Apart from the basic lands in alpha/beta, Antiquities was the first set with different versions of the same card. One could argue that the misprints in Alpha (like Cyclopean Tomb) got a new version in Beta, or that the cards in Arabian Nights that got updated mana symbols (like Oubliette) technically exists in different versions, but Antiquities was the first set where this was consciously done by using different art.
Having cards with different art became popular in the mid 90s, and it could be seen extensively in Fallen Empires, Homelands and Alliances. Nowadays alternative art is almost exclusively used in special products, like "From the Vault"-supplements or Duel Decks. I think that the last time we saw multiple versions of the same card in a normal set was during Kamigawa (with Brothers Yamazaki).
In antiquities, there were five cards with different versions; the three Urza lands, Strip Mine, and Mishra's Factory. The Strip Mines look very much alike, and there's not a lot of discussion on which Strip Mine is the most “pimp” version; most people don't really care, and the rest usually consider it to be the version with the small tower. With the factories however, there's a pretty big difference, and people have vastly different ideas. This is my personal ranking of the different versions. "Pimp" is very much a matter of taste, and I'm sure many players disagree with my opinions here ;)
Comparatively boring with its washed out green colors, and by far the most common version. The number of spring factories in existence are vastly greater than any of the other Aq versions, as the spring factory was the only one to be a common card in the set.
Autumn looks nice, but the fact that it has been reprinted so many times (4th in a myriad of languages, and as a Judge Reward) makes it seem less impressive and like an “average factory”. Every fbb mishra will look like this, which makes the aq version less interesting.
3. One of each
I can see arguments for this, but to me it still seems like “semi-pimp”. If you play a vintage storm deck, it's not like you have one ritual from Beta, one foiled from Masques, one from JR and one japanese from Tempest, you chose one and use that. That's an extreme example, but it still feels a little random with one of each Mishra.
The winter version is awesome, I can't say anything else. The only issue I have with it is that it is "obvious pimp". It's a little like a foil japanese Trygon Predator, a card that is simply consensus pimp. Winter Mishras are sweet, and I do own a playset for my Legacy deck, but they are second to one version.
Now, the summer version have everything going for it. Mainly, it's the best season. If you haven't spent a winter in the Nordic countries, it's hard to explain just how dark and depressing it can get. In Oslo, we had less than 20 hours of sunlight between new years eve and the first of March. That is less than one day of sunlight in two months. During the summer though, life is as awesome as it gets. Everyone is beautiful, good times are everywhere, and all the beer is free. With the summer version looking fairly close to spring (though with much nicer color), it's also a little more subtle than the winter version.
The main reason I'm thinking about Aq pimp right now is a very personal one though. Last week I got a new trio of Transmute Artifacts from Eli Kassis, and I really wanted to show them off. Eli is a well known collector from the U.S., and his collection is truly amazing. The Transmutes I got from him are pretty far away from "subtle pimp", but they are nonetheless impressive in their uniqueness:
Next weekend it's time for the WSK gaming convention! I'll be travelling up to Småland with Freespace and Åland to play 93/94, Vintage and hopefully a few more casual formats. It seems like a great start of the vacation :)