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: Hour of Devastation!
Classic Genius vs. New Hotness, the hour of reckoning has come, only the strongest will survive!
I was able to narrow down this Rumble to two choices fairly quickly. The M10 art was first to go, as there was no reference to fire, and the Dragons of Tarkir and it's flaming antlers was eliminated soon after. I get what they were going for, but the approach came off as a bit hokier than I would like.
With the Rumble now between Morningtide and Hour of Devastation, I found myself drawn more and more to the lone figure in the classic art. Sure, the anatomy and proportions are a bit wonky, but the distortion plays into the theme, instead of distracting from it. I also enjoy that the flames are erupting from multiple areas, instead of the more obvious placement seen in the new art.
With the two images so thematically close, I ended up making my pick based on which I would rather have hanging on my wall. Hands down that would be the new Ryan Yee art. It's simple, but with very vibrant colors and a warmth that is lacking in the original.
With a name like Sandblast, one would expect some violent motion in the artwork. In this case, only the Hour of Devastation art delivers. It's not Sandshower or Rain of Sand, it's SandBLAST and should look like it. Also, bonus points to the Magic creative team for making Seb create a cool demon and then illustrate its destruction in the following set.
I can't say that I'm really a big fan of the Portal Three Kingdoms art, but at least it illustrates the idea of Strategic Planning. Two guys hunched over with some Bolas horns in the distance... not so much. Even the flavor text doesn't really match very well with the card. Whatever they were going for with this image, it missed the mark for me.
This one came down to a gut check for me. Each is styled to fit into their respective planes, but the addition of the Island in the Theros version caught my eye and never let it go.
I like the idea of the amulet showing the way to the destination, but I much prefer the idea of the amulet being a direct link to a distant land. It just looks cool.
Four different illustrations, four different plays on the same idea: Creatures being cast into oblivion.
The new art looks like it could actually be a Blue/Red burn spell, with the crimson fire at the bottom of the image, so it's out with a technical foul. The original Alpha art doesn't really hold up against the other two Classic arts, so it's out. That leaves us with Ron Spencer's Dragon and Izzy's forced perspective.
I'm a big fan of Izzy's use of perspective in the Conflux art. The grasping figure being sucked into the sky creates an engaging narrative that is quite easy to grasp. You really feel for the character, yearning to continue existing.
Then again, Dragons. I'm a bigger sucker for a well done Dragon, and Ron's cartoon-ish hyper-musculature always makes for an interesting Dragon. In the end my love of DARGON! overcame Izzy's more technically proficient image.
While we here at OMA score it a 4-2 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!