Flavor Judging Storybook Brawl Heroes

Do they need judging? Well, here you have it anyhow.

Flavor is a complicated thing. You want to do something that nicely represents the inspiration, whatever it is, but you have to do it in the confines of a game, which has a very limited scope, so you have to make decisions on what to represent. You have to abstract their abilities to a level, which often makes the abilities just incomprehensible. So, you often have to take another route: You can do something to encourage a specific kind of play, which works well with the flavor of the hero.

Sometimes these have weird results and if you don’t know what’s behind the hero, it’s hard to decipher what’s going on with it. Now, I have no insider knowledge on any of these. I’m just using my knowledge of various sources as well as a little bit of research to try to explain this in many cases for myself as much as for any potential reader.

Beauty

My favorite hero. This is of course inspired by Beauty and the Beast. She is just so pure and positive that she can melt the heart of the cursed beast, who has otherwise forsaken all hope of returning to humanity. While it is somewhat weird that she can melt the heart of Jormungand or Oni King, let’s not worry about that.

She makes all monsters good, which is the real flavorful thing, but she also gives them a +2/+2 bonus, which has the benefit of encouraging the player to get those monsters. The bonus isn’t really flavorful in itself, but encourages certain kind of play.

Celestial Tiger

One of the constellations in Chinese culture is known as The White Tiger and I assume this is the inspiration for this hero. Where does the ability come from? I don’t know.

Charon

Charon can be describe with one of my favorite words: Psychopomp. Psychopomp is someone or something that is responsible for the passage of dead being into the afterlife. Charon is specifically from the Greek mythology and ferried dead souls to the world of the dead over the river Styx.

The limitations presented by the environment of the game makes the ability somewhat limited. Charon gives your first character to die each brawl a +2/+1 bonus. That doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the mythological Charon, except for the relationship to death. Why is this

There is also a coin of Charon. The dead in Ancient Greece were often given a coin (put in their mouths, not on their eyes) to pay for their passage. If they couldn’t, they would often have to wait for centuries before being allowed to move on.

The Cursed King

This is a pretty obvious homage to the legend of King Midas and his Golden Touch. Everything he touched turned to gold and this was an early example of something seemingly beneficial, which turns out to be a curse instead. The version I remember best is a stop-motion wax animation, which put the king into a more medieval setting, just like our Cursed King. He started out being very enthusiastic about the idea, but ended up regretting the whole thing and in the finale he turned himself into gold by accident.

Is this flavorful? Well, yes. You get extra gold, but you pay a price for it. Given the limitations on what you can do in the context of the game, this is pretty good.

Evella

Of course, based on Cruella de Vil. Again, not really something Cruella would be capable of, but does encourage putting animals in harms way for you own benefit. Nothing much to this.

Fallen Angel

Otherwise known as a demon.

While the art has nothing to do with this, this feels like Crowley from Good Omens in the sense that this Fallen Angel hasn’t completely embraced her evil side, but is instead lingering in between.

The Fates

The Fates are a part of many different mythologies (Greek probably being the most famous, and of course the Roman copied them, but there’s also versions of them in various cultures up north). This is actually one of my favorite flavors here. Characters who shine above others have a special place and The Fates are especially interested in their lives, which affords them opportunities.

Geppetto

Geppetto is of course a toy maker. So, he’s making toys here? I guess animated toys would be stronger than the original, but this does still seem kind of awkward. However, this is one of those places where our own imagination does a lot of the work.

Grandmother / Big Bad Wolf

The flavor here is quite clear in the sense that when pushed it turns out that the Grandmother was in fact the Big Bad Wolf. How does this convert into better stats for your characters? No idea.

Gwen

Probably based on Arthur’s queen Guinevere, but it’s not actually quite that simple. There is also an earlier legendary queen regnant of England called Gwendolyn, but she’s much lesser known, so I can pretty safely assume she represents the first one. Being able to knight someone is very good flavor in either case, although the concept of a knight is much more recent than the reign of the supposed Gwendolyn.

The Headless Horseman

While the most famous version of this hero is from Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the mythical creature has been around in Europe since the middle ages. Funnily enough (or I find this funny), the Green Knight, recently depicted in a movie of the same name, is a version of this legend and LSV, who works on the game, did not like the movie commenting on it’s weirdness on his stream. The art does resemble the Hessian soldier of the American version of this story, who is eternally looking for his lost head. Is Kidnap the right way to depict this? Close enough, because there’s a head in the art of the spell.

Hoard Dragon

Here’s a problem: The Hoard Dragon can’t have Dragon’s Egg, so any kind of Dragon comp (if there is one) is harder to achieve with Hoard Dragon. Hoard Dragon can’t have a Piggy Bank either, which is the way you hoard money in this game. Otherwise this is jsut a pretty usual depiction of dragons hoarding treasures. They could have done this differently, because this just doesn’t work with those two specific treasures.

Jack’s Giant

Do I care? I find this character remarkably more boring than any of the others. Sure, the Giant will win in the early game a lot, but where’s the fun in having just more health and no real explanation? Why are they more resilient? I don’t know. And I don’t care. I do like how they attempted to have a twist on the fairytale and bring the antagonist to the forefront, but it seems to me that they just failed in their attempt.

Krampus

In many European countries Krampus is more closely related to the traditional Christmas figures than Santa Claus. For example, Santa Claus is known as Joulupukki in Finnish, which is literally the Yule Goat. In Finland, Santa visits families in the evening of Christmas Eve. No secret visits during the night. Even in my childhood (were talking early 80s here), the Santa was replaced by the Joulupukki, who wore grey and had horns. So, to me this is kind of absurd as a hero. Krampus doesn’t represent the evil counterpart of Santa, but instead these are two different sides to the same person.

However, if we look at the Krampus of popular culture (like the excellent mainstream movie from a few years back), aligning itself with a variety of evil creatures is flavorful.

Loki

As depicted by Marvel, Loki is indeed a god of mischief, so the random spells are a good flavorful approach to this. Sometimes they are very good for you (like early Eenie-Meenie or Shrink Spell), while at other times they just don’t do anything or can even kill you later on.

Mad Catter

Alice in Wonderland is just such a huge touchstone in the world of fairytales that it’s weird that there aren’t that many more allusions to it. I don’t know how well this actually reads flavorwise, but I do like how the hero entices the player to make very random choices, which is often the key to the original story. Things don’t really make sense. Things just keep happening.

Mask

There have been numerous masked characters in fiction and they always have to reveal their true identity in the end. Why twice? For game balance, but it’s not very flavorful. Unless we are talking about some sort of shapeshifter, which is also a possibility.

Merlin

Merlin was Arthur’s court magician and, probably depending on the version, Arthur was Merlin’s ward as a kid. So, yes, emphasizing spells is good here, but I’m not sure about the chaotic nature of Merlin’s usage of spells.

Mihri, King Lion

I don’t get this. It seems to be about Simba, but as there aren’t many animal princes and princesses, this just seems pretty forced. They wanted to do something to bolster the royals, but this just doesn’t feel like it. Sure, lions have been a huge part of European imagery on many different contexts (even Finnish coat of arms includes a lion even though we are very far away from anything resembling a lion), so maybe that’s it. I think they should have just renamed Prince Arthur and used that name here.

Mordred

This is a complicated character. He is from Arthurian legends, but his role varies greatly. Based on the art, this is one of the darker depictions, which means that he helped spark a civil war between Arthur and Lancelot in order to take the crown for himself. Again, based on the art, he is wearing just that…

Anyhow, how does the ability relate to this? No idea. It’s probably based on some specific story I’m not aware of.

Morgan le Fay

More Arthurians here. Like Mordred, this is kind of complicated. Early in the history of this legend, this was a benevolent character, a protector of Arthur, but over time her role has changed to more antagonistic. She is, however, still the sister of Arthur, so she has certain privileges, which keep her in the court. She is a magical being and it depends highly on the story what she is capable of, so I guess this ability to make treasures is again based on some specific story I’m not aware of. In one story, Excalibur, Arthur’s sword, was forged on an island she ruled, so maybe that’s it.

Mrs. Claus

Mechanically she is a mirror of Krampus and we can see why. It is nice that they decided to make this character a woman and taking the Santa out of the name takes religion out of the game.

Muerte

Alphabetical order worked here nicely. She is actually Santa Muerte or more precisely Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte. I find this personification of death quite interesting or even compelling, even though it’s not as ubiquitous in Mexico as popular culture would lead you to believe (they only held a Día de los Muertos in Mexico City after it was done in Spectre).

Once again, the abstraction is difficult, but it does convey the feel that these people have a very different outlook on death as we in the west, who like to keep our distance to it.

Pan’s Shadow

Here the alphabetical order works against me, but what can you do? Gladly, the other side of this coin is next.

Peter Pan had a problem with his shadow, who would escape him. In this world, the Shadow just happens to me more malevolent than in book, where it’s just mischevious (although, now that I think about it, I’m not even sure if it was in the book, or was it a Disney invention, not sure about that).

Again, mechanically weird, but understandable in the sense that Shadow is interested in getting the evil characters. You might argue that they are more interested in working with him/it.

Peter Pants

This is one of the triumphs of flavor in this game. Peter will always remain on a low level, because he refuses to grow up. So, this work nicely.

Pied Piper

While the art doesn’t really support this, this is based on the story of a man, who used his magic to first get rid of the rats and after he wasn’t payed for that, he did the same with the children. This is actually somewhat based on something that really happened in 1284 in the town of Hamelin, but we just don’t know what that was. A bunch of young people were lost, but we don’t know how, although they probably just left for whatever reason.

The ability works nicely here. He was able to attract rats, so it’s just an expansion on that. Although, apparently, the man from the story was able to manipulate much more than just rats.

Potion Master

I don’t think there’s a specific reference here. Just one more character to abuse spells with, which you probably need.

Pup the Magic Dragon

Friendship is magic. Being supportive works better.

Sad Dracula

I think Dracula has somewhat lost his way. I guess the idea was that Dracula was able to make his minions pseudo-vampires like Renfield, although at the same time the initial Slay ability of Vain-Pires was temporary. There has been a link to using blood us sustenance and growth in this game and I guess Dracula is just part of it. Somehow we have moved from the desperation of needing blood to consuming blood to being good. I don’t think the flavor really works.

Sir Galahad

Of the members of the Knights of the Round Table, Sir Galahad was actually the one who found the Grail they were all looking for, because he was one of the very few, who were actually pure enough of soul to do so. So, again, Galahad encourages certain behavior, which is flavorful, but isn’t that flavorful in himself.

Skip, the Time Skipper

I don’t think this is about any specific time traveller in fiction. The art seems like a gnome, a race characterized by being able to build wondrous inventions, but not being able to fully bring them into fruition. Therefore, Skip can travel in time to learn (in other words, start on a higher level than others), but not well enough to be there for the preparation for the first battle. Seems like a good version of travelling in time in this world.

Snow Angel

Angelic being attracts good characters. That’s pretty straightforward. The name is just a joke on the practice of making snow angels. Which I have a great story about, which I’m just going to tease here and never tell you.

Trophy Hunter

The Native American looking garb makes me think of the unique Native American forms of warfare. The small communities were often mindful of each other and their own population. Their warfare was also highly ritualistic and often weird from a European perspective. At times they would avoid killing each other and instead simply show their prowess by hitting their enemies with something harmless just to show that if needed they could. On the other hand, while the tradition of scalping is often overblown, it did happen (but it also happened in Europe). In both of these cases collecting trophies are part of the practice of humiliating their enemies.

What does this mean regarding Trophy Hunter’s ability? I don’t know. There is the idea that you don’t have to die to achieve something, which sort of has the feel of a different approach to battles, but seems far fetched.

Wonder Waddle

I have no clue… but let’s make a guess.

As far as I know, the only culture with penguins in their mythology is the Maori. Due to their demeanor, they were seen as friendly creatures, which might be the explanation for their ability.

Xelhua

A titan from Aztec mythology. How does this relate to the ability to buy characters cheaply? I guess the idea is just that the gigantic creature can more easily convince other big creatures to work for him.

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