Blake Rasmussen: Hello and welcome to the Magic Story Podcast, where we go behind the scenes with the people who create the worlds and characters of Magic: the Gathering. I’m Blake Rasmussen, I’ll be your host, and as usual I am joined today by story guru Alison Luhrs.
Alison Luhrs: Hey girl hey!
BR: Over the next four weeks, we’re going to be talking about the tribes of Commander, like we did last week. And then we’re going to spend week number five previewing the story of Ixalan, so you’ll definitely want to tune in for that one.
AL: It’s a juicy one.
BR: So last week we talked about vampires, and this week we’re going to move onto the most magical of tribes: wizards.
BR: Which is a little bit of an odd tribe in this set because it’s kind of a profession rather than a race. But tomorrow is the day that we’re previewing all of the wizards cards across the internets. So we’re going to share a few tidbits about what you can expect out of tomorrow’s wizardly previews.
BR: We haven’t seen wizards tribal in quite a while. Basically not since the patron saint of wizards.
BR: Patron Wizard.
AL: Patron Wizard. Yes.
BR: Of course. So tell us about what makes them tick when talking about wizards as a tribe, rather than just a job title of someone doing magic.
AL: Uh, first off I think you’re upsetting the wizards union by speaking of them as just a job title.
BR: Just a job title. [whispers] It’s a vocation.
AL: It is!
BR: It’s a lifestyle choice.
AL: So, the way that I kind of think about it is that wizards have an agenda. They are students or once have studied out to unlock secrets of magic or maybe they are naturally talented. Usually they are working with other people to further whatever agenda they are after, be it increasing their own knowledge or, you know, trying to take over the world! Who hasn’t, right?
AL: So they have a methodical approach to magic, unlike shamans, priests, or clerics. They operate on practice, not faith. So they have to really train to be able to use magic in the way that they do. So we do have a creature types for other vaguely joblike things, and wizards kind of falls into that category for us.
BR: Okay. So you mentioned shamans and priests being a little different from wizards, but what’s the difference between a wizard and a Planeswalker?
AL: So both wizards and Planeswalkers channel mana into spells. That’s Magic 101. Planeswalkers can travel between worlds, so there is a Multiverse and they can travel from one place to another. But wizards are planebound. They can be super duper powerful and able to access all kinds of magic for crazy spells, but they don’t have that extra oomph that allows them to skip from one plane of existence to another, like a Planeswalker can. So you can have a fairly or somewhat weaker Planeswalker and a really, really, really powerful wizard, but the Planeswalker can still do things that the wizard cannot.
Wizards also work in a four-story office building in Renton, Washington.
AL: And none of us are Planeswalkers. [whispers] That you know of.
BR: So how would you say Magic‘s wizards—the ones in the game, not the four-story building ones—how are those wizards different from those in pop culture?
AL: Wizards in pop culture are either English teenagers with troubled childhoods or very old men in robes. It’s usually one of the two.
BR: That’s it, those are the two choices.
AL: That’s it. In all of human history, those are the two. Well, those are the two most well known in pop culture anyway. There’s tons of other expressions of wizards, be they mice in blue robes with brooms, but mostly they fall-
BR: Scientists who do children’s shows . . .
AL: [laughs] Oh my gosh, I found that on YouTube the other day and watched several episodes in a row. Oh, Mr. Wizard . . .
But pretty much all of the depictions of those still rely on study and practice to get good at magic. And ours are very much the same way.
What are some of your favorite—outside of Mr. Wizard—wizards in pop culture, Blake?
BR: Oh man. You know what, honestly, I go straight to the version of the wizard with the blue hat?
BR: Sword in the stone?
BR: Why am I drawing a blank?
BR: Merlin, obviously.
AL: The most famous wizard?
BR: But the cartoon one! Yes, the most famous wizard. [laughs]
BR: I clearly did my research for this podcast.
AL: It’s okay.
BR: The cartoon, Disney version.
AL: Oh yeah, from the seventies. That Merlin’s great.
BR: Who like ran around in a bathrobe, had the blue hat . . .
AL: And then Archimedes, that little jerk of an owl, he was great!
BR: Oh, yeah. So that’s going to be my favorite pop culture wizard.
AL: You know, that was my favorite Disney movie when I was a kid.
BR: It’s so good.
AL: It’s so good.
BR: This podcast does not endorse any movie.
AL: Any movie at all. It’s not affiliated.
BR: Um, so . . .
BR: When we’re talking about wizards in Magic, back to that game that we’re talking about, what kind of mechanics are typically associated with them?
AL: It’s a grab bag. Sometimes it’s card draw, sometimes it’s creating tokens or casting instants from your hand. Wizard mechanics depend more on character than on tribe, again going back to what did the specific character study, what are they good at. But lots of wizards work best with other wizards, which is obviously something you will see tomorrow when a lot of these cards are previewed! Ooooo, secrets!
BR: Well, here’s one thing we can talk about. So the wizards for C17, and this might be news to some of you listening out there, they’re Grixis. So we’ve got black, blue, and red represented in the wizard deck for C17.
So why, I think you got into a it a little bit when you were talking about their description, but why are wizards primarily focused in Grixis colors?
AL: I chalk it up to the whole “agenda” thing. Wizards get good at magic because they want to accomplish something, and that lends itself to black and red quite nicely. As far as color identity, they’re a lot more spread out than you think when you approach it from that kind of an angle. Wizards can be wanting to attain knowledge because of selfish reasons. They can do it because they need to do it, so I’m gonna do it with passion and anger and stuff. I think that those three colors lend themselves to this line of thinking and these types of characters in this tribe—better than white or green do. Otherwise they would be more shaman’y than wizard’y.
BR: Yeah, I was going to say that’s interesting that the two ones that you were talking about earlier, shamans and priests, were obviously more white and green.
BR: So let’s move onto-
AL: I kind of want to let everyone in the room know what is going on.
AL: The lights just went out, because both of us have been sitting at this table for a while so we’re talking in the dark. Which feels weirdly appropriate for a podcast about wizards. [laughs] Blake’s holding up his phone so-
BR: You’d think this be—we’re just talking, right—but it’s really odd and unsettling when the lights turn off.
AL: Here come the lights! It’s really spooky.
BR: Annnnd they’re back on.
AL: There’s half—there they go.
BR: We might edit this part out, we’ll see.
AL: I like it. No, this is great content, this has to stay. [laughs]
BR: Top notch operation here at Wizards of the Coast.
AL: Yeah! We’ll it’s just because we were still and it makes sense from an ecological point of view to turn of the lights if we don’t move. [laughs]
BR: Right. We’re in here though, we’re just not getting up from our chairs. Because we’re talking to you folks.
AL: We are talking to you! Do not edit this part out, this is good content.
BR: Okay, deal. We’re leaving it in.
AL: I’ll just wave my arms once every three minutes.
BR: How about that Commander product?
AL: Yeah! Commander, C17! Yes!
BR: So, let’s talk about the types of wizards we will be seeing in C17.
AL: Yes! So, we are going to see some human wizards, there’s a couple of zombie wizards. There’s also some more specific creature types that if I listed them you would be able to guess what they were so I’m not going to say it, but it’s a pretty good spread of abilities and creature types, past just your standard human wizard.
BR: Nice, and that goes along to with wizard being a kind of vocation. It’s a job that different types of creatures have.
AL: Exactly, and I think that all creature types should be able to practice whatever vocation that they want.
BR: Of course!
AL: The wizards union is open to all!
BR: The dues are high.
AL: Yes, that’s true.
BR: They’re a touch high, but they get stuff done.
AL: The benefits are worth it, yeah.
BR: They are, they really are.
So, earlier this week, we already previewed dragons.
AL: Wasn’t that fun?
BR: It was so fun. Oh my gosh.
AL: It was so much fun when that happened in the past.
BR: In the past and not in the future. So one of the things we know about dragons so far is that they are lent a helping hand by Taigam, Ojutai Master. But he’s not the only version of Taigam we’re getting in C17, is it?
AL: Correct! So Taigam defected from the Jeskai clan, like what a traitor.
AL: Yeah, he’s still wearing the Jeskai robes in his art too, like a traitor. But he went over to the dark side, swapped red for black and now he’s cruising with the Sultai. Or what used to be the Sultai.
But, he’s quite happy with his new digs.
BR: So we’re getting two versions of Taigam in this product?
AL: Yes we are.
BR: That’s kind of cool. Now is this a old Tarkir-new Tarkir thing or is this just Taigam being shady?
AL: This is just Taigam being shady, I believe. Because in the art he’s still wearing his old Jeskai robes, you can totally see them. So I think he’s just a crappy guy. Just a traitor!
BR: Just a terrible human being.
AL: But you know what, he chose a line of work that’s much better for him. He seems pretty happy with his job change, so I can’t hate him for that.
BR: Yeah, you know, whatever makes you happy. That’s what you need to do.
AL: Yeah! And now he’s working with a lot more dead people, which I hope he’s happy with. So, there you go.
BR: Everyone’s gotta do something they love.
AL: We all got a calling.
BR: Let’s move on. So, we have an excellent article on this going up tomorrow, so I don’t want to spoil it too much, but there is a returning wizard who has never been shown on a card before. But has had the name bandied about a little bit.
AL: Just a little bit!
BR: So what can you tell us about this pretender?
AL: Well, what I can do is I can read you his art description.
So, I’ll skip to the fun parts here. “Color: Blue, black, and red legendary creature. Location: Interior of a dungeon. Action: This is the villain shot of the notorious human mage Mairsil. He is tall and lean like a fencer and has long dark hair with a wide wolfish smile. He wears black pants and a black shirt with a gold embroidered black fencing jerkin.” I’m so happy I got to read the word jerkin just now.
AL: “He holds his signature sabre-grip wand with it’s ruby point. On one of his hands, we need to see a magical red ring. In this shot we see him standing in a dimly lit dungeon on the precipice of a pit.”
BR: That it?
AL: That’s it!
BR: Okay! That sounds, I don’t know, you’ll just have to read about it tomorrow.
BR: We’ve got a pretty solid article going live then.
AL: Please read it.
BR: So, and though we’re doing this in the past, I have actually read that article. I know for a fact it’s a great one.
AL: Oh, that’s awesome! Who wrote it?
AL: Aw yeah!
BR: Chas is pretty good with the lore stuff.
So who is your favorite Magic wizard?
AL: Jhoira, it has to be Jhoira. So much fun as a Commander and her character is fantastic! Shewas the first captain of the Weatherlight, pal to sad robot Karn, all-around badass. And again, she is so much fun to play in Commander.
What about you, Blake?
BR: Well, speaking of Commander, I have a nearly-all-foil, maddeningly close Azami deck. Because I’m that guy.
AL: Nice, congratulations. [laughs] Can confirm, he is.
BR: I am. So I love Azami, and Azami’s got that tribal component. But I’m also a huge fan of Teferi.
AL: Hell yeah.
BR: Just playing that card makes me feel so secure as a blue mage.
AL: Teferi was a very, very close second.
BR: Well Teferi’s also a really cool character.
AL: Yes! Oh my gosh, yes.
BR: I mean Azami has some story behind her, but Teferi’s got so much history. He spent twenty years, was it twenty years on fire?
AL: Yeah, something like that.
BR: Something like that. He phased out a continent?
AL: His own continent, that poor guy. He’s been such an integral part in so much of Magic‘s most important stories. And, gosh I love that guy so much.
BR: And then, yeah I think those two, probably. I mean if I’m going to get all spiky and wizardy on everyone-
AL: Do it, do it.
BR: Vendilion Clique.
AL: Aw yeah.
BR: Snapcaster Mage.
AL: Yup, yup. Both of those count.
BR: Wizards are mean!
AL: Again, yeah, wizards are kind of jerks. They’ve got a plan, and their abilities usually reflect that.
BR: So, which wizard would you most like to write a story about?
AL: So, I have a sequel to Gisa and Geralf’s story in mind.
AL: It’s been sitting in the back of my brain for the last like two years since I wrote the last story about them. I wrote about them for Shadows Over Innistrad and, I have a followup inside my brain. We know from their art that they reconcile in Eldritch Moon and I would love to, hopefully someday, tell the story of how that happened.
BR: That’s a good one. I’m one-hundred percent sure that readers would love to see that.
AL: I hope they would, I love those two a lot.
BR: When we return to return to Innistrad.
Maybe? I have no idea.
AL: Maybe? I don’t know.
BR: What other wizards tidbits do you have to share with the audience before we go?
AL: So I’ve got more Gisa and Geralf facts!
AL: Stuff that nearly made it into the story I wrote for them but it didn’t really fit with the rest of the piece or didn’t have space. So I figured I would let you guys know what happened the night their parents died, isn’t that fun?
BR: So this is canon and hasn’t been printed anywhere?
AL: Canon, has not been printed anywhere.
BR: You heard it hear first!
AL: You heard it hear first! Yeah!
But there are a couple of hints, so some people have been kind of able to piece it together, but I figured I’d just tell you guys flat-out.
So, before their parents died, their parents were divorcing. They fought all the time, got along terribly, and their mother and father had kind of chosen kids in their fights with each other? So their mother had gotten Geralf to side with her and their father had sided with Gisa. And in the middle of one of their parents’ spats, the adults urged the children to fight each other, kind of on their behalf.
BR: As divorced parents do.
AL: As terrible divorcing parents do. So the kids did so and, in the heat of the moment, accidentally burned down the house in the process. Like knocked over a candle, everything went down.
BR: As children do.
AL: Right. And both parents died in the fire, and the kids inherited their parents hatred for each other. So that’s kind of how they started their grand aggression towards one another. Born partially out of natural sibling hatred for one another, but infused with this really awful thing that their parents forced them to do.
BR: Yeah, that- that was dark.
BR: I mean it’s Innistrad so we shouldn’t be shocked. That was dark.
AL: Nah, yeah. Wizards are dark and messed up people.
BR: Do not listen to this podcast before going to bed. I suppose we should have said that at the top?
AL: Yeah, so I guess on that happier note, the sequel is about Gisa and Geralf coming together and teaming up and hopefully putting aside all of that awful family history.
BR: Aw. Well, thank you Alison.
AL: Thank you!
BR: For giving us more wizard knowledge than you can shake a wand at. I’m shaking my head at these and I wrote that.
AL: I saw you wrote that when you sent the questions over and I just applauded you.
BR: Thank you, thank you.
AL: Live your truth.
BR: I enjoy it! That’s the important part.
BR: That is all for today’s episode. Hopefully the lights will stay on for the next one. We’re going to be back next Wednesday, and we’re going to be talking about one of the oldest and one of the most revered creature types in all of Magic: Dragons. We’ll see you then!