Can Harriet Tubman Punch Out Cthulhu? On Poor Magic Card Templating.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 3.618% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

So there’s been a viral post going around, showing women as Magic cards.  It looks like this:
Great Message, Terrible Magic Card

Problem is, you play Magic at all, this card presents some serious worldbuilding challenges.
See those stats in the lower right hand of the card? 85/85? That means this card has 85 power and 85 toughness. These are numbers used to indicate how big and nasty a creature is.
An ordinary human has 1 power and 1 toughness.
A trained warrior can have 2 power and 2 toughness, sometimes.  (Sometimes it’s 2/1.  Even some low-level vampires are 2/1.)  This is good, because a “bear” in Magic terms is 2/2 – in fact, the 2/2 “Grizzly Bear” card is the classic standard for power and toughness.
A top-tier leader of an army is 3/3, who can beat a bear with ease – but at 3/3, you are literally fighting elephants and small werewolves.
At 4/4, you’re getting into the top tiers of Magic creatures, beings so powerful you sometimes don’t get the chance to cast them before you’re overrun by armies of classically 1/1 and 2/2 goblins.  You want an Angel, summoned straight from  heaven?  Here she is.  Hellion elementals are usually in the 4/4ish range as well.  Mid-sized werewolves, too.
By the time you’re getting to 5/5, well, your generic demon is 5/5.  (Don’t worry, Angels often have heavenly protections to even the odds.)  There’s no earthly creature that can hope to defeat a 5/5 on its own – no, by then you’re talking about crazy monster creatures with intimidating names like Nemesis of Mortals and Polukranos, World Eater.
You want a 6/6?
Oh, you want a dragon.  Dragons are classic 6/6s, though smaller fully-grown ones might be 5/4 if they’re clever.
What’s that?  You want the king of the dragons?  The toughest of the tough, born on a world full of dragons who’s clawed his way to the top through nothing but sheer might?
He’s an 8/8.
If you want creatures larger than 8/8, well, they’re pretty thin on the ground. Wizards spend their whole lives trying to cast them, and usually die before they can do it – which is a fancy way of saying “By the time you’ve acquired enough resources to cast this gigantic fatty, the other player’s usually beaten you.”  But they do exist!  They’re 11/11 Colossuses, or 11/11 Elder Gods summoned from beyond the pale, or a 9/9 archdemon who lords over all the other demons.
The scariest monster in all of Magic, the leader of the gang who’s been the Big Bad in two storylines, a card so potent that you’ll shell out $30 for a single copy of this ridiculously overpowered card?
Emrakul, The Aeons Torn is a 15/15 monster.
But wait?  What about lord dread Cthulhu himself?  Well, that’s basically Emrakul.  But if you want literally the largest creature in all of Constructed Magic, you go for the wrath of Marit Lage, a beast so huge it takes thirty mana to summon him.  (For the record, thirty mana is more than most people have in their entire deck.)  And that huge, terrible, flying rage?
It’s 20/20.
There is only one creature larger than that in all Magic – and it’s a joke, created for an “Un-Set,” which was never intended to be played in serious Magic.  It’s called the “Big Furry Monster,” and it’s a 99/99, and to accentuate how silly it is, it’s literally two cards that you have to draw, and cast, together.  Nobody takes it seriously.
To put it plainly:
According to this Magic card that was clearly created by someone who doesn’t play the game, Harriet Tubman is four times as powerful as Cthulhu.
And while I fully support Tubman on the $20, if she was truly this powerful, I feel frankly that Harriet Tubman, Ender of Worlds, should have done more than rescue slaves when she could have faced down the entirety of both sides of the Civil War and brought the world under her reign of freedom, because this Harriet Tubman could have eaten Gettysburg and never burped.
Which is not to say that I dislike the message.  Go women!  Go “Smash the Patriarchy,” even though that’s not a valid keyword in Magic!  Go you and your unfeasible casting cost of WWWWWUUUUU, which no sane person would ever put in a deck!
I fully admit I’m being a big ol’ wet blanket here, because I play the game.  I know it’s a lot to expect people to make Magic cards templated correctly, but to a lot of us who do know the game – it’s a lot like watching a TV show where the technical guy goes, “Yesterday, Snapchatted with my roommate on Twitter and discussed how to hotwire an IP address!”  You may like the show, but you’re like, “That’s not how that works.  That’s not how any of this works!
Harriet Tubman, I salute you. I think you’re awesome. I think women are awesome.
I’m just not sure all women are literally ten times more powerful in hand-to-hand combat than the king of the dragons.  Call me a misogynist.

1 Comment

  1. PDV
    Apr 29, 2016

    Harriet Tubman 3RW
    Legendary Creature – Rogue Human Soldier (mythic)
    Prowess
    Players can’t gain contol of creatures.
    Whenever Harriet Tubman deals damage to a player, exile target creature that player owns and controls.
    3/2

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