Elspeth Tirel was born on an unnamed Plane that was dominated by Phyrexia. She lived amongst the human population of a tower that served as an asylum for insane Phyrexians, their lives spent as toys and distractions for their psychotic masters. When she was 13 years old a Phyrexian attacked her, igniting her Spark and Elspeth fell into the Blind Eternities. For four years she traveled the Planes until she found one she would make her home: Bant, one of the Shards of Alara.
Livin' in a Alaran ParadiseEdit
Bant was nothing less than a paradise: the romantic ideal of knighthood turned up to 11. Elspeth took up training as a squire and was knighted by the age of 20, one of the youngest knights ever. All was good until two years later another Planeswalker came crashing down onto Bant: Ajani Goldmane, fresh from the neighbouring plane of Jund. He warned her that the planes were going to combine soon, but she did not believe him and Ajani left to pursue his own goals.
Elspeth learned the truth when she and her squire Aran went to investigate a Rhox monastery, where they found a part where Bant overlapped with Grixis. The two returned to the castle they served which quickly came under attack from the Grixian forces. The battle did not go well for the knights until Aran was killed. Elspeth absolutely LOST HER SHIT and released a flash of light that turned all the undead and demons into less than dust. In a later battle she cast several buffs on Knight-General Rafiq who proceeded to tear Malfegor, the demon-dragon general of Grixis several new assholes. Having lost the pure world that was Bant, Elspeth angsted for a bit and left the plane.
Elspeth traveled to Urborg on Dominaria, where she spend her time in gladiatorial pits. Her old friend Ajani found her here, and tried to convince her that her talents were being wasted. She ignored him but accepted his gift: her armor and sword that she had left on Alara. During one of her fights she encountered a gladiator that bore the insignia of Phyrexia on his arm. The man, Koth of the Hammer, revealed he was from a Mirrodin, and the plane was under attack by Phyrexia. After recruiting her, they visited Venser whom Koth enlisted to the cause by less than friendly manners.
After a group of Nim attacked, Elspeth's mind was overtaken by visions of her past and she could not travel further. She sought refuge with a Vulshok shaman, who slapped some sense into her and essentially told her to grow a pair. She did just in time: Venser and Koth had been captured by the Phyrexians, and she freed them. The trio followed a Myr that led them into the Vault of Whispers, which in turn led them to Geth. He led the three into the world where they were ambushed by Phyrexians. The trio escaped and pressed on, encountering a group of Mirran rebels. They refused to let the planeswalkers go on, until Elspeth threatened their leader. Continuing their trek, they eventually ran into Tezzeret. The artificer was the one who sent the Myr to lead them into the Vault in the first place and tried to lead them into another trap in a surgery room. The trio was victorious once again and freed a Mirran woman named Melira, who was born without any metal being part of her body, making her immune to Phyrexia's corruption.
Bringing the woman to the rebels, Melira displayed the ability to cure those infected by Phyresis. While at the camp Tezzeret's forces attacked, and Melira went with the three Planeswalkers. After an attack Koth grew frustrated at the lack of progress and took Melira with him. Elspeth and Venser were overcome by a second attack, but not until Elspeth caused severe losses to the Phyrexians. Koth and Melira covertly freed the pair and lured Tezzeret's forces into battle with those of Glissa Sunseeker, while the rest snuck off towards their goal: the throne room.
Here they found Karn, who was nearly completely corrupted by the Phyrexian Oil. Melira's powers combined with Venser's spark purified him and brough Karn back to his feet. Teaming up with Elspeth, Koth and Melira, the four set out to cure Mirrodin.
...And failed. Karn forced her to planeswalk away to Theros, a plane from which she stole a sword, where she decided to settle down and live normal life.
...And failed because she killed a marauding hydra which led to the local Sun God, Heliod taking an interest in her. No, not in the way you're thinking, although that actually would have made some sense since Heliod is basically a mashup of Zeus and Apollo. And did you notice that those Theriad quotes from throughout the block suggest that the Sun's Champion is always a woman?
After saving the plane from a native planeswalker who had recently elevated himself to godhood by killing said new god, Elspeth was herself killed by Heliod, who saw her as a threat. He also hated her and was jealous of how awesome she was.
Though she died from the dickish machinations of Heliod, Elspeth wasn't entirely gone, instead being cast into the Underworld of Theros. While she normally would have gone to live in a paradise afterlife, Ashiok had other plans. Tormenting the fallen champion, Ashiok forced Elspeth to relive her fears and failures, such as when she accidentally killed Daxos and when she was struck down by Heliod. During one such nightmare, Elspeth reached out and grabbed Heliod's Spear, and when she awoke, she found herself in possession of an inky, shadowy perversion of the Khrusor, now dubbed the Shadowspear.
With this spear in hand, Elspeth had a new resolve to get out of the Underworld, once and for all. As an unforeseen consequence of Heliod's aforementioned dickery and paranoia, Theros was in open war, with the Gods bringing demigod champions to fight in their name. Erebos even got in the action, trying to mess up Heliod's plans, which caused rifts into the Underworld to pop up everywhere on Theros. Elspeth travels the Underworld, trying to find a rift out and kicking some ass as well. Her ass-kicking eventually earns her a following among the dead, and at the end of every fight she wins, she announces that her Shadowspear is the true Khursor to an uproarious agreement. Klothys, the God of Destiny and keeper of the Titans, was also pretty peeved about the whole affair, but was especially pissed off at Elspeth's attempt at escape. She sent forth agents of fate to try and reign Elspeth in, and when that did not work, she crafted a brand new Planeswalker named Calix, whose sole purpose in life is to make sure Elspeth stays in the Underworld. He wasn't exactly successful, getting beat up with every encounter the two had.
With Elspeth nearing a rift and his paranoia coming to a fever pitch, Heliod himself came down to the Underworld to block her path. Elspeth repeated that her Shadowspear was the true Khrusor, to which her followers whole-heartedly agreed. Using the power of Devotion and belief, Elsepth's lie became fact, and she shattered the now false Khrusor. Disarmed and bowed, Heliod had to surrender. Upon hearing his surrender, Erebos swooped in and placed Heliod under an impossibly heavy boulder Atlas-style, hoping to starve him of Devotion and eventually undo the sun God. As thanks for helping him get revenge on Heliod, Erebos let Elspeth leave, where she shared a tender moment with the revived Daxos before heading off. Calix, whose entire life purpose is to keep Elspeth in the Underworld, gave chase after her, despite Elspeth getting a pardon from Erebos.
Elspeth appears on four cards. Notably, the one carrying her full name was made after her first; most Planeswalkers invert this.
Elspeth, Knight-Errant costs 4 for 4 loyalty. She has two abilities for +1 that put either a 1/1 soldier on the battlefield or gives a creature +3/+3 and flying. Her ultimate makes all non-Planeswalker permanents you control indestructible for the rest of the game.
Elspeth Tirel costs 5 for 4 loyalty, with a +2 that gives you 1 life for each creature you control, -2 gives you three 1/1 soldiers, and her ultimate (that can be cast as early as the second turn she's in play) destroys all permanents, except for lands, tokens, and Elspeth herself.
Elspeth appears again in the Theros expansion, with the title Sun's Champion. Her new card costs six mana for four starting loyalty. Her +1 loyalty ability is identical to Elspeth Tirel's -2 ability. She has a -3 ability that destroys all creatures with power 4 or greater, and her ultimate grants all of your creatures +2/+2 and flying for the rest of the game.
Elspeth's latest reemergence in Theros: Beyond Death may just be one of the oddest incarnations of Elspeth that we have seen so far. Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis is a 2 generic, 2 white walker with 5 starting loyalty. Her -1 pumps up 2 of your dudes by +2/+1 until end of turn. Her -2 makes 2 1/1 soldiers. Her -3 gives you 5 life. Immediately, two things pop out: 1. She has no + Loyalty abilities, which is a trait that is only shared with one of the Sarkhan Vol cards and the uncommon walkers from War of the Spark. 2. She's a little bit weaksauce. She can barely protect herself with her -2, but she doesn't really give you much card advantage as most good walkers do. That brings us to her last ability: Escape. By paying 6 mana and exiling 4 other cards from your graveyard, you can play her again from the yard. This makes her a consistent engine, able to keep bringing herself back over and over again as long as you have chaff in the yard. Unless you exile her, you're going to keep facing Elspeth again and again. It probably doesn't save her overall powerlevel, but it is an interesting design.
|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 - Davriel Cane|
|Return to Ravnica:||Domri Rade - Ral Zarek - Vraska|
|Theros:||Ashiok - Kiora - Xenagos - Calix|
|Tarkir:||Ugin - Narset|
|Kaladesh:||Dovin Baan - Saheeli Rai|
|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|