Friday, July 09, 2010

Magic: The Gathering - Thrulls

Introduced in "Fallen Empires," the same set as the "Thallids," (see my first Magic post) the Thrulls have always been one of my favorite creature types. They're a form of undead created with alchemy, or something, can take virtually any form and are generally created only to be expendable. Some are bred just as sacrifices for dark rituals, some function as experimental animals, others are kamikaze warmonsters. Here are a few of my all-time favorites:

The "Blood Pet" painted by Brom might be the cutest thrull. What's not to love about this malformed Frankensteinian rodent? For the longest time, I thought it had a little pink nose, but once I scanned it at high resolution I could see it had more of a flat, humanoid face with a tiny mouth, which is even cooler. Sacrificing the Blood Pet allows its controller to gain one black mana, fuel for casting more spells or using more card abilities.

Less adorable but far more disturbing is the "Blood Vassal," which came out one set after the Blood Pet. This twisted humanoid gives two black mana instead of one.

From the original "Fallen Empires" set comes this "Armor Thrull," which can be sacrificed to boost the defense of another creature. There were four different illustrations of every Thrull in this set, but I regrettably never scanned all of them, just my top favorites. I love the design of this poor guy, and the pathetic way he's cowering despite looking fairly powerful and dangerous.

My other favorite "Armor Thrull" is less expressive than the previous, but evokes just as much pity with its degenerate, helpless anatomy. I love how it's puking in a sewer. It doesn't get lowlier than that.

This "mindstab" Thrull is one of those "kamikaze" types. If it attacks and isn't blocked, you can sacrifice it to force the opponent to discard three cards from their hand, which is pretty nasty. I love the eeriness of this little subhumanoid, and the "clothing" which is clearly just an extension of its own skin. I'm not sure how the cartoon bomb fits in with the "mind stabbing," I guess it's a magical bomb that only blows up wizard's thoughts?

That's pretty metal when you think about it.

The "Necrite" is another kamikaze monster, but instead of forcing your opponent to discard a card, it allows you to destroy any one of their creatures. I thought this was one of the coolest illustrations in the game when I was a kid, but these days I'm a bigger fan of weird and sickly creatures than fierce and lethal-looking creatures.

Finally, we have this comical "Basal Thrull" painted by Phil Foglio, another Thrull that provides mana when sacrificed. Of the three here, I most prefer the green cyclops.

Magic: The Gathering - Ghoulies & Ghosties

"Skulking Ghost" and "Dungeon Shade" are completely unrelated cards, several years apart, with different illustrators and different creature types ("Ghost" and "Shade") but I'm lumping them together because...why not? They're both spooks. Or haunts. Or obake if you're so inclined.

I love the weird, pitiful quality of the Skulking Ghost, with its slimy intestinal-looking surface and long, winding fingers. The Dungeon Shade, on the other hand, is downright terrifying, and calls to mind the illustrations from the Scary Stories books.

Magic: The Gathering - Plaguespitter

This Magic stuff is running twice as long as I intended...I've got a couple more days of it left! Today, another Phyrexian "horror:"

Back before this sort of thing was easy to find on the internet, I used to learn of upcoming Magic card releases through gaming magazines, which were text-only until the cards were finally out. When I first saw that there was a horror called a "plaguespitter," I was very intrigued to find out what it would look like. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn't a cross between a pig and a treehopper with a bony mask (or is that just the nose?) and filth-spewing back pores. A very simple but very original design. I wonder how large it's supposed to be?