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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 3:40 am 
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I don't have to go very far to hit an off color icon. I think the fallen angel is an extremely potent and resonant idea, but it sort of underlines something that bothers me.

Icons are so baked into their colors that it kills a HUGE amount of flavorful opportunity.

This line of thought all started with dragons. How could it not?
You see, dragons as the flying, fire breathing lizards are immediately recognizable. They resonate deeply and really deserve their iconic status.

But for the most part, mtg dragons suck at capturing what we think of when it comes to dragons. They fly and breathe fire, but they utterly lack personality for the vast majority. There are, of course, a few exceptions, but we'll come back to that. Love or hate, Tokien's dragon has had an enormous effect on pop culture and the thought of dragons. Greedy, cunning, vainglorious beasts.

So why does Magic kinda fail to capitalize that resonance?
There are a few, like slumbering dragon, dragon egg, and legendary beasties such as Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius, but most of them don't have a brain in their head or a coin to their name. The vast majority just fly around and vomit up fire like some awful cross between a flamethrower and a scaly pigeon.

I'd love to see a mono black dragon that epitomizes greed or a gluttonous mono green dragon. And I got that in Tarkir. As bad as I found the story, oh those dragons scratched an itch I had. And hilariously, the red dragons were bad characters. Heck, they didn't even breathe fire.

But even beyond Tolkien, multi-hued elemental dragons have a big punch to them. DnD really dug into that, but we're still stuck, set after set, with dragons that really aren't that interesting. They're resonant, Wizards has really gotten that down, but they really lack something to them.

So, I'd be interested in seeing more off color iconics. Give me more fallen angels, give me sphinxes in mono white to remind us they're considered guardians of more than just riddles, give me some red or black hydra because that makes more sense anyway.

What icons do you guys want to see break the mold?

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 8:35 am 
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I don't think some iconics can be fully divorced from their base - for example, fallen angels are by default an aberration from a divine ideal.

However, seeing more off-colour examples is neat.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 9:46 am 
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So I may be new around these parts, but in the places I'm more known - including my own gaming group - people know that if there's one thing I'm a big fan of, it's dragons. One of the reasons for that is that of all the many fantasy species out there, dragons are one of the most gosh dingly darn versatile. They can be used as devious schemers, as wise old hermits, as heroic guardians, wicked tyrants, divine beings, wild and hungry animals. Unlike many other fantasy creatures out there which tend to fit fairly rigidly into known archetypes, maybe with occasional tweaks, dragons fit into so many character types and they feel natural in each and every one of them.

So yeah, it does bum me out a little that of all this versatility that my favourite fantasy creature has, Magic tends to stick pretty rigidly to the "wild and hungry animal" version. Not only does it do them such a disservice, but it tends to mean most Dragons in the game make for some pretty, well, super boring and forgettable cards (hey, remember what either of the Dragons in Kaladesh block do? Me neither).

That said, I understand the idea behind it. They want super well known and, well, iconic creatures to help reinforce the idea of the colour pie, Dragons are so pervasive in fantasy that it only makes sense for them to be one of those creatures, and red is the colour the most classic picture of a Dragon belongs in. The same is true for the other colours' iconics, for the most part. I don't like it (but, in all honesty and fairness, I don't like a lot of creative decisions Magic makes, Iwillalwaysprefernonhumancharactershumansareboringstopshovingtheminmyface), but I get it.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 10:41 am 
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At the end of the day it's because Magic is a game first and a story second. I could argue a lot of the non legendary elves of magic lack personality, or vampires, or merfolk, or insert other generic non Magic original species here. Dargons are red, and so without reason to do otherwise they will stick to red flavored tropes. You mention Tarkir, those dragons were different for a reason. The story was about dragons rulers. Similarly the Invasion dragons were dragonic guardians or what ever.

But for non legendary dragons they more rarely have a reason to deviate from the standard of dragon=red, and fire=red for the matter, and thus it is done less often. I do think they could play with other dragonic tropes and stick to red. Yes greed is mostly a black thing, but I think red's emotion and individuality could play there.

Personally I don't mind dragons being given a smaller more focused role, mostly because in other i.p.s I enteract with they take over. There's a japanese card game I followed for a little while where dragons were everywhere had no identity beyond reptiles with wings (and even that got questionable after a while) and were the big flashy cards of over half the subsets of the game. That was just one of the most extreme examples. Honestly while I think dragons are cool, I'm tired of them being over used so Magic's limiting them until there is a reason not to is actually kind of appreciated to me. It helps keep those awesome dragons special, and not just more reptiles with wings but this time it's white/gold/chartreuse.


Last edited by jedi8187 on Mon Jul 03, 2017 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 10:51 am 
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 8:07 pm 
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jedi8187 wrote:
At the end of the day it's because Magic is a game first and a story second. I could argue a lot of the non legendary elves of magic lack personality, or vampires, or merfolk, or insert other generic non Magic original species here.

You make a point, but it ends up being a self defeating one.
Individual characteristic races can drift to the bland side, but what they have in advantage is that they aren't doing the flavorful lifting alone. An elf is boring. An elven society, on the other hand...
It's the fact they can diffuse the identity across a wider spectrum that helps the elven personality.

But iconics have to do all the lifting by themselves. They don't have the advantage of letting other quarters pick up the slack.

A perfect example of this is Innistrad's dragons. They spent a lot of time on their visual identity, but they did NOTHING with their ecological niche! And that's doubly irritating because of scorch the fields and triply irritating because almost EVERYTHING else on Innistrad was connected in some way!

But they just couldn't figure out how dragons made any sense. No Angels vs Dragons epics, nope, nothing of the sort.

So it's bothersome that they can't even do the icons right when they stick to their core color.

Quote:
Dargons are red, and so without reason to do otherwise they will stick to red flavored tropes. You mention Tarkir, those dragons were different for a reason. The story was about dragons rulers. Similarly the Invasion dragons were dragonic guardians or what ever.

All I'm saying is I miss the occasional weird inclusion like alabaster dragon or ebon dragon. Hell, I miss the occasional wink of fallen angels.

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Honestly while I think dragons are cool, I'm tired of them being over used so Magic's limiting them until there is a reason not to is actually kind of appreciated to me. It helps keep those awesome dragons special, and not just more reptiles with wings but this time it's white/gold/chartreuse.

Except even then, when they limit them, they don't follow it up right. Innistrad had dragons because players like dragons. They even admitted they weren't thrilled with trying to make it fit, but they were just expected to. Probably the same with Kaladesh for that matter.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 8:29 pm 
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jedi8187 wrote:
Honestly while I think dragons are cool, I'm tired of them being over used so Magic's limiting them until there is a reason not to is actually kind of appreciated to me. It helps keep those awesome dragons special, and not just more reptiles with wings but this time it's white/gold/chartreuse.
Even with my love for all things draconic, I agree with this. Dragons should be limited in order to remain awesome, throwing Dragons everywhere would dilute their impact. My problem is that they're limited, but still not all that awesome. They always stick to the "wild, hungry animal" archetype, and make for boring, forgettable cards. They could show up rarely, but still cover a wider variety of bases.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 8:13 am 
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When Dragons are the focus of something, they're going to work very hard to try to make them interesting, varied, and diverse, as they did in Dragons. When they're not the focus, the won't and they shouldn't because their attention should be on the thing they are the focus. The same should be true of the other iconics: if its not the focus its should stick to the default. A random black Dragon or red Hydra stuck in for the novelty or to force color variety I would find very incongruous.

I do appreciate that they're trying to make their iconics much more visually distinct. It's very easy to tell at a glace whether I'm looking at an Amonkhetu, an Innistradi, a Tarkirian, a Kaladeshi, or a Shandalaran Dragon. They've done much the same with Sphinxes, especially with the Amonkhetu sphinxes which I could never mistake for anything else in a million years. They need to work harder on their Angels, Demons, and Hydras, though.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 9:42 am 
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astarael7 wrote:
When Dragons are the focus of something, they're going to work very hard to try to make them interesting, varied, and diverse, as they did in Dragons. When they're not the focus, the won't and they shouldn't because their attention should be on the thing they are the focus. The same should be true of the other iconics: if its not the focus its should stick to the default. A random black Dragon or red Hydra stuck in for the novelty or to force color variety I would find very incongruous.

I disagree with this. Not the "sticking it in for novelty" part, that's perfectly on point, but doing it different doesn't just have to be for novelty, it can help reinforce the world. Like your other point about making the creatures visually distinct, making them more...characteristically distinct, I guess, would also help. Sure, a Kaladesh dragon looks like a tiger and an Amonkhet dragon looks like a croc, but that's just window dressing - giving Dragons flavourfully different roles/personalities/archetypes/what have you in different worlds would also help make those worlds distinct, not to mention leading to cooler cards for a creature type that deserves much cooler cards than they get (and though I may be biased, Dragons are still the most popular creature type in the game). It doesn't have to draw focus from other aspects of the world at all.

I think Ravnica is a good world to bring up here, because I feel it kind of does what you're saying. Niv-Mizzet is a nice take on Dragons, but the fact that he's the only Dragon like that on the plane is kind of distracting, and feels like, as you say, he's just a novelty. That could have been an opportunity to explore a different avenue for Dragons - on Ravnica they're smarter and more civilised than on other planes, though still with that haughty and temperamental streak that makes them red. Instead, we get one of those in Niv-Mizzet, and the rest are back to the same old Dragons we see everywhere else, which makes Niv-Mizzet feel a bit random and unnecessary.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 10:17 am 
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Barinellos, I don't think dragons should have been on Innistrahd. Even they admit it, and that's where my point about a game first comes. I wouldn't mind the odd off color dragon/hydra/etc. if it has a point to be there. But they have to deliver expectations, so even when dragons shouldn't be there they will, and most likely be a bit phoned in so they don't put too much attention on the thing that shouldn't be there n the first place.

I'm not so concerned with off color iconis, not against it either, but would like to see a bit more variety in native colors. They do a good job of mixing demons up between schemers and destructive brutes, angels run between avenging warriors and holy protectors. Sphinxes and Hydras are a bit more one note in their connection to their color though. Dragons are too, but I agree it's more self limiting since I think many dragon qualities can be done through a red lens.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:26 am 
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Arix wrote:
astarael7 wrote:
When Dragons are the focus of something, they're going to work very hard to try to make them interesting, varied, and diverse, as they did in Dragons. When they're not the focus, the won't and they shouldn't because their attention should be on the thing they are the focus. The same should be true of the other iconics: if its not the focus its should stick to the default. A random black Dragon or red Hydra stuck in for the novelty or to force color variety I would find very incongruous.

I disagree with this. Not the "sticking it in for novelty" part, that's perfectly on point, but doing it different doesn't just have to be for novelty, it can help reinforce the world. Like your other point about making the creatures visually distinct, making them more...characteristically distinct, I guess, would also help. Sure, a Kaladesh dragon looks like a tiger and an Amonkhet dragon looks like a croc, but that's just window dressing - giving Dragons flavourfully different roles/personalities/archetypes/what have you in different worlds would also help make those worlds distinct, not to mention leading to cooler cards for a creature type that deserves much cooler cards than they get (and though I may be biased, Dragons are still the most popular creature type in the game). It doesn't have to draw focus from other aspects of the world at all.
A randomly off-color Dragon is always going to draw focus precisely because Dragons are very popular, even if the card tries to explain itself in the flavor text. Conversely, Dragons are the only iconic creature type that has gotten any mono-colored cycles (and its gotten them in three separate blocks). On top of that, they've gotten an allied-color cycle, a wedge cycle, a shard cycle, and one (soon to be three) five-color card. They spread the Dragons around the colors, but they do it when it's important and they do it for a purpose. We will probably visit a world someday where, say, there are lots of Grixis (and subsets of Grixis) Dragons, but no Selesnyan Dragons. Same for any other set of colors you'd like to pick. (Though I suspect outside of sets where all the colors get Dragons, its likely Dragon factions will always include red.) But they'll do it when there is a clear, easy-to-convey reason why that would be so and that reason comprises an integral part of the world they are trying to build. Doing it just to "make this world distinct" I don't think clears the bar and feels a lot like box-checking to me.

Quote:
I think Ravnica is a good world to bring up here, because I feel it kind of does what you're saying. Niv-Mizzet is a nice take on Dragons, but the fact that he's the only Dragon like that on the plane is kind of distracting, and feels like, as you say, he's just a novelty. That could have been an opportunity to explore a different avenue for Dragons - on Ravnica they're smarter and more civilised than on other planes, though still with that haughty and temperamental streak that makes them red. Instead, we get one of those in Niv-Mizzet, and the rest are back to the same old Dragons we see everywhere else, which makes Niv-Mizzet feel a bit random and unnecessary.
The thing about Niv-Mizzet being the only Dragon on Ravnica was always wrong. Cory Herndon stuck it into his novel and then they put this card in the first set and this card in the last set. Then Return to Ravnica came along and nobody cared anymore. (Also, Ravnican Dragons I think are an excellent example of Dragons that aren't visually distinct enough. The only clue to their origin is the very distinctive Ravnican skyline.)

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:30 am 
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I thought the story was that niv killed all the other dragons? That was why hunted dragon made sense and rakdos pit dragon kind of made sense since it was hidden. The two new ones I guess could be offspring since niv had dissapeared for a while at the end of the first block.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:45 am 
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That's the explanation they tried to promulgate, but it was always really just the unfixable disconnect between the schedule needed to write the novels and that needed to make the card sets. (And another good reason why set/block novels were always a bad idea.)

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 2:31 pm 
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Novels werent bad, they are just awful at time management and communication between departments. They work on sets 2 years ahead of time so they could have easily done short novels. The uncharted realms stories have a decent amount of content so I see no reason ehy they couldnt just release slightly larger stories a little after a set release

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 5:10 pm 
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Could they repackage Magic Story as a single short-ish novel per set? Yeah, probably. But I think that this is working now, production-schedule-wise, because the short story format lets several of them work on several of the stories in parallel and the vastly shorter publishing lead time means they can keep tweaking the stories right up until the last minute. Neither of those work well with a more traditional novel. (Which was the source of most of the problematic disconnects.)

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Last edited by astarael7 on Thu Jul 06, 2017 9:30 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 8:37 pm 
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astarael7 wrote:
A randomly off-color Dragon is always going to draw focus precisely because Dragons are very popular, even if the card tries to explain itself in the flavor text. Conversely, Dragons are the only iconic creature type that has gotten any mono-colored cycles (and its gotten them in three separate blocks). On top of that, they've gotten an allied-color cycle, a wedge cycle, a shard cycle, and one (soon to be three) five-color card. They spread the Dragons around the colors, but they do it when it's important and they do it for a purpose. We will probably visit a world someday where, say, there are lots of Grixis (and subsets of Grixis) Dragons, but no Selesnyan Dragons. Same for any other set of colors you'd like to pick. (Though I suspect outside of sets where all the colors get Dragons, its likely Dragon factions will always include red.) But they'll do it when there is a clear, easy-to-convey reason why that would be so and that reason comprises an integral part of the world they are trying to build. Doing it just to "make this world distinct" I don't think clears the bar and feels a lot like box-checking to me.
I don't mean "off colour", necessarily, just a little different from the same thing they always are. If need be they could be multicoloured, but even that's not entirely necessary.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:27 am 
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For example, know what dragon I love? It's even red.
dragon mage

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:11 pm 
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It was also first printed in a set where Dragons were the nominal focus. They do this when it is important to something about the set. They won't do it when it isn't because other things are more important.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:22 pm 
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astarael7 wrote:
It was also first printed in a set where Dragons were the nominal focus. They do this when it is important to something about the set. They won't do it when it isn't because other things are more important.

It's also not that terribly hard to do either.
Don't act like it's somehow stealing an immense amount of time or attention from other things considering they find excuses to include dragons in the sets in the first place.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:50 pm 
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So, wishlist:

1. Don't print the iconics every f'n set.
2. When an iconic is printed, make at least several other colors able to use the iconics. i.e. "dragons" therefore dragons in three colors including :r:.
3. Any time they print the iconics they are taking resources away from game balance/new ideas. For example, what if I want Hellions? Kor?

Actually, Nahiri's affiliation with :w: and her antagonist streak could make her a bit of a polluting presence on most planes, and make Kor the characteristic :w: gene pool instead of humans. Although, I'm inclined to worry about the implications of that...


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