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Friday, 12 November 2021 08:01

Who is... Nicol Bolas? (Pt. 10 - War of the Spark)

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Who is... Nicol Bolas? (Pt. 10 - War of the Spark) WOTC/MAGIC UNTAPPED

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

In this ten-part series, we explore the story of the dragon who would become one of Magic: The Gathering's greatest antagonists, Nicol Bolas. In this tenth and final episode in a ten-part series, Nicol Bolas' plans come to fruition on the plane of Ravnica in what would become the War of the Spark.

Enjoy the show.

Video transcript:


Welcome back to “Who Is” on Magic Untapped as we conclude the story of Nicol Bolas, Magic: The Gathering’s most ruthless draconic planeswalker.  I’m Barry White.

Bolas, now with all of his schemes set in motion, is ready to attack the plane of Ravnica, but planar dominance isn’t his goal.  Rather, it’s only a distraction meant to lure in any and all planeswalkers who oppose him as he seeks to steal their power and add it to his own.

I present to you the final chapter: War of the Spark.


On Ravnica, Nicol Bolas inserts his own pawns as leaders of five of the plane’s ten guilds: Vraska for the Golgari, Dovin Baan for the Azorius, Ral Zarek for the Izzet, Domri Rade for the Gruul, and Kaya, who had been hired by Bolas to assassinate the Ghost Council which heads up the Orzhov Syndicate (though they are not necessarily as loyal to Bolas as the dragon assumes).

He also makes use of a covert agent from the Dimir guild to influence the mind of Niv-Mizzet, the founder of the Izzet Guild, to allow Zarek to turn on the planeswalker-hailing Interplanar Becaon the guild had been constructing and experimenting with.

Like moths to a flame, planeswalkers fly into Ravnica one after another.

Meanwhile, Tezzeret prepares the planar bridge, implanting it into his unnatural body to act as its host.

Everything seemingly in place, Bolas makes his grand appearance on the plane and is quickly confronted by Niv-Mizzet.  The two dragons engage in a violent duel that destroys large portions of the city-plane.  As the fight went on, Niv-Mizzet began to realize his eventual defeat.  After attempting to crush Bolas with a literal city block, the draconic planeswalker arose surrounded by a sphere of dark energy.  In the end, all that remained of Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind, was naught but a scattering of charred bones.

By this time, dozens of planeswalkers heeded the beacon’s call and apparated on the Ravnica.  Bolas introduces the ancient artifact he stole from Ixalan, the Immortal Sun, to the realm and traps them all on the plane, the device disallowing their departures.  He then casts his Elderspell, which allows him to harvest the sparks of other planeswalkers and absorb them into himself, thus regaining him the godlike status he had lost after the time of the Mending.

And during all this, Bolas’ Eternal Army has been flowing into the plane by way of the Planar Bridge, bringing chaos to Ravnica and splitting the attention of the planeswalkers between the army of undead invaders and Bolas himself.

Back on Amonkhet, the planeswalkers Dack Fayden, Ob Nixilis, Karn, and Samut arrive, having traversed through Tezzeret’s Planar Bridge, intent on shutting the device down.  They quickly locate the planeswalker and attack him.  Using a device created by Saheeli Rai, the device that allows Tezzeret to establish the portal explodes and the Planar Bridge collapses in on itself.  Instead of being angry about it, Tezzeret thanks the quartet, saying that once Bolas is out of the way, there’ll be nobody left powerful enough to stop his own plans.  The artificer then planeswalks away.

Before returning to Ravnica to aid in the efforts there, the group pays a brief visit to a survivors’ camp that is under the protection of Hazoret, the only of the plane’s original gods to have survived the plane’s devastation.  She tells Fayden that he is a better person than he gives himself credit for and lends the group her spear for use in the war on Ravnica.

Back in another part of the Ravnica, Nissa Revane and a number of representatives from all of the plane’s guilds gather Niv-Mizzet’s charred remains along with an item known as the Firemind Vessel that Ugin, Bolas’ twin brother, had been keeping hidden and safe in the Meditation Realm.  Using an ancient ritual, Niv-Mizzet was reborn.

Liliana Vess, forced into servitude, act as the Dreadhorde General in charge of Bolas’ army.  As the violence and chaos takes over Ravnica, she personally witnesses a young girl shield her younger brother from a collapsing wall only for the pair to be crushed to death by the falling debris.  Taking a moment to process, Vess decides to turn on her draconic overlord no matter the consequence.  She instructs the Dreadhorde to turn on Bolas.

Seeing Vess’ treachery, he makes good on his prior threat to the indebted necromancer.  He invokes the magical clause in Vess’ demonic contract and the Dreadhorde general begins to disintegrate.  Her friend, Gideon Jura (ever the hero) grants his invulnerability to her, allowing her to ultimately survive.  The price, however, is that Jura himself dissolves away in her stead.  He had sacrificed himself to save her.

As Bolas has his talons full between Jura sacrificing himself to save Vess and fending off the army of undead which had turned against him, he is able to slay the former Amonkhet god, Oketra, but doesn’t notice that a reborn Niv-Mizzet is coming up from behind.  Using the spear that Hazoret had provided earlier, the Firemind runs Bolas through.  Bontu, the last of the eternalized Amonkhet gods remaining in Ravnica, then viciously bites Bolas, absorbing every single spark contained within the dragon including that of Bolas himself.

Unable to contain so much power, Bontu explodes, the consumed sparks presumably going with him.

Bolas now unconscious and a weakened shell of his former self, the gathered planeswalkers go for the final attack.

From the Meditation Realm, Ugin telepathically reaches out to Jace and convinces him that he needs Bolas alive in the event that Bolas’ arrogance and love of contingency plans means that the dragon has a way to yet again cheat death.  Jace conjures up an illusion of the former draconic planeswalker perishing where he lay, disintegrating into a pile of ash.

The charade was all Ugin needed to appear on Ravnica unnoticed and retrieve his brother.  The Spirit Dragon brings the broken Bolas back to the Meditation Realm.  A few weeks later, Bolas would regain consciousness and, months later, begin to recuperate.

That’s when Ugin levels with his brother.

He reveals to him that this plane – the Meditation Realm which Bolas arrogantly claimed as his own – had existed long before he had found it.  He tells his brother that it had helped not just himself, but Niv-Mizzet as well to be reborn.  He reveals that the gem that lay between Bolas’ horns contains part of Ugin’s own soul, allowing him to always keep an eye on him and catalog his every move.

Finally, Ugin informs his brother that due to his deeds and in his defeat he has lost the use of his name.  Nicol Bolas was no more.  He is nameless and will forever be imprisoned in the Meditation Realm, his own twin brother his jailer until the now-nameless dragon’s natural death some thousands of years later.

Thus ends the story of a dragon without a name.


 We hope you’ve enjoyed this season of “What If” on Magic Untapped.  We’ll be back in a few months with Season Three showcasing the story of another of Magic: The Gathering’s iconic characters.

I’m Barry White.

Thanks for watching.


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