Vikings: A Division of Mechanics

New mechanics in a set tell us something about the world and more importantly, they affect how the set feels when playing the game. So, lets look at how often do we see different mechanics in different colors:

White> Blue Black Red Green Gold & Colorless
Bestow 4 2 4 2 3
Devotion 2 2 5 2 4 1
Heroic 5 3 2 3 3 2
Monstrosity 1 2 2 4 4 3
Scry 3 11 1 6 1 8
Total 15  20 14 17 15 14

Including Flamespeaker Adept, because it says something about how scry is seen by different colors.

The same weighted on many you’ll pull on average from a booster:

White> Blue Black Red Green Gold & Colorless
Bestow 0.26 0.15 0.26 0.15 0.17
Devotion 0.06 0.02 0.27 0.06 0.17 0.02
Heroic 0.31 0.22 0.07 0.17 0.17 0.07
Monstrosity 0.02 0.07 0.07 0.17 0.17 0.03
Scry 0.25 0.77 0.1 0.5 0.05 0.2
Total 0.9 1.23 0.77 1.05 0.73 0.32

No heroic in mythic rare. That’s sort of interesting. Perhaps you’re supposed to think those really great heroes were built up from something rather than starting from there.

Of course, there are other considerations, such as blue has quit a few scry-effects, which give their controllers multiple chances to scry, whereas the other colors generally have to rely on scry-effects stickered on instants. Also, you’ll notice I put gold cards into their own category, whereas they are also strong indicators on where certain things fall, for example, both gold monstrosity creatures are half green and both gold heroic creatures are part white.

Summing the totals, you’ll come to the conclusion that on average, you’ll find in your booster five cards (out of 14) referencing one of these five things. And by the way: this number is exactly five (not counting foils and my rounding of the numbers), so I don’t think its an accident. MaRo talks about “as-fan” every once in a while. As-fan is what your set looks like when you open a booster and fan the cards out. In this case, about third of the cards are going to have one of the mechanics on them, meaning they have a very strong presence.

We can also see that blue is generally a bit of an outlier. In this case, it doesn’t do well in any category until we get to scry. On the other hand, we have “as-played”, which stands for how often we see these cards in action. In standard, we see a lot of devotion, especially both of the blue cards, one black common (Gray Merchant of Asphodel) and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. We see some monstrosity in Polukranos, World-Eater, Arbor Colossus and Stormbreath Dragon, although I hardly see the the last one actually becoming monstrous. In limited you see all of these mechanics abused, which means its a pretty good set.

So, in Vikings, I’d like to have about a similar number of mechanics. Four or five will do. But I also need to find ones that can encompass all colors about equally. I’m going to try and find something you can put into each color at least once, but I’m also going to try and find something especially for each color, so that each color can have its distinct identity. Although, in some cases (see heroic or monstrosity above in black), the same mechanic can have a very different feel in different colors.

Also, if possible, each color combination should have a distinct feel to it. This shouldn’t be as strong as the individual cards, but this can be as simple as blue-red wanting to cast instants and sorceries and getting extra benefit from them (see Spellheart Chimera and Flamespeaker Adept.

So, as I’ve stated prevously (in some forgotten post), I’ll be using Landfall from Zendikar. This will occur mostly in green, as I’ve already made green the exploration color. Of course, I’ll have to look closely at Zendikar so that I won’t tread the same waters, but there seems to be plenty of design space there.

Next, were going to have berserkers. I have two distinct ideas here: berserker could be a keyword (actually an ability word) which lets a creature grow and become indestructible when blocking or blocked, but it often (but not always) has a an additional cost, such as sacrifing the berserker at end of turn. These will probably be mostly in red, but again, at least one for each color. Even white and blue.

An example:

Arnulf’s Berserker
Creature – Human Berserker 1U
Berserker — UU, this creature gets +2/+2 and gains indestructibility until end of turn. Target player puts the top five cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard. (You may only active Berserker once per turn and only if this creature blocks or is blocked)

The other idea (which I might put under a different name and use anyway) is having many of the other cards have an activated ability involving discarding it and giving bonuses to a creature. A bit like bloodrush, but its not limited to being a creature ability. This way it would probably be more of a white thing, but its easy enough to find suitable abilities for all colors. This would also mean I could put pretty narrow cards into the set, and the narrowness would be mitigated by this ability. These might be hard flavorwise, though, although I am once again confident that I can come up with something.

An example of this kind of a card would look something like this:

Secret Location
Sorcery 1G
Search your library for a basic land card, reveal it, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library.
{Mechanic title} — G, discard Secret Location: Target creature gains hexproof until end of turn.

I’m guessing this is actually Channel, but Channel (and somewhat similar Evoke) are creature abilities. I probably could just call this Channel and be done with it, although there might be some rules concers, which aren’t really my problem. I like this because it lets you put all sorts of effects into you deck without necessarily compromising your combat capabilities, which are very important in limited.

Blue is always hard, since this is a somewhat combat-oriented set in a combat-oriented game, and blue tends to be stronger outside of combat. I’m not going to use scry, as Lauri suggested, because it was just used so recently, even though it would fit here very well. Of course, another problem I have is that I’m trying to keep the fantasy in this first set pretty low key, which means no effects with effects that are too far from what could happen in the real world flavorwise.

These might be a bit farfetched or hard to get a handle on, but at this point these are only ideas anyhow:

Perhaps redirection within cards.

Well-Aimed Arrow
Instant 2W
Well-Aimed Arrow deals 4 damage to target attacking or blocking creature.
Redirect — If this card would be countered because it no longer has valid targets, you may pay R to assign it a new target.

That would probably need some clarification, but seems fine. Don’t know if there’s enough design space.

Another could be named something like “Omen”. These cards could be either cheaper or they could have an additional effect if you’ve done something during this turn.


Instant 2B
Destroy target nonblack creature.
Omen — If a creature died this turn, the destroyed creature can not be regenerated


Call of Home
Instant 1U
Return target creature to its owner’s hand
Omen — If you have drawn a card this turn, you may target any permanent instead.

I like the latter much more and it feels like there’s much more design space there, so that’s probably what I’m going to go with. It should be easy enough to come up with things for blue with this mechanic.

This leaves black without a signature mechanic, but that might be a good thing, because black is my favorite color and therefore it’ll be easy enough to find uses in black for all of the above.

.. and of course the Grandeur (at least for now), which is not a major thing, because we only have the five big boys, who have it. Although, I may add a land with the same ability into the set. Even then, six mythic rares with an ability don’t do much for the feel of the set.

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