What is the City's Blessing? MTG Lore Theory (2023)

Wizards of the Coast

We're well into the spoiler season for Rivals of Izalan and have seen some great cards, from pirates that steal tokens to enchantments that make shocklands OG dual lands, but we've also learned a lot about the lore. For example, we now know that Azor - the planeswalking sphinx who founded the Azorius and created the Guildpact - is alive and well on Ixalan, but seems to have lost his spark as he was given a creature card. We've also learned a bit about one of the new mechanics in Rivals: Ascend.

Wizards of the Coast

The way Ascend works is simple. If you have ten or more permanents, you get the city's blessing forever. This is similar to the Monarch mechanic from Conspiracy, but with a major difference: Any number of players in the game can have the city's blessing at once rather than only one player at a time. There is also (as of yet) no way to remove or steal the city's blessing. The mechanics of Magic cards are used to reflect the world around them, to tell the plane's story. The way Ascend works makes it seem like everybody on Ixalan has misjudged what exactly the city holds.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Ixalan lore, here's a quick reminder: After the battle with Nicol Bolas on Amonkhet, Jace wakes up on a deserted island with no memories...because every Jace story needs him to have his mind wiped at some point. He also learns that he can't planeswalk off Ixalan - no planeswalker can. He learns to survive and sets out on a raft and encounters the gorgon planeswalker Vraska who has become captain of a pirate ship. While she recognizes her old enemy, Jace doesn't know her and she brings him along as she goes on a quest to find the Golden City of Orazca, where the Immortal Sun lies. They aren't alone in their quest however, as the other major factions of Ixalan - the merfolk tribes of the River Herald, the vampiric Legion of Dusk, and the humans of the Sun Empire all want the power of the Immortal Sun as badly as the pirates of the Brazen Coalition. The thing is, the Immortal Sun is shrouded by mystery, and all that's known about it is that it posses a great power, which all factions think is a weapon. But what if they're wrong?

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Wizards of the Coast

Let's start by looking at the card depicting the legendary artifact. Right of the bat we can see that it is this binding the planeswalkers to Ixalan as the shape of the artifact is very similar to the circle that appears in the card Ixalan's Binding and the first line of text prevents planeswalkers from using their loyalty abilities. The other abilities grant a wide blessing; to take a gander at what each of these would do if they were translated to the lore, possession of the Immortal Sun would grant great knowledge, increased mana, and the ability to inspire those who follow you. Indeed a source of great power. Furthermore, we can assume that the Immortal Sun was created by Azor as the design is very reminiscent of the Azorious Charm. But there must be more to the story as the city itself seems to be of great importance.


Wizards of the Coast
Wizards of the Coast

There is evidence of multiple character receiving the blessing, including Vraska, the warrior-poet Huatli, the vampire Vona, and the merfolk Kumena. We've already seen Vona's card above, and here are the cards for Vraska, Hautli, and Kumena:

Wizards of the Coast
Wizards of the Coast
Wizards of the Coast

Let's take a quick look at what these cards have in common. Firstly, these are all characters pursuing the city's blessing and all of them are shrouded in golden light - which feels like it has some significant relation to the city's blessing as Orazca is the golden city. With the exception of Huatli, each of this cards have the Ascend mechanic and rather like the Ascend mechanic, Huatli's card cares about the number of permanents you control, namely creatures. They all also display an increase in the respective power of the character as they get better with the city's blessing. Again, Huatli makes a mild exception. While nothing about her card explicitly says that the Radiant Champion is more powerful than the original, the evidence is in the artwork. As a member of the Sun Empire, she works closely with dinosaurs and bonds with them. In the original card she's shown with a regular dinosaur, but the dino in the background of the Radiant Champion is Zacama, a legendary Elder Dinosaur that is like a little stronger than your average raptor.
Before we continue with this section, I'd like to mention something about Huatli's card: She clearly differs from the other cards in what I'd hesitate to call a cycle, and I think this has meaning in and of itself. Each of the other cards shows the characters receiving the city's blessing via the Ascend mechanic. But as Huatli displays evidence of having the blessing without showing her acquire it, it's possible that this hints at her reaching the city first and getting the blessing before the other characters.
To continue with the analysis of these four cards as a whole, however, there's another thing to note: All four of these characters represent one of the four factions; Huatli is the champion of the Sun Empire while Vraska is a member of the Brazen Coalition, Kumena is the leader of the River Heralds, and Vona is a member of the Legion of Dusk. Additionally, out of the cards spoiled, no tribe seems to have the Ascend mechanic on more cards than any other.

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This hints that the four factions may have misunderstood the idea of the Immortal Sun and the Golden City entirely. That if the four groups could work together, they could equally receive the blessing and unite under its power. Let's take another look at the card:

If we put this into the context of each faction receiving a bit of its power, we can see that each line would be a boon to each faction. The Legion of Dusk is a religious order and would see outsiders as a threat to their kingdom, meaning that preventing as much of a planeswalker's powers as possible would be a boon as beings from distant places could bring new ideas that threaten them.
The ability to draw an extra card could be seen as stealing extra resources for the Brazen Coalition. You're only supposed to take one, but why not take two instead?
The ability to reduce the cost of spells would be of great use to the Sun Empire, as they could control larger dinosaurs with less costs.
And the River Heralds could find power in unity, bringing together their powers to grow more powerful by drawing energy from the sun the way the plants they bend do.

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And this seems even more likely if we consider where the Immortal Sun almost certainly came from: Azor, the Lawbringer. As previously stated, the sphinx founded the Azorius guild and created the Guildpact, bringing some measure of unity to the ten guilds of Ravnica. Azor's homeplane also wasn't Ravnica, as this quote from the Dragon's Maze novel when Jace tries to resist becoming the living Guildpact shows:

"I can't be."
"Nevertheless, you are."
"But I am not...I am not from the world."
"Neither, as it happens, was Azor."

This gives precedent for Azor coming to a plane that he is not native to, but choosing to work to bring peace and order to that plane amid the conflict on it. Giving the fact that the Sun and Orazca have been shrouded and lost beneath so much legend, its possible that Azor showed up at a particularly bad time in Ixalan's history and created the Immortal Sun as a reason to unite the tribes. When it failed, however, he hid the city away until they could learn to work together. In short, it is possible that the power of the city's blessing and the Immortal Sun is not a weapon meant to make one group drastically more powerful than the others, but a power meant to be shared and unite the four factions.

UPDATE:

Today the full set for Rivals of Ixalan was spoiled and I found something else that I believe strengths the theory within this set of four cards:

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Wizards of the Coast
Wizards of the Coast
Wizards of the Coast

Wizards of the Coast

This lovely little quartet are each legendary enchantments that flip into lands a la Search of Azcanta. Each of them also represents one of the four tribes; the warrior on Path of Mettle is wearing the armor of the Sun Empire, and it's pretty clear that pirates, merfolk, and vampires are on each of the other cards. The legendary lands on the other side each show a different section of Orazca that seems to be tailored to each faction; the Tomb of the Dusk Rose for the Legion of Dusk, the Vault of Catlacan for the Brazen Coalition, the Winged Temple for the River Heralds, and the Tower of Triumph for the Sun Empire.

Each one of these sections of the city seem to have been built specifically for each of the factions, strengthen the idea that the golden city and its power was meant to be a prize of sorts should the four factions working together to share in its power; after all, there's no other reason that each faction would have an area that aligns with their various societies.

FAQs

What is the city's blessing in magic? ›

The city's blessing is a designation that the ascend ability can give you. The city's blessing isn't a permanent or emblem, and nothing can destroy it or otherwise interact with it.

Can you lose city's blessing MTG? ›

Once you have the city's blessing, you have it for the rest of the game, even if you lose control of some or all of your permanents. The city's blessing isn't a permanent itself and can't be removed by any effect.

How do you get a city's blessing MTG? ›

Your goal with ascend is to hit ten permanents. As soon as you do so and either have an ascend card on the battlefield or resolve an ascend spell, you earn the city's blessing. The blessing can never go away once you have it—and having it enhances every card with the mechanic!

What does becoming the monarch mean MTG? ›

Becoming the Monarch

The monarch status only enters the game through a card's ability that causes a player to become the monarch. Once a player is the monarch, they remain the monarch until another player's creature deals combat damage to them, at which point that creature's controller becomes the new monarch.

What does Menace mean MTG? ›

702.111a Menace is an evasion ability. 702.111b A creature with menace can't be blocked except by two or more creatures. (See rule 509, “Declare Blockers Step.”)

Do tokens count as permanents? ›

A permanent remains on the battlefield indefinitely. A card or token becomes a permanent as it enters the battlefield and it stops being a permanent as it's moved to another zone by an effect or rule. Yes, tokens are permanents.

Do lands count as permanents? ›

There are five permanent types: artifact, creature, enchantment, land, and planeswalker. Instant and sorcery cards can't enter the battlefield and thus can't be permanents.

What do treasure tokens do in MTG? ›

Debuting in 2017's Ixalan, Treasure tokens are an artifact token (alongside the likes of Gold, Clue, Food, and Blood tokens) that can be tapped and sacrificed to produce one mana of any colour.

How does regeneration work MTG? ›

Regeneration is a replacement effect which means: "The next time this permanent would be destroyed this turn, it isn't. Instead tap it, remove all damage from it, and remove it from combat."

How do emblems work in MTG? ›

An emblem is a marker used to represent an object that has one or more abilities, but no other characteristics. 114.2. An effect that creates an emblem is written “[Player] gets an emblem with [ability].” This means that [player] puts an emblem with [ability] into the command zone.

What happens if the monarch dies MTG? ›

Basically, whoever's turn it is or whose turn it is next, gets to take over the player designation from the losing player that left the game. This means that if a monarch dies on their own turn, the player who takes the next turn becomes monarch.

Is Archon a coronation? ›

2020-11-10: The game starts with no monarch. Once an effect makes one player the monarch, the game will have exactly one monarch from that point forward. As a player becomes the monarch, the current monarch (if any) ceases being the monarch.
...
Archon of Coronation.
2.310.00
Non-foilFoil

Do you discard after monarch draw? ›

Yes. You draw at the beginning of the end step, and you discard to hand size during the cleanup step, which happens right afterward.

Does Deathtouch stop trample? ›

Unless the creature with deathtouch has first strike, deathtouch does nothing to stop a creature from trampling over to the defending player. The creature with trample will assign leathal damage to the creature with deathtouch and any more damage can be assigned to the defending player.

How many planeswalkers can you have in a deck? ›

You can have a maximum of four planeswalkers with the same card name in your deck, just like any other MTG card. You can have more than one of the same type of planeswalker in your deck, however.

Does sacrificing a creature count as dying? ›

In Magic The Gathering, “sacrifice” does count as “dying”. When a permanent or a creature is sacrificed, it is sent to the graveyard. Any moment of a creature changing zones that includes a card leaving the battlefield zone and going directly to the graveyard zone is considered as dying.

Does all dust destroy lands? ›

All is Dust also destroys colored land right? Yes, if either player controls any colored lands they would be sacrificed.

Can you Chaos Warp a token? ›

2011-09-22: The owner of a token is the player under whose control the token was put onto the battlefield. If a token is shuffled into a player's library this way, that player shuffles before revealing the top card of that library.
...
Chaos Warp.
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Non-foilFoil

Do tokens get summoning sickness? ›

Do Tokens Have Summoning Sickness? Since summoning sickness applies to all permanents but affects creatures specifically, yes.

What happens if a token is returned to your hand? ›

Token creatures will go to the hand for a brief time while the spell or ability is resolving - then they cease to exist when state-based actions are checked since they're no longer on the battlefield. A token that's bounced back to its owner's hand won't really be able to do anything before it ceases to exist.

What is Hex proof? ›

Hexproof is an evergreen keyword ability that prevents a permanent or player from being the target of spells or abilities played by opponents.

Is a mountain a red permanent? ›

No, a Mountain Buy does not count as a red permanent.

Can treasures make colorless mana? ›

You can use it to pay for the two generic Mana, but not the one colorless Mana, because Treasure can't produce colorless Mana.

Does creating a token count as entering the battlefield? ›

Yes, the enter-the-battlefield ability will trigger. 701.6a To create one or more tokens with certain characteristics, put the specified number of tokens with the specified characteristics onto the battlefield. When a token is created, it enters the battlefield.

Does mimic count as a Treasure MTG? ›

If an effect refers to a Treasure, it means any Treasure artifact, not just a Treasure artifact token. Mimic is still a Treasure after its last ability resolves, but Treasure is an artifact type, never a creature type.

Does city's blessing go away? ›

Once you have the city's blessing, you have it for the rest of the game, even if you lose control of some or all of your permanents. The city's blessing isn't a permanent itself and can't be removed by any effect.

What is regenerate in Magic The Gathering? ›

Regeneration is a replacement effect which means: "The next time this permanent would be destroyed this turn, it isn't. Instead tap it, remove all damage from it, and remove it from combat."

How do emblems work in MTG? ›

An emblem is a marker used to represent an object that has one or more abilities, but no other characteristics. 114.2. An effect that creates an emblem is written “[Player] gets an emblem with [ability].” This means that [player] puts an emblem with [ability] into the command zone.

Do tokens count as permanents? ›

A permanent remains on the battlefield indefinitely. A card or token becomes a permanent as it enters the battlefield and it stops being a permanent as it's moved to another zone by an effect or rule. Yes, tokens are permanents.

Do lands count as permanents? ›

There are five permanent types: artifact, creature, enchantment, land, and planeswalker. Instant and sorcery cards can't enter the battlefield and thus can't be permanents.

What do treasure tokens do in MTG? ›

Debuting in 2017's Ixalan, Treasure tokens are an artifact token (alongside the likes of Gold, Clue, Food, and Blood tokens) that can be tapped and sacrificed to produce one mana of any colour.

What is permanent MTG? ›

Simply put, a permanent card is a spell that stays on the battlefield when it's cast. That's in contrast to non-permanent spells, which are limited to instants and sorceries. There are five permanent types in MTG: planeswalker, creature, enchantment, artifact, and land.

Does regenerate work against Deathtouch? ›

Deathtouch and Regeneration

One regeneration effect is enough to prevent both lethal damage and Deathtouch.

Can you sacrifice an indestructible creature? ›

Description. Indestructible permanents can still be put into their owner's graveyard by other means, such as by the "legend rule", by being sacrificed or (in the case of creatures) having zero or less toughness. They can also be removed from the battlefield by being bounced or exiled for example.

Does tapping a creature remove it from combat? ›

Tapping or untapping a creature that's already been declared as an attacker or blocker doesn't remove it from combat and doesn't prevent its combat damage. (This is contrary to pre-Sixth Edition rules.)

Do emblems go away when the planeswalker dies? ›

No, they do not disappear.

An effect that creates an emblem is written “[Player] gets an emblem with [ability]...” The emblem is both owned and controlled by that player. Therefore, the emblems do not disappear, because their owner(s) are still in the game.

Do emblems stay when player dies? ›

The emblem stays, because it is owned and controlled by the OP, not the player who "died". Text on Ob Nixilis Reignited: "Target opponent gets an emblem with..."

Can you have a planeswalker as a commander? ›

A planeswalker can only be a commander if it specifically states on the bottom of the card, “this card can be your commander.” If it doesn't have that line of text, forget it. Pick a legendary creature instead.

Does all dust destroy lands? ›

All is Dust also destroys colored land right? Yes, if either player controls any colored lands they would be sacrificed.

Can you Chaos Warp a token? ›

2011-09-22: The owner of a token is the player under whose control the token was put onto the battlefield. If a token is shuffled into a player's library this way, that player shuffles before revealing the top card of that library.
...
Chaos Warp.
0.050.00
Non-foilFoil

Do tokens get summoning sickness? ›

Do Tokens Have Summoning Sickness? Since summoning sickness applies to all permanents but affects creatures specifically, yes.

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