Friday, 12 March 2021 08:00

Who is... Nicol Bolas? (Pt. 2 - The Elder Dragon War)

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Who is... Nicol Bolas? (Pt. 2 - The Elder Dragon War) WOTC/MAGIC UNTAPPED

Welcome to the second season in Magic Untapped's "Who Is..." series.

In this ten-part series, we explore the origins of the dragon who would become one of Magic: The Gathering's greatest antagonists, Nicol Bolas.  In this second episode, we experience Dominaria's great Elder Dragon War and explore the events that lead up to the dragon becoming a planeswalker.

Enjoy the show.

Video transcript:


Welcome back to “Who is” on Magic Untapped as we explore the backstory and evolution of Nicol Bolas.

When we last left Bolas, he had just taken control of a number of human factions and double-crossed his twin brother, Ugin.  Now, his ambitions and schemes will launch the plane of Dominaria into a thousand-years-long war.

Stay tuned and I’ll tell you the story of the Elder Dragon War…


Seven descendants of the elder dragon, Vaevictis Asmadi, raid lands controlled by Nicol Bolas.  All seven are dealt with by Bolas’ forces and, afterwards, Bolas is confronted by Vaevictis and three of his siblings.  One of his siblings is killed in the encounter, but Bolas’ army suffers a harsh defeat as they are forced to retreat into some nearby mountains.

In the mountains, Vaevictis’ two surviving brothers once again engage with Bolas and his army.  This time, however, results are different.  Bolas’ army dispatches one of the attacking dragons and Bolas gets into the other’s head, convincing him to turn against Vaevictus, allowing Bolas to make his escape.

After the costly clash with Vaevictis and his clan, Bolas decides to change his tactics.  One by one, he begins manipulating Dominaria’s various dragon clans, turning them against each other.  From open plains to snow-capped mountains, dragons attack dragons and the death toll is incredible as their hunger for flesh and power only grows.

Soon enough, the dragons raise armies from the humans who follow them either out of worship or out of fear.  Sorcerers who crave draconic-like power offer their services to the feuding dragons.  As the war dragged on and the plane becomes more and more war-torn, even the wise and peace-loving Arcades Sabboth finds he can no longer resist the urge to fight as he throws his might into the war, Bolas’ whispers influencing his mind.

As the war rages on and countless dragons are slain, Bolas observes the chaos from a safe distance, awaiting the right moment to swoop in and claim ultimate victory.

As the war nears what will ultimately become its end, Bolas now controls nearly half of Dominaria.  On the continent of Jamuraa, one army meets another – Bolas’ mighty forces versus Sabboth’s ailing troops – for what Bolas feels will be one of the final deciding battles before he can claim victory over the entire world.

As the draconic foes faced off, a third dragon appears.  Ugin, who had been exploring the multiverse as a planeswalker while Dominaria was at war, reveals himself.  Bolas doesn’t believe it’s his twin brother at first, assuming he had been slain by humans after their spat a century prior.  Ugin convinces him otherwise and Bolas asks his brother to join him and rule as “Emperor of All.”

Ugin retorts that Dominaria – the only world Bolas knows – is but one world of many in an infinite multiverse.  He would not be, as he put it, “Emperor of All,” but quite the opposite.  Bolas then asks Ugin to show him these other worlds, but the twin declines and simply says that he cannot.

Now suspecting that his brother hadn’t been traveling from world to world and, instead, was simply hiding and plotting against him, Bolas exchanges some choice words with his brother who planeswalks from the plane once again, leaving his brother all alone.  Enraged at Ugin and infinitely envious of his powers, Bolas’ own latent spark ignites and he planeswalks off of the war-ravaged plane.


And, just like that, the great Elder Dragon War came to a close.  Bolas’ abandoned armies are taken in by a war-hardened Arcades Sabboth, who ironically rules the entire plane of Dominaria as a police state until his death.

But what about Nicol Bolas now that he planeswalker powers?

Next time, we’ll follow Nicol Bolas the planeswalker as he grows in power and plots revenge against his brother, Ugin, as “Who Is” continues on Magic Untapped.

I’m Barry White.  Thanks for watching.