Digging for Donkey Heads at Dusk: A Look Back at Eventide
- Sancho Napora
Some archaeology is rooted in an amateur's obsession with ancient stories of bravery as Heinrich Schliemann's discovery of Troy was. Other archeologists such as Roy Chapman Andrews are more known for tales of derring-do than actual discoveries. Sancho dug into Eventide to learn about a race of kleptomaniac donkeys.
Hooligan Anarchist Donkey Heads
If the Noggles had their own version of the French Anarchist philosopher P.J. Proudhon, he would probably have amended the famous answer to his question about the nature of property from "property is theft" to "property is theft from me."
These funny looking fellas with their big heads and an a refreshingly simple view of the usually complicated science of economics were what got me interested in Eventide. They made me pack my shovels and theodolite and head off to murky Shadowmoor to dig into the soil under the twisted half-dead vegetation of the plane.
Mystery Box Noggle Nuisance
If you have played Mystery Booster, you know that not all games are fast paced or high-power level. When doing some rounds of Sealed during the Corona lockdown, a couple of games saw a Noggle Bandit a least having enough of an impact on the board to catch my attention. What a delightfully odd character, I thought, as the rogue went under my defenses. Chipping away at my life total 2 at a time, put a clock on me in a game that otherwise seemed in a bit of a deadlock.
"Noggles believe that they were the first race ever to walk Shadowmoor. They don't 'steal.' They just take back what's rightfully theirs," said the flavor text below the image of the skinny donkey head. I was sold and decided that once restrictions on interplanar travel were lifted, I would pay a visit to the world that had bred such wonder.
And here we are, entering something called the New Normal in my chosen land of residence. So indeed it is time to survey the setting of Magic's 46th expansion released in 2008, which was about halfway through my long absence from the game that ended in 2016.
Topsy-Turvy and Helter-Skelter
Eventide was the second half of the Shadowmoor block and it brought 180 new cards to Magic. Well, in reality 179 all new cards, since Phosphorescent Feast was foreshadowed in Future Sight along with the mechanic Chroma. For those as ignorant about the background story as myself, the expansions Shadowmoor and Eventide were a dark reflection of the bright and sunny Lorwyn block consisting of Lorwyn and Morningtide.
The sets took their inspiration from Celtic mythology, which is how we got the Noggles in Eventide. Other notable creature types were Kithkin and Elementals en masse with some Fairies, Elves, Dwarves, Goblins, and Beasts thrown in for good measure.
Noggle Hoof Pulp Recipies
The lack of information to be found about Noggles was a big disappointment for me. I kept digging my first archaeological trenches through the stunning twilit landscapes illustrated on the basic lands of Shadowmoor — lands with artwork that go together two and two to create so-called diptychs. By the very nature of their culture, the Noggles don't leave many traces for an archaeologist to discover. As described on the card Noggle Ransacker: " Noggles live purely by what they can scavenge. There is not a single thing a noggle eats, wears, or uses that did not once belong to another."
This same ransacker was reprinted in Planechase 2012 while the two remaining of only four Noggles have yet to see print again. Besides the four actual Noggles, the donkey people are only mentioned in the flavor texts of Talonrend and Jawbone Skulkin and one of these is a grisly recipe using pulp made from their hooves. For further knowledge of the Noggles we must wait and see if Wizards of the Coasts will treat us to more dark delights from their plane of origin in future expansions. Luckily, Eventide and the plane of Shadowmoor has a lot of potential in both the lore and the mechanics. So hopefully it's a question of when, rather than if, the game revisits this setting.
For now, we do have other strata to dig into to reveal more about the world surrounding the Noggles. Perhaps rhyming with Noggle (depending on whom you ask) is of course the bogle, and a particularly slippery one of those did first see print in Eventide. Costed at one green/blue hybrid mana, the 1/1 Beast with an ability that was later to be keyworded as hexproof has given its name to an entire deck type mostly seen in Pauper and Modern.
Another 1/1 creature at a single hybrid mana was Figure of Destiny, also printed as a promo and a hit with many cube builders. Watching this little Kithkin grow to a Kithkin Spirit Warrior Avatar with base power and toughness 8/8, flying, and first strike somehow reminds me of building up the character Link in the 8-bit classic The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: so vulnerable to begin with and toward the climax of the story just mowing down everything in his way.
Hybrid mana was a major theme in the block and enemy-colored hybrids was Eventide's thing. Other examples that stand out include the Lieges (Balefire Liege, Murkfiend Liege, …) and the full cycle of Spirit Avatars (Divinity of Pride, Dominus of Fealty, Overbeing of Myth, …).
Depending on whether your favorite format is Legacy, Modern, or Commander, you will be familiar with other cards first printed in the set. Flickerwisp is actually vying for the title as the third most played white creature in Legacy, which I suppose is something — even if white creatures are not what dominates that meta. Other famous cards are Bloom Tender, Glen Elendra Archmage, and Helix Pinnacle. I am still debating myself if I should include the Pinnacle in my most annoying Commander deck to give it an actual win condition. (For now, that deck can at best get a draw with Divine Intervention.)
Among the most expensive cards from Eventide we find the enemy-colored filter lands such as Fetid Heath and at the very top Bloom Tender though reprints in respectively Masters 25 and Mystery Booster have made all of these more accessible. Actually, I think that even Noggles would probably agree that singles from the set are quite fairly priced.
As always, I have merely touched the surface of another expansion hitherto unbeknownst to me. I will read any comments expanding on Eventide and the Shadowmoor plane you may have with delight. Share your stories of Standard or tell us about your favorite card or artwork or lore below.
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