Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Everyone's a critic

So, yeah, new 0e set. It looks cool and all, and the price point isn't that mind-boggling to me (even though I think they'd do better at $99), but seriously why change the covers?

Personally, I love crappy art. And before you tell me I'm full of shit, let me explain what I love about it:

From "dumb" art (Encounter Critical), to hyper-stylized juvenilia (Prison Pit, Superjail! detention hall Trapper Keeper doodles), to "Are-you-actually-certain-you're-right-handed?" (0e), there is a kind of punk immediacy, a fanboy democracy to crappy art that -to me- perfectly telegraphs the zine-style, we're-makin-shit-up-as-we-go methodology that must have surrounded the creation of the game. Arneson and Gygax were cavemen with crayons. Despite any intent of professionalism on their part, the rules are weird, primitive, and inspiring. The art matches this.

I realize that the art on those books is on a distant end of the acceptability spectrum for The Modern Gamer, but what is gained by changing ONLY the covers? Why change what are -in pure technical points- the least crappy illustrations of that edition?

Perhaps, to use the vernacular of my professional industry, there is a deeper, more surreptitious brand message at work here. By updating the covers, WOTC is telling us "We respect the roots of our hobby and our responsibility as stewards of the brand and therefore we've fixed these shitty products and by the way if you like this stuff you're going to love our next wave of exciting products designed to bring the game into the 21st century!"

I don't actually believe anyone is saying that, but the subtext is clear. What I'm actually saying here is that the new cover art doesn't inspire me to break out a Black Flag record and play a fighter name Dudelord. So, like, total missed opportunity yo.


  1. All very true. The main problem I have with this, though, is thy're charging 150 buck for reprints.

  2. @Trey I agree. That better be a pretty fancy wooden box.

  3. @Blair $150 place to store $40 worth of weed.

  4. In Magic WotC are usually fairly mindful of the second hand market, and their reprints are careful in maintaining a difference from earlier cards as to not ruin card values. I have no idea whether this is an issue here, or if there are copyright issues or if its a branding thing or if some art director just cannot miss this opportunity to make a mark on something classic; but there surely could be a number of reasons.

    WotC would of course never answer the question in a straight forward manner, they do have an oddly opaque business culture over there.