Thursday, September 22, 2011

So Innistrad. That's a thing, right?

It is indeed. Visual list here and we'll talk about it.

I've decided that this set just isn't for me. Talking to Fuz about it, the issue has been distilled down to this:
They're letting common mythology trump Magic mythology and using flavor as their excuse for doing so.
Zombies eat brains, so it doesn't matter if the zombie is blue, it still eats creatures. Which flies in the face of what blue cares about: thoughts and will. So many cards in blue are related to the library and instants-even in this set, you see cards that want to interact with the library and blue's interaction with instants and sorceries can be shown throughout the game's history. The zombies of blue should eat instants, sorceries or even the library. Instead they are cliche and run roughshod into what black does. So flavor-a common flavor at that > blue's philosophy as a color.

Trample in White at common with Thraben Sentry. There hasn't been a white common trampler in Magic that didn't include green since 1996. With good reason: trample as an ability doesn't synch with white's philosophy very often. But instead of mining the rich history of the game, they're just brushing it away.

It is, of course, the Glory of Cool Things. Flipping over humans to reveal werewolves is cool. Changing an egg into an abominable lizard is cool. Sentries that alert the townfolk into a mob: cool. If I didn't admit that, then I really have no business playing this game. But it doesn't change the fact that it's a terrible idea, from any viewpoint of the game that doesn't think Flavor trumps Play.

It also comes at the expense of losing the elements that make Magic, Magic, instead of the never ending run of werewolf, vampire, zombie cliches that are now thrust at us in ways that break with the general philosophies set up by the colors throughout the years.

The bummer is that when I look at the set, the flavor really does stand out in good ways. The art and flavor text both frequently break with long traditions of Magic's generic fantasy world that tends to be overrepresented and it's done with the kind of skill that one could expect from people who have been working on this game for a decade or more. (Although dragons? In a goth scene? I mean, maybe not unheard of but...)

It's fearless enough to bring back the devil creature type, one that hasn't been used with any regularity since Arabian Nights. That's over fifteen years. The set wants to make enemy-color pairings matter: perfect for a set that is supposed to be about the unnatural. 

When it goes wrong, it goes REALLY wrong, such as with Angel of Flight Alabaster (what does this even mean?) Or the flavor text on Furor of the Bitten (the name suggests someone has been bitten, the text suggests no.)

But the risks, from a flavor point of view, generally are outshined by the pluses. Mechanically however, the reverse it true, at least for me. Except for one: Tree of Redemption. That, I like.

But this set--and perhaps this block--is probably not for me.

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