By Adrian Burton
Welcome to Gates of Chaos.
Gates is a set that differs a bit from prior ones I’ve directed in that a large number of the cards are 2012 Kotei results. This provided a lot of ground work for the descriptions based on names, locations or themes of the cards. As a result we have a set that shows off a lot of locals providing a visual tour. We have everything from slaves in the mines to vast temples uncovered in the jungle. With the art article coming out first this rotation, forgive me for talking around spoilers somewhat.
Total number of illustrations commissioned: 155
Number of artists used: 39 (Slightly lower than average)
New Artists: Nikolay Stoyanov, Jonathan Moore, Crystal Ben, Jazz Siy, Lino Drieghe, Mateusz Ozminski
The most beautiful card might be John Donahue’s Lakeside Retreat which is out there having been used for some announcements. It’s a terrain card and it fits into a place in our design where terrains can be more than just a landscape. We hope to bring them into city and temple locations more often, sort of like Street to Street or Crowded Street.
The other contender is The Eternal Rainbows card by newcomer Nikolay Stoyanov. An oasis with mystic geysers of water making permanent rainbows it’s an inspiring piece of desert landscape.
With a lot of turf taken during the 2012 Kotei Season, the Crab get shown off largely in aggressive stances, with their weapons out. They received a mix of new (Jonathan Moore) and established artists (Carlos NCT, Manuel Calderon, Wenjuinn, John Donahue). Toritaka Chokichi Exp by Wenjuinn is their top piece. We see her using her senses and mother’s blade to seek out her enemies on a scouting mission, sporting some light armor for ease of movement in thick forest. She’s focused and ready for any trouble she tracks down.
Crane struggled a bit in the 2012 Kotei Season. We see the Crane in GoC defending, readying and fortifying the land they have. Crane though receive several experienced personalities this set. One of whom is the Favored of the Air Dragon, testing his newfound blessing with forceful and unexpected results. A general goal has been to show off the stronger air spells via whirlwinds and tornadoes and the Favored of the Air Dragon was a perfect candidate. One other character released this set is wearing a very familiar set of Crane armor from a classic Clan Wars hero and he has a trait that ought to hint towards the reason he is using it.
Also giving a solid performance in the Kotei, the Dragon show up a great deal in Strategy cards with many locations they discovered shown off. We see the clan in more jungle and forest settings rather than their normal mountain backgrounds largely due to to this performance. They also receive a pretty slick looking Ise Zumi based on the 2011 Emerald Championships costume contest winner, illustrated by Conceptopolis taking in a deep breath before unleashing a gout of flame in a cold winter landscape.
I suspect Lion got slightly extra spoiled this set when it comes to art. My favorite piece finally comes out long after it has been spoiled online. Ikoma Ayumu by Diego Llorens. It is a visceral piece, he is standing among the bodies of his enemies, the city burning behind him, his sword dripping with blood he just looks epic and I’ve been excited to finally see his card release. They also receive their prize for Gen Con 2012, and that amazing Dairuko piece by Tony Foti. Good set to be a Lion. The Lion also see several nods to their interactions with the Yodotai during this time.
Also snagging a solid number of experienced personalities are the Mantis. One of those is Moshi Sasako by Jason Engle. Being a bit of an extrovert, she shows off her powers by splitting lightning onto two vessels behind her as almost an afterthought. She remains one of the few Moshi defying her families otherwise traditional sense of dress and etiquette. The Mantis also receive a really beautiful piece by Alayna Lemmer in the form of a Kitsune playing pied piper.
Phoenix were on the lower end of victories for the 2012 Kotei season, and as such didn’t receive a great deal of the art that was influenced by it. In this set, most of the focus is on the individual scenes and telling small stories. Many of the characters are meditative and focused at their respective tasks at hand. They had bigger things to worry about than grabbing land. One of their experience pieces is Isawa “The Dude “Norimichi by Jason Behnke, who continues to abide in a stoic scene creating a diamond as he focuses his energies.
We had a diverse crew in this batch of Scorpion, and as a clan that has its fingers in all the cookie jars, unifying themes I setup usually fail for them to some degree. They are – as always – everywhere, doing a variety of tasks which range from collecting heads to guarding a courtier or hiding a body. Perhaps I should just say they are taking care of their own. in Gates of Chaos, the piece I really love for them is Soshi Kodanshi. The idea was that he is just dealing with a body as part of his every night tasks, ninja like. So many video games these days require to hide bodies, it’s not all just pop out, kill and run work for them.
Spider this set ended up with the first “couple” that I’ve ever set up. Daigotsu Kikumura and Ryuko. Not sure if the story team will take the bait or not but they were set up to have similar masks with green eyes. they carry on the growing theme of Daigotsu family armor mimicking onis as their totem so to speak. Spider also gets a Mario Wibisono experienced character which is full of creepy so we hope they will enjoy that. The clan also receives an experienced Ninube Onchi on the countdown. I really like how she turned out: she has clearly made a mess of someone who got in the way of her skulking about.
More Shinjo Tselu! I think design has a favorite character. Good thing we like him too. He gets to show up in his slick new Ivory Armor with his proboscidea-esque helmet. Unicorn also get an Ide Courtier, which as far as my memory and the Oracle of the Void tells me is a first for Emperor Edition. So we have him getting in between a fight to calm it down as per the Ide major purpose in life. Their other experienced character gets a great Sergio Camarena piece, shown as a leader of men whose task is to subdue a rebellion. It’s a moody piece which is actually a bit tricky to showcase when purple is a big color. We hope the Unicorn enjoy him.
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