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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Year of the Dragon: Part 3 - What Happened?


This is it. This is when this blog finally gets to the nitty gritty of what happened to the dragon over time. Hoo boy, this took a long time, but getting to the bottom of this shit was worth it.

Dragons, as my Japanese teacher put it, have been "cutified." We started thinking that they might not be so bad as creatures. The idea of a 'pet' dragon was particularly popular. Dragon-riding became all but a sport in several fantasy worlds. When one looks back on the stories of dragon-slaying and burninating the countryside, it's hard to see exactly why riding a dragon would be a good idea on any level.

So, what the hell happened? While I would like to blame the radical shift on the occasional "Androcles and the Lion" situation, that is not what happened. A colleague of mine actually thinks it started with a certain episode of The Addams Family; while she may have had a point, it would have been a very small trickle before a torrent. What actually happened to cause this shift was the rough equivalent of Twilight for dragons:



Dragonriders of Pern, a series of novels and short stories by Anne McCaffrey, is about humans who have created tame dragons to combat a strange foe on Mars. As one might expect, it was originally written in the 60's. The series is more science-fiction than fantasy, despite involving dragons, and continues to be written by Anne McCaffrey's son, Todd. Apparently the series actually has some literary merit; the first few books have won Hugo and Nebula Awards. This is not about how good the books are; rather, it is about the undeniable dent that the Dragonriders series made in the nature of dragons as a whole.

One thing has to get out of the gate right now: the trope "Our Dragons Are Different" is subtly in effect. Genetically-engineered dragons are still somewhat creative, and are totally foreseeable in the near future. There is indeed creativity around these dragons that McCaffrey cooked up, even if it's subtle how she's twisting them. Whether it merits legacy authorship or not is another can of worms.

Dragonriders of Pern left a mark, for sure. Symbiotic, empathetic, telepathic dragons that can teleport? Who wouldn't want that as a friend? Despite this relative awesomeness, nobody else re-used any of those characteristics except for telepathy. Oh, and getting along with humans.

On one level, I will admit that McCaffrey was onto something. If the dragon is indeed nature's fury and power incarnate, then this descent into an engineered weapon almost makes sense. Over the ages, humans have gotten better and better at harnessing the strange, bewildering powers of nature - things that would otherwise make excellent monsters in any other era. Not only are the forces of nature, well, harnessed, but they're also augmented solely for human use. Although probably not intentional, the correlation between dragons as a force of nature, tamed and the rise of mankind's control of nature suddenly makes sense. It's a logical, yet sad way to go.

So, to recap: the dragon went from being a mythical creature symbolic of a natural nemesis (and, by extension, the slaughtering of that nemesis) or power to a genetically-engineered, intelligent living weapon designed for human use. That's a pretty big change. This is as bad as sparkling vampires, but it was so long ago that nobody of this generation remembers. Fear for the vampires next, guys. Fear for the vampires next.

 

D&D took the idea of multicolored dragons from Dragonriders and the intelligence of Tolkein's (still otherwise traditional) Smaug and ran with it. Suddenly, dragons could wield any element, live anywhere, and be any character that a RPG setting wanted. There are good and bad dragons, even though the great majority of them are Western-style, 6-limbed, hyperintelligent, scaly behemoths. This unfortunately reached the peak of its stupidity in the frost dragon.

Again, some peace must be said. It's a good thing that people are doing new things with dragons. Ice was the only element not really embodied by a giant serpent. One could almost call it creativity if it wasn't vomited out by a marketing team on a constant basis.

The idea of a frost dragon is designed to sell. Its sole purpose in life is so that fire can fight water, because apparently tsunami-size waves just aren't as impressive as cliche Ice Beam attacks and fire VS fire is boring. I can point to a canon dragon for every element and climate except ice. Water, yes; ice, no. If anyone knows of one, please point it out to me. I would like to know if Brionac and Kyurem have any reason for being except money.

It hurts to liiiivee...


Oh, and then there's "dragon element" or "Dragon-Type." Pokemon in particular has this idea that dragons are supposed to be nigh-invincible save another dragon or being frozen solid. Dragon-Type attacks are usually not resisted. A type that started as being exactly one evolution line ballooned to 9 (Altaria, Bagon, Shelgon, Salamence, Vibrava, Flygon, Rayquaza, Latios and Latias) in Generation III. (I may accuse Gen III of ruining Pokemon later on this or another blog.) One could almost say that they parallel the Almighty element from the Shin Megami Tensei series.

There have also been a lot of recent dragon hybrids. Sunburn (dragon x phoenix) and Whirlwind (dragon x unicorn) from Skylanders come to mind. There are a number in Yu-Gi-Oh! as well, including the dreaded Rabidragon. It's almost as if regular dragons got so inbred they had to turn to other species just to make them interesting. Given that dragons are supposed to be inherently other, that says something. Creative? Yes, but it will get old fast. Showing stagnation in a concept that should be eternally terrifying and awe-inspiring? Yes.

Dragons just aren't different enough anymore. If something that used to symbolize other-ness loses that meaning, then it has no further purpose in life. After that, it's just a shameless whore masquerading as something that was once symbolic. The symbol has died, or at the very least is on its last legs.

Need proof of this? Look no further than the recent rash of highly anthropomorphized dragons. YGO's Stardust Dragon is an excellent example: It's bipedal, has 5 digits on its hands, and is actually a sacred being. It's not that anthropomorphism never existed in dragons - oh, far from that - but it's been taken to such an extreme that the human has become the dragon, and the dragon has become human. When the symbol of the 'other' has effectively lost all 'other-ness,' what remains except its shadow?

I am immediately reminded of a certain scene from Crichton's Jurassic Park. While plotting the park, there is a conversation about the nature of dinosaurs. One of the very smart scientists on the team points out that people do not want to see real dinosaurs. After the manager wonders what this guy is talking about, the scientist points out that this is an amusement park, so people are expecting to be amused, not eaten. Seeing real, live, 100% wild and vicious dinosaurs would dash a few expectations to the floor. I cannot help but wonder if there is a similar case with dragons; if dragons once existed and someone today found one, would they like what they saw?

This concludes these unbearably long and horribly procrastinated articles. Now enjoy the Year of the Snake, which should totally have its own article as well. Thank you for sticking with this piece!

I am open to comments, but do avoid the following:

"According to my D&D manual..."
Gaming companies invent their own stuff all the time. The same goes for art books and Dragonology. Cool ideas, but still designed to sell. Selling usually means obscuring the root in this instance.

Dragons are dinosaurs - I'm actually totally open to this idea, but you have to admit that they share a ton of symbology with snakes.  In this case, one can simply say that the ancient people who thought up dragons didn't know any better and fused dinosaurs and snakes into dragons.

"You're wrong, I AM a dragon and I'm no snake!"
- Bullshit. There was a time I bought into Otherkinism, but so many of the 'dragons' are fakes that anyone who behaves like this will be instantly branded a liar. Sorry if you're part of the rare 1%.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Year of the Dragon: Part 2- What Is A Dragon, Anyways?

Most of you are probably wondering what made this take so long. Basically, I kept finding more and more fodder for it. Exactly what defines a dragon is very confusing, with a ton of symbolism woven into a tangled mess. 

So, here's the tough part: What makes a dragon a dragon? Well, let's see what Wikipedia has to say about this:

"A dragon is a legendary creature, typically with serpentine or reptilian traits, that feature in the myths of many cultures."

Does this really suffice in defining a dragon? At first, it seems so, but if that's all it is, then the modern perception of the dragon has become far too narrow. At the same time, it looks like that definition is slowly being broken.

One would think that "any legendary reptilian" would be a fine definition, but look again. There is almost nothing reptilian about 'dragons' like Lati@s and Reshiram. Even with the generic 'legendary reptile' definition, does that make basilisks and, to a lesser degree, Medusa dragons? Most people would not say so. (Actually, the ancient Greeks WOULD call the most popular rendition of Medusa a proper drakaina-gorgon hybrid. More on that later.)

It is much easier to describe something that is not a dragon rather than to actually describe in detail what makes a dragon a dragon. Gryphons aren't dragons, even though they sometimes have serpentine tails. Nagas as the internet knows them are not usually considered dragons, even though they fill that position traditionally.

Yes, even this is a dragon. Really.



The majority of dragons have some connection to snakes. Western or Eastern doesn't matter. It doesn't even matter if dinosaur fossils were responsible for dragons. They were seen as snakes, not lizards, in the collective subconscious (otherwise we would be calling them "sauroi" or some such). Occasionally, there is also some fish in the mix, but the vast amount of serpentine traits still speak to the original basis.

Don't believe me? The Greek "drakon" is the word for snake. The Japanese "Orochi" literally translates as "big snake." The words "zmey," "naga," and the English "serpent" all speak to the relationship between dragons and snakes. Dragons are commonly depicted with a forked tongue, which is far more common in snakes than in lizards. No matter how much evidence "dragons are dinosaurs" has behind it, the dragon always comes back to "serpent" in the subconscious.

The problem is that most snakes (read: most) are not nearly impressive enough to warrant folktales and art about. Yes, it's great if you can kill a rattlesnake, but most rattlers are tiny. Snakes are also, as Secrets of the Snake Charmer put it, "cowards, then bluffers, then finally fighters" - meaning that a snake would rather run than fight unless a hot mouse is involved. A dragon is, at its core, a valiant, bellicose snake - a creature that reverses the very temperament that people hate about serpents. This reversal means that the mutant snake will put up a good fight.

As such, it can be said that snake and dragon symbolism tend to run parallel, often with the dragon representing an extreme in snake symbolism. This extreme can be for better or for worse. If the snake has ambivalent reception, the dragon tends to receive either exaltation (China) or the best/worst of both worlds (Greece). If the serpent cannot be anything but evil, the dragon is almost undeniably so to a much larger degree.

Another very popular theory involves dinosaurs. While I do buy this as a valid starting point for dragons, the symbolism doesn't match up. The presence of fossils does not explain the relationship to snakes at all. Given that the symbolic relationship to snakes is almost homogenous, I wonder what proponents of the idea of dragons as dinosaurs think?

Pokemon shows the distinction between Eastern and Western dragons very, very well. We can find the three "basic" types of dragons - the "Eastern," "Western," and wyvern- in the first generation of Pokemon as Gyarados, Charizard, and Aerodactyl respectively. Are the parallels 100%? No, but I will be sure to point out when they are not.



Gyarados is a typical Eastern dragon, even though it does not have legs. Its story originates from the "Dragon Gate" tale in which a carp jumps over a waterfall in order to become a heavenly dragon. Aside from fish, snakes are also said to be capable of this ascension - an idea which is taken to new heights in the Korean imugi. Yes, D-War sucked; that does not mean that its mythological basis is entirely false. (China has the idea of snakes as baby dragons as well, but they never really play it up.)

Evidence of this blur can be found in the Shin Megami Tensei series.  The non-Persona games of that franchise blend the terms "snake" and "dragon" more or less freely. Pendragon, a Western-style dragon, is a "Snake," even though it has limbs; Bai SuZhen, a character that would be explicitly a "snake" to most people in the West, is a "Dragon." The Cardfight!! Vanguard card game also has nagas ("Demonic Dragons") listed as "Dragonmen," showing just how blurry this line can be. It really doesn't make that much difference in Asian cultures.

(I also think Seiobo might be a Bai SuZhen reference.)


Eastern dragons, much like naga and other more serpentine dragons, are usually beings of water - a far cry from the fire-breathing beasts common to Christian lore. A few serpents are noticeably fire-breathing (Kiyohime comes to mind), but by and large, Chinese/Eastern dragons are treated as heavenly beings who breathe steam and command rain. This makes them very important for cultures dependent on wet rice fields, like Thailand, or upon the sea, like Japan. Japan even seems to have several types of dragons, both the "water deity" kind and malevolent, fire-breathing serpents that pop up from time to time (see: Orochi and Kiyohime).  The situation is a lot more complex than it looks.

Although Chinese dragons are whored (often improperly), they are nowhere near as corrupted as the Western version. Unfortunately, they are heading that way. The more solid the definition of "dragon" gets, the less variety we will see. As the Western and Eastern serpents both get lumped under the same classification of "dragon," things like this start happening:


So now Mushu's Satan?

That said, moving on to the so-called "Western" dragon:

Who else has one of these, eh? ;)


Charizard is our archetypal Western dragon: a massive, scaly beast that flies, breathes fire, and has a grand total of six limbs. There is also probably some salamander in Charizard's design (as hinted by Charmander), but the salamander is an entirely different creature from the dragon. Go look up the mythical salamander for that; it's kind of neat, but I won't be covering it here.

Although I will use the term "Western dragon," the dragon that usually comes to mind is a four-legged beast with leathery wings that breathes fire. This was not so in much of the Western world for a very long time. Prior to the cultural invasion of Christianity, many local, pagan religions had serpentine dragons associated with water and the earth. (When I say "serpentine," I mean "basically giant snakes.") The Lernean Hydra, for example, did not breathe fire at all; as one might have guessed from the name, the Hydra (capitalized here to note that hydra as opposed to any other) was a multi-headed water snake (drakon) that was toxic instead of fiery. I don't see why movie makers don't go for an acidic serpent; enough people are terrified of snakes that even "giant snake" would be a pretty impressive beast.


I am TIRED of these motherf**ing snakes in this motherf**ing chamber!

Even typical-looking Western dragons such as Y Ddraig Goch were largely associated with pestilence- not something that we usually associate with dragons nowadays. It is actually really, really hard to find a four-legged, fire-breathing, winged dragon outside of post-Christian lore. The closest you will get are the Brazilian boitata, and the Hindu/Buddhist nagas - all described as serpents that can manifest spirit fire. (Japan has a few fire-breathing snakes as well.) "Western" by itself is far from homogenous. 

"Nagas" are rarely considered Western dragons, but the Greeks had snake/dragon people just like the Indians did. The Greek drakaina ("she-dragon"), in combination with the Hindu naga, has led to the blossoming of female serpents - half-woman, half giant snake. This style of drakaina was generic- there is no one Greek snake woman that can be properly identified, with the notable exception of Echidna (their Tiamat).  The drakaina and other snake-people were common to the point where the divine could be represented that way, so long as they somehow came straight from the earth ("autochthonic").

Silly Clash of the Titans...she doesn't need that bow.


Time for some brief mythbusting regarding drakainai. Medusa did not have a serpentine tail as in Clash of the Titans, but was instead part avian in her traditional mythology. The snake hair was still a very real trait, inflicted as a punishment from Athena, who was herself portrayed as a snake goddess (sometimes with a serpentine cloak). The Greeks probably would not have minded making Medusa more draconic, if only because she would then be the queen of dragons (thus making her head the ultimate trophy). The same case holds for Lamia, whose name properly relates to sharks; the "drakaina" version was popularized by John Keats, and again, the Greeks would probably think that synchronicity very fitting. It's not a bad thing that these two got draconified. There's another look at the Western dragon for you.

So, where did the popular Christian dragon come from? Two sources. One is Satan - hellfire, goat horns, pointy teeth, etc. with some serpentine skin to tie it all together. (I've heard some interesting stuff about Celtic dragons being general elemental spirits; this doesn't change the fact that medieval culture demonized them, and the 'Western' dragon draws heavily from medieval sources.) A few depictions of seven-headed serpent Satan add on a human face for good measure. The other way of making a Western dragon is a bit less obvious, and, honestly, much cooler:



If this image of Bellerophon slaying the chimera, a certain (female) fire-breathing lion with wings, a snake tail, and a goat's head, looks familiar, you are not mistaken.  The chimaera is the basis for every fire-breathing Western dragon ever. The salamander may have had some influence, too, but even that looks like a chimaera in mythical depictions. A "Western" dragon is effectively a homogenized lion-goat-snake hybrid. Many people throw eagle in there, too. Awesomeness is not the point; point is that the "dragon" we know and love is an unwitting chimera.

Medieval artists loved the Bellerophon mosaic. Almost every picture of St. George slaying the dragon derives from this mosaic in some way, shape or form. It's almost as if they traced the same pic over and over. If copyright laws had been around in the old days, I would bet money that the Western dragon would never have become popular. It's that plagiarized.

Look familiar? Also, note the emphasis on serpentine elements.

What happens when you fuse a snake with the popular perception of demonic forces? A dragon. What happens when you take a Greek chimaera and successfully blend its parts together into a more homogenous entity? A dragon. It's not that hard to see.

This mish-mashed type of dragon was designed to be the ultimate nemesis. It could fly, breathe fire, and embodied the raw power of nature (again, particularly water and darkness originally). Having four clawed limbs was icing on the cake. Sometimes, just to make things even freakier, they would give dragons mammalian genitalia - a good record of which can be found here. (The gendering of the dragon over time would be another essay in and of itself; I will not dive too deeply into it here.) To conquer the dragon was to conquer Mother Nature. Even China, a nation known for revering dragons, has at least one king known for killing one of the serpents; dragon/snake slaying is alive and well everywhere.



That leaves Aerodactyl. Before anybody gets on my case about Aerodactyl not being a dragon, 1) Lance uses an Aerodactyl, as he does Charizard and Gyarados, and 2) despite being constantly compared to serpents in their "native" land, the Japanese use the word "yokuryuu" ("winged dragon") to refer to both extinct pterosaurs and wyverns. It's perfectly legitimate to say that Aerodactyl is a wyvern, despite being revived from a fossil and all that jazz. The cross was clearly intentional.

Wyverns are by far the most realistic type of dragon and have been gaining popularity in recent years. Although one could make an argument for six-limbed dragons being embodiments of the elements, the wyvern is undoubtedly feral and vicious. This is highlighted in one story where a young lady takes in a young wyvern, only to have it grow too big to handle and ultimately go out of her control. There is nothing sacred about a wyvern. Despite this, it remained popular in heraldry.

The word "wyvern" is related to the word "viper." Instead of the serpentine symbolism being exaggerated, here it is 100% kept in-tact. The wyvern is venomous, a sign of plague, and looks very much like a demonic serpent. Aerodactyl doesn't look particularly friendly, either, which is really what one would expect from being based off a pterosaur. (This reputation is further cemented in the anime episode "Attack of the Prehistoric Pokemon," in which Aerodactyl comes inches away from biting Ash's head off.) Wyverns are unanimously man-eating, poisonous menaces.

Count the limbs.
 

The wyvern has become the new dragon. In an effort to still use dragons while trying to make them 'strange,' filmmakers have decided to hack off two of those extra limbs. Most feral 'dragons' nowadays are technically wyverns if you count the limbs. Even movies don't think dragons are strange anymore.

And you know what? That's a problem. If we lose the root of the dragon - the serpent made strange - then the creature is incomplete. Whatever a dragon once was, its function has changed to fit the times in a way that medieval scholars could never have predicted. The next part will look at the modern dragon and exactly what has changed from its conception into the modern age. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

YGO Dueling AndroDisc.

For those of you who haven't seen this already, it's pretty freakin' sweet:

 

This is a 3-D dueling app for Android phones. I'd get it, buuuut my smartphone's a piece of crap and would probably break after using this once. Things are still in testing mode as far as I can tell. Still, this is pretty cool, even with all the bugs. :)

My only question is this: WHY are you not funding this, Konami?!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Year of the Dragon: Update + It Gets Worse.

For those of you who are concerned: Yes, I do intend to continue this "Year of the Dragon" series. I will definitely have it done before the year is out. The more pics and info I have supporting the next two parts, the better. One of these Fridays, the second part will fly up here.

In the meantime, I thought I would comment on a few things.

First off, Pokemon Black and White 2. No, I have not gotten White 2 yet. I'm taking my time and finishing up other games. There will be a full-blown, awesome critique of it once I get done, though. The fused Kyurems are enough to make me flinch, although I will admit that Kyurem needed the redesign. I winced a little harder upon learning that each version got a different shiny dragon egg, plus a Blaxorus.

From Serebii.net. 1337 Bl4x0rz.


Oh, but it doesn't stop there. Noooo. Pokemon has unleashed a set called "Dragons Exalted," complete with Dragon as a new type. While I agree that Dragon has probably needed a new typing for a while, I'm still calling "dragonhumper" shenanigans. They just got a whole type to themselves in one of the most popular TCG's in the world, and are shilling it with a tin promo, Lati@s, and two Dragon-type decks.With this and the cover dragon(s) for B/W2, Game Freak has made sure that Year of the Dragon is in full swing.

Now, I could rant about YGO again. Thing is, YGO's been off the draconic deep end since at least 5D's and shows no signs of stopping. Vanguard, which I really hope encourages Konami to treat the game more soberly, is a whole different can of worms; although it started out advertising "knights and dragons," given BT09's confirmation of upgrades (I hesitate to call "cross-rides") to Dragonic Kaiser Vermillion and Maelstrom Dragon, I'm starting to wonder if they're starting to push the envelope a little. People were already worried that Limit Break was killing the game; were upgrades really necessary? If these two upgrades actually wind up helping the game, I'll retract my uneasy feelings.

Pokemon, YGO, and, yes, even Vanguard have assured me that the Year of the Dragon is loaded with dragons. After this year, I would love if people started shilling wolves. Please? At least wolves are something besides a symbol. We can donate the money to keeping Yellowstone pretty. The only place dragon money goes is to corporations, who then produce more dragons because your money means that there's demand. It's not that I hate dragons, it's that they don't seem to mean anything anymore.

Read: I do like dragons, I just won't buy something because "OMG IT'S A DRAGON!" Seriously, guys, dragons (particularly the "Western" dragon- you'll see why I have issues with that term later) have become so dirt common that they aren't remotely fantastic in the modern world. The fantastic has become mundane. The dragon's last sanction is that it does not exist. Do you see why that is a problem, yet?

But wait! It gets better:
 


The Greatest Show On Earth apparently features dragons, now. Admittedly, the advert I saw for this show piqued my curiosity enough to look it up. The actual dragon, above, looks much nicer than the dragon in the trailer. The trailer also advertises dragon tribes that value the virtues "Heart, Courage, Wisdom, and Strength." Considering the "Western" dragon was usually symbolic of Satan, I'm amazed that they would approach people with virtues. Also, what kind of power is "heart," anyways? 

HEEAAAART!


You know what's sad? I know people who would buy tickets. I'm not just talking about little kids begging to see the dragon. I'm talking about adults who collect anything with 'dragon' in the name. I would expect these people to not only pay to see 'live' dragons, but also preserve the ticket stub.

On the bright side: PETA can't complain about this one. I just don't know how much crazier things can get this year. Again, I don't hate dragons, but how much are people willing to pay just for "dragon?" I mean it- people are paying for the word "dragon" regardless of whether whatever that word is attached to actually resembles a dragon or not.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Year of the Dragon - Part 1.



Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! 2012 is Year of the Water Dragon, meaning that you should all look up your Year signs and see how this year will treat you. All mysticism aside, it looks to be Year of the Dragon for card games as well.

I was going to mention in my massive gift opening entry that it looks like Target's card game rack has been consumed by dragons. WoW, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Pokemon all had dragons on their packs. (Alas, that entry remained in draft form largely due to poor timing- look up my YouTube if you're still interested.) After looking into it a tiny bit more, I found that this coincidence was just the tip of the iceberg.

Pokemon is really milking dragons hard, now. The latest Pokemon set, "Noble Victories," has Hydreigon, Kyurem, and Druddigon (*shiver*) as cover monsters. Later, the Reshiram and Zekrom theme decks will be coming out. No doubt there will be tins featuring Reshiram EX and Zekrom EX as well (and perhaps even Kyurem EX). These upcoming new releases are only the beginning.

In honor of the Year of the Dragon, the Pokemon TCG has officially made Dragon its own type. On one hand, it was necessary; it was very weird to have a Rattata doing double damage to Rayquaza. On the other, why? What the hell makes dragons sooo special that they need their own type in the card game? Moreover, what about other types that are completely different from their colors? If you're going to do this with dragons, do it for Ghost and Poison, too. (The alignment of Poison-types in the CCG has been sticky, to say the least.) "Because they're dragons" certainly does not mean that they deserve special treatment. I am sick of hearing that excuse.

In the next part of this article, I will elaborate on not only this mass-watering of dragons, but also on how the dragon has lost its identity. Look at how crazy people got when Twilight made its vampires sparkle; the only reason dragon-lovers aren't freaking out is because we've lost the sense of what a dragon once was. There will be more on this in part two, but at least I'm not the only one sick of dragons.


Yu-Gi-Oh! players - not the omnipresent dragon-collectors in that fanbase - are getting sick of dragon decks. The new dragon deck marks the fourth Structure Deck dragons have had to date. Most of the decks, as decks, have been mediocre at best on their own, but had cards useful when constructing one's own deck (such as Trade-In and Decoy Dragon in one, and common Mirror Force and Dragon Ravine  in the other). This new deck is the same way: Backbone of a Chaos deck, some Dragon support cards, some bad Dragon support cards (Lord of Dragons and Flute of Summoning? Why?), some Lightsworn cards, and other things that make it a horrible mish-mash of deck types. I see where they were going with it. Not too sure I like where it was headed.

I admit that I made a rush judgment on how much the two cover dragons might impact the game; to me, ANYTHING resembling Chaos will spell death for YGO. I remember those days. Chaos was why the banlist got created. The banlist remains slipshod, so I fear for the meta after these decks are released. It will also be VERY weird to see the double dragon deck alongside Zekrom and Reshiram decks and/or tins. Talk about being copycats. Live up to your old motto and be creative, Konami!

I cannot speak for World of Warcraft and M:tG. If you are basing off of a standard fantasy setting, some dragons are inevitable. WoW currently has a set called "Twilight of the Dragons." That sounds like a horrible harlequin romance novel...but I digress. It's about time we talked about what a dragon truly is, or at least what it once was.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dueling Dragons. Again.

This blog needs more love. Luckily, Konami has done something that irked me enough to make a post.

 

So let's get this straight: YGO started the "Black Dragon VS White Dragon" thing, did it again in 5D's, Pokemon mooched it, now YGO's going back and doing it again just to be super-special-awesome hip. It's cool that we're getting REBD and BEWD in the same deck (YAY), but really? Reeeaaaallllyyy? The idea is bad on so many levels, especially with how they're doing it.

For starters, dragons have become truly bloated beasts in the fantasy industry. I daresay YGO's popularity helped stoke that particular flame. Counting this new dragon deck, the game has now had 4 Dragon-themed Structures in its history (not counting Seto Kaiba decks).

I'm not going to go into dragon aesthetics anymore. After trying the process out for myself, I have become convinced that they are just stringing random words together and putting "dragon" on the end. To 5D's' credit, the whole series had a Meso-American theme going; new dragons have no excuses for looking as twisted as they do. The new cover dragons suck in every sense of the word, unless the common supports somehow blow them out of the water.

The deck also has Chaos Sorcerer in it. While that particular Chaos monster has been off the banlist for a while,  its presence in this deck and the recent unbanning of "Black Luster Soldier- Envoy of the Beginning" are worrisome. If this is indeed a Chaos Dragon deck, then Chaos Emperor Dragon will either be in the deck or come shortly after. We're all screwed.

On the plus side, existing dragon decks will now have a spare Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon and several other cool reprints to play with. Hopefully things like Totem Dragon will get reprints, too.  Consider it a silver lining to the cloud. 

(Tangent: I can't believe they made Rescue Rabbit a Secret Rare. I realize it's a good card, but making good cards THAT rare is bad for the game. Up to your old tricks, I see.)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Marvel...BAKUGAN?! + Damn You, Nintendo.

Just wanted to update with something. Here's something.

Marvel VS Bakugan.Yes, that is a real thing. Discuss below. :)

Also, someone please get me this and/or the new Serperior Tin for Christmas. The cute little sculpted figures in both packages are SUPER-detailed. I particularly like how he box set shows Reshiram's wings working; they're segmented at the digits (no, Reshi is likely not feathered), sort of like Avatar's Banshees. I've really been digging that segmented wing style as of late, so sorry if I come off as begging, but...please?