The Impractical Reasons Why “Glyph of Doom” is Better Than “Ultimate Price”
Glyph of Doom is better than Ultimate Price.
That’s right, Glyph of Doom is better than Ultimate Price. Sure, Glyph of Doom is an outdated removal spell that is contingent upon a creature getting blocked by a wall, which makes it absolutely impractical. Ultimate Price, on the other hand, sees a boatload of standard play because it is efficient, instant-speed removal. Honestly, I doubt that any self-respecting MTG player would ever play Glyph of Doom in a competitive deck. And, to top it all off, the card might be worth 25 pence.
What then makes Glyph of Doom better than Ultimate Price?
After reflecting on my last article, Why “Magic: The Gathering” Matters, I started thinking about the aspects of MTG that I enjoy the most. When I first started out, the aesthetics of MTG cards made the game alluring. I wouldn’t play a card because of how dominating it was. I would play it because it had some compelling artwork, a neat title and maybe even some interesting flavour text.
As a casual player and collector, the playability and monetary value of a card usually took a back seat to the overall aesthetic appeal of a card. I still standby this today. I certainly don’t play the game for cards like this one.
Unfortunately, when I started to play more competitively, all aesthetic consideration went out the window. I swallowed my integrity and spent more money than I would like to admit for cards with questionable artwork and fleeting playability in standard formats.
The hobby was no longer the collectible card game that I grew up with. Instead, my time was spent following trends set by professional players in international tournaments that slowly trickled down into the metagame of my area.
It became more expensive and less enjoyable. I slowly realized that I was playing with cards that I could not care less about instead of cards that I actually appreciated, cards that I would actually like to collect.
Call me an idealist, but I think that a Magic: The Gathering card, when done right, can be a very unique form of artwork.
Obviously, every card is a piece of artwork because of the imagery on the card.
(Whether or not it’s a good piece of artwork is clearly open to interpretation.)
But, when the imagery on the card works cohesively with the card title, flavour text and the mechanics of the card, it creates a truly unique piece of artwork that can’t be replicated by any one art form.
When done right, a MTG card is not just a painting or an excerpt from a novel or a piece of poetry.
It isn’t even just a trading card.
When done right, a MTG card is a multidimensional and unique piece of art.
(Of course, when a card is done wrong, it is just a piece of crap…)
It isn’t even that Ultimate Price is a poorly conceived card. The artwork is fitting. The flavor text is, well, suitable. And, the mechanics of the card operate in context. But, when set side by side, it is clear that Glyph of Doom has a more hand-crafted and authentic feel to it than Ultimate Price, which adds to its collectability, regardless of its playability.
While it would have made more sense for the Glyph of Doom to be an enchantment, the card still operates cohesively. During gameplay, the ominous glyph destroys any creatures that come in contact with a wall. The sinister artwork on the card reinforces the fatal nature of the glyph.
And, best of all (I am a literary fanatic), the card features a quote from William Faulkner. The quote, which alludes to death as a “wall of oblivion”, is probably the most fitting and interesting piece of flavor text that I have ever seen on an MTG card.
With the old black borders, color scheme and card design, Glyph of Doom has the authentic and hand-crafted feel that I truly appreciate in MTG cards. It seems that at some point in time, MTG cards lost that authentic personality and collectible feeling.
Call me nostalgic, but the newer cards feel overly processed and manufactured. Obviously, it is difficult to continue to create original material over long periods of time, but that is why Wizards has an entire art department. While it is necessary to recycle card mechanics throughout new cards, it does not seem right to recycle those mechanics without doing it with a sense of originality.
Clearly, we have seen Ultimate Price before.
But, at least some of the previous versions were creative and original takes on similar mechanics.
Before you comment on me being overly critical, read this scathingly honest and insightful review of MTG’s newest brood of slivers. I really don’t think it is asking a whole lot to produce trading cards that feel authentic, unique and collectible.
Please share your thoughts below.