10, on a Scale of 1 to 5

Posted in Feature on August 9, 2007

By Matt Cavotta

Matt has worn many wizard hats in the 18 years he has worked on Magic—art-mage, logomancer, lightning bard, and (of course) Planeswalker.

Tenth EditionSinceTenth Edition hit the scene I have been waiting for an opportunity to swim in its deep, deep pool of awesome art. Now that I have such an opportunity, I am drowning, drowning I say! There is so much amazing art in this set that I, at the very moment I am typing these words, have no idea how I am going to get to it all. Normally I can showcase the top ten or fifteen pieces in a set and feel like I have pretty much covered my bases. But with Tenth, ten or fifteen just scratches the surface.

The wonderful difference between core sets and expansions is that the core set gets to cherry pick art from all the past printings of its cards. In a case where appropriate art cannot be found in a pool of previous printings, new art can be assigned (and usually gets tossed to one of Magic's current buttkicking artists.) Tenth Edition has, in my opinion, really taken advantage of this system and put together a set with both amazing quality and amazing diversity. Not only does it sport some dandy scratchings from new kids on the block, but it also reprints, as it well should, some of the artistic doozies of the old days.

I just had a thought. A few weeks back, in my article Where Numbers and Colors Collide, I set up a pointing system to try and quantify and compare the quality of art in an older Magic set (Mirage) and a newer one (Future Sight). Tenth Edition gives us the best of both worlds. Just for fun, I am going to jump into pointing Tenth and we'll see what happens.

In case you have not read When Numbers and Colors Collide, here's what the rating scale looks like:

5. Wow! This is good in so many ways that I don't care to point out any flaws.

4. I like this a lot. (Fill in your favorite artist's name here) could have done it better, but it's still really good.

3. Pretty cool. Solid piece. I don't feel too strongly one way or the other.

2. There are some problems here that make it hard to enjoy the parts that are working.

1. Um... How did that make it past the art director's desk?

Just for a little refresher, here's how Mirage and Future Sight shook out. (Note, the Future Sight score was misrepresented as a 3 in When Numbers and Colors Collide.)


White – 2.6
Blue - 3.0
Black – 3.1
Red – 2.9
Green – 2.9
Gold – 2.8
Artifacts – 3.1
Lands – 2.5
Total – 2.9
Future Sight
White – 3.1
Blue – 3.5
Black – 3.3
Red – 3.2
Green – 3.2
Gold – 2.7
Artifacts – 3.1
Lands – 3.8
Total – 3.3
Tenth Edition
White – 3.4
Blue - 3.2
Black – 3.3
Red – 3.1
Green – 3.2
Artifacts – 3.3
Lands – 3.5
Total – 3.3

I was a bit surprised to see that this all-star team came out with the same score as Future Sight. I thought it might have nudged the bar up a little higher. It does say a lot that a set with 383 cards in it can maintain the same quality level as a set with 200 fewer cards. It also says a lot about the consistency of quality across Tenth Edition to have all five colors, artifacts, and lands keep an average of 3 or higher. Not a lot of 2s in Tenth, folks—and not a 0 in the bunch. 383 cards and no 0s, that's a feat to be acknowledged. Kudos to Jarvis for doing a little weeding and letting this garden bloom.

And what fun would an article about Magic art be without looking at any? Prepare your peepers, slavering art goobs, I am going to show you all the pieces that I scored as 5s. I am sure that I left out art to which you might give a 5. Everybody likes different stuff. But, I am also pretty darn sure that the ones I am going to show you are big-time winners.

Island Skyhunter_Prowler
Island by Stephan Martiniere Skyhunter Prowler by Vance Kovacs
Sunken Hope
Sunken Hope by Volkan Baga
Warrior's Honor Thrull_Surgeon
Warrior's Honor by D. Alexander Gregory Thrull Surgeon by rk post
Terror by Adam Rex
Pacifism Jayemdae_Tome
Pacifism by Robert Bliss Jayemdae Tome by Donato Giancola
Bog Wraith
Bog Wraith by Daarken
Holy_Day Grave_Pact
Holy Day by Volkan Baga Grave Pact by Puddnhead
Steadfast Guard
Steadfast Guard by Michael Komarck
Chimeric_Staff Soul_Feast
Chimeric Staff by Michael Sutfin Soul Feast by Adam Rex
Forbidding Watchtower
Forbidding Watchtower by Aleksi Briclot
Spirit_Link Lord_of_the_Undead
Spirit Link by Kev Walker Lord of the Undead by Brom
Sea Monster
Sea Monster by Brian Despain
Pariah Telling_Time
Pariah by Jon J. Muth Telling Time by Scott Fischer
Faerie Conclave
Faerie Conclave by Stephan Martiniere
Mind_Bend Sengir_Vampire
Mind Bend by Mike Dringenberg Sengir Vampire by Kev Walker
Story Circle
Story Circle by Aleksi Briclot
Time_Stop Rhox
Time Stop by Scott Fischer Rhox by Mark Zug
Unholy Strength
Unholy Strength by Terese Nielsen
Elvish_Berserker Remove_Soul
Elvish Berserker by Parente Remove Soul by Adam Rex
Stronghold Discipline
Stronghold Discipline by Daarken
Seedborn_Muse Plains
Seedborn Muse by Adam Rex Plains by Richard Wright
Gaea's Herald
Gaea's Herald by Jim Murray

I really wanted to show you more. There are a boatload of 4s that really deserve some time in the spotlight. But that boat is so loaded that it's nearly tipping over, and at risk of falling into the sea where I am thrashing about in a never-ending swell—drowning, drowning in art! Blame it all on Jarvis. His red-hot artists are melting the polar ice caps. There is too much water. Only Kevin Costner, with his perforated ears and fourth-grader's acting skills, can save us all.

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