Struggles between the new and old are ingrained in the human experience. Magic players see this arise in the form of new cards with each set released for the game. Power level, rarity, creature types, every new card brings up comparisons to the old and conflicts arise in their evaluation.
But what of the reprints? Functionally identical in the player’s hands, they nonetheless introduce new elements to the game with their updated illustrations. Classic images envisioned through the eyes of a new artist come out entirely different, yet whether improvement is achieved is up to the viewer.
Does the original art stand the test of time, or do new images take up the banner of our imagination?
The eternal struggle continues… it’s the Reprint Rumble: Battle for Zendikar!
Classic Genius vs. New Hotness, who will turn the tide in this epic struggle? Sides have been drawn, choose your champion!
Donato is an absolute master of fantasy art. While this is a bit darker than we usually see from him, you can see his attention detail throughout the original art.
That being said, Tyler did an uh-mazing job with this vision of Ob-Nixilis. Dark, menacing with just enough color to catch your eye. This is one of my favorite images of Ob Nixilis so far. Easy win for New Hotness.
What exactly do floating globes of water have to do with the concept of anticipation? Are they being thrown at him? Is Blastoise attacking the Magic universe?
Sure, the art is excellent. Overall, I actually prefer it to the original on its technical merits, but there is basically no tie in to the card. The original captures well, if a bit chunkily, it by showing the various “outcomes” described on the flavor text, but the new one? The future is comprised of on rushing water balloons? Come on. Classic Genius wins with the better flavor tie in.
Let’s see… Bones? Check for all three. Splintered bones? Check again. Creatures having a bad time? Yeppers. Flavor wise, each version hits the necessary notes.
For me, the Shards of Alara original art has a problem. The light flesh tones catch my eye and hold it. I have to force myself to see the bent neck as something other than a malformed human head. I played this card for years and didn’t see that it was in fact a bird man until just now. Even so, that neck still gets me every time. I think with a few simple changes, this could have been much improved.
So, we’re down to two images with very different approaches.
Nils delivers his quasi-impressionist excellence while Alexander does a great job of building narrative with his more detailed interpretation. I feel that both communicate the idea well but I have to give the edge to the Avacyn Restored art. With the swirling shrapnel of bone and evocative posing of the main figure, Nils is able to pack a lot of emotion into the piece. I dig it.
Generic spell effect with generic wizard is generic. While I feel it’s almost a toss up, I like the looser lines of the original art. I won’t be surprised if this is a three way tie once all the votes are in.
Is this really a contest? Mobile zombie fruit bowl. ‘Nuff said.
Classic Genius all the way!
With 6 options to choose from, all with their high points, I ended up picking the Dragons of Tarkir for one reason. It captures all five basic land types in one image.
Wait, Plains exist.
all five four basic land types in one image. It’s not as softly rendered as Noah’s version, nor as ominously creepy as Cliff’s, but I think it does the best job of capturing the idea behind the card.
Sure, the new art has a Mantis on it, but is it Pegasus devouringly huge? I don’t think so. Heck, depending on the size of the surrounding shurbbery, it might only be a few feet tall.
Yes, the Mirage art could be dealing with miniature flying equines, but let’s not go too deep down that rabbit hole. Giant Mantes should be GIANT, gosh darnit! Give me some scale birds at least, bushes just won’t cut it for estimating monster proportions. Classic Genius wins by default.
While eldrazi scion innards draped around one’s neck is an odd definition of “war paint,” these are goblins we are talking about, so some leeway has to be granted for cultural differences. It’s not like a stinky red cloud illustrates the idea any closer.
One thing the original does, that the new version is missing, is capture the idea of haste through a dynamic pose. The new art is all “Come get some” or “Come at me bro”. Very static. The classic art is more impetuous with the figure in motion, moving towards the viewer, much closer to the effect of the card.
While I think the new art does capture a bit of menacing whimsy that Ialways find very enjoyable in Goblin art, the original illustration captures more of the flavor and delivers this round for Classic Genius.
I’ve come to the conclusion that Will Murai simply cannot resist illustrating his characters posing for a selfie.
I mean, look at this art in full scale:
Someone needs to tell Will he has a problem.
Selfie obsession aside, this one is pretty close to a toss up for me. Wayne Reynolds delivered what always does; huge swords wielded by burly dudes in outrageously bulky armor. Some are turned off by it, but I’m a fan. It’s very comic book / manga and I enjoy the style.
Will, in contrast, has huge swords wielded by burly dudes and ladies in not as outrageously bulky armor. I had to deduct points for the selfie mk.3 in the new art, but I really do like what he did with the kneeling Kor. I wish he made an image with just that guy.
The designs for each of these are basically the same, but the new art is much more cartoon-esque. It also has the background being washed out seemingly as it advances across the frame, which is odd. This doesn’t really fit the effect of the card and implies that the color is being sucked out in its wake. I think I get what they were going for, displaying an increasingly sapped environment, but the original version is much more fitting to the effect of the card.
It also has a much more interesting and dynamic background, so with the vehicle designs being so relatively similar it’s doubly a win for Classic Genius.
What’s even better than a flying creature plummeting to earth? A non-flying creature plummeting onto a flying creature in an effort to get it plummeting to earth. Plummet-ception.
Aaron did an amazing job with this new vision for the card and easily wins the round for New Hotness.
When I first started writing this rumble, I went on a long diatribe about how there was no thunder in the Tempest art.
Then I realized that I was actually saying that there was no Lightning in the Tempest art. There’s hella lightning in the new art but none to be found in the old.
The thing is, Thunder is not Lightning. Sure, we generally associate the two, but this is Magic, anything is possible. You can have thunder without lightning, just like you can floating mountains and mutant goblins.
With that in mind, the original is the standout winner. Snapped tree branches careening throughout the frame, character hurtling to their inevitable injury and intense sound waves illustrated with colored circles ala Banshee from the X-Men. While the new art might have set the world on fire with lightning storms, I greatly enjoy the more interesting approach of the original.
Each one of these deliver on the theme of smiting a monstrosity, the original KtK art maybe less successfully than the others, so the flavor quotient is somewhat irrelevant here.
In the end, I give the edge to the Dragon in the art from the Dragon’s pack of Khans of Tarkir. Not only is it a well rendered Dragon, but the color and lighting choices are expertly executed. Havig the light shine through the membrane of the wings? Great touch. Another win for Classic Genius.
Delivering one of the more alluring poses in Magic, Scott set a very high bar with the original art from Mirrodin. Absolutely exuding the idea of green, the piece is quietly beautiful and easily fits the theme of the card.
The new art? I guess some might see beauty in its stark landscape, or somehow shoehorn in the card name and effect into the frame, but it’s a bit too for of a stretch for me. I appreciate that they took it in a very different direction, it’s always good to try new approaches, but the original delivers almost a fine art level image for us. Classic Genius for me.
Both versions deliver sufficiently monstrously large beasties, but the new art has a much richer palette. Instead of green on green on green on omg is that blood!?! you have a good selection of earth tones and rich foliage. Matt delivered an excellent forest dwelling critter and wins the last round for New Hotness.
While we here at OMA score it as a 12-3 win for Classic Genius, we won’t know who the eventual winner will be until we hear from you so vote early, vote often for your favorite art!
Remember that every piece of art should be celebrated and appreciated. The artists, art directors and everyone involved in the creative team all bring the game to life and their contributions should never go unnoticed.
Each set provides a new chance to tell a story and capture the imagination of the players. Thanks go out to everyone involved in this creative process and I look forward to seeing the contestants for the next Reprint Rumble.
Until next time!