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The massively popular deck-building game Magic: The Gathering (MTG) has just released new commander decks for mutiplayer matches, and one of the decks is lead by a gay military couple named Kyanaios and Tiro of Meletis. Their card features the couple in a subtle but supportive embrace — see Tiro’s hand touching the back of Kyanaios’ neck above? Nice.
Here’s MTG‘s take on their backstory:
In the age of antiquity, the humans of the region that would one day become the largest polis on Theros were ruled by the tyrant Agnomakhos, an immortal archon. Unchecked for generations, his power grew as he carved out a mighty empire. Kynaios and Tiro, joined by their love for one another and for freedom, rose to challenge him. The people rallied to their cause, and Agnomakhos was defeated. The polis of Meletis was founded on the ruins of Agnomakhos’s empire as a beacon of freedom and enlightenment, and its people chose Kynaios and Tiro to be its guardians.
The couple — who live in a land called Meletis with a very ancient Greek and Roman feel (it has gorgons, hydras and giants) — had been alluded to in an older, defensive MTG card called “Guardians of Meletis” which showed statues of two male warriors touching swords (tee-hee) above this accompanying text: “The histories speak of two feuding rulers whose deaths were celebrated and whose monuments symbolized the end of their wards. In truth they were peaceful lovers, their story lost to the ages.” In the new card, we see the lovers looking out onto those two statues of them being built.
According to an employee of the Dallas tabletop gaming store Common Ground Games, the newly released Kyanaios and Tiro deck is the outlier among the five newly released commander decks because they allow all players to draw extra cards or put extra lands into play, a weird strategy in a game where every player is trying to destroy the other. Thus, their card also requires strong defensive cards or other one uniquely compatible with them.
Stories about the land of Meletis on the MTG website depict same-sex male couples as a common part of life there. MTG published a Meletis tale that’s basically a gay male version of the Pyramus and Thisbe myth featuring a Romeo and Juliet-esque couple caught in the butterflies and stark terror of young romance. They’ve also published another tale that reveals a lesbian couple midway through it.
MTG has also released other LGBTQ cards in the past including Alesha, Who Smiles at Death — a trans female warrior who, despite not having many compatible cards, remains a powerful commander card for being able to bring graveyard items immediately back into play (she has her own interesting backstory). There’s also Ashiok, the Nightmare Weaver, who has been rumored to be genderqueer since they wear androgynous clothing, have no face, and only refer to themselves as “Ashiok”.
MTG also has characters with non-standard neural makeups (like Asperger’s Syndrome and attention deficit disorder) and at least one double-amputee character.