Ok, so during the original Mirrodin block their was 2 layers: the top and the second layer around the core. In Scars block, we hear it has 3 layers: Top, Furnace(repurposed second layer), and the Third layer made by drilling out the core.
Now this causes quite a conundrum because if the second layer is the furnace layer, where does this
It’s week four of my look at my favorite basic land art
for each type. This quest began with Plains, Islands, and Swamps, which means
today’s article is going to be about my top five favorite Mountains. I find
that Mountains have a similar problem as Swamps: much of the basic land art is
so generic and similar that many planes fail to create a Mountain identity. You’ll
see today how much I value Mountain art that can set a plane apart from others
#5: John Avon’s
We begin with one of the most dramatic interpretations of
Mountain-ness in the game. The basic land art of Time Spiral took plenty of liberties to convey the devastated
landscape of Dominaria. Grasslands can wither. Islands erode into the sea.
Swamps are tainted by Phyrexian oil. Forests die and decay. But how do you go
about showing post-apocalyptic Mountains? Aren’t they the steadfast formations
that are supposed to survive anything? Apparently not.
In order to show that even the Mountains were dying, we see
these eroded spires of rock instead of your basic, everyday mountain. It’s as
if the mountains themselves are starving, emaciated from the lack of mana on
the plane. It isn’t just the people who are struggling to survive, it’s the
very land itself.
What I love about Avon’s piece is that it places us right
in this forest of mountains. They don’t even tower miles above the land
anymore. We can walk through them like ants in blades of grass. They’re so
small and so unstable that we, mere humans, might even be able to push them
over. Dominaria is so blasted to hell that it crumbles at the tough of mortals.
The parallel vertical orientation of these spires helps
sell death in a few ways. First, it creates a static image void of life.
Dominaria is simply done living, done moving, finished with a dynamic history
that shaped the Multiverse. Second, these spires break the image up into
segments. Dominaria,and time itself, is literally falling apart. The pieces can’t
be put back together again, at least not totally. This art mimics this decay.
Finally, the foreground spire extends out of our vision almost like a cage or
jail cell. If the time rifts aren’t fixed, all life will die in the prison that
#4: Titus Lunter’s
I like volcano art. There, I said it. More basic Mountain
art should feature volcanos. The caveat, however, is that they can’t just be
boring volcanos like many lands have boring mountains. Volcanos have to mean
something, like the one on Lunter’s art for the Atarka Mountain in Dragons of Tarkir.
Qal Sisma is a rugged region of Tarkir that it usually
frozen. At least that’s how it was portrayed for the entirety of the block so
far. Then we get to Sarkhan’s reforged Tarkir, a world of Dragonlords. Atarka
herself has dwelled in the frozen tundra of Qal Sisma for over a millennium
now. How has that changed the frigid wasteland we once knew?
A lot, apparently. Volcanos are generally representative
of the raw power of nature. They explode with forces great than nuclear bombs
and are the dominant geological force in their regions. You know, like the
dragons of the Atarka brood. And what happens when you heat up ice? It cracks.
Project that on a geographic scale and you get this land. That Mountain is
literally fractured by volcanic forces, the fires of the Atarka melting through
the glacial landscape. If volcanos are the standard for the mighty power of
nature, what does that say about the dragons that can crack them in half?
There’s a lot of cool things happening in this piece as
well, especially with color. High contrast pieces will be a recurring theme
whenever I talk about Magic art I
enjoy, and this one makes it easy. It doesn’t get any more contrasting than
black and white, the colors most prominently featured here. The white snow (or
is it ash?) plasters the side of the mountain, as the blackened, charred rocks
erupt with glowing lava. Bright color is another recurring theme, and vivid
lava flows highlight the shape of this scene’s geography. Steam mixes with soot
as opposite ends of nature’s spectrum of power clash in a wild and unrelenting
Jedruszek’s Red Sun of New Phyrexia
I’ve previously talked about the way New Phyrexia’s basic lands show the fully corrupted versions of
Mirrodin’s landmarks. One of my favorite versions of this metamorphosis
involves Kuldotha, depicted on the art of Great Furnace. Kuldotha is the
central forge of Mirrodin’s goblins, a fountain of molten metal and location of
the red lacuna that ejected the plane’s red sun into the sky.
Jedruszek’s Mountain is pretty much a total recreation of
the Great Furnace art (One of each of the New
Phyrexia basic lands recreates the matching artifact land, in fact.) This
is great, as it gives us a way to directly compare the before-and-after of
Mirrodin-to-New Phyrexia. In fact, let’s put the cards next to each other:
Two objects prominently play into these images: Kuldotha
and Sky Tyrant, the plane’s red satellite. The sun/moon is actually a burning
globe of raw mana. In the Great Furnace art, we see it up in the sky casting a
soft orange light on the rusted landscape. But in the New Phyrexian slice of
life, this sun is larger and lower on the horizon. It’s much closer to the
ground, scouring the landscape with burning heat. It looks more molten,
reminiscent of the Planechase art
for The Fourth Sphere. The satellite has even hopped over to the other side of
Kuldotha, signifying a changing of the guard, so to speak. Mirrodin is no more.
We New Phyrexia now.
Kuldotha itself has also vastly changed. What used to be
controlled flows of molten metal are now gaping holes that lead into the plane’s
furnace layer. The grime of industry cakes the scorched land, twisted metal
spires mimicking the spindles that decorate Phyrexia’s inhabitants. The Great
Furnace is almost totally blackened with death, necrotic with the cancer from
#2: John Avon’s
Of course, I’ve always been fond of Mirrodin’s lands.
John Avon makes a return to this list for a Mountain from the original Mirrodin set. Another common trait I
enjoy on my basic lands is a strong sense of depth. This piece achieves that by
placing some in-focus spires on the edges of the foreground and hazier
mountains in the background. We even have details in the far-away sky to
complete the ecosystem. Are they chemtrails? Probably not. Mirrodin’s dragons
use jet propulsion to fly, so those are likely just regular, normal vapor
trails that won’t alter your DNA or control your brain.
I think what I find most intriguing is the light source
in this piece. The farther down we look on these mountains, the brighter they
get. We also know the light is coming from beyond our location since it’s not
lighting the mountain right next to us. What’s down there? Is there a river of
molten metal eroding a canyon in these rusty hills? Maybe there’s a chasm that’s
opened up over a volcanic pit. We can’t be certain what it is, which gives this
piece a sense of mystery.
Even more subtle, however, is the chance that this land
is foreshadowing New Phyrexia. After all, the contagion came from within
Mirrodin, eating its way out from the core. Does the light draw our eyes down
to warn us to beware what’s beneath? Intentional or not, it taints the sense of
mystery with a dangerous vibe now that we know what Mirrodin has become. This
is intertextuality at work, altering the perception of older art through the
lens of newer art.
I’m not alone in liking Meignaud’s inclusion in Zendikar’s
full-art cycle of Mountains. From what I’ve seen it’s regarded as one of the
best pieces in the entire basic land pantheon. I guess people just like Stargate.
What really draws me to this piece, my second favorite of
hers after her Island, is the way shapes are used outside of their normal
environments. Mountains are generally thought of as rugged, angular landscapes.
They’re even shaped like giant triangles! Meignaud decided that this part of
Zendikar would buck the trend, so she put a circle on top of a mountain
instead. We’re looking at it from the side, which also gives depth to this odd
geometry. I think the reason I love the Zendikar lands in general is that they
visually play with geometry and geography in such abstract, yet simple, ways.
As always, color is an important factor in my favorite Magic art. Meignaud is one of the best
when it comes to incorporating a vivid spectrum into fantasy art. She’s so good
at it, in fact, that this Mountain is one of her blander pieces in this regard.
Reds and oranges are predominant through the whole piece, with blues and
purples only really dwelling in the shadows. Those colors are still there,
however, and partner with muted whites to break up the rusty colors of the
slopes. I like how Meignaud’s use of color plays into Zendikar as a mana-rich
plane. We don’t always know where the color or light is coming from; it just
sort of manifests as an ethereal part of the landscape.
Mountains out of
Many Mountains have pretty standard art, showing one peak
against the sky. But when it comes to my favorite Mountains, I prefer the ones
that signal unique locations and bizarre twists on what being a Mountain means.
As always, I’m also drawn to basic lands that reflect the mood of the plane
they represent. With four basic land types down, the final part of this series
will look at my favorite Forests.
Until then, planeswalkers, may your aspirations take you
to heights above the tallest mountain.