Sarkhan Vol

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Sarkhan Vol in his traditional battle dress.

Sarkhan Vol is a planeswalker and a crazy ass bastard who specializes in magic relating to Dragons, can turn INTO a dragon, and worships dragons.

Name[edit]

Born as Vol, he wasn't exactly satisfied with the pathetic groveling name. Sarkhan basically means great khan, highest khan, the khan of khans (Inside R&D didn't say it means "Khagan", but I assume that's 'cause they think we don't know that word). Vol was given the nickname 'Sarkhan' in jest, as a way of mocking his arrogance. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Vol decided he liked being called Sarkhan, and thus calls himself Sarkhan Vol. Bolas doesn't call Vol "Sarkhan". It goes without saying Zurgo (pre fate reforged), who utterly loathes Vol doesn't call him "Sarkhan". Zurgo even took offense to it. In-fact, pretty much nobody on Tarkir (pre fate reforged) calls him "Sarkhan Vol". Ugin calls him "Sarkhan" though. Post Fate reforged, Zurgo still doesn't call Sarkhan his chosen name, and thinks Sarkhan Vol is a crazy person with a death wish. Probably because saying "Khan" is punishable by death. WotC has clearly taken Sarkhan's side on the right to choose his name. After all, his planeswalker subtype is "Sarkhan", not "Vol".

Early Life[edit]

Sarkhan was born on the distant plane of Tarkir, a child of the Mardu Horde. This world is dominated by constantly warring tribes that were apparently so hardcore that they hunted dragons for sport and amusement, angering the Shamans of that plane, who considered Dragons akin to gods. Sarkhan, like pretty much every person on his plane, eventually became a soldier. His life as a soldier was fairly dull (at least as dull as a soldier who fights daily and hunts dragons for fun's life CAN be dull) and he started to wonder if there was more in store for him than just being a pawn. He joined a group of Shamans and found peace before coming to the realization that worshiping something that was nigh-extinct was kind of stupid. He returned to his life as a soldier and quickly rose to the rank of general. At his first battle as a general he defeated the foe and in a post-battle trance was contacted by an immensely powerful ancient dragon spirit, later revealed to be Ugin. This activated his spark and wiped the battlefield clean of Sarkhan's own troops, earning him a dishonorable discharge. Sarkhan, now having zero ties to his home plane, decided to go somewhere he could find a cool dragon to worship and popped on over to Jund.

Servant of Dragons[edit]

For two years Sarkhan wandered Jund, where he eventually ran into Kresh and Rakka Mar fighting a Hellkite of some considerable power. Oddly enough, he helped them instead of the dragon. Rakka Mar would later help him escape the caverns they were in after they collapsed, as vanquishing the dragon was actually part of her secret mission. Sarkhan wandered a bit longer before helping Ajani escape from Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund, an immensely powerful dragon. Once again, Sarkhan appears to not understand that he should be HELPING the dragons he wants to worship. Afterwards, Sarkhan decided to get some good old fashioned revenge on Rakka Mar for the whole "you almost killed me when that cavern collapsed" thing. His anger was stayed when Rakka offered him the chance to meet her incredibly powerful dragon master. And if you said "Nicol Bolas will somehow be involved"... DING DING DING, you win! Sarkhan was so in awe of Nicol Bolas' sheer awesome that he devoted himself to the dragon then and there, sharing some of his blood and becoming even more powerful than he already was. Sarkhan was a good minion and Nicol Bolas granted him a flight of dragons to use as he saw fit. Before leaving Alara, Sarkhan got to witness Bolas absorb the mana of the Maelstrom and be defeated by himself. This caused Sarkhan's mind to begin to unravel, as seeing his master beaten by... well, his master, made a paradox that his mind couldn't quite cope with.

Descent into Madness[edit]

Sarkhan is sent to Zendikar after being told to follow Liliana Vess, which didn't really pan out into anything. While on Zendikar, Sarkhan is sent to wander the Eye of Ugin, a giant cave system, by Nicol Bolas. Having been given no clear goal, he starts to wonder if Nicol Bolas is punishing him for something. He starts to rant and rave and hallucinate in the caves, talking to himself near constantly. While in the caves he managed to save Chandra Nalaar from a vampire before threatening her. She fails a spell, but it makes a cool explosion, so Sarkhan decides she's strong enough to sacrifice. He then unleashes his true power and transforms into a dragon, intending to kill Chandra. Luckily for her, Jace Beleren intervenes and they knock Sarkhan out before escaping. Sarkhan awakens and makes his way to the Eye of Ugin itself, finding it shattered. He is taunted by a dragon ghost who calls him a failure, but he mostly ignores it until he realizes that in his dragon form he can read the runes on the hedrons. He blasts the ghost and the hedron and takes the chunks to Nicol Bolas, who reveals that Sarkhan actually did well and it was Bolas' intent to force as many Planeswalkers as possible onto Zendikar to break the Eye and unleash the Eldrazi. Just as planned. Bolas' final words to Sarkhan on the matter were that Bolas "takes good care of his servants" (total lie by the way [1]), he then shows Sarkhan the newly rebuilt Tezzeret.

Going back home[edit]

Plagued by vision of the spirit dragon and his own broken mind, Sarkhan decided to return home. He eventually discovered Ugin's Nexus, the corpse of the great dragon whose spirit plagued him. Sarkhan managed to travel 1280 years back in time, freeing him of the whispers. He decided to help Ugin defeat Bolas. He wasn't successful. Bolas left Ugin for dead. Even so Sarkhan managed to find the grievously wounded Ugin after the battle was over, and made a healing chamber around him. This saved Ugin and prevented the extinction of Tarkir's dragons... who proceeded to basically fuck things over for the humanoid races, enslaving them and hollowing out their cultures (represented by their switching from a 3-color base to a 2-color base), generally making things way worse for Tarkir's humanoids than the old timeline was.

Of course, Sarkhan Vol thinks this new timeline is just the absolute best, because he's a moron like that.

Cards[edit]

Sarkhan Vol in his more shamanistic garb.
Sarkhan the Mad.

Sarkhan Vol has been represented 4 times. All of the cards are Planeswalkers. His first incarnation, Sarkhan Vol, represents him at the height of his power as a servant of Nicol Bolas. His +1 is a very handy ability that gives all creatures you control +1/+1 and haste until the end of turn. His -2 gives you control of a target creature until end of turn. It also untaps it and gives it haste. And yes, you can use it on your own creatures. His ultimate, a -6, puts his full flight of 5 4/4 flying dragons into play. His cost of 4 and starting Loyalty of 4, combined with his very useful abilities, make him quite good in a creature-centric deck. He is red/green.

Sarkhan's second incarnation, Sarkhan the Mad, represents the time after his previous incarnation, where his sanity was eroding. This card holds the distinction as the first Planeswalker who cannot gain loyalty (using only his card that is, every planeswalker can have their amount of loyalty counters increased through proliferate). His 0 puts the top card of your library into your hand, and deals him damage equal to its converted mana cost. His -2 causes a target creature to be sacrificed, spawning a 5/5 flying dragon for that creature's controller (which, once again, can be your creature). His ultimate, a -4, has each dragon you control deal damage equal to its power to target player. Overall, he is difficult to use and extremely luck-based, but a dragon deck may have some fun with him. He is 5 for 7 this time around, having the highest starting loyalty of any Planeswalker, and is red/black.

Sarkhan's third incarnation, Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker, represents his time spent after returning to his home plane of Tarkir, where he is searching for a Dragon Lord to serve. He is now exclusively mono-red, and extremely potent in almost all decks that utilize Red mana. He costs 3RR, and has a starting loyalty of 4. His +1 turns him into a 4/4 flying red Dragon creature with flying, indestructible, and haste. His -3 deals 4 damage to any target creature, and his -6 gives you an emblem with "At the beginning of your draw step, draw two additional cards." and "At the beginning of your end step, discard your hand."

Sarkhan's fourth incarnation, Sarkhan, Unbroken, is his most current form. This card represents Sarkhan after the events of Fate Reforged, in which he effectively re-wrote the timeline of the plane of Tarkir, and saved Ugin from being killed by Nicol Bolas. In this new timeline, the clans of Tarkir no longer exist, and now different clans (with similar colors) are lead by the Elder Dragonlords (Atarka, Dromoka, Ojutai, Silumgar, and Kologhan). Sarkhan, however, has somewhat been effected by his experiences in the previous timeline, and now sports the colors of the Temur (GUR). As usual, Sarkhan is an extremely powerful planeswalker, but now will be limited to decks that utilize the Temur colors, as opposed to his previous version, which was more flexible. He now costs 2GUR, and has a starting loyalty of 4. His +1 allows you to draw a card, and add 1 mana of any color to your mana pool. His -2 puts a 4/4 red flying Dragon token onto the battlefield, and his -8 allows you to search your library for any number of Dragon cards and put them into play, which is an effective game-ender if you have enough dragons and if your opponent has no boardwipes.

Trivia[edit]

  • The word "šarkan"(pronounced sharkhan) means "dragon" in Slovak.
Planeswalkers of Magic: The Gathering
Original Five: Ajani Goldmane - Chandra Nalaar
Garruk Wildspeaker - Jace Beleren - Liliana Vess
Alara: Elspeth Tirel - Nicol Bolas - Sarkhan Vol - Tezzeret
Zendikar: Gideon Jura - Nissa Revane - Sorin Markov
Scars of Mirrodin: Karn - Koth of the Hammer - Venser
Innistrad: Tamiyo - Tibalt
Return to Ravnica: Domri Rade - Ral Zarek - Vraska
Theros: Ashiok - Kiora - Xenagos
Tarkir: Ugin - Narset
Kaladesh: Dovin Baan - Saheeli Rai
Amonkhet: Samut
Other: Dack Fayden - Vivien Reid
Commander 2014: Daretti - Freyalise - Nahiri - Ob Nixilis - Teferi
Pre-mending: Bo Levar - Commodore Guff - Jaya Ballard - Urza
The Gatewatch