Hello again, readers, and welcome back to the monthly alter review!
April was pretty good to me Magic-wise. I finally was able to go out to play in a couple tournaments again, I started painting again (finally!), and I had the opportunity to meet and chill with a bunch of new people in different stores. Even though I only participated in two events, I feel as though I’ve been surrounded by Magic more than I have in over six months!
I also mentioned in my last article that I recently started a new career in outside sales, which has me traveling all over southeast Ontario. I’ve been taking full advantage of this freedom to visit some great stores I would never have entered otherwise. I’m going to weave my tales from the road into the review. Enjoy!
We start things off with a surprisingly hip trend in altering right now: My Little Ponies! Yurius totally tricks out this Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker by adding six horsepower. The facial expressions and general lethargy make for a good laugh.
Nicolarre did a set of Kors for a friend, but this Looter il-Kor was far and away my favorite from the lot.
Demonium hit this month hard and has a bunch of alters I’ll be showing today. His original take on Dralnu, while sticking with a tighter color palette than usual, is awesome.
Counter-Top has been one of those alters that comes up every single month in the forums, yet having the extra space to work on the art has yielded an exceptional result. The more I see Tom’s play-mat work, the more it makes me want to try my hand at it.
Yurius is back with another one in the first week thanks to his extremely detailed set of TV thinkers. For those of you who don’t spend much time on the tube, the top left is Dexter, top right is House. The one on the bottom left is Walter Bishop from Fringe, and the bottom right is Walter White from Breaking Bad. These things are so detailed it blows me away.
Skipping forward a few days brings us to the extension of a beautiful Tomasz Jedruszek piece: Homeward Path by Sandreline. All her work is so clean and well blended, and I love a good extension.
Seesic (formerly Masamune) has always painted beautiful original works in such a unique way, and it’s nice to see these works back in the forums. I love how this Land Tax reminds me of the Robin Hood movies, with the guards taking money from the lowly farmer. Fantastic piece.
Tom Gartin posted another play mat on the tenth, and this one should tickle the fancy of many a Magician right now. Stoneforge Mystic is forging all of the Swords and has a little extra Batterskull love in the background!
Poxy and his dual lands. What else is there to say really?
Care for a little stained-glass action? This holy Swords was inspired by a real-life stained glass piece, and Dewil has done a fantastic job replicating it. Well worth the extra hours for sure.
I normally stay away from the barely clothed female alters, but the foiliness coupled with the border work were too cool not to show you guys. Even the light white-gray swirls by the Sphinx’s title bar are neat. No detail spared—that’s the BigUp way! [Editor's Note: As a fan of Unhinged it was immediately obvious to me that Save Life served as the model for our lady. I'm very curious to know more about this particular alter now! - Adam]
Morgege may be a newcomer to the review, but I understand he/she rolls with Sandreline, so I imagine we’ll be seeing a lot more quality pieces in the future. I liked this Memnite for the extension aspect at first, and then I realized the text box shape was changed, and overall, I think it’s quite the improvement.
The third and final piece from a busy day in April comes from the amazing Marta Molina. She nails another land grouping with these incredible Snow-Covered Forests. I wish I could just steal an ounce of her talent.
The following day, Marta posts again, but this time, she arranges the Forests a little differently! Amazing stuff.
In the middle of April, I managed to couple a trip to the office in Mississauga (greater Toronto area) with a tournament thanks to my veteran Magic bro and super-troll, Sean Peconi (@seanpeconi). He had a meeting Monday morning with his company, which is also based in Mississauga, and he already had a company-funded hotel room for the night. Score!
The tournament being held on Sunday was taking place at a store I had never been to before but have heard a lot about: Untouchables Sports and Gaming. They were sure to draw a fair number of players, as first place would receive two boxes or $250 store credit, which is quite substantial for Ontario events.
As we suspected, there ended up being a solid number of players participating, and although I didn’t do so well, I met a bunch of new people and got to hang out with the crew that came down from our base in the Toronto area: Heroic Dreams. The seating was a little tight despite being a fairly large game room, but it was well lit and overall comfortable. The gentleman tasked with running the tournament, Andrij, did a fantastic job. He was running two tournaments (the Yu-Gi-Oh! guys were there, too!) and running back to help customers at the counter the whole time, so big props to you, Andrij.
I really liked the store and will definitely be stopping in every time I’m up at head office.
Sandreline has done a fair number of Islands in the past, and I’m surprised there isn’t another planet proudly lingering in the nights sky. Her work with clouds, water, and lighting is, as always, beautiful.
Donnie the airbrush man, knocking out a pretty sweet location for the Lord to swim around in. Using the airbrush and typical brushes in tandem makes for a really nice glowing effect on this piece; well done.
The only thing cooler than Demonium’s art on this one is the German translation for Snapcaster Mage.
Another ridiculous Marta land mural; another lost eBay auction. The textures on this set of Forests is unbelievable.
I’ve probably seen over one hundred Mana Leak extensions, as it’s a card most would-be alterists gum up for their first attempt. This piece by Ssalternation, however, is good. The transitions from original to borders is flawless, and the work displayed on the bottom portion of the card is both creative and well executed.
This foily Damnation / Pulling Teeth mash-up by BigUp is brilliant. I think folks are referring to these as collages despite there only being two source images in this one. BigUp has again developed a completely different type of alter by playing a little cut-and-paste before finishing it off with paint.
Bristol is back with another cool land alter, choosing Dryad Arbor this time around. Tiki-mask tree for the win!
Also on the April 26, I was doing my biweekly trip to Kingston. The flooring stores I call on generally close at 5:30 P.M., and I wasn’t really all that hungry yet, so I popped open WotC’s store locator and picked the closest one to start.
Once I found a parking spot close to where my iPhone was directing me, I started searching for the storefront. I spotted the Gaming Nexus awning easily enough, but under that awning was a door that opened to a dimly lit set of stairs descending to the unknown. It was a little off-putting, like going down an alley at night in New York.
When I entered the store proper, though, all was well. Actually, they might have been more afraid than I was, actually, as I was wearing a tie and carrying my iPad (to pull up my Needs spreadsheet). Once I started digging into the boxes of singles, the tension dissipated as it was discovered I was one of them. At first glance, as you approach the centralized counter, it seems that there is an entire mirrored wall over by the play area. I had to physically walk over to the first row of tables to realize the size of the play area; it was huge! Looking around, it was clear that tabletop gaming was their main focus, so the space was understandable.
I spent a bit of time conversing with the store owner, Michael, and he informed me that there’s a casual Standard event every Thursday night run by one of the local players. This was awesome news, as I stay over in Kingston every second Thursday!
We continued chatting for a bit as I went through his very limited singles selection, and he mentioned that the guy who runs the Standard event is a huge backpack dealer and sells his wares at the store and should be by any minute to set up. Cool.
Minutes passed, and in walked the dealer. It was quite apparent, as he was the only one wearing a fedora in the room: baller status. If Medina could find a fedora that fit his melon, he’d be rocking one, too.
So, I got to chatting with this hip cat and learned that he used to work at the often-loathed Skyfox games store in Oshawa (also a section of Toronto) but had moved to Kingston to service an untapped market. His name is John Wasson, and he has been in the game for quite some time, making a name for himself as a dealer in Ontario. Speaking to John about the Magic scene on a provincial level was great, as most folks don’t really get outside of their local store.
His binders and boxes were large and diverse, too, allowing me to make trades and purchases for stuff I can’t find locally, which was stellar. I grabbed his contact info and took my leave of the Gaming Nexus in search of the shop around the corner, 4 Colour, 8 Bit.
4 Colour, 8 Bit was far less intimidating in terms of appearance. The innards were well laid out, spacious, and comfortable, even accommodating a nice comfy couch in front of the big screen on the back wall. This shop definitely had more stock than the previous one, but again, his focus was elsewhere. Glancing around, it was clear that this was the premiere comic shop in the area.
I spent about two hours there with the shopkeeper Adam handing me a constant supply of binders, culminating in a whopping $10 purchase. It probably wouldn’t have taken that long to go through the binders had he not been playing Rocky 3 on the big TV. If you’ve been following these articles for any length of time, you’re aware that I’m easily distracted.
Thanks, Adam, for taking the time to chat and move binders around. I promise I’ll spend more money next time to make it up to you!
Overall, I’d say I was pretty pleased with what I discovered in Kingston. Although the supply was limited, the players are there and are being supported by one of their own, so all is not lost.
Now I’m really looking forward to getting out to the Nexus for some Thursday-night Standard!
A second piece from Seesic with that uniquely ethereal quality. Very nice Preordain indeed.
From there, things seem to just die off. What could be happening that would lead to no alters being completed this past weekend?
Sarcasm aside, I can’t wait to start seeing the alters on all the new Avacyn Restored cards. There is some wicked-good art in this set, and I’m sure I’ll have ten or so Tamiyo, the Moon Sages to sort through for the next review.
Also, many of you mentioned that links to the artists’ websites and contact info was something you’re interested in. I used to do this when I began the series, but I stopped for some reason. Yes, I realize that I didn’t do it again this month, but that’s because I have something much cooler planned to help connect customer with artist, so stay tuned!
Happy gaming and painting,