Magic: The Gathering and Final Fantasy will collide in early May as a Japanese variant of planeswalker Liliana, Dreadhorde General will feature art from the legendary Yoshitaka Amano, famous for his contributions to Square Enix's long-running series of JRPGs. The planeswalker card will be featured in War of the Spark, the set that will release on May 3, 2019 with a never-before-seen 36 planeswalker cards in a single set, by far the most ever included in a Magic: The Gathering expansion.
Magic: The Gathering is experiencing another surge in popularity thanks to the success of its online Magic: Arena offering, a platform that allows players to enjoy a free-to-play version of Magic that can also directly qualify players for million-dollar tournaments. Wizards of the Coast, the company behind Magic, recently hosted a Mythic Invitational to celebrate the game's entry into esports, and was rewarded with over a hundred thousand concurrent viewers during its Twitch stream that saw Magic: The Gathering pro Andrea Mengucci walk away with $250,000 USD for first prize. Since then, collaborations have been key with Magic, which has roped in famous celebrities like Sean "Day9" Plott and Danny Trejo to help bring the game to a wider audience.
That trend continued yesterday when Wizards of the Coast announced it would be celebrating War of the Spark's release with alternate art for its Japanese players. Each of War of the Spark's 36 planeswalker cards will feature alternate art in their Japanese versions, illustrated by several famous artists who have been featured in properties such as Gundam, Fire Emblem, and Bravely Default. By far the biggest name, however, is Yoshitaka Amano, the man responsible for some of the most famous video game art in the industry thanks to his work on Final Fantasy over the years. Amano's planeswalker, Liliana, is also one of the central figures in War of the Spark's story, and will likely be a key player in the game's new Standard format thanks to her extremely high power level. Here's a look at Amano's take on the necromancer:
While Amano's art is certainly the one that will be the most talked about, all 36 planeswalkers feature some incredible new stylizations that will make them highly sought after in collector communities. It's also another way that Magic: The Gathering is attempting to spread its appeal worldwide, acknowledging that different demographics of players enjoy different styles of art and celebrating that while also likely creating a more visually appealing product for the fanbase in that location. Here's a Twitter thread from Magic community member @ghirapurigears that breaks down where each artist is known from previously and which cards they tackled in the upcoming expansion:
This is Daisuke Izuka, who did the new Yanngu. He's famous for doing the art for the fire emblem series. https://t.co/0OS0rnklmk— Shivam In Kaladesh (@ghirapurigears) April 23, 2019
Getting Amano to design the art of one of the key cards in the set is an incredible decision from Wizards of the Coast that suggests the company has figured out exactly what it needs to do to continue growing now that Magic: Arena has exploded in popularity. The crossover between two major franchises in Magic: The Gathering and Final Fantasy, however small, will also help bring new eyeballs onto Wizard's product, and the result should be an influx of interested consumers and, we hope, the door being open for further artist collaborations on alternate art cards in the future.
Source: Magic The Gathering