July 07, 2010

Keep Magic weird



An Alpha original is back in M11 with new art and flavor text. Good ol' Juggs ... it sets me rolling on a destructive trip down memory lane.

When I started playing, back at the dawn of this game, cards were not readily available. I was lucky enough to purchase the last three starter decks in town and for a while my friends and I cobbled together games with that extremely limited pool. Eventually more cards were printed and I was able to play against a friend with cards of his own. New cards I'd never seen before! In those days there was no visual spoiler. In fact, Magic debuted a couple years before web browsers became widespread. Imagine that! Sure, I tried to trawl UNIX-based message boards for card info, but the card pool beyond my own was essentially mysterious. So I was mentally unprepared when my pal paid 4 to drop a relentless machine that bashed away quarters of my starting life total until there was none left. It was a formative moment, a stark lesson in price, power and tempo. We played the hell out of Juggernaut for years.

When I saw that there was new Juggernaut art I had to turn it into a real moment. Poured a beverage, dimmed the lights in The Looter's Grotto, put on an appopriate playlist (Judas Priest, Turbonegro, Andrew WK, etc), and called up the Magic Arcana with Juggy's new face. After soaking it in for a while I concluded that I don't get what is being depicted and I love that! A pinecone and a VW Bug had a baby in a zombie mosh pit. Weird and awesome!

I have a lot of affection for the art of Alpha. The riot of styles, straight-laced depiction alongside bizarre abstraction, and the seeming lack of overall direction made for a scrappy, memorable experience. After the game's initial success there was an effort to sand off the rough edges and standardize the look. This led to sets with more traditional fantasy art, restricted palettes ... boring. There were still highlights, you know, Mark Tedin never went away, but my memory of those middle years is of muddy, bland card art.

But then someone in charge got it and a beam of hot light parted the gray. That period gave way to the current era of strong art direction married to risky, fun, and weird art. Each new set blows me away. Beautiful painting! Art that tells stories! Humor! But the key for me is: weird. Give me those images that perplex, disturb and stick in my memory. Keep Magic weird!

Thanks to Wizards of the Coast and Mark Hyzer for this crazy, new Juggernaut.

Want the original drawing?

Looters draw but they also discard, so I'm giving away the pen/ink drawing for the Juggernaut piece above. How do you win?

1. Follow me on Twitter.

2. Post a comment below including your Twitter name and some original flavor text to go along with the drawing. Whatever you think goes best with the drawing. Humor is not mandatory but will probably help.

If I like your flavor text suggestion the best I will send you the drawing. Contest ends July 16 at noon PST. Any questions?

Juggy drawing


  1. So awesome. Looks like a monster truck, except satanic.

  2. theblackmallard

    "Are gas prices killing you?"

  3. "And the crowd went wild... because they had realized they were no longer just spectators."


  4. @terrisin

    No longer content with merely creating new holes in caves, the goblin engineers put their creations to more profitable use.

  5. Gwar's stage show just gets weirder every year.


  6. OK, thanks for commenting everyone! I'm going to send the drawing to @terrisin, who won me over with the new twist on the old flavor.

  7. Aw, damn. I'll make one anyways.


    After becoming champion of the arena, it broke out and devastated the town.

    I also like Eric's a whole bunch.