Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Hilarity in Absurdity: Riven Turnbull

"Political violence is a perfectly legitimate answer to the persecution handed down by dignitaries of the state."--Riven Turnbull

I personally believe that one of the most endearing thing about M:tG is just how funny it can be. It's a game where a zombie, some goblins, and an avatar of self can join forces in a bands, where a snake can carry a lance, and you can invite up to four Uncles over for a jamboree.

It's also funny on some head scratchers of cards. Old school is a treasure trove of cards that make you scratch your head, say 'why?' and either laugh or be angry. Sorrow's Path is probably one of the most classical versions of this, and easily the most referenced, but numerous other cards have odd abilities, strange stats, or weird art, last week I talked about the outliner Uncle Istvan, and his popularity due to it being so strange, but today I'd like to mention another outliner who's a long standing personal favorite of mine, Riven Turnbull.

Yet not the strangest card in Legends by any stretch.

Riven Turnbull, like all Legends legends, did get a pre-revisionist description of him which basically called him a political fire starter, and that is all the lore (which is clearly on the Flavor Text) written about him. So without any lore, we need to look at the card itself, complete in a vacuum.

Art: Drawn in a style unlike most of RKF's art, it shows this man burning what appears to be a legal document. In his other hand, he is holding a short sword, and a skull rests between them both. The only other visible item is simply a window with night behind it. This shows the man operates largely in the cover of darkness, like many anarchists, since one must be hidden. The best part of this art, is the runic scripture on the parcel (which you can't really make out on the card itself), and the smoke, both are good details. The window in the back is also a nice touch, which given the age of the art, it could easily been left black and it would have been fine, but instead, it gives the art some color and depth.I sort of which RKF did a few more pieces in this art style, instead of his AWESOME trademark, but that might ruin this one.

Totally not a fire hazard.

Art: 4/5

Playability: Riven is certainly playable, if you like big creatures with the ability to cast Dark Ritual. I mean, he's an advisor, who's a 5/7, but we will get to that in flavor. He is a big legend, one of the biggest legends in legends (especially if you don't include the Elder Dragons). Only 8 Legends have a higher Power of 5 in the set, while 0 have a toughness higher then 7 (not including Dakkon Blackblade naturally). With a combined total between the two of 12, the only things with a higher p/t combination are the Elder Dragons themselves, and most creatures in the format can't reach that high either. He also has no drawback, and even a ability (even if it's extremely non-sequitur and pointless). At best he's a 5/7 vanilla with no drawback outside of being a Legend. He also, as a rule, gets a bonus point for being black, due to being immune to Hellfire, Terror, and boosted from an opponents Bad Moon. With this, he's an average 3/5. Purely stat wise, he's just an uninteresting beater, with the mentioned ability.
Playability: 3/5

Fun Fact: Another strange large legend from Legends in the same colors that taps for mana is Princess Lucrezia

Coming soon-ish

Flavor: The Bulk of our conversation. This guy must put Hercules to shame. In Legends, the idea was certain artifacts or magic can make creatures bigger, particularly humans. We see none of this in the art, of on the card. So we must assume him to be nothing more then a brute, and in this case, he's as powerful as Mahamoti, and as tough as an Elder Dragon. Me and my older brother once listed the things he could 'fight in the Arena' and survive against.
It includes:
--Urza's crowning achievement and a millenia of genetic engineering (plus Urza himself)
--Almost every dragon in the game
--Numerous other heroe's including all of the Weatherlight, Volrath, each Paragon of the Guilds (including Rakdos), Gideon.
--Numerous Villains including Baron Sengir, Kaervek, Lim-Dul, Memnarch, Volrath, 
--Almost every god currently in the game (Mogis being the one exception).
In Oldschool, he can kill a Hungry (and even fed) Sengir Vampire, Serra Angel, an entire Pirate Ship, Demonic Horde, a Sea Serpent, every non-dragon in Legends, a Clockwork Beast.  In other words, he's a boss. I'm convinced he generates black mana simply because other mana is afraid of him, and he's black because he is fearless (like a certain Pirate I like).

That's an impressive list of opponents for someone who's profession is advisor. It's hilarious in many ways.

His flavortext implies him to be a political activist and rebel, neither which fits much into either colors description, but he could also be a schemer, since he is an advisor, which would fit into both color's descriptions perfectly.

He's assumable a little versed in Magic, since he can add a B mana. Yet he's a 5/7, which shows he doesn't skip gym days.

So is the flavor good? Fuck if I know, it's not even cohesive, but fuck, is it memorable.

Also that flavor text ripped right out of Ayn Rand, is certainly memorable, but not all that characteristic of black (but I see how it could fit blue).

Flavor ?/5. I'm not honestly sure how to objectively rate this one, it's a mess, but it's what I love about it.


  1. Finally!! Another fan of the Turnbull!! As good as it gets! Old school gold!

    1. Hell yeah! He can punch a Hill Giant in the face!