Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Magic in a Box!

by Randy

Hello, hello! Happy holidays to everyone out there! I hope everyone is having a great time celebrating with their families, and hopefully playing a few games, too. Today I wanted to share a gift idea and craft project. This is a Christmas gift that my wife and I put together for Katie, who just turned six. We introduced her to Magic: the Gathering this year, and she has been craving more!

Angie and I have played Magic for a few years now. Though initially we were hesitant to start playing a collectible card game, we have had a blast with this. Currently, our preferred format for playing is Commander, which is a multiplayer format we feel works great for casual players like us. Katie also showed interest, and, earlier in the year, set a goal to learn to read better so that she could play Magic with us (I'll let Angie relate more on that later, if she wants to!). Now, she wants to play Commander. And Angie came up with the idea to make a Commander deck for her for Christmas with Damia, Sage of Stone as the general.

Here's where I come in: I made a box for the deck. I started with a standard small corrugated cardbox that you can pick up at any card shop. I have been a miniature painter for years, but I haven't really done much in the way of character painting. Still, I decided that on every face, I would paint an interpretation of a card that appears in her deck. I was pretty happy with the results, for the most part. If you click on the name of the piece, it will take you to the card listing in the Magic: The Gathering card database, the Gatherer.

Howlpack Alpha: We picked up the Mayor of Avabruck/Howlpack Alpha card at the Innistrad prerelease and Katie loves this card. Her favorite deck thus far has been a green one that has a variety of effects that create Wolf tokens and this seemed like a no-brainer to put in her Commander deck.

Damia, Sage of Stone: This is the general of her deck (for what that means, check out the Commander Rules). This was the first side I painted, and sadly my least favorite; it was a bit later in painting that I "found my groove". If you check the link, this is the one that diverges the most from the card art.

Wydwen, the Biting Gale: A fun and tricky fairy to throw in. I don't feel I did the shimmery pieces justice, but whatever. I'm happy with the background, and I feel it came out okay.

Prized Unicorn: In a six year old girl's deck, a unicorn is practically obligatory. Not only is this card pretty, it's also super useful; I've seen many games won by use of this card. I was really happy with this piece, too. This one is tied with the next one for being my favorite.

Full Moon's Rise: This is a utility card that boosts Werewolf creatures, of which there are a few in the deck. I really liked the card art for this one and thought it would be great for the front of the box and with a Magic logo glued on top. I liked my results on this one!

I also did a top for Katie's box. This is not my favorite piece, but gets the point across. Here it is:

So that's it. Katie loved it, and the deck. If we feel particularly ambitious after a few rounds of play and tweaking, I may ask Angie (who is building the actual deck) to post the deck list. If we do, please note that it isn't a deck focused on power combos or designed for super-competitive play, it is instead focused on simple rules and ease of play for a beginner.

For those interested in something like this as a creative project, I want to point out that the box itself is one that you can find at any card shop for around a dollar. The paint I used for this one was tube acrylics (Reeves brand) applied with Citadel brand brushes, with the help of a Privateer Press P3 Wet Palette. If you work with acrylic paint at all, I highly recommend use of a wet palette (Google it and you will find both commercially available ones, as well as instructions for making your own). Prior to painting, I used a non-photo blue colored pencil to lay down the lines to start with. These pencils are super light and will not show up even with heavily thinned layers of paint. Here is another similar box I made for my son for his Super Mario Bros. trading cards:

Anyway, that's that! Any other gamer geeks out there who did game-themed crafts for holiday gifts? We'd love some links!