Last night, at approximately 1:30 A.M., someone was vacuuming nearby. Not just any kind of vacuuming - it was the vacuum equivalent of loud, passionate sex, modulating pitch then holding it still at erratic intervals. I also heard a car door being shut at various intervals, so I don't know what that's about.
There's been a lot of disgruntled commenting about how the new Magic card front design is so much worse than the old design. I maintain that if you're going to complain about design changes, Magic cards have sucked ever since they changed "Summon Creature Type" to "Creature - Creature Type." Which, for the record, was back in Urza's Destiny.
But I don't hate the new front design - and if anyone gets to complain about the new Magic cards, it's the old-school guy who's been playing since Ice Age. So I think it's time to objectively compare the two in various categories and find out who wins overall.
The new layout is the winner here. The only major change was adding bars to put the name/mana cost and type/expansion symbol on, as well as putting the power/toughness in a more noticeable box - but that's kind of a big improvement, design-wise. What it does is unify the card so that instead of appearing like two separate boxes - art and text - it scans to the eye as one large block of content. I'll give new 1.5 points for that.
Again, this is one of the reasons why the new layout is cleaner. The new title font is black and bold, making it easier to read. There were also a couple of problems with the old title font - the capital "F" looked like a lowercase "f," and the white cards ended up with basically white text on a white background, making them very hard to read at a distance. This is just a minor thing, but new gets .5 points, for 2 so far.
You have to look closely to notice it, but they didn't change the symbol itself. They changed the colors. I kind of like the sepia shade they use on the new generic symbol backgrounds, but there was also a nice feel to the black-and-white symbol. The new symbol sticks out less on the card, but I think it's a tie.
They've changed the text box color on lands a lot. It started out with the dual lands' funky striping, and has been through various shades of purple, green, and blue-green before they settled on gold for the colorless lands and split-colored for the dual lands. I like the new lands' gray text-box background more than the Weatherlight-to-Scourge gold one (Ice Age-era purple is my favorite), and I think it's kind of a tie in terms of card backgrounds - the old one is nice and clean, but the new one feels a bit more landy. Overall tie!
Probably the most controversial change was making artifacts gray. Cause, you know, they're colorless and all, and "gray" is usually the first thing that comes to mind when you think of "colorless." I really think that brown expressed "artifact" better, but I've also enjoyed playing with my gray artifacts, and the new ones have nice background detailing that the original lacked. Also, the old artifacts had some weird pastel mosaic thing going on in the text box, which means it's another tie.
The old gold cards were rich and lavish, from the wavy gold-brown background to the fancy purple text box. It really felt like you were casting something special, like mixing the colors together gave you the privilege of playing with these elite spells. The new gold doesn't even come close to that. 1 point for the old!
The backgrounds are pretty much the same overall - old is a little more understated, but new is a bit peppier. The new text box is just gray, though, and the old one was probably the best of the original text boxes, looking like it was burned there by unholy magic. For that marginal victory, I award old a half-point, putting at 1.5 to 2.
The new blue background just looks watered-down. The old one was probably the best background among the originals. The new blue text box isn't that impressive either. Old gets a point!
I'm kind of ambivalent as to the differences in the text box but I like the old background better. I don't like the pastelization they did to a lot of the backgrounds. Old gets another point, leaving things at 3.5 to 2.
They had a perfectly nice design that just screamed "Red! Stone!" It was nice and clean, but they felt (rightly so) that red was more famous for fire than rock. So they made the new background a sort of washed-out lava thing. Now red looks kind of orangeish-pink. I know what they were trying to do here, so I'll only give old a half-point.
New White wins on a lot of different levels. Look at Old White! Look closely. What do you see? Lace. Lace and sand. I'm not a huge fan of white, but I think it deserves better than to be classed as an old Victorian lady who hangs out on the beach in her frilly undergarments. The new cards are a nice clean white with a subtle marbelization effect. That's honestly a lot better. Combine that with the fact that the white cards have WHITE TEXT ON A WHITE BACKGROUND, FOR GOD'S SAKE and you come up with a severe trouncing. 1.5 points for new!
I don't actually know at what point they started making the foil cards look good but they definitely sucked from Urza's Legacy (when they were introduced) through Invasion block, so I'll give the more recent cards a quarter-point for making the foils actually be something I might want to play with.
Old cards beat out new cards, but only barely - it's 4 to 3.75, and I could easily tweak it up to a tie if I got really picky in my analysis. You probably disagree with me, but I've been thinking about this a lot (not that much, though) and I think this is a pretty objective estimate.
Although I am maybe a little overenthusiastic for gold cards.