I get a lot of questions from players who love their foils as to how best to maximize the pimpness ratings of their Magical cards. In order to make this a little more clearly apparent (and to write a slightly more whimsical than usual article) I've decided to take up the challenge as an article. Read on to discover the maximum in pimposity.
Oh, also, before I begin... I'm excusing Southern California's Jaco and New England's Jeff Anand from reading this article. They already know everything below.
The bleeding edge of pimpness: Beta
It's very, very difficult to find anything that can compete with the general attractiveness of a Beta card. The real draw to most people for these cards is the very thick borders and the dark inking. It's this abnormally dark color that keeps most players more interested in Beta than in Alpha. While the Alpha corners are fairly swanky, they're difficult to see when you're seated across from them instead of holding them. The color difference however is readily apparent, and even several tables down you can spot a Beta card if you're looking hard enough.
Next in line: Foils
None too rare is a Type One player absolutely loading their deck with gorgeous foil cards. Foils are so important to raw pimposity that sometimes, a foil card can even exceed a Beta card in pimpness. Though these situations are extremely rare, it does happen from time to time in the cases where the Beta art was phenomenally bad, such as Disenchant. It should be noted however that under no circumstances are DCI foils better than beta cards. The foil Sol Ring on the new face for example is horrifically ugly, and while somewhat pimp, it does not compete with good old Beta, despite the high price tag. [I disagree with Kowal here - the new Sol Ring rocks, though I'd still say the Beta Ring is hotter. - Knut]
Sometimes, a card will have more than one foil version. This happens with a lot of DCI foils or 7th/8th Edition reprints. In these cases, you can usually base your decision on avoiding the new card face, since it's decidedly unpimp. However sometimes there are two foil versions without a DCI logo on them, and these are the ones that require the most thought. Going for the better art is usually the way to go, but how the text is viewed is also a sway in the process.
Runner up: Asian
Asian cards are extremely pimp, and when combined with being foil, it's absurdly difficult to outdo. However, there's a whole food chain of Asian languages that you should be aware of before you start trading or buying pimp cards this high profile. I'll start from the top.
Korean is an absolutely gorgeous looking language. It's the one in which most of the characters are dark thick circles with various permutations on them. This language is crisp, clean, and best of all, it looks angry.
Japanese characters tend to have very little going on. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. While the language does not stand out especially well, it is also not so wild or busy that it hurts the eye like traditional Chinese does. This is the most common thing to want to find on a foil card, since Korean doesn't exist on foil cards, and Japanese has since foils were produced in sets. Uniformity goes a long way. They even match the Japanese Mirage cards!
Some would argue Simplified Chinese belongs a step above Japanese. While I humbly disagree, it is still a gorgeous language. It is mostly found in bold, and appears almost runic. It's another popular choice on foil cards, but a large portion of that is that S-Chinese is the easiest of the Asian foils to locate.
This isn't Asian! I'm well aware, however, it's ahead of T-Chinese on the food chain. T-Chinese is an absolutely ugly language, and European characters are actually preferable to it. You'll find German creeping up as the pimpest language on some older cards before Asian versions were in print, such as Gorilla Shaman, Force of Will, and Pyroblast.
Global Pimp Bonuses: Signatures and Misprints
While both of the above can improve the overall pimpness of a single card, when these cards are found in sets, their pimpness can actually decrease until the rest of the set matches. For example, having one signed Accumulated Knowledge makes it a pimp AK, however having it next to three Accumulated Knowledges without signatures reduces the already barren pimpness of them.
When discussing signatures, color becomes important. A metallic is generally the way to go, since it shines, shows up well on all colors, and it shines. Whether you go gold or silver is a personal taste thing, but I find myself liking gold quite a bit more. I've heard it described as "gaudy" by many a player, and that's what being a pimp is all about.
Misprints are trickier to classify. Since misprints could be so rare as to be unique, they obviously have tremendous pimp value. The difficult part of this equation is whether or not that pimp value overrides the uniformity issues outlined above with the AK example. Similarly, if you have a crimped foil Accumulated Knowledge, how well does it fit with three Japanese foil Accumulated Knowledge? This is once again a personal taste thing, but I generally stay away from misprints for play purposes unless the card is restricted and in its maximum flavor of pimp already.
Hope you all enjoyed. Tomorrow, I'll be giving you all a preview on the Star City Richmond metagame, and what to prepare for all players, no matter the budget.