Welcome back to the Avacyn Restored Flavor Text Review! Once again, I’ll take a look at every card graced with flavor text and show how it stacks up. Today we’ll be looking through red, green, multicolored, artifacts, and lands! I’ll be using the same scorecard this week as last week.
5.0: Instant classic. Short, witty, and unforgettable. Think Null Rod, Root Greevil, or my favorite, Quenchable Fire. The kinds of flavor said out loud when the card is played.
4.5: Not quite an instant classic, but very good. Only a few cards from any set will obtain a 4.5 or 5.0.
4.0: Well done. These texts do a great job of telling the story, lay down a nice pun, or are otherwise well-written. This is the cut-off for flavor texts that an average player might find memorable.
3.0: These texts get the job done, but aren’t that memorable. They get a piece of storyline across, or contain some sort of average pithy phrase. With any luck, I should drop most flavor texts into this category.
2.0: These texts are somewhat poor. They are cliché or do a poor job of telling the story.
1.0: Exceptionally bad flavor text. Maybe it’s a paragraph of drivel on a vanilla 2/3, or something that gives the same amount of flavor as a eating a dirty sock.
If I feel a card falls somewhere between two of the whole numbers, I will give it a “point-five” rating. I’ll give the card its closest whole number score, then add or subtract 0.5 if something annoys or impresses me.
Note: I do not follow Magic’s storyline beyond the basics. I won’t be biased or knowledgeable about any story aspect of the flavor texts, so I am relying on the flavor texts to tell me about the cards.
Let’s make haste into red!
“Barbarians! They burned my favorite chair! We’ll kill them all!”
Red’s off to a good start with Aggravate. Genuinely funny and flavorful, Aggravate does a great job with red’s whimsicality. What do you call barbarians that burn chairs? Bench Warmers.
Archwing Dragon: 2.5
Swifter than an angel, crueler than a demon, and relentless as a ghoul.
I can handle this one, except I don’t like the asymmetry at the end. Is it too hard to say “more relentless than a ghoul” to keep everything in stride?
Banners Raised: 3.0
After the destruction of the Helvault, fearful mobs soon became fearless battalions.
Great name, good flavor text. This gives a great perspective on the Helvault aftermath, which is the lynchpin of this story.
Battle Hymn: 1.0
“A church is just wood and walls. A congregation is the faithful praising the angels.”
—Kolman, elder of Gatstaf
Bleh. I’m not sure if this is saying anything at all. This text should have just been the battle hymn itself. Wizards would never touch this – but how good would “Angels we have heard on high/ sweetly killing o’er the plains” be? “And the mountains in reply/ swiftly casting thunderbolts.”
I just realized that a Christmas tune references two basic land types. This might be the Plateau of the review right here.
Dangerous Wager: 3.5
“C’mon friend, take a turn tossing the knucklebones. What’ve you got to lose?”
—Tobias, trader of Erdwal
Something about roleplaying a planeswalker that himself plays games tickles my fancy. And why does rolling dice always have to do with fingers? First it was Krark’s Thumb and now there are knucklebones.
“To truly defeat a skaberen, you must destroy not the monster but the lab.”
—Rem Karolus, Blade of the Inquisitors
What do you call someone who sifts through the ruins of a Skaberen lab looking for valuables? A Skaab Picker.
Dual Casting: 2.0
Hours after the Helvault opened, his powers returned twice as strong as before.
“His powers returned twice as strong?” So he was at half-power? Having half of a power return sounds awkward- it was never gone. Change the ending clause to “his powers increased twofold.” It all works out in the end because I can slap a 2.0 on this and keep with the two theme.
Fervent Cathar: 1.5
“I’ll put my sword down only to die. And I don’t plan on doing that today.”
Come on man. NEVER put your sword down? Not even to use the bathroom or when you take your wife to the Stensia Blood Ball?
Gang of Devils: 3.5
“Well, how could I know they’d explode?”
—Gregel, township militia
Something about this text makes me giggle, and that’s enough with the limited space. It’s funny to imagine what might have happened when these devils went gangbusters.
Guise of Fire: 3.5
“Fire will eventually destroy a zombie, but a fiery zombie destroys a lot of other things first.”
—Rem Karolus, Blade of the Inquisitors
This one is also slightly humorous, and has the bonus of referencing the two-sided use of the card in the context of the story.
Havengul Vampire: 4.5
“That slowly decreasing pulse—that’s the beat I waltz to.”
This flavor text genuinely gives me the creeps, which is perfect in this plane of horrors. Chilling.
Kessig Malcontents: 2.0
Discontent is a powerful weapon in the hands of a mob.
Isn’t a mob going to be discontent by definition? Unless it’s one of those mob uprisings that happen after a big sports victory. Maybe the flavor text is letting us know that they aren’t mobbing in celebration of the Kessig Crocodiles’ latest victory. Are there sports on Innistrad?
Top Five Innistrad Sports/Games:
5. Meal or No Meal
4. Where’s the Invisble Stalker?
3. Surfing the Ghost-Tide
2. The Kessig Wolf Run 10k
1. The Hel Vault
Kruin Striker: 3.0
Unhappy with the creation of the wolfir, Rorica broke with her order and led a crusade against the “reformed werewolves.”
This one delivers a clean and interesting story tidbit. It tells me what the “wolfir” are (helpful on a red card since red and green had the werewolves in the previous sets) and tells me what happens because of their creation.
Lightning Prowess: 2.0
“Undead flesh is dry and papery. A single spark and ‘poof.’ No more ghoul.”
This seems to contradict what Guise of Fire said. Is it a “poof” or more of a “RRAAUUWWWGGGHHH” as a flaming zombie thrashes around? You red mages need to get your story straight.
Mad Prophet: 4.5
“There’s no heron in the moon! It’s a shrew, a five-legged shrew, with a voice like whispering thunder!”
I don’t know if the story ever mentioned something about a heron in the moon or not. Regardless, this flavor text is hilarious. The genuine insanity of this mad man is memorable.
Malicious Intent: 2.5
As peace returned to Thraben, some cathars made the mistake of letting down their guard.
What is that thing? And what is it doing? I like the idea of the text; I wish it was more informative of what was actually going on. Is there some sort of new enemy?
It descended on Estwald like a sudden storm. Moments later, only ashes and agony remained.
This text gets the 0.5 Assonance Bonus with “ashes and agony” but that’s it! And no, Malignus, I’m not rounding your score up to 3.0.
Pillar of Flame: 2.5
“May the worthy spend an eternity in Blessed Sleep. May the wicked find the peace of oblivion.”
Looks like the red guys on Innistrad are back to having some faith. As I recall, the last red one-mana sorcery was Faithless Looting. That card’s flavor text started with “Avacyn has abandoned us!” It’s a neat transition.
Raging Poltergeist: 3.5
Some tried cremating their dead to stop the ghoulcallers. But the dead returned, furious about their fate.
This gets a 3.5 because it’s actually a reference to Harvest Pyre. There’s the 1.0 Self Referential Same Block Bonus.
Reforge the Soul: 3.0
In a wave of spells called the Cursemute, Avacyn cleansed the world with divine fire.
I think it’s pretty cool that we sometimes get these “legendary spells.”
Riot Ringleader: 3.0
“So the vampires like hot blood, do they? Let’s see how they handle ours.”
This one isn’t bad. I thought vampires just liked any old sort of blood. The more you know.
Rite of Ruin: 3.0
Skirsdag cultists refused to quietly accept Avacyn’s ascendancy.
This text is a classic splicing of a spell to an event in the story.
Rush of Blood: 2.0
Sometimes it’s not for sustenance or to feed the dependence. Sometimes it’s just to feel again.
Scalding Devil: 3.5
Demons massacre. Devils annoy.
I really like this text. They had a ton of space to work with, but they kept it to four words. It shows the hierarchy of fiends on Innistrad, the nature of both demons and devils, and is a good nod to the card’s abilities. Hot.
Somberwald Vigilante: 1.0
He has nothing left but his resentment.
Resentment of what exactly? Without context this flavor text is cliché and meaningless. With that, Somberwald Vigilante gets my esteemed Worst Card in the Set Award for being completely unplayable in limited and constructed, and having a terrible flavor text. Hey, maybe that’s what he was resenting!
Thatcher Revolt: 2.0
The dark times left the peasantry ready to fight with whatever weapons were at hand.
Those weapons really aren’t that disadvantaged. They have precedent. I won’t even talk about axes. The dude on the right has a scythe, but so did the Tiger and the Specter. The Wretched had a Scythe back in Mirrodin, and there was a Strata Scythe the second time around. Magic even had a legendary Scythe. The Scythe had a name. I heard it killed kings. The guy on the left clearly has a trident, and that’s not that uncommon either. Merfolk have had that since back in Beta, and I’m sure that you remember the Darksteel equipment. This is tried and true killing paraphernalia we’re talking about here.
“My next aerial design will use less metal.”
—Hadaken, alchemist of Nephalia
I can always appreciate a good aftermath text, even if the joke here is that metal conducts electricity.
Uncanny Speed: 2.5
“To survive, we must embrace the savagery we knew in our race’s infancy.”
It’s cool that the refined, blood-sipping, art-perusing vampires of today had a barbaric past, but that “savagery” doesn’t have much to do with speed. Uncanny or otherwise.
Black might have Bone Splinters but red has Blood Sprinters.
Vexing Devil: 4.0
It’s not any fun until someone loses an eye.
I think we’ve all heard this line before, but it works well with this card. The devils have been shown to be mischievous and one-liners don’t come more impish than that.
Vigilante Justice: 3.0
It begins as a whisper and ends with the red roar of fire.
I like the whisper/roar symmetry here. It is strange modifying “Justice” though; it leaves things too vague.
Wrap-up: Red had very average flavor in this set. The flavor did not gel together to tell a story (like white did); red was all over the place, as always. Unlike the Kessig Malcontents, red appeared to be at peace with unoriginal flavor, although Mad Prophet and Havengul Vampire stepped outside those bounds.
We’re trampling over into green!
Borderland Ranger: 3.0
“There’s only one route from Kessig into Stensia. Unless you come with me.”
This one doesn’t bother me. This soft-spoken ranger ties two settings of the story together while not overdoing the “I’m a badass” routine.
Bower Passage: 3.0
In the darkest hours, some denied Avacyn. Now the Kessig wilds are their only haven.
This is a cool card, and not only because it’s named after my friend Lee Bower. I wonder if this card was designed bottom-up, the ability is almost useless, but it makes a ton of sense in context.
Craterhoof Behemoth: 4.5
Its footsteps of today are the lakes of tomorrow.
This is another one that you know is going to be good just based on the limited space. While not especially funny, this text is quick, balanced, and striking.
Eaten by Spiders: 4.0
After sampling many victims, the spider developed a preference for the undead and their accoutrements.
This is a 3.5 flavor text on its own right; “sampling” is hilarious. It gets bumped up to a solid 4.0 with the 0.5 I Had to Look up a Sweet Word Bonus. “Accoutrements” means personal clothing, accessories, and equipment of soldiers, excluding weapons and clothing. This puts us in a weird spot, since “equipment” is in the definition, but Magic equipment are almost always weapons. Final verdict: I’ll allow it!
Tangentially, how sweet would the artifact subtype Accoutrements be? There’s so many already! Think- they could redesign new Trinket Mages and Junk Divers that interact with Accoutrements! They could print a cycle of five of them and they could be completely overpowered in Standard!
Top 10 Artifact – Accoutrements:
10. Aladdin’s Lamp
9. Jandor’s Saddlebags
8. Jhoira’s Toolbox
7. Arcum’s Whistle
6. Teferi’s Puzzle Box
5. Ashnod’s Coupon
4. Squee’s Toy
3. Sensei’s Divining Top
2. Urza’s Sunglasses
1. Al-Abara’s Carpet
Flowering Lumberknot: 2.5
“It used to eat us trappers. Now it follows us around like some kind of hound dog.”
—Alena, trapper of Kessig
Who’s a cute treefolk? Who’s a cute treefolk? Is it you? Awww, who’s the cutest abomination of nature in the whole world?
The abandoned towns on the moors didn’t stay empty for long.
Can I get one Ghost Quarter reference? Just one? It’s enough to fill a flavor text reviewer with gloom.
“We’ve tracked Ludevic’s monster across four provinces. When it lands, make sure it stays put.”
—Alena, trapper of Kessig,
to Halana of Ulvenwald
Wait, I though Ludevic’s Abomination had trample, not flying. Or are they talking about a common Scrapskin Drake? If you mean to tell me that you had a team of soldiers track a 2/3 flyer across four provinces, you’d better be footing that bill yourself, Alena. What a waste of government resources.
Joint Assault: 3.0
“By my power, werewolves shall become the wolfir, our allies in combat against darkness.”
—Avacyn’s Cursemute Decree
I want to give this a higher rating, because this text is so necessary to understand what is going on in this set.
Lair Delve: 1.0
“The fiends have fled. Well, good riddance. Nothing I like more than an empty lair.”
This text bothers me. I don’t know to whom he is talking. I don’t know what sort of “fiends” he is talking about. And I really don’t know about his high opinion of empty lairs. There is NOTHING he likes more? What is he, a hermit? On my Greater Collated Scale of Things I Like, empty lairs are ahead of Finger Eleven and behind carrots.
Natural End: 3.0
The haunted blade shattered, and the geist drifted gratefully to the Blessed Sleep.
Ooh, neat. Was that blade the Moonsilver Spear? It doesn’t look like it in the art. I wish it had. I love when two cards have a flavor interaction.
Nettle Swine: 3.0
“I killed one and found bricks and bones in its belly. It had eaten a whole cottage, thatch and all.”
—Paulin, Somberwald trapper
I give props for the bricks-bones-belly consonance. I could pig out on that literary gold.
Primal Surge: 4.0
With Avacyn’s return, the flow of life became a tidal wave.
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the phrase “flow of life” before, but I appreciate the imagery and brevity of this text.
Rain of Thorns: 2.5
When the forests became havens for evil, the archmages devised new ways to cleanse the wilds.
This seems to conflict with Bower Passage, or maybe it advances that story. It brings up an interesting question. Should flavor texts be a snapshot of the world, or have some sort of progression?
Snare the Skies: 2.5
A hunter’s precision and a durkvine’s strength are a potent combination.
I never got far enough into Fictional Biology to learn about the durkvine.
Somberwald Sage: 2.0
“You can face any danger when all of nature is on your side.”
I’ll take her word for it, but this text doesn’t really scream “add three mana to your mana pool” to me. It sounds like it belongs on a pump spell.
Soul of the Harvest: 2.0
It’s there when a seed sprouts, when gourds ripen on the vines, and when the reapers cut the grains under the Harvest Moon.
It’s there during your first kiss, when you graduate from school, when you go shopping. It’s in your trunk right now.
Terrifying Presence: 3.0
Elmut had slaughtered vampires, slain werewolves, and destroyed hordes of zombies. Sadly, he never got over his fear of spiders.
Come on, we used “accoutrements!” Can’t we get some “arachnophobia” up in here?
Timberland Guide: 2.0
“Can you build a fire? Track a deer? Identify killer trees? Then you’ll never survive Kessig without me.”
To answer your questions: yes, with the proper equipment; why would I want to do that, I went to the Butcher Ghoul before I left; and yes, they are the ones that move. Are these rhetorical? I’m sticking with Borderland Ranger.
Triumph of Ferocity: [CENSORED]
“Rid me of this curse, witch, or die with me.”
I thought that Triumph of Ferocity had a [CENSORED] flavor text. It really [CENSORED] and did a [CENSORED].
Ulvenwald Tracker: 3.0
“Peace will come to Innistrad, but only after all abominations have been dealt with, one by one.”
I like the reference to the ability on this text, but it’s otherwise forgettable.
“Where’d the werewolves go? Maybe that got hungry.”
—Halana of Ulvenwald
This one does a great job of trying to explain the creature while tying itself to the story.
Wandering Wolf: 3.0
Humans still feared wolves, though no connection between them and the curse of lycanthropy had ever been proved.
Green is doing a great job of explaining its issues in the story. There’s a few of these pure story texts, and while I secretly wish all flavor texts were self-referential puns, these types of texts are very helpful.
Wild Defiance: 2.5
“When civilization reaches out its greedy hand, take it off at the wrist.”
Looks like Garruk has taken the popular political position of anti… civilization. Good luck with that one, buddy. I’m sure you and Anarchist get along well.
Wildwood Geist: 3.0
The geists that dwell in the deep forests of Kessig are as untamable as the woods themselves.
I can appreciate this one; there’s nothing quite like embodying one’s surroundings. By the way, I am legit.
Wolfir Avenger: 2.5
Released from a dark curse and bound to a higher calling.
Just like the movie The Avengers, I’m left with something awesome but wondering what was actually being avenged. The only difference is that the Avengers didn’t have The Flash.
Yew Spirit: 2.0
“I wonder what dwelled in the primordial forests before humans existed.”
Yew have to wonder if they could have come up with a more interesting flavor text.
Wrap up: Green did a great job with the story elements, it was the best color in that regard. There were five or six texts that were very helpful in explaining the story of this set. Unfortunately, some subpar texts detracted from those great story elements, but Eaten By Spiders and Craterhoof Behemoth were aces.
Great devotion yields great reward.
Poor maxims yield poor scores.
Angel’s Tomb: 3.0
“Faith can quicken the stones themselves with life.”
—Writings of Mikaeus
I like this one, even if “quickening” something to life sounds strange. Maybe “inspire” or “imbue” would have sounded better.
Forged in dark hours from the flame that would not die.
Forged from the rubble of the Helvault.
Scene: Two blacksmiths admire the other’s equipment in a crowded, colorless Kessig marketplace.
Thusten: Cool armor, bro, how’d you make it?
Norman Goldsen, IV: (crowd noise softens, spotlight on Norman as he speaks proudly to the audience) I prepared myself for the forge for a month’s time; in devout prayer to Avacyn. At dusk before darkest night of harvest season I started my glorious task, hammering at first the shield, and then the hammer. Using the fire of the Cursemute itself, I pounded the god-metal into its perfect shape, the wolfir howling as my craft took form. I did not sleep until the task was completed. The angels shall certainly look upon me with praise!
Thusten: Neato, bro. I made these bracers from some rocks I found.
Conjurer’s Closet: 4.0
“Tomorrow wears yesterday’s face.”
—Kordel the Cryptic
This is an awesome reworking of “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana) and all of the similar maxims. It’s a great nod to the ability, and a fitting quote for a guy with the “Cryptic” epithet.
Haunted Guardian: 3.5
“Drain the victim’s blood, sell the corpse, and use the soul on guard duty. No muss, no fuss, no problems.”
That’s the difference between us humans and vampires. I would file draining blood, selling a corpse, and implanting a soul into a suit of armor under both “muss” AND “fuss.” Those same words give this text the 0.5 Silly Words Bonus, too.
Narstad Scrapper: 2.0
“Finally, the principles of corpse animation applied to bloodless materials!”
I am having trouble coming up with a way in which that statement makes any sense at all, but I’m no rocket scientist necro-alchemist.
Otherworld Atlas: 3.0
“Any fool can open it. But it takes a genius to decipher the blank pages.”
—Kordel the Cryptic
I’ve always had a soft spot for an easily accessible but impossibly difficult riddle, but there’s got to be something more realistic than blank pages. If it is from another world, say it is written in a language never seen on Innistrad.
Words to bless the eye that reads them, telling of a future beyond the reach of fear.
Words no eyes should see, telling of things no sane mind could fathom.
I always appreciate some good symmetry; these two are meant to be taken together. I like Avacyn’s Scroll. I don’t like Griselbrand’s. Can you just tell me what he’s planning on doing instead of saying that my puny human brain couldn’t possibly even begin to comprehend how completely and utterly evil he is?
Tormentor’s Trident: 1.0
To a demon there is no such thing as restraint.
Oh, I didn’t know that. Would you like to comment on the trident?
Vanguard’s Shield: 3.5
Wars are not fought on a single front.
I like this one. It’s a double meaning, being a sort of truism, and leaning on the art to describe the shield itself.
That’s that! The rest of the cards were unremarkable, except for the cryptic Conjurer’s Closet. Thanks for reading!
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