Parental Advisory Review – Theros

I’ve decided that I’m not interested in cataloging all of the instances of less-than-fully-modest clothing or gratuitous violence in a Magic set. I’m just going to highlight what I find particularly egregious, where Magic steps beyond what I would consider PG-13 (yes, yes, I know, some people have lower standards… so be it).

To start with, there’s the overly-sexualized Ephara’s Warden—cut that dress any higher or lower and we’d be seeing a lot more than we bargained for:

Ephara's Warden

This reminds me a bit of that movie 300, where the guys are just so buff they don’t even need to wear armor. But let’s keep it real: to be in the phalanx, you’re going to need upwards of 80 lbs of armor to do your job. An oversized loincloth is just not going to cut it—you don’t look tough, you just look like a fool (and a soon to be dead fool at that).

Phalanx Leader

The Traveling Philosopher just barely misses my cut.

“How low can you go…” Don’t you just love those dresses that cover all the way down to the ankles but only because they start below the shoulders—clearly the problem here wasn’t a lack of fabric, just modesty. Sorry, lady, but no one really wants to see 270 degrees of your sagging boobs.

Artisan of Forms

Here’s my winner for best “fan service” of the set. If that girl isn’t careful, her skirt is just going to slip right off altogether! Save it for the bedroom, honey.

Dissolve

Man, here’s the winner for most disturbing. That image just sticks in your mind and won’t easily go away. I suppose the artist might consider that a compliment.

Gainsay

It’s certainly a bad day at the office (or temple) when your dress gets swept away by the omens, and you find you forgot to wear anything underneath. Oops!

Omenspeaker

I know she’s a goddess (and thus doesn’t have to conform to mere mortals’ standards) and apparently incarnates as some sort of half-woman, half-sea serpent, but even she probably would like a little more support in the chest than a dab of the artist’s paint to keep it PG-13.

Thassa

Now that’s some strategic seaweed!

Triton Shorethief

Yes, that elemental is unencumbered by clothing as well—but somehow really well-endowed for someone unlikely to ever need to nurse an infant.

Vaporkin

Nothing left but a few rags down in the underworld I guess. At least she’s in the background, I guess.

March of the Return

Whatever the Theros equivalent of Mount Olympos is, it must be really warm there. I suppose we should just be grateful that Nylea’s donning more than Thassa.

Nylea

If she was a pure creature of the sea, I might accept that she’s barely covered in her ‘bikini’, but she has wings. I hope she doesn’t fly too high, or else she’s going to freeze her tail (and probably other parts, too) off!

Shipwreck Singer

A special comment on the Nymph cycle. I suppose as rather pure creatures of nature, we shouldn’t expect clothes, and each of the images has some strategically placed foliage to help keep things PG-13, but I do think a good artist can suggest the au naturel without showing so much skin.

Observant Alseid Nimbus Naiad Cavern Lampad Spearpoint Oread Leafcrown Dryad

To conclude, I will say, to its credit, that at least Elspeth knows that you’re most likely to survive a battle with more clothes on, rather than less:

Elspeth ElspethElspeth

Parental Advisory Review – Magic 2014

I don’t normally do a PAR for the Core Sets, as much of the art is reprints, but I was pleasantly surprised by the lower levels of objectification of women in the set’s art, so I thought it was worth mentioning and applauding. I focused mainly on new cards with new art.

The Good

Look ma, I’m wearing all my armor! Nice to see these female fighters fully armored up instead of the usual just enough armor for modesty’s sake, especially on the angels, who are notorious for leaving their heavenly home in a state of undress. Even the civilians got dresses down to their ankles!

Banisher Priest Dawnstrike Paladin Angelic Accord Archangel of Thune Seraph of the Sword Imposing Sovereign Shadowborn Apostle

The Bad

There are still some leftovers from bygone days, of course. Here you can see the old scantily clad angels. Of course, they still have some work to do on their female planeswalkers. Maybe Liliana’s a lost cause, seeing as how she sold her soul to some demons, but I still don’t get why Chandra’s skirts are even shorter than women’s tennis skirts, which are pretty dang short these days and why her breasts get plate mail when the rest of her torso gets chainmail – I sure hope it’s not just to accentuate her boobs…

Congregate Gladecover Scout Liliana Chandra

Chandra

The Ugly

Despite the improvements in the portrayal of women, there still seems to be some pandering to lowest common denominators in the form of blood, violence, and third-grade humor. Yes, those women are fully armored, but they have bloody swords sticking through them.

Blood Bairn Dark Prophecy Grim Return Undead Minotaur Goblin Diplomats

Still, on the whole, I felt the set made a solid step forward in their art choices. Let’s hope they don’t revert back to older trends when they get to what I expect to be a Mediterranean-like plane, resembling Ancient Greece and Rome, in Theros. I, for one, would like to see a Victorian-art-like setting rather than a Pompeiian-frescoe-sort of humanscape.

Parental Advisory Review – Dragon’s Maze

Standard Introduction

My goal here is simply to highlight images with a potential to concern or disturb, and offer some basic art evaluation, especially from a parent’s perspective. Obviously, what one parent is fine with another may not be. My guiding judgment is whether I would want my young teenage son to be looking closely at these cards, or if I felt I could recommend this image to my young teenage daughter as a model of virtue. Overall, I think this set is something of an improvement on recent sets, although it still has some problems.

The main categories of evaluation are GRAPHIC VIOLENCE, NIGHTMARE HORROR, PROVOCATIVE DRESS, IMPLIED NUDITY, and BLATANT SEXUALITY. At the end, I will look for men in some state of undress, and women who are being portrayed as something besides a sexual object.


Graphic Violence

It’s a game about battling wizards set in a world that reflects many real-world issues and conflicts, but that doesn’t mean we need to see it in all its gore and brutality – a good artist can suggest it without having to show it, I think.

Clear a Path Punish the Enemy Show Stopper

That’s a lot of blood in the first one, and while the Showstopper card thankfully doesn’t show any blood, in conjunction with the flavor test, suggests a bit too much gore in my opinion – I really wonder about their inclusion of the Rakdos in general.

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’. Is this something that you want your child to be thinking about long after the game itself is over?

Boros Mastiff Murmuring Phantasm Trait Doctoring Sinister Possession Carnage Gladiator Debt to the Deathless Maw of the Obzedat

Not all of it is that bad–that Mastiff is just really mean looking–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. And that Maw of the Obzedat should be downright disturbing to any decent human being.

Provocative Dress

Why do Magic artists cater to the lowest common denominator so much? Too much skin and cleavage, although I suppose that the way the world is going, not so different than a typical trip down main street. The numbers are down a little from previous sets, but it’s also a small set, which may explain some of it.

Wake the Reflection Runner's Bane Deadbridge Chant Exava, Rakdos Bloodwitch Gaze of Granite Korozda Gorgon Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts Warleader's Helix

I guess that Gorgon is sort of swimming, but I don’t know what the excuse is for most of the rest–is Ravnica a particularly warm plane? I suspect that the whole Magic multiverse runs on the upper end of the temperature scale, based on the clothing in the art anyway. I mean, what’s up with that big hole in the front of Teysa’s dress? Does she use that as a pocket?

Implied Nudity

Hey, I couldn’t find any!

Blatant Sexuality

Nothing here, either. I suppose I might have put that Blood Witch above down here, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Men vs. Women

I suppose it should be comforting to know that many men are running around the plane half-dressed, but surely the Azorius could pass a “no shoes, no shirt, no service” law.

Hired Torturer Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker Vorel of the Hull Clade Zhur-Taa Druid Dangerous Blood

And there were a few examples of women that you could recommend as role models. I think Trostani’s Summoner is particularly beautiful.

Saruli Gatekeepers Lavinia of the Tenth Trostani's Summoner


Now let’s tally up the results for Dragon’s Maze (171 cards total in the set):

Graphic Violence: 3
Nightmare Horror: 7
Provocative Dress: 8
Implied Nudity: 0
Blatant Sexuality: 0
Objectified Males: 6
Female Protagonists: 3

I think the amount of horror and violence is perhaps even more concerning to me than the female dress issue in this set. Definitely room for improvement.

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.

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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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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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

Notes:

  • 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.