Hello, Magic: The Gathering fans, players, and collectors! Over the past few years, Wizards of the Coast has been fantastic about creating novel inclusions in packs of their premier trading card game through the initiative known as "Booster Fun". These innovative showcase cards include those with new frames, such as what can be seen in Throne of Eldraine or Theros: Beyond Death, alternative art for cards in other languages, as we have seen from Japanese planeswalker cards in War of the Spark, or even new intellectual properties in the game, like with Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths.
In a bid to keep the Booster Fun initiative fresh and appealing to players both new and veteran alike, Wizards has created the Mystical Archive, a curated list of 63 reprinted cards to be included in each booster pack of Strixhaven: School of Mages. The Mystical Archive has some amazing art and a very novel frame, and appears to push the bounds of what Magic cards tend to look like. In this two-part article series, we will be looking at what we deem to be the top ten coolest cards to be part of Strixhaven's Mystical Archive, aesthetically speaking.
#10: Urza's Rage
While not the most promising card to run in the average Strixhaven Limited deck, Urza's Rage depicts a crucial moment in the game's storyline from all the way back to the Phyrexian Invasion. A very stylized card in its own right, even standing out among the other 62 cards in the Mystical Archive, artist Dominik Mayer did a fantastic job of portraying this pivotal scene from Magic's extensive history.
Let's face facts: the very idea of magic spells is ephemeral by our mundane, mortal standards and therefore is remarkably hard to actually portray properly. Given that this is true, it's nearly impossible to show what the dissolution of magic would look like. Olena Richards, however, has created a fantastic portrayal of this very concept in her version of Counterspell, a classic, iconic spell harking back to the very first days of the game. The hand says volumes, and all of those volumes say, "No." And that's what we are looking for in countermagic!
#8: Gift of Estates
Justin Hernandez and Alexis Hernandez have worked wonders breathing new life into this card, originally from the first Portal set. Gift of Estates' art shows quite accurately the in-game effects of casting the spell, which shows in turn that the artists have an amazing grasp on the subject matter they're working with – that is, the casting of spells.
Dominik Mayer has more than one banger of an art piece on this list, it seems! His time creating the art for Negate is top-notch, with absolutely sublime line work and silhouette work. One can really feel the crushing failure of having a pivotal spell mercilessly undone by an opposing spellcaster in this piece.
#6: Agonizing Remorse
Finally for this half of the article series is Agonizing Remorse. Artist Robbie Trevino showcases the subject matter, dealing in regret and anguish, quite well, depicting these emotional concepts as an evil, rather taxing entity embodying the dark deeds of the target of the spell. There is much to be said about the effects guilt has on a person, and Trevino, through this art, says a lot about it.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article series, wherein we will talk about our top five choices for coolest art in the Magic: The Gathering Mystical Archives as well as name our three Honorable Mentions! In the meantime, what are your favorite pieces of art from Strixhaven? Feel free to discuss this topic in the comments below!