Magic: the Gathering cards have a surprising amount of character. If all you ever do is consider how powerful each one is in-game, you’re missing out on a lot.
A combination of oftentimes stunning artwork (although adorably bad artwork certainly exists, too) and intriguing or amusing flavor texts gives most cards an identity truly all their own. In this post, we’re going to be taking a look at some cards with undeniably larger-than-life personalities by examining their flavor text.
What is Flavor Text?
As always, let’s start with the basics: what is flavor text? Flavor text is the italicized text you will sometimes see at the bottom of a Magic card.
It doesn’t have any utility in terms of gameplay. The flavor text is only there to add personality to the cards, as well as occasionally provide some lore in a bite-sized format.
That being said, for many cards, the flavor text is one of the best parts. You’ll see what we mean when you look at some of the cards on our list below…
MTG Cards with the Best Flavor Text
Later on, you’ll see plenty of examples of flavor text that’s long, excessively detailed, and paints a complete picture. With Lava Axe, though, the text is short, sweet, and straight to the point.
It’s also incredibly fitting for the purpose of the card: burn an opponent or their planeswalker. It really is like catching a red-hot axe.
There are numerous different printings of Pacifism. Some of them have their own flavor text that differs from the one we included above. We chose this one, however, because once again it fits like a glove for the purpose of the card.
See a threat on the battlefield that you can’t exile or destroy? Use Pacifism to neutralize it with warm, fuzzy feelings.
From a purely strategic standpoint, Enormous Baloth isn’t exactly the strongest card in the game as a vanilla creature. But if you’re looking for something to add some sparkling and dry wit to your deck, there really isn’t anything better.
Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
If you’re particularly knowledgeable about Magic cards, you probably knew right away this one was going to make an appearance on this list. The OG Niv-Mizzet’s flavor text is an absurd math equation that’s perfectly befitting for the mad genius that founded the Izzet guild.
There’s an explanation for the meaning of the equation, too, but we’re not going to attempt to break it down here. Check out the first comment in this helpful Reddit thread for an explanation.
If you’ve ever wanted to say something really bad ass and struggled to find the words for it, Hatred’s got you covered. This card’s flavor text is famously brutal. We didn’t pick this one because it’s particularly funny – more like it’s probably one of the cooler things you could possibly say aside from Liam Neeson’s threatening monologue in Taken.
Abomination of Llanowar
Short horror stories are extremely popular online. Some forums even offer two-sentence horror stories that you can read in literal seconds.
Abomination of Llanowar’s flavor text is essentially an extremely brief horror story. Combined with its art, the flavor text is delightfully creepy and effective.
Okay, back to funny flavor text, and we’ve got a strong contender: Raging Goblin. If we had to describe the flavor text for it in one word, we’d have to say it’s relatable.
I remember pulling this card from a booster pack when Ravnica Allegiance came out and being baffled by the flavor text. This card is all flavor text, and no abilities, making it an unappetizing choice for your deck.
In terms of personality, though, it’s off the charts. Take the time to read its brief parable and either take it at face value or interpret it as a deep lesson about hubris.
This card just…hit different for us, since someone on our team works with kindergarten-aged children. So, yes, we kind of do know what it’s like to count hyperactive schoolchildren while someone shouts random numbers.
There’s just no humor like a groan-worthy pun, and Dead Reveler delivers. Hell, I wish I’d come up with this one.
Wheel of Torture
Old cards can be infamous for their bad art, but also for their phenomenal flavor text. Wheel of Torture is an excellent example. Despite its horrifying name and concept, it’s still undeniably hilarious.
If you thought Catacomb Crocodile had some long flavor text, check out Canyon Minotaur. I know your eyes might want to glaze over when you start reading it but trust me: it’s worth the read.
You’ve likely heard the expression “cannon fodder” in reference to numerous low-ranking military units that are tossed at enemy forces…but have you heard of the Fodder Cannon?
In the case of Fodder Cannon, it turns out the cannon fodder is your cousins. But, hey, we’ve all got people in our family we wish we could launch into the sun, don’t we?
Magic: the Gathering has a reputation for being extremely complicated, dry, and boring if you’re an outsider looking in. But over its decades of existence, it has developed an incredible personality and lore that’s satisfying to explore if you know where to look.
We could talk about the technical aspects of the game all day, but we always love taking a break to touch on lighter topics like this. If you’d like to read something similar, you can take a look at our list of the hottest planeswalkers in the game. Be sure to let us know if you agree with our choices.
Great selection! I have too many favourites to list, but one of them is Reparations: “Sorry I burned down your village. Here’s some gold.”
Reparations was on my list, but we ended up having so many choices it ended up getting left off. Maybe someday I’ll do a part 2?