Good morning folks, and welcome back to the Mirror Gallery here on Hipsters of the Coast! I hope this article finds you and yours well at the onset of this autumnal season. Today’s article will be a bit of a Frankenstein’s Monster, as we stand on the precipice of yet another preview season for Magic: The Gathering, and following one haymaker of a stream Tuesday morning. We won’t talk too much about the 30th Anniversary just yet, only because I’m still playing catch-up from last month!

Magic’s two most recent releases, Unfinity and Warhammer 40,000 Commander were both delayed products; Unfinity from April 1, 2022 and Warhammer 40K from late summer, and basically shared back-to-back preview seasons during the month of September. Warhammer 40K ran from September 12-16 and Unfinity from the 20th to the 26th, which is not a lot of breathing room, especially considering Dominaria United was only the middle of August.  If you add in the most recent Alchemy: Dominaria reveals from September 29th to October 2nd, PLUS announcements from October 4th, AND the Brothers’ War First Look from last week, that is a whole lot of art in the span of only one of my regularly scheduled articles.

As such, today will serve as an art-laden fast forward, Grand Art Tour style, to try and get our heads wrapped around everything we’ve seen so far this Fall. It’s a little of this and a little of that, so let’s get started.

Warhammer 40,000 Commander

Abbadon the Despoiler by Johan Grenier. Digital.

Long ago (I’m talking 2011/12), I took a swing at building and playing Warhammer 40,000. Several years later in 2015, my friends and I took the full deep dive into the newly forged Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, a game I very much enjoyed until the first rules update, when we inevitably exchanged time building and painting miniatures for more Magic. The lore of Games Workshop, Warhammer’s parent company, runs deep and is wildly interesting, from the Space Marines that have marched their way into popular culture to some of the more obscure flavors and factions we see across the far-future setting of the game.

These veins have been tapped for Magic: The Gathering as a part of their Universes Beyond release, and this set in particular is one I’m very excited to play with. It’s not just because I’m familiar with the property, but because the theming of these decks, and those artists called in for the artwork, have blended together exactly what Warhammer 40K x MTG should look like. While many of the included cards have an artist credit that reads just Games Workshop (unfortunately something that they’ve always done at GW), some artists really took this opportunity to show off their skills and shine.

The release focuses on four different armies: The Imperium, Necrons, Tyranids, and Ruinous Powers, and each has its own cadre of can’t-miss-it artwork.

Birth of the Imperium by Zezhou Chen. Digital.

The Imperium is the overarching political entity that governs the human race across the galaxy. They’re the “good guys” so to speak, and often depicted as seen above. This work, Birth of the Imperium by Zezhou Chen, is utterly unreal. Chen’s capture and control of lighting has always been top notch, but this is next level. If this artwork doesn’t show up in the end of the year awards discussions, I’ll be surely shocked.

Fighting against the Imperium are the Ruinous Powers, the Daemons and forces of Chaos that crash forward from the Warp and spill out across space in search of world domination. All four Greater Daemons: Khorne, Tzeentch (my personal army), Slaanesh, and Nurgle make an appearance, but I have to say the works depicting the legendary Great Unclean One by Helge C.Balzer are just disgustingly beautiful.

Great Unclean One by Helge C. Balzer. Digital.

Whether in miniature model or Magic: The Gathering artwork, Papa Nurgle has always been known for its oozy details and perfect pestilence, and Balzer has left no pore unexplored.

The other two armies, the Necrons and Tyranids, fall somewhere in-between these two ends of the spectrum. The Necrons, an alien species of tomb-bound skeletal warriors laden with technology, are infamous for their vehicles, thus come screaming into battle.

Night Scythe by Calder Moore. Digital.

Cards like Night Scythe allow you to play the army in Magic as you would in 40K, and envision your Necrons kiting over mountainside, a scenario we see artist Calder Moore so effortlessly capture.

And last but not least is the Tyranid Swarm, a writhing mass of insect-like aliens that consume everything in their path. A plethora of species are represented within the deck, each a little different than the last; but various other depictions, like Bone Sabres by David Auden Nash, really show the danger and fury found within this faction. I love this perspective; the last thing you see.

Bone Sabres by David Auden Nash. Digital.

The Commander decks feature nearly 250 new pieces of artwork that bring Warhammer 40K firmly into the Magic multiverse, and my only wish is that I had more of a chance to study it. There are still a handful of Warhammer-related Secret Lair Drops yet to come, and hopefully I can revisit the entire release sometime later this year.


Myra the Magnificent by Eric Wilkerson. Traditional.

Come one, come all, and witness that which is Magic’s fourth Un-set! Unfinity was originally slated for April 1, 2022, which would have been more than fitting, but ongoing global delays related to the pandemic and otherwise pushed it to the Fall (oddly enough where both Unglued and Unhinged came out years ago). This is really Magic’s first foray into space, and at the same time brings in subthemes of carnival and circus along with a whole lot of Magic-adjacent puns mixed in. From the brilliant new characters brought to life, like Myra the Magnificent by Eric Wilkerson seen above to the punny Planeswalker Space Beleren

Space Beleren by Tyler Jacobson. Traditional.

To a riff on Gary, the Gray Merchant of Asphodel, now the Gray Merchant of Alphabet (peep the letters on the coins) by Yangtian Li

Gray Merchant of Alphabet by Yangtian Li. Digital.

This set is home to some seriously stellar pieces of work, strange as they may be. These artists are some of the best in the business, whether they’ve been with Magic for years or are just starting out, and regardless of subject and genre, if this set doesn’t prove that I don’t know what will.

Unfinity also has its own 30 card Showcase, exploding in a retro-pop style from three different artists. While exploring this new set I discovered the work of Stephanie Buscema and was blown away.

Vorthos, Steward of Myth by Stephanie Buscema. Traditional.

Buscema works traditionally in gouache and watercolor on paper, infusing a bit of pop art and a dash of Mary Blair to this set by way of paint and brush. You can see more of her work here, and with five cards in the set, I really hope this is not the last we see of her.

Before we close out this section, Unfinity also plays host to the return of the Un-Master, Ralph Horsley, who has an unsurpassed and insurmountable fourteen pieces in the set. Perhaps best known for his 9-Piece Contraption in Unstable, he’s brought back all the whimsy and wonder in his portfolio for a crescendo of craziness in this newest iteration.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A sample of some of Ralph Horsley’s Unfinity work. All traditional.

Ralph’s style and imagination really makes these Un-sets sing, and they would not be the same without his additions. If ever there will be a fifth Un-set, I think we know who will be a core component once again.

And for those curious, yes, Unfinity does autocorrect to Infinity. Every. Single. Time.

The Brother’s War

While we’ll have to wait until the Magic 30 The Brother’s War Preview Panel for too much more, there has already been quite the smattering of BRO previews over the last few weeks. Before we wrap up, I want to show off two groups of artwork. The first is this pseudo-triptych of Urza by Ryan Pancoast

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Pancoast tells the story of Urza in three parts as only his artistic talents could. He’s one of the very best working in the game today, and these three works are simply a stellar showcase of those storytelling talents. We see this legend of the game transform before our very eyes.

The other early preview we’ve seen are the full-art showcase “mech” basic lands, featuring the hulking weapons of war from the conflict between brothers.

Image from Reddit.

Island by Robin Olausson. Digital.

So far the only full artwork that’s been posted by the artist’s is this Island by Robin Olausson. I do love me some big robotos, so I can’t wait to see them all march into battle over the next few weeks. These few cards are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, so stay tuned for more as this story unfolds.

Wrapping Up

I’m glad I took this opportunity to try and get caught up on this last month that was, and all the new art we’ve seen. After what was a nice break through the summer, it seems the preview pace and picked up double time to try and compensate. I’m still perpetually excited about all that Magic has to offer both now and in the future, but it is challenging to stay tuned in to the degree to write currently and coherently even every two weeks.

Looking ahead, I’ll be out at Magic 30 in Las Vegas from late Thursday evening through Monday covering the event for Hipsters, so stay tuned right here for all the exciting events that will be happening over those few days. If you’re headed there as well make sure to give me a shout, and we’ll jam a Commander game or grab a coffee.

Remember, to see original #mtgart and other #vorthos related things, follow me on Twitter. Feel free to ask questions or retweet to continue the conversation. Thanks and see you next time!

Donny Caltrider has been playing Magic since 2002 and collecting original Magic art since 2017. He has an M.A. in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and enjoys telling stories about art, objects, and the intersection of fantasy with real-life. You can find him on Twitter talking about #mtgart, museums, and other #vorthos related goodness. Follow along and continue the conversation!

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.