The Immortal Throne
On May 23, 2022, Erik's Curiosa released a significant card update that revealed the vast majority of the cards slated for the game's debut Alpha set. One of the most exciting cards that was revealed for the first time was artist Elvira Shakirova's "The Immortal Throne".
This card is special in a few ways. For one, it slots into the set as one of the very limited "Unique" rarity level cards. The rarity ranking in Sorcery: Contested Realm, from most rare to least rare, is "Unique", "Elite", "Exceptional", and "Ordinary". There is expected to be less than 60 "Unique" cards in the Alpha set. The Immortal Throne is 1 of 41 "Relic" cards that have been revealed, and 1 of only 8 Relics that slot in as a "Unique" rarity.
The game rules allow only one Unique rarity level card to be played per deck, which serves as a bit of a self-regulating mechanism for power balance in the game since Uniques are often exceptionally powerful cards. This certainly rings true for the card mechanic built into The Immortal Throne. Arguably the most powerful aspect of The Throne is not its powerful game-ending win condition, but rather its ability to create 'card draw' for its controller. 'Card draw' is an exceptionally powerful attribute in all Trading Card Games, and The Throne creates a draw engine that is well balanced for its cost and fairly strong relative to the games' other draw options. With an aggro/midrange deck, it shouldn't be too difficult to get a few draws from The Throne, and with decks designed around a 1-5 mana curve, it is possible to get up to 6 draws from it. This is a clever and quite deceptive nuance of this card that makes it most valuable, and very powerful.
But alas, this is a 'behind the art' feature, and the artwork for this card is striking! It beautifully delivers the "instantly iconic" fantasy throwback vibe that the game aims to achieve. From the epic card title, to the extremely flavorful type-line text ("A Unique Relic and Monument to eternal rule") the illustration concept masterfully captures the essence of 'immortal eternal rule'.
Elvira shared some insights on the game creator's artistic direction for the illustration, and her process leading to the final concept. The artistic direction was as follows:
""Immortal Throne" - An ornate throne either on a mountain spire or in an ancient cave. This is a relic that makes the minion that sits in it invulnerable, so it is less of a king's throne in a court, and more something ancient and mystical".
The final illustration creatively captures the ancient cavernous setting around the frame of the piece. Perched at its peak lies an ornate golden throne prominently illuminated from above to capture the significance and power that the throne beholds for its ruler. In the end, a beautiful design that is perfectly fitting of the design description and the card's gameplay mechanic. However, it was a windy road that led to its final conclusion; described by Elvira as follows:
"I completely misread it [the art direction] and went for something like everlasting nature-born artifact, like it's immortal because it feeds off nature itself. So in the first sketches it was a tree-like chair in the flourishing cave. Then Erik explained that he wanted an EPIC THROOOONE, like Warhammer-esque epicness overload:) And that's what I tried to go for in the end."
Ultimately, Sketch #3 met the mark. The piece has a sense of colorful storytelling. A treacherous path through an ominous cave. In the distance, a beautifully illuminated powerful throne. The treacherous path symbolically mirroring the effect of the card, in that a skillfully crafted deck archetype must be designed to fully unlock its power, while also thwarting the enemy so that they cannot seize the throne to win the conflict. And the ornate, illuminated throne, conveying the absolute power that its ruler beholds! The epic...Immortal Throne!...