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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 12:47 am 
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I think I did something not terribly unlike this in the past, but I decided to pick it up again because, hey, why not?
The premise of this thread and others like it will be simple: Express our appreciation for the art or design of a particular card type or subtype.
There's no limit to the number of posts you can make or how dense they have to be, just share whatever opinions you have about your favorites of whatever the subject happens to be.

I'm starting us off with a pretty diverse topic this go around. Your top tier picks for dragons!

Personally, one of my go to favorites in the traditional red is Skyship Stalker. There's so much I like about this one, in terms of visual motifs and the art. I really liked the idea of infusing the strong Tiger aesthetics into the dragons on Kaladesh (even if I feel the dynamic of that decision was a little backwards) because they reminded me so strongly of Wasitora (more on her in a sec). While it doesn't display the same level of detail as Freejam Regent, I think Skyship Stalker is MUCH better at conveying the nature and feline aspects of the beasts. The body language is loads better and even with just a handful of feline traits, though less prominent than the Regent, the Stalker NAILS the predatory nature so much better. It FEELS more like a tiger dragon while being less on display.

Chris Rahn's color pallet is really strong too, very common for his work, but the red and blue contrast just knocks this one out of the park.

Circling back to Wasitora, I consider her to be one of the bigger disappointments in this subject. while I don't think the card is BAD, I just feel underwhelmed. The ability makes a good deal of sense, but is somehow just a tiny bit plain for my taste. Even so, I like the mechanics, but the art lacks a lot. It's technical skill is present, but it has no personality. Depicting her mid pounce is extremely bland, and even her design leaves something to be desired. When you say 'cat dragon' and especially 'queen' I'd expect art closer in personality to Sharuum or sphinx ambassador, but Wasitora sadly fails to deliver, ending up more akin to patagia tiger and worse for it.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 12:54 am 
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Hellkite Igniter
It's a Rocket. Dragon.

I feel I have no need to say more.

Okay, but I will.
The sense of motion in the piece is MONUMENTAL and again, the contrast is such that the piece reads really well. The little details, like the internal glow and air intake along the ribs make this one of the coolest species of dragon MtG has ever done, and the way this is such a massive improvement over Furnace Dragon in every way demonstrates that sometimes the concept just needs a better execution to best spread its wings.

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To deafened ears we ask, unseen / "Which is life and which the dream?"


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 4:43 am 
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I looked through gatherer and came upon an old piece of art that I had all forgotten about. Shivan Dragon might be the OG dragon of old, but my early magic days consisted of looking through the card database in the Starter 2000 game, and the big dragon of my youth will always be Crimson Hellkite.

crimson hellkite

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 5:22 am 
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I'm actually kind of hard pressed to remember my first dragon card. I inherited a collection when someone got married, so I'm not sure what dragons might have come along for that ride. I do vividly know what my first chase rare dragon was, but I'll come back to it some other time.

One thing I've been very vocal about is how much I hate how pigeonholed dragons are in red. I guess that's the D&D Monster Manual speaking through me, but one particular card I lament will likely never see light again is the Weatherlight art printing of Alabaster Dragon.

Aside from its appearance on Serra's Realm, I just really like the design and water color aesthetics. I think I'm personally biased towards it as a protector dragon trope since I grew up reading Anne McCaffrey.

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To deafened ears we ask, unseen / "Which is life and which the dream?"


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 12:21 pm 
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Yosei the morning star is a good take on eastern dragon aesthetics. Both card arts.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 2:40 pm 
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Let's see....favorite dragons by color:

White - Exalted Dragon was one of my earlier non-Red dragons and just had a very iconic look to it that has stuck with me over the years.
Blue - While I really like the old-school looks of both Cloud Dragon and Mist Dragon, Shimmer Dragon definitely has a lock on blue draconic majesty. Honorable mention does go to Silver Wyvern though for being one of my favorite non-dragon draconics though.
Black - I will always have a place in my heart for the art of Catacomb Dragon, but man is Skithiryx one non-sexually sexy beast.
Red - A lot of competition in this color for obvious reasons. I find myself really gravitating to the three Innistrad dragons. Outside of Innistrad, with its gaunt bony boys, I find the chunkier Avaricious Dragon, Rathi Dragon, and Thundermaw Hellkite very pleasing.
Green - Not a lot of choices here. I'm really not a fan of Tarkir's moose-dragons, so I guess Canopy Dragon gets my vote, but honestly, it's sort of a pity pick as I'm also not as much a fan of Kamigawa flying noodle dragons either.
Multi-color - Firestorm Hellkite has always been a pretty memorable multi-color dragon for me, mostly due to the art.
Colorless - While I do really like the art for Scion of Ugin, nothing in this category compares to the sheer awesomeness of Steel Hellkite.

Legendary - Funny jokes about how Wasitora looks like a cat but is a dragon and Niv-Mizzet looks like a dragon but is a cat aside, my favorite legendary dragon art has to be Intet, the Dreamer, though honorable mentions go to its cycle siblings Oros, the Avenger and Numot, the Devastator.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 6:23 pm 
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One of my favorite things about Magic is how it varies its recurring creature types to fit different planes, and dragons are a great example of this. I'm really tempted to go through them all right now, but I really should be working, so I won't.

I will give a shoutout, though, to Terror of the Peaks, for being my favorite recent piece of dragon art. There's so much power in this piece. The dragon looks ready to pounce and crash straight through a castle wall or something. It makes me realize how incredibly important posing is to me when I look at a dragon. When the artists is really thinking about where every body part should go, you get beautiful works like Backdraft Hellkite and Rapacious Dragon, and when they're not, you get really static feeling stuff like Leyline Tyrant.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:20 pm 
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My favourite dragon art of all time has to be Ian Miller’s Viashivan Dragon.
I love the Albrecht Durer woodcut weirdness that makes this seem like a depiction you would find in-world (not like an uncanny valley video-game cutscene).

Spoiler


I also love the storybook sensibility of the original Sneak Attack:

Spoiler


and the menace and subtle detail of Destructive Urge (look at the reflection of the burning village in the dragon’s eye).

Spoiler


All of these tell a story in card form in a way that makes sense at card size, and each has their own style that makes them easy to recognize and parse at a glance.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2020 12:00 pm 
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I may be a bit late for the party, but I appreciate dragons too...

Barinellos wrote:
Circling back to Wasitora, I consider her to be one of the bigger disappointments in this subject. while I don't think the card is BAD, I just feel underwhelmed. The ability makes a good deal of sense, but is somehow just a tiny bit plain for my taste. Even so, I like the mechanics, but the art lacks a lot. It's technical skill is present, but it has no personality. Depicting her mid pounce is extremely bland, and even her design leaves something to be desired. When you say 'cat dragon' and especially 'queen' I'd expect art closer in personality to Sharuum or sphinx ambassador, but Wasitora sadly fails to deliver, ending up more akin to patagia tiger and worse for it.
Very much agreed. Another part of my frustration is that Wasitora is another one of those legends where the art is at best loosely based on her description in the storyline, and I think that's a shame because the result might have looked better if the artist had gone for the black, white and gold that her fur is actually supposed to be, especially in a calmer pose. Generally speaking, though, I appreciate that the card is out there because it opens the door for more cat dragons in the future.

Barinellos wrote:
One thing I've been very vocal about is how much I hate how pigeonholed dragons are in red. I guess that's the D&D Monster Manual speaking through me, but one particular card I lament will likely never see light again is the Weatherlight art printing of Alabaster Dragon.
Alabaster Dragon is one of my top picks as well, and I'm firmly in the same camp when it comes to more no-red dragons. I get that Magic wants to keep its colours distinct and that the "iconic" creature types exist for a reason, but I think they should try to expand what dragons can be at least once in a while. As you suggested above, it's a pretty common thing in fantasy to have a wide variety of dragons in lots of different flavours, and it's safe to say that Magic could do more on that front while still being resonant.

In fact, the storyline has a lot to offer when it comes to non-red dragons, it's just that the cards barely represent that. I have a pretty strong desire to delve deeper into the things that have already been established first, instead of constantly pumping out brand new and completely unrelated stuff at an unsustainable rate. Dragons would be an ideal vehicle for that sort of thing. I just hope this won't be forever restricted to Tarkir going forward, because it's actually Dominaria that has the most to offer when it comes to diverse dragons.


Going through some of my favourites from the cards...

Spoiler

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2020 12:37 pm 
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Scalies are cute

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:06 pm 
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Sprite Dragon with the normal artwork from the set, and mostly for the fact that they finally made a Faerie Dragon at all. Would have been cooler to see it on Shandalar where it belongs, but it's another one of those cards that will hopefully open the door for more of its kind when the time is right.

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EDIT: Also, look at this colorful boy!
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:40 pm 
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Astral cards don't count :-P

But yeah, those are kinda funny. The random effects always mess me up worse than my opponent in that game, though :/



But seriously, I'd love to get a real set on Shandalar with Faerie Dragons and Astral Dragons and all that good stuff.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 1:03 am 
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Best dragon is still Anjomeddon, the Fiery Temper, although I liked the original name better, "Anjomeddon, The Sun Itself".

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 1:15 am 
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Looping waaaaaay back around, I'm still feeling very sketchy about the entire affair over the Elder Dragon War.
In some fashions, I want to try to cube together a new, more fitting, structure for the war.
But despite my... ill feelings towards what they did to it, I do still largely like the new Elder Dragon designs.

Coming back to an earlier statement, my favorite dragon of all remains to be Niv-Mizzet, likely partly because the art was done by the dragonmaster himself, Todd Lockwood. His depictions of the dragons in the third edition monster manual are what sold me on the entire thing. It helps, I suppose, that he was my first draconic chase card.

I'm sure I'll choose a few more noteworthy pieces to highlight, but by next week, I think I'll be moving to our next creature appreciation thread, so stay tuned for more!

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 3:13 am 
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Of the Elder Dragon redesigns Palladia is my favourite since she more closely mirrors and contrasts Nicol and Ugin. Chromium is a close contender since he is probably one of the few fantasy creatures to take after the more realistic modern depictions of pterosaurs, even more so than the game's actual pterosaur stand ins.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 3:26 pm 
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Barinellos wrote:
Looping waaaaaay back around, I'm still feeling very sketchy about the entire affair over the Elder Dragon War.
Core 19 was definitely one of the worst things that ever happened to the storyline, and I hope they never touch any of this again in any way, shape or form. It's absolutely baffling to me how they suddenly stopped caring about Dominaria's history as soon as Dominaria had wrapped up. I mean, technically Kate Elliot said that it's intended as a myth and it's basically up to the reader whether it's canon or whatever, so I'll just continue to stubbornly ignore the whole thing (as if I wouldn't have done that anyway).

I wish they'd just bring back Scott McGough and have him write a Legends III trilogy that just erases everything from Core 19 and tells the real story of the Elder Dragon War that people had been holding out for for 20 years.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 4:19 pm 
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I really do like dragons in magic. While I do think they are over done on a bunch of worlds where they don't quite fit like Innistrad, I do really enjoy seeing what kind of dragons creative has made for the world. The crocodile-like ones on Amonkhet I think so far are my favorite designs , though Wasitora and other cat dragons are awesome.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 3:14 pm 
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I agree that the story of core 19 really diminished the Elder Dragons and especially the mythic quality of the Elder Dragon Wars and Nicol Bolas (Who apparently is a petulant dragon-child with a god complex to overcompensate for his fear of...well everything.)

I will say though that it was nice to see some of the other Elders get some fleshing-out. The writing was also solid.

To me the worst thing that ever happened to magic flavor were the war of the spark books....i still schudder when i think back to Domri's speaking parts.....those books have no redeamable features whatsoever.

Back on the topic of dragons: I absolutely adore the Secret Lair art for The Ur-Dragon. I would also like to give a shout out to the original art of Shivan Dragon by Melissa Benson. I love the pose. I also really love Dragonlord Dromoka and Dragonlord Silumgar for being some verry different kind of dragons. I agree that we should see some more non-red dragons. Silimgar in particular just oozes flavor and intellect and is one of my favorite dragon arts ever.
Finally, i love Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire. He was always my favorite elder besides Bolas when i played Chronicles back in the day and the new art catches enough of the old art (I love Andi Rusu mtg art so much!) while just showing a brutal, chaotic dragon. The use of black, browns and deep oranges also really speaks to me.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 5:27 pm 
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Vaevictis wrote:
(Who apparently is a petulant dragon-child with a god complex to overcompensate for his fear of...well everything.)


I mean where is the lie. For all his grandeur he's always just been a petty, sociopathic child who kills entire civilizations because he's bored.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2021 6:01 am 
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Very true, but after decades of being told that Nicol Bolas was the greatest of the elder dragons, i was somewhat disappointed to find out that he was in fact very much the lesser of the elders.

You could argue that he prevailed in the end and that the whole 'greatest of the elders' was propaganda, but it still feels disappointing to me.


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