Howdy folks! It’s Joe again, and this week we’re gonna be talking about some of the lore behind some of the characters receiving cards for the very first time in Commander 2018!
Let’s dive right in, shall we?
Tawnos, Urza’s Apprentice
A former toymaker who became embroiled in a war that was not his own, Tawnos was a brilliant artificer who became the apprentice of Urza during his time in Kroog. Tawno’s myriad creations were often based on living creatures, taking cues from nature to improve his machines. Tawnos was also a trusted companion of Urza’s wife, Kayla bin-Kroog, and he helped raise Urza’s son Harbin while Urza was away during the war.
Tawnos also developed a somewhat romantic relationship with Ashnod, Mishra’s chief artificer, even agreeing to meet with her on the night before the final battle. Tawnos would be directly responsible for taking the Golgothian Sylex from Ashnod and giving it to Urza.
Instead of perishing in the Sylex Blast, he survived by sealing himself away in a coffin he had designed to imprison Mishra. There he remained for 5 years in stasis before Urza, now a planeswalker, freed him. Tawnos left the remains of Argoth and returned to Kayla, narrating to her what would eventually become known as The Antiquities War.
Once a powerful panther warrior turned planeswalker, Windgrace remembers well what his home of Urborg looked like before the Sylex Blast leveled Argoth and changed it into a world of swamps, liches, and undead. As such, Windgrace’s view of Urza and his technology is highly negative.
However, that did not stop Windgrace from assisting Urza during the Phyrexian Invasion as one of the Nine Titans. During the assault, Urza cracked and killed Taysir, a fellow planeswalker. Windgrace took Taysir’s heart into his own, and worked with the other planeswalkers to detonate the soul bombs they had placed around the plane. When Yawgmoth came to the plane, Windgrace stood firm and defended it.
Years later WIndgrace commanded many creatures in the Urborg area, using his own personal ‘gladehunters’ to destroy anything related to artifice. He even held the neo-walker Venser under his control during this time. Windgrace later attacked the Urborg rift, attempting to seal it before it could allow a multitude of time-displaced Phyrexians in. However, as the rift folded in upon itself, it pulled the life essence from his very body. Before Windgrace perished however, he cast a spell fusing a portion of his life essence to the very soil of Urborg, claiming that he would protect the land forever.
Xantcha was a Phyrexian newt and Sleeper Agent, grown out of a vat on Phyrexia’s Fourth Sphere. Her purpose was to eventually infiltrate other worlds by appearing as a species that inhabited that plane. She was recruited by Gix, a Phyrexian Demon, and taught the skills she would need to survive. However, Xantcha’s thoughts and dreams were slowly becoming not that of the Ineffable Yawgmoth’s, but her own. As such other Phyrexians attempted to execute her for trying to escape while on a different plane. Xantcha was saved by the planeswalker Urza, who did not yet realize that she was not human.
Xantcha told Urza how to get to Phyrexia, the planeswalker taking her on a dragon engine to attack the plane. While Urza tried and failed to defeat the various forces of the metal world, Xantcha located her heartstone from the Fourth Sphere before Urza was forced to planeswalk the two away.
The two companions ended up in Serra’s Realm, where they would eventually leave before Phyrexians infiltrated the plane looking for them. They retreated to Dominaria, the world from Xantcha’s dreams (and her intended plane), as Urza suffered from insanity due to Yawgmoth’s touch inside of his mind.
Xantcha sought to break Urza’s insanity, to force him to address the Phyrexian threat. To this end, she rescued a slave named Ratepe, who she dressed and tutored to become “Mishra” for Urza. Together, Xantcha and Ratepe helped Urza slowly regain his sanity before becoming embroiled in a war in which Xantcha discovered that Gix was still alive.
Pursuing the demon to his lair at Koilos, Urza and Gix fought. Just when it seemed like Gix had the upper hand in the fight, Xantcha and Ratepe intervened, sacrificing themselves to allow Urza the necessary time to kill Gix. Urza would never forget the two, even going as far as to collect Xantcha’s heartstone. This would eventually be used by Urza in the creation of the silver golem Karn.
Varchild was a young girl who grew to become a mighty warrior in the region of Kjeldor during the Ice Age. After family tragedy at the hands of Balduvian barbarians, she quickly worked her way up the military chain before becoming the right hand of Avram Garrison.
Garrison’s ambition however, would propel Varchild into the annals of legend. His lobbying of King Darien to unify the military under his leadership as general and subsequent ignoring of said lobbying led the Kjeldoran Garrison to form the Knights of Stromgald, an organization with the mission of assassinating the King and making it look as if the Balduvians were responsible. Varchild, unable to stomach the coup, stepped up and defended her King when the time came.
In the aftermath, it was revealed that the necromancer Lim-Dûl was the secret benefactor of the Stromgalds, allowing King Darien to unify the various military orders under a single rule. Varchild became the first General of a new military order under powerful rule, but there was one catch. They would have to ally with her hated enemies the Balduvians to do so. Despite her hatred, Varchild stepped up alongside the barbarians to defeat Lim-Dûl when the time came.
However, Varchild would not be able to resolve the pain she had experienced and family lost as a child. She resigned as General and became the Betrayer of Kjeldor, raising her own militia to attack the Balduvians. Her crusade would not last as Kjeldor and Balduvia eventually would set aside their differences to become New Argive, leaving Varchild and her militia by the wayside to the annals of history.
Little known to most, Arixmethes has actually appeared in the lore before during the Theros block. The legend of Arixmethes is strange, as most of Theros believes it used to be a prominent polis on the plane before it was smote by Heliod for an unknown crime.
In reality however, Arixmethes is not just the name of a city, it’s the name of the gigantic kraken that the city lived on. The original inhabitants had thought the great beast to be an island, building their city on its back. However, the city faced its doom when the kraken awoke, dragging its inhabitants to a watery grave. In fact, the art itself even depicts the polis before Arixmethes’ awakening, while below the surface of the water you can see the very crustacean-like kraken (as all of Theros’ krakens are like) slumbering.
Arixmethes would later come to the forefront of the lore during Theros block when the planeswalker Kiora tricked Ajani and Elspeth into taking her to the great kraken before their journey to the edge of the world. There, Kiora battled Thassa, God of the Sea. Kiora attempted to wrest control of Arixmethes from Thassa, however the Sea God’s control over the beast was simply to great and Arixmethes retreated to the deep to slumber once more.
That’s all the time we have this week folks! What else would you guys like to see in these lore articles? Hit me up in the comments or Discord to let me know!
Joseph is an avid player of eternal Magic formats, including Vintage and Legacy. As a Nic Fit player who will tell anyone who will listen about his deck, Joe spends his time analyzing and playing on Magic Online and various online platforms, while prepping for competitive events. To follow more Joe, check out his Twitter!