Mtg: Nicol Bolas Archenemy lands Friday June 16th!


This fantastic Magic game set will be available at the Vidiot next Friday the 16th of June.

The Archenemy format first made a big splash on the Magic scene seven years ago with a set appropriately titled Archenemy. Since then, the waters have remained quite still . . . until last August, when rumblings of Archenemy: Nicol Bolas stirred things up once again. Now, the release of Archenemy: Nicol Bolas looms mere weeks away, and soon you and your friends will be able to act out the desperate battle between Nicol Bolas and the Gatewatch (in this set represented by Gideon, Chandra, and Nissa), though we can’t guarantee that your results will match those soon to be seen in Hour of Devastation.

For those unfamiliar with Archenemy, it is a format in which three players join forces and face off against a fourth, who takes the role of a “final boss” type figure for the other players to attempt to defeat. To help the player assume the role of a boss, the player starts with 40 life (this is why you will find a special, 100-point life counter in the box) and has a deck of “scheme” cards that enable powerful, free effects for the villain each turn that can dramatically turn the course of the game. At the beginning of the archenemy’s first main phase each turn, they reveal the top card of the scheme deck and carry out its effect. These schemes have a wide range of effects, from taking another turn to giving your creatures +2/+2 and trample until one of them dies. Archenemy games progress in this with manner, with turns alternating between a shared ally turn and an archenemy turn, until either all the allies or the archenemy has been defeated. With Archenemy: Nicol Bolas, a few changes are coming.


While the changes to the Archenemy formula may not be substantial, they are still important. The first change is to the rules, and it is the only rules change: From now on, when the archenemy attacks any player or planeswalker on the opposing team, any creature a teammate of the defending player controls may be assigned as a blocker by that creature’s controller. Basically, whom the archenemy’s creatures are attacking is no longer a limiting factor in which creatures can be assigned as blockers. This replaces the previous blocking rules, which followed normal multiplayer blocking conventions.

The other major change is one players have been aware for some time now, and that is a change of flavor and balance. Previously, players took the roles of a nameless villain fighting against a team of anonymous heroes. For this set, we wanted Archenemy to be a more focused and tailored experience. We wanted players to immerse themselves in the roles of the heroes or villains they were adopting. So, we started with the current villain of the ongoing Magic story as the first “official” archenemy: Nicol Bolas, the Elder Dragon Planeswalker. And who better to oppose him than the Gatewatch, the very force standing against him in the story, set to face him in battle in July’s Hour of Devastation? With the character roles locked in, we were able to assemble preconstructed decks for not only the archenemy, but also for the three players facing him down. This allowed us to curate a much more balanced out-of-the-box experience than the original Archenemy, which called upon players to construct the three teammate decks themselves.

The set’s four main characters appear as planeswalker cards in the set with all-new art by Chris Rahn. That said, we know who you’re here for, and there’s a reason we put his name on the package.


Nicol Bolas may just be the biggest big-bad that Magic has offered so far. He is the most powerful of the already-powerful Elder Dragons, possibly the oldest living being in the Multiverse, and a pre-Mending Planeswalker desperate to reclaim his lost godlike powers. While I may have lost some of you with that last point, it’s safe to say that Nicol Bolas is a villain whose capabilities are only surpassed by his ambitions. He is a true master of blue, black, and red magic, three colors that combine to form notoriously ruthless and powerful spells. And he uses these spells to their full malevolent potential to achieve his twisted and selfish goals.

It is this unrelenting and dominant nature that governs the flavor behind both his main deck and the latest set of 20 scheme cards. These scheme cards have a devastating number of effects ranging from what is essentially a one-time effect version of Tamiyo, Field Researcher‘s ultimate to a creature-only spin of Aetherworks Marvel. To be frank, these schemes function exactly as they should. By turn three, a good Nicol Bolas player will be giddy as they flip over each scheme card, if only because of the dread dripping from your remaining opponents’ faces.

With very Bolas-y cards filling the main deck, it may occasionally feel like the archenemy doesn’t even need the scheme deck to overwhelm the Gatewatch players. Signature spells like Cruel Ultimatum may seem like obvious inclusions, but Doom Blade and Reckless Spite are powerhouses when you consider that there isn’t a single black creature in your opponents’ ranks. With a large amount of mana acceleration, steady removal, and a healthy supply of bombs (which may end up coming out for free thanks to your scheming), Nicol Bolas is well represented in this set as a force that may just be insurmountable. In the deck, his plans have been laid out, his power is mighty, and his justice is dark and swift. The only missing piece of the formula is his notoriously cunning mind . . . so I guess yours will have to do. Do you have what it takes to annihilate the Gatewatch?

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