Several of you have have asked:
"Why the art change to the new slivers?"
In case you hadn’t heard, today the official Magic Twitter account @wizards_magic tweeted pictures of some new sliver cards from the upcoming set Magic 2014. Slivers have evolved a bit since you last saw them.
Not everyone reading this was playing Magic when we saw slivers last, so for a bit of background: Slivers are a feared, uncontrollable race of rapidly-evolving predators. Their species is organized into a hive structure, much like some social insects. But slivers don’t just share food and resources — terrifyingly, they also share adaptations. Whenever one sliver innovates a new mutation, that mutation spreads rapidly throughout the entire hive, so that every individual can grow, and adapt, and hunt more effectively.
These slivers previewed for Magic 2014 are more humanoid than the beak-headed, one-clawed, one-tailed forms we saw before. The reasons are basically twofold.
First, the thinking in Creative was that the earlier sliver anatomical design was not really adaptable enough to meet the art needs of another batch of slivers. After Time Spiral block, the range of different body morphologies of the one-claw sliver was already in danger of being played out. We had already seen two-headed slivers, two-clawed slivers, two-tailed slivers, brainy slivers, leafy slivers, spiky slivers — a lot of variations on that one design, an anatomical theme that was never actually planned out beyond the first handful of slivers in Tempest and Stronghold. M14 adds a host of new slivers, and we decided it was time to broaden their range of potential morphologies.
Second, these new slivers were going to appear in the core set. The core set is of course meant for everyone, but it’s the set that we especially like to put in front of newer players. It was felt that slivers’ appeal would be greater for a wider audience if they could be given more of a personality than the eyeless, beaked creatures could support. We wanted them to be able to look you in the eye like other fantasy races, to be capable of a greater range of body language and even, sometimes, to generate facial expressions.
The visual evolution also helps differentiate the older slivers from the newer. The designers and developers felt it was important to have these slivers’ rules text work slightly differently than before, in that your slivers only “see” the slivers on your side of the board, and don’t grant abilities to your opponents’. From Creative’s end, that rules difference wasn’t a huge impetus for the visual change in itself, but it made for a logical time to make the change.
Between these reasons, the new super-adaptable-but-tends-to-be-more-humanoid morphology was devised for slivers. Many iterations were worked on. Many designs were tried and abandoned before this one in the attempt to get this race to a new evolution. This new design has these movable plates that lets the slivers rearrange their anatomies, and one of their arms is often elongated and sharpened, reminiscent of the sliver claw — it’s actually really clever what the guys have come up with. I wish I could show you all the concept art and backstory writing we developed for them. But I don’t have that here with me at home (I’m posting from ye olde laptop in my bedroom as per usual), and anyway I think it’d probably be too early to show. M14 previews won’t officially start for a while. But it would definitely make a good article on DailyMTG at some point.
I know you’ve only seen a few of these evolved slivers so far, but I’m curious to hear your initial thoughts. Whether you have thoughts about how you think they’ll be received by others, or it’s your own personal reactions, my ask box is open.
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