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: Mind vs. Might!
Classic Genius vs. New Hotness, with mind and might fighting for dominance, who will reign supreme? Sides have been drawn, choose your champion!
This was an easy one for me. Not only do I love what Wayne did for this reprint, but it is an epic flavor win at the same time.
Usually the new art will be missing an element or two present in the original, but Wayne hit all of the same buttons and then kept on pressing. From the joyous look to the precarious placement, this is one of the best pieces of art I've ever seen make for Magic. Easy win for New Hotness.
I'll give the edge to the original image on flavor. There is no reference to blue spells in the new art, and the Shadowmoor art even has a mix of red and green in the "countering" effect.
That said, I have to give the edge to the Duel Decks update with its tighter focus on illustrating a literal Guttural Response. Not only that, but one coming from an armored, sword wielding Gorilla no less.
While I'll agree that the original matches up closer to the art, I feel that the update is captures more of the name and wins the round for New Hotness.
While some of Kev Walker's art appears simple at times, it's often deceptively so. Without a detailed background to distract the eye, you end up spending more time focused on the details included on the main figure. From the hair to the should pads, you get a clear, unobstructed view of who Jhoira of the Ghitu really is.
The update by Magali has a much more detailed and elaborate scene, with multiple globes, wheels and lines vying for attention. Jhoira is certainly the focus, but you also travel around the piece's other details, taking time away from the main character.
Even though Kev's close up allowed us a tighter focus on the character, I had to give the edge to Magali's version. Showing Jhoira hard at work, tinkering with time, leads to a more interesting narrative with the additional items adding to, as opposed to detracting from, the overall image.
It all came down to the background for me.
Both artists delivered a solid portrait of Lovisa, but Brian simply created a more interesting and engaging scene. Brian is well known for his detailed armor and weaponry work and it really shows through in the original art.
The woodwork in the background and the designs on the axe and shield bring a richness not seen in the Duel Deck update. While the new art is well done, I don't think it is able to top Brian's original vision.
Honestly I'm not much of a fan of either of these pieces.
They both depict the same thing in different ways, a creature disappearing with surrounding magical effects. The new art takes an interesting angle but the scene is almost too violent. So much lightning and weird glowing stuff thrown around the frame, combined with the off kilter axis induces an unpleasant anxiety, leaving me a bit unsettled each time I look at it.
Maybe it's just me, but it feels like they are trying too hard and end up overdoing it in the end. The original, while fairly tame in comparison, hits a light hearted note more indicative of a fairly standard bounce spell.
How are you going to show The Unspeakable and make the background the most interesting part of the art?
This is the embodiment of madness and you shroud it almost entirely in mist? I don't know if this was the end result of WotC art direction or Mike taking a shot at something new, but it did not work for me.
The original, by contrast, focuses on the main character and gives tons of little clues that this beast is a bit odd. From the eyes, to the chest claws, to the gaping hole in its midsection, the Champions of Kamigawa art illustrates what one would expect of a form crafted by madness.
This is a great example of an artist taking an existing piece and saying "Ok, let me do you one better."
Replacing random energy beams with forbidding skulls and placing the character even closer to the camera, Wayne took Matt's original idea and improved on it. The final round goes to New Hotness.
While we here at OMA score it a 4-3 win for New Hotness, 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!