Vikings: Subtheme for Combat

So, I took part in Grand Prix Valencia last weekend. My first GP, actually. I went 5-4 and I’m pretty happy with that. It was a sealed/draft event with sealed on Saturday and draft on Sunday. Obviously I didn’t make Sunday. Anyway, I’ve now played Theros sealed quite a bit by my usual standards. Three times live and twice on MTGO. Granted, that’s not that much overall, but I have some insight into the format.

What I like is that its very complicated. To make the heroic abilities worthwhile, the set needs plenty of tricks and it has those. Quite a few of them actually. I’m not very good at chess as I don’t play enough, but its basically a game about making the board as complicated as you can handle and then you wish your opponents can’t handle the same amount of complexity you can. Theros limited feels the same way. Obviously there’s the added lack of information not present in chess, bringing a whole different level of intelligence and counterintelligence into the game, although only the best players generally utilize counterintelligence (like Kenji).

Based on this experience, I wanted my set to bring something new to combat. I decided to mess with the rules a bit. To do that, I needed to find a place where the rules hadn’t been messed with. That place is damage order assignment. For those of you who don’t know the exact rules, here’s the gist of it: When blockers have been assigned, if there are more than one blockers (or in some cases blocked), the controller of the creature decides the order in which his creature assigns damage. After that, when the actual damage is assigned, the controller needs to assign enough damage to each creature to kill it before moving on to the next creature and assigning damage.

There isn’t much space here, unless I make the cards overly complicated. Also, these might stall the board unnecessarily, unless I also make things that can kill these creatures. However, here’s the initial batch of ideas, which are probably enough for a pretty white-centric (as this feels very white and we do have some precedents, such as banding and [scryfall]Odric, Master Tactician[/scryfall]) subtheme. The titles are pretty much working titles. They need to made more vikingy.

Loyal Bodyguard
Creature – Human Warrior 1/3, 1W
Loyal Bodyguard can’t be behind cards not named Loyal Bodyguard in the damage assignment order.

Some very clumsy templating, but hey, what can you do?

Creature – Human Shaman Assassin 1/1, 1B
Poisoner can’t be ahead of cards not named Poisoner in the damage assignment order.

Again, clumsy templating.

Signy Ulverdottir
Legendary Creature – Human Warrior 3/2, 1WW
First Strike
If there is no other card named Signy Ulverdottir on the battlefield, you always announce all damage assignment orders for all blocks.

Heat of the Battle
Enchantment, 2R
All damage assignment orders are random.

Well-Executed Plan
Instant, 2W
Cast only during Declare Blockers Step.
You may reorder any damage assignments.
Draw a card.

The problem with the subtheme is that you can’t go very deep. Because of the nature of the theme, you can’t make very many cards that don’t cause problems with other cards in this subtheme. This is probably pretty much it. The design space has been pretty well used here.

Of course, if I keyword it, it might be different. Say…

Frontline (This creature cannot be behind creatures without frontline in the damage assignment order)

That might not be too usable, as the creatures would probably be way too similar, as they would all basically need to be durable. Of course, that can be reached in different ways. Also, it feels white to me, so it would need to be better defined flavorwise to put on creatures of other colors. Also, I don’t know what to do with red in this case. Red generally has the highest power to toughness ratio, so for that guy, this ability would be a weakness.

Or maybe, if I made a cycle of sorts, red could have the instant that inspires someone to have the ability until end of turn.

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