Kaldheim is a set I've been dreaming about for ages, and since Wizards announced it's planned for release in early 2021, my hopes for the set have skyrocketed. There has been a surge in Viking-related media the past few years, and I'm sure I'm not alone in my excitement for Magic to hop on the bandwagon.
There are a lot of things I want from this set, but for the sake of thematic accuracy, here are my Top 9 wishes for Kaldheim:
This one seems obvious. Like Amonkhet and Theros, Kaldheim falls perfectly into the Age of Mythology trifecta of ancient civilizations with Purphoros, God of the Forge Oketra the True Erebos, God of the Dead, so I won't be surprised if this wish is granted. Of course, the names will be changed from how they appear historically, but I picture a Grixis Odinn, an Abzan Freya with her Naya brother Freyr, maybe a Mardu Tyr.
The Norse gods have complex, multifaceted personalities, which makes pinning down their color profile a challenge. Take Odinn for example. Many people know him as "the god of wisdom," but he is also the god of madness, battle-frenzy, and inspiration. In the course of his stories, he violates nearly every social contract the Viking age people held sacred, breaking oaths, practicing forbidden magic, and tricking people for his own benefit. And yet he's highly respected and viewed as the reigning god, the first in line to fight for order against chaos. I'm excited to see how Wizards might distill this kind of duality down to playable color combinations, especially if it leads to competitive new options for God Commanders.
Not all medieval Scandinavians were Vikings, and these seafaring raiders should be set apart from the farmers, poets, magicians, and other members of Viking Age society with their own creature type. The pirate type fits them perfectly and could provide a competitive boost to those of us thinking of running tribal Pirates in Commander. Bonus points if they get some kind of shield wall mechanic that lets these creatures boost each other on the battlefield.
We know Wizards are hitting the double-faced printing hard from Zendikar Rising and into next year. (Modal double-faced cardss look spicy, and I see that distant promised land of Innistrad Werewolves calling my name.) I would love to see this leveraged to make creatures like berserkers, ulfhednar, and vǫlur with flavorful instants and sorceries on their other sides. The Norse tradition even provides good reason to implement transforming gods, just look at Loki and all the wild transformations he's undergone.
Need I say more?
Sagas are central to storytelling tradition in Norse mythology, and it's thanks to them we know most of what we do today. Getting a plethora of Time of Ice with a wide range of effects would be flavorful and interesting. I'd like to see some that were pretty minor that are more effective in combination, as well as a couple absolute devastators. Extra cool would be Sagas that boost specific legendary creatures in the set, as the Sagas we have often chronicle the achievements of a specific hero or family.
I want cards with borders that reference the ornate jewelry, monolithic runestones, and even the carvings seen in places like the Urnes Stave Church in Norway.
The intricate knotwork of Viking art is begging to be made into a card frame. A boxtopper written in Younger Futhark recalling the Phyrexian Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite would also be sweet. The Viking Age has a distinct aesthetic Wizards could really lean on to produce some beautiful cards.
Including, but not limited to:
Bonus points if Sleipnir can bring cards back from the graveyard, as horseback was the transportation of choice when venturing to the lands of the dead. Sleipnir's name even means "sliding one," which some believe is related to his ability to slide between worlds. (Personally, I think it's a reference to the Icelandic horse's smooth riding ability, but I'm a horse girl not a historian.)
This won't happen, but it could be neat, and would have historical precedent since the Vikings were in search of arable land just as much as poorly guarded monastery treasure. Farming in Scandinavia is difficult with bitter winters and short growing seasons, especially in Denmark where most of the country is sand. A population boom in the Viking Age launched expansion of territory to a top priority.
I'm honestly not sure how fun this type of mechanic might be, especially on the receiving end, but it's something different I wouldn't mind trying out.
I'm hoping I don't have to worry about this one (I'm trusting you, Wizards), but I am really thirsty for a historically-inspired Kaldheim, not one that looks to pop culture representations for inspiration (Marvel has messed with this pantheon enough, thank you).
We've seen beautiful Tolkein elves for years, I want new elves that lean on scary Icelandic folktales and kill people on Christmas Eve for the lols. I want complex gods riddled with contradictions of character. I want some amazing legendary artifacts and the dwarves who made them. I'm pretty sure I want a Planeswalker who's a skald.
I guess I want a lot more than nine things from Kaldheim, but most of all, I just want it to be good.