The Art of Magic the Gathering: Zendikar (review)

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There are many reasons to play Magic the Gathering: The challenging and balanced gameplay, the social aspect of going to the card shops or playing with your friends, and undeniably the stunning artwork and lore. Many times I will be playing Magic with a group of friends and an outsider will walk over to see what we are doing. More often than not they will express no interest in actually learning the game, but instead they will gush about how amazing the cards look and then proceed to tell us all about an old college roommate of theirs who played dungeons and dragons. While MTG is not quite everyone’s cup of tea, the one part of the game that is universal is the stunning artwork. From mythic rare cards to basic lands, the art direction and attention to detail in the aesthetics of this game are on a level of their own. Enter a pretty sweet new product from Wizards of the Coast, a coffee table style artbook, The Art of Magic the Gathering: Zendikar.

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Zendikar is a Magic the Gathering fan-favorite location, and it’s not without good reason. There is a stigma that the artwork from the Zendikar plane has always been accentuated a little more than other planes, as indicated by their special treatment of even the Basic lands. The art of basic land cards in all other sets only takes up about a quarter of the entire card, while in Zendikar fans are treated to the stunning ‘Full Art Lands’ that take up about 80% of the playing card.

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From cover to cover this book is absolutely loaded with gorgeous art and history from the plane of Zendikar from the original release in 2009, up to the current sets of Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch. While I love the game of MTG, the original Zendikar set is when I really started playing the game seriously. For me the game comes first and the lore has always come secondary. Reading the novels was never a huge priority, because it had no real effect on wins and losses and because reading novels has just never really been my thing.

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The Art of Magic the Gathering: Zendikar is far from just a bunch of pretty pictures, it is more of a handbook for all things Zendikar. Along with the photos are descriptions and stories about the different inhabitants, creatures, and locales. The author of the book is James Wyatt, Senior Game designer on the creative team over at Wizards of the Coast, who has many popular novels and sourcebooks under his belt. The full sized imagery of the artwork is so captivating, that you are just naturally compelled to read the excerpts of continuity and more importantly you can peruse the pages and read the lore at any pace you want in almost any order you want. I’ve gotten myself lost in this book multiple times by randomly skimming the pages until I find a piece of art that I like, proceeding to read the excerpt and then going back through and tying it to things I saw earlier.

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This book has been on my coffee table for a solid two weeks now, and guests in my home have not been able to resist picking it up and talking about the striking imagery of the book. The enlarged versions of the fearsome Eldrazi creatures in particular get much of the attention and praise. Friends of mine who are into tabletop role-playing games have even mentioned the thought of picking this book up as an RPG campaign book. From casuals to hardcores, this book will magnetize itself to your hands. Thankfully this is not just a one-off book either and fans can expect another similar book to launch later this year that will take place in the visually menacing plane of Innistrad. This is a much welcomed new product available to MTG players of all skill levels at an extremely reasonable price. For what it is, I was hard pressed to find any negatives with this product. I would safley recommend this one as a must have for Magic lovers.

Rating: 5/5 Atoms

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Cory Vincent
Cory Vincent 434 posts

Forged in the crucible of awkwardness and self loathing, Cory somehow manages to get himself out of bed each day and make it a priority to spend life killing Beef and going H.A.M.