With the dawn of Modern Horizons, the Magic community is looking forward to not just seeing a boost of new cards in the format, but also revisiting old worlds and seeing familiar characters. Wizards of the Coast chose to announce the set with a planeswalker that any Vorthos or older player would be excited to see: Serra. Rendered beautifully by Magali Villeneuve, Serra and her angels have retained a vital presence within the game over the past two decades.
One of the oldest planeswalkers in the lore, Serra had a deep affinity for White mana and represented the best of what that color could offer. Warm-hearted and kind, Serra used her immense power to create her own plane: Serra’s Realm. It was a place where she could eliminate all suffering for its inhabitants, providing them with every need in order to maintain happiness and order. Both angels and human worshippers populated Serra’s Realm, offering songs and works of art inspired by the beauty, values and grace of Serra herself. In a Multiverse where planeswalkers were god-like in power and status, Serra was one of the few who used her powers to foster peace in her community.
Serra was able to keep her people safe until the arrival of Urza and the resulting Phyrexian Invasion. The realm was corrupted by Phyrexian influence, and Urza eventually collapsed the plane into the Weatherlight’s powerstone and evacuated its refugees to Sursi on Dominaria. Serra never recovered from her loss, especially after the death of her husband Feroz, and died soon after.
Since that time, Serra’s legacy has inspired a Church and a community on Dominaria devoted to continuing her legacy. Unlike the Cabal or the religions of other planes, the Church of Serra embodies its founder’s commitment to sincere, heartfelt benevolence.
Serra the Benevolent
Since this is the first time Wizards has depicted Serra on a card, it’s no surprise that her art and abilities are filled with meaning. Despite her association with angels, Serra appears here without wings and with her feet on the ground. Her pose shows us that she is on the same footing as the audience, and her outstretched hand welcomes us to take part in her generosity. Her realm floats behind her in a never-ending dawn, along with her radiant hair and scarves.
Serra’s clothing is also highly symbolic. Feathers adorn her pauldron and chestpiece, hinting at the angels she created. The chestpiece itself is quartered in design, with alternating parts of brass and steel. With her circle fastener overlaying this design, the quartered circle of the Church of Serra is created, each segment representing a virtue of Serra: Art, Discourse, Freedom and Peace. Her right leg piece is shaped like a shield, while chainmail covers her torso and flows over her skirt. The chainmail itself is a symbol of Serra’s personality: flexible, yet protective, the perfect medium between her silk-like fabric and steel plating. She carries no weapon, and she approaches the viewer with sincerity.
All three of Serra’s abilities are references to cards that defined her presence in Magic. Her +2 ability, which gives flying creatures +1/+1 until end of turn, is a direct reference to Serra Aviary. Her -3 ability creates a 4/4 Flying Angel with Vigilance – the quintessential Serra Angel. And her final ability at -6 creates an emblem that is an homage to Worship: “If you control a creature, damage that would reduce your life total to less than 1 reduces it to 1 instead.”
Though perhaps not the most competitive card, Serra the Benevolent nevertheless carries with her a large amount of nostalgia and lore.
Serra’s commitment to compassion and kindness makes her unique among Pre-Mending planeswalkers, and a worthy addition to Modern Horizons. When many other planeswalkers devoted their time to war and conquest, Serra kept her focus on her people and community, opening her heart to all who needed her. Unlike many, Serra saw the value in every person, no matter their status. In many ways, Serra doesn’t just represent the best of White, but the best of all planeswalkers old and new.
A consummate lover of books, tea, food and instant-speed kill spells, Michelle is a person of many passions. Her hobbies include cuddling cats, throwing pottery, and analyzing Magic lore from a literary perspective. She is also a co-host of the Vorthos comedy podcast, “The Loregoyfs,” and she comprises a full 25% of The Felidar Guardian (specifically the right hand, left ear and both scapulas). Her CMC is 2BWU, and her ETB trigger creates two 1/1 cats with lifelink and trample.