Cycles in Magic present fantastic storytelling opportunities. They can showcase ruling Dragons, hidden monsters, magic rings, and the souls of planes. Cycles are used to highlight mechanics across the five colors of mana, sure, but more than that, they let us flesh out our worlds with objects and characters while staying true to the color pie.
In Commander (2017 Edition), one memorable cycle tells the story of the unluckiest Planeswalker in the Multiverse as he finds himself in unfortunate situations on plane after plane after plane. Take a closer look at his follies in bigger-than-card scale, along with the art descriptions that guided his misfortune.
Mark Winters was the art director for this set, and Ari Levitch wrote the concepts for this cycle.
Curse of Vitality
Color: white spell
Location: a gothic-inspired tower
Action: This is a take on the classic Frankenstein moment when an angry mob marches up to the mad scientist's laboratory. For this shot, we are in the tower looking down through a window, over the shoulder of the unluckiest Planeswalker, at a mob of people with torches and weapons. For costuming, see pp. 64–68 in the Shadows over Innistrad world guide. In a few moments, the mob will be here for the unluckiest Planeswalker.
Focus: the marching mob
Mood: there's no escaping this.
Curse of Verbosity
Color: blue spell
Location: interior of a tavern
Action: The intent of this shot is to show someone talking louder than they should, drawing the attention of some unsavory people. Show the unluckiest Planeswalker well-lit in an otherwise relatively dim tavern. He has an innocent, naive look, and he is speaking enthusiastically to another patron, unaware that he probably shouldn't be speaking in public about the things he's talking about. Meanwhile, other patrons with ill-intent lean in to listen. For costuming, see p. 30–32 in the Conspiracy: Take the Crown world guide. Some patrons even cup their ear to hear better. Perhaps the camera is among the people leaning in, and we see the unluckiest Planeswalker at the next table.
Focus: the attention the speaker is getting without knowing it
Mood: a lamb in a lion's den
Curse of Disturbance
Color: black spell
Location: a wide boulevard in the ruins of a once-great medieval city
Action: Show the unlucky Planeswalker running flat out away from a horde of Zombies. Aside from the fleeing man and the Zombies, the street is otherwise deserted.
Focus: the man fleeing from Zombies
Mood: Why do they always follow me?
Curse of Opulence
Color: red spell
Location: a crowded plaza
Action: Show the unluckiest Planeswalker in the middle of a crowded plaza. A stream of gold coins shoots from his pockets to rain down all around him. He's startled by what's happening, but the people all around him scramble to grab as much gold as they can.
Focus: the gold pouring out of the man's pockets
Mood: a magical curse
Curse of Bounty
Color: green spell
Location: forested highlands at night
Action: Show the unluckiest Planeswalker having made camp, and sitting by a meager fire that has some meat cooking on it. He's about to bite into a piece of meat in his hands, but he's suddenly aware that the scent of food has attracted a bunch of beasts. We see the beasts at the edge of the firelight.
Focus: the beasts closing in on the lone traveler
Mood: this is the unluckiest man alive, and he knows it.