This week we’re going to cover a topic I’ve never talked about before on The Mana Base – Art! (well kind of, but not really). This week I’m taking a more casual look at the tough choices cube designers have to make when deciding the careful ingredients that make up the most important decisions of their lives – which version of a card to add to their cube.
Some cards only present one option, making our lives easier, but most of the time we’re given the tough decision of deciding between 2,3 or even 4 different cards. This week, I’ll covering the tough choices we make when deciding to part with our money and spend way too much on premium cards.
Ice Age VS Mercadian Masques VS Izzet/Golgari
Starting off with the staple Brainstorm, Wizards gave us ‘revamped’ art in the Duel Deck: Izzet VS Golgari and they were even kind enough to give us a foil printing a couple years later in Conspiracy. I do like the new art, but I don’t think anything will ever beat the iconic Mercadian Masques art printed way back in 1999.
The Masques art carries one of the most iconic art pieces in Magic history, Brainstorm has its name etched in the history books as one of the most powerful draw spells of all time, its hard to choose anything over it. If you’re looking to pimp our your cube, its $200+ price tag is hard to cough up, but don’t worry, its art stays forever young with its 2004 Friday Night Magic Promo for only ~$70.
*Side note: If wizards every printed Chris Rahn’s Brainstorm art he provided for the Vintage World Championships, it’d give Mercadian Masques a run for its money.
Winner – Mercadian Masques not close
Alpha/FNM VS Judge VS Ice Age VS Mercadian Masques VS 5th Edition VS 7th Edition VS Jace/Chandra VS Eternal Masters
With so many options it makes the choice very difficult. Nope just kidding real easy. The Eternal Masters printing gave players access to fantastic new artwork featuring Wizards golden boy Jace, while also making foil printings fairly easy to find. As much as I do like the new art, EMA isn’t the choice. If we’re talking best foil, that title goes to the DCI Promo (Judge Promo) Counterspell hands down. It’s a foil slowly slipping into the world of obscure promos people forgot about (its about 17 years old now), but its still holding strong as the most ‘pimp’ Counterspell (excluding Alpha if we’re talking all time/non foil). After Judge foil however, is my favourite Counterspell choice, Foil 7th Edition. 7th Edition brought a breath of fresh air into years old Magic cards back in 2001, giving old all stars like Serra Angel, Counterspell, Birds of Paradise, Wrath of God, new art AND new black bordered foils for the first time. Many of the most pimp cards come from this set and 7th Edition is one of my favourite sets of all time for this reason. Too bad I can only enjoy the black bordered (mostly) unique artwork in foil.
Winner – The answers Judge, but the heart choses 7th.
Gateway Promo VS 10th Edition
When I started playing Magic, I always liked the original artwork for the Weatherlight Mindstone and I don’t know why. Mind Stone only has a couple choices but the choice seems pretty obvious. 10th Edition. I won’t argue the arts better on the 10th Edition printing, but the Gateway Mindstone is sooooooo common (in the world of foil cubes) that my once upon a time love for it fell flat over the years.
Winner – What a surprise, 10th.
Swords to Plowshares
Alpha/FNM VS Ice Age VS Elspeth/Tezzeret VS Judge
Lets be real this one isn’t hard. If I have to choose a non-foil one to play, I chose Ice Age. As much as I hate most of Ice Age’s art and honestly I like the new art Duel Deck: Elsepth VS Tezzeret gave us, I have a fondness from playing Ice Age copies for years of 5-colour/250 way back in the day. Otherwise, the original art featured in the FNM printing is another hard to argue/iconic. Nobodies wasting their time with FTV or Gold Club judge promos here though.
Winner – The non-golf themed FNM promo. Did you know Swords was a FNM promo once upon a time? I won’t judge you.
Portal 3K VS FTV
In a world where I want to pimp everything, Portal 3K wins. Sometimes being foil doesn’t win. The elusiveness of anything in Portal 3K is worth more to me then any promo (with the exception of maybe Judge or ‘Expedition’ themed). From the Vault is the lowest of the low of pimp. Not close (jk kinda close to the Premium all foil decks. Those are real bad.)
Winner – the not awful version.
Did you know that Wasteland has 2 Judge printings? For some reason Wasteland and Vindicate each have 2. So following the trend, the original Player Rewards Wasteland is the most pimp option if you don’t like money, but very quietly, I really like the full art Expedition we got with Oath of the Gatewatch. Breaking my general rule of pimp hierarchy, if I had to do it all over again, I’d buy the Expedition one over any other printing (I’m also a big fan of the 2015 artwork too). Originally Vintage World Championship promo artwork, Wizards was cool and printed a playable one a couple years later (here’s hoping for brainstorm in the future).
Winner – Expedition, but I’ll choose Player Rewards to save face.
Alright so obviously I have a bias towards original printing or original foils, lets tackles a newer issue:
Kaladesh VS Masterpiece
In a world where we get a new ‘Expedition/Masterpiece/Invocations’ every set, it’s a tough world out there having to choose another foil printing vs the new zany most likely harder to find version. After much deliberation, I think the pick is fairly simple: In the case of existing already foil cards (example: Sundering Titan), I pick original. In the case of cards like the Gearhulk Cycle and lets say the battle lands in Zendikar, as much as Iike the pack foils, I pick the Expeditions. Honestly, most of the decisions I make aren’t actually about the art, but more about the ‘status’ of the card. Original wins 9 times out of 10, but in certain cases, like Torrential Gearhulk, exceptions can be made and the full art gearhulks win this one.
Winner – Masterpiece
So that’s my first wave of This or That, a topic I’d like to cover again, but if you get to know me, its pretty easy to figure out which one I’d pick. If you want to talk pure aesthetics, check out MTG Salvations ‘Card Aesthetics Evaluation Thread’ over here: . They think you can choose reprints and bad promos over originals for some reason…
You can check out my cube on CubeTutor here: