To say that Magic: The Gathering is a game of some variety is like saying the sun is a bit hot. The designers of this collectible card game have come and gone over the many years it has been around leaving behind them a vast quantity of different cards with different design philosophies. But one thing that all the sets have in common is some absolutely brilliant flavour text.
Everyone likes a good list now and then (right?), so with that said I’d like to highlight a mere twenty of my favourite flavour texts featured on Magic cards.
Note: any card artwork in this post belongs to Wizards of the Coast LLC.
#20 – Pillarfield Ox
“You old, immobile clod! If I could stuff your doltish head with knowledge, I’d do it just so someone else could fully comprehend what your stubbornness has cost me!”—Bruse Tarl, Goma Fada nomad
I once yelled the exact same thing at Sega back in 1997.
#19 – Brain Gorgers
In spite of their hunger, they’re slow eaters.
I’ll admit this one actually freaks me out a little, I like it!
#18 – Manic Vandal
It’s fun. He doesn’t need another reason.
So like red.
#17 – Rock Lobster, Paper Tiger, Scissors Lizard
Many take the lobster for granite. / The tiger is always quick to fold. / Nothing beats the lizard’s shear power.
A bit of a cheat this one but then this list just wouldn’t be complete without one (or in this case three) of Magic’s infamous puns. From the ingenious parody set Unglued.
#16 – Last Word
“Someday, someone will best me. But it won’t be today, and it won’t be you.”
That would make for a damn good wrestling promo, wouldn’t it?
#15 – Bottomless Pit
“I’m sure it came with the place. I don’t think you build one on purpose.”
Funny as hell. I would just love to see that on a real property features list:
- 2 Bedrooms
- Off Road Parking
- Bottomless Pit
#14 – Dark Confidant
Greatness, at any cost.
Awesome and also very fitting considering how expensive this card is likely to be!
#13 – Rakka Mar
“The finest pawns are those with pawns of their own.”
Sometimes there’s nothing I like better than a good chess metaphor!
#12 – Silklash Spider
The only thing that flies over the Krosan Forest is the wind.
Fantastic flavour text that tells you everything you need to know about the creature and setting in question. Flyers beware.
#11 – Near-Death Experience
Lands ravaged, cities in ruins, so many lives sacrificed, and yet there was no other word for it but victory.
Many Magic cards that offer an alternate win condition have spectacular flavour text attached; this one is no exception.
#10 – Day of Judgment
“I have seen planes leveled and all life rendered to dust. It brought no pleasure, even to a heart as dark as mine.”
Spectacles as terrifying as these “board wipe” cards deserve only the best flavour possible and this printing of Day of Judgment does not disappoint.
#9 – Chandra’s Outrage
“Her mind is an incredible mix of emotion and power. Even if I could grasp it, I couldn’t hold it for long.”
—Jace Beleren, on Chandra Nalaar
I really like it when characters reference each other through flavour text as it gives the impression that the game’s world is truly connected. In this superb example, the genius mind mage Jace Beleren observes Chandra Nalaar; the passionate female Pyromancer who never did believe in using her “inside voice”.
#8 – Barter in Blood
“In the game of conquest, who cares about the pawns if the king yet reigns?”
—Geth, keeper of the Vault
Yeah, obviously I’m biased towards to the chess ones, even if they do hate on pawns too much. Clever use of pawns will win you games, trust me.
#7 – Parallel Lives
“There will come a time when the only prey left will be each other.”
—Ulrich of Krallenhorde Pack
This is another great example of flavour text fitting the game mechanics perfectly. Abuse this card for long enough and the amount of tokens on the battlefield (that likely represent creatures in green’s case) will soon become overwhelming.
#6 – Bottle Gnomes
Reinforcements . . . or refreshments?
Great flavour. Literally.
#5 – Canyon Minotaur
“We’ll scale these cliffs, traverse Brittle Bridge, and then fight our way down the volcanic slopes on the other side.” “Isn’t the shortest route through the canyon?” “Yes.” “So shouldn’t we—” “No.”
Brilliant. Just brilliant.
#4 – Sphinx of Magosi
“A riddle is nothing more than a trap for small minds, baited with the promise of understanding.”
Very evocative of blue; awesome flavour text and an ability that allows for some excellent combos.
#3 – Felidar Sovereign
“If survival is a game, I’ve seen the winner.”
—Hazir, Sejiri cartographer
So much is said about this intense card in so few words. Immaculate theme worthy of a mythic rare.
#2 – Goblin Offensive
They certainly are.
I had to forcibly restrict myself to only one goblin card for this list, otherwise you’d be staring at twenty of them! This one however is my personal favourite.
It certainly is.
#1 – Debtor’s Knell
One moment, conscious only of a sense of repose. The next moment, hearing the trudge of his own footsteps. He sighed and squinted into the glare ahead.
This is one of those very special cards with flavour text so deep and well crafted that it prompts debates as to its meaning. Personally I think leomistico offered the best interpretation on the Gatherer discussion boards:
“The flavour text is about a man dead (sense of repose), that just a moment after his death (The next moment) comes back to life against his own will. With a sense of resignation (He sighed) he is blinded by the new-life light, and can’t do anything about it…
I, too, didn’t undestand the flavour text before, but thinking about it, it can be one of the most terrifying… Every word means something, and everything conveys a sense of impotence!”
From the composition to the fantastic accompanying artwork, Debtor’s Knell simply drips with theme and is without a doubt my favourite Magic: The Gathering flavour text of all time.