Framing 25 Years of Magic
On. The left is an image of a card called mine twist as it appeared in limited edition alpha magics very first set released back in 1993. On the right is an image of the same card released nearly 25, years later in a set called Allman ket which, was magics own recreation, of ancient Egypt not. Every card in the set looked like this one the, mine twist here belongs to a unique series of highly collectible, cards called masterpieces. That, showed up in booster packs at an extremely rare rate their, main Flair was an aesthetic one both, cards here are functionally, equal yet, masterpieces, appeal to certain players in such a way that a normal magic, card does not between. These two cards lifts a cavernous history of graphic design, every, detail on the faces and frames of magic cards has evolved since the inception of the game yet, after 25 years its, overall visual style is still fully recognizable, and intact I can, call upon just about any two cards from the pool of over 16,000. Unique designs and they, will on a holistic level possess, the same core elements, that render them specific, to this trading card game and none other the. Printing of this mine twist and it's like however, was the closest moment we've come to breaking such a mold in the game's lifetime, so, much so that many veterans initial reaction to these cards was quote, unquote that is not a magic card so, today I would like to dissect, the visual design elements that make up the anatomy of a magic card in order to better understand, why this mind twist feels so removed from its predecessors, in, order to do so I want to look at every card frame that the game is utilized since 1993, and trace, the subtle changes put forth by each new design, as, such I hope this video can serve as a succinct visual history of magic card frames for future reference as, well as a useful point of comparison for anyone who plays other trading card games alongside. This deep dive on frames I will, analyze the tenuous relationship between, flavor and function and card games as, a way to explain my twists, disconnect, ultimately. I argue that aesthetics, have slowly lost priority, to utility, over the course of the game's lifespan, and the, almond cat in vacations, pushed back on that trend in more ways than one resulting. In nearly unanimous, backlash. Let's. Start at the very beginning magic. Debuted in 1993. With alpha a set of 295. Cards that were divided amongst eight different card frames five, frames corresponded to one of each of the five colors of magic the, sixth frame was for artifacts that had no color the, seventh was designated for basic lands and the, eighth frame belonged to the dual lands that produced two colors of mana at, its inception magics. Flavor as far as card frames were concerned was, at its absolute highest, an aspect, that will be slowly ironed, out over time in favor of function before we look at the details though want, to establish some terminology, the, anatomy of a magic card can be broken down into three main horizontal. Sections, the, first incorporates. The card title in the mana cost which. Sits above the artwork and in this case directly on top of the card frame the, second section shoots across the middle and houses the illustration, as, well as the type line and, later sets the type line we'll also show the expansion, symbol finally, the third section includes the entirety, of the text box as, well as the power and toughness box for creatures and collectors. Information, along at the bottom which, shows the artists credits the, copyright, information and details, about the cards specific, to its set all, of these aspects, are placed within a frame that itself is surrounded by a three millimeter border, either, black or white in most cases to. Note every piece of this Anatomy will be modified, to some extent over the course of the game's lifetime, an, alpha frames correspondent, not only to the color identity, of the card but, were also textured to thematically, match the flavor of said colors White's. Frame is the least distinct, of the bunch but, its text box recalls, the pattern of a lace doily that perhaps you could find on the altar of a church blues. Frame is watery and wispy like it's creatures and its text box looks like a blurry shot of the surface of the ocean black. Has a bubbly frame reminiscent, of a witch's brew in a cauldron and it's text box looks like the parchment, you could find in one of her spell books bread. Is the least busy of the five its, frame and text box recall the smooth texture of stone nestled near a volcano and Green, has a blurry plant-like, frame beneath the text box set to resemble a sheet of wood the.
Artifacts Are a deep brown with a mosaic text, box and the, basic lands differ depending on which color of manna they could produce the. Pin lines surrounding the two tangulls highlighted, these colors too finally. The dual lands exhibited, a radical design that has not been repeated since this, alternating, striped, pattern signified, the two colors of man of the land could make now. Like I said before these, designs were the pinnacle of immersion but, their functionality, in-game was sacrificed, for this high fantasy flavor. The, primary concern with these frames was that they rendered many of the cards unreadable, the, white text on a very thin font, didn't pop on the busy colored frames and the, black italics, on dark red was virtually, illegible - to, make matters worse early. Magic design did not have the streamlined, game language and terminology we, see today, so, cards like illusionary, masks or extremely, wordy, in comparison, to something like Holi strength this. Resulted in a visual incongruity. Across the set alpha, cards also lacked the necessary collectors, information, along the bottom and instead, only displayed the artists credit after the, alpha and beta printings, came unlimited, which, brought the first change in border color and would establish wizards reprint, policy that was eventually phased out in 2007. With tenth edition the. Policy worked as follows, if a card would be printed for the first time it would have a black border and if it were to be printed again in a following sets like mine twist here and unlimited it, would have a white border this, could signify to players that older versions of the card existed, which, appealed to collectors, who sought the first editions, for their decks this, policy became very tricky to uphold however due, to Magic's growth outside of the United States once. The game incorporated, non-english, languages, it meant that technically, their first printing could be in a reprint set which, would then require the card to be printed with a black border this. Confusion would have wizards scrambling, to print Renaissance sets to remain consistent in, their reprint policy leading.
To Gigantic headaches, within are indeed to try and keep track of which cards were debuting and their corresponding languages. Eventually. They disregarded, the white border black border debacle, and committed, to printing all their sets with black bordered cards most. Players enjoyed this change too as, the black border looks better on a magic card some, white border rebels would disagree though a few months, after Unlimited, debuted, Magic's first expansion, set Arabian, Nights in December. Of 1993, the, two primary visual updates were the inclusion, of the expansion symbol, in this case a scimitar, to invoke, world's Middle Eastern flavor and the, new yellow pin lines found on lands that produced colorless, manna like city of brass here these, yellow lines wouldn't be the standard, though antiquities. Utilized, a darker orangish, red for its lands legends. Had a gradient gold and the. Dark surrounded, its non basics, with very thick dark pin lines Arabian. Nights also nearly changed, the card back to a pink version with the expansion name underneath the game's title but, it was pulled at the last second to avoid inconsistencies. With decks that mixed in cards from outside of this expansion this. Decision was critical to Magic's visual design philosophy, and has, been the sole element of the card that has not changed in the history of the game in tournament, legal expansions, to note this alternate, card back had a yellow font which, quickly became the standard for branding, and his mark rose waters preferred color for displaying the game's name this. Along with the deck master title bar would, be amongst, the things he wishes he could change about the original card back a couple, of expansions, later showed for the first time a multi-coloured, card with a golden frame and text box as well, as the debut of legendary, creatures, this, expansion was named legends, and it would set the baseline for multi-coloured cards that is still utilized, in design today since. These creatures like Angus Mackenzie were, not just white nor, blue nor green but all three the, frame signaled to players that multiple colors were required to play the card along. With the subtype came the legend rule which, initially, restricted players to only one copy of the card in their decks going, along with our arguments, this meant that flavor was taking high priority, over function since, these creatures were unique and named it, meant that there could be only one in your deck to remain consistent with the fantasy of the game how, could you possibly have to Angus, Mackenzie when only one exists, in magic lore so. You may expect this rule has been heavily modified over the years which, will be relevant in the second half of this video for. The first 10 years of its life Magic's. Visual design stayed true to the high fantasy spell, book flavor that Richard Garfield established. In alpha with, minor tweaks in the textbox to match the feel of the worlds explored, portal.
Experimented, With a thicker font and a line break two separate rules text from flavor text but, this format never saw further print outside of subsequent, portal and starter sets it. Also replaced the rules text in basic lands with the giant male cymbal which, became the default templating, moving forward this, change bothered, folks at first which, of course will become an ongoing motif. Exodus. Provided, cards with more collectors information, at the bottom moved, the formatting, from left justified, to center justified, as, well as incorporated, a colored expansion, symbol that signified, a card's rarity for the first time in the game's history Magic's. First parody sets unglued, came in 1998, and heavily, played with all of the elements of the card frame most. Notably on the premiere of full art lands this, became a highly desirable treatment, of basic lands and inspired. Reiterations. And future sets to. Signify that all the cards except these lands could not be played in tournaments the, black border was changed to silver. Invasion. However was the first time designers, heavily experimented. With the real estate of a magic card in the, form of the game's first split cards these, spells allowed players to essentially, have two cards in one but, their visual design was nothing more than exactly that it, didn't reinvent the frame they, just turned a normal magic card sideways, shrunk, its and repeated, the process for the second half of the card these, split cards were very well received by players though and, would act as the blueprint for future experiments with the card frame one. Block later in Apocalypse, dual, lands received their first gradient, text box which, stylish, Lee showed off new PIN lines and a clean blend of two colors that the original alpha duels struggled to get right but, the most significant, change to card frames occurred in eighth edition, causing, an outcry amongst the player base that has been echoed with every subsequent change, in frame since. To. Align with Magic's 10th anniversary, at GenCon R&D. Decided, to unveil the designs that they had long been clamoring for and had, began to work on as early as invasion, three years prior eighth. Edition was a corset, and thus, had to obey the reprint policy, that I spoke about before as, such. The borders were white but this was not what made this design decision noteworthy, in the slightest, what, players remember most is the first instance in which that tolkien-esque, feel, from early magic sets was. Replaced with a streamlined, aesthetic, that prioritized. Functionality. Over flavor the. Cards across this set became much more cohesive, as a whole but, in order to do so the, game's visual, design had, to face the tenants, that made each color feel unique from one another, the first unifying, element, was the employment, of three-dimensional.
Boxes, That surrounded, the title and type lines as, well as the power and toughness indicators. If, you look closely these boxes, have a slight shadow effect along the bottom line as well, as against the left crease, they also sport many more pin lines that surround these boxes, two, of which have curves that allow for more space along the type line to make room for the expansion symbol, and a break in uniformity, around the power and toughness box, secondly. The font was changed from Gaudi medieval, to matrix bold which, was heavier and much easier to read yet, lacked that bookish, flavour the. Font was also changed uniformly, to black except. For the collector info on black cards themselves which, remained white now, perhaps the most off-putting update, was the treatment of the text boxes no. Longer would green cards be embossed with wooden panels nor, black cards with roughened parchment and their, places would be a mostly opaque, lightened. Background, that was tinted to match the color of the card the, same was true for the title and type lines the, original textures, however were still present and updated, even if they were far less pronounced, green's, text boxes sported a leafy texture to match their borders and black, cards still had that bubbly, swampy, use surrounding, them the, watery pattern on blue cards became more uniform, and soft while, Reds borders were instead rendered to appear more cracked and stressed and yeah, white lost that lacy doily, look in place, of a clean marbled card frame plans, received a uniform, border - one. With a rough and stony surface, and their, pin lines aligned to the colors of mana they could produce artifacts. Received perhaps the greatest alteration. Their, frame went from a dark brown to a cool steely, texture with metallic, accents, and a, vacuum this design perfectly, matched the flavor of MAGIX version of lost relics that held ancient, powers however, this entire visual scheme, was far too close and hue to the white cards so, much so that it was too difficult to differentiate, the two while panning through a booster pack to. Make matters worse mere, Dan was the expansion, to follow eighth edition which. Was a world built entirely, around artifacts. When, eighth edition released, players, lamented, that these two frames were far too similar, in appearance, but their complaints, were solidified, a couple of months later at the employee pre-release, of Mira Dhin when, Randi Bueller thumbed through his first booster pack of the artifact worlds he realized that the lamenting, player base was right two, sets later in fifth on the border was significantly, darkened, which tided the confusion, one, major complaint still remained however which.
Was The lack of colored mana symbols on activated, and triggered abilities, on artifacts, across the block nirach, stealth suit for example wants blue mana but, this is not immediately, clear upon first glance which. Slowed down drafting, and led to disappointment, in gameplay the. Greater take away from 8th edition though is twofold. The first is that magic finally had a cohesive, visual identity across all cards at the cost of individuality, between, them that is to say from a holistic viewpoint 8th. Edition felt, like one solid unit and promised. Uniformity. Moving forward, once the prior sets were phased out over the following years the second. Takeaway was of course longtime. Veterans, initial, reactions, to the change in frames their. Complaints, like I said up top would, be echoed with every change in card frame moving forward, quote, unquote this, does not look like a magic card they, were correct in the sense that the modern frame lacks that high fantasy flavor, but. The functionality, was greatly improved in its stead cards. Were legible, the focus shifted to make way for better gameplay which meant that immersion would simply have to be found elsewhere no, longer could a player greatly, rely on the card friends to deliver that beloved fantasy, feel see, this is at the crux of my argument, here we, have to ask ourselves as, players of card games what is more important, to, feel like a wizard slinging, spells or to always be clear about what exactly those spells do these, two worlds are not exclusive, though an eighth, edition proved, that the frame could still deliver very tight gameplay under, the guise of alternate, realities, it was around this time too, that R&D began to tinker with the potential of card frames ability, to inspire game mechanics, prior. To this era they were simply, the method of organization and, delivery but. What if a frame could not only clarify, information but, also communicate. Information to, players well, this question was already on our Indies radar, a few years prior for. Sixth edition design, considered, this card frame. Possessed, many of the elements that eventually made it to the modern design a few years later it, had title and tight bars pin, lines the works but, the most striking of course was it's gigantic, border, on the left side along. This bar appeared the mana symbols, vertically, as well as the collectors information, and expansion, symbol at the bottom the, idea at play here was to prioritize the mana cost for players while cards were found in their hands so, that they could quickly glance at their grip and evaluate, their next move the. Problem though was twofold one, it greatly hindered left-handed, players who fan their cards in the opposite direction it. Also looked terribly, unbalanced, which, matters, of course for marketing and to aesthetic, geeks like me the. Mana cost too was vertically, aligned which I argue stands in complete contrast, to all of Magic's visual design traditions, like.
I Said when describing the anatomy, of a card the, entire face is divided, into three horizontal elements. For, Western audiences this matches the flow of reading left to right top to bottom as, such I have noticed that every time design tries to incorporate a vertical, elements in the card frame it fails, it. Simply fights against this natural, flow and this, example is no exception but, it succeeded in opening the door to installing communicative. Devices, into the card frame just, before eighth edition Odyssey. Utilized, a small tombstone, symbol in the upper left hand corner to tell players that it was a set that revolved around the graveyard cards. Barring this tombstone meant that their abilities cared about that zone in some way in Kanagawa. Block appeared the first attempt, at a flipped card which, sought to translate, the idea of creature transformation. Into the schematics, of a magic card the result was a failure because of how cramped these frames were reading. Upside down is very difficult, especially, when trying to conceal information in your hand to opponents, and tapping. These creatures made it very unclear, as to which form the flip card was currently in but. The idea was there and the card frame could provide the conduit to realize it effectively. The. Tinkering continued, in Ravnica which, premiered two more innovations, never seen before on a magic card as well as a rehashing, of the invasion split, cards the, first innovation was an overhaul of gold cards since, this set cared very much about multi, colored cards much like legends but, existed, in a post 8th edition world in which only two multicolored, cards had been printed in over two years it meant that a new gold card frame had to be put in place for future sets, more, specifically, Ravnica. Introduced, the 10/2 color pairings, called guilds, that each had their own identity, and symbols to represent them the, problem was before Ravnica all gold, cards looked the exact same blue, black cards had the same frame as white green ones so, how do you differentiate between all the pairings, Erin, Forsythe went to the card frame for answers here, is coiling, oracle for example, the, signal that this creature belonged, to the Simic combine the, blue and green guild we, have to pay attention to the subtle treatment, of the pin lines and text box you'll, notice that the former slowly fades from green to blue along the edges which, was not the case for the two gold cards in Kanagawa block those. Had solid, gold pin lines the. Text box employs the same gradient, it, also incorporated, those redesigned, textures from eighth edition but. Faded them so that the card could still easily be read there's, that leafy green look on the left these, cards also introduced the technology, of a watermark, which reinforced, the cards color identity, and also, drove home the presence of the Guild's Forsythe. Himself, was not initially sold on this innovation, but, his mind changed after seeing the symbol glimmer on foil cards, to, recall our arguments, the, guild symbols as watermarks, were the perfect harmony of flavor and function, they, acted as an immersive device, in the world without interfering, with the performance, of the game Ravin, cos other multicolored, cards most notably the guild mages introduced. The hybrid mana symbols, but did not have a gold card frame instead. Their frame showed a gradient from one color to the other only seen before in the text boxes of dual lands this. Frame communicated, to players that although. The card was two colors it could still be played in decks that did not run both again. We find an example of R&D utilizing, card frame to inform gameplay, but, in a way that still created an immersive experience for, players who very much cared about the fantasy, and then, came the Time Spiral Bloc veterans. Of the game know that this block was far and beyond magics most complex, design experiment, in its history and, a portion of that complexity, was due to the premiere of new card frames, not.
Only Did Time Spiral resurrect, the old frames in order to invoke nostalgia. And a visit to Magic's past notably. Reprinting, a couple of invasions split cards in the process, the block also brought back white lettering on title and type lines for the first time since prior to 8th edition, foreplane, shifted, cards the, white text meant that the cards mechanic, was evocative, of an ability that typically sat outside its color identity, damnation. A black card for example recalled. Wrath of God a white card which, was mirrored in its artwork and, to make this white text pop these, two boxes were darkened, these plane shifted cards also played with new textures, in their text boxes and around, their card frames Reds, frame was a much sharper cracked, stone green's, text box resembled, the rings of a tree stump, recalling. The wooden panel from alpha and clouds. Could be seen beneath White's rules text I personally. Believe that these templates, are the game's most flavorful, modern, design and, I hope they become the default for future magic cards with, black text instead of white what, was theorized, though were the Future Sight frames remember. That failed 6th edition design it's. Safe to say that remnants of that philosophy, resurfaced, here most, notably in the placement of the mana cost catering. Again to right-handed tournament grinders the, symbols curbed downwards, along the left side of the card placed, into notches that fade behind the type line and text box the, collectors information, moved from the left to the right side the, expansion symbol, sat in its own bubble and the title box sported, an asymmetrical. Polygon, shape that ended with a small dot at its bottom right edge also. Reminiscent of the Odyssey era were, the new symbols, that popped up in the upper left hand corner, these. Never-before-seen. Symbols, correspond, to the card types so, that again players could assess the cards in their hand without pushing them to the front of their grip almost.
Every Detail of these frames were a departure from eighth edition but. Holistically, the Future Sight frames still matched the horizontal, tripartite, design of a typical magic card the, verticality, of the mana symbols just didn't work though reinforcing. My position that cards must, left to right top, to bottom this frame was radical, and of course, quote-unquote. Did not look like a magic heart it also possessed some significant, design flaws knowing. That I wanted to go this deep on card frames for this video I knew I had to seek insight, from someone who knows every, inch and layer of a magic card to the utmost degree so. I called up the proxy guy to chat about frames my, name is Josh I am better. Known on Twitter, as the proxy guy and I have been, playing. The game of magic since, 1995. Late 95 early 96, I started making proxies, pretty. Much as soon as that I started playing the game the Future Sight frame as is, I'm not a fan of because it doesn't pass what I've coined. The term for jenna test test if you, cannot make a progenitor, in a frame that you're creating because. It has ten mana symbols then it's a useless frame so in the Future Sight you only get like seven. I think on the original so it doesn't you can't put a progenitor in the original, frame future, site also explored, for the very first time outside of lands the potential, for full art spells with their cycle of vanilla creatures, the, extent to which this technology can be functional it's fully dependent, on the text that is omitted from the card frame though which, are indi learned with their magic player Awards promos, although. These cards push immersion, and flavor to their extreme, by leaving out the cards mechanics, entirely they've, proven to be more of a headache than they're worth over, time the biggest defender is cryptic, commands the, cards for modes are often confused or forgotten leading. To disputes, and tournament matches aesthetics. Here completely, out wave function, to the point of obsolescence, to. Mitigate this discrepancy game. Day promos now have the same full art treatment but, with an overlaid transparent, text box with white lettering this, is much more balanced, and functional, after shaking. The foundation, of Magic's visual design with future sites 10th, edition solidified. The change in policy I mentioned, earlier for the very first time a corset, would be printed with black borders which. Left the utility, of white borders in the past where they have stubbornly remained since at. This point in our history we. Are in the fall of 2007. And on the brink of the explosion, and potential for card frames released, at this time was lorwyn and with, it the debut of a new card frame this time on something called a Plains, although. This flashy new car type would deeply change the texture of gameplay, forever the visual design of planeswalkers, is pretty much congruent, with the 8th edition philosophy. It, follows that same three horizontal, bar design but. There are notable differences, found in the detailing of that skeleton, the, first heavily, prioritizes. The artwork both, the Johnny Gold Mane's title bar and type line are higher and lower than on the normal card respectively. Which, makes way for a bigger presence of his character, on the card his, axe also breaks the plane of the pin lines and his text box is much more transparent. Which allows viewers to see the entirety, of his body, secondly. The frame around his illustration, is curved drawing. Upon the space opened up by the Future Sight frame which, also gives more way for his artwork to shine finally. The black around his card border takes a gentle, curve roughly two-thirds the way down his text box this, gave much more room for the collectors information, to be clarified at the bottom which, will be very significant, to a later corsets, design.
Zendikar. Block drew heavy influence, from the planeswalker, design, as well as from the traditions, established in unglued, and unhinged to, invoke the adventure flavor of a plane with animated landscapes, rd, printed full art lands for the first time in an expansion, set these, full art lands hosted the same curved card frames seen on a Johnny to, open the viewer as much as possible to the illustrations, they, also experimented, with level up cards that mechanically, resembled, the three planeswalker abilities, like, loyalty counters, these, creatures acquire, level counters and become stronger, and their, card frame mimics their growth horizontal. Bars align with the three possible, levels and darken, and hue as they move downward, along the text box which also corresponds, to three possible, power and toughness iterations. The villains of the block giant. Lovecraftian, monsters, called Eldrazi employed, a transparent. Text box and border similar to those of Planeswalkers, to emphasize their huge size to. Reiterate it is around this time that R&D was exhibiting that flavor can inspire functional, card designs and they, were utilizing, the frames and borders to drive such a theory home in the next block scars of mirrored in for example the watermark, first used in Ravnica returned, to establish, the territorial, war between phyrexia, and Meriden every, card in this block belonged to one faction or the other and thus showed off their corresponding. Symbols in the, following block innistrad, R&D. Cranked up the exploratory. Design and card frames to push flavor and mechanics, into new territory what. Was tested with the Odyssey tombstone, was taken to the next level with the miracle mechanic, which, bravely pushed back against the philosophy, of a tradition, of unifying, the card frames to look fully cohesive, across a set these. Frames were loud and intentionally. So their, goal was to subconsciously, signal, to players that they were different from other cards, and thus, should be paid attention to while playing pulling. A miracle card off the top of your deck triggered a subset of game rules that were time sensitive, and the frame was the primary way to communicate such, an urgency, once, again flavor, was fully harmonious, with function, here perhaps, the most important, technology, developed in innistrad where the transformed, cards first, theorized back in the Odyssey block the, deep need to functionally, capture the visceral transformation. From human to werewolf was, only possible through this card frame design prior. To this set where, creatures could only show change from animal, to bloodthirsty, beasts via the threshold mechanic. But, that was simply not resonant, enough a communicative, device to match the horror trope that the block was heavily pushing, to, boot Wizards, knew that the kamigamo, flipped cards were a failure and that card frame did not provide enough space to accommodate, the worthiness of this tribe so. They had to go against all taboo, and print, a double-faced card as, well as modify the frame to signal this brand new mechanic, once, again the, upper left-hand corner was, a critical, piece of real estate to signal to players the card's abilities, here. The card title nudged over to make space for the symbol of a Sun which, was gently wrapped into the rest of the frame by those ever important spin lines we've analyzed multiple, times in this video since. These cards were first used primarily on creatures, the, text box broke near the bottom right of the card to display the other side's power and toughness for quick reference this. Same arrow showed up in the middle of the title bar on miracle, cards on the, flipside the Sun symbol became a moon and a new small dots and the type line signaled, the cards color identity, since, it lacked a mana cost to convey such information. As you. Can imagine R&D, was very hesitant to push the boundaries of tradition, and order sir. But, looking at the success of double-faced cards in their ancillary products, Duel Masters and developing. A card frame that could simplify gameplay, meant that the mold was primed to be broken once again just. Like watermarks, in full art lands flavor, and function on card frames was fully balanced, in innistrad which, opened up gigantic, potential, for design space and future sets a year, later the team returned to Ravnica and, resurrected, the same design philosophies, that made the first block were like a well-oiled machine, the.
Guild Symbols were sleekly updated, and displayed in the watermarks once again and split, cards incorporated, a new mechanic called fuse that, required an update to the now 12 year old frame to subtle changes took shape the, first was the addition of another type line that ran across the bottom which, described, the mechanic, and the second were the pinched edges between the two halves that sought, to signify that these spells could be merged into one upon casting the, design was fine and the block really just toyed with already-established tropes, without breaking into new space I personally. Think that split cards should be rotated, 90 degrees here's. An example that I asked the proxy guide to develop to, me they just read, better and feel less wonky, then. Theros, came along and built upon the niche carved out by the miracle, mechanic, with this starry card frame that differentiated, enchantment, creatures from normal cards this. Frame was a critical, turning point for the future of Magic's graphic design meant. That the fusion between mechanics. And card frames was here to stay and furthermore, gave R&D, more design space to work with in order to communicate gameplay, to the players where. Pin lines succeeded, in differentiating, gold cards in Ravnica the, miracle, and NYX borders proved that there were still areas to explore on the card frame twenty. Years of this tripartite, format, and suddenly, the space between the border and the illustration, became much more functional, whereas the Odyssey tombstone, and innistrad Sun, and Moon symbols required, their own space now, R&D. Could simply rework, the card frame itself to signal mechanics, to players with, this innovation, they hit the ground running but, before they could tinker with the top half of the card they. Needed to clean up the bottom cue. The magic 2015, corset. Just. After celebrating 20 years of production R&D felt a time to streamline, once again all, the information visible. On a default magic card for. The first time since the dramatic 8th edition alterations. The frames would be reimagined, to accommodate, printing technologies, and give the game a more distinct brand looking, at the before and after side by side you'll, notice that the departure was not very extreme, but. Of course like I've said many times now the, change brought forth the infamous, complaints of quote unquote this does not look like a magic card the, updates were overall very minor a new, IP specific. Font called blarin, that added just enough flair to the previously, utilized, matrix, bold a hollow, foil stamp on rares and mythix, fused along the bottom center, justified, to prove authenticity and, fight counterfeits, and a, more efficient organization, of the collectors information, which greatly helped card stores and bulk clickers alike even, the border was thinned by almost a millimeter, to compensate. For these inclusions, the same curve I highlighted, on a Johnny Goldman, was installed on every card type not just Planeswalkers, this. Was the most extreme aspect, of the m15, changes, and for, the proxy guy and many others it felt yet again like, the uniqueness between, cards was being ironed out in favor of uniformity. And I hated, that frame the first, day I saw it but it wasn't I didn't hate it because it was a change, I hated, it because I didn't like that they were making the planeswalker, frames less special, because. They've always had that kind of break at the bottom in the solid by bottom, of the card like, most of us though he, quickly came around after, playing with it and recreating it it's, the best frame they've ever done I mean, it's the ball close. That's. What a magic card in the modern world should look like they killed. It I love that frame with. Another obstacle successfully. Hurtled the five years following tharros and m15 opened up the card frame to even more experimental, designs, consider. This since, m15, every single expansion as well as a group of supplementary, products, have, incorporated, an alteration, or modification.
Of The default card frame into their design every. Single, one this, has never happened before, in the history of the game it, took almost ten years for the card frame to change at all and now, variants, of the frame have become a default design principle, for nearly every, set this. I believe is a critical Butz, delicate, aspect, to balance let's. Look at these now, conspiracy. A multiplayer, draft matter set utilize, the watermark, technology, to denote cards that affected drafting, it, also debuted, the new card type of the same name that transformed, the title and type lines into a scroll, and hosted. A semi-transparent, text, box to show off more art flavor, met function, in the frame yet again and was, taken a step further in the sequel set this. Time draft matters cards received an all new frame as well, as a watermark, to signal game mechanics, in the same way that miracles, and enchantment, creatures did meanwhile. The khans of tarkir block, pulled from the guild tropes of return to Ravnica and used, watermarks, to organize cards, into the 5-3. Color clans this. Block also experimented. With holographic, watermarks. That transformed, between the console and the dragon symbol depending. On the angle of observation as. Seen on the siege cycle, and my personal, favorite crux of faith magic. Origins brought back double faced cards, this, time to thematically, represent, the game's main characters, igniting, their spark and transforming. Into Planeswalkers, battle. For Zendikar we utilized the mostly transparent Eldrazi, card frame as well as introduced a flavorful pattern, for the devoid mechanic, to add some visual spice to colorless creatures, again. That small space between illustration. And border, is, being put to great use returning. To the plain of gothic, horror in the shadows over innistrad block, brought, back some fan favorite frames and pushed the boundaries of their potential, double-faced. Cards of course offered, premium, real estates and were, utilized not only on werewolves, but even on enchantments, and sorceries, to play with flavourful card, barnsey, took this to the extreme with meld creatures, which, hearkened back to the big furry monster from unglued and stretched, orders across two entire cards, kal adesh debuted, the vehicle creature type and with, it came a new card frame these, were not just artifacts, but a unique design that warranted, differentiation.
That. Frame space once again became critical, to communicate, this message at a quick glance almond. Cat the Egyptian world that inspired this video also. Revamped a former card frame to match game mechanics, the, aftermath split cards showed another attempt, at marrying flavor and function, and pushed, the design space just enough to warrant that same old reaction, of quote. Unquote this, is not a magic card this, design is flawed in its attempt to be both horizontal. And vertical on, each half but, still serves as an example of utility, and forming graphic design the, follow-up set exelon, merged. All of these mechanics together and pushed double-faced, cards even further heck, in this set you can find a vehicle transforming. Into a land both, representing, those new card frames and finally. In unstable, we, can find the ongoing attempt to push card frames further into new territory for, the first time in its history full. Art lands were printed, as exactly, that the. Basics in this set for wins borders altogether, and to, minimize the title line to its semi-transparent. Bare essentials. Contraptions. And hosts and augment creatures did the same thing and not only did watermarks, return to group cards into flavorful, factions, but, they also inspired, an entire sub, theme of the set that greatly affected gameplay, as the. Silver borders returned but, kept that curved black edge to prioritize, the established, collectors information, conventions, in shorts. The post m15, world has been far more exploratory. And inventive, with card frames than the changes seen in the 20 years prior combined, as a, result, game mechanics and design space have expanded, and flavor. Has been reinstated into, the card frame in much the same way that alpha utilized its potential, which. Brings us to right now let's. Talk about masterpieces. In. The midst of this card frame renaissance in the return to a fan-favorite plane and send a car wizards, through players another curveball, the introduction of the Zendikar expeditions, a premium. Series of 45, highly, sought after non-basic. Lands, were randomly inserted into booster packs at an extremely rare rate across the block and offered, a unique twist on what a magic card traditionally, looked like as, well as how it appeared in expansion products, although, they showed up in a standard legal set the, cards possess their own expansion, symbol, and were technically, considered stand-alone, promotions, and thus, were not playable, in the type to format, the, multi front success of the expedition, experiment, inspired Wizards, to repeat this design in the Calla desh block inaugurating.
The Masterpiece, series in the process, initially. Masterpieces. Were intended, to appear in every expansion, moving forward, but this proved to be an unsustainable, model due to the sheer density of cards in each installment, choosing. Upwards of 50 desirable, and powerful, cards from magics past per block meant that sooner, or later the, well would run dry, so, after only three blocks the policy, was changed, masterpieces, would only appear in certain sets where flavor and function would combine to generate a homerun series, of premium cards more. Than the high rarity, playability, or new arts I believe, that the masterpieces, fundamentally. Rely on their custom card frames to deliver their immersive experience, after. All reprints, often have new arts are, almost always accessible, in foil and appear. In either expansion. Or supplemental, sets and so, are playable across multiple formats. Obviously. These elements, are not exclusive, to one another the, most successful masterpieces, so far have been powerful cards with strong illustrations, and high reprint, value but, the prime factor, separating, these cards from any of their premium, or foil counterparts. Is found precisely, in the frames that surround them and I, needed to describe in such detail, and at such great length, the history of magic card frames in order, to drive this point home remember. The ongoing complaint corden quote this does not look like a magic card that. Reaction is intrinsically, tied to, moments of a change in card frame as you, may expect with. Each new unveiling, of these premium, cards some, players echoed, that same sentiment, so, let's take a look at each of the four frames used so far to analyze how flavor is distinctly, communicated. On these cards versus any of their former versions, to, note I am using the double land frame in my analysis, because. It was initially intended to be the exelon masterpiece, frame before, the plans were scrapped for that set up. First is the Zendikar expedition, the forerunner of the series this, frame is a hybrid between the full art lands from the same sets and the, game-day promo as I discussed earlier it, has an illustration box that curves at the top and squares out at the bottom and employs. The same he drawn texture, found on devoid cards except. It continues, throughout the rest of the frame in order, to display as much of the illustration, as possible, the type line was moved from the middle to the bottom and the text box was rendered semi-transparent. Although. They were marketed, as full art land's players, lamented, that the rules text took up too much space and prevented. That desired effect, overall. Though these, look and feel very much like a magic card and they, blew audiences, way this, frame worked the. Cal adesh inventions, overall, are, actually much more traditional masterpieces. Than the expedition's, save, the coloring and again the ever-important, card frame to convey the steampunk, world full of artifacts, and innovation, magic. Artists tylerjacobsen, partnered. With in-house graphic designer, liz leo and painted. The filigree to give these frames a handcrafted. Feel the. Copper treatment of both the title and type lines blended, seamlessly with, this intricate texturing. Which, elevated the art direction of the pieces cards. Like soul ring and mana crypt were certainly standouts, that exemplified, this harmony between frame and illustration, other, than these small aesthetic, modifications the. Frame itself is at its core in m15, design important. To note it has that same black border, surrounding it although. The goal of both of these masterpieces, was to incite immersion, into their respective worlds. Functionality. Was held at the priority, of their designs / mark rose waters article in 2003. When, flavor and function buttheads the, more flexible item needs to give in to the less flexible, function. Has much less flexibility, than flavor and flavor, is thus much more adaptable, this. Has been at the core of magics, design philosophy, for the greater half of its lifetime in, order for players to remain clear about what their fancy new cards did the, rules text was printed on the expedition lands, which, was a lesson our indie learned with the Texas promos, like cryptic command not, once were they seriously considering, Texas expeditions.
Even. If most players know by heart polluted, Delta's abilities, the, cards function still set the precedent, for the visual design the, same was true for the artifacts, in Cal adesh whose, experimentation. Existed, only in the frame and this. Brings us to mind twist and the, almond cat indications. Quote. Unquote this, does not look like a magic card but. Why. Fundamentally. It is because flavor for the first time since alpha, took, precedence, over function, I can safely say that these are far and beyond the most flavorful, cards, the game has ever printed, precisely. Because they ate away at the design space usually reserved for functionality. Every. Inch of this card face has been altered to cater to that ancient Egyptian, feel which, left no room to assure that the card could be playable in-game from. The proxy guys perspective when. You're looking at the card there's, too much vying for your for, your attention. But when you go to play it you're like what's the name of the card you have to kind of dig that out what's. The mana cost because, there's not colors. I have to find that what's. The card type that can be completely buried on. A creature where, is the power toughness, because they did that vertical, little piece on the side and it's difficult but. All of that combined, was, just almost, overwhelming. There was just too much going on and the, title bar alone we have six different border, layers starting, with a flashy golden, bar and ending, with a three-dimensional. Shadowed, slab that feeds into the illustration, beneath. That a pair of capitals, nestled, up to two thick side bars designed, to mimic stone columns, then. Another series of textured, layers building, the type line a huge, drop shadow commands, a fifth of the real estate in the text box which, itself sits between two more colored slabs embossed, with golden Biden's finally. Along the bottom is another panel for the collector's information, more, horns to house the authenticity stamp. And two, more layers of gold and adornment with drop shadows of their own the. Biggest strike against functionality. With these cards were the allege ability, of the title and type lines which, was an intentional, design decision, by R&D they. Wanted players to feel like they were reading ancient hieroglyphics. And to this point they succeeded. Again, the flavor took precedence, over clarity, of information. Secondly. The area designated for, the artwork was heavily shrunk to, accommodate, the three-dimensional, frame what, failed most and a lot of people will say you can't read them I can't. Comment, too much on that only because I've spent so much time staring at it that I don't have a problem seeing them anymore the, shrinking of the art was by far my least favorite aspect of it and finally. The text box has its own host of issues that still Acme despite my attitude, changing, about these cards over time the, font ear called Shengo gothic, is, supposed to resemble letters being carved into stone and thus, was kept in all caps for. Cards like counterspell the effect is bold and it works the text, is also centered justified, which, has only happened on a handful of cards with minimal amounts of rules text this, becomes a highly problematic, design decision, with modal cards like austere command, as you, can see here choose, to had to be lowered to respect, that gigantic, drop shadow which, quashed the four modes into a tiny space that, the lower bowl oz hornz impose, upon to look.
At Days and you'll find these capital, letters fight heavily, with the formatting, and barely fit between their shadows, but. Even cards like capsized, and diabolic, edict deserve at least a little personalized, attention to, their formatting, so, that the text on their bottom rows isn't heavily out balanced, by the ones above them, sacrifices. A creature should just absolutely. Be on its own line to, create that same balance, found on damnation, in, essence that same highly, tailored art direction, that blended the card frame and illustration, on the Cala - masterpieces. Should, have been employed here between the rules text and the font formatting, all, aesthetic, complaints aside though the, invitations, have grown on the player base and on me over time in spite of the initial backlash, their design was bold and pushed the card frame to unrecognizable. Extremes. However, holistically, they still obeyed the central tenets that make up a magic card they, can still be divided, like any other card into. The three horizontal sections. All, of the critical information that m15, prioritize, is still there even. If it is lost in the havoc adding. That same to millimetre black border could have certainly helped ground these designs a bit more - and we, can expect to see car frames explore this space further into the future especially. For the masterpiece, series the, precedent set by the invitations, was followed up by a treasure map style card frame that also dropped the traditional, title lines type lines and text boxes to, push the flavor of a world built around exploration. Once, again this frame prioritized, flavor but, still leveraged a baseline functionality. That was missing from the invitations, players. Came around quicker to these two despite. Out crying once again that these quote-unquote did not look like a magic card so. I would like to conclude this gigantic, video with one final thoughts on how to approach, any future, card frames that may break the mold established, by m15 and Pryor and to, do so I'm going back to a favorite film of mine Ferris, Bueller's Day Off if, you haven't seen it yet worry not there, won't be any big spoilers, in the, film one Center of great dramatic tension exists, between this character, Cameron, and his, mega strict dad who we never actually see on screen we. Know though that he loves this car more than anything else in the world including, according. To Cameron his own son, Ferris. Being the nonchalant, and reckless, friend he is decides. To take the car for a spin around Chicago. Critical. To this plot points, we learned that the car has virtually zero, miles on it which means that Cameron's dad has no actual interest in using this machine for its intended purpose it's. Just a trophy piece and, not a real means of transportation in, this. Example then the car is just a simulacrum of, a car it's, flashy but completely, dysfunctional the.
Allman Cat in vacations are the same thing despite. The fact that they can technically, be played index I treat, these cards the same way Cameron's, dad treats his Ferrari purely. As collectors, items that. Should be their purpose where. They fail entirely on functionality, they, greatly succeed, in delivering that immersive experience, that, pleasure that comes from owning a piece of treasure despite, it serving no really use we're, the expedition's, and masterpieces, found the balance between flavor, function, utility, and glamour akin. To a Lexus, or a Tesla, the, invocation should, be placed in a category, of their own like, a Ferrari in a showroom because, I sincerely believe we are going to continue to receive frames that may not necessarily match. Our established, expectations. Magic. After all is a game about change it's. Not-- this is Magic's 25th, year anniversary and, what, better way to shake the foundations like 8th edition did on their tenth birthday than. With the debut of new visual designs from. Mark Rose Waters drive to work podcast, number, 445. Matt, early, on we, very rarely added, new frames we're, a lot more willing now to use frame, changes a to. Either do things we couldn't do without them or be help. You communicate, what we're doing and make gameplay easier, for you there's, some future frame stuff that's really cool that I can't talk about yet cuz you guys don't know about it yet but there's some future frame stuff we are getting bolder. And bolder with what we're willing to try with the frame and it's really opening up a lot of cool design space now, the question is will, those frames be Tesla's, or Ferraris. Thanks. For watching. I'm. A proud partner of car kingdom used card Kingdom comm, slash studies to help support me and, maybe pick up some magic, products, like some cards with funky, frames from the Magic's. Past that'd, be awesome, thank you.