Promo cards and things like that

Magic players do like their bling, especially in the form of new card art for old cards – this is pretty much the point of all those FNM promos, right?
Curiously enough, I often find that the “special” art strikes me as being markedly worse, for one reason or another, than the original art. This was true of the recent FNM Anathemancer. Here’s the original:
…and the FNM promo from last month:
The original Richard Whitters art is elegant and mood-setting – that is, indeed, a Zombie Wizard, back from the dead to do horrid things to mages who had the temerity to run non-basics. In contrast, the Mark Hyzer variation looks like a level boss from Doom. Sort of.
This must be some variant-art phenom, because Mark Hyzer’s other work is much better, and that generally holds true for other displeasing promos (e.g. Bloodbraid Elf).
Moving away from quality of the piece, we have the new special art Swords to Plowshares:
The art here is lovely. It’s just that the piece doesn’t so much say “Swords to Plowshares” as it does “Swords to other Swords, and oh yeah I’m about to kick your ass.”
Compare that with the original art:
Although this art doesn’t actually show the transition from combat to pasture, it certainly does convey the end result – the gentleman is clearly plowsharing and not swordsing at all.
For me, the perfect note for Swords was struck by Kaja Foglio in her art for the Ice Age edition of the card:
Everything about this is just so right on the mark. Done in the style of iconic imagery (in the religious sense of “iconic”), it captures that moment where the soldier makes the transition from war to peace.
So I’ll stick with Kaja’s version as the archetype of Swords to Plowshares, against which all future special variants must necessarily be measured.

2 thoughts on “Promo cards and things like that

  1. Thanks for pointing that out. That was from one of the “Kjeldoran Cunning” Coldsnap precon deck (I had to look it up). I’d recalled it was in that set, but had totally forgotten that this meant it had the new frame.

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