For those of you unfamiliar with www.MagicTheGathering.com’s feature "You Make the Card," I suggest you hop over to their site to check it out (and then come back!). Basically, Wizards gave Magic players the ability to give birth to a new card… And, nine months later, that sucker’s ready to come out!
Personally, I’ve been an advocate of this program since its inception. Whereas some players argued that to give power to the unruly masses is to just ask for trouble – but Wizards proved capable of restraining us to a card of reasonable power. (That is, we couldn’t have designed a 10/10 trampling, flying artifact creature that costs as much as Ornithopter.) On a personal note, I thought it was cool to try to get a blue instant into play (1UU, counter target spell, untap up to three lands, anyone?) (Um, Daniel, we have Rewind – isn’t it a little silly to ask for a cheaper spell than one that was actually played during the brokenness of Urza’s Block? – The Ferrett) – but when it became a green creature, I found it equally enjoyable to try to make it as non-anti-control as possible. I mean, we could have had:
CARDNAME can’t be countered.
Protection from blue
As CARDNAME comes into play, choose a creature type.
Creature spells of the chosen type can’t be countered by spells or abilities.
CARDNAME can’t be countered.
CARDNAME can’t be the target of spells or abilities.
Whenever CARDNAME deals combat damage to a player, that player can’t play instant spells this turn.
That would have been horrible! Luckily, we ended up with the powerful, but not unmanageable:
Creature – Elemental
Whenever a player plays a spell, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Forgotten Ancient.
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may remove all +1/+1 counters from Forgotten Ancient and distribute them among any number of creatures.
Almost everything is ready – the only missing link is one of the most important, at least in my opinion. That is, we have yet to determine a flavor text for the creature! By the time I saw the announcement for flavor text selection, it was too late for me to submit an article analyzing the choices before the date of voting… But since the final vote isn’t due until Sunday, I can still point out my opinions on the flavor texts in order to achieve the richest card available.
Before we begin, I highly suggest you take a look at the artist’s sketch of what Forgotten Ancient will look like. Since the creature will not in any way be involved in the storyline, I think that taking into account its appearance in addition to its special ability (which is, in my opinion, the main factor in flavor text determination after storyline importance).
That having been done, let’s take a look at the flavor texts that didn’t make it into the Top Three (in the order in which they appeared on the ballot). For each card that didn’t make it, I’ll try to explain why by offering a counterexample of what card I think would be appropriate for that flavor text; that in itself should show that that quote isn’t just right for Forgotten Ancient.
~In its hands, mana is as hard as steel.~
When I read this flavor text, I think of brute strength emanating from a creature. I see a green creature, yes…. But more along the lines of a druid or a mage of some kind, not an elemental of nature. I generally don’t equate steel with manifestations of nature. Here’s what I see:
Zylvia, Protector of Life
Creature – Druid Legend
Zylvia doesn’t tap to attack.
2G: Zylvia gets +3/+3 until end of turn. Use this ability only if Zylvia is attacking or blocking.
In her hand, mana is as hard as steel.
~It gives you a warm, thorny feeling inside.~
I guess, for the most part, the Magic populace is against such a lame pun for such a cool card. But, such flavor texts definitely have a place in Magic, mostly in commons such as this one:
Creature – Toad
Sacrifice Horny Toad: Destroy target creature blocking or blocked by Horny Toad that has power greater than or equal to Horny Toad’s toughness.
It gives you a warm, thorny feeling inside.
~It reaps what you sow.~
I like this flavor text. It’s clever, and it seems to almost capture the essence of the Forgotten Ancient. However, the "you sow" part just doesn’t seem quite right – as, if anything, I’d say that the player gets to sow what Forgotten Ancient reaps (+1/+1 counters). So the quote is on the right track, though I might put it with something more like:
Creature – Tree
Whenever a Forest comes into play, put a +1/+1 counter on Sentient Grove. Sentient Grove’s power and toughness are each equal to the number of Forests in play.
It reaps what you sow.
~Leaves like knives, bark like steel.~
This, like the first one, seems to sit well with neither the Forgotten nor the Ancient part of Forgotten Ancient… At least, to me. This really seems like a treefolk:
Creature – Treefolk
T: Deal damage equal to Vengeful Treefolk’s power to target creature. Use this ability only that creature’s controller controls a Forest.
Leaves like knives, bark like steel.
~The last limb of the evolutionary tree.~
This, I like. Limb – tree – evolution… Great! Why didn’t it make the cut? I’d say the "Ancient" part of Forgotten Ancient disqualifies this from being anything new. But I do see a weird card like the following:
Creature – Shapeshifter
Metamorphic Phenomenon’s creature type is the most common creature type among creatures in play. Whenever Metamorphic Phenomenon’s creature type changes, put a +1/+1 counter on it. If Metamorphic Phenomenon’s power and toughness are equal to the number of creatures in play, it permanently gains, "Metamorphic Phenomenon cannot be the target of spells or abilities."
The last limb of the evolutionary tree.
~Unfettered growth with unmatched power.~
I really like this flavor text, and I’m sorry that it didn’t make it into the Top Three. But, I guess that if there’s a discrepancy between this description and the card it’s describing, it would probably be that the growth of the card this is describing is self-contained. Something like:
Creature – Elemental
* is equal to the number of creatures in play. Whenever you tap a land for mana, Verdant Gargantuan gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
Unfettered growth with unmatched power.
~Worry about being overgrown, not overrun.~
Oh, how very punny! Overrun – I get it! It’s funny, and I could actually see it on Forgotten Ancient, though with such a powerful name, a pansy quote just doesn’t seem right. Maybe this flavor text would actually be good on a land.
T: Add G to your mana pool.
T: Put a Shrubbery into play. Treat this as a 1/1 green wall with text, "Sacrifice Shrubbery: Put at +1/+1 counter on target creature."
Worry about being overgrown, not overrun.
So that’s seven. What made it to the Top Three? Our finalists are:
~The grass is meaner on the other side.~
Personally, I do not like this quote. Yes, it’s funny – but I don’t see it being relevant in any way to Forgotten Ancient. I won’t go so far as to name the card that I think this would pair well with: However, as I said before, I don’t think this card should have a punny quote. Of course, Forgotten Ancient also has nothing to do with grass, nor does it involve another side (unless that refers to +1/+1 counter redistribution).
All in all, I say… Next!
~Its blood is life, its body is growth.~
First of all, let’s just assume that the comma splice would be cleaned up in editing to make the quote read: "Its blood is life; its body is growth" or "Its blood is life, its body, growth."
Now this flavor text seems to refer to Forgotten Ancient much better than the other choice I’ve discussed. Forgotten Ancient is obviously a very living thing (blood is life), and it’s very involved in growth. I would be satisfied with this as the flavor text of Forgotten Ancient almost entirely… Except that the name of the card (which I like so much!) doesn’t seem to come out in the flavor text. Surely it could, but a third-person quote like this doesn’t give the individuality that I perceive on Forgotten Ancient (even if it isn’t legendary). This brings us to the last choice:
~”If a tree falls in the forest, I hear it.”~
In case you haven’t guessed, this is my favorite quote. It reflects the natural quality of Forgotten Ancient. It also incorporates the well known question of, "If a tree falls in the woods, and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Forgotten Ancient answers this question by saying, "I hear it." He cares for the forest, even if no one else does. Obviously, he’s been "forgotten," because we humans don’t even consider him in asking our question – and things forgotten are often done so because of antiquity. Also, the first-person quality of this quote brings Forgotten Ancient to life for me and really solidifies the picture. The elemental is humanoid, making him seem like an individual. When all is said and tallied, I believe that this reflection of personality is definitely the best choice for the flavor text of Forgotten Ancient.
But that’s just my opinion. Hopefully, what I’ve said has influenced yours; I guess we’ll find out next week!