Wizards of the Coast's annual Commander product is a great way for the company to give physical cards to Magic: The Gathering characters that have been left un-printed for one reason or another. Magic: The Gathering head designer Mark Rosewater recently remarked on his Tumblr blog that one of the things WotC likes to do in the Commander sets is to use it as an opportunity to give characters that had not yet seen print as a playable card a chance to be printed. That's why in past years characters such as Freyalise and Gisa finally had cards printed of them and why sub-characters such as Ludevic and Sidar Kondo are seeing print in this year's Commander 2016 set.
We're thinking why stop there? With another Commander set expected around this time next year (and why not), there is a great number of characters in the Magic: The Gathering multiverse that are well deserving of seeing print. From the wealth of old-walkers to those who have only appeared in flavor text or Magic: The Gathering novels, there certainly are many from which to choose. Truely, it was difficult to narrow the list down to ten. It easily could have been 20 or 30 and perhaps we'll do another article about it in the future to give some of those whom we are not highlighting in this one some exposure. But for now, we're sticking with ten.
In alphabetical order, they are:
Ashnod • Ashnod was one of the key characters in The Brothers' War and was Mishra's apprentice. A cruel, sadistic woman, Ashnod rarely gave human life (or any life, really) any value as can be seen in cards such as Ashnod's Altar and Ashnod's Transmogrant. Heck, even her Battle Gear could prove fatal to those who donned it. Beyond being Ashnod the Uncaring, she also played a crucial role in the end of the War as she was the one who gave Urza the Golgothian Sylex, a powerful artifact that was the more-or-less nuclear option of ending the strife. Of course, using the Sylex had a catastrophic affect on the entire world of Dominaria, changing the climate and killing off much of the plane's life as it sunk into an ice age. While Ashnod does not technically have a legal printing of any sort, she did see print in Vanguard. Then again, when was the last time anyone played a game of Vanguard?
Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar • Known to Magic players through flavor text on cards such as Granite Gargoyle and Lightning Axe, Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar has garnished a cult following of sorts not only because of her astronomically long name but also because of the fact that she's the author of "The Underworld Cookbook". As the story goes, she summoned a Lord of the Pit who went by the intimidating name of Vincent. Unable to pay her debt of summoning, she goes to work as Vincent's private chef for seven years and seven days. During that time, she wrote the infamous "The Underworld Cookbook", part of which can be read in the flavor text for a certain card from Unhinged. As for Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar herself being printed, Rosewater said on his blog that due to the length of her name a printing would be unlikely but should they decide to give her a card, it would likely "...be in a silver-bordered set where we’re able to make a name longer than normally fits." After all, they've done it before.
Feroz • The first of a mighty half-dozen old school Planeswalkers on this list, Feroz is perhaps one of the most under-appreciated. Aside from reprints, he's only really had a presence in one set: Homelands. Feroz was a planeswalker with a morality problem. Simply put, he thought summoning sentient beings to do one's bidding was immoral (much like how a vegan might see the eating of meat to be immoral). In a way, he's the token vegan of all Planeswalkers. He's influence in the game as far as cards go include the sideboardable Feroz's Ban and on the flavor text of cards such as Wizard's School and Didgeridoo. He was also the husband of Serra. Yes, that Serra. He's also the one responsible for slaying one of the original and most powerful Planeswalkers in Magic history, Taysir.
Greensleeves • What? You're not familiar with Greensleeves the Wizard? Don't worry. It's understandable as she hasn't exactly been around since the original Magic: The Gathering novels ("Whispering Woods", "Shattered Chains", and "Final Sacrifice"). A mute who was considered by many to be quite mad, Greensleeves was actually a kind woman who was able to communicate (albeit simply) through animal sounds. Eventually she became an arch-druid at the guidance of Chaney, another arch-druid on the Domaniarian continent of Aerona. Greensleeves herself briefly became a Planeswalker but burned out her spark as she attempted (and succeeded) at healing and protecting the island of Lat-Nam after the land was devastated by Urza's activation of the Golgothian Sylex. While she's never been printed as a Magic card, she has been referenced on one: Giant Badger.
Jaya Ballard (Planeswalker) • We all know her as the fiery task mage from the Ice Age cycle of novels and her Time Spiral card. Wait... Time Spiral card? If you're wondering why that doesn't disqualify her on our list, it's because we're talking about Jaya Ballard the Planeswalker. Her Time Spiral card depicted her before her spark ignited and (in our view anyhow) is not technically the same person. The spark does tend to change you, after all. Anyway, the gorgeous Jaya Ballard was a key character in the Ice Age saga and was depicted in both flavor text and in artwork of a number of cards of that era including Pyroblast and Burnout. As for what's happened with her since her spark ignited, however, not much is known. In the Time Spiral books, her former companion Jodah implied that her recklessness "eventually cost her her life" to the disappointment of many of her fans. More recently, however, Ballard was made reference to my none other than the equally as fiery new-age Planeswalker Chandra Nalaar on the card Pyromancer's Goggles from Magic Origins, reigniting speculation that not only might Ballard's fire still be burning but that we might actually see her at some point in the future. Hey, Mr. Rosewater, make this happen!
Jodah • Jodah is one of the most important characters of Magic's past and yet he has never seen print as a card. Furthermore, with the exception of the Time Spiral card Jodah's Avenger, his name had never seen print outside of the many books ("The Gathering Dark", "The Eternal Ice", "The Shattered Alliance", "Time Spiral", "Planar Chaos", and "Future Sight") of which he's been the protagonist. Outside of being the one who freed Ith from Barl's Cage, becoming known as Archmage Eternal due to his unnaturally long life thanks to drinking from the Fountain of Youth, seeing the City of Shadows transition into the School of the Unseen, and personally bringing Urza back from a state of insanity, Jodah hasn't done much else except for have a major role in saving Dominaria during The Mending. No biggie, right?
Lord Windgrace • The "cat daddy" of them all, Lord Windgrace was a black panther cat warrior mage (and Planeswalker) who ruled and protected the land of Urborg. While older than Urza, he was one of the several Planeswalkers who served under him as one of the Nine Titans who fought the Phyrexians. He has been depicted in the artwork of a number of cards such as Planeswalker's Fury and referred to in the flavor text of others including Divine Light and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. While he was little more than a support character during the events of the Invasion block, he had a much larger and pivotal role during the Time Spiral block as he sacrificed not only his spark, but himself altogether to seal the time rift in Urborg located above where the Rathi Stronghold had appeared after the overlay of the planes of Rath and Dominaria. His is a sacrifice that surely should be rewarded in the form of a playable Magic: The Gathering card.
Urza • Seriously, how could we not have included the most famous and important single character in the history of Magic: The Gathering. More importantly, how could WotC not ever give him a card. Okay, will technically they did when they printed Blind Seer in Invasion (the Seer was Urza in disguise), but that doesn't really count. No, the real reason was the same as with all of the old-walkers: Planeswalkers were nearly god-like beings that didn't get cards. At the time it made sense seeing as the player was considered to be on the same level and players don't get cards, right? Anyway, getting back on track, Urza had been there from the beginning. No, really. There are two cards dating back to Alpha that mention his name. Antiquities, the game's second expansion, is all about the Brothers' War. Heck, he has an entire block named after him! He led the Nine Titans against the Phyrexians, created the Weatherlight and Karn, and is referenced in artwork, flavor text, and name on countless cards. What do Magic players get for who may just be the supreme character ever depicted in the game? We get a lousy Vanguard card. (See a trend here?) To make matters worse, the card is little better than the pathetic Rod of Ruin. Come on, WotC. Magic players deserve better.
Serra • Wife to Feroz, Serra was a human Planeswalker who was born on Dominaria but left to form her own plane (which Urza ultimately collapsed to serve his own goals). While a literal angelic heaven, Phyrexian corruption found its way in before Urza decided to use it to power the Weatherlight and Serra departed from the plane and found herself on Ulgrotha where she met and eventually married the Planeswalker Feroz. Her husband perished in an accident involving a fire elemental, however, and the grief-stricken Serra returned home to Dominaria where she soon after perished as well... or did she? In the Scourge novel it's said that she survived after all and rebuilt her plane as evidenced by the False God Karona tried to move in uninvited and being denied residence by none other than Serra herself. Like Ashnod, Serra has seen print as a Vanguard card, but that hardly qualifies. At this point, she's only ever been depicted in a handful of cards like Worship and Serra's Blessing, referred to in a number of cards such as Serra Angel and Cathedral of Serra, while also gracing the flavor text of even including Daughter of Autumn and Mask of Law and Grace.
Tourach • Finishing this list with a trip to the Dominarian continent of Sapardia (the setting for Fallen Empires), Tourach was the founder and first-ever High Priest of the Order of the Ebon Hand. The religion worshiped the Ebon Praetor and made no secret its cult-like structure and focus. Not too long after its founding, Tourach himself became the subject for the religion's praise and worship. While Tourach himself has still yet to have his own card, he is quite well known due to the very powerful Hymn to Tourach and most recently had a card printed that referenced him in Time Spiral. His religion also introduced and popularized the Thrull tribal and his Master Breeder, Endrek Sahr, even saw print in Time Spiral with reprints in both Commander 2013 and Modern Masters 2015. The Order of the Ebon Hand's founder, however, is still lacking a playable presence.
Well, there's our list. It was a struggle to narrow it down to just ten. To that end, what un-printed characters in Magic: The Gathering's lore do you wish were made into playable cards? Your favorites just might make our list next time.