Top 10 Magic: the Gathering Villains

There is no doubt about it, the bad guy is always the coolest character in any story. A good villain electrifies any story and breathes it life.

Darth Vader gave all the spice to Star Wars. Without the Joker, the Batman franchise would be equivalent to a fistful of valium. And heaven forbid, try think of Starcraft without the Zerg.

So here I introduce the villains that I feel have made the world of Magic: the Gathering a more interesting place. Who they are- both as characters and in-game icons- and how they bought something special to the game by harrowing players, destroying worlds, and ruining lives.

What assholes.

No. 10

MARIT LAGE & THE ELDRAZI

Ultimately we don’t know much about these characters. All we have are vague inklings of their ability to pulverize the known universe, whilst they go lazing about pretending to be trapped under icebergs or large stacks of D&D dice. Anything relating to having actual personalities is entirely absent (hey, it feels like I’m describing some of my ex-girlfriends!)

But that’s kind of the point. Unfathomable, unfeeling and utterly alien, the dormant elder evil has been a staple of pop culture ever since some canny editor decided H.P. Lovecraft was onto something.  Since then, for better or worse, Cthulhu clones have been popping up in gaming franchises everywhere. And in Magic: the Gathering they’ve popped up for the better.

The Eldrazi and Marit Lage are easily the largest and most powerful creatures in the game, but the real spice they added was the way they were introduced. Both were teased out into existence by snippets of text and allusions on various cards, giving players sanity-devouring glimpses of their existence and what they were capable of. The real ‘sleeping monster’ vibe. It brought them to life in players’ imaginations long before the horror of their reality was finally revealed. Sanity-devouring horror, everything being left to the imagination… it still feels like I’m talking about ex-girlfriends.

No. 9

BARON SENGIR

Of all of Magic’s villains, none have the poise and refinement of Baron Sengir. He looks more like he belongs in an upper class cosplay party scoffing down caviar than he does terrorizing the denizens of Ulgrotha.

The Baron decided to build the Dark Barony after he was stranded on the remote plane following a planeswalker duel. From there he sent his tendrils out into the realms and kingdoms of Ulgrotha, and by means both subtle and brutal, he bent them to his will. He granted the human rogue Eron the Relentless immortality and set him up as king of the goblins. He kidnapped the daughter of the Dwarven king and bound her into service as a vampire- after ransacking the dwarven kingdom of course. When the paladins of Aysen dared raise a hand against him, he transformed their champion Ihsan into a shade, bound to a life of eternal torture. And when the planeswalkers Feroz and Serra finally decided it might be a good idea to stop him, he diplomatically suggested ‘they look the other way’.

The Baron owes his fame and place on this prestigious list for what he did for the imaginations of the Magic players of the time. Sengir Vampire was one of the nastiest creatures of its era, and then out of nowhere came their mysterious lord. He did everything a Sengir could do but better, and introduced Tribal to an iconic creature type without a tribe (like seriously without a tribe- there were no other pre-errata vampires in Homelands). He gave meaning to the word ‘Sengir’.

See, ‘Serra’ and ‘Sengir’ were just words Richard Garfield thought were LoL so he stacked them onto Magic’s creatures to make them sound cool. Then Homelands came along and gave them meaning. Sure, the set was complete shit and I would’ve used it as toilet paper if the card edges weren’t so sharp, but the story and setting set a bar for Magic’s creative development. And central to that setting was Baron Sengir. As a result many old school players still have a soft spot in their hearts for him.

Little has been heard of Ulgrotha for centuries, but at last note the Baron’s vampire armies were stronger than ever and marching off into the night. How cool is it when the bad guys win?

No. 8

GREVEN IL-VEC

If there’s one thing every right and proper villain needs it’s a big fugly meathead henchman. An intimidating tank with the strength of a mountain and the IQ of an eggplant.

Magic has seen its good share of meathead henchmen, but none compare to Greven il-Vec.

Greven has a special place in the hearts of many Magic players, as he was the first right and proper villain to get released in card form as soon Magic began forcing its storylines down player’s throats like castor oil. People who played during Antiquities had no real idea who Urza and Mishra were, but everyone knew about Greven il-Vec. So naturally Greven had a certain mystique about him already, and this was exemplified by the actual abilities of his card. Sure, 7/5 fear pales compared to some of today’s monsters, but back then it was something special.

But beyond being a meathead, Greven is one big mess of buggered up emotions. I mean, Hatred has a close-up of his face for artwork. How much more character insight do you need?

Constantly tortured and absolved of his free will by line after line of cruel masters, Greven in turn exacted an equal amount of pain on those around him. His life was nothing but one long saga of pain and cruelty. One would feel almost sorry for him if he wasn’t such a badass.

He carried out his work with relish. He hounded the Weatherlight relentlessly, killed members of his own crew, and tortured Tahngarth and Eladamri to within an inch of their lives. But the whole time he was having his strings continuously being pulled by the sadistic Volrath. And when Greven finally had a chance of his own free will and was offered Evincarship of Rath, he turned around and said ‘yeah nah, I kinda just like bashing stuff’. Coward to boot!

His sad life finally ended in climax of the Phyrexian invasion when he was speared in the gut by his nemesis Tahngarth.

No. 7

THE MIRARI

Yes, a legendary Christmas tree decoration gets a place on the list of Magic’s greatest villains.

Fact is, within the grand scope of Magic’s history, few things have gone on to cause as much damage as the Mirari. It had fantastic wish-granting capabilities, and the power to make the deepest desires of all who possessed it become real. But all at terrible cost. And for anyone wise and insightful enough to resist, the Mirari could conveniently transform all common sense into obsession with its ownership. Trouble brewing!

The device was manufactured by the planeswalker Karn, and in a real ‘oops’ moment was dropped onto the continent of Otaria.

Discovered in an abandoned mansion, the real trouble began when the Cabal Patriarch put it up as a prize in a pit-fighting tournament and it fell into the hands of Lieutenant Kirtar. From there it corrupted Kirtar into decimating the entire Order, the Cephalid Emperor Aboshan into flooding a third of Otaria, the Dementia Summoner Chainer into unleashing tides of dementia horrors and levelling Cabal City, and the hero Kamahl into uniting a bloodthirsty barbarian army bent on conquest. All of whom died from what they unleashed bar Kamahl, who only snapped out of it after mortally wounding his sister when she opposed his plans. He finally disposed of the Mirari by attaching it to the hilt of his sword and burying it in the heart of the Krosan forest.

But it didn’t end there. A wave of powerful mutating energy began to radiate out from the Mirari and slowly creep across Otaria, twisting and warping the continent’s inhabitants into nightmare versions of their former selves. Massive devastation ensued and all finally came to head when Kamahl travelled back into Krosa to retrieve his sword and use it to kill the false god Karona. At that point Karn popped up and took back the Mirari to his plane of Argentum humbly mumbling ‘yeah sorry about the mess’.

You’d think that’d be the end wouldn’t you? But Karn went on to prove he had thickshake for brains by fashioning the Mirari into a sentient organism and leaving it in charge Argentum while he went off travelling. The result?

Memnarch.

One of the most diabolically fruitcake villains Magic has ever seen.

Obsessed with attaining planeswalker status this confused and tormented being refashioned the plane of Argentum into Mirrodin, which functioned as his own personal terrarium for growing potential planeswalkers. He finally indentified the spark he wanted in Glissa Sunseeker and from there cruelly hounded her until she finally sacrificed her spark to deactivate him. At that point Karn appeared once again with another ‘yeah oops sorry’ and melted Memnarch’s body back down to its original Mirari core. Which he then placed in the care of Glissa, Geth and Slobad.

A lot’s happened on Mirrodin since, but the Mirari still exists somewhere. And one would worry as two of its original caretakers are now Phyrexian generals and the third ‘fell’ into a crevasse.

And for anyone who doubts the Mirari’s power, it has been represented as a card more times than any other single candidate on this list.

Yeah, try argue with those.

No. 6

CROVAX

Ah, the ‘fallen hero’ archetype. Every half-decent fantasy franchise has to have one. That character that starts off pure as driven snow (or at least mediocre), and then through a series of hapless happenings turns into an irreconcilable badass.

Well in the world of Magic: the Gathering that guy is Crovax.

A nobleman from Urborg (not exactly prime real estate to begin with), he decided to join the Weatherlight crew to escape his parents, and took his family’s guardian angel Selenia along with him. You know, because he was in love. While out globe-trotting, a pair of Phyrexian demons invaded his home and killed his parents. Arriving too late, Crovax blamed himself for his family’s death and sought comfort in the arms of Selenia, who gave him the ‘let’s just be friends’ line instead. Furious, he smashed the artifact binding her to his family. Doing so cursed him to destroy everything he ever loves, and Selenia vanished off to Rath leaving Crovax all alone to become mentally unhinged.

Later on, when the Weatherlight picked him up again and they voyaged to Rath, Crovax witnessed Selenia attacking them along with the Predator. This betrayal pushed him into a fury and he vowed revenge. Finally finding her and facing her inside the Stronghold, he fought her and delivered the killing blow. By killing the love of his life the curse was fulfilled and Crovax became a vampire.

From there he actively tried to undermine the Weatherlight’s campaign on Rath, but was discovered by the cat warrior Mirri. In the fight that ensued the two fell overboard as the Weatherlight made its escape, and Crovax finished Mirri off. Alone and abandoned once more, Crovax settled down to die.

But the agents of Phyrexia had other plans, and he was whisked away and re-engineered into something more than human, more than vampire, and sent back to Rath to claim the empty seat of Evincar.

To prove himself against the other candidates he led an army of Phyrexians against the elves of Skyshroud, a failed campaign he made up for by slaughtering some 6,000 hostages by impaling them on flowstone spikes- an undeniable show of his ruthlessness. Now a frontrunner for Evincar, he finally claimed the throne after defeating Rath’s former ruler Volrath, who appeared out of nowhere to take back what was formerly his.

Now Evincar of Rath, Crovax oversaw the final stages of the Phyrexian invasion from the commander’s seat. As the Rathi Overlay got underway and the whole plane teleported itself over his ancestral home of Urborg, Crovax’s depravities reached new heights. He resurrected his murdered parents and uses them as puppets for his own amusement. He used the ploy of a resurrected lover to betray Gerrard to Yawgmoth, and as a reward was given the resurrected Squee, which Crovax delighted in being able to kill over and over again. All the while coordinating the Phyrexians as they laid waste to Dominaria.

Crovax ultimately met his fate when Gerrard escaped from the clutches of Yawgmoth, and as the two former friends confronted each other, Gerrard sliced Crovax in two.

No. 5

NICOL BOLAS

Nicol Bolas is the ultimate bad boy of Magic. And what better candidate for ultimate bad boy than the oldest and most powerful being in the multiverse?

Like most old people, Nicol Bolas spends a lot of time whinging about how things aren’t like they were ‘back in his day’.

But unlike most old people, Bolas is far from content sitting around playing scrabble and feeding ducks.

No, he wants those damn good old days back again- those good old days before the Mending (aka that time rift crap from Time Spiral), when all the planeswalkers were immortal and omnipotent. Those were the days.

Nicol Bolas’s planeswalker spark ignited when he emerged victorious from the Elder Dragon War, the oldest known event on the Magic: the Gathering calendar. Some thousands of years later he stumbled across Dominaria, and became intent on having his own slice. He favoured the kingdom of Madara, for its rich red, black and blue mana lines. There he established himself as the Madaran God-Emperor, in a tyrannical reign that lasted 400 years until he was killed by his treacherous pawn Tetsuo Umezawa.

However a ghostly revenant of Bolas remained, and lingered in the Madaran kingdom. Sensing salvation when the Dominarian time rifts appeared, Bolas stole Venser’s latent planeswalker spark and travelled to Kamigawa to take his revenge on the entire Umezawa line.

Upon his return to Dominaria he was ambushed by the planeswalker Leshrac, and after winning an epic battle he used Leshrac’s life to close the Madaran rift. Shortly after Bolas left Dominaria believing the collapse of the multiverse was imminent, equipped with a plan to preserve himself should that happen.

But thanks to Jeska’s Mending spell it didn’t. However the nature of the planeswalker spark was changed forever.

Pissed off about no longer being immortal and omnipotent, Bolas became hellbent on getting all of that back again. His first port of call was Alara, where he orchestrated the Conflux as a way to regain much of his power. Although ultimately foiled by Ajani Goldmane, Bolas did manage to harvest much of the Maelstrom’s essence prior to their battle.

Shortly after it was revealed he orchestrated the release of the Eldrazi on Zendikar, and had an unknown influence on the rise of Phyrexia on Mirrodin. He also re-established the sinister Planar Consortium, and is currently known to show significant interest in Liliana’s Chain Veil.

Bolas is the ultimate evil mastermind, known to always have several ongoing schemes and be able to think three steps ahead of everyone else. He has his finger in every pie and many of the more dire machinations of the multiverse are ultimately overseen by Bolas.

He is responsible for the deaths of several ‘walkers (most notably Leshrac and Ugin), and has held several others under his control (most notably Sarkhan, Tezzeret, and at one time Liliana). He even has his own private plane to serve as a supervillian lair.

But unfortunately for Bolas, a lot of the time his plans are foiled by the charitable deeds of the other ‘walkers. But that doesn’t stop him, for he possesses the trait of tenacity. Yeah, he does go about yelling ‘I’ll get you next time!’ a lot, but no matter how many times Bolas is forced to abandon some foiled plan he’s always got two new ones up his sleeve. Just like a real supervillian.

No. 4

PHYREXIA

Phyrexia rounds out the current ‘Big Three’ villains (the other two being the Eldrazi and Nicol Bolas), and has the longest history of antagonizing the worlds of Magic: the Gathering. When any old school player thinks of evil, he thinks of Phyrexia.

Phyrexia is not a single villain, nor an army, nor a plane. It is a force. Leaders come and go, organisms evolve and mutate, even its dogma changes. Broken down to its base element it is nothing but yucky black oil. But one thing is for sure- whatever shape it takes it exists purely to corrupt and consume. No matter what happens there always seem to be traces of it growing and festering somewhere. It’s like the bathroom mould of the multiverse.

But Phyrexia was not always evil. A very long time ago Phyrexia was the name of a simple mechanical plane, not unlike Mirrodin. It owes its place on this list entirely thanks to one man:

Yawgmoth.

Undoubtedly the biggest badass Magic has ever seen and its primary antagonist for many, many years. The impact he and his Phyrexians had upon the games’ canon is immeasurable. Magic without Yawgmoth would be like Lord of the Rings without Sauron- one long boring tea party. Where you sit around discussing bathroom mould perhaps.

He was once a member of the Thran, an ancient and incredibly advanced human civilization. Something of an ancient doctor, he spent his youth travelling about unleashing noxious plagues on other nations. You know, for ‘study purposes’. Then through a series of devious and seriously unethical actions he managed to manipulate his way into a place on the Thran High Council. An event he celebrated by imprisoning all the other councillors. And amongst his political manoeuvrings he managed to con a rather thick planeswalker into giving him his own plane. That plane was the metal world of Phyrexia and Yawgmoth bonded with its core, becoming its god.

Right at that time all the other nations of Dominaria rocked up on the Thran’s doorstep demanding Yawgmoth’s head. In the global war that followed, Yawgmoth would drag Thran civilians back to Phyrexia and re-engineer them into mechanical killing machines and send them back to slaughter his enemies. Along with clouds of noxious plagues. Yawgmoth’s dominance was close to assured until his former lover, tired of the whole bad-boy thing, destroyed the Phyrexian portal, and locked Yawgmoth out of Dominaria forever.

Or so she thought. Over thousands of years Yawgmoth sent his menace out from Phyrexia to conquer other worlds, but his dream was always to take Dominaria. His dream almost came true when the brothers Urza and Mishra accidentally reactivated the original Phyrexian portal. Yawgmoth sent through the praetor Gix and a select group of sleeper agents to engineer a war between the two capable of decimating the plane enough to allow Phyrexian re-entry. He was almost successful, but the brother Urza got clued in on the whole thing thanks to a defective sleeper agent named Xantcha. He realized Phyrexia was behind the corruption of his brother Mishra and the damn whole war. Swearing revenge for all the chaos that had been caused, his planeswalker spark ignited.

But the plan had failed and Yawgmoth was still locked out of Dominaria. Seeing infiltration didn’t work, Yawgmoth this time decided to opt for an all-out invasion. The plan took thousands of years of preparation, and despite Yawgmoth’s best efforts and most talented assassins, Urza managed to warn the rest of Dominaria. He assembled a collection of artifacts, the Legacy, which had the sole purpose of killing Yawgmoth.

After 9000 years, and the corruption of thousands of other worlds and slaughter of millions of innocents, Yawgmoth’s plan finally reached fruition and he set foot in Dominaria once again. But Urza was waiting for him and unleashed the full power of the Legacy, destroying the machine god forever.

But unlike Yawgmoth, Phyrexia did not die.

A trace of Phyrexia’s essence manifested itself as a glistening oil and stuck itself to Karn like chewing gum. With his planeswalker spark ignited by Yawgmoth’s death, Karn in turn accidentally transferred the oil to Mirrodin where it corrupted the mind of Memnarch and eventually led to the downfall of the plane.

Seeking to fix things up, Karn got infected himself and became the new Father of Machines for a while, taking Yawgmoth’s place. Although liberated by the planeswalkers Koth, Elspeth and Venser, Karn only barely escaped with his life and has since vowed to crush the threat of Phyrexia once and for all.

So Phyrexia has risen anew, with a host of new leaders, new organisms, new methods and new dogma. But the prime directive remains the same. Corrupt. Consume. And when it escapes its current containment it’s going to be one big reunion big party for the whole multiverse.

No. 3

VOLRATH

For many years Volrath served Yawgmoth as Envincar of Rath. It was his job to oversee the plane and prepare it for its upcoming role in the Phyrexian invasion. A cruel and ruthless leader, he enslaved nations and killed thousands, and his cold intelligence and natural shapeshifting abilities allowed him to slip through any net. Add to this an entire plane of resources at his disposal and you have one hell of a badass. He served as Magic’s face of evil for several years, and was the arch-nemesis of the hero Gerrard Capashen.

Undoubtedly one of Magic’s most sadistic villains, Volrath derived pleasure from torturing his enemies, and had a particular soft spot for causing mental anguish. He subjected Tahngarth to a extreme makeover Phyrexian-style, twisting the once proud minotaur into a deformed horror. He trapped the silver golem Karn- a pacifist who abhorred taking another’s life- in a tilting room full of shrieking moggs, so whenever the room tilted, Karn would slide across the floor, squashing hapless moggs as he did so. He even killed Starke il-Vec disguised as his daughter Takara, to add that crushing sting of betrayal.

And in true sadistic bastard style, Volrath’s hobby wasn’t limited to his enemies. He conducted twisted experiments on his subjects, using processes so excruciating that only one subject was known to actually survive. That subject was Greven il-Vec, who eventually became Volrath’s second in command. Even so Volrath would always find some excuse to torture and humiliate him.

But above all, Volrath had it in for Gerrard and Starke.

Along with being Evincar, Yawgmoth charged Volrath with acquiring the Legacy, the collection of artifacts left by Urza and the only thing capable of killing Yawgmoth. Something currently in Gerrard’s possession.

Volrath lured Gerrard into Rath by kidnapping the Weathlight’s captain Sisay. His end goal was to capture the Legacy for Yawgmoth and Gerrard for himself. But things did not go to plan, and Gerrard evaded all of Volrath’s traps and succeeded in rescuing his friends, the Legacy, and Starke’s daughter Takara. At that point Volrath confronted Gerrard directly, and Gerrard slew him before escaping to Mercadia with his crew.

However Volrath was not dead. The ‘Volrath’ Gerrard had killed back in the Stronghold was nothing but a shapeshifter clone, and the real Volrath was walking amongst them disguised as none other than Takara. In a quiet moment, Volrath took his revenge on Starke by slicing his throat. Finding Starke dead, Gerrard and Sisay caught on to Volrath’s disguise, and somehow bested him in battle enough to make a hasty exit on the Weatherlight.

Returning to Rath, Volrath found the Phyrexian Inner Circle had put the Evincarship up for grabs due to his unexplained absence. He now faced a series of challengers for the throne, and despite being the most powerful candidate, Volrath was eventually beaten in battle by Crovax and stripped of his Phyrexian powers. He was executed at dawn by Crovax himself just as the Rathi Overlay began.

No. 2

LIM-DUL

Lim-Dul the Necromancer had an almost totalitarian presence throughout Ice Age. Magic never really had any huge villains before him, and Lim-Dul was plastered all over the set.

But Lim-Dul was not an individual identity, but rather a fusion of identities with mutually corresponding ambitions. ‘Lim-Dul’ just happened to be the name of the body they were inhabiting. At one point at least.

The original Lim-Dul was nothing more than a lowly foot soldier in Kjeldor’s army. Guilty of desertion, he was about to die in the snow when he stumbled across the ruby ring of Mairsil the Pretender and figured if he was going to die he might as well do it wearing jewellery. Putting it on, Mairsil, who was trapped in the ring, added vodka to Lim-Dul’s orange and together the two became one collective entity.

Back in the dark years following the Brothers’ War, Mairsil the Pretender was a particularly power-hungry wizard who became obsessed with opening up a portal to Phyrexia so he could sample its dark powers. He imprisoned the archmage Ith and used his essence to power an array of artifacts designed to force open the portal. With the last specks of his sanity and the help of the archmage Jodah, Ith managed to escape and kill Mairsil. Mairsil had a back-up plan however, and his essence escaped into a ruby ring.

Picked up by Lim-Dul millennia later, Mairsil’s spirit fused with the soldier and transferred across the archmage’s powers. Together they became Lim-Dul the Necromancer, the primary antagonist during Dominaria’s Ice Age. A power player in local politics, Lim-Dul’s machinations kept the nations of Kjeld and Balduvia smashing each other up while he built up a sizable zombie army reanimating their dead, always painting himself as the lesser evil.

But even so he was only halfway down the bullying chain. The zombie army was a commission job for two evil planeswalkers, Leshrac and Tevesh Szat, who intended to use it to conquer the distant plane of Shandalar. And then there was the spirit of Mairsil to compete with.

At times the identities competing for Lim-Dul would become almost schizophrenic in their actions. For example, the revenge- obsessed Mairsil forced Lim-Dul into kidnapping his old nemesis Jodah, but through Lim-Dul Leshrac put Jodah onto researching distant Shandalar instead, whilst the last fragments of Lim-Dul himself got Jodah to secretly gather up planeswalker-killing tips so he could at least be free of Leshrac.

But even though he was a Francis Dolarhyde level of bonkers, Lim-Dul as a whole actually functioned quite effectively.

Thanks to Jodah and the task mage Jaya Ballard, the kingdoms of Kjeld and Balduvia finally took heed of the threat and turned on Lim-Dul’s zombie horde, incurring heavy losses upon it. Furious at seeing his cultivated army destroyed, Leshrac sliced the ring off Lim-Dul’s hand and dragged the screaming necromancer off to Shandalar.

But that was not the end of Lim-Dul. His and Mairsil’s essences fused and duplicated, one existing in Lim-Dul’s body and the other in Mairsil’s ring.

On Shandalar Leshrac used Lim-Dul to reconstruct the zombie army and the conquest began anew. City after city fell until Lim-Dul faced the wizard Azar in battle, and by some quirk of magic fused himself into Azar’s body, adding another identity to his impressive collection. The body of Azar was eventually slain, but Lim-Dul’s contained essence managed to resurrect it to start the conquest all over again. Finally a coven of wizards managed to extract Lim-Dul and whoever else was in there and imprison them in an artifact. Many years later this artifact was destroyed, and what happened to this part of Lim-Dul’s essence is unknown.

Meanwhile on Dominaria Jaya Ballard found herself in possession of pretty ruby ring. Over the next twenty years the combined spirits of Lim-Dul and Mairsil began to insinuate into her unconscious, and at the perfect moment made a comeback. Stabbing Jodah in the neck, Lim-Dul/Mairsil/Jaya used his blood to animate a host of Phyrexian war machines and raze the city of Soldev before being struck by Jodah’s mirror. Enchanted by the planeswalker Freyalise, the mirror ignited Jaya’s planeswalker spark, the ignition finally purging Lim-Dul and Mairsil’s spirit from Dominaria forever.

Of everyone on this list, Lim-Dul is the most empathizable villain. Although he committed all sorts of atrocities and was mad as a box of parrots, on some level Lim-Dul was always human. You could never like him, but you would love to hate him.

Sure, he doesn’t rack up the kill count that some of the other villains on this list have, but it just goes to show you don’t have to threaten utter annihilation to be a good villain. You just need to be bad enough to despise, human enough to empathize, have some unique quirks, and never ever stop causing trouble.

No. 1

MARK ROSEWATER

Of all the villains of Magic: the Gathering, none are more insidious than Mark Rosewater.

Long before the Phyrexian invasion, long before the Weatherlight, back when print media actually existed, Mark Rosewater ran a column in the Duelist called ‘Magic: the Puzzling’. The column featured a series of puzzles featuring fictional Magic gameplay scenarios that were designed to make you hate yourself.

Proving himself to be of truly dark ambition, he reached the top of the corporate ladder, becoming Magic’s Lead Designer. Since then the atrocities he has committed and dreams he has crushed are innumerable. Here’s a list of are some of his more insufferable crimes:

  •           Steals my dream job away from me
  •           Prints Goatnapper in Lorwyn without printing any goats
  •           Fails to properly playtest Jace the Mind Sculptor’s +2 ability
  •           Prints Bitterblossom
  •           Fails to print a Legendary Werewolf in Innistrad
  •           Opens up ‘Great Designer Search’ to US residents only
  •           Opens up ‘Great Designer Search 2′ to US residents only
  •           Missing Gruul, Orzhov and Izzet rares from Guildpact
  •           Despite all common sense, continues to print blue cards
  •           Engages in hate-filled vendetta against Hornet Sting
  •           Umezawa’s Jitte
  •           Rejects my Facebook friend request

All horrific deeds, but you may be asking, what does he do to deserve his place on this list? Surely scouring a world of life with an unstoppable cyber-zombie army is far worse than not printing a goat!

But you’re kind of missing the point. And that is that when Yawgmoth unleashes a plague or Nicol Bolas screws some mindwrenched pawn, the victim is a fictional character. You’re not involved at all. You’re just reading a book or some flavour text and going ‘LoL’. But when Mark Rosewater does something, the victim is you.

So whenever something as outrageous as Bitterblossom gets printed and you lose out on Top 8 because of it, or your hard-won booster pack reveals a Moonlace, then naturally it’s all MaRo’s fault!

Yes ok, he isn’t responsible for everything that goes and turds Magic up, R&D as a collective does that. But Mark Rosewater is the head of R&D, and its most vocal member, so naturally the easiest one to blame.

And sure, he actually is a decent enough person to admit his mistakes. And somewhat kind enough to help out the community. But don’t you think you could do a better job?

Of course you do. Mark Rosewater’s only got your dream job because they haven’t discovered you yet. You and your plans for eight mana instants scribbled on the back of bus tickets. Everyone knows once Wizards sees them you’ll be in the top job immediately. Hell, ‘Prepaid Return’ might even make it as a new mechanic!

But instead, you’re stuck where you are, stacking shelves or filling up spreadsheets while that bastard gets paid to design Magic cards. It’s true- bad guys really do get to have all the fun.

Mark Rosewater is Magic’s biggest villain, because when he affects Magic: the Gathering he affects you, and your fun, and your life.

But face it, there not being a legendary Werewolf in Innistrad is just nitpicky in the grand scheme of things. Really, MaRo is actually doing a great job of running R&D, and we’re all just a little jealous he gets to make Magic for a living.

Petr Joura 2012

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I am a 27 year old werewolf from Sydney, Australia. My main ambition is to get more money from the government.
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8 Responses to Top 10 Magic: the Gathering Villains

  1. savetun says:

    Awesome list, very comprehensive, and i have to say, the inclusion of your No.1 was a brilliant idé. kudos!

  2. MarkusAR says:

    An excellent read, both funny and nostalgy-inducing! Also, so much stuff I didn’t know about these iconic characters, like most of the Lim-Dul stuff.

  3. Sol'Kanar says:

    How on earth is the Mirari more represented on card art than the Phyrexians?

  4. prosopagnostic says:

    Correction: Aaron Forsythe is the head of R&D. Mark Rosewater is in charge of design only.

  5. Torrichelli says:

    No way in hell Lim-Dul is ahead of Yawgmoth (who really, should have gotten the title nod instead of Phyrexia) or Nicol Bolas.

  6. ocknarf says:

    No mention of volrath being vuel, just to add salt to that wound? :)

  7. adolphus22 says:

    Very nice read, enjoyed it and learn some new things too!

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