Q: "Why do most of the white creatures from the Onslaught set wear armor that looks like it was made out of wicker baskets?"
--Matt Lotti, Winthrop, MA
A: From Brady Dommermuth, Magic creative director:
"Matt, long story. The idea behind the Onslaught set is that refugees from the rest of ruined Dominaria are arriving on the shores of Otaria, which isn't nearly as decimated as the rest of the planet. But these survivors are destitute - all they have is the rags they wear, some homemade tools and weapons, and maybe some relics salvaged from the embers of the Phyrexian Invasion.
"Because these new arrivals are so poor, I had this idea that the Clerics would fashion robes and 'armor' from the long grass of the Daru Plain (because that's pretty much all they have). It sounded like a cool idea in my head, and everyone went along with it. But when sketches of the grass garb came in from the concept artist who was in charge of developing the Clerics . . . well, you've seen the results. I wasn't happy with the sketches, but the art director at the time approved of them and thought they were good.
"To be fair, I think some of the Clerics turned out cool, such as Battlefield Medic, Dawning Purist, and Ancestor's Prophet. Others, um, could have been cooler. In short, a weak idea led to (what I think were) weak concept sketches, and the illustrators had some successes and some failures with the concept. Live and learn, right?"