The story of Magic: The Gathering’s latest set March of the Machine reunites one of the brand’s fan-favourite romances. Chandra and a now-restored Nissa share a kiss in the final chapter of the story, cementing a queer pairing that was previously capsized by Wizards of the Coast.
The saga of hot-headed fire mage Chandra and nature-loving elf Nissa is a somewhat complex one. For years, these characters were, while not actually a confirmed couple, often assumed (and rather implied) to be romantically interested in one another. They were a very popular ‘ship’ in the MTG community, and their ‘will they, won’t they’ story was followed with interest.
Then the 2019 War of the Spark novel came along and did its best to sink the pairing. The book, War of the Spark: Forsaken, outright stated that Nissa and Chandra’s relationship was platonic. It had the now-infamous line: “Chandra had never been into girls. Her crushes — and she’d had her fair share — were mostly the brawny (and decidedly male) types like Gids”.
This ‘decidedly male’ thing quickly became a meme in the Magic community, amidst significant backlash and accusations of queer erasure, notable given Magic’s commitment to diversity in recent years.
The book’s author, Greg Weisman, made a statement during the controversy, acknowledging that the final product didn’t meet anyone’s expectations or deliver on his intentions. He explained that Chandra and Nissa “was not a relationship that WotC planned to pursue”.
If that was the case, it seems Wizards has certainly changed tack now. Chandra and Nissa are written in a far from ‘platonic’ way during the March of the Machine story, with Chandra desperately trying to shake Nissa out of her compleation/brainwashing. When Nissa is knocked out “Chandra, of course, is there to catch her” and as Nissa lies sick, Chandra clears strands of hair from her face.