Having existed for almost 30 years, it’s safe to say Magic: the Gathering has quite a bit of art. In fact, to date, Wizards of the Coast has released and or spoiled 25,825 cards with unique artwork. This litany of art is one of the many reasons MTG is such a beloved game. Allowing players to customize their favorite decks, the smorgasbord of art allows incredibly expensive deckbuilding.
Unfortunately, however, while much of the art created for MTG is absolutely gorgeous, not every piece is entirely beloved. In fact, some of the game’s artwork can be deeply controversial for one reason or another. The main reason for this has been changing attitudes over time, which result in past cards no longer being appropriate. Alongside this, however, the occasional NSFW card also stirs up debate as players protest to free Willy.
More recently than these debacles, however, some of MTG’s most collectible artwork has been causing complaints. As, while it may look good, some of the recent Booster Fun treatments have been causing plenty of trouble. Unfortunately for players already frustrated by these cards, in the future, this issue may only get worse…
First introduced in Throne of Eldraine, Booster Fun art treatments (also known as Showcase frames) have created some stunning MTG cards. This is thanks to the novelty frame utilizing a typically more thematic and ostentatious card border. For Throne of Eldraine, this meant an Art Nouveau/storybook-styled card frame that played into the set’s fairytale aesthetic. Similarly, Theros Beyond Death utilized a constellation card frame and art style to great effect.
Since being introduced, many of the Booster Fun treatments Wizards had created were instantly beloved by fans. Despite this, however, many MTG cards featuring this art treatment aren’t ludicrously expensive. This is thanks to MTG’s Collector Boosters, which similarly became a staple in Throne of Eldraine. Providing easier access to showcase frames, players typically don’t have too hard a time getting ahold of the art they want.
Alongside being found within Collector Boosters, Booster Fun treatments are also available in regular ol’ Draft and Set Boosters. This is to ensure that everyone has access to the Booster Fun treatments, regardless of which products they purchase. While this may seem like a benevolent gesture from Wizards of the Coast, it hasn’t been without issues. After all, some of the Booster Fun treatments aren’t exactly the most legible on the battlefield.
For Phyrexia: All Will Be One, this became a major issue. Not only did the ichor frame Booster Fun cards look incredibly similar to one another, but the set also included literally unreadable cards. Technically, Phyrexian Text cards were nothing new for the set, having first appeared in Kaldheim. This was the first time, however, they could be found in Draft Boosters. Considering these cards were virtually unreadable, it’s safe to say this didn’t go down well.
Showcased to the Extreme
While Wizards is unlikely to repeat the Phyrexian language mistake following the controversy, Booster Fun treatments aren’t going anywhere. This, however, isn’t entirely good news, as upcoming Booster Fun treatments don’t look entirely faultless.
Technically, we’ve not seen exactly what the future holds for Booster Fun frames, as nothing has been confirmed just yet. That being said, however, March of the Machine’s cacophony of Booster Fun treatments has given players a glimpse at what’s in store. Playing into the set’s multiversal themes, March of the Machine featured not one, but eighteen unique card frames. Each of these represented a different card’s home plane to showcase the scale of the Phyrexian invasion.
Since Booster Fun frames have only existed since 2019, several planes didn’t have a showcase frame of their own. Subsequently, Wizards of the Coast created a trio of brand-new frames for Ixalan, Ravnica, and Tarkir. Presumed to provide potential glimpses into the future, these Booster Fun treatments were initially celebrated by many players. Now that the dust has settled, however, some of these new art treatments are already causing concerns.
Raising their worries on Reddit, u/Hufflepunk36 mused that the new Ixalan treasure frame “seems too much like an artifact vs. a creature.” While this is obviously a damning complaint, Hufflepunk36 far from hated the look of the card. In fact, within their post, they recalled how they were “honestly taken aback by how beautiful the foiling is in person.” Despite this glowing endorsement, however, Hufflepunk36 was nevertheless concerned that “the card can easily be mistaken as an artifact card, [rather than] the creature card that it is.”
Booster Not So Fun
After asking how others felt about this dilemma, players on Reddit were quick to reiterate Hufflepunk36’s concern. Reddit user u/RWBadger, for instance, similarly stated how “this art treatment is fantastic… while it’s on 6-ish cards. I do not want to go to Ixalan and have identical boards of coins going back and forth. It’ll be the worst board legibility since Double Feature.”
Reiterating this concern, u/LastKnownWhereabouts noted that this Ixalan frame isn’t even the only problem. Adorned with only minimalistic draconic stylings, the Tarkir Booster Fun frame poses a similar problem since it’s black and white. Thanks to this stylistic art, identifying your opponent’s cards on the board isn’t exactly simple. Reminiscent of the problems created by Innistrad: Double Feature, players can’t just take a quick glance to understand what’s happening.
Thankfully for LastKnownWhereabouts, a set that returns to Tarkir has not yet been announced. Subsequently, as they mention in their post, it’s possible this Booster Fun treatment could be adjusted or completely reworked by the time this hypothetical set releases. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely the same adjustments might not be able to happen for the Ixalan treasure frame. After all, The Lost Caverns of Ixalan has already been announced, with a release date confirmed for Q4 2023.
Unfortunately, since this set is seven months away, it seems unlikely that Wizards can create, commission, and print a brand-new art treatment in time. Subsequently, players may well be stuck with this treasure-inspired art treatment for The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. That is, provided this March of the Machine Booster Fun Treatment is a throw-forward, and not just a one-off. If it is a throw forward, it seems that many players, such as u/Fenrirr, are going to be severely disappointed.
“I feel like I am in a minority in that I really do not like these Ixalan showcase frames at all. The frame itself is fine, but the decision to make everything depicted as a gold coin is a mistake. I am imagining a board full of these cards and how hard it’s going to be to tell them apart at a glance.
Edit: Guess I am not in [the] minority. Thought I was going crazy with all the praise for the Ixalan showcase template.”u/Fenrirr
A Showcase Slump
Alongside players sharing their concerns about the card’s looks on Reddit, many others are voting with their wallets. Picked up by u/Desperada on the MTG finance subreddit, it appears players aren’t fans of this upcoming art treatment. After all, as Desperada points out, the treasure frames are “selling at a significant discount below the basic versions.”
For instance, the showcase frame for Ghalta and Marven costs just $0.59 on average. Meanwhile, the regular version is almost twice as expensive, with a TCGplayer Market Price of $1. Similarly, the Booster Fun version of Etali, Primal Conqueror is also around half as expensive compared to the regular version.
While these prices obviously don’t paint a pretty picture, it’s important to note that there is an incredibly small sample size to draw conclusions from. Across both the main set and the Multiverse Legends Bonus Sheet, only three cards have the treasure-inspired Booster Fun treatment. As a result of this, it isn’t easy to draw a comprehensive conclusion, however, the initial data certainly isn’t positive.
At the end of the day, it’s currently unclear what the future holds. After all, Wizards has not confirmed if this Booster Fun treatment will be used in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. Subsequently, it’s possible that all these current concerns may be somewhat premature. Whether or not they are, however, we’ll ultimately just have to wait and see, there’s no telling for sure right now.