Magic: The Gathering publisher Wizards of the Coast has announced it will no longer work with an artist accused of plagiarising large elements of his submission from both fan works and past cards.
Crux of Fate was revealed as part of the Mystical Archive set releasing concurrently with Strixhaven: School of Mages. It depicts two dragons named Ugin and Nicol Bolas engaged in battle. The characters are siblings and popular figures from the collectible card game’s recent storyline, additionally featured on their own planeswalker cards.
Shortly after, Kitt Lapeña - an artist who goes by scarypet on Twitter - posted that several people had brought to her attention that Crux of Fate’s illustration bore an uncanny resemblance to fanart of Nicol Bolas she created in 2016
Should I be flattered?hehe.But seriously,#MtG has been a major influence that developed my love for making art. (and I've sent application/portfolio many times to WotC.) Now someone told me my art made it into a Card! Ironically,in a somewhat s̷t̷o̷l̷e̷n̷ way #MTGStrixhaven pic.twitter.com/1HvUXOgGZk— 𝚜𝚌𝚊𝚛𝚢𝚙𝚎𝚝 (@omgscarypet) March 28, 2021
In the video, Lapeña compares the Nicol Bolas on Crux of Fate to her own work by superimposing the dragon’s arm, clawed hand and head. The two line up perfectly in several instances, down to the fact that Lapeña and new Crux of Fate’s artist Jason Felix both mistakenly gave Nicol Bolas five scaly fingers - the dragon antagonist is only supposed to have three, including the thumb.
“Well, the body doesn’t match,” Lapeña said in the subtitles of her video comparison. “They probably had to redraw this part because of that Deviantart watermark lol.”
Other people were quick to point out Ugin’s posing matched the art on a previously released card. The grey-green dragon’s head and shoulders mirrored Raymond Swanland’s submission featured on Ugin, The Spirit Dragon. The planeswalker card is fairly popular in constructed formats and Swanland’s work is fairly recognisable - 154 cards boast his handiwork.
Crux of Fate was originally printed in 2015’s Fate Reforged set before it was announced an updated version would be included in the Mystical Archive’s collection of spells. Felix has worked with Wizards of the Coast as a freelance artist for years and is credited on over 150 card illustrations, including two from the latest Kaldheim set.
Wizards of the Coast released a statement on March 30th addressing the accusations.
“It has come to our attention that the card Crux of Fate from the Strixhaven: School of Mages Mystical Archive may overtly feature Magic: The Gathering fan art and the contracted artist did not receive permission for this incorporation,” it reads.
“These actions do not reflect the values of Wizards, and, as a result, we will be suspending future work with Jason Felix until we have been able to bring this matter to successful conclusion.”
Lapeña followed up her initial tweet by saying she is “not really looking for confrontation” between her, Wizards of the Coast or Felix. She seemed to take the whole ordeal in stride, initially joking that her art finally made it onto a card, albeit not in the fashion she imagined.
She also apologized for giving Nicol Bolas too many fingers.