The Return of Flavor Draft

Posted in My Favorite Flavor on December 8, 2015

By Cassie LaBelle

Cassie LaBelle is a freelance writer. When she's not at her keyboard dreaming up stories, you can find her playing with his cats, listening to records, or building yet another Magic deck.

It's back!

My Favorite Flavor is a haven for unique and flavorful ways to play Magic, but none are quite as wacky or popular as Flavor Draft. I wrote about Flavor Draft back in June, and I've received dozens of emails about the format in the months since that column ran. Everyone who has tried Flavor Draft seems to have had a great time. Their only request? More sample flavor rulings!

I am very happy to oblige.

For those of you who are new to Flavor Draft, the basic premise is this: you and a group of like-minded friends gather for a Magic draft. Pick any format you like. Battle for Zendikar works well, and so does Cube. Pick a flavor judge (or a panel of flavor judges) whose job it is to sit out and observe the games. The flavor judge position can rotate throughout the night, and it's a great job to give to whoever has the bye if you have an odd number of players.

Play Magic as normal, but pay close attention to the how the flavor of the cards manifests itself during the game. If a card seems like it should be doing something different than it says it does—based on title, art, flavor text, the game state, etc.—you are allowed to play the card as though it had whatever rules text it would need to have to match the right flavor. If your opponent agrees with your interpretation, great! If not, call over the flavor judge and state your case. The flavor judge's rulings are final. The flavor judge is also allowed to observe your game state and make rulings as he or she deems necessary. In case you hadn't guessed, this is not a format that should be played competitively.

Confused? Intrigued? Excited? In all cases, I suggest the same remedy: a healthy dose of sample rulings. Since Battle for Zendikar hadn't been released the last time I wrote about Flavor Draft, I'll devote extra time to cards from Magic's most recent set. I've also included a smattering of rulings for weird older cards, because those are just the best. Let's get to it!

Sample Rulings

In Flavor Draft, Akoum Stonewaker's ability is only able to work with land that is stony enough. Mountains are probably all fine, but you should evaluate Plains, Forests, etc. on a case-by-case basis.

Surprise! This list is in alphabetical order, but Munda shows up whenever you least suspect him. He's got flash in Flavor Draft, obviously.

This guy is very good at calling might even call him a savant. At the beginning of your upkeep, you may make a Beast call, which involves making animal-style mouth noises while also specifying which Beast you're calling. Then reveal the top three cards of your library. If the Beast you called for is there, you may reveal it and put it onto the battlefield. Then put the other cards on the bottom of your library in any order.

Which brood lineage does this particular Wurm like to hunt? You'll have to pick one—Ulamog, Kozilek, or Emrakul—when you play it. Eldrazi of that brood must then block Broodhunter Wurm whenever it attacks.

The storage counters on this should be able to be used to cast Ugin as well. After all, it's his crucible.

Scions might be fairly mindless, but they're not going to consent to being sacrificed for, say, a copy of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. In Flavor Draft, you can only sacrifice these to cast an Eldrazi or Eldrazi-related spell.

Endless One embodies all possible meanings of the word infinite, eh? In that case, it shouldn't be able to die very easily, and it should probably keeping growing by, say, a +1/+1 counter every turn. Yeah, you're not going to want to pass this in Flavor Draft.

"Suddenly, Gideon was there with us, clearing the way so we could escape." Yeah, Gideon's Reproach is a beating in Flavor Draft. If you have Gideon in your deck and you cast this spell, you can put him directly into play.

Based on the flavor text, Goblin War Paint is more of a Goblin-related confidence boost than an actual magical enchantment. Thus, you can only cast this on Goblins—if you give it to a Cloud Manta, nothing will happen. Goblin War Paint can't be Disenchanted, but it might wash off in a fight with a Merfolk or sea creature.

Magic is more than 20 years old, and oh so much has changed since Indestructible Aura was first printed. Obviously, this is now an enchantment—Aura that makes enchanted creature indestructible. Not bad for a single white mana!

An obvious ruling: Vampires have no reflection, and thus they cannot be enchanted with Infinite Reflection.

This is another card with flavor text that hints at an ability beyond what is printed as rules text. In addition to tapping Lifespring Druid for mana, you should be able to tap it in order to force an opponent to sacrifice a Blighted land and replace it with its associated basic land.

You'll need to have more creatures in play than your opponent does for this card to work correctly. Otherwise, you're not really outnumbering his creature, are you?

More fun with card names! Reach of Shadows should make it so that target creature with shadow may block as though it had flying.

I love the idea behind Reclaiming Vines, but it should only affect artifacts, enchantments, and lands that have been either overdeveloped or affected by the Eldrazi blight. You shouldn't be able to reclaim a regular old Forest with your vines. And if you use it to destroy, say, a Blighted Steppe, you should be able to get a basic land back for your trouble.

As long as you control Retreat to Valakut as well as Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, creatures you control cannot attack and you cannot be attacked. If Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle is destroyed, you lose the game. You may sacrifice Retreat to Valakut at the beginning of any upkeep to end this effect. The same also applies to the rest of the Retreat cycle—if you control Retreat to Emeria and Emeria, the Sky Ruin simultaneously, and so on.

This cannot target flying creatures. They can fly right over the Ruinous Path. The same goes for Encircling Fissure.

Are your creature's hands supposed to be made of stone now? Or does your creature get a spooky pair of stone hands that follow it around the battlefield? The rules text seems to insinuate the former, but the art clearly depicts the latter. I'm ruling that Stonehands is not an aura—it's a 0/2 creature with Firebreathing.

Sun Quan might be rich and powerful enough to give horses to all the creatures on your team, but that doesn't mean they all have the necessary physiology to pull it off. Your Typhoid Rats, Thicket Basilisks, and so on cannot receive the bonus.

Swords to Plowshares evokes the tale of an ex-warrior trading their weapons for a farm. It should read something like "Destroy target Equipment. Its controller may search their library for a basic Plains, put that card onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle his or her library."

This only works if a creature you control has a really big tail.

This card says "up to two target creatures," but let's be honest—your tandem tactics are going to fail if you've only got one creature involved in combat. This clause is mandatory in Flavor Draft.

Some wounds never heal." Yeah, based on the flavor of this card, I doubt the 3 damage from this is going away at the end of the turn. In Flavor Draft, I'll have it add three -1/-1 counters to target creature instead.

If Ugin is in play when you cast Ugin's Insight, you have to take his advice or he'll get mad at you. For the rest of the game, you may not destroy any Eldrazi titans—you can only trap them.

Based on the art, it appears as though a Zendikari farmer built a small wooden cart, dumped a bunch of crude weapons into it, and tied it to his trusty old plow horse. Why isn't this so-called warmonger already on the warpath? And why doesn't he have a better chariot? The +2/+2 is already pushing it—this isn't a sturdy-looking vehicle—but I have an especially hard time seeing how this would enable a Vent Sentinel or Wall of Ice to charge into battle. There are some defenders this will work for—Basilica Guards, say, or Nivix Cyclops—but don't just go attaching this to random Walls and assuming it'll work.

That's all for this week! If you have an awesome Flavor Draft story to share or a Flavor Draft ruling you'd like advice about, hit me up on Twitter—I'll retweet the best ones to all of my followers.

—Chas Andres

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