Good morning friends, and thanks for tuning back into Hipsters of the Coast for another glorious Grand Art Tour, this time looking at all the ins and outs of the latest release, March of the Machine! 339 new pieces of artwork appear in the March of the Machine regular set, plus 91 more in the March of the Machine Commander specific product (including Planechase cards). Then, another 65 arrive in the Multiverse Legends Showcase. It’s close to 500 new pieces of art, perhaps the most we’ve ever seen for a combination release. For the sake of brevity and word count, we’ll be touring my ten favorites out of the regular set and non-Planeschase Commander cards, leaving the oversized and Multiverse Legends showcase pieces for another time.

This sheer volume, even with whittling it down, has made this particular edition of the Grand Art Tour especially challenging. It’s only made easier by a handful of very clear windmill-slam choices I simply had to talk about.  

As a reminder, if you’re new to the Grand Art Tour series, it’s my regular review column begun back in 2019 and inspired by New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz’s 2010 article entitled A Grand Tour. It is my regular highlight reel of exceptional paintings in a given set. It showcases, through a critical eye, those works which stand apart and best tell the story of the game.

This is the March of the Machine Grand Art Tour.

Storm the Seedcore by Jason Rainville. Digital

Storm the Seedcore by Jason Rainville

Once a year or so an artwork is released which makes you stop dead in your tracks. Supreme in storytelling and expertly rendered, Storm the Seedcore stands atop this set as a masterwork of the Mirran sacrifice during this Phyrexian invasion. Many online called it a “Wrennaissance” painting, but in truth it’s a beautiful blend of styles and inspirations from across time and history. Rainville detailed his entire process step-by-step on one of his legendary Twitter threads. The resulting artwork is one which exists as if it was painted in-world, commissioned by someone to commemorate what happened. It’s museum quality work in both our world and theirs, and for the first time in my five years of writing, I don’t feel as if I can accurately describe what a triumph this is.

I don’t often use the term “best”, but I will here. This is not only the best of the set but likely the entire year, and goes on the shortlist for the Top Ten Magic: The Gathering artworks of all time. Yes, it’s that good.

Ghalta and Mavren by Jody Clark. Digital.

Ghalta and Mavren by Jody Clark

Jody Clark debuted during Dominaria United with four stained glass showcase cards, but his true talents lie in what we see here: coins and medals. Clark is a former engraver of the Royal Mint who designed the fifth and final portrait of Queen Elizabeth II; a pretty big deal! What he’s created for Magic is the fantasy equal; something which could exist in the world of Ixalan as if it were real. Ghalta and Mavren as presented is a commemoration of this tag-team, realistically realized in style and material, even down to the tiniest included details and purposeful omissions. It’s imaginative realism at its best.

You can read more about the artist, his craft, and everything I’ve mentioned in Ghalta and Mavren (and the Money Man Who Made Them) by John Dale Beety, right here on Hipsters of the Coast. Again I feign the use of the term best, but it’s the best Vorthos article you’ll read this year.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Island #285 and Forest #291 by Henry Peters

Henry Peters started with Magic for the Universes Beyond: Warhammer 40,000 release, and he’s stayed on to continue bringing us brilliant landscapes across the Multiverse. I’ll always be a sucker for a good basic land, and Peters has delivered a mix of classical romanticism with the impending Phyrexian invasion, blending both old and new to create equally breathtaking and terrifying vistas. The waterfalls of the Island are magnificent, and the trees of the Forest  deliciously painterly; I can’t wait to hopefully see more from Peters in the future. 

Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering by Chase Stone. Digital.

Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering by Chase Stone

I’m still trying to get my arms around Chase Stone’s efforts in hyper-realism, and the incredible miniature-esque artworks he’s been creating. For the reimagining of Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering, the artist tells one of the tales at the center of this entire story arc, in perhaps the most ghastly and poignant way I’ve ever seen. It’s otherworldly and awesome, and a perfectly fitting revisitation for the larger narrative at hand.

Tribute to the World Tree by Kristina Carroll, oils on cradled board, 16” x 20”

Tribute to the World Tree by Kristina Carroll

This is Kristina Carroll’s second card for Magic, and boy does she tug on our heartstrings. Tribute to the World Tree pays homage to what was the center of Kaldheim, and the same would seek to become the Multiverse’s undoing. Esika, God of the Tree, is shown as tears stream down her face, and her somber refute of the glistening evil is one of many heroic example found within this set. Carroll has captured all of the feeling and emotion of love and loss into this single pseudo-portrait. It’s a fabulous piece of art.

Quintorius, Loremaster by Justin & Alexis Hernandez. Digital.

Quintorius, Loremaster by Justin & Alexis Hernandez

The husband and wife team of Justin & Alexis Hernandez have reimagined everyone’s favorite Strixhaven pachyderm Quintorius, now known as Quintorius, Loremaster. I absolutely adore the composition they’ve created. He stands defiant amongst the crash of Realmbreaker branches, and our eye is drawn directly into the action. It is colorful, graphic, and dynamic, and a brilliant representation of the Mystical Archives, which is where they began with Magic, for March of the Machine

When I spoke to Justin at MagicCon Philadelphia, he mentioned as we were leaving one night: “How lucky am I to get to make art with my best friend everyday?” And you can absolutely feel it in this, and every one of their artworks.

Etali, Primal Conqueror by Ryan Pancoast, oil on linen mounted to aluminum board, 18” x 24”

Etali, Primal Conqueror by Ryan Pancoast

Dinosaurs are not new to Magic, and of course have been more prolific since the inception of Ixalan back in 2017. However, it’s not often we see the mega-beasts of the world depicted in paleoart style, as Pancoast presents Etali, Primal Conqueror for March of the Machine. This painting is yet another example of a piece of artwork which could have been found hanging in a hall or museum on Ixalan, harkening back to the early days before the opening of the Golden City of Orazca. Sometimes you just need a dinosaur leaned way into the realism side of things, and it’s exactly what Pancoast delivered. 

Swamp by Ray Bonilla. Traditional.

Swamp #286 by Ray Bonilla

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty was one of the most popular sets in recent memory, largely due to the incredible reimagining of the plane for a new age. I explored some of these ideas in last year’s Kamigawa 4D, and it’s very much the landscapes, like this new Swamp  by Ray Bonilla, which make Kaimgawa so resonant. The purples and pink and the neon glow are ever-present, but the darkness on the fringes and immense sense of scale drive home the feeling of impending uneasiness lying beneath the surface. It showcases all that is Kamigawa and all that is to come, wrapped up in an excitingly alluring basic land.

Mistmeadow Vanisher by Iris Compiet, watercolor, acrylic, and pencil on watercolor paper, 14.96” x 10.63”

Mistmeadow Vanisher by Iris Compiet

Iris Compiet is back after nearly a year since a new card has been printed on paper, and Mistmeadow Vanquisher is everything I love about her artwork. Having her illustrate a character set on Lorwyn/Shadowmoor is a dream come true for an art nerd like me. She’s perfectly captured the wonderful weirdness of the kithkin, their magic, and the fairytale stories which exist on this plane. 10/10, I should have bought the painting.

Moment of Truth by Rovina Cai. Digital.

Moment of Truth by Rovina Cai

Moment of Truthwas revealed as part of a panel at MagicCon Philadelphia, and looking back, was an unbelievable piece of foreshadowing. Rovina Cai, known for her “poetic imagery and swishy lines” as she calls it, captures Elspeth standing on the edge of what’s next, the  “deep breath before the plunge” so to speak, as she walks through the literal doorway of the Blind Eternities. Those foreground feathers felt like just another aesthetic detail would turn out to be much more, and this card is the perfect high note of hope to end on for today.

Wrapping Up

Hundreds of new artworks spread across scores of artists on dozens of planes is a stylistic feat, there is no denying that. To tell a singular, cohesive story with a recognizable vision, even with all those cooks in the kitchen, is monumental. This set has produced one of the best stories (by K. Aresenault Rivera) and pieces of Magic art (Storm the Seedcore by Jason Rainville) we’ve seen, and plenty more highlights and career-bests that will be remembered and talked about for quite some time. 

Looking into the future, MagicCon Minneapolis is right on the doorstep in about two weeks, and I’ll be there for the duration behind the booth with Justine Jones once again! Please make sure to pop by and say hello, and maybe we can jam a game after the hall closes. I absolutely love these big events, and can’t wait to see you all there. 

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 (he/him) is a Senior Writer at Hipsters of Coast writing about all things related to the art of Magic: The Gathering and the larger imaginative realism genre. 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. When he’s not writing for Hipsters or working with artists, you can find him traveling with his wife, petting his two cats, and watching the Baltimore Orioles.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.