MTG Encyclopedia - Creature Types - A
Every world in Magic is populated with many fantastic races; some of them are familiar, while others may be native to that plane. As the years go on and the list of worlds expands, so do the races that inhabit those planes, and after 25 years it may be hard to keep track of all of them.
This article will be the first in a new series where I intend to chronicle each race, letter by letter, beginning right now with the letter A. In this article, you will learn of winged humanoids exemplifying the mana they represent, of creatures, settled deep in the jungle, and of an old race descended from demons with a taste for gold. So, sit down, get comfortable, and join me as we chronicle the fantastic races of Magic: the Gathering.
The angels of Magic: the Gathering is almost always represented as benevolent women with outstretched wings, clad in shining armor, and draped in flowing robes. They are shining beacons on the battlefield and an example for people to live by.
The first Angel to be printed was Serra Angel in Alpha, and she would be the standard to which angels would be made in the future.
Angels are almost exclusively printed in white, with only a small percentage of them in other colors. This is because Angels embody the ideals of White mana. We see this in their selfless protection of the weak, and through how they uphold the values of humankind in the face of darkness.
It is believed that Angels are a manifestation of White mana, with all of that plane’s purity coalesced into one form, making them closer to an elemental than a human.
When we do see Angels in other colors, often it can be paired with Red, which shows the side of them ready to go to war to uphold the law and defend those who cannot defend themselves.
Angels who mix with Black protect the barrier between life and death and guide souls along their path, while those that are purely black have fallen from grace and only bring death to those same souls. Needless to say, when the planes themselves create life to look after the humans, we get Angels, the embodiment of White's ideals, and a welcome sight on most worlds.
Archons, which is Greek for ruler or lord, are depicted as heavily armored masked warriors riding on the backs of winged beasts. Their faces are always covered, either by mask or helm, which alludes to their inhuman and mysterious nature, even though, like Angels, they are seemingly human in appearance.
The first Archon to be printed was the card Archon of Justice in Eventide, solidifying the role of Archons thereafter. Every one of these stoic beings is either White or consists partially of White mana, and the similarities between them and angels don't stop there.
Archons are, in essence, another side of White mana represented in physical form: the side of White mana that's harsher and more exacting.
You see, White may be loving to those under its wing, but to those who go against its ideals or don't follow its laws, White can be harsh. Archons mainly represent the unwavering hand of law and order, of retribution and punishment. In essence, they are the enemy of chaos. They can be your greatest ally or your worst enemy; it just depends on what side of the line you are on.
Apes are large and often aggressive creatures who have mastered the jungles they live in, even pushing man aside. The first to be printed was the card Kird-Ape in Arabian Nights, with a red summoning cost and a Green-based effect. With only a couple of exceptions in Black, all Apes are red or green, being a perfect example of that color combination. They are fury and strength, instinct, and impulse; they are one with nature and a force of nature.
Almost every Ape we have encountered has been a wild creature, but this isn't always the case.
Some are quite in tune with earthly magic and become shamans. Most interesting of all, though, are the Apes of Yavimaya on Dominaria, who over time have gained sapience, appointing chieftains and forming clans. These same Apes even helped fight against the Phyrexian invasion all those many years ago.
The Antelopes of Magic are quite similar in most cases to the ones here on earth. While some are revered as magical creatures, such as the Emerald Oryx, most are quite plain, with large horns and swift bodies. The first to be printed was Graceful Antelope in Odyssey, and even though it’s summoned using White mana, just over half of the future ones would come to be printed in green. The green ones are stockier, with larger horns and solid bodies, while the white ones are smaller and swift.
Atogs are Grotesque, vicious, nasty little creatures native to Dominaria, who have a taste for oddities such as metal and bone. Their appearance, mana source, and diet vary wildly depending on which island of Dominaria they are from, but they all share the common traits of large eyes, sharp little teeth, and a voracious appetite.
The first Atog to be printed was the card of the same name in Antiquities, with an effect that would be echoed across all Atog: sacrifice something relevant to their diet to buff them. Atogs were a particular sore spot to artificers long ago during the times of the Brothers’ War, as they would see the artificer's creations as nothing more than something to be nibbled at. For them, the Phyrexian invasion of Dominaria was a blessing, as they could be seen scouring the wreckage of the battlefields for their next meal.
Aurochs are an exceptionally rare creature only found on Dominaria during its ice age and would become extinct as the plane warmed. The first Auroch was a lone card in the set Ice Age, and would later be joined by three others in Cold Snap. They would all share the theme of being stronger while other creatures were on the field, as they had to roam in large groups to survive. With the Ice Age on Dominaria over, I doubt we will see these large roaming beasts again, but it’s always interesting seeing a creature that's a snapshot of a time period in the game’s history.
Avatars are some of the most varied races in Magic, as they are beings who are projections of a greater force. The first Avatar to be printed was Personal Incarnation in Alpha, a being of pure energy representing its caster, something that would be amplified over time.
In essence, Avatars are what happens when there is enough power in something to create a new life that represents a fragment of its source.
Some are a concept given forms, such as the Avatar of Slaughter or Will. Meanwhile, others may be the soul of the very plane itself, such as the Soul of Zendikar or Innistrad. There are even Avatars who bring life to the forces of nature, like the Essence of the Wild or Avatar of Growth.
Because the sources of Avatars are so varied, the colors that they represent are fairly evenly spread across the pie as well. Compared to most races, these beings have very little in common with each other and are only tied together by the raw power that they possess: a power which instills awe in all who witness them.
The Azra are purple-skinned humanoids with long and varied horns, and for good reason. Their bloodline can be traced back to ancient demons from a time since forgotten. The first Azra were all printed in the same set, BattleBond, with only one other being printed outside of it. The Azra are all found within Black and Red colors, and it shows in their selfish and greedy nature, which is centered around gaining wealth and using it to live a lavish lifestyle.
This race from the plane Kylem value the weight of a gold purse above all else, and will go to any length to achieve the life they want.
Because of this, many of their race are merchants, but those looking for a quick buck often become Mercenaries or assassins. If there is a job you need to get done, then they are the ones to do it... as long as the price is right.
Thanks for checking out the first entry into the encyclopedia series. Make sure to return back often so you don't miss the next installment. You can follow me on social media to be able to chat with me on a daily basis. With that, I'll catch you in the multiverse bye.
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