Visiting with Vorthos: Dragons of Tarkir
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
We witnessed how the Abzan submitted to Dromoka and her brood and accepted fealty to the giant dragon. That’s a mighty tough pill to swallow, but given the fact that the dragons appear to be growing in size and strength, you can see the logic behind this. However, once one Legendary Dragons gets a host of followers, it only stands to reason that the others want the same. I hear Dragons can get a tad jealous. So, you get the scenes that unfolded in this week’s Uncharted Realms and the assaults on the ancient Khans of Tarkir.
This is an interesting development and slightly unique to this sort of fantasy writing. There are LOTS of fantasy novels that have worlds where dragons and humans co-exist, but those universes usually make it such that the humans are the dominant power. In some the dragons are sub-servient beasts that carry knights like steeds. In others, the Dragons have gone into hiding and hoard treasure while avoiding contact with humans. However, in the world of Tarkir the humans are NOT the dominant power. They are prey, the play thing, the sub-servient being to the dragons. That is a new twist and that’s going to likely impact the sort of cards we see in the final story of this Block.
What interests me about this is how the humans are going to fit into this new arrangement. It will be unlike anything we have seen in terms of story, but that should hardly be a surprise at this point. We have already seen that many of the Dragons on Tarkir exhibit a much different series of traits than what is considered to be the “norm” for this genre. Dragons are often seen as being simple, but vicious primitive forces. On occasion they exhibit intelligence and cunning, but usually to serve their own greater good. On Tarkir the dragons of each brood have their own “social order” of sorts and live within those norms…and potentially meaning the humans have no place in that social order. IF they have a place, will it be as an equals to the dragons? Doubtful. Humans are FAR more fragile than the enormously powerful dragons so it is hard to conceive of them being equals. Slaves? Far more likely. But as slaves, what exactly does that mean?
I’m not prepared to speculate on the various social orders fostered by each of the broods, but it will likely give each dragon/clan alliance the chance to renew hostilities against each other because of the lack of a “common” enemy that they previously shared: the humans. It will mean that there will be some pretty exciting Dragon on Dragon crime and some very obviously pushed powerful effects coming up. It will also mean a larger number of dragons that are going to appear in the set going forward.
A few words on Sarkhan and “the Timeline”. I have heard people critique the fact that Sarkhan has effectively altered the timeline, no longer triggering his own spark, and potentially having a cascading effect beyond the plane on Tarkir. I would love to start back tracking through the story and play the “what if” game at each juncture where Sarkhan has played a major role in the events of the Multiverse, but that doesn’t feel productive. It feels like a fun activity, but ultimately the number of parallel planes and timelines that may be created as a result of these changes is pretty immense. I feel like the easiest explanation is likely to be that some alternate planeswalker we haven’t met yet will follow in the footsteps of Sarkhan Vol to maintain the basic structure of the multiverse. From a writing perspective, it is the easiest solution if not the most elegant. All of us who read and enjoy the weekly articles will be decidedly disappointed because it feels like a bit of a cop out. However, from the standpoint of having to totally backtrack and revisit a number of planes this is perhaps the easiest mechanism. However, IF you wanted to go back to all those planes (because they were awesome!) this would present the ideal opportunity to go back and revisit the altered timeline.
Lastly, the death of Elspeth and the removal of Sarkhan from the Planeswalker batting line up is starting to take its toll. Don’t forget, Garruk has gone nuts, Elspeth and Venser are dead, and now Sarkhan just doesn’t exist (at least in theory). Sure, we got Ashiok, Kiora, Ugin and even Xenagos, but the death/removal of some of the more established walkers hurts a little bit. They are kind of like old friends that you can turn to and latch on to…or awesome spells to cast in the middle of the game to push you over the top. Regardless of how you look at them they are powerful characters in the stories of Magic and losing them stings. It might be nice for a change to NOT have a tragic demise to all our favorite walkers…a story with a happy ending usually sells pretty well too.
Thanks for reading…and I hope you have an awesome MTG day.
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter