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Saturday, May 30, 2009

and Now for Something Completely Different

Well, maybe not completely different. I often use this platform to talk about something I've heard related to Magic the Gathering. Today I'm going to talk about something I have heard more and more. Sometimes in life, media, and imagination somethings take on a life of their own, becoming more then sum of their parts, and reaching beyond the scope and measure of the seed thought which spawned them. Recently it has come to my attention that something as simple as a color, has done just that. We've come together today through the force and will of pink. For a year now this simple blending of red and white has brought people together from all across the globe, inspired and renewed friendships, shared hopes, dreams, and passions of individuals. It has in some small but measurable way, changed the world, and the people in it.

I have thought that I was beyond the scope of this phenomenon, as beyond an impressive collection of scars, I really have nothing pink in my life. Let's face it, nobody wants to hear about scars. With the approach of this anniversary, I began to think of pink in a different way, as the sum of two parts. You see, my passion, the Magic the Gathering game, does have white and red components. They represent the finely edged power of Law, and the spontaneous energy of Chaos. Just like in relationships, opposites attract, and come together to create a result larger then the sum of it's individual parts. It's the sheer polarity and vastness of their differences, which when properly combined, produce such spectacular results.

Regardless if you are an old school-er like me and call it Inkara, or a fairly new addition to the game which recognizes it as Boros, the power of this enemy pair can't be denied. October 1996, the release of Mirage brought the Magic community it's first glimpse of the sheer power and diversity wrought from the intersection of white and red. Energy bolt crystallized the polar opposite desires of white to heal, and red to destroy. Even the flavor text on the card sums it up nicely. Reflect damage encapsulates whites desire to protect, and reds desire to burn. When the two are brought together, it creates a protection so complete that the destruction is turned back on it's source.

Magic's middle years brought us Order // Chaos. This two cards in one is a perfect example of these two diametrically opposed forces. White punishes Red's nature to attack at all costs, white Red limits Whites ability to defend.

In it's more recent history the forces of Red and White have combined in new ways. The sheer volume of this combination is startling, with 90 spells in the last third of Magic's history compared to roughly a dozen during the first 10 years. Ajani Goldmne was the first multi-color planeswalker, and artfully combined control with destruction, and pain with health. Intimidation Bolt breaks new ground, damaging a creature while holding the rest at bay. Spitemare is a creature uniquly born of white and red, as it turns it's own pain back on the world.

So at the end of the day, things can take on a life of their own. Be it archaic forces of the universe, or simple colors, the net can often exceed the sum of the parts. I like to take this opportunity to congratulate the "Pink Saturday" community, and thank everyone who has helped make this more then the sum of it's part. Most importantly I'd like to thank everyone who stopped by today because of their involvement in P.S., especially if you have continued to read through to this point, past all that stuff that probably means nothing to you. If you know anyone who plays Magic, or would like to, send them our way, we will take good care of them. Most of all remember, things coming together can be more powerful then their sum, but two wrongs don't make a right. For that you need three lefts!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Zendikar: The Truth is Out There


Deadly Perils, Priceless Treasures.

Amongst those of use who attempt to riddle out he next step of Magic evolution, long before it is intended to be known, it has long been established the role the world's religions often play. Often times the inspiration for the "contrived" words of Magic truly come from relatively obscure religious text. In fact many people attribute the foundations of the five color of magic, and the original color pie to the 5 dominate threads of religious thought.

Since the beginning we have seen minor nods to religion through out Magic's history. These often originate, or point to the Avesta, one of the most ancient religious movement in the history of the world, and the origin of Christianity, Judaism, Hindu, and Buddhism.

For instance, during the Weatherlight Saga, Urza's chosen savior for the world was Gerrard, derived as a slight bastardization of the Zend word for hero, and for borrowed. His love interest, Hanna, daughter of Barrin, is a slight tweak for the Zend word for woman "hana". Tahngarth can be linked to both the words destroyer, ans a phrase meaning the "measure of three men". In other instances Geae is derived from the "gaem" or soul and "gaya" of life. Mishra can be roughly translated as "seed of the unnatural". Jaya can be pronounced the same as "jahi" or fiery, lustful woman. "Urza" is an anagram form of zura or time.

Most recently we have seen a strong return to this point of origin in Magic cannon. Asha for instance is a direct reference to the Zend word for light. Amesha is a direct reference to a Divine class, or "immortals" and the predecessor for the modern day concept of angels. Sharuum ( the Hegemon) draws it's origins from a meddling of the words for library and librarian. Esper and it's related uses (Esperoza) have striking similarities to the word "spereza" best translated as the "stuff" of life. The dragon Karrthos is a syllabic anagram of "khshathro" meaning lord of his kin. "Anima" is the word for victor, or undefeated.

For these reasons, the historians of magic were very excited to have such a well established link to and existing cannon, that seemed to connect well with the block flavor. We were however very disappointed when it become apparent that we had joined the shard story line at it's conclusion. It appeared that all this information may ultimately led no where. That is until recently.

"Zendikar" is best translated simply as "words of origin". While this could be a simple coincidence, or the origin of anything, many believe that the next block may be a look back to the origins of the shards. We may well have the opportunity to hear the story of Asha's battle with Malfegor, Proginitus before his confinement, the original Anima, and Alara before the sundering. Perhaps even even a glimpse at the planeswalker suspected to be behind the sundering, giving some support to the possibilities of the first five color planeswalker. While I don't know for certain what the future will hold, this does cast some interest on it.