Sunday, 10 September 2017

Announcement

Hi there everyone

If you look at the right side of this page, you'll see I've not been very good at regularly updating this blog, and that there was a steep drop in content from oktober 2015 onward. Which just happens to be when I started a normal day job again. Prior to that I was doing part-time night shifts, which was pretty ideal for a blogger.

This lack of regular updates has been a thorn in my side for a while now. It just feels like I'm constantly late for deadlines, and the last thing I want is for this blog to start feeling like a chore. Having finally wrapped up the Weatherlight Saga, this felt like the right moment to take stock and figure things out. Thus Multiverse in Review is going on hiatus for a little while, to give me time to work ahead and figure out a good regular schedule for myself.

Don't worry, this project is far from over and I intend to see it through to the end. In fact, I'm quite looking forward to the reviews coming up, especially the nonsense in Onslaught block! I've already finished reading Dragons of Magic and am currently working my way through Johan. I think that when I'm done with the Legends I cycle I should have a pretty solid idea of the new schedule.

If you want to keep in touch in the meantime, I will be commenting on the replies on the blog itself, and you can also follow me on Twitter and Tumblr.

I hope you're all not too mad at me for the lack of reviews in the upcoming weeks, and that I'll see you all again when I return with my regularly scheduled programming!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Upcoming Reviews

Now that we are done with the Weatherlight Saga, I thought I'd give you all a little heads up on what I'm going to cover next. Because at this point the release schedule of the books get's a bit cluttered. First a list of all the books released, in chronological order, from Invasion block to Mirrodin block. I've color-coded the various cycles for your convenience.
  • Invasion (oct 2000)
  • Planeshift (feb 2001)
  • Johan (april 2001)
  • Apocalypse (jun 2001)
  • The Dragons of Magic (aug 2001)
  • Odyssey (sept 2001)
  • Jedit (dec 2001)
  • Chainer's Torment (jan 2002)
  • Judgment (may 2002)
  • The Secrets of Magic (may 2002)
  • Hazezon (aug 2002)
  • Onslaught (sept 2002)
  • Assassin's Blade (dec 2002)
  • Legions (jan 2003)
  • Emperor's Fist (mar 2003)
  • Scourge (may 2003)
  • The Monsters of Magic (aug 2003)
  • The Moons of Mirrodin (sept 2003)
  • Champion's Trial (nov 2003)
  • The Darksteel Eye (dec 2003)
  • The Fifth Dawn (may 2004)
So yeah... at least the anthology titles fit neatly in between the regular cycles, but the Legends I and II cycles get everywhere, each being released simultaneously with two regular cycles. To make it easier for myself to do the continuity and timeline overviews, I'll move them around a bit in my schedule, so we only cover one cycle at a time. Furthermore, since Odyssey block runs straight into Onslaught block I want to keep as few novels as possible in between those. Thus Legends I will be moved forward and covered before we get to Odyssey, while Legends II will have to wait until Onslaught is wrapped up. Don't worry, Legends I and II have absolutely nothing to do with one another. Secrets of Magic can stay put, as it actually has some interesting backstory on minor Odyssey/Onslaught characters like Balthor. Finally there's a handful of other stuff I still need to cover, which makes the review schedule for the coming months as follows:
  • The Mirage Document
  • The Dragons of Magic
  • Johan
  • Jedit
  • Hazezon
  • Odyssey
  • Chainer's Torment
  • Judgment
  • Odyssey online (OdysseyOnline.com, Magic book archive, MagicTheGathering.com)
  • The Secrets of Magic
  • Onslaught
  • Legions
  • Scourge
  • Onslaught online
  • Assassin's Blade
  • Emperor's Fist
  • Champion's Trial
  • An article on the Legends I, Legends II & Greensleeves timeline issues
  • The Monsters of Magic
  • The Moons of Mirrodin
  • The Darksteel Eye
  • The Fifth Dawn
  • Mirrodin online
Somewhere in between all this I will also do a review of the Portal: Second Age story, but when that will be depends on when my copy of The Official Guide to Portal: Second Age arrives.

From Mirrodin onward the storyline starts following an easy to follow schedule again, with each set getting their own novel and the extra cycles and anthology series being cancelled. At that point we really only have to worry about a few online anthologies and the occasional tidbit from a player's guide. But by the time I'm covering those we should be well into next year, so let's not get ahead of ourselves!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Weatherlight Saga overview


Was the Weatherlight Saga a succes? Was it even any good? Well, let's first figure out what we actually mean by "the Weatherlight Saga", because there are a number of different things rolled into that one name. First and foremost it is of course a story. The story of the Weatherlight Crew, whose adventures are revealed to be just a part of Urza's ongoing war against Phyrexia. But it can also mean a format, in which the story is told through WotC publications, rather than the preceding third party stuff, and is tied much closer to the game itself, compared to what came after. It is also used as a way of looking at continuity: when we talk about the Weatherlight Saga we place it in opposition to the supposedly chaotic and self-contradicting pre-revisionist stories and the less integrated planeshopping blocks. And finally there is the Weatherlight Saga as an attitude of Wizards of the Coast, one in which the storyline had an unprecedented importance. Perhaps the greatest importance up to the current Gatewatch era.

In short, the Weatherlight Saga is not just a story, it is an era in the history of the game, with distinctive traits in almost every aspect of the storyline. So let's go through these aspects one by one.

Monday, 24 July 2017

InQuest Gamer #74 (june 2001)

A bit beat up, as 13 year old me wasn't that careful with his magazines. It's a wonder I still have it at all!
On this blog we've looked at all issues of The Duelist, and at all the (somewhat) relevant parts of Top Deck, but those were just two publications in a once thriving market of cardgame magazines. So far I've completely ignored the rest. Partially this is because I don't own many of those issues, and I don't really feel like collecting 131 issues of Scrye, 150 issues of InQuest and whatever else is out there without knowing which issues include lore stuff. But mostly it is because these are all third party publications. Often when they talk storyline it is just parroting things from the novels, and when they go beyond that the canonicity is often in doubt.

I wanted to highlight this problem by looking at this specific issue of InQuest. It contains a hype article for the then-imminent release of Apocalypse that became quite famous in storyline circles for containing the only clear picture of Yawgmoth and (for a long time) the only picture of Karn as a planeswalker. The article was written after consulting with a WotC employee, uses concept art that we also saw in the Apocalypse novel, and the description of cards not yet released at the time is spot on. So far, so canon, you'd say. But when we delve into the storyline tidbits we'll find a number of inconsistenties, making things difficult. But let's first just look at this article, so we know what we are talking about.


Sunday, 2 July 2017

www.MagicInvasion.com


In the final issues of The Duelist we were told that Wizards was moving its magazine fully online. The medium then got a little reprieve in the form of TopDeck, but the move really was inevitable, and with Invasion block we've finally reached the point where there is no longer an official Magic magazine in print. Third party publications like Scrye and Inquest held out a few more years, and over in France Lotus Noir is somehow still going, but for official Wizards of the Coast content we have to go online from this point on.

For us storyline folk this exciting new digital era actually had very little to offer. Magicthegathering.com was at the time little more than a list of product releases. In addition to that there was SideBoard, which catered to tournament players, but if you wanted storyline stuff, or behind the scenes R&D info, you were out of luck. In 2002, around the release of Torment, their website adopted its now-famous daily articles format, with the occasional Arcana or feature article on the storyline. Not until the tail end of Kamigawa block did we get a regular article on flavor stuff.

But that is not to say there was nothing for us at all during that time. We already seen that product pages sometimes contained little stories, like with Nemesis and Prophecy. And for Invasion block Wizards created a whole sub-site! It's very early 2000's, complete with flash animations, looping background music and downloadable wallpapers. But there actually is some interesting Vorthos stuff hidden in here. For starters the Kev Walkers comics we have been look at for Masques, Nemesis, Prophecy and Invasion continue here. More importantly, in addition to that this site also gives us the most complete maps of Dominaria we've ever been given!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Invasion cycle: the review


We are finally here people! This post contains my review of the Invasion cycle, but you might want to read the summaries of Invasion, Planeshift and Apocalypse first, if you have not already done so.

Initially I wanted to split this review into two parts, first talking about whether the Invasion cycle worked as a story, and then about whether it worked as a capstone to the Weatherlight Saga. But that division is not so easily made. The story is that it is the capstone of the Weatherlight Saga. If you are not already invested in that arc large parts of these books are just a random bunch of monsters attacking a random place with random people defending. There is some characterization here, some of it is even very good, but most of it is in broad strokes, or very short. Tahngarth’s apprehension towards meeting other minotaurs rings hollow if you are not already familiar with his attitude towards his mutations seen in Rath and Storm or Mercadian Masques. And Barrin’s suicide is set up mostly by his relationship to his daughter shown in A Timefor Remembrance and the death of his wife in Prophecy.

Still, there is something to say about the writing style that has nothing to do with the rest of the saga, and some continuity concerns that have little to do with the quality of the story. So I’ll start off talking about the story itself before moving on to continuity stuff. It will just be more of a gradual development than a clear divide.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Apocalypse


Writer - J. Robert King
Cover art - Brom
Interior art - Brian "Chippy" Dugan, Dana Knutson, Todd Lockwood, Anson Maddocks, R.K. Post, Mark Tedin & Anthony Waters.
First released in June 2001

SUMMARY
We open up on Gerrard and Urza kneeling in front of Yawgmoth in the Ninth Sphere, which has been formed into an arena. Yawgmoth tells the two to fight for their greatest desire: the resurrection of Hanna and the chance to study under Yawgmoth respectively. So they do. For almost half the book. Urza has a number of near-wins, but each time Yawgmoth comes up with a reason why it doesn't count. During the fight Gerrard learns to manipulate the flowstone all around him and eventually he manages to decapitate Urza. Yawgmoth then blesses Gerrard with a tenfold increase in strength, endurance, intelligence and will. But Gerrard had shaken off the command of Yawgmoth during the battle, and when it looks like Hanna comes forward to collect Urza's head, he strikes her with his halberd instead, correctly guessing that the Hanna-simulacrum would be where Yawgmoth hid his essence. Before he can follow it up with a killing blow Yawgmoth ejects him from Phyrexia, back to the Stronghold.