Last fall I had to give up writing for this blog regularly. When the summer came to a close and my duties as a graduate student became greater with the new school year, I simply didn’t have the time to write as often as I had gotten myself into. I continue to post to the blog occasionally, and these posts have gained me even more followers than previously. As much as followers have the ability to look back on the archives of those they follow, there’s a lot there, and I know they don’t really have time. I still don’t have a whole lot of time to write weekly articles with any regularity as I used to, but for now I’d like to provide something regular on here, even if it is a “Best of Disciple of the Cards.” There are some posts as well as card designs that I’m really proud of, and reposting them should make it easier for newer followers to check out my past work. I started by reposting the details of Booster Cap Magic, a constructed format I created, to make it easier for my brother and his friends to find. From now until the summer, when I may have time to get back into writing more regularly, I would like to continue to repost some of my favorite work (with edits) during these Friday Flashbacks.
This week, I would like to bring back my first “Flavor Fail” Embracing Vorthos. After all, Vorthos are Magic players who enjoy the flavor of the cards, and as such we can enjoy critiquing that flavor as well. My post on Karn, Silver Golem was the first of these Flavor Fails, and in it I set up a good limit on what should be critiqued: single cards on their own, not cards that when combined with other cards seems weird, as Magic has thousands of pieces and there are plenty of combinations that would seem odd. It’s only when a card in and of itself doesn’t represent its intended flavor well that I would consider it a Flavor Fail. And as much as I like writing about the flavor successes, I really enjoy laughing at its failures as well. I hope you enjoy this as well.
Some cards make a valiant effort at flavor, but fall short in one aspect or another. I’m not talking about a Wall of Air equipping a Pariah’s Shield (or any other equipment); those are bound to happen eventually in a game with so many disparate pieces. I’m talking about a card, in and of itself, not exactly representing the flavor it was targeting very well.
As much as I love Karn (I even ran him in my artifact deck for a while), he was the first Flavor Fail I ever covered, as, well, something’s rotten in the state of his card text.
At first glance, Karn seems great flavorfully. He vowed never to take another life, so whenever he would deal combat damage, he instead becomes 0/8 and deals none.
That’s not a bad way of representing the pacifism. He can still block and save the person controlling him, which is certainly good for that player. But he won’t kill the creature he’s blocking, and he won’t kill any creature that blocks him.
Except, of course, it only reads “blocks or becomes blocked,” so other players don’t count towards Karn’s pacifism - he will still punch you in the face for 4, apparently, as the whole -4/+4 thing won’t happen.
As I described above, this is kind of a Flavor Fail… Karn doesn’t even need other cards to break the flavor of his pacifism (which anthem effects would), he just needs a player at 4 or less life and to be unblocked to end another living thing’s life (players being planeswalkers, which are, after all, living things).
To fix this, Karn just needs a little editing:
Of course, either way Karn is decent in a Doran deck, if you can’t find enough treefolk that fit such a build (unlikely). But as I mentioned, Karn doesn’t need other cards to be a little out of flavor. If he did, that’d be acceptable; Vorthoses need to realize that’s bound to happen. No, instead Karn just needs to be not blocked.
So, Karn would be even cooler if the flavor was perfect in the design, but he’s cool enough as is.