The Order of the Flame-Wreathed Phoenix.

Inked, for added contrast and detail.

Inked, for added contrast and detail.

I have meant to depict J.K. Rowling’s Professor Severus Snape since Alan Rickman tragically passed away recently, but wasn’t sure how in fact to do so. After having my @$% kicked totally by a student at lunch, playing Magic: the Gathering, it dawned on me…not only did I need to fine tune the deck I was playing with, but I also needed the idea of a team up with Severus Snape, magical bad @$&. Hence, the artwork above emerging.

In the series, Snape is an exceptionally skilful wizard who primarily teaches Potions at Hogwarts school. In the sixth novel, he teaches Defense Against the Dark Arts, a position which he was known to have desired throughout the series. For much of the series, Snape’s actions seem to serve Harry’s nemesis, Lord Voldemort, although Harry’s mentor, Dumbledore, often advises Harry that Snape is trustworthy and his true loyalties can be relied upon. Snape himself dies at the hands of Voldemort in the final chapters of the seventh book, revealing his memories and true back story to Harry (and therefore to the reader) in his last minutes. In the book’s epilogue, Harry describes Snape as “probably the bravest man I ever knew”.

As for the title of the post…it comes from the Order of the Phoenix, a secret society founded by Albus Dumbledore to oppose Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters…as well as an excellent Magic Card, “Flame-Wreathed Phoenix.” The Flame Wreathed Phoenix is a pretty excellent mid costed flying card, which only gets better if the opponents don’t elect to pay it off in “tribute.” Ultimately, the Flame Wreathed Phoenix is going to help round out the tournament version of my deck, since the planeswalkers in that deck were banned by our tournament committee.

All of this is good fun, and I am very much looking forward to today’s multiplayer games. As the club has been forming, we have elected to keep Friday the Big Day of casual play, while running the tourney on other days of the week. The competition officially began on Thursday at lunch, and the entire club showed up to watch, and play games after the official one. It would be hard to really express how cool that was, and how much it really improved a pretty long day.

As much as the event is driven in a large degree by Oath of the Gatewatch and Zendikar, I also think the Snape team up is relevant in expressing the kind of old School cards I am bringing into play. These cards are pretty ancient in some cases…the kind of Old School Magic play that seems reflected in Snape’s pretty conservative approach to wizardry and Defense Against the Dark Arts. There are plenty of basic cards like “Lightning Bolt” and “Fireball” on hand, in an attempt to offset new game mechanics with a simple stategy engine. We will see how that fares in the pool round, which will last for the entirety of March (hence March MODOK Madness) and give me an opportunity to play each player.

As an unexpected extracurricular activity goes, it is amazing how enjoyable this has been.


2 thoughts on “The Order of the Flame-Wreathed Phoenix.

    • Okay…a crash course in “Planeswalker” cards…

      Planeswalker cards are shuffled into your deck at the start of the game, just like any other card. You can cast a Planeswalker during either main phase of your turn (or any other time you could cast a sorcery spell). A Planeswalker is a permanent, so when a Planeswalker spell you control resolves, it enters the battlefield under your control. (Note that Planeswalkers are NOT creatures.)

      Planeswalker cards differ from most other cards. Taking a look at a card, you’ll see:

      -As with other cards, the name appears at the top of the card, next to…
      -The casting cost.
      -The type line is particularly important because planeswalkers cards are bound by the “Planeswalker uniqueness rule.” The rule makes it so you can never have two Planeswalkers of the same type on the battlefield at the same time.

      Following so far? Good…there’s more.

      Each Planeswalker has a number of activated abilities on it. You can use one of these abilities whenever you could play a sorcery, and only if none of that Planeswalker’s abilities have been played yet that turn.

      You can’t play an ability with a negative loyalty cost unless the Planeswalker has at least that many loyalty counters on it.

      The starting “loyalty” of a Planeswalker (in this example, 4) appears in the lower right-hand corner of the card. It enters the battlefield with that many loyalty counters on it. If it’s ever on the battlefield with no loyalty counters on it, it’s put into its owner’s graveyard.

      Planeswalkers can be attacked. When you declare attacking creatures, you choose whether each is attacking your opponent or a Planeswalker that opponent controls. Your opponent can block as normal, regardless of whom each creature is attacking (you or one of your Planeswalkers). If a creature deals combat damage to a Planeswalker, that many loyalty counters are removed from it.

      The “loyalty counters” are like Life Points.

      As a result of all of that, Planeswalkers are very rare cards, and totally buffed. Thus, they were banned because only me and one student even had any of them, and they were far to ripped to be considered fair.

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