best flavor text

Magic: The Gathering has undergone many changes since its introduction in August 1993, but one thing never changed — the importance of the game’s lore, flavor, and immersion. Unlike games such as chess or poker, Magic: The Gathering welcomes players into a fantasy world of wizards, monsters, and much more, and the cards express that both through their illustrations and flavor text.

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While flavor text has no bearing on gameplay, and not all MTG cards even have flavor text on them, flavor text is an integral part of the game that helps players understand the story, tone, and style of an expansion’s setting or the character in the art. Great flavor text is either funny, insightful, or cool and will stick in a player’s mind, and some passages of flavor text have risen to the top. Some cards stand out by having the best flavor text ever.

10 Utter End Takes No Prisoners

The Khans of Tarkir block took place on the war-torn plane of Tarkir, a world divided between five three-color factions, similar to 2022’s Streets of New Capenna. The warriors and wizards of Tarkir are vicious and cunning, and the Khans, or faction leaders, rank among Magic‘s most formidable creatures, as Utter End’s flavor text shows.

Utter End is a white-black instant that can exile any nonland permanent, which makes for terrific removal in midrange or control decks. The flavor text, attributed to Zurgo Helmsmasher the orc, chillingly shows how scornful Khan is toward his enemies. Can’t he ever find a worthy foe to slay in battle?

9 Monastery Swiftspear Turns Battle Into True Art

Also from the Khans of Tarkir block is the notorious one-drop red creature Monastery Swiftspear, which has been a staple in aggro and burn decks in Constructed formats since the mid-2010s. This card depicts a disciplined but aggressive Jeskai Way monk who is always spoiling for a fight.

The flavor text shows how brutal but also artful the Jeskai monks can be. They compare battle to writing elegant poetry, with blood as the ink and each stroke of the brush, or sword, spelling the enemy’s certain doom. When the poem is finished, the foe will be no more.

8 Darksteel Plate Is Impossibly Stubborn

The all-metal world of Mirrodin was introduced back in 2003’s Mirrodin set, and in 2010, WotC returned to this metallic world with more darksteel cards that can endure absolutely anything. One example is the Equipment card called Darksteel Plate, an indestructible artifact that aslo grants indestructible to its wearer.

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Darksteel looks cool, with its dark gray surface and its yellow energy rings, and the flavor text is even better. The red mana planeswalker Koth is quoted here, showing his absolutely indomitable willpower that makes even darksteel look flimsy by comparison. He’s a true fighter to the end.

7 Akroma, Angel Of Wrath Conquers All

Akroma, Angel of Wrath is one of the most famous white cards to ever exist alongside Swords to Plowshares and Land Tax, and it’s easy to see why. This mighty 6/6 flying Angel is loaded with abilities, including protection from its enemy colors of black and red, and the flavor rounds things out nicely.

Akroma is clearly an angel of few words, because her sword does all the talking when defending the innocent. Akroma tersely says “No. Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What” in the flavor text, which expresses Akroma’s burning desire to smite evil and tirelessly purge the world of the wicked. It’s equally inspiring and chilling.

6 Catacomb Crocodile Is Like Aesop’s Fables

Some Magic cards have awe-inspiring or remarkably deep flavor text, while others simply have amusing flavor text that keeps things from getting too serious. Above all, Magic: The Gathering is supposed to be fun and have a certain charm, so more than a few cards have silly flavor text to make sure the story stays grounded.

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One of many examples is the common black card Catacomb Crocodile, whose flavor text shows a talking rat and zombie arguing about who is the true king of the Ravnican sewers. That’s when the crocodile comes along and wordlessly asserts its dominance by devouring them both. What a story.

5 Lazotep Behemoth Is Goofy, Too

Another amusing Ravnican card is the War of the Spark common Lazotep Behemoth, a zombie hippo with decent stats for its mana cost. Gameplay-wise, it’s just a simple beater for games of booster draft Limited, but the flavor text and illustration help tell a story.

This is no ordinary creature in the lore. Its alien nature as an armored, Egyptian-inspired hippo beast of war came as a total shock to the native Ravnican defenders. They had no idea that worlds beyond their own, such as Amonkhet, even existed. This “worlds collide” conflict is amusingly captured on this card.

4 Hysterical Blindness Is Darkly Funny

The Gothic horror plane of Innistrad is home to everything from aristocratic vampire families to werewolves to Frankenstein-inspired mad scientists, and the latter is quoted in Hysterical Blindness. This blue instant is unremarkable in the game, but its illustration and flavor text are equally funny and creepy.

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Ludevic the evil scientist robbed the townsfolk of their sight, causing them to run around in a panic. Then, Ludevic can sit back and watch humanity’s dark nature take over as the townsfolk viciously look for someone to blame. Turns out humans can be even more wicked than devils or werewolves under the right circumstances.

3 Fodder Cannon Uses Cousin Ammo

Fodder Cannon is an uncommon artifact card that requires a steady stream of sacrifices and generic mana to keep firing. In most games, Fodder Cannon isn’t efficient enough to make it into aristocrats decks, but at least its goblin-centric flavor is hysterical.

Goblins are almost always the comic relief in MTG, being goofy, reckless warriors with the most creative and off-beat ideas of all. Fodder Cannon references how rapidly goblins reproduce and how they view each other as expendable for the sake of war, especially if it means sacrificing an annoying cousin or two.

2 Deranged Assistant Humanizes Evil Scientists

The evil scientists of Innistrad are at it again with this equally funny and sympathetic flavor text. Every brilliant scientist needs a lab assistant or two, but poor Garl isn’t being valued as an employee at all. He’s clearly being pushed around by his dark master, and he’s getting fed up with it.

In this card’s flavor text, Garl quotes his scientist boss as forcing him to do all kinds of things he doesn’t like, including handing over samples of his own brain matter for the sake of necro-science. Garl might even quit at this rate, and he has every reason to. Not even Gothic horror servants should put up with that.

1 Niv-Mizzet, The Firemind Has Big-Brain Flavor Text

At first, the massive dragon Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind seems to have gibberish for flavor text, just a made-up equation to show off how smart this Izzet dragon is. But WotC did much more than make up magic calculus to express the flavor of this blue-red dragon. This flavor text has a secret.

If a player turns the card to its side so the text’s left side is at the top, the flavor text looks like “Niv-Mizzet” when read vertically. This makes Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind a fantasy variation of the “leetspeak” Internet subculture, though Niv-Mizzet probably wouldn’t exactly call himself a 1337 h4x0r.

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