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Vorthos Potpourri


There were so many flavorful happenings this week that it’s time to do a Vorthos potpourri article. I have a huge backlog of quick ideas. It’s time to go through a few of them.


From the Vault: Twenty New Art Analysis

Akroma's Vengeance

I like the new version of this card a lot. The overall blocking out of areas is super-cool. It can feel ham-handed in works that put the foreground person too much into focus with too much color, but in this case of dark-versus-the-angelic light, it’s perfectly handled. Remember that if you have an extreme foreground character, if he isn’t the central focus, blur him somehow, whether it’s by a lack of color or through lower detail somehow. It’s distracting otherwise, fighting the purpose of the image entirely.

This card has become silly-powerful with the proliferation of planeswalkers—my lord. It’s just silly-powerful.

I’m waiting for new artworks of artists who understand the game to lay Easter eggs, showing what isn’t destroyed as surviving the blast. I’m sure it’ll happen eventually. The game demands a lot of artists, and eventually, they will have to play the game to understand the prompts—and frankly, to stay competitive.

Chainer's Edict

This looks like a Zug so much, you guys. See the figures with the wispy smoke/paint around the figures? Oh man. That was his jam back in the day! Kev Walker does that sort of work now if you look closely.

I would love more promotional cards, Friday Night Magic or otherwise, to reference old-school interactions like limited plays or tournament deck interactions. I don’t need to see a Squadron Hawk holding a sword with Jace looking on, but that sort of tie-in is incredible for alumni players returning to the game, and it’s swag to the max for Cubes and for Evan Erwin to squee over.

Were I looking for some great original art, I’d ask Mark Zug to see how much this piece would cost. Due to the detail, I’m sure it’s in the 11×14 range, a bit larger than most pieces.

Cruel Ultimatum

Todd knows them Dragons—no doubt about it. The strong movement lines are everywhere in this piece, and the action is very apparent, even blurred and from a distance! I think Nicol Bolas could’ve been off-center a little more, as centering a figure feels more like a creature card upon immediately looking at it, but that’s my opinion. Anyone playing against this card will know what it does and what it means.

The muted colors are nice. A few accents would’ve been nice but aren’t necessary.

It’s a solid storytelling card and one I hope really sticks out in foil. A−

Fyndhorn Elves

This looks like something straight out of the A Game of Thrones LCG from a few years ago.

That’s all I’ll say about this art.

Gilded Lotus

News story:

New artist gets cycle and then some boom-boom cards. Seems. Good.

Keep in mind that Raoul Vitale received all ten Cluestones in Dragon’s Maze, but Daniel Ljunggren here received the five staves on M14 and this card. Odd changeup, no? If we are moving into an all-digital-all-the-time flavorful feel, why is Jarvis changing things up? Because he can, you guys. Using one artist too much can overdefine a brand, pigeonholing a style for the next few years. “Oh, so I just need to create landscapes like Noah Bradley, hands like Donato, and figures like Aleksi; got it.” Magic is about spreading the love. It’s how they do, and frankly, having a cycle is wicked-demanding. You need a quickie changeup to keep the artist happy and their creative juices flowing, fulfilled with a commission.

Hymn to Tourach

No homage? C’mon, Jarvis, get that in the art description, man! It’s not as though this card is going to sneak into casual decks. It’ll be in Legacy decks and . . . basically any enfranchised player will cast this, and frankly, Easter egg tie-ins are so money. It’s so close to the Liz Danforth original as homage anyway! So close!


I’m actually a little angry with myself for assuming this was Mother of Runes. Of course an elderly woman in Magic has to be the “mom” card. Duh. I had to assume, right?

It frustrated me to no end when working with artists, directing and such, when only twenty-three-year-old, incredibly idealized women were depicted. I like me some good-lookin’ women, sure, but if you aren’t looking at the wide variety of body shapes, homie, you’re doing it wrong. Considering we got a blue spell that we already have in foil, I wonder if this was a piece of slush art that simply was slotted into the set. Does this really feel like Impulse? I mean, really? I’ll let you think of four to six immediate cards that this artwork could just as easily be.

P.S. The blue eyes aren’t needed, and neither are the blue wispy Photoshop effect for “magic.” Le sigh. It can look hastily-tacked-on to hide imperfections in a hand reference, notably in the ring finger. Always be vigilant of adding things above on a Photoshop layer because laser focuses will be built from it.

Tangle Wire

Who will play this card: Vintage players and Cube enthusiasts

Who will like it: Any cosplay enthusiasts who like to see a butt with interesting costuming.

What is unnecessary here: Showing the butt and the foreshortened hand. Neither is needed, and both are okay at best.

I guess the image will be easily recognizable to Cube players who wish to replace their gold-bordered Tangle Wire. And I guess this image will be great for altering more wires into place.

The art makes sense and fits the card. It’s a solid B grade.

Venser, Shaper Savant

Was this probably an unused artwork from the Duel Decks: Venser vs. Koth? Is there a second side to this artwork that is left unused?

What the hell is up with the Photoshop 101 wispy smoke effect with a blue color overlay?


Eric’s so much better than this. His Tamiyo is just stupidly amazing. I like both of his cursed Garruk depictions, but I’m a green guy. They’re so strong, so detailed, and so meticulous. This just looks hastily-made from the bizarre art foreshortening to the hands that make Donato cry. Everyone punts, and that’s a fact. It just hurts when really quality people turn in a “good enough” piece. We’ll see Eric again. Let’s hope he swings for the fences soon.


Current Creative Team at Wizards

The current Creative team for the Magic brand at Wizards of the Coast is actually quite small. These are the professional Vorthoses. There exist other folks within WotC who write flavor text, help with world-building, and write short stories, but this is the formal Creative Team. They’re the ones who are placed on Design or Development teams to keep that flavor in check.

Colin Kawakami

Creative Manager

Colin is currently the boss of sorts, handling work flows and “loving” meetings. Since there has been some restructuring, Colin is the new Brady, of sorts.

Jeremy Jarvis

Senior Art Director

Jeremy commissions most of the art we see on cards. He has some help from Dungeons & Dragons art directors from time to time. He is the guy you see at conventions doing portfolio reviews or telling stories in the hotel bar with artists.

Richard Whitters

Concept Artist

When artists come in for pushes, they work with Richard. He works on the style guides and lifts a lot in creating the first impressions of world-building. His work goes largely unnoticed, but artists sure know him.

Doug Beyer

Senior Creative Designer

Doug wrote the Savor the Flavor column on DailyMTG for years. He also writes books, most recently the The Secretist novelettes, among the other ones.

Jenna Helland

Creative Designer

Jenna and Doug are the Contra red/blue characters, writing all the things and filling the worlds. Uncharted Realms was started by Jenna and now rotates between members and freelancers.

Adam Lee

Creative Designer

Adam was a longtime flavor text writer.

Matt Cavotta

Creative Director

Matt oversees brand packaging, keeping it consistent, among the myriad of other duties. When you see a distinct look or feel of a set, that’s Matt’s work.

He wrote Taste the Magic, and his “Snacktime with Vorthos” is one article any flavorful person should know.

Ari Levitch

Creative Intern?

I saw Ari in the Comic-Con video, and I have heard he’s running the flavor text teams now.

Jennifer Clarke Wilkes


While Jennifer doesn’t work in Creative per se, she writes for Uncharted Realms, and like everything at Wizards, people cross-pollinate.


Art Book Kickstarter

We have been kicking this idea around for years. Magic made only one art book, imaginatively named The Art of Magic: The Gathering in 1998. It basically has the style guides and card art to drive a narrative of the Weatherlight Saga. A question at the San Diego Comic-Con asked about another coffee-table book, and wisely, Mark Purvis, brand manager, said they’d look into it. This is a chip shot offering for Vorthos players everywhere if the print run is kept low and a promotional card is included. Since the flavor is so entrenched into the game, tying any new offering directly into a print card is essential. We look at Agents of Artifice and the book Jace promo ($180 and higher) as evidence.

Print five thousand copies at $40 apiece to require $200,000 as a Kickstarter.

A promo card comes with each one.

Additional levels are Evan Erwin Magical-Christmas-Land, but some very easy and logical options are audiobooks of The Secretist and eventually all the other novels. Style-guide digital copy PDFs for artists and then physical copies at a higher tier would be great. An art exhibition showing the entire book with other unseen, unpublishable art would be a huge offering, too.

I’ve already offered my services. The creative team knows I’d dragon-kick greater than ten babies to be involved at the ground level.

To have this thing made, a few hurdles need to be jumped, but none of it is insurmountable.

I strongly urge if you want to become more involved in Magic’s creative side to write some pitches for how to fix this. Post them on Tumblr, link to them on Twitter, and discuss them on Reddit. It’s an offering that needs to be made, but support has to be proven.


Imaginative Realism Art Exhibition

I’m currently working on a proposal for a major imaginative realism art exhibition. That’s the fine art term for fantasy/science-fiction art predominantly in illustration. I’m working with a major museum on it, and progress, while slow, is very promising.

Beyond my efforts, I strongly suggest you put the art out there. Make it visible!

Not everyone has access to an art gallery, but if you’re a smaller game store, print out Magic high-resolution art, glue it to cardstock or foam core, and put it on your walls. Use alligator clips to keep them on the wall and cardstock for labels, saying who the artist is, the set, medium, year, and perhaps a card and sketch to give it context. It makes your store a little more elevated than simply another place with the same promotional posters that come in the mail. Also, your players will love it because it’s cheap and easy, and you can include them in future endeavors to “own” their space visually. I’d then post to social media channels, especially Reddit, but that’s just me!


Magic Original Art

Old works are crazy-collectible and growing stupidly expensive seemingly every month. If you recall a major card from before five years ago, there’s a ninety-five-percent chance that it’s already in a private collector’s hands. The past year has had people snatch up basically every Standard powerhouse, Modern card, and Commander staple. You can contact artists about those works, but really, they’re just gone.

Were I just starting original art collecting, I’d wait until a big spoiler comes out and immediately contact an artist about the original art for purchase. It will be the speculation of the future.

And per always, if you’re wanting to get into collecting original Magic art, ping me. I’m always willing to help you in your journey.

My most recent pickup. Archivist by Donato Giancola

Just an FYI: I’m always looking for John Avon’s Mirage purple Mountain and three panoramas of four or more basic lands in one image. (I need a Mountain, an Island, and a Plains!)


Cosplay Costumes

I’m already planning for Halloween this month, trying to figure out my costume. I usually go with a patriotic-themed person such as Uncle Sam, but I have my eyes on Magic this year.

As we’ve all seen Christine Sprankle’s Elspeth, and Reddit has definitely given visibility to cosplay, looking for Magic premade costumes is a very logical next step. I poked Christine with a stick about making ready-mades, but the amount of work is staggering.

I have found only one Magic-themed costume available online for over $150:

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Magic Board Game

Everyone knows this has been kicked around for literally two decades.

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That’s it for this week. Thanks for stopping by. More flavorful news next week . . .

- Mike

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