Parental Advisory Review – Gatecrash

Standard Introduction

Let me start by saying that I know my standards are not those of everyone else. 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?” In many ways, this set represents a continuation of the norm, which isn’t really a good endorsement.

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

Gatecrash continues the story set in the ecumenopolis of Ravnica, but this is still a fantasy story, so there will be some violence (two of the guilds in this set are particularly noted for their warlike tendencies: Boros and Gruul).

Grisly Spectacle

Just the one example, really, but it’s a doozy. I do believe that’s a headless corpse with copious amounts of blood splattered on the wall—a Grisly Spectacle indeed.

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’. Perhaps that Grisly Spectacle belongs here as well.

Corpse Blockade Devour Flesh Dying Wish Thrull Parasite Wight of Precinct Six Act of Treason Wildwood Rebirth Coerced Confession Immortal Servitude

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: hordes of the undead, being consumed from the inside out, monsters attacking, and a scene of torture. Also, what is going on with that fat guy’s stomach—I don’t really want to think about it; and then there’s that flavor text on Devour Flesh, which makes the picture above a particularly gruesome image.

Provocative Dress

You know, women can be quite beautiful to behold, and they can be so without displaying half of their skin, or at least their mammary glands, for all to gaze upon. Why does the art for Magic have to cater so much to the lowest common denominator—the horny young teenager (or worse, adult)? Just asking… Anyway, this set is pretty typical, although I will say that Magic is a little better than the typical fan service you see out there associated with the fantasy genre.

Shielded Passage Ætherize Metropolis Sprite Killing Glare Mental Vapors Shadow Alley Denizen Disciple of the Old Ways Aurelia's Fury Bane Alley Broker Deathpact Angel Fathom Mage Prime Speaker Zegana Burning-Tree Emissary Rubblebelt Raiders

I get that that’s a dryad in Shielded Passage, and I suppose that with that shield around her she doesn’t need any armor, but a little clothing or even more foliage couldn’t hurt, could it?

That mage in Aetherize is the most perplexing figure in the set for me—she’s clearly a powerful magic-wielder, so why does she have to settle for only buying half of a dress and then going into battle wearing it? Does clothing somehow impede the flow of magic within someone? At least, I guess, the artist is showing us her naked back instead of one more boob shot that is so typical of the rest of these gals who got short-changed at the clothiers—just a little off the top and the bottom, and then perhaps a little more…  The only one that makes any sense is the merfolk choosing to go with less; I imagine proper clothes do impede your ability to swim under the sea.

Worth an extra comment, however, is that Disciple of the Old Ways. Apparently when we read “Old Ways” we should read ‘primal’, as in some sort of Freudian primal state of our animal nature. That female creature may be tough, but her stance there just yells out, “Someone mate me with me—we’ll make hardy babies together.” Just like some wild dog…

Implied Nudity

This set is definitely better than average in this category.

Totally Lost Experiment One

OK, Fblthp is cute, and a homunculus, but he’s also naked as far as I can tell. And I suppose when you’re fresh out of the vat, you have some excuse for not having thought to bring a towel.

Blatant Sexuality

Perhaps even worse than the scantily-clad women above is this:

Skyknight Legionnaire

Now, you might be thinking, but wait, she’s completely covered! Well, sure, but with what the angle of the art gives us to look at, there can only be one thing on most men’s minds—how do I get her out of that armor and get me some of that? I’m sorry, but you know that’s what they’re thinking—like I said: lowest common denominator.

Men vs. Women

This is the section where we see if men get objectified and how many positive portrayals of women we can find. There are definitely some men getting short-changed at the clothier’s shop as well, and some definitely have something to put on display as well. Some are just wild creatures or experiments that we probably can’t hold to any real standards.

Keymaster Rogue Rapid Hybridization Spell Rupture Act of Treason Madcap Skills Skinbrand Goblin Towering Thunderfist Wrecking Ogre Wildwood Rebirth Fortress Cyclops Primal Visitation Bioshift

And here are a few tough broads who are more interested in doing their job than showing off their bodies:

Angelic Skirmisher Boros Elite Court Street Denizen Guardian of the Gateless Arrows of Justice

The numbers here are a little disappointing, I must admit.

Now let’s tally up the results for Gatecrash (249 cards total in the set):

Graphic Violence: 1
Nightmare Horror: 9
Provocative Dress: 14
Implied Nudity: 2
Blatant Sexuality: 1
Objectified Males: 12
Female Protagonists: 5

Some of the numbers are definitely down compared to other recent sets, but that includes the Female Protagonists. I’m not sure if its a good thing that objectified males are on the rise, though—I guess it brings some parity.

Sarkhan the Mad Dragon Tokens

I recently made a Sarkhan the Mad deck for Planeswalker Jousting. He makes flying 5/5 Dragon tokens. Another great opportunity! I mashed together all the red 5/5 dragons from Magic’s history into a token form for a variety of token options. How many do you recognize just from the artwork? (I threw in the Welsh dragon just for fun.)

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Other cards that also make 5/5 red flying dragons:

Digital Alter: Geist Busters

I don’t know how I missed this obvious reference when I looked through the Avacyn Restored spoiler, but I saw it today on and had to whip up this digital alter. Nothing fancy…


01 Geist Busters

The Tropes of Innistrad – BLUE

I’ve decided to just do the most obvious tropes that I know of. I know that most of the cards are referencing horror tropes, but I’m just not that familiar. So, I went with the ones that I know, and the ones I know of classic films for.

Back from the Brink – What’s scarier than one pieced together monster? A whole hoard of horrible clones. And what’s the most horrifying thing that we could imagine cloning? Hitler, of course! So, a scene from The Boys from Brazil (1978).
Civilized Scholar – I have to say that this is probably my favorite card from the whole set, not so much for its ability or quality, but for its echoing of the (in)famous Dr. Jekyll and…
Homicidal Brute – … Mr. Hyde. With scenes from the classic Spencer Tracy version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941).
Claustrophobia – I haven’t seen this recent film called Buried (2010), but man, I can’t imagine a death much worse than being buried alive, trapped, knowing you can’t get out, that your air is slowly being used up…
Delver of Secrets / Insectile Abomination – Not only has this card proved a monster in Constructed, but it’s another one of the really great horror riffs in the set. I know there’s a more recent version, but I like the classic The Fly (1958) with Vincent Price.
Deranged Assistant – What’s more classic than Dr. Frankenstein’s often deformed, and always disturbing, assistant, sometimes called Ygor… I think this is the guy from The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942).
Forbidden Alchemy – If you read the original Frankenstein book, Victor is the updated version of the early modern alchemist. Here’s Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein from the 1960s.
Invisible Stalker – Here’s another great nod to a classic, the Invisible Man, with a scene from the the 1933 version with Claude Rains. I do wish they had made him unblockable only when he wasn’t equipped.
Laboratory Maniac – Blue is the color of the mad scientist, and there’s no one more mad than Dr. Frankenstein. I believe this is Peter Cushing again – he did do at least two such films that I know of.
Ludevic’s Test Subject / Ludevic’s Abomination – When confronted with the mad scientist experimenting on living creatures, my mind immediately went to The Island of Dr. Moreau, the classic version of which is the 1977 movie with Burt Lancaster and Michael York.
Murder of Crows – Not only does the name for a flock of crows evoke horror, but so does the classic Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds (1963).
Skaab Ruinator – It’s clear that the designers are just using Skaab to mean a generic sort of Frankenstein’s monster. I decided to just throw the most classic of all Frankensteins on the card – Boris Karloff in Frankenstein (1931). See also Armored Skaab and Skaab Goliath (for which I have yet to come up with the perfect image/ film version).
Stitcher’s Apprentice – Yet another version of the Deranged Assistant, this time named Karl apparently, from one of Cushing’s Frankenstein films.

As always, I’m open to suggestions for some of the other cards’ tropes – I know they’re there, I just don’t know a good example.

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Rakdos Guildmage Goblin Token

I needed a token for my Rakdos Guildmage (from Dissension) to produce. This was a little tricky because it is a 2/1 Goblin (Wizards hasn’t made any 2/1 Goblin tokens) with haste and exiling at the end of the turn. Here’s what I came up with:

Token Goblin Rakdos 21a

Token Goblin Rakdos 21c

Token Goblin Rakdos 21b

Token Goblin Rakdos 21d

UPDATE: I noticed that this page had gotten a large number of hits one day, so I tracked the phenomenon down to its origin, and found that some guy was looking for a token like mine on reddit, but without the Calvin & Hobbes — how sad 😦  Anyway, everyone there was giving him a hard time–why didn’t he just make his own–but all he really had to do was ask in the comments section of my page–I still have the template. Anyway, I don’t know if that guy will ever find it, but I decided to whip up, just for him, a token with a more traditional image–a 2/1 Rakdos Goblin, in fact:

Token Goblin Rakdos 21e