Get to Know Magic's Most Famous Fire Mage in These Brand New Cards

Chandra Nalaar, in all her flaming glory.
Image: Chris Rahn (Wizards of the Coast)
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Over the years, Magic: The Gathering has slowly built up a whole host of characters in its lore—most notably the Planeswalkers, the spellslinging heroes and villains that represent some of the most powerful magic users in Magic’s entire multiverse. Now, with a new show on the way, you should probably get to know them a little better!

One of Magic’s most notably recognizable heroes over the years is Chandra Nalaar—iconic enough that her fiery figure was chosen to herald the recent announcement of Wizards of the Coast’s partnership with Netflix and the Russo brothers, even if we don’t actually know if she’ll be in the animated series yet. A mage from the plane of Kaladesh, Chandra is primarily aligned with red mana in Magic’s five-color system—so basically, she likes fire. A lot.

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But you’ll want to know a bit more than just Chandra’s love of pyrokinesis if you want to brush up on your Magic lore, or be prepared for the new show—so io9 is exclusively revealing three new cards from the upcoming Core Set 2020 expansion that delve into three important moments from Chandra’s history! Check out the full cards below.

“Chandra is a master pyromancer, a headstrong pursuer of justice, and a loyal friend,” Magic: The Gathering Art Director Taylor Ingvarsson said in a statement provided to io9. “Since she is the star of the Core Set 2020 card set, we wanted to do something special and create alternative representations of our favorite fire mage.”

Given Chandra’s importance to the wider Magic story and her prominence in the upcoming Core set, the art team decided to use her presence in the set to visually explore Chandra’s growth from a young acolyte to the fire-weaving avatar of flames she is in the present, telling a story across her art cards represent not just by the potency of each card’s abilities—check out Chandra, Acolyte of Flame’s abilities compared to the ones on her as the Awakened Inferno!—but in her card art.

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“This all kicked off when Jenna Helland came up with the fun idea to explore some alternate looks for Chandra that illustrate her journey as she matured into the Planeswalker that we know and love today,” Ingvarsson continued. “Since there were four different Chandra Planeswalker cards tied to Core Set 2020, this gave us the opportunity to showcase different aspects of this interesting, nuanced character. We could have shown her jumping, leaping, and blasting things with fire in all of them, but Jenna’s idea was such an elegant visual solution that added more variety to this product so we were excited to jump on the opportunity.”

Check out the full art for these three new cards, as well as more of Ingvarsson’s commentary on each design below, making their debut exclusively here on io9.

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Chandra, Acolyte of Flame.
Image: Anna Steinbauer (Wizards of the Coast)

For Chandra, Acolyte of Flame, we were excited about showing her as a student of the Regathan pyromancers. Visually, this pushed us in the direction of depicting Chandra more as a warrior monk in training. We showed her without a regulator to emphasize that this was a time in her life when she tried to hone her skills and control her emotions without it. On Regatha, she was surrounded by pyromancers who all understood the nature of fire. If she lost control, there were fewer repercussions than if she unexpectedly blew something up on any other plane. For her card illustration, we really wanted to lean into Chandra’s rebellious-yet-playful attitude. She is clearly supposed to be meditating, but instead is happily creating a fire elemental. Anna Steinbauer did an amazing job bringing this moment to life in her illustration. In the background, she added an amazing extra bit of one of Chandra’s teachers looking annoyed at her for not doing her homework. You might have to zoom in for that little gem.

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Chandra, Novice Pyromancer
Image: Anna Steinbauer (Wizards of the Coast)

With Chandra, Novice Pyromancer we wanted her to have a little more edge to her as she sets out to find herself on Ravnica. She is more confident and excited to strike out on her own. We really wanted to visually plant some seeds that would ultimately take her down the path of Chandra, Awakened inferno. She’s wearing light armor and we see chain-links to her outfit. She’s also created a new regulator that’s a reflection of her experience in Ravnica, the City of Guilds. Chandra, Novice Pyromancer maintains the lighthearted attitude that we saw in Chandra, Acolyte of Flame but with a little bit more self-assuredness and showmanship now that she is more in touch with her abilities. She has all these amazing powers and is ready to show them off to the people of Ravnica. You can even see the little elemental in her hand reflecting a similar pose as her.

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Chandra, Awakened Inferno.
Image: Chris Rahn (Wizards of the Coast.)

In both of these illustrations, we explored how we could incorporate nods to Chandra’s home plane of Kaladesh. In Chandra, Acolyte of Flame, there is elegant filigree found on the trim of her clothing. In Chandra, Novice Pyromancer, her chain-links are forged to reflect the filigree found on Kaladesh, and her new regulator is reminiscent of the one her father made for her back on Kaladesh.

Lastly with the image Chandra, Awakened Inferno we wanted to capture Chandra as a calm and confident pyromancer fully in control of a very dangerous and almost wild amount of fire swirling around her. Chris Rahn did an amazing job creating this dynamic and moody piece for Chandra. She is ready to take on any threat the Multiverse has to offer.

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You’ll be able to collect these cards and more in Magic: The Gathering’s upcoming Core Set 2020 expansion, due to hit shelves July 12. But there’s good news: if you prefer to play Magic digitally these days, these cards will also be coming to Magic: The Gathering Arena, with preorders for the set opening in the game later this week on June 13. Preordering the Core Set 2020 bundle in Arena won’t just get you access to some of the newest cards in the game, but a mythic rare Planeswalker card for Chandra is included as a bonus! Get building those red mana decks in your head already, Magic fans.


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About the author

James Whitbrook

James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!