Vikings: Arnulf, Merchant Prince

Earlier this week, I talked about white in this set, now (going in the color pie order), its blue’s turn.

Blue is the color of rationality and planning. The blue vikings are therefore the traders. These were the vikings who formed trading posts all over Europe, some of which are still major cities today.

Without further ado, here’s the leader of this faction of our vikings.

Arnulf, Merchant Prince
Legendary Creature – Human Advisor 2/3, 1UU
Tap a blue creature you control: Draw a card, then discard a card
Grandeur -— Discard another card named Arnulf, Merchant Prince: Exchange control of two target permanents of the same type.

Of course most blue players will hate a card which requires the use of creatures… and more would be better. Blasphemy! … and I hear you. I feel you. I know how painful it is to rely on creatures when spells should suffice. Sometimes its hard to be blue. (Well, you can always play Legacy…) Maybe I should drop the color requirement from the activated ability to make this less of a blue creature.

His ability is not as out of the left field as Signy’s, but its very powerful. He makes it easy to move past cards you won’t need in the late game, or just find the cards that work best in the situation you happen to be in. I’d like to come up with something more unique… We’ll see.

At first I thought the Grandeur ability should be drawing cards, but then that might give early advantage which might be too much if its anything more than simple cycling. This current version at least won’t bring huge early game advantages if the opponent is playing fair. If your opponent somehow drops a Griselbrand on turn two, it should be fair game to steal as well. Also, since creatures that fall under the control of another player are dropped out of combat, this can become a way to slow down your opponent, which is something blue definitely wants. This is also an ability you can definitely build around. If your creatures are Snapcaster Mages, Augur of Bolas’s and Omenspeakers, you probably won’t be unhappy to exchange them for something like Kalonian Tusker.

Blue is a problematic color in one sense: I wanted to give each of these leaders a keyword ability, but blue only has flying, hexproof, flash, and islandwalk. None of those felt right.

Okay, so who is this guy?

Arnulf is quite opportunistic, just like all the other Vikings, but rather than relying on his axe, he goes where the others are not going due to too much risk in raiding.

Arnulf would like to travel more, but currently he is more or less forced to remain in his trading post (more like a town these days, including a stockade and many services for travellers) so that his multitude of contacts can come to him to trade.

Arnulf is not that interested in the wealth itself. Actually, he leads a pretty spartan life with heating being the only luxury he allows himself. His palace is very luxurious, but that’s just for show. Instead, he has been accumulating books, which he buys of off other vikings, who are often raiding monasteries to get them.

In his talks with Dark Thyra (to whom will get to later), Arnulf has learned about the oncoming end of the world. This is one of the reasons he has been building his base. He has plenty of artisans he feels he might need when the time comes. Everyone will be needing weapons and armor. Arnulf will be ready to provide them.

Arnulf often rubs people the wrong way, but he has a way of rationalizing trades. He never cheats anyone and does his best to see that anyone trading with him will feel they were right to trade with him. On the other hand, anyone cheating him will be fed to the fish being raised in the fjord he lives next to.

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