card at a time, courtesy of Gatherer's "Random Card" button.
Hipparion (Ice Age, 1995)
I love cards that are just straight-up a normal animal who just happens to have fallen under the control of a shady wizard. This is why Grizzly Bears will always be the best card, and why you should accept no substitutes. I've seen the arguments in favor of replacing the Grizz with more "flavorful" versions of the same card, but my response is always the same: if magically controlling a giant grizzly bear isn't fantastic enough for you, you live a much more interesting life than I do.
And I think the same goes for our friend Hipparion, more or less. The Hipparion was apparently a real genus of horse that existed for 22 million years, before dying out somewhere around a million years ago. The problem here is that the hipparion skulls I'm seeing online appear to be significantly different than those of contemporary horses - more rounded, less elongated. Also, hipparion still had three vestigial toes. Although we don't see our boy's hooves here, his face looks more or less like what you'd expect a modern horse to look like.
He also looks pretty fucking spooked, which is something horses do quite a bit from my understanding. And why wouldn't he be? He's a horse. Some asshole wizard probably summoned him to do battle with a giant dragon or horde of zombies, and he's not very happy with the situation. And if you look at his ability, it actually captures a bit of the flavor of a recalcitrant horse: you have to pay more mana to get him to block a creature with power three or greater. Which means, if you're going to ask him to die, you have to pay more. I can imagine the horse's thought process:
What the fuck, I was just minding my own business chomping on some grass when this grody dude in a spangly muumuu summoned me to fight or something. I'm a god damned horse, I'm not a wyvern or merfolk. I like to eat grass, run around the plains, mount some sweet fillies. Sometimes if I'm feeling frisky I go around and kick some bros, that kind of thing. But now I'm facing down a field full of goblins for God-knows-what reason - I guess it's not so bad, I can stomp those guys pretty easy. That bear is pretty fierce but we just bounce off each other, so no worries. Wait, what? He wants me to block this thing? Fuck that guy, I am not getting crushed so this asshole can get one more turn to pray he pulls an Oblivion Ring before scooping. He's not even wearing any underwear under that muumuu, it's just swinging down there.The flavor text for Hipparion reads, "Someone once said that Hipparions are to Warriors what Aesthir are to Skyknights. Don't believe it." This pearl of wisdom is attributed to General Jarkeld, the "Arctic Fox." General Jarkeld really does not look very intimidating. He does look like he spent a lot of time planning his outfit for the Cure show down in Pittsburgh. I also like how the flavor text is basically this dude slagging on the Hipparion. Like, really? The Hipparion are unreliable mounts who don't want to get killed? Great way to advertise how awesome the Hipparion is to people. "Play this card, even the made-up people in the game think it's stupid."
But I like Hipparion. Sure, he's basically useless, but he's also a horse, and horses are cool. He actually seems pretty upset about his lot in life, which - considering that he probably dies a lot, when he's not sitting in a box somewhere being unplayable - is pretty understandable.