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Top 20 Flavor Text

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The letter F!lavor text is near and dear to my heart. I have been writing these little gems for close to a decade now and I am still amazed at how much fun, wisdom, intrigue, smackdown, and sass can be packed into a few, carefully chosen words.

If long-form writing is the awesome dinosaur that rules the literary wilderness, then these little snippets of flavor text are the hot-blooded mammals that are kicking ass in the shrubs.

While I'm on a roll here, flavor text is like the mortar that holds the story together. It's in the cracks between the other storytelling venues that we have, and it fills in—bit by bit—story information and planar flavor that you can't get anywhere else.

The metaphors for what flavor text is and does are endless.

There are many kinds that have garnered love over the ages:

Frog flavor text:

Turn to Frog

"Ribbit."

Art by Warren Mahy

Snappy one-liners:

Lava Axe

Catch!

Art by Brian Snoddy

Updates to snappy one-liners:

Lava Axe

A strict upgrade over the cinder hatchet.

Art by Brian Snoddy

Quasi-algebraic-looking flavor text:

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind

"(Z–>)90º—(E–N²W)90ºt = 1"

Art by Todd Lockwood

And flavor text that just keeps coming back, over and over again:

Pacifism

For the first time in his life, Grakk felt a little warm and fuzzy inside.

Art by Robert Bliss




In honor of 20th Anniversary Week, I decided to pull the most well-loved flavor text from the Magic Facebook page, where flavor fans were asked to submit their champions from the flavor arenas so that all may see and marvel.

There were close to 3,000 submissions, and there were many, many awesome ones that didn't make the list, but here are the ones that showed up time and time again.

Here are the Top 20 from you flavor fans, in no particular order!

#1 Sizzle

"Of course you should fight fire with fire. You should fight everything with fire."
—Jaya Ballard, task mage

Art by Christopher Moeller

#2 Canyon Minotaur

"We'll scale these cliffs, traverse Brittle Bridge, and then fight our way down the volcanic slopes on the other side."
"Isn't the shortest route through the canyon?"
"Yes."
"So shouldn't we—"
"No."

Art by Steve Prescott

#3 Inspiration

Day 31: I have succeeded in my time reversal experiment.
Day 30: I might have a problem here.

Art by Izzy

#4 Goblin Grenade

"Don't underestimate the aerodynamic qualities of the common goblin."

Art by Kev Walker

#5 Redirect

"It's actually quite simple, but since you've only recently begun to walk upright, it may take some time to explain."
—Jace Beleren, to Garruk Wildspeaker

Art by Izzy

#6 Fodder Cannon

Step 1: Find your cousin.
Step 2: Get your cousin in the cannon.
Step 3: Find another cousin.

Art by Christopher Moeller

#7 Goblin Balloon Brigade

"The enemy is getting too close! Quick! Inflate the toad!"

Art by Lars Grant-West

#8 Adaptive Snapjaw

"Eh, needs more toad."
—Gulistan, Simic biomancer

Art by Thomas Jedruszek

#9 Enormous Baloth

Its diet consists of fruits, plants, small woodland animals, large woodland animals, woodlands, fruit groves, fruit farmers, and small cities.

Art by Mark Tedin

#10 Last Word

Someday, someone will best me. But it won't be today, and it won't be you.

Art by Scott M. Fischer

#11 Hatred

"I will flay the skin from your flesh and the flesh from your bones and scrape your bones dry. And still you will not have suffered enough."
—Greven
il-Vec, to Gerrard

Art by Brom

#12 Might of Oaks

"Guess where I'm gonna plant this!"

Art by Jeremy Jarvis

#13 Manabarbs

"I don't know why people say a double-edged sword is bad. It's a sword. With two edges."
—Kamahl, pit fighter

Art by Jeff Miracola

#14 Raging Goblin

"He raged at the world, at his family, at his life. But mostly he just raged."

Art by Jeff Miracola

#15 Killing Wave

"I come looking for demons and I find a plane full of angels. I hate angels."
—Liliana Vess

Art by Steve Argyle

#16 Llanowar Elves

One bone broken for every twig snapped underfoot.
- Llanowar penalty for trespassing

Art by Kev Walker

#17 Furnace Whelp

Baby dragons can't figure out humans—if they didn't want to be killed, why were they made of meat and treasure?

Art by Matt Cavotta

#18 Phyrexian Hulk

It doesn't think. It doesn't feel.
It doesn't laugh or cry.
All it does from dusk till dawn
Is make the soldiers die.
—Onean children's rhyme

Art by Matthew D. Wilson

#19 Lightmine Field

If you want to kill a lot of goblins, just make sure your defenses look like fun.

Art by Eric Deschamps

#20 Altar of Dementia

"It is not that you will go mad. It is that you will beg for madness."
—Volrath

Art by Brom




I had to put out the call to my co-workers in R&D and beyond to vote in their favorites. Here are some of their all-time faves:

#1 Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician

"Everybody but me—CHARGE!"

Art by Wayne Reynolds

#2 Hedron Crab

"Hedrons perplex minds both great and small."

Art by Jesper Ejsing

#3 Chariot of the Sun

"Sun follows Moon until she tires, then carries her until she's strong / and runs ahead of him again."
—"Love Song of Night and Day"

Art by Gerry Grace

#4 Goblin Offensive

They certainly are.

Art by Carl Critchlow

#5 Skirk Prospector

"I like goblins. They make funny little popping sounds when they die."
—Braids, dementia summoner

Art by Doug Chaffee

#6 Totally Lost

Fblthp had always hated crowds.

Art by David Palumbo

#7 Root Greevil

The root of all greevils.

Art by Andrew Robinson

#8 Lhurgoyf

"Ach! Hans, run! It's the Lhurgoyf! "
—Saffi Eriksdotter, last words

Art by Pete Venters

#9 Goblin Arsonist

With great power comes great risk of getting yourself killed.

Art by Wayne Reynolds

#10 Reparations

"Sorry I burned down your village. Here's some gold."
—Reparations, Mirage

Art by Douglas Shuler

#11 Goblin Battle Jester

Somehow goblins found a tactical advantage by sending a clown to war.

Art by Steve Prescott

#12 Knight of Infamy

"Your laws, like your bones, were made to be broken."

Art by Peter Mohrbacher

#13 Vanishing

"Careless, like a child with fire, so was I with time."
—Teferi

Art by John Matson

#14 Armored Pegasus

Asked how it survived a run-in with a bog imp, the pegasus just shook its mane and burped.

Art by Andrew Robinson

#15 Stormblood Berserker

Blood is holy to those whose god is War.

Art by Min Yum

#16 Army of the Damned

Sometimes death comes knocking. Sometimes it tears down the walls.

Art by Ryan Pancoast

#17 Spire Barrage

Goblin lessons include the 2,071 tips for survival. Frek only remembered 2,070.

Art by Ryan Pancoast

#18 Imp's Mischief

"Do the innocent pay for the crimes of the guilty? Of course they do. That's the fate of the weak."
—Nicol Bolas

Art by Thomas M. Baxa

#19 Dehydration

"Cry to the sun and watch as even your tears forsake you."
—Acolyte of Marit Lage

Art by Arnie Swekel

#20 Brink of Disaster

"When you find yourself teetering on the edge of oblivion, mine will be the hands taking pleasure in giving you the final push."
—Liliana Vess

Art by Alex Horley-Orlandelli

There are many thousands of flavor text gems that are near and dear to me that are not on this list, and I'll be thinking of the ones I "should have" put in here for weeks to come, but I guess that's the good news as well—there is a wealth of awesome flavor gems to make you laugh, smirk, chortle, wince, wonder, ponder, and smacktalk your friends with. I hope you have enjoyed this handful.

Well, it's back to the flavor mines for me, but stay tuned, fellow Vorthosians! We're cooking up a bunch more future classics that are en route to a card store near you!





 
Adam Lee
Adam Lee

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Adam Lee had a long freelance career as a writer and artist in the greeting card industry before coming to Magic's creative team. He grew up in the commune-laden wilds of Northern California in the 70s and his Guild Quiz result was Selesnya. "Be groovy, people."

 
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