Phyrexia: All Will Be One is looming on the horizon, and before we get too far along into the story coming out and preview season starting in earnest, I need to make some predictions! We have our two mainstay categories: mechanical predictions and storyline predictions, as usual. But let’s kick off with something concrete that’s a little unique to this set:
Which Planeswalkers Get Compleated
We know for certain that ONE will feature 10 planeswalkers and that things aren’t going to go great for five of them. As officially confirmed, five planeswalkers will getting the Tamiyo/Ajani treatment and fall to the Phyrexian Oil, becoming completed and joining the dark-machine side.
Here’s the full list of the 10 planeswalkers we’ll be seeing, sticking to alphabetical order for now:
- Wandering Emperor, The
We’ve already seen the cards for both Kaito and Koth, and they have not been overtaken — so we can move them to the safe side of the list right off the bat. Kristen made a good case not long ago for why Nahiri specifically (and white walkers in general) should maybe be left alone for a bit, and I happen to agree with a lot in that article. So, removing any planeswalkers with white in them takes Nahiri, Kaya and The Wandering Emperor out of the running.
This conveniently leaves us with our five candidates for compleation: Jace, Lukka, Nissa, Tyvar and Vraska. And even with our somewhat arbitrary criteria of “just take out the white walkers,” I’m pretty happy with this list as a prediction.
Lukka is already fairly amoral as a character; I can even see him joining the machines willingly if he sees it furthering his own goals.
Tyvar’s personality would make for an interesting villain, as right now he’s essentially the equivalent of a very energetic and enthusiastic puppy. Compleation has been shown to not entirely erase an individual’s idiosyncrasies, especially in the case of more powerful characters. Seeing Tyvar’s optimism turn evil could make for an interesting twist on a standard villain.
Nissa has filled many roles in the story at various times, constantly wavering in her friendships and alliances, and I’d be interested in seeing how that mutability ties into her downfall (especially given how the very concept of Elesh Norn’s vision is essentially a corruption and violation of nature). Seeing Nissa forced to serve and work against what has been the basis of all her decisions up to this point would make for some good old-fashioned tragedy.
Speaking of tragedy, that leaves us with Jace and Vraska. Magic doesn’t really do romance too often, and Jace and Vraska’s unlikely pairing has been wonderful, if rocky in its on-again off-again nature.
Both are heavily entwined into the Ravnica storyline, but in a way that has largely not been in the spotlight of the main storyline in a while. Outside of diehard Vorthoses (and article writers who research these things to make sure they aren’t completely wrong about thing), I’d be surprised if more than 10% of casual players could tell me what Vraska has been up to since War of the Spark.
Turning Jace into a villain would also be symbolically huge, as Jace has been the outward face of Magic for a long time. Wizards of the Coast’s official Magic font is called Beleren, after all.
All right, so those are the predictions I have that are going to be the most immediately apparent when I get them wrong. Moving on!
If we only had official and approved releases to go off, this would be a more interesting section. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the world we live in.
Toxic as they may be, a few spoilers have leaked that give away some interesting information about the mechanics in the set. I’m not going to talk about those spoilers, as I don’t want to help them proliferate.
So, what does that leave us with? I’ve got one prediction for a mechanic that will be in the set and one for a mechanic that won’t.
First, what we won’t see: Phyrexian mana. This might seem odd since we already know Planeswalkers with the Compleated mechanic have at least one Phyrexian mana symbol in their costs, and as discussed above we’ll have five Compleated planeswalkers.
So, let’s get specific: there will be no Phyrexian mana on a non-Planeswalker card in the set. There may be some very spelled out text that partially mimics the effect, like on the Defiler cycle of creatures from Dominaria United. But no Gut Shots or Dismembers. No straight-up Phyrexian mana.
The reason for this is pretty simple — Phyrexian mana is as broken a mechanic as has ever been printed, allowing for decks to ignore color restrictions to the point where reading what your opponent might have in their hand is largely impossible.
But what will be in the set that we haven’t already seen? Well, New Phyrexia used to be Mirrodin, and Mirrodin is the mechanical home of Equipment.
The first Mirrodin block introduced equipment into the game, and Scars of Mirrodin block gave us Living Weapon, a mechanic Wizards has iterated on several times since we last visited the plane.
While Living Weapon could see a comeback, I think Mirrodin is more a place where we see some wild experimentation with what we can do with equipment…like making tokens of them.
This set does depict the middle of a desperate war, after all, and the Phyrexians are gearing up for an all-out invasion. Supplying an army takes a lot of equipment, and you aren’t giving every foot soldier a legendary sword of myth.
No, you give an army simple, mass-produced weapons that anyone can pick up and use with relative ease. To me, that means we’ll see some kind of token generation mechanic, named or not, that spits out simple, pure power-and-toughness boosting equipment.
So there’s some mechanical predictions. But what’s actually going to happen in the set?
Look, I’m not going to sugar-coat anything here: I don’t think things are going to go well for our heroes. We already talked about half the planeswalkers in the set having a bad time, and the name of the set is Phyrexia: All Will Be One, not Phyrexia: Boy, That Was a Close One, Wasn’t It?
These things used to be a little easier to parse out back in the days of three-set blocks, but given what we know of upcoming sets, I’d peg Phyrexia: All Will Be One as the end of the second act of this overarching storyline. And like the end of, for example, The Empire Strikes Back (to go with a famous example of classic three-act structure), things are about to get pretty bleak.
Here is where we’ll finally see Phyrexia in full at the height of its power. The heroes might score a few minor victories, but those will be mostly focused on short-term survival — not outright winning the war. And while the Planeswalkers lose half their number to attrition, Phyrexia and Elesh Norn will be more focused on grander goals.
Teferi will return just in time to kick off the main Phyrexian invasion of the multiverse in March of the Machines, along with some deus ex machina (fittingly, what with the machine-like nature of Phyrexia and all) that will turn the tide of the battle.
I can’t see the main Magic storyline going full grimdark and the next several years of sets taking place in a multiverse on the edge of compleation. I also expect that the particular deus ex machina of the day will have a lot of unintended consequences, setting up the next slate of the storyline.
All of that is for later, though. For now, we’re here at the end of the second act, and this will be the lowest point — the full dark before the dawn.
We don’t have long to figure out if I’m getting any better at these predictions, as the story articles for Phyrexia: All Will Be One start next Thursday, with previews starting in full the Tuesday after. I’m looking forward to a bunch of nifty cards, and I hope the Phyrexians didn’t do my boy Venser too wrongly (although that previewed art featuring him doesn’t fill me with too much optimism on that front).
And I still think Urza should be the next ongoing main villain of Magic. Not letting that refrain die down quite yet.
Chris is the Associate Media Producer at Card Kingdom. He would like to apologize to his son for not holding onto more cards from when he first started playing, as that likely would have paid for college. He enjoys pretty much all formats of Magic, but usually ends up playing decks that make other people dislike playing those formats with him.