The Sol of Commander

Posted in Feature on July 30, 2019

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

It's an exciting time to be a Commander player!

August begins this week, and I have been calling August "The Month of Commander"! Between Commander at Gen Con, the new Commander (2019 Edition) decks releasing, and MagicFest Las Vegas, there's so much great Commander stuff happening that it will make your head spin.

Starting this Thursday, August 1, previews for Commander 2019 kick off at Gen Con. You'll be able to watch them live, including the big stream at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT on twitch.tv/magic. Then, next week, Commander previews roll online as cards begin being previewed around the internet.

I'll be there, playing all weekend and hosting a number of panels, and it's going to be awesome. (You can check out my article last week for more details.)

But it's not all just in the next week. Coming up right around the corner is MagicFest Las Vegas! We've worked with CFB Events to create a really incredible MagicFest experience at the event.

What's going on? A fully-fledged Command Zone, with Magic luminaries and plenty of play space for endless games of Commander! A Commander party! The launch weekend for the brand-new Commander 2019 decks! You can find out more about it (and sign up!) by clicking here.

And, of course, amidst all these events, there's a new look at a card very important to Commander: this little item.

Sol Ring Promo

This promo premieres at Vegas! (Though if you can't go, it will be available at other MagicFests and events throughout this year and 2020. This is our Commander promo at events, so don't worry—both the foil and nonfoil versions will get around to plenty of other places.)

But why Sol Ring? Well, perhaps no other card quite embodies Commander quite as well.

It's an incredibly powerful artifact. It leads to wild games and sets the tone of the game quickly. It accelerates your mana—one of the backbones of most Commander games.

But more than that, there are just plenty of good memories associated with the card. I remember seeing Sol Ring for the first time and my eyes going wide: "That card seems ridiculous!"

Turns out, it is. But also, an important part of the format.

To quote the godfather of Commander, Sheldon Menery, from an article titled, "In Defense of Sol Ring":

When [Commander] began to grow in popularity, all of a sudden many of us were able to dig through old binders or card boxes and dust off our old copies of Sol Ring. Something about being able to play with that iconic one-mana card with the flaming ring on it just felt like going home, reconnecting with the very first games of kitchen table Magic. No matter what sort of fiendish deck you were planning to build in EDH or Commander, you could bet that Sol Ring will help you execute your plans.

So when I was working with our Events team to select a convention promo for Commander, of course Sol Ring came up! We have only ever reworked it a few times recently. There's the original Mark Tedin artwork:

Original
Sol Ring | Art by: Mark Tedin

There's the much-used original Magic: The Gathering—Commander artwork:

And there's the Kaladesh Masterpiece artwork:

Sol ring is such a popular card, and a hallmark of Commander is the ability to customize your deck, after all. Providing players different options for Sol Ring is great! I'm sure there will be many Sol Rings to come in the future.

That said, we wanted to give this Sol Ring a unique look and feel. Something that would appeal to people who attend MagicFests and conventions; a fun throwback.

So, it made sense to go back to the original source: Mark Tedin.

Here's the art description we sent him, which specifically asks for a little callback to his original:

Color: None (artifact)
Location: Not important
Action: We'd like a dynamic glamor shot of this artifact; it's a series of rings that hover above an ornate pedestal. A glowing white and/or silver orb burns in the center of the rings, sort of like a caged, miniature sun. Perhaps a series of metal rings rotate around the orb on differing axis, all working to magically contain the energy within. We'd love a callback to your original piece, so maybe a ring of fire rotates around it as well, but the fire should be secondary to the central glowing white-hot orb.
Focus: The artifact
Mood: An object of great mystery and power

We were all eagerly awaiting his first sketch to come back. What was it going to look like? And when it finally arrived . . . I knew he nailed it.

Just gorgeous, with all those traditional Tedin trappings. This, of course, evolved into the final:

Sol Ring | Art by: Mark Tedin

And that's the gorgeous artwork you will find at many MagicFests and conventions around the world, starting at MagicFest Las Vegas! You can get it in both foil and nonfoil. The foil looks especially fantastic.

All right. We are on the cusp of the Commander storm. Commander 2019 is about to hit the wild, and I really can't wait. Between Gen Con, Commander 2019, and MagicFest Las Vegas, I truly can't wait to be immersed in all things Commander!

Have any questions or thoughts about any of this? Please, feel free to hit me up! You can always reach me by sending me a tweet, asking me a question on my Tumblr, direct messaging me on Instagram, or just sending off an email.

And if you're going to be at Gen Con or Magicfest Las Vegas, feel free to let me know! I'd love to play a game with you.

I'm looking forward to a great month of Commander!

—Gavin
Email: BeyondBasicsMagic@gmail.com
Instagram: GavinVerhey
Tumblr: GavInsight
Twitter: @GavinVerhey

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