Lore Ipsum: Metal Shapers
Hello! Today’s cards are based on two myths wherein the protagonists bend metal to their will. Well, sort of.
Both of these myths were recounted this month in vlog form by Dael Kingsmill of Geek & Sundry, and i highly recommend you watch them before you proceed to the cards (links to the specific vlogs will follow). I won’t be covering the whole myths, only the aspects my cards drew from, and she tells them far better than me anyway. Let’s get started!
Our first metal shaper is Daedalus, inventor extraordinaire. We join him in Crete, having fled Athens after murdering his assistant (don’t ask). After the king of Crete, Minos, failed to sacrifice a white bull to the gods, Poseidon had his revenge on him by making his wife, Pasiphae, fall hopelessly in love with the bull. Pasiphae then turned to Daedalus for guidance, and he did what any of us would have done in his place: he crafted a cow casing so that Pasiphae could… consummate her love with the bull. And this leads us to our first card:
I couldn’t think of a design for Daedalus himself so i made a few cards for his inventions instead, this Simulacrum being the first. Technically speaking the purpose of the casing was for the creature to be blocked, if you will, but the flavor here is that the opposing creatures wouldn’t be able to tell it apart from their kin.
The result of Pasiphae fooling around with the bull was the half-human, half-bull creature known as the Minotaur. Knowing that Daedalus had helped his wife’s affair, Minos ordered him to create a maze in which the creature could be sealed away. Daedalus complied.
Magic has taken a lot of inspiration from mythology in the past, particularly Greek mythology. When designing these cards i wanted to make sure i wasn’t walking on previously traveled roads, the most obvious reference in this case being the Maze of Ith. I ended up taking heavy inspiration from the fight scene on the artwork. The flavor here is that you send your own creatures to the maze, and at any point an opposing creature wandering in the maze might come across one of them and enter a fight with it. Modern Magic design also dictates that lands should always have a mana ability. Note that the wording on the card, as far as i understand, allows non-legal blockers to be declared, such as a non-flying/reaching creature blocking a flying one. This is intended, and represents the restricted maneuverability in the maze.
Upon completion of the labyrinth, Minos promptly sentenced Daedalus and his son, Icarus, to be imprisoned in it. Daedalus was having none of that though, so he put his mind to work and came up with the design for a pair of wings large enough to fly a person across long distances, provided they kept a stable flight pattern. Strapped thus with wings on their backs, Daedalus and Icarus flew away from Crete across the sea. Icarus eventually got a little wild with his flying and got too close to the sun, which promptly set his wings on fire and sent him plummeting to his death/transformation into a bird. Because Greek mythology.
Flying-granting equipment is common in Magic, but i wanted to represent the fall of Icarus as well. At first i thought of the wings being destroyed if the creature was targeted by a red spell, but that was a bit too silly. The flavor of this final product is that the creature is fine if it’s just hovering across the sea, but move too much to attack or block and you’ll end up losing control.
Daedalus survived the flight, and ended up retiring after doing some business with an ant and a shell, and nothing else of note.
Our next metal shaper did not bend metal to form, but instead turned form to metal. Midas was granted a wish by Dionysus, any wish, and asked that anything he touched be turned to gold. He realized this was a terrible idea after turning his food, drink, and daughter into inedible, undrinkable and nonliving gold, and promptly sought a way to reverse his gift. He was told to bathe in the waters of the river Pactolus, which promptly restored his daughter back to life and dispelled his golden touch.
Midas and his golden touch were well-represented in the Theros block, so i had to think outside the box for these myths. Gold tokens are only spawned from the aforementioned cards, and the only appearance of gold counters in the entire game comes from the card Aurification, making a gold-dispelling effect a ridiculously niche one. Life-granting water is recurring in Magic, so i decided to just make the waters of Pactolus a basic healing spell with a little flavor attached.
In a completely unrelated post-golden touch event, Midas ended up offending Apollo and earned donkey ears as a result. He managed to cover them up for a long while but was eventually exposed when, in an extremely hairist move by ancient Greek society, he was compelled to call a barber to cut his unstandardly long hair. Midas threatened the barber never to tell a soul about his ears, and the barber complied, for a while. When he could not contain the secret any longer, the barber dug a hole into the ground and whispered “King Midas has an ass’ ears” into it. On that very spot grew a patch of reeds, which then whispered the tale for everyone to hear, because Greek plants are weird. Midas then proceeded to execute the barber and do nothing else of note.
The immediate inspiration for this card was Isochron Scepter. I wanted an upkeep trigger to represent the reeds repeatedly spreading the words of the spell whispered unto them. There’s really no reason for this card to be green other than literally every single Plant in Magic is green or has green abilities (except Kelp; we don’t talk about Kelp), and also that it doubles as an increased restriction for what is a potentially broken card. The fact that the effect must be triggered on the upkeep restricts the number of potential instant spells, and it is also tacked on a frail creature body, but cards of this nature are always more powerful than i can imagine when designing them.
Mythology posts will likely become a monthly thing from now on, as Dael’s tales are a reliable source of inspiration. Hope you enjoy them, until next time!