Howdy folks and welcome back to another peek into the history and lore of Magic: The Gathering! This week we’re going to be looking as much as we possibly can into the Elder Dragon War and the major players from it. There isn’t much concrete information yet about the War itself, but with M19 giving us even more backstory on these massive dragons, we’ve got a little bit more to go on now!
The Birthing of Dragons
The original Elder Dragons were birthed from the Ur-Dragon, falling from the tempest storms upon an unknown plane (largely assumed to be the plane of Dominaria, but as of yet unknown). They had to immediately contend with the nature of humanity and the savage world in which they found themselves. One of the dragons, Merrevia Sal, was killed by hunters after her birthing upon the plane.
Of the dragon egg-stones that fell, two in particular were of great interest: the dragons Nicol and Ugin, who would eventually transcend mortal life and become planeswalkers. The other Elder Dragons that survived this harsh time were:
- Chromium Rhuell
- Vaevictus Asmadi
- Arcades Sabboth
While each of these dragons began to establish themselves among the world and their own territories, a violent conflict was on the horizon.
The Elder Dragon War
Thousands of years before Urza and Mishra warred upon the plane, even before the Thran arose, there were the Elder Dragons. The conflict waged between them was violent and catastrophic, killing most of their own kind and shaking the very foundation of the multiverse.
In the end of this conflict, the Elder Dragon Nicol Bolas emerged victorious, wherein he became a planeswalker. Among his kind, the other six Elder Dragons (Ugin, Chromium, Palladia, Vaevictus, Arcades, Piru) were the only survivors of this catastrophic war.
Beyond this, not much else is known about the locations or particular pieces of the conflict. With the M19 story continuing to develop it is possible we may receive new information on how the conflict proceeded, since it seems to be integral to how Nicol Bolas became a planeswalker.
It is known however, that many of the losers of this conflict were stripped of their wings, eventually becoming the Elder Land Wurms.
The Major Players
Feared by many for his mind-crippling touch and sinister nature, Nicol Bolas is one of the most powerful living Elder Dragons and planeswalkers, with machinations of sheer power. He is currently one of two assumed living Elder Dragons, between himself and his twin brother Ugin. Bolas seeks to gather enough power to return what he lost as a planeswalker during the Mending.
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Ugin is Nicol Bolas’ twin brother, and a powerful planeswalker in his own right. Ugin’s magic works upon the plane of Tarkir, birthing dragons from elemental storms, while the enigmatic planeswalker seeks to understand the multiverse at large. He is also partially responsible for trapping the Eldrazi in their prison on Zendikar.
A mutable and metallic dragon, Chromium became often involved in the matters of planeswalkers, even ending up in direct conflict with characters such as Leshrac, Dakkon Blackblade, and Kristina of the Woods. Chromium’s life partner was Piru, an Elder Dragon who was slain by Dakkon. Dakkon used the power of the Blackblade to steal Piru’s life force.
Arcades was a wise and powerful dragon who opted to learn to teach humanity instead of destroy it. Over time he built a peaceful empire. However, he was eventually summoned by Leshrac in a duel with Kristina of the Woods, where he was killed.
A vicious and powerful hunter, Palladia spent most of her time gorging and feasting upon her kills. Eventually she ended up in a cave near the town of Arcus where she was kept under a sleeping spell by the use of “Tickery” magic. It was revealed that Chromium was largely responsible for this, and she was defeated and sent back into the sleep spell after being awakened by Vaevictus Asmadi.
Vaevictus was a monstrous creature, preying on dragon hunters that emerged near his territory. At some point, he was transformed into a dragon whelp by a planeswalker. He pretended to be under the control of a warlord, manipulating the warlord to undo the magic binding Palladia-Mors in order to allow her to transform him back. He did transform back into an Elder Dragon, but during the subsequent duel with Palladia, one of his spells was reversed upon him and he disappeared. It is assumed that he is dead.
That’s all the time we have this week folks! We’re going to hopefully dig a little deeper into this storyline stuff for the Elder Dragons the more information we receive from the M19 storyline, and next time have a followup article on what we’ve learned about the relationship between Nicol Bolas & Ugin, the Spirit Dragon!
Until next time!
Joseph is an avid player of eternal Magic formats, including Vintage and Legacy. As a Nic Fit player who will tell anyone who will listen about his deck, Joe spends his time analyzing and playing on Magic Online and various online platforms, while prepping for competitive events. To follow more Joe, check out his Twitter!