Sorin Markov

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Sorin trying on Neo's coat

"Many who cross Sorin's path come down with a sudden and fatal case of being-in-the-way-of-a-millennia-old-vampire"
- Mortify flavor text.

Sorin Markov is the second mono-black Planeswalker to be released in Magic: The Gathering, and is themed around the tribal mechanics of Magic's vampires (since he's, y'know, a vampire). He is from the grimdark plane Innistrad and is described as being a sangromancer, meaning he can not only drain your life force, but with enough power he can even mind control you. That's right, you as in you, the player. Luckily for you this only lasts for one of your turns, but if you've let him get that much Loyalty you're probably fucked anyway. Being a vampire he is extremely goddamn old, coming in third behind the dragons Bolas and Ugin, and being a vampire Mary Sue he has been involved in extremely important events, such as sealing the mind rape Cthulhu beasts known as the Eldrazi, and also creating Avacyn, the guardian angel of his homeworld after vampires and demons living there had gotten a little too rambunctious. So far he has been released in four flavours; Sorin Markov, Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, Sorin, Solemn Visitor, and Sorin, Grim Nemesis. (Becoming more and more sparkly with each rendition, like all vampires have been, until Grim Nemesis reduces him to an (admittedly badass) armoured corpse. Hopefully a signal for the future of vampires in other media)

Background[edit]

Being an old ass motherfucker, Sorin has done quite a bit in his life, which we have just learned about recently. This is to say, we learn more as the writers decide to add more onto his laundry list of achievements. In all fairness though, some of them are pretty damn badass.

Vampirism[edit]

Many years ago, there lived a man named Edgar Markov. He was an Alchemist in a land called Stensia, which was being swept over with famine. Not wanting to die of hunger like a little bitch, he decided to make a deal with a fucking demon, become a vampire, and then gave Sorin, his grandson, the same gifts given through his totally safe blood ritual. The experience was so horrifying that Sorin's spark awoke and he became a Planeswalker.

Keep in mind here that this isn't just any ordinary Planeswalker ascension though; this was long before Planeswalkers lost the majority of their powers. This means that Sorin was not just a dimension hopping mage, but basically a vampiric god. He went from being a scared child to being one of the most absurdly powerful beings in the universe. Feels good man. Except for the trauma.

The Eye of Ugin[edit]

After what's assumed to be a few years of eating people and brooding about being nigh omnipotent, Sorin decided to get off his lazy ass and do something with his immortal life. This something just so happened to be actually walk the planes, which is when he encountered the rapetastic Eldrazi. Sorin shat himself and got help from two other planeswalkers.: Nahiri the lithomancer and Ugin the spirit dragon, who had mastery of colorless magic. Since Emrakul, the strongest Eldrazi, is immune to colored magic, Ugin was one of the few beings in the universe who could actually hurt the damn thing. The plan was for the lithomancer and Ugin make hedrons which would both lure and trap the Eldrazi. Ugin would then anchor the Eldrazi titans to their physical form (which are basically their shadows). Then, as soon as the Eldrazi reached the hedrons, the planeswalkers would use the hedrons to make the Eldrazi dormant.

When you live for millenia a man's gotta get his fun somehow.

Since the plane was basically a gold-mine of mana, and because of the hedrons, the Eldrazi came to the plane. The structure sealing them became known as the Eye of Ugin, and the three Planeswalkers agreed to come back and stop the Eldrazi if they were to ever escape (Spoiler Alert: they do!).

The Creation of Avacyn[edit]

Over the years, Sorin spent more and more time away from the festering hellpit of Innistrad, but he could see from afar that things were becoming even MOAR GRIMDARK! The vampires were driving the humans back to the brink of annihilation, which is a terrible idea, since apparently the only things Innistrad vampires can eat besides humans is other vampires. This finally forced Sorin's hand to DO SOMETHING. It was the second time he ever had to do a thing, but this time Sorin had learned that having friends is the key to success.

So he created one.

Avacyn, the guardian angel of Innistrad, is a being forged by Sorin himself. Yes, the mono-black vampire Planeswalker specializing in mind-rape and blood-sucking created a mono-white angel. The acts of Avacyn earned her the worship of humans, resulting in the Church of Avacyn. The vampires in turn told Sorin to go fuck himself for "betraying" them.

Rise of the Eldrazi[edit]

Thousands of years later, the Eldrazi finally began to break free from the Eye, drawing Sorin back to Zendikar. Unfortunately, Chandra Nalaar, Jace Beleren, and Sarkhan Vol ended up shitting the bed and broke the seal on the Eye. Luckily for the residents of the plane, this was not enough to set the Eldrazi free just yet. No, that exemplar of extreme stupidity is none other than the Elf planeswalker herself, Nissa Revane.

Basically, Sorin and her had met up upon his arrival. He told her of his plan to enforce the Eye to prevent the Eldrazi titans from being set loose, and she agreed to help him. When they arrived, the magic around the Eye was extremely weak, and so he prepared to do some serious patchwork. Nissa however, in all of her infinite elven wisdom, raised her mighty staff and brought it right down on the structure encasing the Eldrazi, completely destroying it. To explain herself, she thought that once the GIGANTIC LOVECRAFTIAN PLANET EATING TENTACLE MONSTERS saw the two of them, they would flee the plane! WRONG.

Sorin left Zendikar, flipping it the bird as hard as he goddamn could, and chose to let the plane and Nissa die a horrible death as he went about his own business.

The Imprisonment of Avacyn[edit]

After the third tremendous Eldrazi-related fuck-up, Sorin decided it was time to go home, sit on the couch, and have a nice tall glass of cold blood ale. The first thing he noticed when he got home though was that his waifu Avacyn was nowhere to be found! Vampires and other horrors were back in full force, decimating humanity once again. This time though, demons and devils had joined the party! Now humans could have a side of ass-rape with their being devoured by werewolves, drained by vampires, and possession by spirits. As one could expect, Sorin was just a little bit upset.

He'd had enough of being civil thanks to good ol' Nissa Revane ruining his plans, and enforced a simple policy; anyone asked a question as to where Avacyn was would provide an answer, and if they got in his way they would die. This inquisitorial spree led him to a chance encounter with Tibalt, a demonic little shit who was totally in opposition of any and all rules (and also the weakest Planeswalkers to ever exist in play). Sorin dealt with him as he dealt with any other moron, and finally discovered that his precious real-doll girlfriend was trapped in a giant "totally not another Eye of Ugin" prison called the Helvault with the super powerful demon Griselbrand. Without any help from Sorin, Liliana released Avacyn and slew Griselbrand, for entirely selfish reasons of course.

Shadows Over Innistrad[edit]

Flashback time! So one day the seals holding the Eldrazi got weakened and allowed the Titans to attack Zendikar by using their brood lineages. Unsurprisingly, that is what they did, which woke Nahiri up. Nahiri tried to contact her 2 allies and neither showed up[1]. Turns out Ugin, as a result of his fight with Bolas, was either suffering a minor to severe case of postmortem decomposition or was healing while in a coma, depending on the timeline. Either way, a solid excuse. Sorin simply didn't get the message because an oversight in the plan. His wards protecting Innistrad blocked the message. Nahiri confronted Sorin. Instead of apologizing and making amends, Sorin was like 'Bitch, I don't owe you anything', and imprisoned her inside the Helvault for ~1,000 years (he would have kept her in there forever if possible, but Lilly broke it). Oldwalkers were kind of dicks like that.

Now Nahiri is out to make Sorin suffer by making Innistrad bleed. So Sorin goes to the vampires that hate him so very much to ask for there help against a powerful foe who he arrogantly, idiotically, and needlessly snubbed. To secure the aid of the other vampires, however, he must destroy his one true waifu, Avacyn. This isn't necessarily a bad thing for Innistrad, given that she'd gone batshit crazy after being mindraped and started going on slaughter rampages.[2]. Aside from the fact Avacyn is irreplaceable and her death (perhaps along side the destruction of the Helvault) allowed Emrakul to enter the plane.

Eldritch Moon[edit]

While the Gatewatch pranced off to go fight Emrakul, Sorin and an army of Vampires confronted Nahiri at the ruins of the Markov Mansion. Nahiri was forced to planeswalk away when heavily wounded, but not before shoving Sorin inside a giant rock. Rather then rescue him, Olivia Voldaren and the other vampires left Sorin stuck. Also, Olivia stole his sword.

War of the Spark[edit]

Guess who's back! Appearing in the stained glass trailer for the set, everyone's favorite edgy vampire is back, and he is pissed. Through sheer anger, he managed to free himself from the rock, and he got his sword back, meaning he's getting ready to rip Nahiri a new one. So great is their feud that they have chosen to ignore the threat of everyone potentially dying in order to try and kill each other.

Sorin Markov
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Sorin, Solemn Visitor

In Play[edit]

Sorin has four iterations in card form so far: Sorin Markov; Sorin, Lord of Innistrad; Sorin, Solemn Visitor; and Sorin, Grim Nemesis.

Sorin Markov costs 3BBB and starts at a fair 4 loyalty. He has three abilities:

  • +2: Drain a creature or player for 2 life, you gain 2 life.
  • -3: Target player's life total becomes 10.
  • -7: You control target player's next turn.

Overall not too bad. His +2 helps deal with pesky dorks and keeps you alive later on in the game, his -3 is a fantastic tool against life-gain decks, and his ultimate ability can be devastating in the right board state. Quite obviously, Sorin Markov is not an aggressive card, and is much more suited to a more control-based deck, as he can keep you alive and set up for a kill.

Note that his -3 has several cards that will end the game when used in conjunction with it; Sorin's Vengeance, Urza's Rage, and any Fireball/Drain Life variant will do the trick, including the very situational Hidetsugu's Second Rite. Additionally, original Zendikar vampires are often better if you have an opponent with 10 or less life.

Sorin, Lord of Innistrad is a much lighter 2WB starting at 3 loyalty. He too has three abilities:

  • +1: Make a 1/1 black vampire token with lifelink.
  • -2: You get an emblem(!!!) with "Creatures you control get +1/+0".
  • -6: Destroy up to 3 target creatures and/or planeswalkers, and put them in play on your side of the field from the graveyard.

If you wanted an aggressive Sorin, this is the version you're looking for. His +1 is a little weak, but it does defend him decently enough, and gives him more ammo for his incredible -2. Pumping your team permanently is a fantastic utility for 4 mana, and almost begs a token based strategy to be built around it. His ultimate also allows him to be placed into a more controlling shell, as his dinky tokens will protect both him and you until you can have him ready to pop a few threats away. Again, he's nothing incredible, but still solid for his cost and able to do something game-changing.

Combining him with multiple anthems in a weenie deck can be very powerful as well, as his "anthem" is permanent.

Sorin, Solemn Visitor costs the exact same as his previous incarnation, but now starts with four loyalty. He continues his trend of having three abilities, all of which have the same loyalty costs as before:

  • +1: All of your creatures gain +1/+0 and lifelink until end of turn.
  • -2: Put a 2/2 Black Flying Vampire token into play.
  • -6: You gain an emblem with "At the beginning of each opponent's upkeep, that opponent sacrifices a creature."

Sorin, Grim Nemesis has the same CMC as his original mono-black incarnation, and enters with 6 loyalty for 4WB:

  • +1: Reveal the top card of your library and put that card into your hand. Each opponent loses life equal to its converted mana cost.
  • -X: Sorin, Grim Nemesis deals X damage to target creature or planeswalker and you gain X life
  • -9: Put a number of 1/1 black Vampire Knight creature tokens with lifelink onto the battlefield equal to the highest life total amongst all players.

An extremely powerful planeswalker, Sorin's +1 is simply insane. If it needs to be explained to you why that ability is gross, read it again. If you still don't understand, you are beyond help. Given that all a smart player will do with Sorin is tick him up for card advantage until you need to use that glorious -X to kill something, using his -9 is often a real possibility in a grindy game, provided you can keep him alive. Not that you would ever use it over the -X for ~11-12 anywhere other than commander. This Sorin fits perfectly in a grindy control deck that can keep him alive to drain your opponent with that incidental damage while you sit back, laugh and draw cards. To be competitive, a high CMC planeswalker card has to two things - protect itself, and generate you a fuckhuge advantage. Sorin excels at the latter, and if you can protect him from the concentrated efforts an intelligent opponent will throw at him, he can and will win the game by himself.

Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord is a Rare walker, and enters the field with 4 lotalty for 2WB:

As long as he's on the field, all of your creatures and planeswalkers have lifelink.

  • +2: Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord deals 1 damage to target player or planeswalker.
  • -X: Return target creature with converted mana cost X from your graveyard to the battlefield. That creature is a Vampire in addition to its other types.

As a lower rarity walker, this version of Sorin is a lot weaker than any of his other incarnations so far. That doesn't mean he can't work but he's going to need some help you want him to shine. He's probably still a little bit tired from getting out of the rock. Though his +2 is rather weak, it's still a +2 ability, meaning you can get his loyalty up really quickly and get stuff from your graveyard just as fast.

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 - kaya
Commander 2014: Daretti - Freyalise - Nahiri - Ob Nixilis - Teferi
Pre-mending: Bo Levar - Commodore Guff - Jaya Ballard - Urza
Planeswalker Groups: The Gatewatch