When Wizards of the Coast released March of the Machine, they stuffed it full of different alternative art styles, more than we’ve ever seen in one go before. Each major plane featured in the MTG set had its own style – some returning from previous releases, and some made up on the spot. Now, data MTG blogger Cardboard by the Numbers (CBTN) has managed to rank these styles, based on how much the Magic: The Gathering community desires them.
Their method involved both an opinion poll, and comparing the card prices of the special art styles to the regular versions of cards. Usually, you’d expect a unique art style to make a card more valuable, but for Tarkir, Ixalan, and Phyrexia, the regular version is actually worth the most money, suggesting their card variants were not well-liked.
In terms of what makes these art styles unpopular – how recognisable the creature is seems to play a large part in determining cost. We noticed earlier that MTG fans didn’t seem to think much of the gold coin dinosaur cards, but they also don’t like Phyrexia and Tarkir, perhaps because of the black and white aspect of these cards. We’ve also just had a bunch of ‘ink wash’ cards in Phyrexia: All Will Be One, so it may be the case that players have had their fill of the style. Some are becoming quite hard to tell apart.
Amonkhet is an interesting case, and it’s worth bearing in mind that there’s less data to go off here, with only the one card using the unique art style. The new style is a more readable version of the much-maligned invocations, from original Amonkhet block, but it seems like players may have bounced off this version too.
As for the most beloved art styles, Eldraine’s fairytale look comes top (good news for Wilds of Eldraine?), followed by the rune-bordered metal style from Kaldheim. It’s followed closely by the abstract-looking art from Strixhaven/Arcovios, which was previously used in the Mystical Archive spells.
You can read more about Cardboard by the Numbers’ methodology and analysis on their blog. They’re pretty new to the scene, having only begun posting in February this year, but are also making a name for themselves with awesome data analysis.