It’s no secret that the Magic universe experienced its own version of Avengers: Endgame earlier this year.
As New Phyrexia (home to race of biomechanical villains who seek to enslave the Multiverse) mounted its invasion, heroes from across Magic’s various planes rose up in defence of their homes.
While the invasion was explored and concluded in the March of the Machine (MoM) set, as well as March of the Machine: The Aftermath, the scars of the invasion are still visible in Magic’s latest set Wilds of Eldraine (WoE).
Eldraine is a world inspired by Arthurian legend and European fairy tales, and WoE is the first core set to be released since the Phyrexian invasion was resolved.
Though the story focuses on The Wicked Slumber curse afflicting Eldraine and the conflict between the Kenrith siblings, it doesn’t mean Magic is ignoring the invasion completely.
At the Artist Summit for WoE held virtually on 1 Sept, Deborah Garcia, an art director from Magic’s publisher Wizards of the Coast, said that continuity was observed when they were designing the art and they made note of what happened to Eldraine in March of the Machines.
“For example, showing Castle Ardenvale in ruins or Knights that have lost their kingdom and now roam the realms and the wilds,” she pointed out.
“The Wicked Slumber was a huge event that started during MoM and continues throughout in WoE, so making sure to design visuals during the concept and place them strategically throughout the card set helps connect WoE to the Phyrexian invasion.”
Changes to the land reflected in Magic's artwork
For the uninitiated, Castle Ardenvale was home to the Kenriths, a royal family in Eldraine. High King Algenus Kenrith was the patriarch who ruled alongside his wife Queen Linden Kenrith.
Unfortunately, both of them perished in the invasion, leading to a rift between their twin children Will and Rowan and that serves as the vehicle for WoE’s story.
Garcia added that physical changes to the land as a result of the invasion are also reflected in the art.
“There's the appearance of the Tanglespan, which divides the realms and the wilds. So, you'll see a lot of dangerous environments that are now choked by thorny vines and plants,” she said, adding that there are “smaller-scale remnants” of the invasion in the form of Nightmare creatures who take the form of Phyrexians.
Though the imagery might evoke a sense of dark fantasy, Garcia doesn’t want to “frame it that way”.
She explained, “It has many elements of dark fantasy that are integrated throughout the set, but its central story and theme is an adventure tale through the lens of a new character that both leans into storybook and fairy tale nature that Eldraine players really love.”
When it came to some of the inspirations for the art of WoE, one of its illustrators, Magali Villenueve shared that they had the first Eldraine set as a reference, which helped in understanding what WoE was going to be about.
However, the artists had to add a darker touch to their work this time, and Villenueve felt that the set was “pretty close to references I already had when I was a child”.
She shared, “I remember I had this fairy tale illustrated book of the Andersen tales. And I remember that it was illustrated in a really peculiar way that it really didn't look like a children’s book at all. It had such a darker approach than what you could expect from a fairy tale.
“But it really left an impact on me and probably on the way I always imagined a fairy tale would look like and I put a good deal of that into Eldraine to be honest.”
Some of the cards Villenueve illustrated are Rowan, Scion of War and Eriette of the Charmed Apple, and you can try getting your hands on them now as Wilds of Eldraine products are available at your local game stores or Shopee.