Warped Landscape - The Ruinous Powers

(Mortarion, Daemon Primarch | Art by Helge C. Balzer)

Chaos Reigns

Welcome to the second article in this deep dive into the Universe Beyond, specifically the Warhammer 40K Commander decks! I'll be your guide to the Universes Beyond, taking you through each of the four factions and showing you their worlds, and why they defend or destroy them. In this article, we're running through The Ruinous Powers, also known as Chaos.

Chaos is a primordial force that taints all it touches and swells all in stature. It is everywhere and it is nowhere. Giving yourself to the ruinous powers is an offer of obscene devotion, with a reward of untold power. 

A Cacophony of Chaos?

In this deck, you'll find the cruel Chaos Space Marines, genetically modified titans-turned-traitors. They wage a ten-thousand-year war against the planets that birthed them. These once-stalwart defenders of humanity were seduced by the promise of power from beyond the warp. They lead mortals, machines, and the malign into battle. They are the foremost champions of Chaos. Frightening, skilled, and intelligent, becoming altogether more dangerous on the side of the Ruinous Powers.

Amongst the towering Chaos Space Marines and the repulsive forces of the Daemons, you'll find mortals in their millions, all too ready to throw off the shackles of the Imperium and ready to strike back at humanity's heart. Dying in their droves as fodder for the forces of chaos, or sacrificed to perhaps become something altogether greater. 

Daemons are malign servants made up of the very essence of the Chaos Gods themselves. The daemons of Khorne seek only blood, lusting for battle, slaughter, and conquest; the daemons of Tzeentch seek only knowledge to taint and twist reality into unknowable shapes; the daemons of Slaanesh seek excess above all things, to lure in their victims and slaughter them; and the daemons of Nurgle seek only to unleash biles, blights and plagues upon their unwitting victims. Crawling from a realm known as the warp, bleeding through into our reality and waiting for the moment to strike and destroy all. Each of these demonic factions constantly war with one another, always seeking to scheme and connive to come out first among equals. 

The forces of Chaos find themselves, like so many other villains in Magic, securely within Grixis colors. In red lies the impulse that leads us down the path of Chaos and the raw visceral power that awaits us when we get there. In blue lies the lure of forbidden knowledge, to know the unknowable and to see beyond the veil, gazing into the warp and bringing back the tools to outwit our opponents. In black, ambition, glory, and rule could be won by sacrifice. Like the forces of Chaos that unify the mortals and the immortal, the Grixis color identity ties these three desires into a binding pact to see the seat of humanity overthrown.

And this is exactly how they're going to do it. 

Cascade IS Chaos 

The warp is a nightmarish hellscape, a mirror universe that lies just beyond reality, fueled by the fears of all living souls and in constant ebb and flow against the boundaries of reality. Always threatening to breach through. Every psychically attuned sentient creature bears a connection to the warp, if for no other reason than that it is the final resting place for their souls. The forces of Chaos see the warp as a resource. It is both a well from which to drink deep and a home. 

You'll feel the touch of the warp throughout this preconstructed deck. Its creatures that evoke a power from beyond, its greedy high-costed cards that reward you with the promise of more, as if guided by the unseen hand of the warp. 

In Magic, we see the power of the warp represented by the mechanic Cascade. You'll find Cascade on plenty of the cards in the Ruinous Powers Commander deck to demonstrate that before all else, Chaos is power. It's also capricious; by tapping into it you're not exactly sure what you'll get. These cards with Cascade typically have a higher mana value, which connotes the feeling of investing more of yourself into the spell but receiving not only the creature or the spell but an unknown blessing from beyond the warp itself. You're not sure what you're going to get, but your devotion will not go unnoticed. 

In Izzet colors, you'll find a ton of abilities that care about instants and sorceries. Storied characters, like Magnus the Red, reduce the cost you pay for your instants and sorceries. Channeling this power through each creature token on your battlefield, spells like the aptly-named Chaos Mutation let you transform the entire table into hideous mutations that barely resemble their initial forms. 

Powerful spells represent mastery over the unseen forces of the warps. If you've ever longed for forbidden knowledge, you'll find yourself rewarded for devoting yourself to these infernal teachers.

In contrast to the Cascade and sorcerous inspiration provided by these colors, Nurgle's blessing lands solidly in black. Nurgle's blessings are biological. Through rotting their servants from the inside out, Nurgle brings resilience. Once you're filled to the brim with the disease, it's almost impossible to feel more pain. Poxwalkers rise from the graveyard whenever you Cascade, tapping into that well of chaos and bringing shambling bodies back to do your bidding. Nurgle's Rot reveals itself on an enchantment Aura perfect for inspiring the feeling of being difficult to remove while you're still alive. 

A Story to Span 10,000 Years 

With nearly 40 years of background and lore, Sagas are perfectly at home for Warhammer 40,000 and are the perfect way to introduce you to the highlight reel of each of these storied soldiers. 

The Horus Heresy is one of the greatest and defining moments in the Warhammer 40K universe: a galactic civil war in which the sons of the Emperor and half of their Space Marine legions turned on the galaxy as we know it. This Saga tells the story of betrayal from misunderstandings sweeping through the ranks - the powerful few gain control, before drinking deep of forbidden knowledge to strike back at the cradle of humanity.

The final chapter of this Saga concludes with the brutal and mutual destruction that saw the Horus Heresy come to a close and left the galaxy a dark and desolate place. The Horus Heresy represents arguably the most vital story in the Warhammer 40K setting, and it's beautiful to see it captured here. 

So Who Should Lead This Deck? 

Abaddon the Despoiler is the Warmaster of Chaos. Carrying the mark of chaos ascendant, he is favored by each of the four chaos gods to enact their bidding and bears the greatest of their strengths. Abbadon has warred with the Imperium for 10,000 years and was key to the grand insurrection that saw the Emperor of Mankind slain and plunged humanity into darkness. 

Unifying the themes we've seen in the deck, Abaddon grants Cascade to your spells on the condition that your opponents have lost life this turn. The more your opponents have hurt, the deeper you can draw into that unknown repository of chaos and affect the table. 

Be'lakor, the Dark Master is among the first daemons spoken into existence and brings something new to the table for Magic as a whole. In Grixis colors, Be'lakor is welcome as a Demon tribal commander, rewarding you for the number of them you've brought to the table. He provides extra benefits as your Demons enter the battlefield by channeling their power into targeted removal, making him a very flexible and tempting commander if you choose to give your all to the daemonic powers. 

I hope you've enjoyed this article! This concludes Part 2 of our journey through the worlds of Warhammer. Next time we will visit the slumbering tomb worlds of the Necrons, deep diving into the lore of the mono-black Commander deck Necron Dynasties

If you're planning on watching the galaxy or your playgroup burn in the fires of your devotion, then why not throw in your allegiance with the gods of chaos? Let me know on Twitter @PrinceofBielTan and I'll see you in the next one.

Joshua is a Medical Researcher from the UK. He's played Magic since Dragons of Tarkir and loves all things Commander, the more colours the better! When not playing Commander, he can be found insisting Jund is still a viable deck in Modern and painting tiny plastic miniatures on Twitter @PrinceofBielTan

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