Tuesday, 12 October 2021 09:01

Chub Toad: MTG R&D's inside joke anagram card

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Chub Toad: MTG R&D's inside joke anagram card WOTC/DANIEL GELON

With nearly 30 years worth of cards having been printed, it's not uncommon to find an occasional Magic: The Gathering card that has a humorous backstory.

One of the earliest came out all the way back in 1995 in the set Ice Age in the card Chub Toad.

Oddly enough, it's origins didn't even come from the developer or creative side, but rather in customer service.

A few years before Ice Age, an employee named Shawn Carnes ran the customer service department. Like any customer service department it was filled with the good, the bad, and the ugly, although, let's be real here, mainly ugly.  And like any customer service department, code words were used. One such code was "bad touch", meaning that "someone said something they shouldn't have". It was used enough that it became something of a running gag.

Chub ToadWell, by the time Ice Age rolled around and cards were being come up with, Carnes (now on R&D) , made something of an impact. So the design team thought up a way to honor the "bad touch" code. Calling the card flat out "bad touch" would have some unfortunate implications, so they went the anagram route, turning it into Chub Toad. In the art, the person being eaten by the toad was actually supposed to be Carnes as well.

You have to admit, when development and creative go all in, they go all in.

As a three mana green creature (2G) that got a +2/+2 buff until the end of turn if blocking or blocked, Chub Toad actually turned out to be a pretty popular in its day. It's an ability that was colloquially referred to back then as the "Chub Toad mechanic" and, likely, proved to be one of the inspirations for bushido, an extremely similar ability that debuted in Champions of Kamigawa many years later.

And, with a little Japanese-inspired flair, an updated Chub Toad of sorts saw print 26 years after the original in the set Modern Horizons 2 in the form of Jade Avenger.

Wizards of the Coast seems to have an uncanny ability to keep changing up the game of Magic: The Gathering by bringing back older ideas with a fresh feel. With Chub Toad (and, subsequently, Jade Avenger) they've proven once again that they're not done.