MTG: Inflexible

It’s a rare kind of custom magic design that has its own nickname.

There is, at the moment, no single card that on its own, has indestructible, hexproof, and flying. Closest you can get is [c]Angelic Overseer[/c]. Two creatures can gain hexproof and indestructible through paying some additional cost, [c]Elusive Tormenter[/c] and [c]Fleecemane Lion[/c]. This combination of keywords, for making a card resilient, is extremely obvious and absolutely nowhere in the game as presented.

Doesn’t stop the custom crowd from breaking it out on the regular, and that’s where we get the nickname INFLEXIBLEIndestructible, flying and hexproof.

You shouldn’t make these cards.

This article contains no unsolicited card designs.

It’s not like it’s hard to flavour ‘a flying thing that’s impossible to affect.’ It’s something you’ll see on a lot of ‘great big idiot’ designs, commanders, powerful angels or demons. Lovecraftian gods and Nephilim are popular bearers of the Inflexible powerset.

Colour-pie wise, it’s not like the combination of abilities is a bad one: white can have all those abilities individually. Green can have indestructible and hexproof, and black is behind both of those colours but does get them too. Blue can probably have the combination, what with how when you cross a threshold of like, six mana, everyone kinda gets access to indestructible for ‘special’ cards like the Theros Gods or the Myojin.

The argument against Inflexible isn’t a colour pie one. Literally everyone can have this mix of abilities, even the worst creature colour. Hell, you can probably find a flavour that makes it click on an artifact, at which case it’s on for young and old. We have flying artifacts, indestructible artifacts, and hexproof is over there on [c]Sphinx of the Guildpact[/c]!

It isn’t like the problem is limited to Hexproof proper, mind you: it’s a problem if you use Shroud or Ward, too. The closest we have to an Inflexible with that more recent tech is is [c]Svyelun of Sea and Sky[/c], who’s conditionally indestructible and grants ward to the things that fulfill her condition. That’s a neat combo, but it’s definitely not the same as just those three words.

I wish to warn away from Inflexible for a much more obvious reason:

It’s boring.

Inflexible cards are the absolute pinnacle of ‘stop touching my stuff, Dave‘ cards that players love. You’ll see a lot of cards designed that betray a bias against letting other players interact with your cards, and it tends to take the form of things that somehow, absolutely cannot be responded to. It’s up there with The Sorcery Counterspell, for common trends. But while the Sorcery Counterspell betrays a person playing with tricky puzzles, Inflexible tends to be a thing presented by players who are resistant to the idea of investing in cards that their opponents can then do anything about.

Flying cuts a chunk of combat out. Flying creatures aren’t unblockable, but they’re hard to block. Typically speaking, decks aren’t going to marshal a lot of defense against fliers, just because fliers are less common than non-fliers. It really is one of the best mechanics in the game like that, splitting the battlefield into two layers in a nice, intuitive way. Indestructible means there’s no point trying to win in flying combat, so you’re going to instead be throwing smaller flying creatures into the path of the Inflexible. You can’t target it, so there’s almost no cheap removal that gets rid of it.

This is pretty obvious, I know! But the thing is, this means that once the Inflexible hits the board, it is probably a permanent part of the game. It probably has a single, simple set of results: Either it beats your opponent to death or your opponent races it. It hangs around, making the game more boring; your opponent can’t draw many cards that potentially deal with it, or change the way they relate to it – it’s pretty much there and that’s that.

It is stagnation.

It is a bog.

I get the impulse. You have this cool idea for a card. You want it to hit the table and you want it to do its thing. You want it to be worth running and you want it to feel impressive, so you jam the inflexible trio on it. The problem is, those three words, as they are, transform whatever else the card is doing into making it an inflexible. Players can’t engage with it, no matter what its other abilities are, and instead, the fact it is those three things are the most important part of it.

Playing with your opponents is one of the most important part of Magic: The Gathering. It’s a game about having an opponent, not a solo or cooperative experience (most of the time). The game pieces are made with the idea that players will be able to interact with them, and that’s why you may notice most Hexproof cards are just hexproof – the fact they can’t be interacted with in one way makes the question they pose about can you interact with this on another level? Just some of these questions create an interesting puzzle and that change the values of the cards your opponents draw.

Inflexible makes it so almost everything your opponent draws out of a tiny number of usually expensive cards are worthless responses to what you did, while you have this block of a card just beating them to death.

By the way, this is not my term. I think I first saw it coined on the MTG Circlejerking Bottom 5, but it’s a good, handy term.

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