Day of the Alpha Dragon.

A huge amount of digital post production, including the lettering and page layout, with collaging.

A huge amount of digital post production, including the lettering and page layout, with collaging.

The Shivan Dragon is a completely bad to the bone Alpha Card from Magic: The Gathering. Bad to the Bone. “Limited Edition Alpha,” commonly known as Alpha, is the first print run of “Limited Edition,” which was the first base set of Magic: The Gathering. “Alpha” contained 295 cards and was released in 1993. “Alpha” is actually a nickname, but widely accepted as the name for this set.

The Shivan Dragon was heavily reprinted, and Alpha versions of it are pretty hard to come by. They are priced heavily online in good condition. My Shivan Dragon card has been heavily played, and could not be considered anywhere near mint condition. I’ll be hopefully rolling that card out today playing at lunch, in the ever growing and enjoyable Friday Game with students.

What’s great about the card, in play, is pretty much everything. He’s big, hard to block, and you can pay him to make him even more destructive. Everything that you like about Tolkien’s Smaug, in card form. The rest of the deck is pretty similar…it’s an exercise in explaining some ideas of deck building to the students. There are a few strategy ideas that drive the deck, as opposed to a few good cards. Although the Shivan Dragon is there, as an awesome card…most of the creatures have the firebreathing attribute, which really changes the whole idea of blocking in play.

Most of my students go the “card awesomeness” route in deck building. They have a whole lot of great cards, and kind of shove them into one deck, without a guiding principle. This often causes them problems in getting card into play, or a deck’s “engine” working.

Obviously, I’m looking forward to the game and the new players.

This is a far, far cry from last year at this time. Instead of a school degenerating into chaos, I’m beginning the third novel of the year, while discussing the mathematics of deck building strategy. The students are really quite friendly, and the fail rate in class is low. All in all, pretty excellent stuff.

Initially, this alone was going to be the art for today.

Initially, this alone was going to be the art for today.

Drawing giant dragon monsters is a hard task. You don’t really have a good reference for thinks like where the wings should connect to the shoulders, and how. If you don’t get it “right” it’s painfully obvious in the artwork. In addition, the head is a big chore, especially at that angle.

Still…if you spend some time at it, the payoff is huge. In this case, I used the Shivan Dragon card art as a direct reference. The only problem with that was the card art is roughly two inches wide by an inch high, so you really have to guess at the line work, and only use it as a compositional reference.

In panel two, the background is ALSO Alpha card art, from an ancient “mountain” land card. It seemed appropriate, and came out great, in my opinion.

Hopefully, gaming will go equally well today, with my young group of players. I don’t see how it won’t and have been looking forward to it all week.

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