Anson Maddocks Interview

Welcome to our first interview of the year! We’re very happy to share with you our talk with iconic artist Anson Maddocks, one of Magic’s original 25 artists.

Anson worked with Wizards of the Coast from 1993 to 2008, and during that time he produced more than 120 original artworks, 30 of which from Alpha, the first Magic set.

Here’s what Anson told us.

Tell us a little about how you got started in illustration, and on Magic more specifically.

I moved to Seattle in 1988 to attend Cornish College of the Arts. As a self-funded, self-supporting student, I would check out illustrations in magazines and newspapers. If I saw something I thought I could do at least as well or better, I would submit works targeting what I thought they might be looking for. I got work for the Seattle Weekly this way. A lot of my early career was a result of being open-minded and willing to juggle a bunch of projects at once.

While at Cornish I became friends with fellow student, Andi Rusu, who told me about a guy who was looking for illustrators for a fantasy role playing game. I learned that the guy Andi was referring to was also attending Cornish and soon had the opportunity to meet this Jesper Myrfors. He told me he worked for a local game company and to see if he thought my style would fit, he gave me a creature to illustrate.

Anson @ A Game Convention
Source: nebraskaswar.com

Happy with what I showed him, Jesper started me working on a guide book called Thystram’s Collectanea for the role playing game, Talislanta. The publisher of the book was Wizards of the Coast, and the entire operation was being run out of the basement of owner, Peter Adkison’s Kent home.

Meanwhile, my lifelong friend Mark Tedin was just finishing up his masters degree in art from St Louis. I told Mark that I had more illustration work than I knew what to do with and that he should come to Seattle. That is how he ended up sleeping on the floor of my Capitol Hill apartment while we both worked on Talislanta together.

This was about a year before Magic was created and so we were already working for Wizards of the Coast by the time Magic was born.

Wizards of the Coast picked up the license for Talislanta, a fantasy role-playing game, in 1992

At what point did you notice the game was a huge hit?

The funny thing about that is, Jesper Myrfors seemed to know all along that it was going to big! His enthusiasm and excitement for the game was infectious. Jesper would say things like, “Are you ready for your name to recognized by strangers across the world?” I would laugh it off, but I do believe in some small way it did prepare me for what was to come.

But to answer your question, for me, it was the Gen Con the year Magic was released that I realized it was a really big success. It wasn’t my first year at Gen Con but it was much different than the year before. It seemed like we had the attention of everybody there and their reactions to the game was overwhelming positive. We couldn’t keep up with the demand for the cards.

As far as I know we did not bring any product back with us from GenCon. We sold everything…all of it! Then the reviews and articles started coming out from that point on it was a whirlwind.

How would you say Magic changed your career?

Before Magic I was looking forward to doing more fine art. When I first started for Wizards I was simultaneously creating some very large paintings on my own which would be exhibited in galleries or as a part of installations. The illustration work I was getting from WotC slowly started to take over all of my time and eventually I stopped work on other projects as it proved to have less security in it for me than Wizards’ work did.

For a lot of people, the amount of money I was making under the royalties contract would be the very definition of a successful career. But to me, I sort of consider it my undoing. Because I didn’t need to, I quite working altogether. I would not advocate going from rags to riches at 23 years old. I certainly wasn’t prepared for it.

Can you give a brief description of your painting process for Magic cards?

The process when we were simply given the titles to the cards to work from was very very different from the process when we were later given two pages of typed descriptions of everything which was to be depicted in a singe image!

When the title was all I had and the rest was all up to me, I wanted to make sure the result was as unexpected as I could make it. I feel like that is one of the primary roles as a visual artist (particularly a fantasy artist); to show people something which they would not have come up with on their own.

I would go to a coffee shop, get loaded on espresso, sit there all day and do everything I could do before needing to go home for the paint or ink. My favorite part was sitting across from Mark Tedin while we worked. We packed in as many productive hours into a day that we possibly could.

There were never any creative blocks back then. He was someone I knew my whole life, someone I had grown up learning to draw with. I think we both motivated each other to surpass our own expectations and for me that was extremely beneficial. I think if you ask Mark though, he would probably say, “Anson who…?” (lol)

You worked for the game for 13 years, what changed the most during this period?

Wow, it would be an easier question to answer what didn’t change! The company, the game play, the art – all of it has seen it’s own evolution over time. I believe anything that is going to persist has to have the ability to bend and yield with the changing circumstances. Magic the Gathering has done just that.

During the years I was there what changed the most for me was the work environment and the role of the artists. Of course, this is coming from and egocentric perspective of someone who had been there from Magic’s inception.

In the beginning, we didn’t have a teams of writers or entire departments devoted to design and development. So much more was entrusted to the artists and as a result we felt a deeper sense of ownership and personal investment in the game.

Mark Tedin & Anson Maddocks

Of course, as Magic experienced the massive growth it did, it made sense for the company to take the directions it did; from the decision to follow a story line and keep continuity throughout the art to the use of digital art versus traditional art methods. I can’t argue these all weren’t the right decisions for the game. It just wasn’t really fitting with me and what I wanted to be doing at the time.

If I am to be really transparent here I can’t deny that I enjoyed being something of a “star” at Grand Prix events. Back in the beginning all of the artist’s expenses were covered, and we were all treated like actual guests. We would just show up and sign cards for free…It didn’t feel like work and it took no preparation…and we would often be tipped by appreciative fans or collectors.

For artists going to events now it is a whole different ball game. Artist are expected to pay for their own travel and usually accommodations as well, which translates into a lot of preparation to ensure the trip pays for itself and is worthwhile from a business perspective.

Merchandising, charging for signatures, these are all now necessary “evils” that just didn’t enter the equation in the beginning. What hasn’t changed, and I don’t expect will, is my love of interacting with the people who appreciate and support my artwork.. That is the best part of going to events and inspires me more than you might expect!

Word has it that since you were able to paint very fast, you would step up to complete pieces that other artists couldn’t finish in time. Is this true?

Yes, that is true. (Although I am not particularly proud of the fact that I worked so fast.) This was fairly common especially when working on the Alpha set. It had a lot to do with the compensation that was being offered to the artists then which, as a fledgling company, wasn’t much. In fact, at a certain point they had asked if the artists would be willing to accept half of their compensation in company stock, which I had agreed to.

So it went from $100 per illustration to $50 (plus $50 in stock). A lot of artists, who were already having a hard time feeling motivated just dropped off. In my case, it was all about paying rent. When the compensation changed, I realized, “So now to get my rent paid, I guess I am going to have to work twice as hard!” So yeah, I took over a lot of other artist’s assignments.

The other factor that played a significant role in that was my close contact with art director, Jesper Myrfors. As I mentioned before, his enthusiasm for Magic was phenomenal. He gave me great feedback and had a way of making me feel excited about what my artwork was contributing to the game. I felt really good about working for Wizards of the Coast, I was truly enjoying the work and I didn’t want to disappoint Jesper. (I have to admit that I was also really motivated to see my art on those little cards!)

What has been your favorite plane/expansion to work on?

I am not sure that I can really differentiate one set from another back then. They all kind of seemed to be of one reality, which was a fantasy world. I mean, I loved the work I was doing at the time, don’t get me wrong. But because I started before there was a story line and books of back-story to go along with each expansion, I don’t think it was the same experience that it is today. Although, I can say that while working on Ice Age I got the sense of a distinct place and environment and I really enjoyed it for that reason.

What were some of the most challenging cards to paint and why?

Any of the cards that came with pages of description, which didn’t require me to come up with the concept. (Null Rod comes to mind). For the assignments which came later on, I knew someone, a writer and or designer, had already envisioned in their mind what the art should look like and then I was left with trying to tap into their preconceived notion and basically simply render that…Almost like taking dictation or being a police sketch artist. The concept work to me was the most fun and where I believe my strength as an artist was, not necessarily in the execution of the art…So this was quite a challenge for me.

Of the art you made for Magic, can you name some favorites?

Cyclopean TombArmor of Faith and Pygmy Allosaurus come to mind only because when I look at these pieces I am not flooded with a bunch of things that I wish I had done differently. (Except the number of fingers on the Pygmy Allosaurus!)

Do you still have any of your original Magic artwork?

Yes, but only a small handful of pieces. The vast majority of originals were stolen from my home quite a few years ago. The thief stole approximately 100 pieces of artwork (including 25 Alpha artworks) and boxes of sealed boosters of Alpha, Beta, Arabian Nights, and others.. I reported it to the Seattle Police Department immediately however other than writing up the incident, they failed to pursue the matter.

They even had the name of the guilty party, and incontrovertible evidence but the person was never held accountable for what they did. I can not describe how devastating this event was to me and how much it impacted the course of my life. But that story could be a whole interview by itself!

For our last question, is there any Magic related story/episode you’d like to share with us?

Well quite a few come to mind, but most of them wouldn’t be appropriate here. But I do have a story regarding the Pygmy Allosaurus artwork. I was at a Grand Prix event, signing cards when a young boy came through the line with his father. I am really bad about estimating age but he seemed about 6-9 years old. He definitely couldn’t have been more than 10 years old.

Anyway, a little boy. I don’t even remember if he had any cards to be signed, just his dad telling me his son wanted to ask me a question. I said, “Sure!” “Why does Pygmy Allosaurus have only 3 fingers and not 4?” Uh…um, er…. Yep, schooled by this little boy on the anatomical correctness of my dinosaur artwork! I didn’t really know what to say but, I really loved that moment! In fact the interesting stuff I learn from Magic players and collectors is one of the best parts of going to events for me. It’s truly an exceptional community and I feel fortunate to have been a part of it.

Thank you for reading!

Anson can be contacted via his website, where you can find announcements about events and appearances, latest projects and visit his web store to shop prints, artist proofs, original artwork, card alters & more!

Remember to follow Anson on Instagram!

We’re truly grateful to Anson for taking the time to share his passion and all these stories with us.

See you next week for another interview!


Richard Thomas Interview

Welcome to the 31st interview for our There’s No Magic Without Art series!

For today’s interview we talked with Richard Thomas, one of Magic’s original 25 artists.

Of the original 25 artists, we also interviewed Drew Tucker, Douglas Shuler, Jeff Menges and Julie Baroh, so don’t forget to check those interviews out too.

Hi Richard! How did you become an artist?

In the big picture sense, I was always an artist. There were drawing on my bedroom walls where I grew up from when I crawled over with a crayon. Later, in high school, I made the decision to pursue art as a career and with the fantastic art department in HS as a great start, I got my BFA and MFA degrees from Tyler School of Art.

And how did you start working on Magic?

Like a lot of us “classic” Magic artists, I was friends with the gang at Wizards of the Coast – in my case from having worked with them on different projects before MtG.

One day, Lisa Stevens called me to see if I’d like to do “card art” for a new card game they were creating. I was intrigued because I’d always loved tarot and other cards where art was important to the look, but had no clue about this whole collectable card game thing they were doing.

Gotta remember, Magic created this whole genre of gaming – before the first Magic release, there was nothing like it in gaming.

What was your first card you painted?

Wow, hard to remember, but I want to say Red Elemental Blast was the first one I finished from that first batch of cards.

When did you realize the game was a huge hit?

I knew WOTC had something that was working that first Gen Con it debuted, but then it just kept going! I was talking with Jesper and Lisa and the gang over there as things exploded and there was more and more crazy amounts of demand for it, so they pretty much told me how things were going up and up.

How did Magic impact your career?

Well, unlike a lot of the other original Magic artists, illustration was what I did in addition to my regular job as the lead visual person at White Wolf. So, for me, Magic didn’t have a lot of direct impact, but instead was an awesome added thing to my life that was really outside of what I was normally known for.

I remember the first time I was attending a gaming convention with White Wolf, talking with artists and printers and all that art director stuff, and I kept hearing my name being whispered back and forth.

Which was really strange. I turned around and there at the edge of the White Wolf booth were a group with Magic cards in their hands, and they wanted them autographed! Which was also strange, because that had not happened to me before.

But they were very nice, and I signed them and went back to what I was doing. Way before autographs, and alters, and art on the back of cards, and everything we do now.

What Medium(s) do you work with? Can you give us a brief description of your painting process for Magic?

With the original Magic cards and for a couple of years, I used blacked ink to create the line art, and Dr Martin’s Dyes to do the watercolor painting. I used those dyes because the colors were very intense, and I had made a deal with Lisa and Jesper that I could play around with that technique for a sort of stained-glass effect.

Later, I began creating the card art with acrylic paints as I’d pretty much wanted to paint vs draw and paint in – if that makes any sense.

For the original style, I’d do a thumbnail pencil sketch, then redraw that freehand on the bristol board surface. Very much all line, no shading. (And sorry folks, to the best of my knowledge I do not have any of those little thumbnail sketches.)

Then, I’d ink the lines with very deliberate thicknesses to create a sense of space. Sometimes I’d wait until I put in the color and then add more lines to add in details, or thicken borders.

The dyes were painted in just like watercolor paints usually are, although I usually blended them less together and let them sit next to each other. Particularly on the Walls.

For the later acrylic work, the sketching was a lot more involved, and then I’d get into it with the acrylics, going from darks to lighter colors in opaque layers.

What were the most challenging cards to paint and conceptualize?

I’m not sure any of them count as hard to conceptualize. For the original sets, we were given almost complete visual freedom, and I had a direction to go with visually, so while there were a few I had questions about that Jesper could answer, the whole process was really very fun and open.

Later, as the art direction became much more specific as the cards began to be about specific creatures, races, storylines, etc. the art notes became very heavy (I mean literally, as they used to send a package with these thick reference guides in them) and it became more challenging for me to be able to find the time to create them while doing my regular White Wolf job.

You have some of the game’s most iconic waves ever to see print – Tsunami, Wall of WaterBlue Elemental Blast – they remind me of the Japanese painting The Great Wave, was this an inspiration? How did they come to be?

For Tsunami, it was definitely an inspiration. The piece was always supposed to evoke The Great Wave. The others, used a similar visual style, but more as elements that were lodged in my head as visual pieces to be included with very different images.

What I mean is, the foam and wave/water shapes and colors were supposed to touch on those in Tsunami, but add in a lot more that was unique to that illustration and the card. Since both of those cards were parts of series within that first batch – the two Elemental Blasts contrasted each other, Fire vs Water, and the Walls all had the elements in front of a caster – it made it a lot of fun to see how to really bring out the visuals that made them their own thing.

Of the work you made for Magic, can you name your favorite cards?

Gotta give some mention to Black Vise, of course, which was a card I really enjoyed doing. Not sure what that says about me, because a lot later on I really liked doing the Gleemax art. Tortured dolls and brains in jars! While still thinking about Black Vise‘s “Stuffy Doll”, I really like the way the artwork came out for Leshrac’s Rite. It’s just one of those I still look at with satisfaction.

The Walls are a fun series, and almost all of my Ice Age pieces were pretty evocative. Although I think I’m most fond of the expression on Gosta Dirk‘s face. I hear that fans are starting to like Dread of Night again, which for me was important, along with Lightning Blast, as it was with them that I really started to feel like the acrylic style was starting to work.

Where can our readers find more about your work?

After leaving White Wolf about seven years ago, I started my own Tabletop Role Playing Game company, called Onyx Path Publishing. So that’s a good place to start.

If you want to see more recent art, and it is really, really hard to find the time now to illustrate with Onyx Path needing my attention, you can check out our Realms of Pugmire games which contain a bunch of the black and white drawings I did to help define the world of Pugmire – a fantasy world where dogs and cats have been uplifted to use tools and magic after man has mysteriously gone.

I’m also working with Mark Aronowitz and Givememana for Magic card signings and tokens and such, and you can find them on Facebook. And you can follow me on Twitter.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa, also known as The Great Wave or simply The Wave, is a woodblock print by the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai. It was published sometime between 1829 and 1833 in the late Edo period as the first print in Hokusai’s series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. Source: WIkipedia


Wayne Reynolds Interview

Welcome to the 30th interview for our There’s No Magic Without Art series.

For today’s interview, we had the pleasure of talking with Wayne Reynolds, who has been creating art for Magic since 2004.

“There are weird pathways and faerie roads still in the UK. Where if you walk them at the wrong time of day, you wake up in the morning with no pants on.”

– Wayne Reynolds

Hi Wayne. Your first card debuted on 2004. Tell us a little about how you got started.

My first card was “Call to Glory” for Champions of Kamigawa. Previous to that I’d been working a heck of a lot on one of WoTC’s other titles “D&D”. I really enjoyed working on D&D 3.5 and it kept me pretty busy. One of the Magic art directors had seen my work on D&D and figured they’d give me a shot on some card art instead.

I liked the idea. Especially that the set I would be debuting on was East Asian themed. I’m particularly interested in history and do lots of research in my spare time. Medieval East Asian history is a favorite era of study. So this setting appealed to my creativity.

I actually got the card dimensions wrong in my first rendition. I had to paint the sides in to the correct dimensions

Fanatical Firebrand © Wizards of the Coast

What has been your favorite plane/expansion to work on?

Lorwyn. Because there was something so quintessentially “British” about the art theme. Being a Brit it really appealed to me.

There are weird pathways and faerie roads still in the UK. Where if you walk them at the wrong time of day, you wake up in the morning with no pants on.

I’m pretty sure they’re faerie roads.

 

As an artist working on Magic from 2004 to 2018, what changed during this time period?

I have difficulty remembering last week. Let alone what happened in the span of 14 years.

The only changes that spring to mind are different art directors and an increase in the number of sets.

This is probably not the exciting answer that you were hoping for.

Ajani Vengeant © Wizards of the Coast

Can you give us a brief description of your painting process for Magic cards?

I get asked this question quite a lot. However, I’m the kind of artist that prefers just doing the art rather than talking about it.

People often remark and ask about how I get the paint so smooth and how I make the art look like it’s digital. I don’t really have a definitive answer.

From what I can gather, my painting process doesn’t appear to be that much different from most other artists. However, there’s clearly something that I’m doing that’s different from most other artists.

It’s just hard to quantify what that is. Much of what I do is on an instinctive level which makes it difficult to describe my techniques and use of colour.

You’ve probably read plenty of descriptions from other artists about their process. In a lot of respects, what I do is not that much different to any other artist.

Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician © Wizards of the Coast

I observe things and then transfer what I see or imagine onto a 2d surface. The main difference is probably the way my brain interprets these images which leads to each artists individual style. This part of the process is a mystery, even to me.

This is something each individual artist needs to work out for themselves. Although I attended art college, I did not receive much formal education on painting techniques. The work I created at college bears little relevance to the work I produce now. Using what I did learn at college as a starting block, I am largely self- taught.

I don’t have an established method or rules for painting. I vary my technique depending on the subject matter. Sometimes I start with light shades and then add progressively darker shadows. Sometimes I work the other way round, starting with dark shadows and then adding progressively lighter shades. I often change the mix of colours from each new painting.

The range of colours I use for flesh tones on one painting might not get used in the next. Although I clearly have a method of interpreting an image, every painting is different from the last one. I’m always trying new and different ways in which to depict something.

Fiend Hunter © Wizards of the Coast

Often I might discover a technique that works really well but then forget how I did it when I do the next painting!

The idea of being filmed or watched whilst I work just feels too intrusive. It’s why there aren’t any video clips of my painting process.

How did it feel to paint the San Diego Comic-Con Planeswalkers, which are so different from everything else we’re used to?

I’m often baffled by questions that ask how I felt about doing a particular piece of artwork. The question infers that I somehow felt differently about creating that piece.

There are times when the creation process can be frustrating in the instances where I can’t quite transfer the image that’s in my head how I expect it to be on paper.

But art is mostly a joy to create. Even those difficult or frustrating times because an artist either overcomes the difficulties or they learn how maybe to do it better next time.

It doesn’t really matter to me what the image is or whether it’s going to be a popular/significant card image.

Ticking Gnomes © Wizards of the Coast

Or if it’s going to be a common card. I approach each piece of artwork with the same mental attitude and give it the best try I possibly can at that point in time. Working on the San Diego Comic-Con Planeswalkers was no exception.

The black and white format may be different from what people are used to. However, I spent many years at the beginning of my career creating black and white artwork for UK comics and RPG books. So it wasn’t that much of a departure for me. Just an enjoyable return to a medium I’d not used in a while.

What were some of the most challenging cards to paint, and why?

Cards that feature magical effects are amongst the most difficult to paint. Those glowing spell signatures are often tricky to depict convincingly using traditional methods.

I recall that Phantasmal Dragon was particularly challenging. The translucency of the dragon was done in one go. It incorporated elements of the background viewed through the shadows of the dragon. Consequently, there was no margin for error whilst adding the highlights.

Every brush stroke had to be correct. There was no margin for error. I had to get it right first time otherwise I’d have to completely start again from scratch.

San Diego Comic-Con Planeswalkers © Wizards of the Coast

Of the five colors in the game, which one feels closest to home, artistically speaking?

Probably red. Because, GOBLINS!

 

Of the art you made for Magic, can you name some favorites?

Artists tend to be very self – critical of their artwork. I’m no exception. Probably a more accurate term is card art that I dislike the least. These aren’t particularly images belonging to popular or powerful cards. But pieces of artwork that have signified some sort of breakthrough or evolution in my artwork.

Among these are; Thunder StrikeNivix Cyclops and Furtive Homunculus.

For our last question, is there any Magic related story/episode you’d like to share with us?

I often wonder why there are no dwarves in Magic The Gathering. So each time I participate in a MTG concept push, I create a new dwarf concept sketch for the setting I’m working on.

So far there are 5 different concepts. Each time I try to promote the sketch into being accepted into the setting. I’ve tried adding cool buzz words to the sketch, neon signs and a parade of small people wearing fancy costumes. I even suggested a new MTG world setting where everyone wakes up one morning to discover they’ve been transformed into dwarves!

Phantasmal Dragon © Wizards of the Coast

But to no avail.

None of the designs have ever made it into the core setting….. Except one…. Kinda.

A sketch design made it into the Return to Ravnica style guide. But I don’t think it ever made it onto a card.

I will keep trying until one day, there will be dwarf.

(Parts of this story may, or may not be true)

Feed the Machine © Wizards of the Coast


10 Things You Should Know Before Getting Into Magic: The Gathering

Welcome!

Whether you are completely new to the world of Collectible Card Games (CCG), or a returning player to the universe of Magic: the Gathering!, we’ve assembled an easy-to-read list of the top ten things you should keep in mind when you first start out.

Here we go!

1. Local Game Stores are the place to be

Every week, players all over the world meet to play at Local Game Stores (LGS), which are friendly stores that host Magic: The Gathering and tabletop events.

LGS are friendly and welcoming, and usually very keen on helping new folks starting out. Most LGS have Sample Decks (specifically designed to introduce new players to game) and you can get them for free.

We recommend you visit the nearest shop – you can find one here – and introduce yourself as a new player. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, remember everyone had to start somewhere, and most people love to help and give advice.

2. It’s less daunting than it seems

The game has an immense variety of formats, products, and it even comes packed with its own jargon! It can be quite intimidating at first, but once you get going, it gets easier and easier.

And it’s a wonderful journey: discovering and learning about the game is one of the most interesting things you’ll get to do, and the best part? This discovery is never really over! There’s something out there for every type of player, 25 years of cards to discover, stories and lessons to learn.

3. Magic Arena is a good place to start

© Cardboard Crack

For learning how to play, we recommend downloading the Magic Duels app, it has an excellent tutorial.

After that, you can start with Magic Arena, the newly released digital version of the game. It’s free-to-play, easy to learn, and convenient, and you can play against your friends.

4. Prerelease events are perfect for new players

A screenshot of an ongoing game in Magic Arena.

Every time a new expansion is released, LGS host a Prerelease event, where you get to crack some of the new packs, build a deck, and compete in a friendly tournament. You’ll often find inexperience players there, just like yourself. It’s one of the most relaxed and upbeat events Magic has to offer, we highly recommend it to everyone starting out.

5. Booster draft is great

Booster draft is an MTG format where players get to open three packs, pick and pass cards around, and build a deck to compete in a tournament.

Drafting is relatively cheap, there’s an even playing field, you get to keep your cards and might even win some sweet prizes! It’s a great and fun way to build up a collection.

If possible, do some research beforehand, lookup the cards you’ll be drafting with (look it up on the event announcement). Also, know that Drafting is quite involved, so read some drafting tips and guides, a good start is to google the awesomely named B.R.E.A.D theory.

EDH/Commander is another format you should check out sooner or later.

6. You should test the waters before diving in

Prerelease packs usually come with a D20 dice and a special promo card.

We previously talked about how there are many formats, many decks, and many shiny cards you’ll fall in love with. And that’s awesome. But it’s important to not get carried away and invest too much too soon.

It’s tempting to buy the first thing that looks cool; I know I did: the first deck I built was a beautifully janky Blue-White birds deck. Those were the days. But I also made some hasty decisions I came to regret.

Patience is precious. Play many games, read lots of articles, and find what you like the most before committing.

7. It’s more efficient to buy singles than sealed product

From a financial perspective, you will always be better off buying single cards than sealed product (by sealed product we mean mainly Sealed booster boxes and boosters).

If you really love cracking packs – if you find that fresh off-the-pack card perfume irresistible – than you’re better off drafting. If you still decide to buy a box, draft it with your friends, or do some sealed games, so you’ll get some additional value (and fun!) out of it.

8. Keeping organized will make your life easier in the long run

There’s no way around it: you’re going to have to buy sleeves, some deck boxes, and a binder. A playmat and some dice are handy to have too.

Also, consider a storage solution for your cards (shoeboxes are a popular solution!), and devise some organizational system.

We recommend you download the app we’ve built called MTG Manager. You’ll be able to organize your cards digitally, and track their value throughout time. We also made a trade feature to make sure you never make a bad deal.

Starting earlier, with a relatively small collection, will be much easier than having to go through the pain of doing it later, having to sort through a larger number of cards.

9. Expect to lose. A lot, at first

© Sarah Anderson

Unless you’ve played other Collectible Card Games before (and even if you did), chances are you’re going to be losing a lot at first. It’s natural, and it’s okay! Remember to go easy on yourself and don’t beat yourself up. Before you know it, you’ll be amassing some juicy wins against more veteran players

10. Magic can be an expensive hobby

This chart might not be completely accurate.

How much you spend on Magic is entirely up to you, but you should be aware that this hobby can become quite expensive.

From $30 a month for a couple of drafts, up to hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars on Standard and Modern decks, the spectrum is quite large.

To give you a rough idea of the prices, Standard decks – where only the most recent cards are available – can go from anything between $50 to $500.

In Modern – that has a much larger card pool available – decks can go from $100 to over $1500. That’s a lot of money.

If your first starting out, we recommend you set a Monthly budget, and go from there.

Final Thoughts

So we’ve covered ten things you should know before getting into Magic, but we left one important aspect out: you should know that the game is incredibly fun and rewarding to play.

Magic is also responsible for countless stories and lifelong friendships. You’ll get to sit down and play with people from all ages and backgrounds, who share the same passion with you.

Playing Magic is a great way to meet new people, make new friends, and have a great time.

Now that your spark’s ignited, you’re well equipped to start your journey. So go get them!

Black Lotus is one of the rarest, most iconic, and most expensive cards in the game.
Only 1,100 were printed for MTG’s alpha set from 1993.

Thank you for reading!

We want to hear your stories and advice of when you were starting out. How did it feel? What advice would you give to new players?


Franz Vohwinkel Interview

A lot can change in twenty years. A lot did.

Franz Vohwinkel, 54, was born in Munich, Germany, and has been making art for Magic: The Gathering for two decades.

We talked about the game’s early days, challenging art descriptions, and some very special cards.

This is the 29th interview for our There’s No Magic Without Art series. Enjoy.

“In the early years the art created the [Magic: The Gathering] world, today the world is creating the art.”

– Franz Vohwinkel

You’ve been working on Magic for over 20 years. How did it all start?

I was, and still am, working mostly as Illustrator for board and card games. Back then I was living in Germany working for German publishers – this was before the board game industry went international.

One of my clients, AMIGO Spiele, started to do the distribution for this new and exciting game called Magic in Germany. So when I went to the game convention in Essen, that must have been in ’94 or ‘95, suddenly all these Americans showed up at their booth.

I actually met the art directors for Magic and the Battletech TCG and talked to them. I still remember how hard it was. I had learned British english in school for six years, but that had been a couple of years ago and I had no practice whatsoever.

Anyway, the guys at AMIGO realized that it would be great for them to have a German artist working on Magic available in Germany. So they talked to WotC about me as well and hence I became an artist for Battletech and then Magic. You could say that I just showed up at the right place at the right point in time.

What was your first card?

My first cards were Goblin Vandal and Fervor, I painted them in 1995. These were Acrylic paintings on canvas. Both were released in the Weatherlight set in 1996.

Evacuation © Wizards of the Coast

As an artist that has been working on the game for so long, what would you say were the major changes from 97 to today?

You can see it by just looking at the art. In the beginning Magic used a wide variety of very distinct artists and styles. The narrative behind Magic was in its early stages and wasn’t nearly as overarching and interconnected.

It was basically a new and independent world introduced for each block. Over the years this changed into the much larger, grander universe that Magic is today.

With it rose the need to make the art a coherent and consistent part of this larger world as well, to refine and streamline the art stylistically to create a distinct style that is recognizably “Magic”.

I guess you could describe it as a paradigm shift. In the early years the art created the world, today the world is creating the art.

From the expansions you worked on, what was your favorite?

This is really hard to say. Each and every time it is a joy and exciting to work for Magic. Also, if you look at the cards I’ve done over the years, many of them seem not to be all too specific to a certain setting. If you’d force me to pick one, I’d probably say that I like Alara, especially Esper, but that would only be, well, because you are forcing me to pick one. 😉

Did you fully switch to digital, or do you still work with traditional media?

You could say that I went through different phases: In the early years, WotC didn’t accept any digital art, so all the early works had to be traditional. During those years I tried a couple of different media, mostly acrylics and mixed media and later switched to oils.

WotCs policy obviously changed later, my first digital art for MtG was Mirror Golem from the Mirrodin set. After that I went mostly digital for a couple of years, but eventually I realized that I missed doing traditional work and that I missed having an original painting at the end of the process. That’s when I switched back to traditional oil paintings.

Bite of the Black Rose © Wizards of the Coast

What makes an interesting art description?

That’s a good question. I guess the best ones, at least for me, are the ones that give you something to think about. Something that triggers the imagination and then leaves enough room to make my mind work and come up with something interesting.

I had very long descriptions that described everything in minute detail and I had super-short descriptions that basically said almost nothing. Both types aren’t necessarily bad descriptions, it’s just that one said too much while the other didn’t say enough. The sweet spot is somewhere in between.

Your cards are quite varied; we can find figures, landscapes, creatures, artifacts, animals, spells, pretty much everything the game has to offer. Is flexibility one of your strong suits?

I certainly like to think so. It is one the many tasks of the art directors at WotC to choose the best artists for each piece of art they assign. So when you look at the cards that were assigned to me over the years, I guess you could say that the ADs [Art Directors] thought of me as being a good choice for this wide variety of topics.

What were the most challenging cards to paint and conceptualize?

As for the concept, I remember I had a surprisingly hard time to wrap my mind around the cycle of Mimics. If I remember correctly, the description asked for shapeless monsters that hide behind illusions as a “mask”.

Glacial Fortress © Wizards of the Coast

The Illusions were described as regular inhabitants of that plane, but in a distorted, twisted, creepy way. So, basically a monster that hides behind a mask of a different kind of monster.

As for painting, Time of Ice turned out to be quite challenging [more on this below].

How did you tackle Time of Ice, a card quite different from ‘regular’ Magic cards, both in format and style?

Time of Ice posed a couple of challenges, because of its unique shape and the tools I used. The required style of a “medieval drawing” in which an artist depicts historical events, was right down my alley.

In my work for historical themed board games, I had done something like this a couple of times before, so I was very familiar with it and I knew what they were aiming at right away.

To make this feel “authentic”, I decided to go back to mixed media, as I had done in the beginning of my career as Magic artist. I ended up using pretty much everything except oils for Time of Ice: Acrylics, Watercolor, Inks, pencils and color pencils.

I hadn’t used many of these in decades, so I had to find my way back into them first. Especially the parts done in ink with drawing pens took me a while to get used to again.

I knew that using this style and these tools, I had to make this drawing larger than I usually do for Magic cards. With a size of 13” x 28” this was the largest single piece I have ever done for Magic.

Blood Moon is one of your most iconic cards, what can you tell us about it?

It was one of the first few oil paintings I’ve done for Magic and the first one I painted on wood. I remember that I was a little worried, because of its simplicity. Its a red moon. What could be exciting about that? When I delivered the piece,

I believed that it wasn’t anything special and that it would be re-imagined by another artist in just a couple of years. I really had no idea it would become one of my most popular images and that it would be still in use 15 years later.

Vial of Dragonfire © Wizards of the Coast

When reimagining an existing card, do you take into consideration the original version?

Yes, if I know there is an existing card, I look it up for three reasons. First of all, because I’m curious to see what the card looked like before. 😉

Second, because it might give me an idea of what I shouldn’t do. I don’t want to repeat, even accidentally, something that has already been done.

I like to think that a new version of the same card can make the “old” art more interesting as well, because now there are two different takes on the same subject.

And third, because I can find out what the card actually does in the game – this is usually not a part of the art description.

It has happened though, that I found out about the existing card only at a later point. Oh well.

Can you name your favorite cards?

I usually answer this by saying that I don’t really have a favorite and that is still true. However there are some pieces that I’m fond of, some of them on cards that never made it far in the community: Artificer’s Hex, Bit of the Black Rose, Clue Token, Esper Panorama, Evacuation, Glassdust Hulk, Magus of the Moon, Profane Memento, Sludge Strider, Seal of the Guildpact, Shard of Broken Glass, Snow-Covered Island, Tuktuk the Returned, Temporal Mastery, Time Sieve, Warlord’s Axe. I could go on…

I find Temporal Manipulation a fascinating take on that on time-related art. What can you tell us about this painting?

The idea is based on a sundial, which displays the time by casting the shadow of its gnomon. This sundial however is a magical item, with a second, magical gnomon.

This gnomon can be turned backwards or forwards and it’s magical shadow reveals and let’s you manipulate what happened before or what will happen in the future.

In this case, the shadow shows us a terrible event, because we can see a lot of dead bodies on the steps of the sundial. We can assume that this event happened in the past, because there is a person finishing the cleanup of the sundial in the present time.

Blood Moon © Wizards of the Coast

You also painted the contraptions for Unstable, which were 9 cards that comprised this goofy, colorful mega-painting [see below]. How challenging was coming up with these paintings, that had to work individually and together?

I loved working on these! I find it refreshing and inspiring when all of a sudden humor comes into play and turns something that’s usually serious on its head.

To piece these nine different cards together into one big composition was not as difficult as I initially thought, because in my case they are parts of a huge machine that is even bigger than the combined cards – we can’t see where this machine ends. I had the giant machines from Metropolis [Metropolis, a science fiction movie made in 1927, is one of the most influential movies ever made] in mind, when I made the sketches.

It was important though, to keep in mind where the cards are cut, to make sure that there are details that cross the cutline neatly and establish the connection between the cards.

Also some parts would be covered up by the text boxes etc., so I had to make sure that no important parts would be hidden. There are, however, five minions operating the machine hidden behind the text boxes of the lower three cards, you can spot hints of them.

I imagined them to be like a really fun rock band, operating the machine to a soundtrack from Kraftwerk or Rammstein. 😉

Where can our readers find more about your work/buy a print?

That’s currently a little bit difficult, because I haven’t updated my website in such a long time. I freely admit that I’m just horrible at self-promotion. I hope to get to a redesign of my site soon though.

Fans can either write me an e-mail through the website or directly at franz@franz-vohwinkel.com to inquire about prints. I will also happily sign any cards sent to me by mail, if a self-addressed and stamped envelope is included

Temporal Mastery © Wizards of the Coast

Unstable Contraptions © Wizards of the Coast

Thank you for reading!

We thank Franz Wohwinkel for his time, kindness, and passion.

Meet us next week for another interview!


Winning the Pro Tour - Andrew Elenbogen Interview

It’s not everyday you win a Pro Tour.

Andrew Elenbogen, 25, lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and on Sunday, November 11th, won the Guilds of Ravnica Pro Tour in a mirror-match against all-time great Luis Scott-Vargas.

“Since I won the Pro Tour, my life has been insane”

– Andrew Elenbogen

Hi Andrew! Can you introduce yourself?

I’m Andrew Elenbogen. 3 time Grand Prix top 8 competitor and Pro Tour GRN Champion. I self identify as a Grand Prix grinder.

When and how did you start playing Magic?

I started playing Magic in 4th or 5th grade using the CD that came with the 7th edition boxed set. I played my first matches against humans under the Gazebo at Chess Camp, during recess.

How have these last days been for you?

Since I won the Pro Tour, my life has been insane. I’ve been asked to do more Magic content than I ever thought possible. Podcasts, streams, even an article on Starcitygames.com. The community has honestly been awesome.

I read the twitch chat after my matches, and the chat was surprisingly civil to me, despite the fact that I was against fan favorite LSV.

How did you prepare for this Pro Tour specifically?

I prepared for this Pro Tour the same way I prepare for most events. I used a large amount of Magic Online to develop a feel for the format at large and to sift the better decks from the worst decks.

Then, I used focused sets against teammates to develop optimal sideboard cards for particular matchups and to answer specific, focused questions.

I worked with the Ann Arbor guys (Max Mcvety, Tyler Hill, Kyle Boggemes, ect) and the Team Tower guys (Matt Sikkink Johnson, Greg Michel, Sam Ihlenfeld, ect).

© Wizards of the Coast

What can you tell us about your deck and sideboard choices?

I basically played white because even though it was the known best deck going in after the MOCS results, I thought it was inherently powerful enough to fight through the hate, and I thought people wouldn’t respect it as much as they needed to. I believe I was correct.

In the sideboard, I played 7 cards dedicated exclusively to Golgari Midrange. I felt the deck would be very popular and it’s a very close matchup. Honor Guard and Ajani are simply irreplaceable against their plan of Wildgrowth Walker plus sweepers. Baffling End is fine, but it does not answer Walker while dealing with the rest of their strategy as well like Honor Guard.

 

What were your most lucky and unlucky moments of the tournament?

It was quite lucky when, deep in day 2, I drew all 4 Venerated Loxodon to defeat Golgari Midrange with ease. It was even luckier when the pairings had to be re-done in the last round, putting me from dead to top 8 the tournament to playing a win and in. But the luckiest moment of all was when LSV mulled to 4 in game 5 of the finals.

The most unlucky moment was probably when I committed to Boros during pack 1 of the second draft only to have it be incredibly cut. I was lucky to escape with a 1-2.

During Top 8, you mentioned you didn’t really feel the pressure once you started playing. Was this key to your success?

Yes, although I have always dealt with nervousness very well.

What do you consider to be your biggest weaknesses and strengths as a player?

Strengths:

I’m very self aware. I know what decks I can play and what decks I cannot and I know when to trust myself as opposed to trusting others.

I have very strong Magic theory, which means I know what game plans decks are trying to execute and how to counter those plans out of other decks. The strength of my theory makes me great at sideboarding and building sealed pools.

I can evaluate how good a deck is with relatively few games and be mostly right. I also have a particular talent for playing control mirrors in both constructed and limited.

Most importantly though, I’m willing to outwork the vast majority of people. I usually have 100 matches with a deck before I play it in a major tournament, I always do my homework.

Weaknesses:

Relative to the average player with my accomplishments, I have very weak technical play. I make far too many straightforward inaccuracies in normal games of Magic. Relatedly, I tend to be good at looking one turn ahead or 100 turns ahead, but not calculating exactly two turn cycles or similar.

When I’m playtesting or when I feel there is nothing on the line, I do not play my best. If the pressure is off, I just do not care and that effects my play. For similar reasons, I tend to play worse when I am very far ahead or very far behind. While I’m strong at sealed, my drafting is quite mediocre and I make major errors frequently during the draft portion.

I also have quite limited range. I can play focused decks that execute the same gameplay every game, regardless of if they’re Mono-red or Draw-Go control, but I am totally incapable of playing Aggro-Control or Midrange decks. Delver, Jund, and Faeries are all decks that are simply beyond my piloting abilities.

 

Out of curiosity, what are your all-time favorite deck and card?

RG Tron, during the time when Splinter Twin and Birthing Pod were both legal. My favorite card is Karn, Liberated. I have restarted an absurd number of competitive REL games.

© Wizards of the Coast

What’s your expectation for the future?

I expect to be Platinum for the next year, then Gold for many years to come. I do not think I am good enough to maintain Platinum status, but I think I could manage Gold especially since I will be qualified for all of the Pro Tours. I expect that, going forward, Magic will play an even larger role in my life.

What advice would you give to players who are looking to get into higher level competitive play?

Range is overrated, figure out what types of deck you’re good at and master them. Also, be willing to outwork everyone more talented than you. Finally, the best thing you can do for your development as a Magic player is to find a group of equally skilled players with similar goals. A team is invaluable, and it got me this far.


Thank you for reading!

We congratulate Andrew on his incredible achievement, and thank him for taking the time to do this interview with us.

Read our other Magic: The Gathering interviews and articles here.


Julie Baroh Interview

Welcome to our MTG artists interview series (#28), There’s No Magic Without Art.

We had the pleasure of talking with Julie – who is one of the original 25 Magic artists – over Skype, and she shared some incredible stories with us.

We’re truly excited and incredibly grateful to be able to share this interview with you today. Enjoy!

“Each piece I did back then has a story behind it”

– Julie Baroh

Hi Julie! Would you introduce yourself?

My name is Julie Baroh. In terms of Magic, I’m probably better known as one of the earlier Magic artists. I worked on the game up until 1997.

How did you start?

Like a lot of artists, I was drawing since I was really little. I actually wanted to be a writer, but ended up applying and getting into a local private art school in Seattle called Cornish College of the Arts. My classmates at the time were people you guys all know, like Jesper Myrfors [Jesper was the original Art Director, and one of the 25 original artists], Sandra Everingham, Amy Weber, Cornelius Brudi, I think Drew Tucker and Anson [All part of the 25 original Magic artists] were also going to school there.

Things changed dramatically in my third year: Jesper Myrfors was running around all super excited about a game he was working on. The problem was that the company, which was Wizards of the Coast, was kinda cash poor, and couldn’t afford some of the top notch illustrators around that time, so he was actually calling the student body of our school looking for people who might be interested in working on this game.

This private school was really expensive, and I was putting myself through it, so I was really, really broke. At the time they payed 50 bucks a card, that might not be much for a regular freelance illustrator but to a student who is living off mac and cheese that was grocery money, so I was like “Ok sure!”.

“Everybody was talking about how cool the game was, and then it just EXPLODED!”

– Julie Baroh

Clone © Wizards of the Coast
Clone was Julie’s very first card.

I was neck deep on both school, work and curating an art show, so I was really tied on time, that’s why I only took four cards. I was offered quite a bit more, as they had quite a few cards at that time available, but I honestly had no clue how big the game would ever get.

So I let Jesper pick the cards out for me, as there was so little information about the game and how it played. On one hand, it was really awesome because it gave us sort of carte blanche to do whatever we wanted, but on the other hand I really didn’t understand how the game worked, as all we had were the test cards with these images on them like star trek figures. But Jesper was SO excited about it that it was kind of infectious.

At the time I wasn’t really a painter, I was a print maker. So, you’ll notice that the first set of cards I did were actually drawings done in color pen and ink. It wasn’t until, I think, Arabian Nights or something, that Sandra Everingham told me “You’ve got to start painting!”. [Laughs]

So, you took those four cards, and then what happened?

Then of course the game had to be published. We had a little party at Jespers house and he showed me how the game played, and cheated! He’d go like “Oh, and by the way, this card does this!” and he killed me! [Laughs] I know he’ll contest that, he hates it when I talk about how competitive he is, but he is really competitive.

So after the little party I thought that was it, you know, I thought it was just going to be locally distributed, I didn’t know it would be distributed the way it was. So, a few months into it, I start hearing about the game. I did these signings at comic book stores where people were lining up outside, and it was weird!

Everybody was talking about how cool the game was, and it was my first real taste of “oh my god, this might be bigger than what I thought it was going to be”, and then it just EXPLODED!

“Suddenly, the same people who were picking on me for working on the game were handing me their business cards”

– Julie Baroh

Then the sets started rolling out. There was Arabian Nights, Antiquities, The Dark, and they just started banging out really fast, and I’m still in college, you gotta remember, I haven’t even graduated yet. It was especially weird, on one hand being a student, but technically my career had already launched.

I was in the Fine Art department, and back then there was a real strong divide between sci-fi/fantasy art and fine art, there was this notion that I was working below my potential. I was actually made fun of, when I was initially working on the game, by my other classmates on the Fine Art Department.

Until the game took off, and then we started getting our royalty checks, and then suddenly, the same people who were picking on me for working on the game were handing me their business cards and asking me to give them to Jesper, and I was like… [Raises middle finger] [Laughs].

So I continued to working on the sets, and then I got fired [Laughs]. Matt Wison fired me, and to be honest, I deserved to be fired. Despite how successful Magic was, you still have to pay the bills, and I was working a couple jobs at the time, and I didn’t have enough to really paint by 97. And he was like “Julie, I can’t really keep giving you work if you don’t get your work done”. I was only 23, and I wish I had the experience back then that I had later on in life, looking back. I didn’t really learn to paint until later.

After 98, it was just too much for a very young person to try to shoulder, and there was a lot of pressure, the game was big, it attracted the A-list artist at the time, and there was no way I could compete, at least I certainly didn’t feel like I could. At that point I just left illustration all together and started working in the tech industry for quite a while, working as an IT specialist, then doing coding.

“I still don’t know how Jesper got that one through the Marketing Department”

– Julie Baroh

From painting to coding, quite the switch!

Yeah, it was this total 180, but it was kinda fun, I was using another part of my brain, but I didn’t do any art at that time. I think in 2007 I started working again in art.

I never really left the Magic world, in many ways I’m still in touch with a lot of people, working on side projects and shows, I’m working on some projects with Drew Tucker, my artwork is out there, and it’s very different from what I did 20 years ago, for one I know how to paint.

People have asked me if I would return to do Magic work again, and I don’t know if I would, it’s a very different game now, and the sensibility is different, the stylization is really different, and I don’t think it would be a great fit for me.

You recently shared the story behind Gwendlyn Di Corci a card that remains controversial to this day.

A thing we would do back in the day, when we could get away with it, was we would put little things in our artwork, almost like Easter eggs, until one of our artists got into trouble for writing something in that was sort of nasty.

On Gwendlyn Di Corci I was just told “she needs to be sort of a bad-ass warrior queen type character”. I asked my friend Wendy – whose full name is Gwendlyn – if she would model for me. She was in a punk rock band from Sub Pop, called Sick and Wrong, and she would perform pretty much nude with like a strap-on dildo. [Laughs]

Of course, I couldn’t show her like that, but I figured she is kinda bad-ass in real life, so I figured she’s a great model for the piece. Her cat is also in there, and there’s even a little letter with the initials of her husband.

I still don’t know how Jesper got that one through the Marketing Department. I immediately got wind that it was kind of a trouble card…. And the intention wasn’t like “oh my god she’s gonna rape this guy”, that was not the intention at all, it was sort of this ninja mood.

I gave her the artwork as a thank you, and she still has it. Each piece that I did back then has a story behind it.

Julie at GP Las Vegas © Wizards of the Coast

“‘It’s blue’, and I’m like ‘what does that mean?’, and he said ‘well, throw some water in there'”

– Julie Baroh

The art descriptions were really vague at the time, right?

We were often left to our own devices. For example, Clone was the first card I did and Jesper’s like “ah, it’s blue”, and I’m like “what does that mean?”, and he said “well, throw some water in there, an ocean”. [Laughs] So I did two guys standing on the beach, I didn’t know what else to do.

Jesper never really said we had terrible ideas, he usually helped us flesh it out. It wasn’t until 95 or 96 that they really started to hammer down the style guide and the the story, and got more specific on how it needed to look, and that part I totally understand.

The part that frustrated me was how panicky the Marketing Department got when the game came out, with worries of being offensive. They started to really get on us to be as homogeneous as possible, which is a little frustrating, because it really cuts back on how creative you can get.

It’s not even that they didn’t want to offend, they just didn’t want to cause trouble, you know, especially after Shuler’s Demonic Tutor really caused problems.

Really?

Oh god, yes! The Christian rights, and the game was demonic, and during that time a kid in Florida killed a bunch of people, and turned out he was really into Magic, so suddenly the game was in the news, with how it was making kids go crazy and kill people, which is stupid.

I guess you can see the devil in everything. I was like “don’t let it win”, you know? Don’t let the fear and negative stuff win out. So that was kind of sad for me, cards were being pulled from the game, and that there’s this fear that we were going to do something terrible [Laughs].

I think they just wanted to make a game and not have the art be a problem, and I totally get it, but I got a little burnt out that the art had to jump through non-creative groups to get approved, you know? Marketing people are not always the most creative and open-minded people on earth.

“Underworld Dreams, just sold on auction for $31,000, which is sort of bizarre to me, because it’s a little 5×7 tiny piece I did in college!”

– Julie Baroh

Did you keep any of the originals you made?

Yeah. Actually, they gave us back all the originals and sketches, and we were allowed to display and sell the art. As you know, a lot of the early art is now worth a lot of money.

A piece of mine, Underworld Dreams, just sold on auction for $31,000, which is sort of bizarre to me, because it’s a little 5×7 tiny piece that I did in college! and it’s kind of funny that any work I did in college will out sell any work I do since.

I don’t own any of the original art anymore, I think I have like one sketch left. Back then, when the game got popular, one way to make money was to sell the original art, so we sold all the original art and sketches for nothing… I mean, I sold the original Clone for $100. So obviously, it is weird to see things go up for auction…

In the early days, the contracts were quite a bit different from what they are now. I don’t wanna go into it because some of it is not pleasant, but there was a lot of politicking on how much artists should get, and it’s one of the reasons why a lot of the original artwork was re-imagined by other artists.

I get asked a lot about the whole thing, because I was actually really prominent, especially in 96, with some of the changing that happened with the re-issues with the contracts, and how the original art was being handled, and honestly, it wasn’t as dramatic as people play it out. It came off that way because some of the stuff that was going on seemed pretty ludicrous.

When money and licensing is put into play, people get very… [Pause] impassioned [Laughs], and back then, for us, it was more about making sure that things were honored in our original contracts, and that we were being fairly treated.

I personally wanna keep the focus on the positive stuff that went down because that was way more important, that’s really the legacy, not the stupid business stuff.

“All the cards for the Kobolds I used my Dad, uh, he doesn’t look like a Kobold! [Laughs] “

– Julie Baroh

Yeah, and you’ve got your name on one of the most important games of all time.

It changed. Our. Lives. You cannot deny, if you were involved in those days, how much that game changed your life and your trajectory. I would be a very different person if that game hadn’t came around. It forever ties me into a phenomenon that I’m actually pretty proud of. I’ve seen so many amazing things come out of this game and I’ve heard so many great stories from the players of how this game positively affected their lives.

I’m really happy I was part of it, even if it was a small part, I didn’t do 100 cards or whatever, it still meant a lot to me, and I still stay in touch with a lot of the people from back then, I made a lot of really really good friends through that game. I am absolutely thankful for what it gave me and I have nothing but good to say about the game.

I picked my top three favorite cards of yours, so if there’s something you’d like to share about them, please do!

Okay!

Number three: Mind Twist.

Mind Twist was one of the first four cards I worked on, it was done in color pen and ink, and it’s a little tiny painting of 5×7 inches, that was the size of the scanner we were scanning all the art in.

Again, I was given very little direction on, except that it was dark, twisted, painful, black. As I have chronical migraines, this was the worst wizard hangover you can imagine. I just wanted to paint a little guy with this massive headache, ’cause that’s how I felt when I get mine.

Underworld Dreams © Wizards of the Coast
This image was originally present in Hipsters of the Coast site.

My number two is Aladdin.

That’s a good tie-in. The colors that I used on that piece were sort of ‘acidic’, a lot of yellows and greens. Obviously I wanted to use the real story of Aladdin, who in the story lived on the Chinese Silk-road, that’s why he’s dressed in Chinese clothing. At the time, I was having really bad headaches, and when you have a really tight deadline, you have to work no matter what. When I was working on that piece, I had the most unbelievable migraine on earth, and my palette changes when I have a headache, so colors that I end up using – because my vision changes a bit – really reflected how I was feeling. The colors are very different than what I normal work in.

And my favorite is Kobold Drill Sergeant!

Oh Yeah, Kobold Drill Sergeant! [Laughs] At the time I was thinking of General Patton, my muse for that card, I think I had watched George C. Scott in Patton at the time. All the cards for the Kobolds I used my Dad, uh, he doesn’t look like a Kobold! [Laughs] but I kinda used his likeness for all my Kobolds, including the little Kobolds of Kher Keep, the little girl Kobold, she kinda looks like my dad. I actually gave the Kobold Overlord to my dad as a present, so the Kobolds all have a little of my dad in them. He was really into the game, he thought the game was awesome, and was really excited about it, so it just seemed like a natural fit to make him into a Goblin. [Laughs]

And what’s your favorite?

Not necessarily for the style, but just for the content, my favorite would probably be the last card I did which was Foul’s Tome. It isn’t a very well-known popular card but there’s the book element to it, I collect old books and things, and the little character inside is doing the esoteric “so above, so below” thing.

In terms of game-play, my favorite would probably be the first card I did, Clone. In 2013, we did a book, the first 49 Magic artists, on the 20 years of the game, and I redid Clone, which was a lot of fun. Clone was also the first card I did and so it has that sentimental value.

So I would probably pick those two, first and last card. [Laughs]


Thank you for reading!

We wholeheartedly thank Julie for her time, passion and kindness!

You can learn more about Julie on her website, she also shows her artwork on Instagram – make sure to follow her there – and she’s also around Facebook!

We also highly recommend you check out Julie’s blog, Hugo Howls, where she shares and writes about her work on a more personal level.

Meet us next week for another interview!


Adam Paquette Interview

Welcome to our MTG artists interview series (#27), There’s No Magic Without Art.

For this week’s interview we talked with Adam Paquette, who has been working on the game since 2012, and painted over 144 Magic cards so far.

Hi Adam. Tell us a bit of how you got started with illustration and with Magic.

Compared to many artists in similar fields, I started quite late in terms of visual exploration. Until the end of high school I primarily focused my creativity into imaginative writing. I grew up with parents who were actively engaged with leaders and storytellers from different cultures, and I spent a big part of my young life living in India, so my mind was a playground for overlapping narratives and the textures of these different interactions.

Of course, many of these flights of fancy were visual in nature, and I remember struggling with extraordinarily long sentences and paragraphs in my writing, trying to explain through words the complicated, rich images I was imagining. Late in high school, I stumbled upon some online communities centered around concept art, which I had not previously been aware of – and this captured my enthusiasm entirely.

I decided to refocus my energy on visual art, as I saw a potential career path there, and I also loved the immediacy of the feedback loop with drawing; people could tell you instantly what they thought of your work, without having to take hours to read through it. I still consider myself primarily ‘narrative’ in tendency, but I have worked primarily in visual media since then.

As far as Magic, specifically, I was already working for WOTC on D&D around 2009, when I visited the Illustration Masterclass in Amherst, MA and met Magic’s then head AD – Jeremy Jarvis.

Rust Scarab © Wizards of the Coast

We spoke a little about my primary focus on landscape painting and relative weakness with figures, and he agreed to take me on board first as a concept artist (working on Innistrad) and then as a card artist shortly afterward – focusing on land cards.

Eventually he opened me up to creature and character commissions as I had time to improve my skills. I was very impressed by both the support of the magic art team in giving me room to improve, but also being clear about my strengths and weaknesses, and what they needed from me.

What artists inspired you the most?

My influences have changed significantly over time. As a child, I was inspired by the various lived cultures I saw around me – and didn’t really consider a difference between ‘art’ and the rest of life, lived creatively. As a teenager, I became more interested in museums and galleries, as well as developing a small obsession with visiting artists’ studios and seeing into their lives and minds. I was impressed with these romantic lifestyles.

Brett Whitely and his Sydney studio was a big influence, Toulouse-Lautrec and the life of the Paris artists and cafés, and so on. When I first began to see the potential of working as an illustrator, I became aware of many of the artists leading the way with digital painting and fell in love with the work of Craig Mullins, Justin Sweet, Vance Kovacs, James Jean, and many, many others who I came into contact with through forums and online spaces.

Through investigating their work and influences, I was made aware of the 19th century Academic painters like Bougereau, and the painters who were taking their knowledge and extending it into painting from life and on location; Sargent, Zorn, and the impressionists. From then on, I always shared an interest in both Illustrators working efficiently in current, often digital, media – and a strong attachment to the history of ‘real’ painting (as I thought of it).

Island © Wizards of the Coast

I became aware of, and travelled to meet with, many painters who I saw as a precious link to this history: Golucho, Antonio Lopez Garcia, Patrick Devonas, Christopher Pugliese, Vincent Desiderio. Aside from my actual fine art practise of painting which I continue to carry forward, I also try to bring this spirit of painting and its history into the world of illustration. Today my influences have expanded even further into contemporary and conceptual art, installation, dance and music.

Can you briefly describe your illustration process?

My process for creating art varies wildly depending on the client and project. For Magic, though, it is fairly consistent. I begin by receiving the brief from WOTC, and before I look at any reference, I spend a few hours thumbnailing out ideas and letting my imagination freely associate with the brief. I usually find ideas that excite me pretty quickly – and this is one of the most enjoyable parts of the process.

Then I usually take my favourite sketches and alongside those, I look at whatever work is currently inspiring me – maybe something I saw on Instagram or Facebook. I think about how I could learn from these works and use my Magic work as a place to try out some new ideas – maybe a new way of mark making, a colour palette, a compositional idea, etc. I rework my sketches with that goal in mind – how does this piece let me learn something? (At the moment, it is often an excuse to learn 3D).

Then I use my sketch as reference and begin immediately in photoshop, building out the composition in big simple shapes. I send off the sketch, and once I receive feedback I use a mixture of direct painting, photobashing, 3d – basically whatever works – to establish and strengthen the lighting, colour, composition, and general power of the image. The last part of the process is always the most ‘painterly’ as I want to make sure the final image always has the feel of human touch.

Jace’s Sanctum © Wizards of the Coast

What makes for an interesting art description?

For the most part, Magic consists of larger than life spells, action and environment design. For good reason, there is a focus on world building through compelling and dramatic imagery – this is especially important due to Magic being a paper card game, playing in the field of films and video games.

‘Moments of repose’, as they are called internally, are few and far between, but I enjoy these the most – my recent ‘Sai, Master Thopterist‘, the Forest basic from Return to Ravnica, or even Soul of Innistrad come to mind. Another thing that is always enjoyable is when the art directors point to different artworks in the history of painting as a reference for a mood or visual idea – riffing off that history, and working with art directors who also have a passion for it, adds a welcome level of depth.

What were the most challenging cards to work on?

It is usually difficult to know how challenging a card will be before I start. Ideas come easy for me, and I can quickly enter into a particular atmosphere and explore a world in my imagination. The difficulty comes generally from issues of perspective and framing, where there is complex problem solving required in order to meet the brief, communicate well, be unique, and conform to the rules of realism.

I would actually say that, overall, the challenge level remains fairly consistent – because as I improve my skills, I tackle more ambitious ideas for images. Some of my work on upcoming sets was a particularly difficult mix of architecture that I had to learn some new 3D skills in order to approach the way I wanted to… Theros was also a tricky set for me to get my head around a few years back, even though I was on the concept team – I just didn’t find the world as easy to immerse my imagination in.

Paliano, the High City © Wizards of the Coast

Recently, Mending of Dominaria was a surprisingly tricky one to nail – making the characters read as figures, whilst also making the object feel like a wooden sculpture, and conveying enough of the ‘setting’ through a blurry background was a delicate balance.

Half the cards you painted for Magic were lands, and I feel that there’s a mist that envelops these landscapes, devoid of figures or characters, in a mysterious, almost haunted mood. Do you agree with my assessment?

Its really hard, for any artist I think, to explain what works and doesn’t in their own images. Having such an enthusiastic and far reaching community around Magic is hugely helpful to me, because it gives me a regular chance to engage with my audience and get an idea of what they notice about my images. Most of the time their comments are about this light and atmosphere in some form or another.

Over time I have come to understand this aspect of my paintings and I think I know what people are responding to, but it isn’t exactly something I can say is intentional. I would take a guess that it comes as an organic result of my painting method. Every artist works differently, uses different tools, and does things in a different order. This unique approach to solving a problem is what people usually refer to as ‘style’.

You can’t premeditate it, it is emergent. The way I paint digitally comes from the way that I draw and paint in traditional media – I usually like to work without reference or a clear plan, and I kind of ‘Rorschach’ my way into an idea through soft, random scribbling until an image emerges. A lot of my cards are done the same way – beginning with a vague sketch of an idea, then dissolving it into ‘soup’ and slowly carving back into that intuitively to find the form, and then bring it to a resolution.

Soul of Innistrad © Wizards of the Coast

As my personal work and oil painting develop though, I am seeing a definite focus on the light itself (beyond just using it to create realism) – as a metaphor and a kind of conceptual anchor to hang the technique off. Its an ongoing research project, into myself, I guess!

Do you feel that working on Magic also influences your personal work? If so, in which ways?

Honestly I wouldn’t say it does. My personal work is at the core of who I am and reflects my ongoing investigations into myself and the life around me – it is always changing, often experimental, and rarely applicable to the work I do. Commercial work, Magic included, relies on my professional ability to understand what the audience of each game or film are interested in, and bring my skills to bear on doing the best job I can of fulfilling that need.

I used to try to bring a lot more of ‘myself’ into this commercial work, but I found over time that not only was I putting that personal overtime into someone else’s ‘world’ rather than my own, it also got in the way of me being a good problem solver for my clients. I pushed too hard to include my own tastes and preferences in the work, and it just cost me extra time I could have been working on my own thing – and set me back into revisions with my clients.

I now have a healthy separation between these two halves of my creative practise, and I try to be efficient and effective in my work for Magic, so I can spend the rest of my time looking after myself, my art, and the people I care about.

Do you consider doing some traditional media work for Magic in the future?

Due to the high demand for Magic originals, I have, over the years, done some one-off ‘repaints’ for collectors, turning my digital pieces into oils. I have 3 of these currently on the easel. As for doing new cards in oils, I never felt comfortable enough applying the oil painting process to the timeline of illustration, especially since I usually work on a lot of cards concurrently.

Bloodfell Caves © Wizards of the Coast

I would certainly never rule it out, but as above, it is probably extra time that I would rather devote to my own development. I also enjoy the digital work and learning more about 3D software, so Magic keeps my foot in that world in a way I wouldn’t like to compromise.

What’s the potential of 3D comparing to other mediums?

3D is still a supplementary medium for me, I use it mostly to establish solid foundations on top of which the painting can sit. 3D extends my abilities and allows me to tackle more ambitious ideas – especially complicated architectural compositions or lighting situations.

I’m not a huge fan of spending long hours at the computer, so I am wary of indulging too much in learning new software – but I’m getting to the point where time invested in learning is paying off and speeding up my painting process to get to a better result faster.

Not to mention that it won’t be long before 3d/vr are the mainstream norm for this kind of work and 2d-only will fall behind just like traditional-only did. I really believe in the power of traditional painting and sculptural media, but rather than choosing one or the other, I’d like to find time to pursue both extremes and see what magic happens in the middle. I’d love to know high end 3D and combine that with traditional oil painting, for instance, to see what happens in that space.

You painted six cards for the newly released Guilds of Ravnica, how did it feel to work to return to such an iconic setting for the game, considering you also worked on both Gatecrash and Dragon’s Maze?

Ravnica is a really interesting place for me to visit. My parents separated when I was 6, and my father moved into the city while my mother stayed out in a semi-rural area with lots of nature. Spending time in both of these places gave me a balanced love for both environments – and in Ravnica it is a joy to explore combining them, as if I were finding the harmony between two halves of my childhood. Now that I moved from Australia to Berlin, I have an even deeper appreciation of European city life, aesthetic, and cultural subtleties.

Even though cities aren’t the healthiest place to live, I find the atmosphere, stimulation, and constant unexpected surprises contribute so much to my mental wellbeing that I find myself always drawn back to these cultural hubs. I do have to say that painting urban environments does get tricky, and I did a significant amount of work on the new Ravnica, so it will be refreshing to shift gears hopefully into something more ‘organic’ in nature!

Aradara Express © Wizards of the Coast

That’s an interesting aspect of how your personal life and work permeate your Commercial work. Have other planes evoked similar responses and memories?

In fact, yes. A few years ago I was asked to help out on the concept push for Kaladesh, a world loosely based around many of the aesthetic elements of traditional Indian art and culture. I actually spent several years in India when I was very young, and that part of my life deeply affected me and my tastes as an artist. I had many dreams of that time over the years, and my real memories blended in with my imagined ones and I created an idea of an archetypal ‘India’ from my childhood without ever seeing it again.

When it came time to help concept Kaladesh, it reawakened all of these latent imaginations and it was very exciting – although brief – to work on that. Not long afterwards I returned to India for the first time in about 25 years. The reality, of course, was starkly juxtaposed against the backdrop of my own fantasy – and that in itself brought up a fascinating and complex series of questions for me; about the nature of art, illustration, and its connection to the world we live in.

Of the work you made for Magic, can you name some favorites?

I have two favourite pieces for Magic: The one I just finished, and the one I’m just about to start. My least favourite is the one I’m working on at the time! In all seriousness, it is difficult to choose a favourite, because I don’t really see them as a finished painting, I see them as a complex combination of process, frustration, input, the things going on in my life at the time – and then maybe the result itself.

The ones I think are ‘successful’ often go unnoticed by fans, and the ones I am most frustrated with become the most popular (often simply due to good card mechanics). Should I like a piece because I’m happy with it, or because my audience is happy with it? A few of the cards I remember being pleased with at the time I finished them were:

My first card (Island, Innistrad), Command Tower, Basic Forest/Ravnica, Full art basics from Battle for Zendikar, and Jace’s Sanctum.

Forest © Wizards of the Coast


Thank you for reading!

We thank Adam for his time and kindness.

You can learn more about Adam’s paintings on his website. He also hangs out on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

You can also order some cool prints from Adam on inprnt.

Meet us next week for another interview!

Mountain © Wizards of the Coast


Clint Cearley Interview

Welcome to our MTG artists interview series (#26), There’s No Magic Without Art.

For this week’s interview we talked with Clint Cearley, the artist behind very popular cards like Breya and Vraska’s Contempt.

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Tell us a little about how you got started working on Magic.

After years working as a graphic designer I decided to move into illustration so over the course of 2-3 years I put together a portfolio. I did get some “starter” commissions for small indie projects while building the portfolio but it wasn’t much. Once I felt my work was equivalent to the work Magic was producing I tracked down the art submission email and sent in my portfolio.

It was a single JPG image with a collage of different images I had done and showed a variety of subjects, color schemes and lighting. About two weeks later I received an acceptance email and filled out the paperwork to begin. It was straightforward in my case and I’ve been doing work with Magic consistently since then.

Time Spiral © Wizards of the Coast
This card was done for MTGO, and has a beautiful easter-egg (most on this below).

Can you give us a brief description of your painting process for Magic cards?

The usually start with thumbnail compositions on paper after reading the card brief. In the sketches I determine the layout, basic poses and composition. From there I’ll either scan the sketch or just redraw it in Photoshop with a stylus pad then go collect or create any needed reference images.

Sometimes I’ll block it in with just values and add color later while other times I’ll go right in with colors. After all the elements are established I send the art director the concept for approval. Taking their feedback I’ll continue to develop the scene and details and submit the final. Sometimes last adjustments are requested but usually not.

Swamp sketches for the Amonkhet full art lands © Wizards of the Coast

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Breya, Etherium Shaper is a very popular card amongst the players. Do you recall the art description, and how this card came to be?

The (abbreviated) direction I received said, “A female human wizard native to Esper. Sections of her body have been replaced with etherium filigree. Breya is standing outside, perhaps high above the ground, blonde hair whipping in the wind. She holds out one filigree hand that is arcing with purple-red lightning. In the distance behind her, perhaps we see thopters flying through the air.”

With the complexity of her etherium body parts I wanted a simple pose so things would remain understandable. The trick in her design was finding ways to convey the volume of her body and retain her feminine form with the etherium. The final is very close to the submitted sketch with the exception of the thopters (which apparently weren’t optional) and adding a thicker weave of etherium throughout the body (it was more airy to begin with).

Incremental Growth © Wizards of the Coast

How did it feel to paint the box art for the Aether Revolt set?

It was a big honor to be given the opportunity! I remember admiring MTG cards and store displays as a boy and now I was getting to create the “face” of Magic. A little surreal. It’s probably good I didn’t get the commission early in my career, I may not have had the maturity to deal with the responsibility and time commitment (it spanned 4 months).

That seems quite a long time comparing to regular card commissions. Can you shed some light on why it took longer?

For normal card commissions you work with one art director who has the say so on the project but box art commissions are different. There is your normal AD but also the marketing team, brand team and others who all have a say so and need to give approval on the piece. This can result in many more concepts and alterations needing to be produced and it spanned the Christmas holiday if I remember right (which always slows things down).

Breya, Etherium Shaper © Wizards of the Coast

What were some of the most challenging cards you painted?

Rite of Ruin comes to mind. The difficulty came from what the direction was asking for: a recognizable view of the (massive) city wall, a large explosion destroying part of the wall (to be the focal point), a mage casting the explosion and an army trying to stop him.

I have 2 inches in which to depict it and it can’t look cluttered. I went through a lot of sketches and several color concepts before going with the final. It’s a mediocre image in the end but you do your best within the parameters given and move on to the next piece.

Aether Revolt box art © Wizards of the Coast

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On the other hand, were there some of the art descriptions that “immediately clicked”?

Ruthless Ripper for Ugin’s Fate. I did Ruthless Ripper for Khans of Tarkir then Ugin rewrites the future in Ugin’s Fate which gives us an alternate version of the original Ripper. It was like a “take 2” which you don’t get in this job much. I immediately knew what I wanted to change and improve on and still feel that it is one of my stronger MTG images.

Chandra’s Revolution and Pia’s Revolution are part of the same image. Do you recall other cards you did that had similar connections/Easter Eggs?

The split image was actually requested by the art director and is a element many players may have missed. In Epiphany Storm, part of the vision she sees is the Merfolk from Triton Fortune Hunter. Christopher Rush, who was the artist of the original Black Lotus, passed away while I was painting Time Spiral for MTG online so I added black lotuses in the corners with their petal floating off. I am the model for several of my images: Righteous Blow, Annihilating Fire, Notion Thief, Grapeshot and Messenger’s Speed.

Ruthless Ripper © Wizards of the Coast

Of the art you made for Magic, can you name some favorites?

Nissa Vital Force, Jace Ingenious Mind-MageLiliana Death Wielder (put a lot of time in those planeswalkers), Mnemonic Betrayal, QuicklingGisela the Broken Blade

On the five colors of the game, is there one that feels closer to home, artistically speaking?

Not really, although I’d like to get more green cards! I’ve done loads of the others but few green which is shame as greens are some of my favorite colors.

Where can our readers find you?

My gallery is at clintcearley.com

Educational art channel is youtube.com/swatches

Facebook at facebook.com/cearleyart

Instagram @cearleyclint

MTG posters (and others) at inprnt.com/profile/clintcearley

Playmats at etsy.com/shop/clintcearley

Gisela, the Broken Blade © Wizards of the Coast


Thank you for reading!

We want to thank Clint for giving us this interview.

Meet us next week for another interview!

Vraska’s Contempt © Wizards of the Coast


Introducing Team MTG Manager

Greetings! Today we’re very pleased to introduce the team that will represent MTG Manager this season on the Pro Tour Team Series!

Here’s our squad:

MTG Manager team presentation during the GP Lille live coverage.

Gonçalo Pinto (Team Captain)

Pro Tour Dominaria finalist

Occupation?
Digital Marketing Analyst; Writer for Hareurya.

When did you discover Magic?
I was addicted to Heroes of Might and Magic III and some friends showed me the game at school, the flavor was very similar, so I was immediately hooked. Stronghold was the latest set at the time.

What Standard deck are you playing with right now?
Wish I knew… I think I will play GP Lille with some red deck and then reevaluate for the Pro Tour.

What’s the best card in that deck?
Experimental FrenzyRunaway Steam-Kin and Goblin Chainwhirler are strong contenders as well.

What Guilds of Ravnica card impressed you the most?
Definitely Experimental Frenzy. I thought it was unplayable and now I think it’s the nuts!

Dmitriy Butakov

Two-time Magic Online Champion

Occupation?
MTGO Grinder.

When and how did you discover Magic?
About 15 years ago from my uncle.

What Standard deck are you playing with right now?
All of them.

What’s the best card in that deck?
Rekindling Phoenix!

What Guilds of Ravnica card impressed you the most?
Aurelia, but it took quite a while for me to realize she gives +2\+0 to any creature, not just red ones.

Antonio Del Moral Leon

Pro Tour Fate Reforged Champion

Occupation?
Grinder.

When and how did you discover Magic?
12 years ago for a friends.

What Standard deck are you playing with right now?
I liked UR Drakes.

What’s the best card in that deck?
Arclight Phoenix.

What Guilds of Ravnica card impressed you the most?
Aurelia.

Francisco Sifuentes

Peruvian Captain for World Magic Cup

Occupation?
Administrator.

When and how did you discover Magic?
When I was in school back in 2005, the game was very popular and I loved it right away. My first Magic adventure outside of school was the original Ravnica release.

What Standard deck are you playing with right now?
BG mid right now, I’m trying to figure out the mirror and how to balance against other strategy’s.

What’s the best card in that deck?
I think Carnage Tyrant, it’s good against mirror and vs. control.

What Guilds of Ravnica card impressed you the most?
I really like Aurelia, mostly for limited, the card is very powerful and has 5 toughness.

Louis-Samuel Deltour

Five GP Top 8 appearances, three runner-up finishes

Occupation?
MTG Player.

When and how did you discover Magic?
Around Odyssey, my cousin introduced me to it.

What Standard deck are you playing with right now?
I like Golgari!

What’s the best card in that deck?
Vraska, Relic Seeker.

What Guilds of Ravnica card impressed you the most?
Shocklands (boring but true).

Bernardo Santos

Three GP Top 8 appearances last season

Occupation?
Magic.

When and how did you discover Magic?
In 2005 a friend showed me the game and taught me how to play. Only in 2012, with Returna to Ravnica, did I return to the game and actually started playing in tournaments.

What Standard deck are you playing with right now?
I’m going to play BG mid because i couldn’t find anything better.

What’s the best card in that deck?
Probably Jadelight Ranger.

What Guilds of Ravnica card impressed you the most?
Arclight Phoenix, didn’t understand the potential when I first saw the card.