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: Amonkhet Invocations!
Classic Genius vs. New Hotness, their names have been invoked, choose your champion!
While someone or some thing is definitely about to be assaulted in the new artwork, it looks a bit too orderly and calm to be aggravated.
The original artwork, by contrast, is pure rough and tumble action. Easy win for Classic Genius.
Honestly, neither of these really stand out to me as great illustration of the concept of "Attrition".
The new artwork is much closer to the card, with a creature being sacrificed to destroy another, but how that works with the title I can't fathom.
The death of thousand cuts-esque scene in the original, while not depicting the same element of sacrifice, at least hints at the idea of a slow, torturous death with the elves repeatedly stabbing the figure in black with pointy metal objects.
How did a multi-purpose Wrath-effect turn into a portrait of a God wielding a bow and arrow?
The art direction on the new image just seems so odd. Austere Command is all destruction all the time, so why make the new art so static?
While the Lorwyn art doesn't really depict any destruction, at least you can tell there is some energy behind the image.
From the Bolas horns in the background to the sun glinting off the fluttering wings, I am a big fan of the Invocation Aven Mindcensor art. Were I choosing between images to make into a Playmat, it would definitely be the winner. On a card though, I feel it falls a bit short of its Amonkhet predecessor.
In the end if comes down to the imposing nature of the Eric Deschamps art that does it for me. The new art is all Aven all the time, while the Amonkhet figure also includes the dominating presence I would expect from a Mindcensor.
Bolas horns aside, the Chris Moeller art is the clear winner for me. From the emotion provided by the figure in the foreground, to the clever use of shading to draw the eye to the bottom right and follow the lighting along its path of destruction.
While I remain a fan of Mark Zug's original artwork, I feel that the new artwork's more serene and calm atmosphere is more befitting a "Consecrated" Sphinx.
One thing that I've seen over and over with the Invocation artwork is a lack of texture. The shiny, monotone, ultra-crisp images come off as simple or 90's computer game cut scene when compared to the richer illustrations from the past.
Where John Stanko's Containment Priest has rich colors and realistic textures, the new image is bland by comparison. This is not the case with all of the Invocation artworks, but it is definitely the case here.
There are always many ways to interpret a concept.
In the original illustration, we see two forms and colors of energy vying for dominance. Balanced out by their strength and natures, they establish an equilibrium, for now at least.
In the new art? We get a see-saw.
I get it. It works. It's a bit too on the nose for me, but I can see why they went there.
In the end, I prefer the more elegant approach of the original artwork.
Yet another in a long line of generic counterspell imagery. It works, the bubble is cool, but it's not really breaking any new ground.
I still prefer the Duel Decks version and the innate power that is shown within the image. From Jace's stance and body language to the fire peaking through the steamy water, it's certainly the most interesting Counterspell art we've seen to date.
Again with the random God scene, now with hand-washing action!
While nether of the two original images hint at the spell's effects, at least they are intriguing. The new art just looks like Kefnet washing up for supper.
For a Dark Ritual, the scene depicted in the Invocation artwork seems awfully bright. If it weren't for the foreboding Bolas horns, it could be mistaken for an illustration for a White card.
Choosing between all of the original images was difficult, but in the end I couldn't resist the contrast of Rebecca Guay's soft style with such a dark and sinister subject matter.
Now we're talking!
When I first saw all of those beautiful blue birds, even I took a second to take it in. When you put the viewer into a Daze with your illustration, you are doing it right.
Fun Fact: I am working with Richard Wright to get official playmats made with this image. We just got approval from WotC and will start production soon!
I actually searched around for a while to see if I could locate a higher res version of the Invocation artwork. The darkness and blood stains certainly imply an evil presence, but it feels a bit lacking the longer I look at it.
I'm not the biggest fan of the original artwork, I think the green sludge is done a bit too well and make me feel sick, but at least the figure's menacing glare hints that something untoward is coming.
This artwork is definitely one of my favorites of the Invocations. Not only do you have the stark lines and forms reminiscent of Egyptian hieroglyphs, but you have an even better illustration of the concept of "Divert" than the original artwork. Great job to the artist and the art direction on this one.
Finally, an Entomb that gets it right.
The Odyssey version looks more like a zombie burying a chest, while the Graveborn art looks more like a zombie emerging from a tomb. The new art, it's all Entomb, all the time, with a figure lamenting their fate of being buried in sand for all time. Great piece of art from concept to execution.
Sure, a Giant Bird God pushing some blue energy around is cool, but, come on, did you really think that would top Terese's Magnum Opus?
This is a great example of taking the original concept seen in an earlier Magic card and simply taking it to another level.
Of all the options available, I think that the original artwork from Alara Reborn hit both elements "Maelstrom" with the spell generate large atomic bomb-esque clouds and "Pulse" with the clouds being broken up as they rise in the sky.
Another instance of the new artist taking the original concept to another level.
While the new illustration is relatively simple, especially in comparison to most contemporary Magic art, it delivers everything we could want for this concept. Less is more in action.
I didn't know J.J. Abrams lived on Amonkhet.
There is so much lens flare in the new artwork that it is hard to make out what is going on in the image. I think it's water being divided with a temple in the background, but even then it's hard to tell. When an image makes my eyes hurt, I think someone got a bit too happy with their Photoshop tools.
I actually got to see one of these Spell Pierce Invocations in person and, well, they look even better in foil.
One of the elements I really enjoy about the new artwork is the limited arc of the spell effect coming from Kefnet. Instead of a beam or scattered shower of sparks, we see a slicing thin plane of power. Broad, yet limited in scope. Targeted, but versatile. The essence of Spell Pierce.
While the narrative created within the Invocation artwork is certainly engaging, I don't know how well it fits the subject matter.
Stifle is a small, but effective spell, which you see in both of the original artworks. Powerful at opportune times, but otherwise an annoyance. Being drowned in a tomb? That's a bit more drastic of a scenario and likely more indicative of a different card.
All three of the original images are great in their own way. From amazing storyline implications, to outstanding destruction, to an excellent illustration of single target "removal" they all have their selling points.
The new artwork suffers from the same blandness that we saw with Austere Command, Cryptic Command and others. The textures, or lack there of, lead us toward an uncanny valley that reminds me more of old video games than anything else.
It was honestly pretty close between the Saga and Invocation art. I like the abject supplication seen in the new artwork, but the bright energy seen in the original illustration got me in the end.
I think with a bit more light on the figures in the foreground, the Invocation could have come out on top. As it is, it's a bit darker than I would like for a White card.
Titus's new art is good. It's really, really, really, good. I didn't think anything would ever come close to topping Kev's Wrath of God, but Titus grave him a real run for his money.
Maybe it's just nostalgia, but honestly there is a lot of strong competition for Wrath of God. I'm glad that Titus delivered such an excellent image, even if I give the win to Classic Genius.
While we here at OMA score it a 18-7 resounding win for Classic Genius, we won’t know the eventual winner 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!