Duskmourn art by Chris Rallis
2, Jul, 24

MTG Players Divided Over Duskmourn’s Modern Horror Aesthetic!

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Article at a Glance

The MTG discourse machine is truly relentless. Nary a new card can escape being scrutinized within an inch of its life. For the entire Duskmourn: House of Horror set, it appears this scrutiny has been turned up to 11. You’d better believe whole reams of digital ink will be spilled attacking or defending it.

Following the set’s recent debut at MagicCon: Amsterdam, people can’t stop talking about Duskmourn: House of Horror. While the cards look great, the community in general seems torn on whether they like it or not. Are the horror aesthetics of Duskmourn too modern for Magic? Is the set pushing things a bit too far? It seems some MTG players certainly think so.

Ghosts In The Machine

Duskmourn-Modern-Horror-Ghost

During the recent Preview Panel, Wizards revealed all manner of delightful Duskmourn details. Their show was packed with new cards and artwork from the set to give players a solid idea of what to expect. Despite an initial tease back in 2023, this caught many MTG players off guard.

While Duskmourn: House of Horror is a horror-themed set, as the name suggests, it’s not the type of horror that MTG players are used to. Rather than being classical Gothic or Eldrich horror as seen on Innistrad, Duskmourn is styled after the neon-tinged horror of the ’80s and beyond. This thematic choice is one thing, but Duskmourn also makes use of the era’s technology as well.

To put it lightly, this decision from Wizards has caused a good deal of discourse since we got a proper look at Duskmourn. Now that Chainsaws and CRT TVs are part of Magic’s canon, many MTG players are feeling like Wizards has taken things too far.

“My main gripe with these modern elements is that they’re too Earth-like. If a plane with magic evolved technologically to a stage equivalent to Earth in the 80’s, why does it have to look exactly like Earth?

Make the TV’s round like crystal balls and give the sneakers long pointy tips. Do something to let people know this is supposed to be a different universe than our own.”

Aarhg

Aarhg wasn’t alone in thinking this, either. Across a recent Reddit thread, countless users like CollegeZebra181 shared their concerns about Duskmourn’s unique look. Considering the rising tide of references in MTG recently, there’s real fear that Duskmourn may rock the boat too much.

“The thing is, in my opinion, that drawing on 80s horror movie tropes doesn’t necessitate incorporating 80s technological aesthetics. It does look like they’re drawing on narrative and thematic beats for story and creature design, but make the lost civilization something that had a uniquely Magic aesthetic instead of jamming in references to sneakers or Ghostbusters.”

CollegeZebra181

A Bridge Too Far?

Duskmourn Tech Examples

Of course, there are voices on both sides of the fence with regard to the modern horror aesthetic of Duskmourn. Some users on Reddit, such as Accomplished-Ball403, shared their excitement for the set’s theme and the multiverse’s infinite possibilities. As much as Duskmourn does have its supporters, however, these voices appear to be few and far between online. This led MTG’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater, to address the issue directly.

“We’re trying something new. Some people seem to like it, some don’t. Time will show whether it was overall a good idea. I will say we need time to better gauge it. There are a lot of very popular Magic things that had an initial negative opinion.”

Mark Rosewater

As Rosewater points out, Duskmourn: House of Horror is a brand-new MTG set. On top of that, we’ve only seen a very small slice of it, which is hardly enough to pass judgment. That being said, even the very concept of modern horror in Duskmorun appears enough to rub players the wrong way.

“The discourse has centered on technology and the TVs and all of that, but what I wanted to talk about was that what sounded like a cool, unique setting is basically just a big ol’ house functioning as an excuse for horror movie references.

Magic settings are cool when the settings get to breathe and be alive. Not when they’re just an excuse for references and memes and jokes.”

NinetyFish

Eyes Wide Open

Duskmourn Art by Fajareka Setiawan

An interesting wrinkle that emerged during the discussion of the modern horror tropes in Duskmourn was actually the Planeswalker’s Guide article on the Plane. For the uninitiated, Planeswalker’s Guides are basically huge lore dumps for specific sets and Planes. At a certain point in the discussion thread, opinion began to shift as players were introduced to the lore behind Duskmourn.

As concerning as the initial impressions were, Rosewater’s recent statement appears to already be turning true. Following the release of the Planeswalker Guide article for Duskmourn, many MTG players realized this set is a lot more than just references and retro tech. Sharing their discoveries and delight across social media, it appears that sentiment around the set may already be improving.

“I like that the visual aesthetic borrows some of the shapes and colours from the 80s/90s but isn’t a exact reproduction, and isn’t just pasting them over another aesthetic. You are getting hints of a unique world that once existed outside the House.”

turkeygiant

The idea that knowing the background lore of a set will help you appreciate its aesthetics better isn’t a particularly radical one. It is interesting, however, to observe the divide between those who have and have not as the discussion unfolds in real time. Clearly player reactions would be less dramatic if they fully understood the context of Duskmourn.

Unfortunately, that’s very, very difficult to achieve at scale. For every player who loyally devours every scrap of content, there are 50 who only pay attention to spoilers. Hopefully, once spoilers start to be fully revealed, these will provide much of the missing context eluding players at present. Whether or not this actually happens and sentiment improves, however, remains to be seen.

Read More: Duskmourn: House of Horror – Everything You Need to Know

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