Hello again, Magic Community and welcome back to Jester’s ReCap: Magic: The Gathering’s Island of Misfit News. I hope you had a fantastic Christmas, though statistically most of you didn’t. I’m sure there was great food and good times, warm hearths and warmer hearts. Realistically though, you guys are nerds and you were meeting with your family. Therefore, some of you had your significant other leered at by a gross Uncle. Some of you were asked incessantly when you were going to find said “significant other” and hey, maybe if you stopped investing so much time into your “silly games…”? Some of you were compared to Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory by older relatives, which is the conversational equivalent of having your genitals lathered in hot sauce and sand. But hey, you’re through it now and you’ve come out the other side in one piece, with a bounty of gift cards and at least one ill-fitting sweater.
Ok, so sharp readers will probably notice that I don’t normally produce a Jester’s ReCap every week and that this would normally be the week I skip to let some more news build up. But here in Canada, at least, it’s Boxing Day, and I would hope at least some of you are home after Christmas recovering from the Holidays. My plan is to use this time productively by drafting until my eyes bleed. And as a special gift to you guys, I’ve decided to make good on a promise I was sure was completely hollow and empty when I made it. Merry Christmas from Jester’s ReCap – here’s roughly 1500 words about how Frost Giant should be blue:
Frost Giant should be blue. Frost Giant should be blue. Frost Giant should be blue. Frost Giant should be blue…
Ok, no I’m not going to do that. Although, I did consider copy/pasting that 300 times. Truthfully though, there’s probably a real colour pie discussion to be had regarding this Legends card. I’m not a colour pie expert, and I’m not sure how funny that conversation is, but since no other luminaries are tackling this real and pressing issue, fine. I’ll step up and fill the void. When I’m done, we’ll finally have this all figured out and then maybe we’ll be able to sleep at night without this it gnawing away at our brains like a Chittering Rats on amphetamines.
So, I guess the first thing that jumps out at me is the name, right? I mean, Frost Titan managed to be blue and also awesome. Frost Breath, Ice Cage, Thing in the Ice, Rush of Ice, just plain Ice. It’s been pretty well established that “cold” cards belong to blue. Not just because of the obvious Fire/Ice dichotomy, but also because blue mages tend to be cold, rational, and unemotional intellectuals. Er, no wait, sorry. Blue mages are supposed to be cold, rational, and unemotional intellectuals. If you wish to disprove this theory, cast Guttural Response on someone’s Cryptic Command. Blue mages are the same howling salt-beasts as the rest of us, but with worse people skills.
Regardless, any card with “Frost” in its name these days would definitely be at least partially blue. It’s a matter of the word being evocative of blue, and connecting with players’ expectations. There have been exceptions along the way, of course. Everything was “cold” in Ice Age block, which led to a fair bit of colour pie bending. Skred is an ice-flavoured burn spell for crying out loud. If Frost Giant had been printed in Ice Age, I don’t think we would even be having this discussion. In the same way that visits to Innistrad means every colour is going to have some graveyard interaction, or a trip to Theros meant every colour had to have Heroes, Gods and Monsters, or a trip to Kamigawa is going to make 4-mana 2/2s seem aggressively costed, things in Ice Age were cold across the entire colour spectrum. We usually accept that block mechanic or story considerations allow for liberal abuse of the colour pie. Outside of those conditions, though, Frost = Blue.
Also, while Giants tend to be Red and White thanks to Lorwynn block, it’s worth nothing that giants come in all flavours. Other blue giants include Theros Limited all-star Benthic Giant, Commander Staple Oloro, and Classic Innistrad flavor-win Skaab Goliath. The list goes on… in that there’s like two others I didn’t mention yet. But still. So it can’t be the type line that is forcing Frost Giant to break the colour pie.
It has Rampage, which is definitely a mechanic that feels red. Well, actually it feels stupid, but a mechanic can feel like two things at once. Infect is simultaneously scary and infuriating. Regenerate simultaneously feels like the most intuitive thing in the world and a disgusting mess of bizarre interactions. Banding simultaneously feels White and like it hates you on a personal level. But punishing double-blocking feels appropriately aggressive, and I can see a logic behind it representing a sort of “berserker rage” as more and more bodies are thrown in front of your attacker. Except, that’s not how Rampage was originally used. Rampage showed up on creatures of all colours (and colourless!) and was usually just used to demonstrate that something was huge. Craw Giant, Teeka’s Dragon, Chromium are all examples I would cite of decidedly “un-red” cards that have Rampage. So, while it certainly helps to justify the colour choice, Rampage is definitely not the reason Frost Giant is red.
Maybe I’m coming at this from the wrong angle. Maybe in the early days, it was less about player expectations, or worldbuilding and more about hewing closer to real world mythology. A card printed in Legends, in the earliest days of the game, you would think would simply model the creature as close to the original mythology as possible. So what does that look like?
In a word, inconsistent. While Frost Giants, or “Jotunn” as they are known, are described often as hideous, dumb and of childlike temperament, specific named examples tend to be incredibly old, wise and reasonable. Name a Norse deity. Ok, that person at least slept with, if not straight-up married a Frost Giant. Thor, Odin, Freyr, everybody. This is despite the fact that the Gods went out of their way to slaughter the younger giants all the time. I can draw from this one of two possible conclusions:
1) Frost Giants are incredibly violent, dangerous and stupid in their youth and have to come of age to gain their maturity and intellect. Which, honestly, sounds kind of red?
2) Frost giants must be crazy awesome in the sack. Like, so awesome powerful deities completely lose their shit to get a shot at some of that incredible Frost Giant lovin’. It’s a lay so good it warps the fabric of reality. Which, honestly, is the reddest thing I ever heard.
What? Don’t look at me like that. Red is the colour of incredible sex. Oh sure, WOTC calls it “passion” but who are they kidding? That Chandra Nalaar has certainly “ignited” the imagination of a number of young men. Although, you might want to be a bit cautious. Chandra wouldn’t leave you “burned out”, she’d leave you crumpled in the ashes of your own libido. That’s sex so good it’s physically dangerous. You’d be lucky to ever walk again. If you aren’t some combination of brave, crazy and stupid don’t even bother buying her a drink. If you’re all three you’re still going to need you’re “A” game. Plus, while I’m betting she’s a cuddler afterwards, you might want to save the silk sheets. They aren’t going to make it.
And Ladies (or so-inclined men), back me up here, Koth is a stud. Look at those abs. The man is a “Geomancer” and being rock hard is like, his whole deal. And he’s a freedom fighter for the last of his people? You know he’s got a sensitive side. He’s essentially the cover of a Harlequin romance novel carved out of granite. I mean, sure, you have to come over all soft at first. He’s going to have trauma and trust issues, which isn’t fun or sexy. But once he lets you in, and he’s holding you in those big powerful arms, everything would just seem right with the world and his molten heartbeat would be thrumming in harmony with your own…uh, or something like that. Right? Ladies? Ahem.
So yeah, based on the lore, I can see why those early WOTC folks thought Frost Giant could be red, based on the Norse tradition they were clearly pulling from. These guys are brash, violent, and emotional when they’re young, and some kind of sexual narcotic when they get older. My question then is, why call it “Frost Giant”? That’s awesome, evocative naming material right there, pitched away on somebody desperately trying to justify their degree in Norse Mythology. What’s wrong with “Jotunn”? Because to modern ears, “frost giant” is really misleading. They aren’t always cold, for one thing, they’re just from the North. And they aren’t giant. They are just descended from actual giants. And now, we can never have a blue card called Frost Giant. That’s awesome, evocative naming material right there, pitched away on somebody desperately trying to justify their degree in Norse Mythology.
So, there we go. I’m not sure we exactly settled anything, but I feel good about it. I hope you had a great holiday and I offer to you these parting thoughts: What do you guys think about colour pie bending? Is Frost Giant ok, if you we change the name? Could you name it better? Could Rampage be any dumber? Does any colour have better sex than red? See you for our regularly scheduled ReCap next week!