Card Discussion: Triumph of Ferocity – The artwork with an issue

– UPDATE 2017 –

Hello dear reader, I know that this blog post sometimes get linked in discussions about MTG cards and some of the problematic art that may appear in the game. Sometimes, linked also in discussions about Wizards way of handling and answering to the community. In the past years I’ve always found it fun to see my written text used in this discussion, until I actually took the time to read it again.

Now I mostly feel silly, ashamed and also very surprised about the person I was only a few years back. Much has happened since then of course, when it comes to discussing issues and problematic trends in game design.

And I just want you to know that my opinion on these topics have changed drastically, not becuase I’m a great defender of justice, not because I got brainwashed, but because I’ve taken the time to learn, listen and realize that me and my opinions are not set in stone, rather they are set in a formable clay. And I will happily reform that clay and add to it by learning and creating a greater understanding of the world around me.

Now, I will not remove or change the original text, it stands as a reminder to myself that I in fact changed alot the last few years, and I’m very proud of that evolution.

To end with a quick thought, Wizard clearly did the right thing to apoligize for the art itself and to not use it in future printings of the card. If a big part of their community feels affected and troubled by the card art, it’s a problem. MTG is a game that in itself should welcome all players and groups, and this kind of card just did not fit into that. It created a situation online and at events that became very non-welcoming to the games non-male demographic. I will leave it that for now, and clarify in the comments if you have any questions.

We can all learn. We can all change.
I just did not imagine that I would do so without actually realizing that I did.

Hello Nurglings.

I’m sitting here with a feeling of: what just happened? I’ve been following discussions on Twitter that has been going on for the last few hours. The discussions concern a new card from Avacyn Restored; Triumph of Ferocity.

Can you guess why this card has been wildly discussed? I think you can, but it may not be as clear as you think. As it seems, it’s about 50/50 in what people see in this picture. I for one actually liked this artwork, it shows the struggle between Garruk and Liliana, he’s about to smack her down and she is just about to throw a spell in his face. I bet many of you see that as well, but some of you will see something completely different. Something that I understand can be disturbing; and that is that the whole scene taking place symbolizes rape.

Taking a step back, yes it’s a struggle between a man and woman. Had this been two men fighting, I doubt we would be having this discussion right now. Maybe we would have, but I doubt it. I respect the fact that some people see this in the artwork, and I understand where it comes from. But I almost feel as if this issue or idea has been taken a bit… far.

Why do you see “rape” when you look at this image?

Is it because we see a female in a weaker position towards a male? Is it because of the position of the bodies, and again the fact that the male character has a more aggressive/overhead stance over her? That’s what I’m guessing and yes I see that too, but where is the part that says rape? Why is he forced to be judged as someone that is about to rape a woman?

Turn the two roles around, let’s imagine Liliana (the woman) pushing Garruk down towards a rock. Now he is the spell caster, what would you think of the art? Just a quick thought would be: “Sweet! She is kicking ass!” instead of right now; “Why is he forcing her down like that?!”

It annoys me greatly that a struggle between a male character and a female character where the man is winning apparently is not accepted as artwork.

But, I understand, once again, where you’re coming from with these thoughts. I respect that fact, but I also hope that you can respect that I disagree. Artworks in a game will “always” at one time or another, create these emotions. And that is what this card was created for, emotion of what is taking place. I think that this one card may have captured it better than any card in Avacyn Restored. Not only do we realize it, a lot of you feel it so strongly that you turn it into a problem.

I’ll gladly get some comments on this, cause I’m writing straight out of my head. I probably didn’t follow up on all my thoughts or explained them well enough. If so, comment, discuss and I will be back with a follow up.

Until next time Nurglings, take care.
Cya soon!

Posted on 26 April, 2012, in Card Games, Magic The Gathering, Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. I’m very surprised people would think such a thing. While, in any other circumstance, it could be taken in such a way, even if you don’t know the story, even the flavor text shows a bit of what’s going on.

  2. Does it ever mention if she lived or if Garruk got the curse removed?

    • The story is that Liliana wins the fight and Garruk is left in Innistrad trying to find a cure for his curse.


  3. I think the people that are complaining about the gender issue of this card are the ones who should be embarrassed, NOT WOTC. STOP IT ALREADY. This game takes place in a mythical world. One where brute strength and magic clash constantly and often times the “woman” prevails. its up to the player using the cards to decide who wins and this art didnt make me think women are weak, it made me think THAT woman was weaker than THAT man. Im sick of this conversation and think that forcing men to read all these “sexism in mtg” articles are doing way more harm than good in the community. im sick of hearing it and want women to stop playing SOLELY because articles like this one are spam and more of the problem than anything else. Nothing against the author.

  4. please apologize for the art of Triumph of Cruelty because as a man, I feel weak and powerless around all women now and it is affecting my home and work lives?

  5. It’s not just that Garruk is winning. If he were attacking Liliana with, say, an axe while she was held against the rock with roots, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. It’s the specific positioning of Liliana and Garruk in this scene that evokes questions of rape.

    See, the issue here is a greater one. There’s a reason that when we see a man aggress a woman, we immediately go “is this sexual violence?” but when we see a woman aggress a man or a man aggress a man, we don’t. It has more to do with the fact that there is a certain perception of WOMEN that exists rather than a certain perception of MEN.

    For example, sure, perhaps this image merely indicates that Liliana is weaker than Garruk. But every time that image appears, it reinforces the idea that maybe women in general are weaker than men. And images like this one are way, way more prevalent than images where the roles are switched.

    Where in the art is the part that suggests that Garruk ISN’T going to rape Liliana? You can’t determine whether Garruk will or will not do that to Liliana based on this artwork alone. Judging the artwork by itself, seeing it as a possibility for sexual violence is not impossible.

    • But Garruk isn’t winning, Liliana has a fireball waiting to toss in his face (and the arm holding it isn’t being held down at all) and her knee is dangerously close to Garruk’s crotchal region for a swift kick and stun. Liliana has him right where she wants him.

  6. Im a little torn. I for one actually really like the art. I think it was beatifully rendered. I love how you can see how pissed off they both are.

    But on the other hand, it does kind of look like he is about to rape her. And I dont know about most women, but if I was being raped…I would look that pissed as well. She is trying to defend herself, that doesn’t mean she isnt about to be sexually assaulted.

    Whether he is or is not raping her…Im still calling it “the rape card” whenever someone plays it against me. It doesnt really fit well in my green/white deck,

  7. People are dumb. There’s nothing suggesting he is or isn’t going to rape her — BECAUSE THAT’S NOT THE INTENT OF THE GODDAMN CARD. You are absolutely over-analyzing if you look at a piece of fantasy art — a piece where it looks like he’s about to drive his fist-spike through her head and both are very, very pissed off with the other — and somehow come to a conclusion of sexual overtones.

    What does this for you? Is it his knee between her legs? Is it his “dominant” pose? It’s so absolutely ludicrous for people to look at this image and say, “lolrape.” It says more about you as a person (and potentially our society), if you take way more out of the image than there is to be taken.

    I’m very sorry to hear that the art wasn’t used, that WotC backed down. Why? Because it’s a great piece of art that depicts Garruk and Liliana at their grittiest in their showdown across the multiverse. I’m also ashamed of the human race for somehow equating it to rape, it’s truly a sad day when we start walking down this path, where we start censoring things that don’t require censoring, all because of what a few whackos want to see what isn’t there.

    • And I forgot to add: it definitely is a double standard when it comes to gender roles. We all know it’s just as wrong for a woman to beat/abuse/rape a man, yet it’s accepted without so much as a blink in fantasy art/stories/whatever, until it’s a man in that woman’s role. Come on, people.

    • Nurgleprobe

      Well the art WAS used on the card. I did mention that they withdrew a GameMat with another piece of art though. 🙂
      Well I don’t really see a reason to be angry with the people seeing a “rape” scene. I just find it hard to see why they see it. As you said, it’s not the point of the artwork and they know that.


      • I’m generally disgusted and upset by the people who see rape because it trivializes the matter of rape to see it where it has no place. It’s like misconstruing that a man’s about to murder a woman in a piece of art just for scowling at her — it’s a ridiculous claim to make, especially when there’s nothing presenting that he might. And, frankly, it is little more than a cry for attention by these people to cause ripples, to cause change in a direction that they personally want to see. And it’s not a subtle move on their parts.

  8. People always try to switch the roles in discussions of rape and sexual assault. Sorry… You can’t. It’s not the same and it never will be. It is a reality that women are by far the majority of people who are sexually assaulted. One in six women have been the victim of completed or attempted rape. That’s just rape alone. If your a guy, is that one of your everyday fears? Until it is, I don’t think your in a place to make comments about guys being victimized in card art and not getting attention. Its not the same. I’m not saying this art is directly referencing rape. I’m just saying that the way you are arguing your point is wrong and that the amount of time women are the victims in art and entertainment makes this card emotionally charged. She is being victimized by a larger male aggressor and that’s a reality of women’s everyday life.

    • Nurgleprobe

      Yes, when it comes to rape men are highly represented. But every time you play a Fantasy game or read a story from a Fantasy world or likewise, do you think/see all violent men as rapists? That’s my point. WHY would you see rape in this artwork? Is there any sign of sexual aggression in this art?

      What makes me somewhat angry, is the way you talk about women as victims. Women aren’t victims in their everyday life. It is a huge media-scare that all men are violent and can’t control themselves around women. But it becomes a reality in which men don’t feel right saying hello to women anymore because they think: “If I say hi… they think it’s all about sex.” At times, believe it or not, we simply want to say hello and have a conversation. I’m sorry, but it makes me pissed.


      • +1 for this. I wish more people could come to this realization. Max also needs to do more homework on the issue.

      • I should probably point out, as well, that my point was missed by Max. I’m not calling for representation of male “victimization” in art and other media, not in the slightest.

  9. Very interesting topic, I wrote my thoughts on the issue and argue that the art is taken out of context, and discuss how easy it would be for Liliana to get out of that position.

  10. That must be terrible for you, not being able to say hello… Im not saying that women are always victims, I am saying that when it comes to sexual assault women are the victims unbelievably often. It’s a reality that frankly you don’t have to deal with but are missing your own privilege. In my opinion thats a self serving reactionary comment. You feeling like women don’t trust you is such a minimal problem compared to the real issue at hand. I would agree with you that sometimes masculinity is not respected and its equated with badness or rape. That’s a problem that I see and wish would not happen. Still, the problem with the art is it’s a man dominating a smaller women with his knee in between her legs. Even if that’s not the intention, it’s reminiscent of a lot of rape scenes. I don’t think it should be censored, but neither should the very real feelings people have about it.

  11. turystycznakonserwa

    Because I’m not very good English user, I’ll try to express my opinion as simple as I can.

    Are you people sick on mind?!

    What about Triumph of Cruelity where Liliana dominates Garruk, and everything is ok? On this card he looks more defensless then she on the another.

    Check the Uktabi Orangutan where apes are mating, and eg. Earthbind with bdsm mode on.

    One has to have sick warped mind to see a rape where he/she should not see. Maybe the problem is in someone sexual deviation? I don’t know maybe in my country there is no such problems, because as a society we had worse problems to solve than stare at GAME CARDS and try to find some sexual themes. I wonder why cards is not ban yet, coz some of angels card are half-naked, there is a blood, and I bet some fcking phallic symbols.

    Sometimes I’m very happy to live where I’m live, where is no jobs and in general but lack of this kind of problem.

  1. Pingback: Triumph of Ferocity: More than just a card? «

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