Welcome to Magic Arcanum.
I’m Ryan Gomez, behind the camera is Nicole Letson, and we’re so glad you’re here,
because it’s Story Time!
Alright, I must be honest with you.
This episode was completed weeks ago but before we could publish it, Wizards of the Coast
threw us a curveball and, well, here we are.
Slivers had not been seen in like, five years, and our original script ended with me speculating
on their return but it just so happens they are in Modern Horizons, so it was worth redoing
the video to work that in.
Now, just like when we did the Eldrazi video, I must start this one by pointing out even
though Slivers are a fascinating creature type and one of the more interesting bits
of Magic’s history, they haven’t been a part of any actual story for a while, even
with these new cards.
Despite this, they’ve been a highly requested topic here on Magic Arcanum, and as luck would
have it, I recently lost a bet to my friend Aimee and I specifically owe her an explanation
on What Are Slivers.
This one’s for you Aimee.
Here we go.
I do want to make one thing clear though.
Slivers come from a long time ago, back when the storytelling in Magic wasn’t all that
great, so forgive me in advance if some facts end up distorted or...uh...I’ll say embellished
If you’re new enough to Magic that you’ve never seen a sliver before, first of all:
Second, you should know that slivers are a group of creatures that have at least two
For most people, when I say sliver, they picture something like this guy.
This is Horned Sliver, from Tempest, the first set in which they appeared, way back in 1997!
I’m using this as my example because the art is pretty clear and we get a good sense
of what these creatures look like, at least at this time in their history.
He’s got this sort of diamond shaped head with horns that point back, and then a long
slender body that splits into two whip-looking tails.
He’s only got one arm, and it ends in a sharp, almost needle-like talon.
So that’s your average garden variety sliver, and it would be pretty unremarkable even as
far as Magic creatures go, were it not for that line of text that says “All slivers
Now, newer editions of the card use updated templating and actually say “All Sliver
creatures HAVE trample,” but the idea is the same.
You see, slivers share a hive mind, and so any abilities one has can be shared with others
This also can extend to your opponent’s slivers, should they have any on the battlefield.
Meaning, Horned Sliver here has trample himself, and gives it to every other sliver on your
team, but also every sliver your opponent plays.
Tempest gave us ten such slivers that would share their abilities with one another, plus
an artifact sliver that had no abilities of its own but could pick up anything its siblings
That artifact one is worth a closer look because its flavor text mentions Volrath, and that’s
where our story behind the slivers will begin.
Volrath was a bad guy - THE bad guy, I guess, for most of what we call the Weatherlight
You guys remember seeing Weatherlight in Dominaria recently?
Ok well that ship has been around a long, long time, and its old crew got to know Volrath
pretty well back in the day.
We’re not focusing on that though - we just need Volrath, because he’s the one who finds
slivers on an unnamed plane and brings them home with him to a place called Rath.
Back then, you didn’t have to be a planeswalker necessarily to move between planes, and Volrath
wasn’t a planeswalker, but he was a shapeshifter.
He was fascinated by the slivers, because they would adapt and change as they learned
new abilities, so he wanted to study them, and then use them as weapons against the Weatherlight
and her crew.
Rath existed in a pocket plane, adjacent to Dominaria.
The Phyrexians were going to use it as a staging ground for their army and eventually invade
Dominaria once Rath grew to be big enough but you know what?
That’s going to be another whole video, probably the next time I lose a bet.
Anyway, Rath became the transplanted home of the Sliver Queen.
Volrath created Metallic Slivers to try and spy on her brood, and he eventually learned
enough to start performing his own experiments on them.
What he achieved with these experiments, nobody is really sure.
The next time we saw slivers was Stronghold, and they behaved the same and even looked
the same, aside from now being multicolored.
Volrath used the Sliver Queen to guard something called The Legacy, which was a collection
of artifacts Karn was keen on collecting.
Note that Karn wasn’t a planeswalker at this point, but this gives you some idea of
how long he’s been around and part of the Magic stories.
Karn ends up convincing the Sliver Queen that he needs these artifacts the same way she
needs her own sliver children, so she gives them over and that’s the last we see of
the slivers for about five years, our time.
I say our time because in the game, the story actually advances one hundred years.
By this point, the slivers are all dead thanks to an event called the Rathi Overlay and a
bunch of battles that play out in the Invasion block, but that’s more about the Phyrexians
and like I said, they’ll get their own video some day.
So, it’s 100 years later, and some scientists working under something called the Riptide
Project find a sliver fossil and decide to bring it back to life for further study.
Obviously these guys have not seen Jurassic Park.
Riptide Replicator, from Onslaught, shows what happens when you get so preoccupied with
what you can do that you forget to ask yourself what you should do.
Their little island lab quickly became overrun by slivers since these Riptide scientists
did not understand the importance of having a sliver queen to keep the brood under control.
Team Riptide pretty much all gets killed and the slivers make their way onto the main land.
I want to pause here for a moment to pour one out for Riptide Chronologist, because
my own brother believes this is my Magic doppelganger.
Without a queen to follow, the slivers instead were drawn to the energy waves coming from
the Mirari, an immensely powerful artifact that happened to be present at that time.
Magic really loves its immensely powerful artifacts.
The Mirari also has connections to Karn, so he’s still around and kicking but that’s
a thread to tug on another time.
The slivers grow at an accelerated rate under the influence of The Mirari but they don’t
get to put much of that newfound power to use before they once again get nearly wiped
out by a giant war.
Magic really loves its giant wars.
Anyway, there is this magical explosion, someone named Karona shows up, there’s...I dunno,
glitter everywhere...and most of the slivers are dead.
The ones who survived merge together into the Sliver Overlord.
As I understand it, this was originally going to be a sort of Sliver King, to go along side
the Sliver Queen, who had become really popular among casual players.
However, a sliver king wouldn’t really fit with the established lore and frankly the
slivers were probably tired of living under an oppressive monarchy, so we get an overlord
The Slivers then take another break from showing up in sets, this time lasting about 3 years,
before their return in the block that already had everything else going for it, so why not
Time Spiral, Planar Chaos, and Future Sight gave us like 40 more sliver cards total, which
is too many to put on screen but make sure you hit the link beneath his video which will
take you to a TCGplayer page that has all the cards from this era.
I do want to call out a few interesting ones though.
The Hivestone is an artifact that makes all creatures you control into slivers, and it
tells us that it was used back on Rath when the slivers were first imported to help keep
them under control.
I’m not sure how turning everything in your army into a sliver is supposed to represent
keeping them under control, but maybe Volrath knew something I don’t.
We also get Venser’s Sliver, which is another artifact, and thus artificial sliver designed
to help study the real ones.
This kind of reminds me of the saying “those who don’t know their history are doomed
to repeat it.”
Every time the slivers show up in Magic, somebody is trying to study them, control them, or
worse, weaponize them.
And every time, it ends badly, for the slivers!
...maybe Huatli should go around the multiverse giving out free copies of Jurassic Park?
Seems on brand for her, ya know?
Last card I want to highlight here is Sliver Legion, yet another five-colored legendary
creature you can use to helm your sliver commander deck.
By the end of this video you’ll have more Sliver Commander choices than I have reasonable
Gorgon Commander choices and I’m not bitter about it at all, why do you ask?
The Legion’s flavor text foreshadows an important development in the biology of the
The slivers are on their way towards no longer needing a queen or any sort of central leadership
to organize their hive mind.
And, if each sliver achieved its own form of awareness and independent thought, they
could evolve in all sorts of interesting new ways!
So how did Magic decide to reward loyal sliver fans who patiently waited for this storyline
to play out?
Well, after six long years, Slivers finally returned in Magic 2014, a core set of all
They had indeed gone through some changes, but I think for the most part, it wasn’t
what fans expected.
Check it out.
Here’s Groundshaker Sliver, an updated take on our old friend, Horned Sliver.
I’m sure Rhystic Studies would have a more elegant way of explaining the visual differences,
but I majored in communications and not art, so I’ll just say this:
Ryan had to take a minute to calm down.
He's a bit tied up.
I think they look kinda cool.
Anyway, here’s Ryan!
Sorry about that.
Aesthetics aside, check out what else is different.
These new slivers don’t even behave like the old ones.
Notice how they say “slivers YOU control.”
One of the most fun and memorable parts of slivers was how they’d snowball into wacky
combinations you’d never expect, thanks to your opponent’s slivers feeding your
own, and visa versa.
Or, you could punish your opponent by playing Plague Sliver, or just use the artifact slivers
to soak up abilities without giving your opponent any.
This interactive gameplay came at a cost, however.
In design terms, the old slivers were responsible for a lot of “on-board complexity” because
you had to continually check and recheck what exactly all your slivers could do at any given
moment, not to mention your opponents, if they had any.
By retooling the slivers to only care about your own side of the battlefield, they became
much easier to track, especially during things like draft, or say maybe, the prerelease for
a Core Set, because those are aimed at newer players, especially.
We got one more injection of slivers a year later, with Magic 2015, again being a core
A fourth five-color legendary sliver, the hivelord, now gives you another commander
option, while the rare Sliver Hive land teased a potential return to their original look.
And now, after another five year gap, the slivers return in Modern Horizons.
They’re back to their old aesthetic, but still only affect fellow slivers you control.
...why do they do this to me, I don’t even...
These new, well, Modern, slivers are mostly focused in red and white, but each color gets
at least one, and more importantly, Commander players have yet another option for their
deck, which I guess is fair since the older ones are getting hard to find.
Unfortunately, Modern Horizons doesn’t have any story tied to it, so we’re no closer
to knowing where slivers originally came from, or what created this first one.
Perhaps someday the mystery will be solved, but will it take another five years?
And what do you think will slivers look like when we see them again?
Let me know in the comments, and then like this video and subscribe to the channel so
you don’t miss the great stories you’ll only find here on Magic Arcanum.
I’ll see ya!