Friday, 30 September 2022 09:00

Magic History: Remembering 'Eventide'

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Magic History: Remembering 'Eventide' WOTC/MAGIC UNTAPPED

Sometimes it's nice to look back and see just how far things have come since the early days of Magic: The Gathering.  To that end, we're bringing you a series of short videos that highlight Magic: The Gathering expansions throughout the years.

In this video, we take a look back at Eventide, the second and final set in Magic: The Gathering's Shadowmoor-Eventide mini-block.

You can check it all out in our retrospective video (below).

Video transcript:

The 46th expansion in Magic: The Gathering history, the 180-card Eventide released on July 25, 2008.  With the set’s release came the conclusion of the four-part story that began the previous autumn with Lorwyn and carried on through Morningtide and Shadowmoor.

You can experience the story of Eventide yourself by reading the novel by the same name written by Cory J. Herndon and Scott McGough.

And, of course, there’s always our summary of it all…

A year has passed since the events of the Great Aurora – the plane-altering event that turned the idyllic land of Lorwyn into the nightmarish hell that is Shadowmoor.

Ashling, a flamekin from the old world, now a cinder known as the Extinguisher, has grown immensely powerful and quite insane.  She is the bane of not just her own kind (who both worship and fear her), but of pretty much everyone residing in Shadowmoor.

In short, the maniacal Ashling is constantly trying to burn the world to the ground as penance for what she has become.  And seemingly everyone else on the plane (at one point or another) tries to stop her.  It’s Ashling versus the world.  Or, rather, the world versus Ashling.

As the cinder becomes more and more of an active threat, she laid waste to most of the kithkin town of Kinscaer, then went to do the same to the town of Mistmeadow.

The town’s hero, Jack Chierdagh, attempts to stop her.  Thankfully, he has Brigid Baeli backing him up, along with a number of Wilt Leaf elves from the nearby forest.

Brigid, still in possession of the Crescent of Morningtide that she (kind of) pilfered from the merfolk, Sygg, which allows her to bend water to her will.  But, even waterbending power isn’t enough to extinguish the Extinguisher.

Ashling confronts Brigid and, despite the change the world and most of its inhabitants underwent a year prior, still remembers her.  Quite well, in fact.

Indeed, Ashling showed her former friend mercy.  She was allowed to live, if nothing else to witness the Extinguisher burn everything around her to the ground.  And she would have succeeded, were it not for Eidren of the Wilt Leaf.

The elf set himself up as a conduit to channel the very essence of the Wilt Leaf forest through his body and against the rampaging cinder, hurling her far away from what remained of the town, but consuming his own life in the process.

Meanwhile, Oona, Queen of the Fae, and the behind-the-scenes orchestrator of not just the Great Aurora, but of many affairs on the plane, made contact with Tarcha, a kithkin survivor from Kinscaer who, with the help of the kithkin collective consciousness, the Mindweft, was able to ultimately repel Ashling before all was lost.  The fae queen offered to help her devastated town in exchange for it and its citizens supporting her against the Extinguisher.  Desperate, Tarcha agreed.

Back with Brigid, the kithkin meets up with Maralen.  She pleads with the elven avatar about the importance of the merfolk’s patron, the Source of Wanderbrine, in their efforts against Ashling, stating that in order to defeat a powerful being of fire, they need the assistance of a powerful being of water.

The duo enlist their former ally, Sygg, once a ferry captain, but now a vicious pirate, by promising to return to him the Crescent of Morningtide.  With his once-cherished possession as eventual payment, the pirate captain agrees to assist.

They journey to, and meet with, the Source and, in short, Sygg essentially forces the great water spirit to support their cause.  Apparently (even in this new, dark world), it pays to be the Heir to Morningtide.

The trio, along with Sygg’s scurvy crew, then cook up a plan to ambush Ashling and quell her violent streak.

Just outside of Kinscaer, the group – which, by then, included not just Brigid, Maralen, and Sygg and his pirates, but also the elf, Rhys, and Colfenor’s sapling -- got their chance.  Unfortunately, Ashling proved to me a more formidable foe than they had estimated.  Were it not for an intervention by none other than Oona herself, the Extinguisher was sure to have won.

Unfortunately, the Queen of the Fae hadn’t swooped in to rescue the group.  Rather, she wanted Ashling’s power all for herself.

Unbeknownst to Oona, however, is that Maralen – the elven maiden she made as her avatar and, essentially, backup copy – possesses the scroll that once belonged to the prophetic giant seer, Rosheen Meanderer.  With the power of the scroll and the Crescent of Morningtide (which the elf never actually intended to hand over to the pirate – an action that would find Sygg and his crew departing the scene) at her disposal, Maralen went after the fae queen with intent on destroying her.  Using the power of the Crescent, she focused the elemental power of The Source and Ashling’s fire at the fae matriarch.

It’s here that the beans get spilled as Oona’s plans are finally made public.

Oona, it seems, as been actively manipulating the natural order of Lorwyn-Shadowmoor by stretching its days into centuries.  And Colfenor, the late, ancient treefolk seer, wanted the game to come to and end.

Apparently, a disaster in a far-away world caused the Great Aurora to come much, much sooner than Oona had planned.  And this frightened the fae queen, hence why she took the corpse of the Mournsong Elf, Maralen, and reanimated it as a simulacrum of herself – essentially making her own version of Colfenor’s plans of preservation for once the Great Aurora comes (just in case).  And that included having Maralen find Rhys when she did, infiltrating the group as she had.  Unfortunately, things went awry as Maralen began to experience independence from Oona, which really complicated things for the fae queen.

Unfortunately for the group, Oona was able to flee from the scene.  The fae queen escaped to the kithikin capital of Cayr Ulios where she quickly ursurped power from the king and queen, then subdued the city’s population, using the power of the Mindweft made known to her by Tarcha, to further fuel her own power.  The elf, Gryffid, however dissented and sacrificed himself to, at the very least, sever the tie she had to the area’s elven population.

Maralen pursued, however.  As she gained ground, Oona taunted the her by sending apparitions of herself to slow them down.  Eventually, the she was at the capital’s steps.  Oona dispatched an army of faeries to stop her.  Maralen, though, had her own army, and the two sides battled just outside of the city’s gates.

The skirmish was all the distraction needed for Rhys, Colfenor’s sapling, the Vendilion faerie, Endry, and a righted Ashling to infiltrate Glen Elendra, Oona’s home and, thanks to the fae queen’s magic, the only place in Shadowmoor unaffected by the Great Aurora, intent on uprooting and ending Oona from there.

The group’s incursion didn’t go unnoticed, however.

She sends a razor-sharp thornvine towards Colfenor’s sapling, slicing the young yew in twain.  The faerie, Endry, survived, but lost his wings in the process.  Rhys, wise in yew magic, absorbs the sapling’s poisonous essence.

Shortly thereafter, fresh from battling Oona’s phantasms outside of Cayr Ulios, Maralen arrives in Oona’s realm.  The elven avatar reunites with what remains of her group, though, in the chaos, loses control of Ashling’s burning-hot elemental essence, which flows back into the flamekin.

A twin attack of poison and fire come from Rhys and Ashling, aimed directly at Oona.  The distraction provided by her comrades was all Maralen needed as she took some moonglove – the very same moonglove she was sent to gather before she and the rest of the wedding party she was part of was slain in the story’s beginning – and used it to slay the fae queen.

As Oona lay dying, the now wingless Endry coldly watches the demise of his “mother,” ignoring her commands to save her.

Instead, he lures a magpie to fly him to Cayr Ulios, wanting to know the fate of his sisters.

There, the Vendilion faerie finds them among the deceased – obviously slain by one another during the earlier fray between Maralen and Oona.  He takes their corpses away from the gore and carnage that surround the area and lays them down peacefully in the nearby woods.  He then lays down besides his sisters’ bodies and drifts asleep.

Dreaming about them, he decides not to wake up so that he may forever be by their sides once more.

Meanwhile, the killing of Oona restores a natural day/night schedule to Lorwyn-Shadowmoor for the first time in centuries.  As night turns back into day on the plane, Maralen assumes Oona’s role as Queen of the Fae.

Oona’s essence, however, remains intact, even though her body had failed her.  A new trio of faeries are created to replace the Vendilion Clique and, with their help, she may one day become whole again…

Thus ends the story of not just Eventide, but Lowryn-Shadowmoor overall.  And on a cliffhanger, no less.

So, does that mean that Magic players can expect to return to the plane at some point in the future?

Well…

<Maro DTW Rabiah Scale 1, 26:31-35, 27:07-18 “It was unpopular…lowest rated world.” “If we went back…tie into.”>

But, even if Wizards of the Coast doesn’t have any known plans to return to the plane at the moment, there’s still a lot to talk about as far as Eventide is concerned.

Mechanically speaking, Eventide continues with what was introduced in its predecessor, Shadowmoor, with heavy use of wither, persist, use of the new untap symbol, a heavy use of -1/-1 counters, and hybrid multicolor cards (though, this time around, the hybrids are enemy-colored).  That said, the set also introduced two keywords of its own:

  • Chroma, an ability world that is associated with abilities that count mana symbols (or, “pips”) of a certain color, such as the card Primalcrux having power and toughness equal to the number of green mana symbols on permanents you control, and;
  • Retrace, a keyword that basically says “You may play this card from your graveyard so long as you discard a land card from your hand in addition to any other costs as you do so.”  The red sorcery Flame Jab, for example, is one such card.

In fact, there is a whole cycle of cards with retrace.  Most notable among them is the black discard spell Raven’s Crime, which saw a good amount of play in its day.

Other cycles of note amongst Eventide’s assortment of 15 include:

  • Skulkin, five Scarecrow artifact creatures that each have an activated ability associated with a different color, such as (for a cost of two colorless) Antler Skulkin giving a white creature persist until end of turn;
  • Hatchlings, under-costed 6/6 creatures that come into play with -1/-1 counters on them, but allow you to remove them whenever you play a spell that matches their color, such as is the case with Noxious Hatchling, which cares about black and green spells, and;
  • Hedge-mages, each of which is a 2/2 and represent a creature brand new to the plane of Lorwyn-Shadowmoor.  And one such creature type, the donkey-headed Noggle, was new to Magic: The Gathering in general.  Really, it’s quite reminiscent of Nicholas Bottom, the artisan and overconfident inspiring actor from William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, who gets changed by a faerie into, well, into an ass.

Eventide also continued some cycles that began in Shadowmoor – all enemy colored, of course.  This includes:

  • A cycle of enemy-colored Lieges;
  • A cycle of enemy-colored Demigods, and;
  • A cycle of enemy-colored filter lands (among a few others that, really, aren’t important enough to mention).

In terms of individual cards of note, Eventide has a surprising number of them considering the overall competitive-worthiness of the overall Lorwin-Shadowmoor mega-block.  And that starts with:

  • Bloom Tender, a 1/1 elf for 1G that has the capability of tapping for one of each color mana, should its conditions be appropriately met;
  • Figure of Destiny, which saw a lot of competitive play in the day.  The card also served as the set’s release promo;
  • Gilder Bairn, a card that can double the amount of counters on a permanent.  The card, by the way, got a Lorwyn-type mirrored pair in the straight-to-modern supplemental set, Modern Horizons II, by way of the card Glimmer Bairn;
  • Glen Elendra Archmage, which proved itself to be a strong control card that can also be a late game threat;
  • Helix Pinnacle, an alternate-win card;
  • Nettle Sentinel, a common that can prove quite formidable in elf combo decks and is easily abused with the Morningtide card Heritage Druid;
  • Sanity Grinding, which, at one time, was considered a top-tier card for mill strategies;
  • Stigma Lasher, which, in one blow, can shut down lifegain strategies;
  • Stillmoon Cavalier, which is more-or-less a combination of the “jump knights” from Coldsnap, which are, themselves, inspired by the original “pump knights…er…clerics” from Fallen Empires, and (more recently);
  • Waves of Aggression, a “second combat phase” spell with retrace that really started rising in popularity after the release of Kaldheim in early 2021.

Oh, and the prerelease promo for Eventide is an alternate art version of the demigod card Overbeing of Myth.  And, honestly, there’ve been worse prerelease promos up to this point, so no complaints.

So, does Eventide hold a special place in your heart?  Whether it does or not, let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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