Magic: The Gathering is Metal AF
I started playing Magic: The Gathering a little less than a year ago. In that time I have spent an inordinate amount of brainpower, time and money on pieces of cardboard and how they interact. How did I become so addicted to cardboard crack in such a short amount of time? One major reason is that Magic: The Gathering is metal as fuck. I went and searched MS for posts tagged with “Magic The Gathering” and all I found was this lone post from over four years ago. Hessian Hunter and the commenters pretty much nailed which bands would be what color.
My aims here are not even as lofty as that post. As has been explained probably a billion times on the internet, Magic: The Gathering is all about combat and interactions between fantastical creatures and spells. Each player is a wizard who is casting spells to destroy his or her opponents. Besides the obvious prog/power metal connotations that the phrase “fantastical creatures and spells” brings to mind, there are a ton of brutal cards – in art, flavor and gameplay mechanics. I think a good first foray into the metalocity of MTG is through the wild ass art that ends up on so many of the cards. I’m going to run through a few of my favorites and then let’s argue about it in the comments!
Unholy Strength was an early gateway for me. My buddy showed me this card, with it’s burning pentagram and leatherclad thrasher and I knew something good was going on here. It’s a classic aura that beefs up your creatures through the power of the devil. Basically a perfect metal card. Later versions of the card removed the burning pentagram (lame) and then even later versions ended up with this kind of psychadelic Gwar character. Better than the pentagramless dufus, but still obviously nowhere near as cool as the OG.
Speaking of Gwar, check out Order of the Ebon Hand with goddamn Balsac the Jaws of Death painted on there!
Macabre Waltz… holy hell. Just a couple of bloodsoaked corpses dancing around in a bath of their own viscera. That’s definitely fucking metal, dude. Unfortunately, the card’s utility is kinda limp compared to other options out there for graveyard shenanigans. The name is also kinda too kitschy for me. Sounds like a song a European band who only spoke English would write. Let’s find some actual good cards that are also metal af…
Woah… This looks like some future shit. Could be a Septicflesh album cover or something. Besides being cool to look at, this card is capable of some pretty thorough deck fuckery and you can do it instantly and for no cost other than a little life if you want to go that route. The art definitely matches the brutal nature of what’s going to happen to you when your opponent drops this one.
All the cards up until this point have been black, so it’s nice to see a white card bringing some bizarre and evil religious imagery. Besides being a bloody, eyeless creep, Elesh Norn is also a brutal competitor. It wipes out everyone else’s small creatures while beefing up all yours. I love that Elesh Norn exists in the same game as something like Unholy Strength. The wide breadth of styles and aesthetics is part of what makes MTG art so interesting, just like different types of metal!
It’s a little tough finding truly metal green cards that aren’t just big beasts or some stoned looking elf. Luckily, someone decided to put Rob Zombie on one and call it Hermit Druid. I love this card in my Jarad EDH deck. He just grinds it out, filling my graveyard turn after turn. To me, just having a ‘metal dude’ on a card is in some ways more metal than some of the outrageous and brutal fantasy imagery. I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time with Hermit Druid. Hermit Druid and his ilk are the backbone of the metal community.
The same can be said for Joven. In fact, I’m pretty sure Joven’s band opened for Black Table in Tempe, AZ a couple months ago. This guy probably plays guitar and sings in his blackend folk metal band. It’s goofy and they definitely suck, but it means the world to him. Super sweet dude, too. Would totally give you the shirt off his back. Not surprisingly, Joven and Unholy Strength share an artist in Douglas Shuler.
Blue cards have a special kind of “metal” aesthetic. They tend to be more disturbing or chilling compared to the artistic extremes of Black and Red, the stoner vibe of Green and the power metal bombast of White. Delver of Secrets/Insectile Aberration is about as creepy as it is powerful in the right deck. This idiot ran out of animals to test shit on, so he went and turned himself into a bug-person. That is horrible. Honorable mention to a personal favorite of mine: Docent of Perfection. Same theme, just reverse. An insect turns himself into a person. Gross.
The last card I want to highlight here is Indestructible Aura. A birdman with what looks like the a millipede torso (or just a sweet battle vest with fringes, I can’t tell) throwing the horns in front of flood lights. This is probably what greeted Dio at the pearly gates.
I left about a billion metal AF cards off this list because I’m already coming up on 800 words here. Next time, maybe I’ll write about metal mechanics in the game itself. Anyone into that?
Also, finally, I’m going on tour with The Number Twelve Looks Like You in December. I will DEFINITELY have decks with me, so get in touch if you want to throw down before or after a show along the way: