasion, otherwise it would probably be a Phyrexian Dragon. Probably.
Arcbound Slasher by Campbell White
Rishadan Dockhand is a callback to the famous Rishadan Port, a location on Mercadia. That's right, we're getting a new Mercadia reference in the year 2021. Speaking of plane callbacks, I wanted to call out Campbell White's Arcbound Slasher and Arcbound Tracker for the fine details we see of what appears to be the Oxidda Mountains on Mirrodin (back before New Phyrexia). While they've usually only been depicted as jagged chunks of metal, Campbell gives them an architectural feeling that is right at home with modern art direction.
Jade Avenger by Chris Seaman
Jade Avenger is a reference to Chub Toad, which by happenstance has what amounted essentially to Bushido 2. You can read Ethan Fleischer's posts about the creation of the card, but it's the kind of subtle mechanical reference that works well in these kinds of sets.
JADE AVENGER#MTGMH2 #WOTCstaff— Ethan Fleischer (@EthanFleischer) May 28, 2021
I've worked on Magic design for over a decade now. Every couple of years, we have the same discussion, and it always turns out the same. We put keywords and ability words into sets to help player's mentally chunk game mechanics. 1/5
Ornithopter of Paradise is an obvious combination of two of the most classic Magic cards: Ornithopter and Birds of Paradise. Who thought up this nonsense? Search the Premises features Thraben Inspector in her art. Sojourner's Companion references Venser, the Sojourner.
Here's a lightning round of my favorite references to cap this section off:
- Disciple of the Sun is a reference to Sun Titan
- Healer's Flock is three Healer's Hawk
- Sanctifier en-Vec and Paladin en-Vec
- Timeless Dragon and Eternal Dragon
- Thraben Watcher and Always Watching
- Bone Shards and Bone Splinters
- Faithless Salvaging and Faithless Looting
- Gargadon and Lesser Gargadon/Greater Gargadon
- Blessed Respite is Gaea's Blessing plus Fog
- Foundry Helix and Lightning Helix
- Bottle Golems and Bottle Gnomes
- Brainstone and Brainstorm
- Monoskelion and Triskelion
The color-shifted alternate versions of cards from Planar Chaos are some of my favorite Magic cards of all time. Modern Horizons 2, as a spiritual successor to the Time Spiral block.
- Phantasmal Dreadmaw and Colossal Dreadmaw
- Glimpse of Tomorrow and Ancestral Vision
- Gaea's Will and Yawgmoth's Will
- Ignoble Hierarch and Noble Hierarch
- Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
- Sinister Starfish and Sigiled Starfish
That's it for this week. I'm not sure if I'll have any Dungeons and Dragons content for you this summer, but expect to hear back from me in time for Innistrad!