Grand Prix events are very important tournaments and as such come with very important swag. The usual piece of loot is a fancy new playmat - with art usually either directly from, or commissined from a real Magic artist in the overall style of, an upcoming set. So when MTGSalvation.com Rumor Mill user chipanddale45 posted this stunning, almost surreal piece of art from the GP Utrecht playmat, it immediately indicated that we're in for a hell of a ride in this year of Magic products.
If it takes a few moments for your eyes to adjust to what they're seeing, that's to be expected - there's a lot going on here. The focus is of course the bizarre camelid - some sort of draconic dromedary, with hooves and a hump, yes, but also twisted ramlike horns and purple mottling in its tan skin and all sorts of protruding dewlaps and spines. The beastie is running briskly through a desolate landscape, ridden by a long-haired spearman who wears dark blue clothing under chitinous beige armor and swings an absolutely enormous pike. Scampering in front of the steed are a couple of tiny dinosaur-like reptiles.
This is an altogether alien-feeling piece, bringing to mind a culture that only has vague similarities to Earth-bound ones and fauna that's unlike anything in the real world or mythology to match. All in all, it feels like Dune or The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, both excellent influences to draw upon. If this is indeed derived from the Tarkir style guide, then we have a clue as to why Dragons matter on that plane: Having died off, draconic essence and characteristics insinuated themselves into even the most mundane of creatures, such as pack animals.