Monday, September 24, 2007

Reviewing (some) Tenth Edition art

Before we get into all the tribal lore (and LOTR feel) of Lorwyn with all the cute and feisty Kithkins, wise and wet Merfolks, still rowdy Goblins, scary (Kamigawa spirit-like) Elementals, literally hot Flamekins, big and sturdy Treefolks, (sometimes black) killer Elves, and all the rest that I forgot, let's take a look back at the new art of some Tenth Edition cards.

The release of a Core Set means spanking new art of some reprinted (and sometimes even debuting Core Set) cards. These cards might be Core Set regulars that have been sporting updated artwork as they were reprinted in past Core Sets, Core Set regulars that has never had new artwork ever even as they got reprinted, or debuting Core Set cards (thus never having the chance for an updated artwork).

Being an art afficionado (though not exactly an artist), I always take time to appreciate the new artwork of (new) releases. Tenth Edition being a Core Set and Core Sets being what they are, it will be much easier to look and choose through all the new art because I don't need to look at ALL of the cards. Sorting them is another matter though and my most gracious thanks to Cebu Regionals Qualifier 2nd placer Ramon "JR" Alivio for providing the list of Tenth Edition cards having new artwork. Obviously, Ramon had plenty of time in his hands.

Before anything else, here are some "disclaimers" to my "judging" technique:

1. As I'm not an artist myself (ey, I draw a bit but only for my own appreciation), the opinions here are purely my own and are debatable (well, what topic isn't debatable?). And that's why there's a forum for the debate. Have something to say? Post it!

2. How do I look at the art? Firstly, the art has to do something. A good illustration has to show a clear interpretation of its ability rather than just being a studio pose. The art has to "move". No movement means no fun. Readers might notice that there isn't one legendary creature in my list. Obviously, all these legendary creatures look like they are just posing. Probably the closest legendary creature that can be mentioned is Squee but the funny thing is, he's not shown as a nabob.

3. Second way that I look at the art is probably my normal human perception on appreciating how the colors are mixed together to form the masterpiece, how realistic the illustration is, how detailed is the drawing, etc.

4. While going over each drawing, I went through the process of giving each piece a rating from 1 to 5. 5 is very nice, 4 is good, 3 is average, 2 is "could be better", and 1 is really sucky. Maybe I'm scared of myself giving a rating of 1 because I'm not an artist (I'm biased to myself) so not one new art got 1. But I did give some 2s.

5. Not to impend me further considering my lack of artistic experience, I chose ten "top" artworks from the criteria above. They are not in order of preference. It's too difficult and too much effort to rank each art.

Without further ado, here are my top ten number 5s (I placed my initial reaction as well as further observations upon better scrutiny):

Air Elemental by Kev Walker
"better than previous, a much more intimidating elemental"

Kev Walker has always been well-known for his cutting edge artwork and he delivers big time with this more intimidating Air Elemental. Air Elemental has long been a favorite of mine (5 to cast 4/4 is good for beginners). Though the art makes Air Elemental look like Cloud Elemental (which is also incidentally in Tenth Ed), Air Elemental gets the nod.

Diabolic Tutor
"awesome and very diabolic"

How else do you show the gaining of additional knowledge through searching for that (possibly) one card to win you the game? One needs the diabolic aid of a tutor, in this case, shown by the skeleton (a possible symbol of evil and diabolism). Of course this art could be mistaken for any other black tutor spell out there but I'm giving a nod to the diabolism of Diabolic Tutor here.

Earth Elemental
"Rock on!"

Another favorite from the first impression. Earth Elemental being red certainly helps to give us an idea that it's the color of violence and chaos and the art is chaotic enought and befitting Earth Elemental. I was surprised that Anthony S. Waters did this. But then again, I haven't been looking really close at his works. My bad.

"I love the showing of the hands, it's trying to show that the pieces are being summoned back"

Well obviously that's what Evacuation is supposed to do... I've seen the other artwork for Evacuation and so far this one really shows a real evacuation but not necessarily done by entities that needs to evacuate. The hands provide the appropriate communication to us. Incidentally, the game of Magic uses hands.

"nice vibrant colors of a creature breathing fire"

Now that's what I call breathing fire. And the fiery feel to it add justice to the card. I'm a fan of Briclot art too and this one really gets to me. Seems like I could feel the heat whenever I play this card (though playing the card is seldom).

Holy Day
"the weapons going up is just what the card does"

At a closer look, you'll see the arrows going up (and floating?). The illustration shows a war in mid-action. It's moving, yet it's not. Go figure.

"3 words: Burn, baby, burn!"

This art was chosen by readers and players of From the sketch alone, you could see that the creature (looks like a zombie or a normal soldier) is being burned bad. Thus my initial 3 words. By the way, I think the Boros & Szikszai tandem has a great future ahead of them. They constantly turn up really good artworks.

Might of Oaks
"Matt Cavotta lost out on the poll, this one's really much cooler with the big oak fists and all"

I remember the poll. As much as I like Matt's work, the Jeremy Jarvis version blew me away. Yup, big oak fists. Now that's mighty. Nice symbolism all in all.

"wicked! the representation of regeneration is just wicked"

Regeneration reminds me of that "skin" regeneration spell from Kamigawa that had the creature removing the excess skin the symbolize the regeneration. That was kind of gross in a way of describing it. Tenth Ed Regeneration removes the gross part with the symbolism of flowers. Okay, it's now flowery.

The Hive
"nice creature producer and nice art to it"

What a funny initial comment. Well, I couldn't find a better way of describing this creature generator. I like how golden (or yellow) the hive is. Is it because it's all shiny that I'm attracted to the art.

Here are the other cards in Tenth Ed that I gave a rating of 5:

Faerie Conclave
Forbidding Watchtower
Fountain of Youth
Ghitu Encampment
Giant Growth
Hill Giant
Holy Strength
Legacy Weapon
Robe of Mirrors
Sea Monster
Serra's Embrace
Shivan Hellkite
Story Circle
Sudden Impact
Time Stretch
Uncontrollable Anger
Unholy Strength
Wall of Air

Unexpectedly, I've got all five colors (and an artifact) present in my top ten. Too bad that there's no land though I did consider Faerie Conclave, Forbidding Watchtower, and Ghitu Encampment to be right up there with the rest of the 10.

Incidentally, here are cards from Tenth Ed that I gave a score of 2:

Bog Wraith
Lord of the Pit
Suntail Hawk
Wild Griffin

My decision on Lord of the Pit must be biased because I didn't vote for it. Hehehe. Well, I really consider it to be non-demonic considering how the left arm is positioned. It reminds me of gayness (ey, no offense to gay people).

All card images are courtesy of

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