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7, May, 24

Bizarre "MTG Style" Yu-Gi-Oh! Art Sparks Community Search!

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Since 1996, Yu-Gi-Oh! has been one of the most consistent contenders for Magic: The Gathering’s cardboard crown. While mechanically worlds away, the game has been through many of the same ups and downs as Magic. And while it’s tonally very different as well, there are some surprising similarities to be drawn between the art of MTG and Yu-Gi-Oh!

In a recent r/MagicTCG thread started by redsquirrel0249, these similarities were proven many times over. Players discussed Magic art that would feel more at home on a Yu-Gi-Oh! card, and vice-versa. The chosen cards are interesting for anyone invested in either game, and their similarities also reveal some interesting truths about the artistic directions of each. Today we’re going to take a look at both sides of the coin, and blur the lines between two of the biggest card games in the world.

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MTG Art That Feels Like Yu-Gi-Oh! Art

The subject of the thread, as defined by redsquirrel0249, was as follows. “YGO Players Say Prophecy Destroyer has “MTG Style” art. Are there any MTG cards that players feel have “YGO Style” art or look like they belong to another game?” We’ll get to Prophecy Destroyer later, but for now we’re going to tackle that question head on. Are there any Magic cards like that?

Turns out yes, yes there are, and players in the thread were all too happy to share them. Rotting_Hellkite kicked things off with Soul Foundry, an oddball Artifact from Mirrodin. The art for the Foundry itself, and the winged Thrulls around it, are standard MTG fare. What pushes this one into the realm of Yu-Gi-Oh! art is the background. Or lack thereof. This is a common sight in Yu-Gi-Oh! art, as cleverpun0 notes later in the thread: “It reminds me of earlier YuGiOh, where basically no card had a background.”

Other cards got nods too. Treasure Mage made the cut, largely due to the menacing Dragon at the bottom of the piece. Dragons are a key part of the Yu-Gi-Oh! mythos, after all. Though, as TKDbeast pointed out, “the concept of a crystal-blue dude with his arms crossed like that” feels very Yu-Gi-Oh! as well.

Another interesting piece, picked up on by Shipwrecked_Pianta, is Wandering Ones. They noted that the card’s artwork is “is somewhat like the old DM era art,” referring specifically to cards like A-Team: Trap Disposal Unit and Koitsu. This one is somewhat less surprising, since Champions of Kamigawa is a set with a heavy Japanese influence, much like Yu-Gi-Oh! That said, it’s still cool to see.

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Yu-Gi-Oh! Art That Feels Like MTG Art

The MTG examples were great, but what about the same in reverse? That is to say, Yu-Gi-Oh! cards with art that really looks like it belongs on a Magic card? Turns out there are a fair few of those, too. The card that started the whole thread, Prophecy Destroyer, is a prime example.

It’s a serious-looking Demon, wreathed in mist, wielding a glowing sword. There are a couple of those every set in Magic, but not so much in Yu-Gi-Oh! As KnightCyber put it, “Woah yeah that art feels very out of place for yugioh. Far too “realistic” in style.” Brenduke concurred, noting that “It’s even more out of place in the spellbook archetype which it belongs to!” A quick glance at some other Spellbook cards confirms this: they, and most other Yu-Gi-Oh! cards are bright and colorful, unlike the brooding Destroyer.

There are more examples, too. Swap out the purple torso for a more natural tone and Angel of Zera could be a creature from Theros or Amonkhet. The perspective, wing detail, and background temple all scream ‘MTG’ from the mountaintop. Outer Entity Nyarla also feels very out of place in Yu-Gi-Oh!, looking more like something you’d find slithering around an Innistrad basement. Or maybe marching as part of an Eldrazi army. Either way, very eldritch, and very unlike the majority of colorful, eccentric art found in Yu-Gi-Oh! This is a game with battleships made of sushi, after all.

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The Sincerest Form Of Flattery


These artistic aberrations from each game are interesting to look at. Due to their outlier status, they serve mainly to reinforce the stylistic conventions of the other game in each case. What’s equally interesting, however, are the ways in which each game has drawn direct inspiration from the other over the years.

This was most evident in the early stages of Yu-Gi-Oh! Magic had a three-year head start, and was the only real blueprint for the new up-and-comer to follow when it debuted in 1996. As a result, there were some not-so-subtle homages. The now-legendary Blue-Eyes White Dragon, for instance, is a clear riff on Chromium, a very similar design from 1994’s Legends. Summoned Skull, another iconic early monster card, also draws heavily from Mark Tedin’s original Alpha art for Lord of the Pit.

That’s not to say that the inspiration only flowed one way, of course. As ddojima pointed out in the thread, Righteous Authority is another card that feels “more like a Yugioh card.” In this case, the resemblance is more than just stylistic, however. The card features a character who looks uncannily similar to the recurring knight on the ‘Crossout’ cards in Yu-Gi-Oh!, right down to the pose. The swirling magical characters also channel the aforementioned Spellbook archetype, as OP redsquirrel0249 chimed in to say.

Overall, the thread served as a journey through the artistic conventions of two great card games. While the small number of outliers serve to remind us of their fundamental differences, they also reinforce the years of history that bind the two games together, even as they strive towards their own identities. Something that’s worth bearing in mind for all aspects, not just art, of MTG or Yu-Gi-Oh!

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