Anyone that picks up a RWS deck as their first tarot is likely to be entirely flummoxed by the VIII of Wands. What the hell is even going on in this image? A bunch of sticks flying through an open sky, or maybe just floating there? There's no visual indication of motion so we are just left with this still life of floating sticks.
Of course, anyone who has spent some time with the RWS knows that this card is all about swiftness and motion. So artistically I think it's actually one of the weaker RWS cards (this is a controversial position because a lot of people really love this image, especially include T. Susan Change).
Mercury rules the first decan of Sagittarius so we have the Magician (Mercury) with Temperance (Sagittarius).
I'm not fond of Waite's Pictorial Key and the description of the VIII of Wands is a perfect specimen why:
The card represents motion through the immovable-a flight of wands through an open country; but they draw to the term of their course. That which they signify is at hand; it may be even on the threshold.
Oh Art, writing just wasn't your thing.
So yeah, in this case I prefer the AT card over the RWS. I think many modern tarot decks that owe their inheritance to the RWS (which is most of them) have "fixed" this card so its meaning is more clear. In this case you can practically hear the thundering hooves of this majestic stallion as it gallops through a desert ravine.