Arting Around—Tiepolo and the Legion Loyalist

This week I’m going to take a look at Legion Loyalist. He’s a 1/1 goblin that does a bunch of sweet things when battalion is triggered. Eric Deschamps illustrated the card. I love the painting, I love the creature, and basically don’t have much to complain about. This is, of course, no reason not analyze it further.

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How sincere is this guy? He’s at the front of the charge like some red coat advance on American rebels. He’s no human but he doesn’t mind? LOOK AT HIM GO! He’s a scary Rudy. A mischievous Thomas the Tank Engine. He seems to have been painted by Manet!

Look at the central composition, emphasis on a single figure, and nondescript background! Manet must be a tremendous inspiration to Magic artists and perhaps The Fifer is the strongest influence on Legion Loyalist. The resemblance is uncanny!

Snooping around more of art history I actually began to see Legion Loyalist everywhere.

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He’s in Goya‘s Witches Sabbath (one of my all time favorite paintings). What’s his role in this painting? Does he come to put an end to the wicked ways of these crones and their child sacrifice? Is he simply joining in on the fun? Maybe the central beast is a member of Legion Loyalist’s family and he’s showed up just in time for a holiday meal.

The greatest paintings refuse to answer any of our questions. They’re perfectly content to generate more!

Now that I’ve found out how dedicated to art history the Loyalist is, I’ll expand my thoughts beyond a single painting by a prolific, magical, and eccentric artist and start thinking about the Tiepolo paintings at the top of the grand staircase in the Metropolitan Museum. I wonder if some memory blips of felt but unseen beings in these paintings are real. Sure enough, he’s here, too.

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He even shows up in an episode of Star Trek: TNG, co-staring R2D2, fighting alongside the goddamn Ferngi!

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Goblins have a rich history in Magic: The Gathering and a not so rich history in real-life art history. I’m so grateful to Legion Loyalist for ignoring the boundaries between art, illustration, fantasy, science, science fiction, Star Wars & Star Trek, film, television, and good taste. Without him the Where’s Waldo of existence could prove meaningless and inconsequential!

Now that I’m raging with inspiration I’m gonna go to my studio and paint my brains out! HOORAY!

Lots of love,

Matt
MTGO: The_Obliterator
www.mattjonesrules.com

Epilogue

David “Bones” McCoy, upon editing this post for grammar and form, dipped his fingers into content for a hot second and states the following:

“I could have sworn Legion Loyalist was Boros Recruit all grown up, no? Seems like you could get some mileage out of that. I can totally see you free-styling his life history between the original Ravnica and our Return.”

 

The original Ravnica block took place in an alternate reality where I was participating in other activities (namely alcohol, drugs, sex, and things that seemed a good idea at the time). Despite having experienced a few Ravnica drafts since emerging from the darkness of my former life, I have no memory of Boros Recruit existing. This is clearly contradicted by the existence of the above card on Gatherer.

I’ve been staring at these two images all morning, Boros Recruit and Legion Loyalist. Dave’s assessment that one is the grown up version of the other seems unfounded. When looking at Recruit we see a figure that is about 75% the scale of the humans surrounding him/her (I have no ability to judge the gender of goblins). Loyalist, proximity to the viewer taken into account, appears to be 50% the scale of the humans behind him/her. One could just as easily conclude that, if Loyalist and Recruit are the same humanoid form, humans in Ravnica have become much larger creatures or that goblins, as they age, shrink.

This seems unlikely. What is likely is that Dave has descended into the “they all look the same to me” mentality suffered by so many humans in relation to goblins. Because of this, I recommend we all take the time to appreciate our goblin brethren, assume nothing, and reach out to them. Maybe one day we can live in true harmony, human and goblin alike, in mutual understanding, and put this inherent distrust and speciesism behind us.

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Comments
9 Responses to “Arting Around—Tiepolo and the Legion Loyalist”
  1. David McCoy says:

    It would seem to me that Goblin is a creature types for the Gruul Clan rather than the Boros Legion. I’d argue, based on the flavor text of the Boros Recruit, that the Legion took in the one Goblin and made him a soldier during the original Ravnica block. This solitary Goblin Boros Legionnaire fought along side his human comrades (note that he is surrounded by humans in both images and that humans make up the vast majority of Boros creature types) and slowly moved up through the ranks.

    As we return to Ravnica, we find that our lowly recruit has ascended to a rank that not only allows him a sword but and awesome cape/cloak/whatever, and has gained some valuable skills in his time with the Legion. His ability to inspire his troops allow him to give them all first strike (like he had when he was a fiery recruit, but only if they charge headlong into battle with him) and to push those under his into a such a frenzy that they can trample over any who stand in their way.

    FURTHERMORE, you know I’m right.

  2. DMG says:

    ” Maybe one day we can live in true harmony, human and goblin alike, in mutual understanding, and put this inherent distrust and speciesism behind us.” Sounds good to me, but don’t tell Tividar. That guy is a jerk.

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