Looking to the Stars
Pat Morrissey-Lewis has had as varied a career as any Magic artist, including a stint as a planetarium show illustrator. Pat Morrissey-Lewis is sitting at her booth at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass., during a Star City Games open event when a fan approaches with a book wrapped in plastic. “Oh look, he’s got a copy of The Gathering!” she exclaims, referring to the Kickstarter-funded art book that reunited many of Magic: The Gathering’s original artists for the game’s 20th anniversary. As one of the artists who worked on Magic’s early expansion sets, Pat is of course featured in the book. In it, she chose to re-imagine her painting for the card “Warning” in the Ice Age set. The grandiose sweep of the mountains with archers poised to blow a giant horn in the original has been replaced with a close-up of a single drummer ready to strike a blow that will reverberate through a series of caverns and tubes. “Warning”: Pat’s re-imagined version of the Magic card “Warning” appeared in The Gathering art book. (Image courtesy of Pat Morrissey-Lewis) “Once again, the whole theme of sound traveling over a distance to warn people came to mind,” Pat says of the new piece. “Aside from horns, drums are carried over a distance also. I imagined a large bowl-like cave with vents to carry the sound up and out.” In many ways, both versions of “Warning” are emblematic of Pat’s art career in that it has produced something that is all around us. Pat’s paintings shout from the covers of dozens of fantasy and sci-fi books, from multiple games, and even from public places that you may have visited, notably the Smithsonian’s Albert Einstein Planetarium. Her illustrations aren’t limited to collectible card games; in fact, you may have encountered them without even realizing it. A Lover of the Liberal Arts It’s little surprise given her association with planetariums later in her career that Pat’s early love of art was heavily influenced by her childhood visits to local museums. It was there that she was awed by almost every school of painting, especially the Pre-Raphaelites, whom she cites as a particular influence. Though she worked with pencil, pen, and watercolor in her youth, it was around the age of 17 that she began to study oil painting and got the chance to begin emulating heroes like Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John William Waterhouse. It was also around this time that Pat began her lifelong love affair with science fiction, which has become irrevocably intertwined with her body of work. Originally contained exclusively to her personal projects, it wasn’t long before Pat was able to mix these two passions into commercially viable work. “Magic Night”: “Magic Night,” one of Pat’s personal works, blends two of her passions: fantasy and a tremendous view of the night sky. (Image courtesy of Pat Morrissey-Lewis) “Many years ago, I was working as an artist for a local planetarium doing the artwork for their productions when the director suggested I go to the local science fiction convention,” she recalls. “I had been painting science fiction for myself on the side. It was at an early Worldcon that I saw that other artists doing covers, prints, and magazine work. The more conventions I attended, the more I was able to network with publishers, and it snowballed from there.” In this case, though, “snowballed” might even be a bit of an understatement. To skim through Pat’s portfolio is to experience a who’s who of some of the greatest fantasy and science fiction authors of the 20th century — all of which have had Pat’s artwork grace their book covers. There’s Robert Heinlein and Clifford Simak, Ursula K. LeGuin and Mercedes Lackey, to name just a few. And then there’s legendary Pern creator Anne McCaffrey, for whom Pat produced no less than six covers. “Anne McCaffrey bought [one of] the paintings that I had illustrated for her book,” says Pat, who considers this one of the highest compliments that a publishing artist can receive. “Arrows of the Queen”: A painting that Pat created for the book Arrows of the Queen by renowned fantasy author Mercedes Lackey. (Image courtesy of Pat Morrissey-Lewis) It was also through her extensive convention networks that she heard about a little collectible card game called Magic: The Gathering. “I knew some of the other artists at the time, and it was suggested that I send in my portfolio. I received a call for an assignment soon after,” Pat says. Beginning with Fallen Empires, Pat embarked on a multi-year collaboration with Wizards of the Coast that had her working on some of Magic’s earliest expansion sets. What is perhaps most interesting about her Magic work, though, is that the cards she produced are all wildly different. Unlike some artists that get pigeonholed into doing only one type of card, Pat produced lands, creatures, people, and spells. “Having a variety to do was very exciting,” she says. Pat’s artwork for the Magic card “Spectral Bears” from the Homelands expansion. (Image courtesy of Pat Morrissey-Lewis) A Woman of Many Talents Apart from her publishing work and her work for Magic, there’s another place that Pat’s artwork once appeared: planetarium shows. If you’re of a certain age and grew up seeing artificial displays of the night sky in Baltimore, Philadelphia, or Hartford, Conn., or at the Albert Einstein Planetarium at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., then chances are good that you may have seen some of Pat’s work. “I worked freelance for a planetarium show producer for several years, and during that time I worked on art for many shows,” Pat says. But producing artwork for a planetarium show isn’t as simple as setting down paint to canvas. Before most planetariums switched over to digital equipment, many used projectors that looked like lens-studded basketballs attached to intricate metal harnesses. Producing art for these crazy looking contraptions was a special skill. “Planetarium Mouth”: A 360-degree painting for an educational planetarium show about the human body. When the viewer sits in a round planetarium room, this image is projected all around the viewer to make it look like he or she is looking out of the mouth with the throat at the rear. (Image courtesy of Pat Morrissey-Lewis) “Having ‘grown-up’ in the planetarium field I was well aware of how all the machinery worked — what projectors would do what job,” Pat explains. “It was actually tricky, and if you weren’t familiar with the systems, you wouldn’t be able to pull it off, especially 360-degree views painted on a flat surface. The art was always very weird looking.” While Pat believes that all of these planetarium shows have “come and gone,” some of the artwork that she produced for the Smithsonian was recently rediscovered in a storage area behind the planetarium dome. The long, narrow paintings depict planetary landscapes from the solar system. During a planetarium show, they would be projected around the base of the dome to create the effect of looking at the stars from the surface of another planet. The paintings are now being archived at the National Air and Space Museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies. Matthew Shindell (left), curator in the Space History Department at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and Lois Rosson, a graduate student studying the history of science at UC Berkeley, display a painting used in planetarium shows like those produced by Pat. Pat’s paintings for the Albert Einstein Planetarium are now archived at the Air and Space Museum. (Photo by Laura Turner/NASM) Just like producing planetarium art carried certain spatial requirements, producing art for the publishing industry presents its own challenges. There are format and typeface considerations; working with the publisher and the author to find a good scene to represent the book without giving away any critical plot points; and the monumental task of drawing in a reader with a single glance. There are several upsides, though: “The opportunities are, of course, getting to read a book for your job! Many a day I spent at the beach with book in hand ‘reading for work,’” Pat says with a laugh. And, of course, there’s the work she did for Magic, which continues to find an audience more than 20 years later. Pat has begun to attend tournaments in the Northeast and hopes to visit even more in the future. In Worcester alone, she had original works, prints, and artist proofs for sale. Plus she does private commissions, information on which can be found through her website or by contacting her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Card signings are arranged by Jack Lewis Stanton, who can be contacted through his Facebook group. So what’s an artist to say when she looks back on a long and varied career? “It’s been a long strange trip!” Pat exclaims. “But the best!”
ASK DANIEL - Should I Invest in Old School Magic (MTG) Decks or Cards?
Check out these videos from a client who wanted me to run through his personal finances and should he invest in Old School Magic (MTG) Decks or Cards? What do you guys think? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfkTgxwxkv4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSjcfsbxTSI
You have 10k - 50k to Invest in Vintage MTG, what do you do with it?
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Picking a Winner
What Decks Will Emerge in the Post-Champs Metagame? Now that the 2016 Election season is finally over, we can finally stop worrying about which candidate to choose, and can get back to choosing which deck to play in Vintage! If your social media feed has been jam packed with political rants for the past few weeks, it would be hard to blame you for missing the discussion about the results of the North American Vintage Championship. This year’s winner is Team Vintage Magic.com’s own Joe Bogaard. His Landstill list was well positioned to defeat a metagame that was strongly been influenced by the most recent printings and moves by the DCI - but what does that mean to everyone going forward? I guess that’s why they call it the Blues If you factor in Oath decks, almost 50% of the Vintage Championship metagame were blue based decks. In my personal experience at the tournament, I played against blue decks in 7 of 9 rounds. Moral of the story - If you’re playing in a large Vintage event this year, you need to be preparing for most of your opponents to be blue. Let’s take a look at the blue deck that rose to the top: 2016 Vintage Championship – 1st Place By Joseph Bogaard Creatures and Spells: 1 Engineered Explosives 1 Crucible of Worlds 1 Moat 1 Sensei's Divining Top 1 Supreme Verdict 3 Swords to Plowshares 4 Standstill 2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor 2 Snapcaster Mage 1 Emrakul, the Promised End 1 Brainstorm 1 Ancestral Recall 1 Time Walk 1 Dig Through Time 1 Treasure Cruise 4 Force of Will 3 Mana Drain 3 Mental Misstep 1 Mindbreak Trap 1 Flusterstorm Mana Sources: 1 Black Lotus 1 Mox Pearl 1 Mox Sapphire 1 Sol Ring 4 Flooded Strand 2 Polluted Delta 3 Tundra 3 Island 1 Plains 1 Strip Mine 4 Wasteland 3 Mishra's Factory 1 Library of Alexandria Sideboard: 2 Rest in Peace 2 Grafdigger's Cage 2 Energy Flux 3 Containment Priest 1 Swords to Plowshares 1 Hurkyl's Recall 1 Kataki, War's Wage 2 Ethersworn Cannonist 1 Disenchant None shall pass! I’ve tested Landstill decks leading up to the Vintage Championship, and the card that really stands out is Moat. There are many decks that have very few outs to a Moat. With as many counterspells as this list packs, it will be very hard for someone to resolve anything that can lower the drawbridge. This deck is required to play Wastelands to prevent opponents from using Mishra’s Factories as a win condition that can be played without breaking Standstill. Being a blue deck that features Wastelands ends up being pretty awesome when playing against the many decks employing greedy manabases that can be completely annihilated when Crucible of Worlds gets involved. I don’t, however, expect a lot of the metagame to start playing Landstill. It’s a challenging deck to play properly, and I don’t think a large portion of the Vintage metagame likes to play grindy blue control decks. The largest contingent of blue players were on Gush. This deck, by Brian Pallas is a pretty creative list that combines Gush with Thoughtcast: Thoughtcast-Gush Mentor, 2016 Vintage Championship - Top 8 By Brian Pallas Creatures and Spells: 1 Ancestral Recall 1 Time Walk 1 Time Vault 1 Timetwister 4 Force of Will 1 Brainstorm 1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor 1 Ponder 2 Voltaic Key 4 Monastery Mentor 3 Mental Misstep 2 Flusterstorm 1 Demonic Tutor 1 Vampiric Tutor 1 Tezzeret the Seeker 1 Repeal 3 Thoughtcast 1 Yawgmoth's Will 3 Sensei's Divining Top 2 Mystic Remora 1 Hurkyl's Recall Mana Sources: 1 Black Lotus 1 Mox Emerald 1 Mox Jet 1 Mox Pearl 1 Mox Ruby 1 Mox Sapphire 1 Sol Ring 1 Mox Opal 1 Mana Vault 1 Mana Crypt 4 Flooded Strand 2 Polluted Delta 2 Tundra 2 Underground Sea 1 Tolarian Academy 2 Island 1 Seat of the Synod Sideboard: 4 Leyline of the Void 1 Toxic Deluge 1 Ensnaring Bridge 2 Fragmentize 2 Engineered Explosives 1 Plains 1 Mystic Remora 1 Mindbreak Trap 1 Notion Thief 1 Aethersworn Canonist I really like artifacts. You might say I have an affinity for them… I love this deck. Combining the best two blue draw engines – currently Gush and Thoughtcast – is historically a winning strategy in Vintage. This deck can play control and then quickly combo out with Monastary Mentor, Time Vault/Tezzeret + Key or Yawgmoth’s Will. Sensei’s Top plays so many roles in this deck. Obviously it gives you lots of card filtering, but it also adds to affinity and metal craft, creates a draw engine with Voltaic Key, and gives you an easy way to get extra Monastery Mentor triggers. In the late game if you can build the mondo-combo of two Tops + Mentor, you can keep tapping to draw a Top and then replay it for one Mentor trigger per mana. Colorless Comeback The DCI put a serious beat-down on colorless decks by restricting Chalice of the Void and Lodestone Golem since last year’s championship. The colorless club had the last laugh, though - The best performing decks in the tournament were the Workshop and Eldrazi decks, taking five of the top 8 slots. The most popular of these decks seemed to be “Car Shops,” a Mishra’s Workshop deck featuring the vehicles from Kaladesh. However, only previous champion Hiromichi Ito was able to make top 8 with that particular list. In a field like this, it is often a great strategy to play a Workshop deck that is designed to play well in the mirror match, and with 4 Null Rods, and 3 Crucible of Worlds in the main deck, Jacob Kory’s second place list is just that: Smokestack Shops, 2016 Vintage Championship – 2nd Place By Jacob Kory Creatures and Spells: 4 Null Rod 4 Smokestack 3 Crucible of Worlds 4 Thorn of Amethyst 1 Chalice of the Void 1 Trinisphere 4 Sphere of Resistance 4 Tangle Wire 1 Lodestone Golem 1 Phyrexian Metamorph 4 Phyrexian Revoker 1 Karn, Silver Golem Mana Sources: 1 Mox Emerald 1 Mox Jet 1 Mox Pearl 1 Mox Ruby 1 Mox Sapphire 1 Sol Ring 1 Tolarian Academy 4 Ancient Tomb 4 Wasteland 4 Mishra's Factory 4 Mishra's Workshop 1 Strip Mine 1 Inventor's Fair 1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth 2 Mutavault Sideboard: 2 Dismember 4 Grafdigger's Cage 3 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale 2 Ghost Quarter 2 Ratchet Bomb 2 Wurmcoil Engine Got the whole world in his hands Shops are already good against greedy blue decks that are land-light and need to play cantrip spells like Preordain and Gitaxian Probe to get going. When playing against other Shop decks, Wasteland is easily one of the most important cards and Crucible gives you protection to opposing Wastelands while providing you with an infinite supply of them. The Null Rods are general good against the Moxes and artifact mana that most decks play, but its extra good when its stopping your opponent from crewing vehicles. As we move forward I still expect the Car Shops to be the most popular Workshop variant, so a deck like this could be a great choice. Taking the Oath The deck I developed for this event was a 5 color Oath deck featuring Auriock Salvagers, Griselbrand and Void Winnower. Paul Mastriano's Deck for Vintage Champs 2016 5 Color Salvagers Oath, 2016 Vintage Championship – 59th Place By Paul Mastriano Creatures and Spells: 1 Ancestral Recall 1 Time Walk 4 Oath of Druids 4 Force of Will 1 Brainstorm 2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor 1 Ponder 1 Griselbrand 1 Balance 1 Void Winnower 1 Ancient Grudge 1 Auriock Salvagers 3 Mental Misstep 1 Pyrite Spellbomb 1 Dack Fayden 2 Abrupt Decay 2 Engineered Explosives 3 Preordain 1 Mystical Tutor 1 Dig Through Time 1 Demonic Tutor 1 Vampiric Tutor 1 Yawgmoth’s Will 1 Sensei’s Divining Top Mana Sources: 1 Black Lotus 1 Mox Emerald 1 Mox Jet 1 Mox Pearl 1 Mox Ruby 1 Mox Sapphire 1 Sol Ring 1 Mana Crypt 1 Library of Alexandria 1 Strip Mine 1 Tolarian Academy 4 Mana Confluence 4 Forbidden Orchard 2 City of Brass 2 Gemstone Mine Sideboard: 2 Flusterstorm 4 Nature’s Claim 1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite 1 Ancient Grudge 3 Nihil Spellbomb 2 Pyroblast 2 Tormod’s Crypt The odds favor this guy Void Winnower is great addition to the Oath creature set – it’s a giant 11/9 monster and is massively disruptive, especially to Workshop decks that are typically comprised of 99% even-costed spells. This deck takes advantage of the fact that most decks need to play creatures as their primary win condition, making it easy to trigger Oath. In this version you will need to be very careful about how you tap your mana (it will kill you if you’re not careful), but the payoff is that you get to play with the absolute best cards of any color. You get tutoring from Black, Artifact removal from Red, card draw and control from blue, Balance and Salvagers in white, and the titular Oath from Green. If your opponent is making it hard to win with Oath, you have alternate win conditions with Planeswalkers, or you can just assemble the Auriock Salvagers + Back Lotus combo without ever Oathing. As usual, the North American Vintage Championship will alter the Vintage landscape for the foreseeable future. Blue decks are still the most popular, but the colorless decks are on the rise with the best win percentage. As we move forward I’d highly recommend playing a Workshop deck, but if you really like blue, I’d make sure to incorporate Moat. Until next time, Paul Mastriano