200.html|@/@@TEXTR*ch<@2,~ The Dragons

The Dragons

I'm not going to bother writing spoilers for all nine Dragons, but here's some quick statistics in table format (note you can find the home sites and their regions on the Dragons packet insert, so I won't bother giving those):

Dragon NameProwessBodyStrikesRegions
Agburanar1592Wth. Heath, N. Rhov, Iron Hl, Grey Mtn. Narrows, (S. Rhov, Dorwinion, Heart of Mirkwood, Wood. Realm)
Bairanax1472*Wth. Heath, Gundabad, And. Vales, Grey Mtn. Narrows, (N. Rhov, Iron Hl, S. Rhov, Angmar)
Daelomin1383*Wth. Heath, N. Rhov, Iron Hl, Grey Mtn. Narrows, (Brown Lands, S. Rhov, Dorwinion, Dagorlad, Horse Pl.)
Earcaraxe1772*Andrast Cst, Bay of Belfalas, Eriadorian Cst, Andrast, (Old Pukel-land, Enedhwaith, Anfalas, Coastal Seas)
Itangast1883Wth. Heath, N. Rhov, Iron Hl, Grey Mtn. Narrows, (S. Rhov, Dorwinion, Heart of Mirkwood, Wood. Realm)
Leucaruth1682Wth. Heath, N. Rhov, Iron Hl, Grey Mtn. Narrows, (S. Rhov, Dorwinion, Heart of Mirkwood, Wood. Realm)
Scatha1593Wth. Heath, N. Rhov, Iron Hl, Grey Mtn. Narrows, (And. Vales, W. Mirkwood, Heart of Mirkwood, Gundabad)
Scorba1283*Forochel, Angmar, Gundabad, (Numeriador, Arthedain, Rhudaur)
Smaug1782*Wth. Heath, N. Rhov, Iron Hl, Grey Mtn. Narrows, (Brown Lands, S. Rhov, Dorwinion, Dagorlad, Horse Pl.)

Regions with () are Ahunt-only
* = Attacker chooses defending characters
For Ahunt versions, subtract 2 prowess and 1 body and add 1 strike, for At Home versions add 1 prowess.

There's a pretty wide variety between the Dragons, with prowess ranging from 12 to 18 and body ranging from 7 to 9 (well, that isn't that significant, but the prowess is), regions spread all across the map, and art (which I didn't mention on the chart) ranging from quite bad (Smaug) to quite good (several, my favorite's Itangast). But let's look a bit at each one's unique features (if any). I'll also give each one a rating for its use as a hazard and one for its site (factoring in the Dragon's power, of course), which I'll put at the end of this review. I would rate art, but since in several Dragons there was more than one artist it didn't seem right. So here's my mini-reviews of the nine dragons:

Note: except for Leucaruth and Earcaraxe, who I know from other cards are both females, I'm referring to the Dragons as "he" instead of "she". This is not sexism on my part, I'm merely defaulting to "he" because Smaug was a he and that's the only Dragon directly mentioned in the text (other than Scatha, whose gender is not given on the books' brief reference to he/she). Though if anyone knows for a fact any of the other Dragons' genders, feel free to post an article about it.

First there's Agburanar. Agburanar seems mostly uninteresting, beaten out or equaled in almost everything by Scatha and inhabiting a slightly different (and more common) region. Agburanar's only advantage over Scatha is one fewer marshalling point, for which he sacrifices an entire strike. But Agburanar does have one special feature - his home site, Caves of Ulund, is one of only 5 sites where Greater Hoard Items can be played, a feature Scatha's home of Gondmaeglom doesn't have. The art's pretty good too, some people may not like it by I think Quinton Hoover's artwork is quite good. So Agburanar isn't that useful in a hazard deck by himself, but if used in one of his other forms, such as At Home, he can be a handy addition to a resource strategy. This edges up Agburanar to a pretty good position site-wise, but a fairly bad one hazard-wise, in fact probably the worst in that area.

Next comes Bairanax. Bairanax, like Agburanar, has a pretty standard region space, but is actually fairly strong attack-wise. Though he may have less prowess and body than Agburanar, the ability to choose the defending characters makes up for it and more. Bairanax is an excellent addition to many hazard decks, as a mid-to-high power dragon, and though his site isn't that great he himself is. The art is also great, Rob Alexander's done a nice job on this as on almost all of his pieces (and it's the only one where everything, including the site, is done by the same artist). So Bairanax rates pretty well attack-wise, a bit below average for Dragons, though his site rates fairly badly for resource strategies.

Daelomin is a lot like Bairanax, actually. Like both Agburanar and Bairanax his home regions are in the standard Dragon region space, and his only differences from Bairanax are an extra marshalling point, an extra body point, an extra strike, one less point of prowess, and slightly different regions. This edges him a bit above Bairanax IMHO, prowess not being worth all the other differences, and therefore a bit above average as a Dragon in general. His site/resource use is also excellent, since while he's fairly strong as a regular creature his At Home and auto-attack versions don't match up to that, and his site is another greater-item one. The art I think is quite spectacular, maybe not on the basic creature (probably partly due to the bad color correction on the limited-edition card I'm looking at), but the Ahunt version is great. Daelomin therefore rates pretty well hazard-wise, about average I'd say, and the best in the game site-wise, making him one of the better Dragons.

Earcaraxe is an interesting dragon, actually she's more of a sea-serpent really than a dragon. Her regions are quite unusual, to say the least, the farthest away from any of the others, all the way on the western side of the map. Her range is also the largest in her Ahunt form, covering all the Coastal Seas and more. Her attack is fairly powerful, the third best of any Dragon (as is reflected in her position on the chart below), and her range is also powerful as one of only two which can contain a haven (Edhellond in her case). Her site, however, is not so good, mediocre at best, with an attack as powerful as hers and only minor and major items and information (none of which exists in Hoard form yet, though it's a good idea for a new card). The art is very nice, as almost all of Angelo Montanni's is, especially Earcaraxe At Home. So overall Earcaraxe ranks fairly high as a hazard, but fairly low for resource strategies.

Itangast is the real powerhouse of Dragons. His prowess is fantastic, only matched by Shelob and Khamul, whose ranks he well deserves to join. He has more strikes than either of his nearest competitors, Smaug and Earcaraxe. He may not be able to choose the defending characters, but the extra strike and higher prowess make up for it. His range is the same as most Dragons, though he's one of the most feared creatures up there. Itangast is an excellent substitute for Nazgul in many decks that don't want to use up the large amount of support cards Nazgul require to make them even barely playable. He's one of the best creatures in the game. His site's also good for playable items, but he's so powerful it gets pushed down to mediocre range. And the art's great, particularly the basic creature card, which is as Itangast is in prowess in the same league as the all-time art champion IMHO, Khamul the Easterling, who still remains the best. Therefore, Itangast is the best Dragon hazard-wise, though he doesn't do that well site-wise as a result of that.

Leucaruth is an interesting dragon, occupying a range really all her own in Dragondom. She's a bit more powerful than Agburanar or Scatha, though not that much so, but she's not quite as poewrful as Itangast, Earcaraxe, and Smaug. Her strike setup, on the other hand, is the lowest of any Dragon, two strikes without choosing the defending characters. This to me puts her in a relatively low position overall for attacks, though your opinion may vary. She occupies, like most Dragons, a fairly standard range in the Northeast corner of the map. Her home site is actually quite good, since it's one of the 5 greater-item equipped ones, and this ranks far higher than her. She's useful as a lesser alternative to the "big boys", Smaug, Itangast, and Earcaraxe. So overall Leucaruth ranks quite badly hazard-wise but fairly well site-wise.

Scatha is a lot like Agburanar, as I mentioned in his review, but overall a bit more powerful. He has more strikes than Agburanar, and oddly enough a lesser site (because ICE wasn't ranking Dragons when they made the basic set). But as was the case with Agburanar, because of his lack of attacker-chooses defenders he doesn't do that well hazard-wise. However, Scatha is slightly different from the norm region-wise, inhabiting more of Mirkwood and less of that very top corner most Dragons inhabit. His site is somewhat mediocre, though it does have the nice touch of having gold rings playable, and the artwork varies from fairly good on the Ahunt version to quite superb on the At Home version (another excellent job by Liz Danforth). Scatha therefore rates a bit below average, below Bairanax but above Leucaruth, hazard-wise, and almost the lowest site-wise.

Scorba is the weakest dragon, yet because of his range in his Ahunt version he does surprisingly well overall as a hazard. And his attacks aren't that bad - really almost identical to Daelomin's except he's a point of prowess lower. And his range makes up for that easily, at least in the Ahunt version. Scorba Ahunt, as I just reviewed two days ago, can cover the one place where it's guaranteed characters (and probably Hobbits) will be played - Rivendell. At least he covers pretty much everyone moving from Rivendell, which anyone there will probably have to do eventually. But in his non-Ahunt version Scorba isn't as good, covering three rarely-visited regions instead of the more common ones of his Ahunt form. His site isn't very good for items playable, but he's weak enough to make up for it with the auto-attack. The art is pretty good, IMHO, maybe not as good as Itangast but still pretty nice. So Scorba ranks about middlish for attack, low prowess but balanced out by the high range on the Ahunt version, and around the same place for his site possibilities.

Our final dragon is Smaug. Smaug is the second most powerful Dragon, edging out Scorba just a bit in his fighting stats (by only one body point and nothing else, so it's pretty close), but Earcaraxe has over him an area not as already covered as his is. His area is pretty much the standard Dragon range, fairly unremarkable, which is quite the opposite of Earcaraxe's. His home site's a bit more attractive, helping him a bit in both the site and also a little in the hazard (because people are lured to his site more, and therefore him) categories, though IMHO he's still beaten out by Earcaraxe. That doesn't seem quite correct, since he was described as a particularly fierce and greedy dragon, though I suppose Itangast and Earcaraxe must also be that way. The art is quite varied, David Deitrick's version on the original creature is really one of the worst pieces in the basic or Dragons sets, but Smaug Ahunt and At Home, both done by Angelo Montanni, are very nice pieces. So overall Smaug ranks quite high for a hazard and pretty high for his site potential, neither of those the best in the game but he's right up there.

I don't have enough time unfortunately to do the strategic paragraph I mentioned earlier, so that's about it. Thanks everyone. Tomorrow we return to regular issues with COTD #201, Star of High Hope.

My rankings for the nine Dragons:
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