Art Fight Part 2: Blue

In this series, I’m going to go through my cube, section by section, and compare the available printings of each card. I’ll give my opinion on which is the coolest/prettiest/most charmingly old-school, but since this is a side by side comparison of art and version, it should be a useful reference even if you don’t agree. If I missed something, let me know! Note: I’m working on the general rule that I would like cards to be foil, but I’d rather have nice art than foil if that’s the choice.

Please follow Milo’s awesome example, and let me know what your picks are in the comments.

If you missed it, here’s Part 1: White .

Let’s go!

So we begin the trend of hilarously literal art in blue. Dude is starting a storm, with his brain. Yep. FNM all the way.


Eh. Kev Walker’s is the prettiest, but I like the Onslaught version as well. We run the Onslaught one- Justin’s choice.


Does blue seriously have to make up for having good cards by having terrible art? The Jace one at least doesn’t make me think that it belongs to a card that is, you know, only sideboard material if it cantrips. Maybe when Counterspell is reprinted the art will be awesome, and it will involve an elemental fish with wings cameo, and everything will be ok. Until then…


I’m sure there’s some associated loss of street cred, but I just want to not memorize the order on this card, or you know, exactly which stupidly good things it does. Text-full!


I just can’t resist the urge to put these two next to each other. /aside


So, I tried to tell Justin that I liked the new art better- it at least makes me think that something cool is happening, not just goblins rifling through papers- and he went off on a long tangent about Squee being put into the graveyard through FoF and then coming back. So I guess I have to say that maybe the old art has some sort of reason to it, but I’m going with prettiness here- I like the new one.


Same beautiful art, but shinier. Yes please.


So, blue is pretty light on promo and alternate art cards in general (at least compared to white- I guess I should finish the rest before passing judgment), and a lot of the promos have the same art. So here we are. Does this art make you think of drawing cards? I’m not sure impulsiveness is really the same as being a thief. Oh well- foil it is.


Alright, baby Jace isn’t actually in my cube anymore, but I had to mention him, because this might be the most offensively bad art in this entire section. I love Kev Walker, but what were you thinking? Is Jace a frat boy? Does he listen to Dave Matthews? Does casting blue spells just make you feel really bro-y?

The book version is fine, but I don’t know why you wouldn’t just run the original.


Thanks, M11! I really like the new art here. The textless is also rad, but excluded due to new-player-friendliness.


A jellyfish eating a shark is clearly cool, but the portal wording (“from your hand”) isn’t real. I like the Jace vs. Chandra version.


Ughh, why must they do this? Why give a promo new art (when the old art is already awesome) unless you are going to make an effort to have the new art be good as well? The original art is awesome- you think, I like this fish. It has wings. I can see that it likes me back, hence the card draw. What is that new thing? Is it even a fish anymore? This is just the worst.


Again with the balancing broken cards by giving them bad art. I don’t find either of these particularly flavorful or evocative of what the card does, but at least the Urza’s Destiny one is blackbordered.


I feel like this one comes down to a personal decision about merfolk nipples. I’m going with the M10 version myself, but I could see running the textless one if I was ok with that in the cube.


Wow- nothing better than the old wording, where they remind you that your cards might have drawbacks. Adorable.


Until I started writing this article, I actually didn’t know that this guy was in Jace vs. Chandra. They did a really nice job with the art though- just like Akroma’s Vengeance, the newer version is really bright and crisp. I’ll be upgrading.


How could you not love the revised version? I love the hilarious mismatch of badass not-really-blue-creature with doily-wearing man. But this card was constantly getting sorted into green, so now I run the FTV:Exiled version, which lacks charm but has shininess.


Judge Foils with the normal expansion symbol are a little odd- but nothing much to see here. I run the foil, 100% personal preference.


I’m honestly surprised that this card has 5 printings and only two distinct arts. I like the Destiny one- I think it reads well and is kind of adorable, but both are well-done. Can we get a sweet promo?


I’m kind of sucker for ladies rather than not ladies in my magic art, and I think the promo is very pretty although the straightforward interpretation of the original charms me. “Hey guys, I’m literally drinking a vial of knowledge!” I’m going with the FNM promo.


Obviously just the foil vs nonfoil, old vs new border issue here- I do wish there was a version without reminder text on morph. For some reason that’s just the tweaky thing I’m into now. Personally, I like the foil and I like the new border, so I’m going with the FNM promo. But you can have basically any permutation you want of the same art, which is kind of cool.

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6 responses to “Art Fight Part 2: Blue

  1. griffenvalentine

    Goddamn Jace Bro-leren, WHY!?

    I love that shark, he’s just like; “Fucking, seriously!? Arggghh!”

    Also, Thea is right, if your Cube supports fish nipples then go with the original Ponder art.

    Which Dissipate do you run? I run Desertion.

    New FoF is sooo boring. Squee and Hanna lovingly rendered, and a reminder that Tierese used to be a really bad ass artist. His(Her?) new art is a little too loose/colored pencil looking for my taste.

    Counterspell, do you hold the record for bad art? How can a card that iconic and old not have a totally sweet premium version?

    Opposition, seriously, what was the plan? Either a yelling match, or a psychic capoeira beach fight? Way to convey: TAP DOWN EVERYTHING AND WIN WHILE YOUR OPPONENT CRIES.

    Also I think the correct answer to Willbender is: Timeshifted foil. Best of all worlds.

    Revised Serendib all the way. That guy cracks me up. The best aggro blue creature of all times, is also the classiest. And, deep undercover.

    Clone is the classic Kev Walker “this’ll look sweet in foil” phone in. Guy in the front, White background….go. See also: Spirit Monger, Viridian Zealot, and Wrath. The Onslaught one just charms me with its dopiness.

    God, original Brainstorm is so horribly influenced by Rob Liefeld and 90’s comics, it’s unreal. Sweet back things, bro. Are they swords? Guns? Crab legs? EXTREME!

    Speaking of Christopher Rush, poor guy was one of the first Magic artists, but he’s soooooo bad. Original Mana Leak is so amateur, and ugly.

    I wish there were Portal 3 Kingdoms version of some of these cards. I guess we could just draw a gun in everyone’s hands and pretend…..

  2. Brainstorm – As far as art is concerned, I think I actually prefer the Ice Age one. Although, I DO enjoy promo foiled cards quite a bit so I run that one instead.

    Clone – Ah Clone, so amusing, but rarely played in my cube. The original artwork is hilarious and that’s the reason it’s the one in my cube. I do like the Onslaught one as well. I really wished that they kept the humour going with the last one…maybe next time…

    Counterspell – The original artwork is the best, imo. Everything about that mullet wizard screams, “EPIC FAIL!”

    Cryptic Command – I like full art, but I really think they should have reserved it for only the simplest of cards. This could lead to arguments and play-errors for players that are probably already at a disadvantage in cube. 😦

    FoF – THE ORIGINAL ARTWORK KICKS SO MUCH ASS!!! This is one of my favourite cards of all time and one of the few that has stellar artwork backing it up. I never really followed the storyline behind magic, but having Squee look through some papers with a confused look on his face is exactly the expression that you’re looking for on your opponent after you play this card.

    Gifts Ungiven – I prefer the card from the original set in this case…even though shinier usually = better.

    Impulse – FOIL PROMO, OBV.

    Jace – I like the original art as well. If it’s not broken, why fix it?

    Mana Leak – I use the DCI one b/c that’s how I generally roll, but the full art is really slick. That guy means business.

    Man-Of-War – DCI one again, even though I prefer the portal one. There’s a lot of action happening in that Portal artwork.

    Mulldrifter – I just bought the alternate art one online without seeing it first and I was VERY disappointed. The original art was adorable. We need more artwork like it.

    Opposition – BB. I don’t even really mind the artwork in the first one. Those are CLEARLY forces that are in opposition.

    Ponder – MERFOLK NIPPLES, FTW! I have the textless one in my cube, but I might make a switch…you know, for the new players…

    Psionic Blast – Thea, you only posted 2 of the 3 versions of this card. You forgot the Alpha version which actually read,

    “Listen. I’m going to deal 4 damage to a target, any target, of my choice. I know, I’m playing blue, it seems unfair – but get this, there’s a catch. In exchange for the 4 damage that I deal, I will also take 2 damage. Okay?”

    I like the beta version the best. It sums things up nicely.

    Quicksilver Dragon – It’s not in my cube. I don’t like either version…sorry for being a downer all of a sudden.

    Efreet – I opened this card in the very first pack of magic cards that I ever bought. It was a revised starter and it really, really confused me. Was it green? Was it blue? Was it the ONLY ONE OF ITS KIND? Why am I taking damage from my own creature?!?!

    Now I love him like he was my own. I accept him and his doily scarf.

    Stroke – Judge foil, for sure, it’s not even that expensive online.

    Magpie – I wish my opponents wouldn’t be so adamant on killing these cute little birds as soon as they hit play, but I understand their concern.

    Thirst – The original wins because the guy is wearing goggles. I like to think of them as the artifact he discards – because the goggles do nothing.

    William J. Bender – He gets on the field and ruins days.

    Thanks for the shout-out!

  3. I just learned about your blog from your new column at SCG (congrats on that!)…and already I see that you have posts that are total catnip for me, like picking between alternate art options.

    I think my votes would go like so:

    Brainstorm – Masques version, clearly. It’s just so much prettier. Sadly, all the oens I have are from Ice Age.

    Clone – I’ll go with the Kev Walker Clone, which I think is the most awesome overall. Second runner-up goes to the original Clone, because there’s something hilarious about how they’re just perplexed by each other. Julie Baroh’s art style also feels like something from a classic fairytale book.

    Counterspell – Yeah, that’s a lot of badness across a lot of cards. My favorite by far is the Jace versus Chandra Counterspell, which really imparts the feel of shutting down your opponent’s game plan.

    Cryptic Command – Not only is this a terrible choice for a textless spell, but the textless art is worse. I’ve complained over on my own blog about this curious semi-trend where the promo art is worse than the original.

    Fact or Fiction – The new one, the new one, the new one. The old art is klunky and not particularly interesting. The new art feels, well, magical.

    Gifts Ungiven – Well, it’s my favorite card, so I own the FtV foiled one. That said, I dislike foils, so my Kamigawa cube uses the vanilla art version.

    Jace – Hey, don’t forget manga Jace. I’d go with the original, though.

    Mana Leak – M11 all the way.

    Mulldrifter – Good grief, the original. Yet another promo that is markedly worse than the original.

    Opposition – The Urza’s one is also not bad art, which is nice.

    Ponder – The M10 Ponder. It feels mystical, and is one of those lovely somewhat abstract representations of what the card does. The Mark Tedin one is, like, a Merfolk holding a sponge, or a cloud, or something. I have no idea what that has to do with digging into my library. The promo ponder…well, it’s reaffirming my belief in poor promo art. I feel as if it should be airbrushed onto the side of my band’s van while he make our way to that promising gig in Detroit.

    Psionic Blast – Enh. Neither? Pass.

    Serendib Efreet – I like the original. Since I actually know what the Ifh-Bifh Efreet does (having, along with ten other people, been killed out of a giant multiplayer game by one), I just find myself sad that the revised one isn’t, well, an Ifh-Bifh. The Exiled one definitely lacks charm.

    Thirst for Knowledge – If it weren’t foil, I’d like the FNM one. That’s awesome art. And I kind of hate the Mirrodin art style in general, so there’s that, too.

  4. Opposition:
    “I don’t find either of these particularly flavorful or evocative of what the card does”

    huh? so how exactly do you see ‘opposition’ being represented in art?

    • Representing the word “Opposition” isn’t the same as representing your creatures tapping down your opponents lands, creatures, or artifacts. I think something like a Plumeveil-style horde of birds altering a landscape might actually do a better job of representing that a) it’s not just a creature vs. creature thing and b) it’s the numbers that count.

  5. I totally agree with your choices. Most actually are the same in my cube. We basically have a rule of no textless cards. (we dont want anyone saying “what does this do?”) I just love the textless art on mana leak because with my group whenever anyone plays the textless mana leak they have to yell RAIDEN WINS! cause he looks like raiden from mortal kombat!

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