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: Duel Decks – Zendikar vs. Eldrazi!
Classic Genius vs. New Hotness, who will turn the tide in this epic struggle? Sides have been drawn, choose your champion!
So you take one of the most bright and dynamic pieces of Green art and give it the Christopher Nolan grimdark effect? I guess that’s one way to do it.
Sure, it is a better fit with this more apocalyptic vision of Zendikar, but I really enjoyed that rooty pseudo smile in the original.
Ok, so maybe the smile was only in my imagination, but still, the original art is filled with action. Branches snapping and grasping, blurred leaves flying to join the fight, the very land being absorbed into the rampaging elemental, everything about this piece communicates the impending beatdown once the Avenger hits the table.
The new art, not so much.
Sure, it has more detail and incorporates an actual hedron, but gone is the heart that can so easily be seen in the original image. Somber is the name of this monster’s game.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s got a lot going for it technically, but the new illustration doesn’t capture the same level of character that I so enjoyed in the original.
When you are as formidable and imposing as Emrakul, what creature wouldn’t you consider meek in comparison?
While I enjoy scenes of the Elder Gods of Magic wrecking house as much as the other guy (maybe more), there is nothing about the original that necessarily indicates that the hapless victims are necessarily tame or submissive. Annihilated by a million tentacle arms and what appears to be lightning, sure, but Emrakul does that to just about anyone anyway.
The updated art delivers the lamb to the slaughter idea much more clearly. Showing the figures defenseless in a supplicating pose with their camp shattered and lying in tattered ruins, already drained of all color and ready to be absorbed, the narrative here is excellent.
The one change I would make is to have the flags in a bit worse condition. Instead of having them all flying undamaged and at full mast, I would like to have had them a bit more worse for wear. Regardless of that little change, I think Richard delivered the goods on this piece and won the round for New Hotness.
With 4 modes having such disparate effects it is no surprise that neither art even attempts to capture most if any of them in the image.
Say what you want about the art of the original Lorwyn commands, they were some of my favorite from the set. Each art captured the essence of the color and carried through the symbol motiff between the colors. Tying in mysticism with subject matter relevant to the color, each piece was a great example of the different essences of Magic.
The updated art hints at some of the same themes, but ends up looking like more of a Naturalize variant than a statement of what it is to be Green.
The roots are well executed and the hedron is incorporated well, but it lacks the primal essence of Green that was captured in the original.
While we here at OMA score it as a 2-1 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 that is made for the game is a unique glimpse into the world of Magic and should be celebrated. The amount of time and effort that goes into each illustration should be appreciated every time a core set booster is opened.
Each set provides a brand new opportunity 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!