Why Does Vivien Reid Exist?

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Posted on Nov. 13, 2018, 11 a.m. by vbfabled

I'm a little late on this, since her story came out a little while ago, but... Why did they make Vivien Reid?

She's a mono-green Planeswalker who hates civilization and loves nature. She travels the multiverse hunting animals so she can summon them to aid her later on.

Does that sound familiar to anyone? Cuz it should. She is Garruk with a bow.

We already have a character with the exact ethos they gave to Vivien. On top of that, it's a character that's been developed, is loved by fans, and had his story left on a cliff hanger since 2014.

I have a theory that feels pretty inline with what WotC has been up to lately. They wanted a black female Planeswalker and were too lazy to come up with an original character concept.

Hear me out on this, and please don't jump to conclusions. I believe that it is the duty of fantasy and sci-fi fiction to help everyone feel represented and empowered; minorities, women, and the kids who got picked one for being different. But this is entirely the wrong way to do that. If they had taken the time to develop an interesting original character, that would've been great, but they just shoved her in for some quick publicity so maybe some feminist news site might write them an article, which is a prevalent issue in many modern media outlets.

If you're having trouble grasping my position, let me give an example. Uhura from Star Trek is an early example of minority representation and a symbol for hope for many. When Gene Roddenberry was creating the original Star Trek series, he insisted on casting Nichelle Nichols as Uhura. Beyond that he insisted on giving her a major role with lines other than "Yes sir." Uhura became an icon to women and specifically minority women in the 60's, being cited by actresses like Whoopie Goldberg as a personal role model, because she was a full, unique character who had something to make her stand out from the rest of the cast besides the fact that she was black.

So what do you guys think? Agree? Disagree? Did this article make any sense? Let's discuss.

Bobbbyyy says... #2

Garruk got cursed become black and lost a lot of green and his green identity

also garruck was a hunter, viven is a gatherer of living specimins and an enemy of institution they have significant differences and in terms of mechanic don't overlap hugely.

also there are a ton of theorys that may or may NOT have truth to them and we will probably never know, but even if they wanted to bring garruk back for M19 he has no bolas lore so wouldn't fit and would require a detailed description (think block plot) to justify him being mono green

November 13, 2018 11:09 a.m.

Boza says... #3

Well, the issue with Garruk is he was not involved with Bolas in any way, that is why they developed Vivien to have a green character involved with Bolas. Check out the rest:

Sarkhan (minion of Bolas), Ajani (only planeswalker to defeat Bolas), Liliana (newest minion of Bolas) and Tezzeret (minion of Bolas)

Sure, Vivien is really similar to Garruk, but that is due to color limitations and wizards unable to think about a third Mono-green planeswalker besides Garruk and Nissa.

November 13, 2018 11:14 a.m.

Caerwyn says... #4

I think the issue is less with what Magic is trying to do, and more their general mediocrity when it comes to writing. As Boza said, Magic is not particularly creative when it comes to color identity--they have very firm ideas of what is "Green" and tend to stick with that formula. In some of his early comics, MaRo made fun of this, with many mono-Red characters complaining about how Red is the color of emotion and passion, but Wizards always seemed to limit that down to "Angry!" in their stories.

There's a pretty good reason behind this--Magic's story is written by a number of different individuals and keeping characters limited to simple archetypes ensures continuity between different authors.

So, applying this to Green, we get: militant environmentalists (Nissa), who are eventually tempered down to "generic nature lover" to make them fit more in with the Gatewatch; hunters and trackers, who are effectively apex predators; and... nothing else.

Could they have gone with a Druid or something else creative? Perhaps, but it's much easier to stick with a tried and true formula.

November 13, 2018 11:27 a.m.

ZendikariWol says... #5

Ooh okay is this going to evolve into a creative exploration on problems with the staleness of colors and neat, clever new ways to break the mold?

November 13, 2018 11:49 a.m.

Boza says... #6

ZendikariWol, why not? And now that you mention mold, why is that aspect of nature not represented in a green planeswalker? Instead of gender-bending Garruk, we can have a new monogreen planeswalker that deals with Creeping Mold and the inevitability of nature and its more destructive/deconstructive elements overtaking the unnatural.

Or one that was a sentient animal, plant or fungi.

What is the philosophy of green? Straight from the horse's (or Maro's) mouth:

"Green wants acceptance.

The other colors are all focused on how they'd change the world to make it better. Green is the one color that doesn't want to change the world, because green is convinced that the world already got everything right. The natural order is a thing of beauty and has all the answers to life's problems. The key is learning to sit back and recognize what is right in front of you."

So, we can interpret that as you being a cog in a grand machine and learning what you are supposed to do is the ultimate path to knowledge. When something lashes out against the status quo, green is the color to uphold it.

Another monogreen idea in that sense would be a planeswalker that is able to fuse with the elements around it.

There are many, many other possibilities for a monogreen walker that are not "Garruk, but as a black woman".

Just read this article:

Green philosphy

and by the end of it, you will have come up with at least 5 different mono-green walkers than what we got.

November 13, 2018 12:30 p.m. Edited.

vbfabled says... #7



I'd love to see a green Planeswalker with an ethos based and letting nature take its course and recognizing civilized as a product of nature, rather than an opponent of it. That could fit in as an enemy of Bolas, who is a destroyer of both. Maybe he/she sees Bolas as an interloper drastically disrupting the course nature intended and wants to stop him for a reason other than (insert generic tragic backstory). What do you think?

November 13, 2018 12:52 p.m.

ZendikariWol says... #8

I think the way to make a fresh green walker would be to build from the bottom up, mechanically at first, and work a character around it.

So first of all green is a tough color to build, based on this article. All of my initial green ideas ended up feeling very Selesnya. Speaking of, how cool would it be to have a bant-themed (if not bant-colored) walker who pumps small creatures? With counters or keywords or maybe based on the amount of large creatures you control- go for a sort of mentorship thing.

For the sake of getting a point across, let's make this our black lady hero. I'll call her

Niarra, Nature's Embrace

+2: creatures you control get +1/+1 and gain trample until the end of the turn.

-2: draw a card if you control four or more lands, then another if you control three or more creatures.

-5: you gain an emblem with "Whenever a source destorys a creature you control, destroy target nonland permanent that source's controller controls".

Starting Loyalty: 3

Niarra is a compassionate, kind soul, deeply caring for animals, plants, and people alike. She is similar to many other green walkers, in terms of beliefs, but her charisma, her wisdom, and her capacity to explain herself set her apart in the eyes of the rest. She understands that not everyone will really 'get it', and that there will be people who just blow her off. She understands it, but that doesn't mean she takes it sitting down. She's not super bright but also not dumb, at least not compared to the average person. What makes her unique is her warm, motherly nature. She really does want the best for everyone, and believes she knows what's best for them too. This could lead to some interesting personal growth as she realizes maybe there are situations where she is not the perfect fix. She always wants to help, so just not being able to and learning to deal with that would be an interesting thing to tackle- specifically insofar as she wants other people to lean on her, but has trouble leaning on others herself.

November 13, 2018 1:13 p.m.

vbfabled says... #9


That would be cool. She could be a cool old lady Planeswalker! After all, I'm kinda tired of 18-year-old angsty young people being the focus. It worked with Jaya.

November 13, 2018 1:34 p.m.

ZendikariWol says... #10

Actually I pictured Niarra as a 20-something. But, come to think of it, we really don't have a lot of visibly old planeswalkers. Teferi looks like he's a 45-year-old (in great shape for a 45 year old, but still), and he's the oldest we really got.

November 13, 2018 2:20 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #11

I wasn't really thinking about forum placement in my initial post, but I'm not sure this really belongs in Lore. At its inception, this thread was speculating about Wizards' behind-the-scenes card design policy, not Vivien's place in the lore, which would place this firmly outside the purpose of the Lore forum.

As the conversation has developed, it's gotten a bit more into the color philosophy, which is arguably lore-related, but that's been based in part on non-canon sources, such as MaRo's postings (he is, after all, coming from the card design perspective, not the lore perspective). Further, there is discussion of mechanics and card proposals, which also are outside the realm of the Lore forum. I've taken the liberty of moving the thread.

Alas, I don't really like leaving boring posts without a substantive response, but there's lots of discussion here that I want to give the proper amount of attention. I'll try to provide a more interesting post when I get the chance.

November 13, 2018 2:57 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #12

This thread was moved to a more appropriate forum (auto-generated comment)

November 13, 2018 2:57 p.m.

berryjon says... #13

Vivien Reid exists because Wizards forgot that Samut, the Tested existed, and could, in theory, drop to become a mono- Walker that focused on combat and fit the theme of the block as someone who had a relation with Bolas, in the antagonistic way.

November 13, 2018 3:38 p.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #14

Your answers are here

Huh. Link won't work.


November 13, 2018 8:08 p.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #15

But to touch a bit more in depth, Wizards accidentally wrote themselves into a corner. They had a Planeswalker for each color who had personal interactions with Nicol Bolas:

  • Sarkhan (Red) saw his world get sundered by Bolas and Ugin.
  • Ajani (White) has personally fought Bolas and seen the carnage he can unleash.
  • Liliana (Black) ... Okay I personally don't know much about her. I know she accidentally killed her brother before her spark ignited, she made a pact with the Demons, killed them, than Bolas basically said "serve me or die"? Something like that
  • Tezzeret (Blue) has been working for Bolas, because Bolas saved his life a long time ago.

But there were no Green Planeswalkers who personally had a history with Bolas.

Yes, now there is Samut as berryjon pointed out, but we also must consider the context of M19.

Now, as I have been told, the reason the Planeswalkers in M19 feel weaker than their current versions, particularly Liliana, the Necromancer and Liliana, Untouched By Death is because Core Set 2019's story is sort of more like a prequel, giving us insight into who Bolas was and his battle with Ugin on Tarkir.

I brought this up in a prior thread where I was curious as to why Liliana felt so weak. In terms of set construction, M19 was released after Amonkhet, in which she kills her final Demon - Razaketh, the Foulblooded.

So if Liliana killed the 4th and final Demon, why does she feel so weak?

What was explained to me is that M19's story takes place long before Amonkhet, therefore (According to the timeline), Liliana is still bound by the Demon(s) during the time M19 takes place in.

What this means is that, DURING M19's story, Samut, the Tested would not have been in the story. She may not even have had her spark ignite. Her spark seems to have ignited when Bolas invaded Amonkhet the first time, where he imprisoned three of the Gods, killed the elderly people, and rewrote history. Samut was able to Planeswalk away, and return during Amonkhet, which is why she knows everything is a lie. Her and Bontu the Glorified are the only ones who remember the truth.

Because of this, since M19 takes place BEFORE the invasion / destruction of Amonkhet, Samut WOULD NOT have been a Planeswalker for them to highlight within the set.

Therefore, they still lack a Green Planeswalker who has actual interaction with Bolas.

Perhaps Nissa did, I don't know, but for some reason they decided to not go that particular route.

So.. they just invented one to fill the void.

Basically, Vivian Reid exists merely because Wizard's wrote themselves into a corner and needed a quick way out :/

November 13, 2018 8:46 p.m.

RicketyEng says... #16

TypicalTimmy, I'm sorry but you have a ton of your facts wrong so it feels like you need to read some more of the story or catch up with some good summaries. Unfortunately some of those errors serve to negate the point you are trying to make about why Samut could not have been in Core2019.

The five planeswalkers included in the set were selected because of their interactions with Bolas. The story does not involve any of those interactions at all. Nor does the setting have any bearing on anyone's eligibility to be included in the set.

There are two settings for the story. The first is Tarkir 18 years after Sarkhan's visit to the past and the fight between Ugin and Bolas. That event itself was set 1280 years prior to the current day as it was in 2015(IRL) during Fate Reforged. That was just before the start of the Gatewatch and the Bolas Arc which has lasted approximately 1 year in the story. Therefore the twins Baishya and Naiva met Bolas 1263 years before the current events on Ravnica. The second setting is that of the flashbacks which depict Dominaria many many millennia ago in the years following the birth of the elder dragons.

None of the Core2019 planeswalkers are old enough to take part in the set's story as you have suggested and indeed none of them do take part. Liliana is the only pre-mending walker among the group and she is about 200 years old. The others are all younger than 60 by definition since the mending was 60 years ago (or at the very least, they sparked post-mending, but we know none of them are that old). These facts do not make Samut ineligible.

I have not addressed all of your errors, Timmy, as that might draw this post too far off topic. I do hope that you will continue to read more of the stories so that you can enjoy knowing them more accurately.

Now, on lighter notes wrt Samut. The idea of using her might have been interesting. The more I think about it the more the idea grows on me. However, maybe it didn't occur to Wizards because she is designated as / or // which makes it hard to give her a mono- card.

November 14, 2018 10:48 a.m.

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