As I’ve mentioned before (when I talked about the activation costs of planeswalkers), I’ve been working on my own MtG set for a while. It currently stands at 179 cards, but the thing is, I have a writers block. I don’t know where I’m going with it. I have several mechanics, which seem pretty good, but just don’t seem to relate to the theme of the set (which is that its supposed to be a place where the remnants of the conflicts between planeswalkers end up, if they don’t just die on the battlefield, and it has attracted some planeswalkers who scavenge on those resources, or try to protect the survivors). I have the world pretty well thought out in my head, but I just can’t it on the cards. I suppose this is lack of experience in design.
Maybe I should stick with it, but I won’t. I’m going with something else. Namely vikings. Yes, there are probably dozens of these on the web and it must be on the Wizards’ shortlist of mythologies to do. They might even have plenty of ideas on file. Still, I’m going to do this differently.
The thing is, Norse mythology is very interesting. Its pretty well known, although usually through the lens of American popular culture. However, the people themselves were like a nation full of adventurers. They were warriors, conquerors, explorers, traders, and so forth. Have there ever been people more like player characters in the history of the world?
So, I’m emphasizing the humans in the world. At the same time, I do get that if I was making this for wider audience, I should probably include more fantasy elements. However, since this is for me, I’m putting the fantasy elements into the higher rarities. The lower rarities are full of vikings themselves and their deeds. I’ll probably have plenty of vikings in the higher rarities as well, as I am mostly an EDH player and I need my legendary creatures.
So, I’m not sure this is the right approach, but it helps me: What does each color do in this context?
White is the color of organization and community. So, our white vikings are the ones who went out and conquered nations. Historically, the vikings who went out and conquered large tracks of the Britain would have been white.
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.
Black is the color of ambition and amorality. They are the central color in our set. They are the ones out for personal gain. They are probably the least flashy of the vikings, but they are everywhere. Since sacrifices are mainly a black thing, black is probably also the color of priests.
Red is the color of emotion and recklessness. I guess. Well, poorly put, but I need to distinguish them from the other colors, so red is the color of the berserkers and other warriors, but also the color of the skald (the troubadours of the norse).
Green is about growth, so our green is about exploration. These would be the vikings who went west into Iceland, Greenland, and even North America in search of new places to settle.
I do have major problems though. The biggest being ships. How do I represent those in such a way that people will actually want to play them (as they are very central to the theme)? If there isn’t much magic on the lower rarities, what do I do with blue creatures? Are there fliers? I guess I’ll have to have plenty of birds, then.
1) You need Scry. It’s even more viking than Theros in my mind.
2) Maybe ships should be coloured artefacts? With “equip to multiple creatures”. Or something that is casted with tapping creatures? “Tap X vikings to draw X cards” etc. Adding a red sorcery that requires you to sacrifice a ship to do something could be funeral pyre etc.
3) You could probably add at least one blue zombie (“Drowned”) and a bunch of serpents and giants.
Obviously a Kraken.
I also thought about making ships artifacts, which can attach creatures to themselves, but that would make artifact destruction too swingy. Following MaRos principles, you don’t need to go too deep in your simulation. Something that reminds people about what these things do is enough.