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: Oath of the Gatewatch!
Classic Genius vs. New Hotness, which side will emerge victorious? Sides have been drawn, choose your champion!
Welcome guest writer Nadim Nehmé!
Pete Venters is a veteran Magic artist, with his last illustrated piece dating from 2011. His take on Conflux’s Bone Saw was, in a literal sense, about combining a series of bones together to make a hacking weapon of sorts. One can easily see a mandible along with teeth and other bone fragments in the weapon which unfortunately doesn’t feel very saw-like. The scenery, or lack thereof, leads a lot to be desired as it doesn’t put the weapon into perspective other than by providing some amorphous shapes. The lighting of these shapes also tends to draw the viewers attention away from the saw instead of towards it.
Kev Walker’s take on the saw was a more functional one. By placing the saw, this time made out of only one piece of bone, firmly into a tree trunk, there is no question of the “saw”-like nature of this weapon. The subdued hues of the forest in the background help reinforce the foreground setting and align the viewers sight with the key focus of the art piece.
Easy win for New Hotness.
These two digital art pieces are very dependent on their settings to tell a story. In Bodin’s piece, a Mirrodin Angel is being dragged down to the corrupted Glimmervoid. The light around the angel’s torso and head are the main illumination of the piece as the darkness has consumed all else in this art. One can imagine how the angel got to be where it is, and what will happen next. A great piece that actively tells a story.
Daarken’s piece is a much brighter affair, showing off a lot of the Zendikar countryside with the focal point being the colourful Eldrazi in the center of the piece. The Eldrazi in our return to Zendikar are a lot more colourful than the first time we visited and this one is a mixture of bright purple and pinkish hues. The darkness takes the form of black smoke tendrils, but the framing of the shot doesn’t make it obvious that the smoke is consuming the Eldrazi rather than emanating from it. Only the placement of the Eldrazi’s arms explains the defensive stance. It is less of story than Bodin’s but still a beautiful art piece.
Nonetheless, I would have to chalk this one up as a win for the Classic Genius.
Winona Nelson does beautiful work. In this one, the clouds are dark in either corner of the piece with a bright swath of colour framing the leap in question. The white mist-like beings actually look like they’re supporting the Kor on his adventurous leap from the rock outcropping into battle/the unknown.
The art description provided to rk post must have made him chuckle quite a bit. Make an armoured elephant fly. Tick. There’s something about the seriousness of this art along with the real danger of the flying elephant thundering along directly towards the viewer.
Score one for the Classic Genius.
The last time around we had 3 arts to compare. With the exit of Core Sets, we’ll likely have a lot more new Negate art to review in the future since each one will need to be relevant to its set.
As mentioned before, Jace’s Umbrella™ isn’t what you really want out of a full art textless spell. Once you’ve seen the umbrella, it can never be unseen and all other versions are far superior. So onto the next arts…
We’ve previously discussed how the Murai art manages to capture a scene and there is definitely some action happening there, but the more generic Jarvis art portraying a Merfolk wizard putting out a spell does tend to capture the noncreature counterspell vibe. So how does the newest variant hold up?
A stark Zendikari background with floating rocks, an angled view to capture the viewers eye and focus it onto the impact point, a cowering Merfolk protecting herself from the effects of the lightning blast by using a devoid patterned claw (shell?), the waterburst emanating from the impact point showcasing the countermagic… If you have the opportunity to see the foil process on this art, there’s even an additional layer of wow. Pancoast has hit gold with this rendition. Score another for the New Hotness.
Netcaster Spider is a relatively new card to Magic, but it has already gotten a new take on it. The Schepacz art created for Magic 2015 is very generic. Dark on dark, the forest and the spider’s prey all feel like silhouettes while the spider takes centre stage with a purple blue hued body and yellow patterns. It takes a while to reaize what’s happening from a story point of view, but once you see that the prey is a Pegasus, the card effect begins to make sense. A great piece of art, but a bit confusing in portraying reach.
The Zoltan Boros spider doesn’t have as much detail on the actual spider as the original but it makes up for it in being scary and menacing. The angled point of view looking up into the spiders maw is definitely something that reinforces the “up in the air” nature of this card.
This is a difficult choice, but ignoring the card functionality, I have to go for the darker more intense Classic Genius.
I’m not really sure how the art direction changed so significantly between the Mirrodin and Zendikari versions of this equipment. Stewart’s art from Mirrodin showcases a Viridian Elf in motion. The backdrop of The Tangle behind her is blurred out in a motion smear and our focus is drawn to her legs and specifically her visible foot. Considering that this card grants haste this art drives that point home.
In contrast, Kev Walker seems to have received a considerably different art description. Here, the harness is on an ox-like beast. The concept of haste isn’t obvious in the art, although the beautiful levels of detail on the hide and the dust raised up by the moving ox definitely help convey some sense of movement. A piece not to be scoffed at, but it just doesn’t seem to convey what one would expect to see with this art. When looking at the Stewart art and reading the card, there’s an “aha” moment. The Kev Walker art just raises an eyebrow. It does what?
One more for the Classic Genius.
Illustrating art for a land card that somehow showcases all the colors of mana is no easy feat. McKinnon’s shell-tastic art takes the concept of “shore” literally and gets this point across by the juxtaposition of giant whelk shells in the middle of a mountainous region. An explorer/soldier looks onto the unknown scene as a mist winds through the lower portions of the shells. A lovely bright piece of art that manages to show a mixture of scenery without trying to go out of its way to show a plains, island, swamp, mountain and forest.
Park’s shores, are yet again, a literal shore. This time it is the shores of a pool lying in the midst of a land that has been stripped away by the Eldrazi. The central, green, glowing pool conveys a sense of power amidst the ruin around it. From a mechanical point of view, the card showcases the ability to provide colorless mana as well as the colored mana pool providing all the colors. This is a definite win for the New Hotness.
While we here at OMA score it as a 4-3 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!