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: Commander 2016!
Classic Genius vs. New Hotness, whose leader will dominate this annual struggle for leadership? Sides have been drawn, choose your champion!
Sure, you’ve got an obviously undead figure in the new Beacon of Unrest art, but I’m at a bit of a loss as to where the Beacon element comes in. The light show is definitely funky, we rarely see that much hot pink on a Magic card, but it doesn’t “grok” well. Pink disco lights =/= undead generation machine from any Magic storyline that I am aware of.
The Classic Art, by comparison, is all beacon, all the time. You’ve even got some spooky faces in the energy pouring forth from the “altar”. While it doesn’t reference the abilities of the card as directly as the new illustration, I feel it better embodies the spirit of the card.
The first round goes to Classic Genius.
It’s somewhat difficult to tell if the figures in the original Chain of Vapor are dissipating, being frozen, or being electrocuted by the surrounding blue energy tendrils. Changing the color of the imp figure doesn’t really give me any clues, but it sure looks neat. It works, once you add the name, but it’s not that obvious on its own.
Also, that wooden pole behind the character in the foreground is placed rather awkwardly. With the jacket flapping back, it looks like the character’s leg and is a bit distracting to my eye.
The Commander 2016 art depicts a much simpler scene, opting to forgo the rebounding nature of the spell and only show a single target. This makes for a much more understandable narrative, winning the round for New Hotness.
First off, what is with the sword angle on the original Reins of Power?
With the upper forearm positioned the way it is, the sword must be pointing straight at the character’s leg. That just seems reckless. Practice proper swordsmanship, nameless blue person.
The overall feel of the original is very “Enter the Dragon” with the protagonist in front and the menacing villain in the background. It doesn’t really have much to do with the card, but I dig it anyways. We see a bit of tie in to the card with the wispy tendrils, but they are so faint it looks more like steam rising, rather than a method of control. They certainly don’t remind me of reins in any way.
The new art is all about control, with monstrous beats being reined in with mystical chains and under obvious mind control. Leaving the mouths open was a great way to illustrate the mental dominance to which the minotaurs are being subjected.
I searched for a while for a full sized image of the new Reins of Power to get a closer look at the chains, but alas, my search did not bear fruit. Hopefully John will share one soon.
Overall the new illustration actually captures the effect and spirit of the card instead of vaguely referencing it and the round goes to New Hotness.
The first time I saw the original from Mercadian Masques, I couldn’t really tell what was going on. It looks less like a “Wave of Reckoning” and more like an oncoming avalanche. People die in avalanches all the time, so I can sort of see how it fits, but I am definitely not sold on the concept they are illustrating.
It doesn’t even tie into the flavor text on the card. It may be a storyline element that I’m not aware of, and if so please forgive my ignorance, but even if it is, the tie in to the card name is extremely tenuous.
The updated image hits all of the points missing in the original, with the destruction coming from within and very fitting with the effect of the card. You also have a much more active scene, with the figures in obvious discomfort, instead of the “huh, wha’ happen?” looks we see on the original.
New Hotness takes this one for sure.
I have to give this round to New Hotness on scale alone. Shoveling so many mounds of gold that it’s become a chore? How is that not more indicative of a Windall than “Hey guys, I made this thing!”.
I also really enjoy the perspective that Scott achieved by putting the “camera” so low in the frame. Not only do you get to see more of the character in the foreground, but you also get to see the background from an atypical angle that brings the sun into view and adds a ton of great light.
I feel that the new art delivers a superior narrative and I really appreciate the techniques that Scott used to achieve it. New Hotness wins the last round of the Rumble!
While we here at OMA score it as a 4-1 solid win for New Hotness, 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!