The Worst Art in MTG History | Our Top 10
MTG App Staff
26 Jan 2023
Magic: The Gathering is a beloved trading card game that has captured the hearts of players for decades. The game features intricate artwork on each card, depicting fantasy creatures and powerful spells. However, not all artwork in the game is created equal.
Today we will look at some of the worst art in the game’s history.
Celestial Prism – Alpha through 4th Edition
Let’s kick things off with one of the worst pieces of art in the entire game. The art for the card Celestial Prism is confusing and does not effectively communicate the artifact’s shape. Frankly, it looks like a third-grader could have drawn it.
Artist Amy Weber has created visually striking artwork for other artifact cards such as Life Matrix, Urza’s Avenger, and Astrolabe that resemble diagrams or illustrations that one might find in a text about the artifact. However, the art for Celestial Prism falls short of her usual standards and is unclear in its representation of the artifact. That makes it all the more surprising.
Unholy Strength – 7th Edition
Unholy Strength is a spell card that provides a small boost in stats for a creature at the cost of one black mana. Despite its simplicity, it is a popular and frequently used card in limited formats.
Many game fans appreciate the classic art featured on reprints of the card, but some have pointed out that the character depicted in the seventh edition art is hideous.
Ekundu Cyclops – Mirage
Ekundu Cyclops, from the set Mirage, is a card with art that is poorly executed and potentially offensive. The art depicts two naked or semi-naked creatures, one of which is riding an enormous phallic symbol. The imagery is suggestive and possibly sexually explicit, and the mushrooms on the base of the phallus also resemble penises. The card’s flavor text also references a “one-eyed” creature, which could be seen as a crude euphemism.
Overall, this card is unfortunate and distasteful, and it could be argued that the artist, Mr. Robert Bliss, may have an obsession with drawing dicks.
Uktabi Orangutan – Visions
Uktabi Orangutan is a card from Magic: The Gathering that features art that is deemed inappropriate for children under 13 years of age. The art depicts monkeys in the background, which could be seen as suggestive or sexually explicit.
The card is made better by the presence of the card Uktabi Kong which makes fun of both the art of Uktabi Orangutan and Gorilla Titan’s flavor text, which is considered one of the least favorite pieces of flavor text in the game.
WotC seems to have recognized their flub, and played off it for an Unhinged card: Uktabi Kong. It depicts the same trio, this time with one of the monkeys pregnant.
Invoke Prejudice – Legends
The art on this card is not only poorly conceived, but it’s also clearly racist. A few years ago, Wizards of the Coast issued a global ban on a series of cards with racist connotations in their art, name, or mechanics. Invoke Prejudice is one of the most egregious examples, and it stands out as one of the worst offenders for many reasons.
We have removed this card image from our database due to its racist depiction, text, or combination thereof. Racism in any form is unacceptable and has no place in our games, nor anywhere else.Wizards on banned racist cards
Silhouette – Legends
Silhouette, from the set Legends, earns the next spot on this list for poor art design. The card depicts a shadow with eyes and a mouth, which does not make sense in the context of the game. It’s reminiscent of a carved Halloween pumpkin.
Additionally, the art style is more cartoonish than other pieces of Magic: The Gathering art and does not align with the tone of the Legends set. Finally, I dare say the style of the art would be more fitting on a red or black card, rather than a blue card.
Flash – Mirage
The art for Flash likely looks dreadful due to several factors. It could be that the artist had a limited understanding of composition, lighting, and perspective, or maybe he didn’t know what to do with the prompt he got for the card.
Both characters in this card look rancid, and the guy on the left looks like he is photobombing the card.
Forest Bear – Portal Three Kingdoms
Some of the most common criticisms are that the bear is not well-detailed and appears cartoonish. The bear also does not look like it belongs in a fantasy setting.
Overall, the art is seen as lacking in both quality and thematic consistency. It almost looks like a dude who is under arrest dressed in a flaccid and ratty bear suit.
Reverse Polarity – Antiquities
Reverse Polarity, from the set Antiquities, is a poorly designed card in terms of art. The style is cartoonish and does not fit with the game’s fantasy theme. The scene depicted on the card is reminiscent of a comic book rather than a serious fantasy card game.
Moreover, the effect of the card, which is to gain twice as much life as the damage taken from artifacts this turn, is not effectively communicated through the art. The surprised look on the barbarian’s face as his morningstar bounces off his opponent without harm may be amusing. Still, overall, this piece of artwork does not meet the standards expected for a fantasy card game.
Disruptive Student – Urza’s Saga
The artwork for Disruptive Student, a card from Magic: The Gathering, has been criticized for its representation of the character depicted in the art. The character’s face is portrayed as cartoonish and distorted, which some see as a form of problematic representation. Additionally, the character is depicted as having an evil and contorted expression, which does not align with the card’s effect.
Furthermore, the card’s flavor text raises questions as it hints at the Disruptive Student character actually being Teferi, which ruffles some feathers since Teferi is a popular character. Overall, it is positive that the game has progressed to include more flattering depictions of its non-white characters.
Magic: The Gathering is a beloved game with a rich history and a dedicated fan base. However, not all aspects of the game have aged well, and the art on some cards has been criticized for its poor quality. From the cartoonish and distorted faces on cards like Disruptive Student, to the questionable depictions of nudity and phallic symbols on cards like Ekundu Cyclops, these pieces of art have been deemed as some of the worst in the game’s history.
The Importance of Representation
It is important to note that the representation of marginalized groups, including people of color and women, has been a topic of concern in the Magic: The Gathering community for many years. The game has made strides in recent years to improve representation and inclusivity in its art and lore, but it is clear that there is still room for improvement.
As Magic: The Gathering continues to evolve and grow, it is important for the game to improve the quality of its art and ensure that all characters and groups are portrayed respectfully and accurately. While the cards on this list may have been considered as some of the worst in the game’s history, it is essential to remember that they are a small part of the game’s rich history and legacy.