The Tropes of Innistrad – WHITE

I have long wanted to explore all the tropes embedded in Innistrad, a set marketed as exploring the horror genre, particularly what is called classic horror. I’m not really much of a horror genre fan, actually, but this set felt more literary than usual, and so many of the cards were just obvious riffs on classic horror tropes. That set to me to wondering how many I could recognize: I’m sure I’m missing a lot, and I’m sure I have a bias towards vampires (the one classic gothic horror novel I have actually read is DraculaFrankenstein not really being a horror story at all, but rather early nineteenth century Romantic literature). I would be happy to take suggestions for things I missed or misunderstood.

This project has proved more time-consuming than I expected, especially in searching for images to illustrate the tropes. So, this post is just the White cards. Below, you will find a card gallery image with my chosen images. A few cards seemed to be ‘filler’, included to make limited work rather than reinforcing the horror theme.

Abbey Griffin – I don’t know of any horror stories with a griffin that hangs out at a church.
Angel of Flight Alabaster – I don’t know of any horror stories with angels, even fallen angels.
Angelic Overseer – I don’t know of any horror stories with angels.
Avacynian Priest – The good old local priest is common enough in some horror stories, as demonstrated in a few of the cards below, but no specific priest from any specific story is jumping to my mind here.
Bonds of Faith – A cool idea: an angel controls a demon, but I don’t know any story like that.
Champion of the Parish – Here we go now, the local hero who goes out to fight against evil. I chose an image of the heroine from Resident Evil.
Chapel Geist – A ghost that just hangs around a church? I don’t know about that—what came to my mind was Jacob Marley from A Christmas Carol (1954), here played by Basil Rathbone (and he sings!). (I know, not really ‘horror’, although Scrooge might beg to differ.)
Cloistered Youth/Unholy Fiend – A girl possessed by some kind of demon or evil spirit. This seemed to be harkening to The Exorcist. Is there something more classic or gothic instead?
Dearly Departed – Your basic ghost. Here I went with the classic photo of the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall.
Divine Reckoning – The evil thing meets its end at the hands of what is good. A classic scene from Horror of Dracula (1958), employing a cross to good effect.
Doomed Traveler – I couldn’t think of a good example of a traveler who sets out on a journey and you, the reader or viewer, just know they are going to die, but I did think of Little Red Riding Hood–when you read the Grimm’s version of these stories, the fairly tales do sort of take on a horror dimension. She seemed doomed at the start of the story anyway.
Elder Cathar – The older wiser priest/crusader who wants to leave the vampire (or whatever) hunting to the next generation. This reminded me of the old high priest, played by Christopher Plummer, from the recent weird show Priest (2011).
Elite Inquisitor – The clerical fighter seeking to root out an evil that has taken root. I found this great image of the witch hunter Father Solomon from the recent Red Riding Hood (2011) movie. Seemed à propos.
Feeling of Dread – You just know something bad is about to happen. OK, what I really thought of was the old Disney cartoon of Ichabod Crane–there’s a classic!–but I went with an image of Johnny Depp from Sleepy Hollow (1999).
Fiend Hunter – Our hero against evil. This one seemed to be calling out the name of van Helsing, the original vampire hunter.
Gallows Warden – A ghost who keeps hanging around the place of execution? This was a toughy, but it made me think of the infamous headless horseman, assuming that his head was chopped off by an executioner. But further research suggests that I’m just way off here–the headless horseman should probably be attached to the Spectral Rider below. I’m just going to stick with this until I find something better.
Geist-Honored Monk – So, I got nothing really–a monk of some sort that can call up or converse with spirits? My first thought was the scene from the old Stargate TV show when Daniel meditates with a monk and meets the Ancient Oma. But that’s not horror is it?–I went with the class story of Ossian, which isn’t horror, either, but it is old, and the painting by François Pascal Simon Gérard, mostly just because I liked it.
Ghostly Possession – The ever classic girl’s body is taken over by an evil spirit trope. Again, this seems to be referring to The Exorcist, since I don’t know any older possession stories.
Intangible Virtue – When you start talking about ghosts seeking redemption, my mind turns to the Army of the Dead from The Lord of the Rings, which isn’t horror, but it is fantasy.
Mausoleum Guard – Ah, the classic museum guard who is always the first to go at the hand of the revivified mummy. I took the image from a show called Supernatural (I haven’t actually seen it), since it captured the essence so well.
Mentor of the Meek – The leader of a band of men who decide to fight the evil that faces them, despite their inexperience. I went with a scene from Felicia Day’s TV movie Red: Werewolf Hunter, which I haven’t seen but seems to capture the idea well.
Midnight Haunting – I think the real reference here is to a haunted house, so I went with the infamous Amityville Horror house.
Mikaeus, the Lunarch – A leader of society who leads his people in a fight against evil–if that’s not Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (2012), I don’t know what is.
Moment of Heroism – The hero just jumps into the fray against the evil hordes, no matter the consequences. I chose a scene showing Ash vs the deadites in Army of Darkness (1992), mainly because I like Bruce Campbell, not because I’ve seen any of these films.
Nevermore – The name is clearly referencing Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem The Raven.
Paraselene – The name is essentially a Greco-Roman reference to the full moon, so I found an image from the classic movie The Wolf Man (1941), complete with full moon.
Purify the Grave – Why doesn’t anyone think to purify the graves before the zombies and vampires come out of them? I guess it’d be a lot of extra work… Here’s an early scene from the classic Kiss of the Vampire (1963).
Rally the Peasants – Because the monster needs some cannon fodder. Here’s a scene from The Phantom of the Opera (1943).
Rebuke – Stay back, foul fiend! Classic image of van Helsing vs. Count Dracula (played by Bela Lugosi) from Dracula (1931).
Selfless Cathar – Someone dedicated to ridding the world of a pressing evil, more because it needs to be done than because of any personal motivation (well not too much, anyway). Another image from that weird post-apocalyptic vampire story, Priest (2011).
Silverchase Fox – Is this a horror trope?
Slayer of the Wicked – Another hero figure. Could have been van Helsing again, but I went with Vampire Hunter D instead.
Smite the Monstrous – Put a stake through it’s heart! Peter Cushing in Horror of Dracula (1958).
Spare from Evil – I’m not a big horror genre fan, so I learned about the Final Girl trope, played by Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween (1978) (I’ve at least heard of both of them).
Spectral Rider – OK, this should probably be the Headless Horseman, but the name almost begs to be Ghost Rider, and I found an image from a sub-series called Trail of Tears where the Ghost Rider is riding a horse. It’s sort of superhero horror.
Stony Silence – The card itself doesn’t lend itself well to a trope, but I’m thinking maybe it could refer to The Golem (1915).
Thraben Purebloods – I thought about a reference to the Hound of the Baskervilles, but that’s not really a horror story, and this card portrays the hounds as belonging to the hero or at least not being monsters. Yeah, I’ve got nothing.
Thraben Sentry/Thraben Militia – Regular soldiers by day, super monster killers by night. Cool idea, but unfortunately I’m drawing a blank.
Unruly Mob – The classic Frankenstein mob scene.
Urgent Exorcism – Get out, foul fiend! I took an image of Anthony Hopkins from a recent horror film called The Rite (2011).
Village Bell-Ringer – OK, it’s not really horror, but how can you not do Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, here played by Charles Laughton.
Voiceless Spirit – A ghost that doesn’t talk, I guess. (Does moaning count?) Again, I haven’t seen it, but from what I’ve heard, The Woman in Black (2012), supposedly based on a true story even fits the bill well enough.

That’s it for white. Again, I solicit any ideas or suggestions to flesh this out further.

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Assassin Tokens!

One of these days, I’m going to pick up a Vraska the Unseen (when her price comes down substantially).  When I do, I’m going to need Assassin Tokens. And I ask you, what could be more appropriate than Assassin’s Creed characters as my assassins?

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Parental Advisory Review – Return to Ravnica

Let me start by saying that I know my standards are not those of everyone. My goal is simply to highlight images with a potential to concern or disturb, and offer some basic evaluation. My guiding questions are “Would I want my teenager to be viewing this in a movie or on TV?” or “Would I let my teenager out of the house dressed like that?” Overall, I think this new set does a decent job with the art, considering you have a guild of homicidal maniacs (Rakdos) and of nature hippies (Selesnya).

The main categories of evaluation are GRAPHIC VIOLENCE, NIGHTMARE HORROR, PROVOCATIVE DRESS, IMPLIED NUDITY, and BLATANT SEXUALITY. I will conclude with an examination of a side issue that is often raised, the question of the inequality in the portrayals of women. I think it’s pretty obvious that a game marketed primarily towards young lonely males is not going to be equal in its treatment of the sexes–how many of these guys really want to stare at a ripped male hotty? But it’s also unfair to simply assert that men are never portrayed provocatively or in some state of undress and women always are. So, I’ll try to highlight this issue a little by noticing these sort of depictions of males and also some of the more positive portrayals of women.

Graphic Violence

Although the scenic background of Return to Ravnica is not very warlike, there are .

Avenging ArrowEssence Backlash

Really not too bad on the violence front, but that arrow is popping right out of his chest and in the other, it’s the guy’s guts that are exploding out of his chest.

Nightmare Horror

This category is about disturbing images that linger in the mind, and sometimes come back to haunt you in your dreams! These are images that aren’t necessarily violent or gory, but might be described by many (note: not necessarily all) as ‘disturbing’, ‘evil’, or ‘horrific’.

Annihilating FireDreadboreLotleth TrollRakdos RagemuttSkull RendPithing Needle

Again, these may not bother you, but I can certainly imagine a young teenager getting freaked out by some of these, especially if they think too much about what’s going on: being utterly consumed by fire, your insides being boiled up, a really freaky devil-dog, suffocating under a gross looking hand, or a dude about to be skewered by a large barbed needle (a lot of people get freaked out by large needles, I assure you). The worst of the lot, in my opinion is the Lotleth Troll–gruesome! (And what exactly is that thing he is chewing on?)

Provocative Dress

One of the problems our society faces, in my view, is the continuing objectification of women. When ‘sexy’ is the main adjective people use to describe a beautiful woman (or even the one used by a woman describing her goal for her dress and makeup), I think you’ll never solve the problem. Is a woman meant to be more than just a set of big boobs? I’d like to think so, but some of these pieces of art would make you wonder:

Keening ApparitionBlustersquallFaerie ImpostorStealer of SecretsSyncopateStab WoundTavern SwindlerThrill-Kill AssassinElectrickeryCentaur's HeraldChorus of MightDruid's DeliveranceHorncaller's ChantKorozda MonitorOak Street InnkeeperSeek the HorizonSlime MoldingWild BeastmasterCall of the ConclaveCounterfluxIzzet StaticasterRites of ReapingTrostani, Selesnya's VoiceVraska the Unseen

I’d be the first to admit that many of these are quite tame. But still, they seem to represent either some horny teenager’s dream of how women should dress, or some woman thinking that her self-esteem rests on garnering looks from the opposite sex. I won’t comment directly on them all:

  • but look at the woman on Blustersquall–it looks like she’s about to burst right out of her shirt!
  • That Stealer of Secrets is all covered, sure, but in examining her stance, what do you think we’re all looking at? I’ll give you two guesses.
  • I’ve figured out the real problem for the woman in Stab Wound: if your armored covered all your vital areas, maybe you wouldn’t be dying to a stab wound! (What was she thinking? – No one ever tries to stab you in the side!?)
  • When I first saw Thrill-Kill Assassin, I though she was using her right hand to cover up her breast. It took some serious study to find her hands, so that must be her dress holding things up, I guess.
  • On Electrickery, that girl must be thinking, “I’ve got my eyes, my boobs, and my shins covered–I’m invincible!”
  • On the Oak Street Keeper, I can actually appreciate that my eyes aren’t drawn to her face but rather a bit lower, because that face is none too pleasant to look at.
  • The woman in Seek the Horizon looks like she just survived a hurricane with some of her clothes intact, either that or she’s just arrived fresh out of the prehistoric age, where clothes are not as easy to come by.
  • Rites of Reaping–imagine some teenage boy picking out her armor: “You’ll need something for your shoulders, your wrists, and your sides, but don’t worry about your chest–just a couple of leather straps ought to do the trick.”

Implied Nudity

A PG-13 game can’t really have full-on nudity, I guess, but you can certainly imply it for dramatic effect.

Rest in PeaceTraitorous InstinctTreasured FindGrowing Ranks


  • I fear that if we zoomed in any more on that woman in Rest in Peace, we’ve have to up the rating.
  • All that the girl in Traitorous Instinct seems to be wearing is a couple of conveniently placed ribbons. And a green hat.
  • I suppose a gorgon doesn’t really need clothes, since the snakes on her head can probably just wrap her up if she’s feeling a little shy.
  • I suppose we’re all born naked.

Blatant Sexuality

There’s not a lot here, but consider this image:

Deviant Glee

I fear that too many people can imagine all too well, what her dream actually is. Would you let your teenager read Fifty Shades of Grey?

Men vs. Women

This is the section where we look for questionable portrayals of men and positive portrayals of women. Most of these guys are hardly the ideal of a man that anyone is looking for, but they are ripped! That Dryad Militant, though, I couldn’t even figure out whether it was a man or woman at first, but I think we can all agree that the point is, “Look at my sexy back!”

Gore-House ChainwalkerGolgari CharmHellhole FlailerDryad Militant

And, to balance things out, here are a few fully-clothed women showing off their full potential:

Ethereal ArmorSwift JusticeAsh ZealotGuild FeudHeroes' ReunionHussar Patrol

See, women can be tough, dressed, and beautiful all at the same time.

Now let’s tally up the results for Return to Ravnica (274 cards total in the set):

Graphic Violence: 2
Nightmare Horror: 6
Provocative Dress: 24
Implied Nudity: 4
Blatant Sexuality: 1
Objectified Males: 4
Female Protagonists: 6

This seems to be a better than average than set, but still with its problems. A lot of provocative females, and some even more than that. There is still room for improvement.

The Selesnya Conclave (The Guilds of Ravnica, #1)

Thematically relevant cards for a unified Selesnya deck (including cards from both Ravnica and Return to Ravnica blocks) for the Guild Battles format:

Watermarked Cards:

Chant of Vitu-Ghazi
Conclave Equenaut
Conclave Phalanx
Conclave Blessing
Devouring Light
Hour of Reckoning
Seed Spark
Votary of the Conclave
Chord of Calling
Gather Courage
Root-kin Ally
Scatter the Seeds
Siege Wurm
Sundering Vitae
Autochthon Wurm
Chorus of the Conclave
Congregation at Dawn
Glare of Subdual
Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi
Loxodon Hierarch
Pollenbright Wings
Seeds of Strength
Selesnya Evangel
Selesnya Sagittars
Tolsimir Wolfblood
Centaur Safeguard
Privileged Position
Selesnya Guildmage
Crown of Convergence
Selesnya Signet
Selesnya Sanctuary
Temple Garden
Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree

Simple (Pure // Simple)
Supply (Supply // Demand)

Eyes in the Sky
Rootborn Defenses
Selesnya Sentry
Trostani’s Judgment
Druid’s Deliverance
Horncaller’s Chant
Armada Wurm
Caller of the Conclave
Centaur Healer
Collective Blessing
Common Bond
Courser’s Accord
Heroes’ Reunion
Loxodon Smiter
Risen Sanctuary
Selesnya Charm
Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice
Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage
Wayfaring Temple
Dryad Militant
Growing Ranks
Sundering Growth
Selesnya Keyrune
Grove of the Guardians
Selesnya Guildgate

Scion of Vitu-Ghazi
Wake the Reflections
Advent of the Wurm
Armored Wolf-Rider
Bronzebeak Moa
Emmara Tandris
Trostani’s Summoner
Unflinching Courage
Voice of Resurgence
Ready (Ready//Willing)
Selesnya Cluestone
Selesnya Guildgate

Art/Flavor Text:

Dromad Purebred
Doubling Season
Dowsing Shaman
Dryad’s Caress

Avenging Arrow
Chorus of Might
Serene Remembrance

Mending Touch

Other Candidates:

Bramble Elemental
Carven Caryatid
Elvish Skysweeper
Fists of Ironwood
Ivy Dancer
Nullmage Shepherd
Primordial Sage
Stone-Seeder Hierophant
Loxodon Gatekeeper

Brace for Impact
Freewind Equenaut
Verdant Eidolon

Dryad Sophisticate

Rest in Peace
Centaur’s Herald
Gatecreeper Vine
Worldspine Wurm
Greenside Watcher
Shielded Passage
Sylvan Primordial
Verdant Haven

I’m open to suggestions or debate.