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Bloodbraid Elf, for Magic the Gathering.  Artwork by Steve Argyle

When I talk about my own art, I’m usually making fun of it.  I’ve always been a little awkward commenting on meaning and symbolism when it’s my own stuff.  

But I’m going to do just that.  This is an “insider” piece, for Magic the Gathering Judges and event staff.  And since that’s not exactly everyone, I’m going to get all Brigadier General Exposition at the rest of you.

This was created as a thank you to the unyielding patience and tireless efforts of a group of people who give their weekends to Magic players.  Making sure that everything goes smoothly, that everyone has a good experience.  They’re one of those crews that, the better they are at their job, the less you know they’re doing it.  Everything just seems to go right.

I’ve got a backstage pass.  I’ve seen how hard that is.  They deserve a whole lot more thanks than yet another playmat, but well, it’s what I can do…


  • Vantage point.  The viewer’s perspective is as a part of the action, not as passive audience.  They’re not coming at you, you’re going with them.  An active part of the story.  You are a Judge.  Or I was just too lazy to draw faces that day.

  • Sunrise.  Flying into the newborn day, the Judges are prepared, dedicated, and waste no time.  Tireless from dawn to dark, and all over again.  There is probably a coffee river down there.  Otherwise I have no idea how they manage it.  (Ooh, with donut rafts!)

  • Stone canyon.  The rules and history of Magic have carved an environment that, while beautiful, requires skill and knowledge to navigate.  Drakes to not have GPS.

  • Drakes.  Traveling great distances, both literally, and in their study.  Judges have an expansive world to survey and patrol.  The drakes must be quick and nimble, just as their riders actions must be.  Plus, I mean, c'mon, dwagons!  DWAGONS!  

  • Hammers.  The Judges long-handled hammer reaches far, and it can build, protect, or even support a weary traveler.  Also, obviously they’re excellent for banning!  

  •  Cloaks.  Prepared for any environment, no territory frightens them.  They will go where they are needed without hesitation.  They are super comfy.

  • Red and Black.  A legion of leaders, each has a place.  The red-cloaked Judge looks over, and after, his legion.  The black-cloaked Judges trust his vision, and they work together for victory.  They all have both red and black, as symbols of their path; where they have been, and where they are going.  They found an amazing sale at the fabric store.

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