Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Amazing promotional video for Magic: The Gathering 2012 - Duels of the Planeswalkers

Amazing promotional video for Magic: The Gathering 2012 - Duels of the Planeswalkers

"My name is Gideon. And I am about to die. I was born on a world long since destroyed.
Some said I played a hand in it's destruction. Less charitable voices said I was the soul to cause it's demise. I cared little at the time, as I was blinded by my own self-righteous fury.
But then a reckoning came upon me. I found others that could travel between worlds. And whose beliefs conflicted with my own. I was humbled by their power and tempted by their convictions".

Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 is both a sequel to Duels of the Planeswalkers and part of Magic 2012 core edition line of products, scheduled to be released on July 15, 2011. In fact, when referring to Magic 2012, Wizards of the Coast has made it clear on their website that Magic 2012  refers to both the game and the cards set. Both present the same mechanical and cards. DotP 2012 will be released for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, via Xbox Live, PSN, and Steam.

Actually DotP 2012 is scheduled for release on June 15, therefore, it acts as a preview of the cards and mechanics that will be in Magic 2012, due out later in July.

A sensational promotional video was released. This is a short dramatic narrative by the noble planeswalker Gideon Jura. From what we can see, Gideon tells about the fateful events in the block of Magic, Shards of Alara, in which his glorified world, Bant, is "invaded" by the worlds of Esper and Naya, bringing war, death and destruction. He also reveals his discovery of the existence of other Planeswalkers: Sorin Markov, Jace Beleren , Chandra Nalaar, Garruk and Liliana Vess, as well the infamous dragon Nicol Bolas.

Initially, we find that Gideon meets these Planeswalkers on not so friendly conditions. But as the almighty dragon Nicol Bolas enters the story, (as always) the tide reverses. Apparently on the verge of death, prostrated on the ground with the shadow of Nicol Bolas upon him, Gideon says, "I did something that my opponent could never do: I made allies out of enemies". Meanwhile, we see the planeswalkers being "contacted" by some sort of symbol. And then, one by one, the Planeswalkers Jace, Sorin, Chandra and Garruk appear around Gideon. And the video ends abruptly with the promise of an epic battle between these five planeswalkers versus the all-powerful and hated across the multiverse, Nicol Bolas.

As for the video game, there are no secrets. It is already confirmed that all these Planeswalkers will be "playable". The question remains as to the Magic 2012 core edition. Will these five Planeswalkers be reprinted and be part of Magic 2012, as in the virtual game? We can see that every color is represented by a planeswalker - blue, Jace, black, Sorin; green Garruk; red/Chandra, and white/Gideon. Some wonder why the choice of Gideon and not Ajani.

Well, in game terms, Gideon is arguably a better planeswalker than  Ajani. In terms of flavor, I think the folks at Wizards have reached the conclusion that a human would create more empathy with the audience than a a lion-headed man could. Moreover, the super-group of human planeswalkers a la Justice League becomes more harmonic like that (racial prejudice not intended).

Another element of the video that raises questions is the appearance of Liliana. What's the reason for her appearance, if she does not get into the group of super friends? Well, I think she is just there for the drama. We also suspect that, as is almost certain that the next expansion, Innistrad, will revolve around the black mage, Wizards declined to wear off the image of the character, and Sorin got to replace her. The same would happen in the case of Gideon and Elspeth. Since the latter already figured prominently in the last expansion, Scars of Mirrodin, it was necessary to choose another planeswalker to represent white mana, and Ajani lost out to Gideon. I do not think it was a bad choice because for the little I saw, Gideon is a character with plenty of dramatic potential, being able to add an almost Shakespearean depth to the captivating, but often futile, Magic the Gathering plots.

Unlike other promotional videos so far, this seems to be the first that has not exclusively used photo animation (of the art in Magic cards), which is not necessarily bad, but also 3D animation. The quality of the video raised the standard for Magic lore, and fans certainly hope to see more videos like this whenever it launches a new product, especially the expansions. We also gather from that video that Magic lore has enough potential to become an animated series or even a movie, provided they keep the same visual quality, epic and dramatic feel  seen here. Of course, a successful Magic The Gathering movie would require respect for said lore (something hard to find in Hollywood adaptations) and the casting of actors as good as the guy who lent his voice to Gideon in this video. It's what us fans hopefully await for the future.

And now that we've done our considerations about the video, let's go to a bit of trivia. Can you identify the cards that were used to make the video? Let's show a few:

Apocalypse Hydra
Liliana's Caress
Near-Death Experience