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Monday, 19th February, 2007, 10:55 PM #1
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
D&D Icons: Gargantuan Blue Dragon
D&D ICONS: GARGANTUAN BLUE DRAGON
Wizards of the Coast product number 957890000A
The latest box of Wizards of the Coast review material sent to me was over twice as big as normal, yet weighed about the same. Intrigued, I opened it up - and was introduced to my first D&D Miniature, the Gargantuan Blue Dragon. The third in the D&D Icons line (following the Gargantuan Black Dragon and the Colossal Red Dragon), this is a dragon "miniature" appropriately scaled for use with standard D&D miniatures, whether the plastic ones from Wizards of the Coast or the metal ones that have been available for decades.
I have to say, as an introduction to the D&D Miniatures line, I couldn't have asked for a better representative, because this sucker is simply fantastic! (On a side note, my wife was so taken with the figurine that she immediately went out and purchased the Gargantuan Black Dragon for me for my upcoming birthday. I think she just wants to see it on display in the corner cabinet in our room, with my handful of dragon figurines. But I digress.)
The blue dragon is an extremely well-done sculpture, just about perfectly matching the illustration on page 72 of the Monster Manual. A tremendous amount of attention to detail went into the sculpture, too, from the individual scales of its hide to the "crosshatch" texturing of its leathery wings. I love the row of spikes traversing the dragon's tail and the slightly-split, rhinolike horn jutting from its brow. Its mouth is open (and its tongue is lolling to one side), a perfect pose for either a forthcoming bite attack or a line-of-lightning breath attack.
I know next to nothing about the D&D Miniatures game, so I can't really comment on that aspect of the miniature, but this is a perfect figure to spring on higher-level PCs. (According to the Monster Manual, an ancient blue dragon is CR 21, a blue dragon wyrm is CR 23, and a blue dragon great wyrm is CR 25 - these are the age categories at which a blue dragon is Gargantuan.) My own players are currently adventuring at the 3rd-level stage, so it'll be some time before I get to use it in our current campaign, but it'll sure look nice in my display cabinet until they get that high up in level!
Besides the miniature itself, you also get a fold-out map ("Blue Dragon's Lair," according to the legend along one of the top-view walls) suitable for use with a D&D Miniatures scenario, although there's nothing stopping it from being of equal use in a regular old D&D game. It's a bit of a shame that the map is only one-sided, but then I suppose "blue dragon's lair" is the obvious choice to pack with a blue dragon miniature, and really, how many blue dragon lairs are you likely to need? The map detail is very good, and covers an area some 22 inches by 34 inches, with each inch marked off in squares (each square representing 5 feet in the game). It depicts a typical set of desert ruins, complete with a few obelisks (one of which is broken and toppled), the occasional crumbling wall from a once-existing building, part of a gynosphinx statue, a chunk of bearded face from another statue, and of course the obligatory pile of coins in which the dragon makes its bed. Mingled in with the coins are a visible chest, pottery, a staff, and even an Egyptian-style sarcophagus.
You also get a four-page booklet with details on specific rules for Gargantuan blue dragons in D&D Miniatures, Battle Map features, and a few Dragon Scenarios. Again, as I'm unfamiliar with the rules of D&D Miniatures, I'll have to leave it to another reviewer to comment on how well the dragon plays out in that game.
Speaking of which, the final item in the box is a dual-sided card with game stats for the Gargantuan Blue Dragon for both D&D Miniatures and D&D. (The card states specifically that the stats are for a Great Wyrm). Those familiar with my reviews will probably not be surprised to learn that I scrutinized the D&D stats, with the following results:
- Gargantuan Blue Dragon (Great Wyrm): Maneuverability rating for its 200 ft. fly speed should be clumsy, not poor. Has 9 feats listed, but as a 39-HD creature, it should have 14 (and one of those has to be Multiattack, given that its secondary attacks are at -2, not -5). There's a "rend 4d8+21" listed in his Special Attacks that I can't account for, considering that dragons normally don't have rend attacks, unless it has the Rend feat from Draconomicon as one of its missing feats - although it's odd that the feat isn't listed, especially since one of his other feats is Improved Snatch from the same book (and annotated as such). Ref should be +21, not +25 (+21 as a 39-HD dragon, +0 Dex). Will should be +27, not +31 (+21 as a 39-HD dragon, +6 Wis). Spent 393 of 344 skill points, and put 46 ranks into Spellcraft despite 42 ranks being the upper limit for a 39-HD creature. Speaking of skills, it's missing Disguise +6 (+8 acting) [0 ranks, +6 Cha, +2 synergy from Bluff], and its "Survival +17" should be followed by "(+19 following tracks)" as a result of a +2 synergy bonus from Search. Sorcerer spells/day are listed backwards (4/6/7/7/7/7/8/8/6 instead of 6/8/8/7/7/7/7/6/4). The save DCs for its spell-like abilities are off: hallucinatory terrain should be DC 20, not DC 21 [10 + 4th-level spell + 6 Cha], mirage arcana should be DC 21, not DC 22 [10 + 5th-level spell + 6 Cha], and veil should be DC 22, not DC 23 [10 + 6th-level spell + 6 Cha].
In any case, I'm basing my final rating of "5 (Superb)" pretty much solely on the excellent design, sculpture, and painting of the miniature itself. The map is a nice added bonus (and I suppose somewhat of a requirement on the D&D Miniatures side of the house), and the D&D side of the card is pretty hopeless, but it's still an excellent figure. I probably won't get around to reviewing the Gargantuan Black Dragon miniature for awhile (I feel it's always a better idea to quickly review the items that are specifically sent to me from the publisher, as that's what they're most interested in seeing reviewed), but to compare the two, I'd say this product does a better job of matching its Monster Manual depiction - the Gargantuan black dragon's wings seem kind of "off" to me.
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