Art by Sam Burley
Welcome to the first actual preview for my multi-block fan expansion! While my prologue featured cards from all nine sets, we’re now going to focus solely on the first one. After it’s adequately revealed from a flavor and gameplay perspective, we’ll move on to next set. This way, you all can get a better look at how this set will actually interact with itself without influence from the future sets. So before we break down each of the five civilizations, here’s the set details in rough draft form.
Act I – Lotus’ Exile
Act II – The Exploration of Kuo
Act III – Return to Corsia
Act IV – The Dejavu War
Civilizations of Kuo:
The 5 Mono-Colored Kuon Civilizations (YOU ARE HERE)
The 5 Ally-Colored Kuon Civilizations
The 5 Enemy-Colored Kuon Civilizations
The 5 Shard-Colored Kuon Civilizations
The 5 Wedge-Colored Kuon Civilizations
Empires of Corsia:
The 5 Mono-Colored Corsian Empires
The 5 Ally-Colored Corsian Empires
The 5 Enemy-Colored Corsian Empires
The All-Colored and Colorless Empires and Civilizations
Legendary Creatures of Kuo, Part 1
Legendary Creatures of Kuo, Part 2
Legendary Creatures of Corsia, Part 1
Legendary Creatures of Corsia, Part 2
Planeswalkers, Part 1
Planeswalkers, Part 2
Planeswalkers, Part 3
Planeswalkers, Part 4
Locales and Legends
Basic Land Locations of Kuo
Basic Land Locations of Corsia
Citadels, Wonders, and Legendary Lands
Renown Artifacts and Magic
Mechanics and Abilities:
Kuo: Overworld of Mana Keywords
Kuo Keywords, Part 2
Corsia Keywords, Part 1
Corsia Keywords, Part 2
Design and Philosophy:
Visual Design and Artwork Selection
Card Balancing and Draft Emphasis
Kuo Blocks Full Spoiler:
Kuo: Overworld of Mana (Set 1 of 3)
Guided by Passion (Set 2 of 3)
Colors of Oneself (Set 3 of 3)
Advances of the Kuon (Set 1 of 2)
Secrets of Mana (Set 2 of 2)
Corsia Block Full Spoiler:
Corsia: The Empire of Progress (Set 1 of 3)
Governed by Logic (Set 2 of 3)
Vale’s Vision (Set 3 of 3)
The Dejavu War (Set 1 of 1)
MTG Variant – Walking the Planes (Coming Last)
Set Name – Kuo: Overworld of Mana (Set 1 of 3 in the Kuo Block)
Cards – Roughly 250
Focus – Mono Color
Mythic Rares – 32
Play and balance focus – Draft, Limited
The Luminous Rise
Oiara, who’s capitol is known as Oiara, the Luminous Rise, is a half desert, half tundra based civilization situated in the far north of the central continent. Starting at the outskirts, there is nothing but endless seas of sand. As you get closer to the center the sand starts becoming covered with snow and the area becomes more mountainous. At the very center is The Luminous Rise itself. It’s a giant stalagmite as large as a mountain that the Oiaran people have carved into in order to climb to the summit. The Rise is so rich in mana that it has a faint glow that you can easily see on the parts not covered in snow. (Oiara is not red-aligned just because there are mountains.) The Luminous Rise is the only place on Oiara that you need permission from it’s leader to reside in.
Environment – Oiara Tundra
Oiara is a grueling, harsh ecosystem. Temperatures always remain below freezing and snowstorms frequent the inner regions. Avalanches come as often as rain in other locales, and in the outlying deserts, there is nothing but still coldness that awaits you. The Glacier of Majesty separates the desert section from the tundra section giving it two distinct halves. Those who can’t tolerate the constant severe weather of inner Oiara are forced to deal with the completely frigid and arid weather of the desert.
Citizens – The Oiaran People
Unlike most civilizations, the people who live in Oiaran territory live with the wild. The way of life in this harsh region is to survive. If you do, then nothing will question you here. There are no laws, but nor is there any crime. People don’t steal from each other because one unnecessary fight could leave you just weakened enough for a storm to take you alive. Everyone operates in small groups or in isolation. Oiara is a place for those who want new beginnings making it one of the most traveled to civilizations. When most people want to leave their own civilization, they come here because they hear of how making it all the way to The Luminous Rise turns you into a new person.
The creatures of Oiara are generally snow tigers and elementals. Though there are sightings of angels and drakes as well. The wild creatures live off of the nomads and visitors taking advantage of the harsh weather that they are all too accustomed to. Wildlife rarely ventures near The Luminous Rise because all the people there are very capable hunters. They instead pick off straggles just crossing the Glacier of Majesty. There are a few legendary creatures running about as well, and none are more feared than Khana, Eclipser of Oiara. (She will be revealed in a later post.)
Baius, Oiara’s Undefeated
Baius is the man who came from nothing and made himself into something. He was just one of the many lost souls coming here for some sense of fulfillment, only he managed to make it all the way to the Luminous Rise. Back then, there was a lion named Shytar that lived in the Luminous Rise, and Baius was nearly killed by her. Baius trained, on the north side of the Rise where the storms are the strongest, until he finally defeated Shytar. No one knows what happened to Shytar afterwards, but Baius has never been defeated in battle since then. He sympathizes with the weak. He sees you as a challenge until he defeats you, and then upon doing so, offer’s his support. As long as you can make it to the Rise, no matter how weak you are, Baius will raise his fist to fight you, then reach out his hand to help you.
The Sea’s Sun
Nerath, The Sea’s Sun is an island based civilization off the north eastern shore of the central continent. The most far-reaching isles are close to the center of the sea, but the Sea’s Sun itself is only a few miles off the coast, visible from the beach. In the morning on the shore, as the sunlight reaches the Nerathian buildings, you can see the building reflect the sun, just minutes before the sun crosses over the curvature of the planet to properly rise. That’s how the name was established. Nerath is a sprawling metropolis on it’s largest islands with a massive system of light towers to guide the thousands of ships venturing between each island.
Environment – Nerath Ocean
Nerath is only cold during the winter, not being far north enough to be cold year ’round like Oiara. There are roughly 70 or so islands in Nerath territory and they all have tropical climates save for the northernmost ones. The Nerath Ocean has massive tidal changes that create rather large waves. Nerath mages craft residual magic and enchantments that quell the waves near civilization, but venture too far from an island and the waves will become monstrosities in no time. Underneath the Nerath ocean is a whole other, much less explored aspect of its civilization full to the brim of aquatic wildlife and sources of mana.
Citizens – The Nerathian People
The Nerathian people only care about one thing. Gaining and preserving knowledge. Nerath is considered the library of the world and is quite open to sharing it’s secrets with those who they deem worthy. They aren’t greedy and instead sees the exchanging of information as a fail proof way to ensure their future. In exchange for giving their knowledge today, they want the knowledge of other civilizations tomorrow. As long as they are ahead, they want everyone to progress because they will be at the forefront of even greater discoveries this way. Despite it’s massive amount of architecture, Nerath doesn’t have a high population. Those who don’t have a gift of research are generally shipped off to other civilizations as scouts for new knowledge. Generally, after a few years of research with promising results, you’ll inherit your own island to do research on.
Nerath has two vastly different categories of wildlife. The shallow shores and the deep ocean. The creatures near Nerath islands, especially The Sea’s Sun are intelligent, peaceful creatures that actually assist Nerathians with research. They have a cooperative relationship because Nerathian mages can do a lot to make the habitats of the sea creatures more rich in resources. In return, the sea creatures use their magic to allow easier navigation of the sea floor where ruins and artifacts continually tell more of Old Kuo, one of the more mysterious topics of research these days. Out on the deep sea, outside of the wave-nerfing enchantments lie true titans that are much more primal. Krakens, Leviathans and giant Octopus all make their rounds in the current below surfacing up to destroy ships that happen to venture in their course.
Yedra, Majesty of the Deep
Yedra is the most prolific researcher in recent Nerathian history, and every scholar there has no qualms with appointing her their leader. Not only does she have an incredible knack at understanding the sea creatures in the shallow shores, but she is the only one courageous enough to attempt to interact with the monsters of the deep. Her most prized possession is the local guardian dragon. Every civilization has one, but Yedra seems to have the most control over their particular guardian dragon. Yedra was raised by merfolk, which is the reason why she can relate to them so well, and why sea creatures in general like her. She has since had to endure a few culture shocks of witnessing the deception that people come up with in bargaining for Nerathian information. She has learned to use her mana to force the truth out of people. It’s gotten to the point that people think she can read minds. Whether she can or not, she is very capable of keeping Nerath relatively safe from dealing with ill-willed researchers.
Fiotte, what used to be a kingdom of dragons is located in the single largest bog in Kuo, with tall crags coming out of the water to support life on normal land as well. It’s on the southeast end of the central continent. Dusk Overlook is the tallest crag that contains the castle of the ruler. Due to the incredibly thick mist and pollution, no matter how bright it is, it always looks like dusk. Fiottian architecture is very reptilian in design, and has several massive structures, but nothing that could really be considered a town. But giant dens in the shape of dragons can be seen in the distance as you stand at the top of Dusk Overlook.
Environment – Fiotte Mire
Fiotte is naturally warm and extremely humid at almost all times. Only during the coldest parts of the year will the mist actually settle and the bog becomes clear, but it still doesn’t ever get the cold. The harder part is the extreme amounts of pollution and harmful substances in the air. The swamp never gets more than ten or so feet deep, though wanderers who venture through here still find themselves drowning in its murky depths. Tall peaks are seen all over the region that used to function as nests for the dragons that used to roam here. The biggest dragon den is still active and sits on the north end of Fiotte, while Dusk Overlook sits on the south. The most common thing you’ll see no matter where you go are remnants of war. Swords stuck in the ground. Armor rotting away on the edges of the swamp. Corpses being preyed upon by all manner of insects.
Citizens – The Fiottian People
Fiotte might be the most inhospitable civilization in Kuo right now. The citizens are all fighting to defend their home. Whether they have the right to call it home is questionable considering the dragons were the original inhabitants of this region. Regardless, the Fiottians are in the middle of a civil war due to their worsening master-pet relationships with the dragons that they enslaved. New Fiottians are soldiers and knights taught to fight with dragons, while old Fiottians are shamans that only have the knowledge to fight against them. They tried to master the dragon race, and the worst results of the consequences are happening right now. Dragons and humans alike are dying left and right, giving way to corpses being reanimated by the necromantic auras perusing from the bog. In the old days of Fiotte, they were a proud race with very obedient dragons and they were able to afford time to focus on rebuilding the dragon dens into a human civilization.
Dragons. Lots of Dragons. (Dragons are more black and red aligned in this world than solely red. And there are dragons of all colors, regardless.) Fiotte is actually the birthplace of dragons, and a lot of other forms of reptilian mutants like Wurms and Gorgons. When dragons ruled, the creatures fed on neighboring territories, threatening to spread their influence across all of the central continent. While the reptilian creatures are the original denizens, zombies are the new common occurrence thanks to the massive amount of corpses that have been piling up thanks to the retaliation of the dragons. A few months back, the old leader of the dragons, enslaved by the humans, managed to escape, and it’s believed that he is leading this battle. The dragons of Fiotte have near-human intelligence, much unlike their red-aligned kin.
Velestris, Monarch of Fiotte
Velestris is the cause for everything. While once revered and feared by humans and dragons alike, the resulting civil war is about to cost her the throne. Back when the dragons were attacking other civilizations, Velestris, living in Blackmoon at the time, offered her services. Within a few short months, her extremely effective, and cruel combat capabilities catapulted her to the top of the united forces. She led the charge against the home realm of Fiotte and her sword alone slayed over one hundred dragons, young and old. As she approached the eldest, leader dragon, she stated that she wanted to enslave it. And to use his enslavement to make all the other dragons obey. She took the old dragon’s newborn baby and shed its skin in front of the old king. She now wears it’s hide as armor as a symbol of her dominance. Thought a few who happen to spy on her in her private time have seen her crying in front of the old king, making many wonder if she had gone completely insane.
The Flaming Gorge
A river of lava in one of the hottest valleys in Kuo is what outlines the densely built and highly populated civilizations of Aurima. This lava moat, of sorts, is called The Flaming Gorge (fun fact; this is the name of a reservoir near a place I grew up. I always thought it was a pretty name.) It’s located on the south western side of the central continent. Aurima is one of the only civilization that wouldn’t mind a war, but they haven’t started one as of yet. They don’t have much land, and have lost almost everything outside of the moat. But they do still command where the lava runs out into the molten flats east of their civilization. It is here where people can officially approach Aurima without getting their heads blown up, but doing so is very hard and their citizens make entertainment of watching people struggle to get in.
Environment – Aurima Range
Aurima, like Oiara, is in a very desolate region. However, while Oiara is unbearably cold, Aurima is unbearably hot. Almost every form of water is constantly boiling, and if it’s not water, it’s lava. When it rains, it hits the ground as sizzling drops making Aurimian rainstorms some of the most painful experiences in Kuo. The Path of Courage is the eastern region that leads to Aurima’s front gate. It’s landscape is dotted with temples and massive stone statues that look like humans that represent each Aurimian warrior that has successfully taken a city. Half trophy, half form of intimidation, these statues lead the way in for formal meetings. The very edge of Aurimian territory is a mountain range that they have recently lost control over and they are actively seeking to gain it back. Aurimians lose cities as often as they gain them. Something they fail to mention when seeing all their trophies of success.
Citizens – The Aurimar People
Aurima is a warrior civilization that practices close combat and magic in equal respect. They actively hunt the wildlife outside their gates and have very little coexistence with them. Half of the reason that their outer lands are so barren is because they keep blowing it up.Those born into Aurima culture are tasked with taking up a focus in battle. It doesn’t necessarily have to be to take human life. But they have to be passionate about entering the fray and coming out the victor. Due to their passion for battle, they host tournaments and battles that they invite other nearby civilizations to participate in. Trimensa to the north, is the only regularly attending civilization, but other civilizations from other continents make the trip. Fiotte, Oiara, and Nerath hardly ever have representatives.
Beasts, warriors, wizards and lizards, Aurima’s creature identity is fairly loose compared to other regions, but they do have dragons. Less in number than Fiotte, but greater in size and power. Dragons don’t breed here. They are just simply very old and have not died out in this part of Kuo yet. Sometimes a dragon from Fiotte will occasionally come here, but the local dragons are wild enough to eat their own kind, so this doesn’t happen too often. The creatures range from rock-shelled brutes who can take a massive wallop to lava-born fur-creatures that can emit powerful waves of fire. It’s very dangerous as the creatures often hurt themselves in order to keep their enemy at bay.
Riktis, The Ever-Standing
Riktis is one of the most renown leaders not just in Aurima, but in all of Kuo. Even Baius, the undefeated leader of Oiara doesn’t actively seek a fight with him. Riktis has led a small group of crazed warriors and overtaken some of the most well-defended cities in Kuo. But it’s not only his prodigal battle capabilities. Riktis knows how to rule and kingdom. While most other current leaders had a city waiting for them, Riktis built his civilization over the ruined battlefield of one of his largest battles. He had his people carry stone for hundreds of miles building Aurima from the ground up. Aurima has the shortest span of being “civilized” of the five central continent civilizations.
Trimensa is a massive forest, but is surprisingly hard to see because it’s in a massive sunken hole on the north-western region of the central continent. Trimensa is the most densely populated and resource-rich civilization of the five mon0-colored civilizations due to it’s abundance of resources. However, the need to expand is escalating every day. Life’s Valley runs from the west to the east allowing water to flow from the Viasma Ocean into the heart of the woods. There are hardly any man-made structures in Trimensa, but if they are, they are usually abandoned or built into the trees themselves.
Environment – Trimensa Forest
It’s impossible to not get lost in Trimensa’s light-obscuring overgrowth. It’s much more than simply remembering your cardinal directions because of the unique verticality to this region. Roots will hide entire caverns underneath them, and the Life’s Valley goes miles deep to the Fertility Font which is the source of most of the nutrients the trees are using. The mana isn’t so thick that the forest itself comes alive, but you can pretty much harness the mana just by standing anywhere within the valley. If you leave the forest, you can see signs of expansion. Trimensa’s resources can travel further than they currently do, and the population is growing fast, so that has become the next logical step. However, changing the land to fit the Trimense standards takes a very long time.
Citizens – The Trimense People
Known as the Trimense, this name encapsulats both the wildlife and the humans. While Nerath has some form of cooperation between its wildlife, what exists in Trimensa is pure harmony. A beast is just as friendly to another beast as it is another human. However, humans have shifted the power levels in their favor. They now lead the charge in evolution using a new type of magic they found that allows them to spark the rapid growth of their creatures. Because of this, humans have been drastically changing the way creatures survive. They are almost all like pampered pets. Trimense citizens also casually leave their home, which a far cry from the norm. It’s not uncommon to see a Trimense scout studying a landscape of a place they look completely unsuited for. They rarely engage battle save for the tournaments hosted in Aurima. Instead, they eventually plan to return to give knowledge on where they could expand their region into next without causing a way.
The wildlife has changed, and it’s not from their own doing. A new form of adaptation has been unleashed on them by the human mages that allows them to undergo years of evolution and growth within mere days. While this does increase their size and brute strength, some mages think they are overdoing it and making the creatures lose their natural cunning instincts. They are domesticating them while only increasing their size. What use is a giant bear if it’s afraid of a mouse? Despite that, Trimensa is still littered with small elves and elk, as well as gigantic elementals. They all protect each other meaning picking a fight with one creature is like picking a fight with all of them. They are used to hunters coming to try to pick them off because meat from a Trimense creature is among the best meat in the world. Nerathians keep spreading that knowledge which lightly endangers their region, but it’s nothing they can’t handle. One such hunter was so moved by the bonds shared by the creatures that she gave up on returning home and created a new life here. And lucky for Trimensa, she is one of the most capable combatants around. But she’s not the leader…
Hywin, Vigor of the Wild
Trimensa owe’s its current level of power solely to Hywin, the man who “saved” Trimensa. In the old times, under the previous ruler, Taigaut, Trimensa became one of the weakest civilizations in Kuo. Taigaut was a ruthless predator and ruled over the other creatures by demonstrating his power and instilling fear. This made sure that he was unquestionably the leader, but this also halted almost all progress in the region. This went on for decades as other civilizations made progress and eventually learned all the tricks of navigating the Trimensa Forest and dealing with it’s creatures. Hywin, as a young teen, had his entire family attacked by some hunters as they were trying to protect the wildlife, and he went to ask Taigaut to help save them. Taigaut refused, and Hywin returned to find his family already dead. This fueled his desire to overtake Taigaut, not for his own sake, but for the forest. As Taigaut trained in solace, other creatures started observing him, and eventually rallied by his side. It wasn’t long until Hywin commanded a small army of creatures that he led into Taigaut’s home and killed him. He took his place and buried Taugaut in a tomb. Hywin chose to live in this tomb as a reminder to never forget the death’s that Taigaut caused. Hywin had another grave marker placed right next to Taigaut, a reserved place for his dead body that served to say if he should ever lose sight of why he was a ruler, the denizens were to kill him the same way they helped him kill Taigaut.
And that’s it! This first set focuses on those five civilizations. All the tri-colored mumbo jumbo from the prologue have nothing to do with these. Although, the dual colored ones will be in the same block as this set, taking up slots 2 and 3 of this block. I believe my next post will be for the planeswalkers.