Exiled Out, Vikings In

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.

Exiled: Planeswalkers and Activation Costs

Exiled is my own MtG-set I’ve been working on for a while. You know, just for the heck of it. Its taken a step or few back, because I had a mechanic called adaptive, which resembled monstrosity from Theros quite a lot. I’m not sure I want to have that and if I take it away it’ll set me back a whole mechanic.

Well, here I am talking about it. I haven’t talked about it at all on this blog, but some guild members will be somewhat familiar with the background. I probably should talk about it here at some point. Anyhow, today I’ll talk about my Planeswalkers.

According to MaRo, the activation costs are based partly on how happy the planeswalker in question is to do it and how much energy they need to expend. Basically, they are your friends, and they are glad to help you, but they have their limits.

Now, apparently, based on this, we tell a lot about the planeswalkers just based on their abilities. So, based on this, Jace really, really liked imparting information and having discussions (or something), but used to want to see that everyone gets their share. His tastes have since evolved somewhat.

  • Beleren has +2 Each player draws a card, and -1 Target player draws a card
  • Mindsculptor has 0 costing Brainstorm
  • Memory Adept has +1 draw a card, mill a card, and at -7 any number of target players draw 20 cards
  • Architect of Thought has his mini-Fact or Fiction at -2

Jace’s attitude towards messing with peoples brain has also evolved:

  • Beleren would mill target player by twenty cards, but only with -10.
  • Mindsculptor would get rid of the whole library at -12, leaving the player scrambling for sanity (and some people seem to think Jace is the good guy), or have fun just looking at what’s close to the surface and maybe getting rid of it (+2)
  • Memory Adept would mill ten and think nothing of it (0)
  • Architect of Thought will dive into the mind of all opponents and extract the best information there, but won’t do it happily (-8)

Ok, so based on this, what if my white planeswalker is basically optimistic and friendly gal, who enjoys helping her friends, whereas the black planeswalker is looking out for herself and only works with the player for her own purposes.

So, basically our white planeswalker will only do stuff which ups her loyalty, the black one will only do stuff which lessens her loyalty.

Andara Nula 1WW
Planeswalker – Andara
+1: You gain 2 life
+1: Target creature gains first strike until your next turn
+1: Andara Nula gains a loyalty counter for each other planeswalker in play
Loyalty 3

Karana the Hatemonger 1BB
Planeswalker – Karana
0: All planeswalkers lose loyalty counters equal to the number of planeswalkers in play.
-1 Target creature gains intimidate (this effect does not end at the end turn)
-2 All creatures you control with intimidate gain lifelink (this effect does not end at the end of turn)
Loyalty 7

MaRo would not like many of these abliites, as they require more memory than usual or extra bookkeeping which are both big no-nos. On the other hand, these cards are mythic rares and mythics should be doing extraordinary things. Forgetting this, would people get the flavor? Karana just isn’t that interested in working with anybody, but won’t mind messing with some people (although I’m not really happy with the third ability).

Andara, on the other hand, will become more attached to the people she’s working with, because she’s like that. Maybe the third ability should be something like “put one loyalty counter on all planeswalkers you control”, which would better represent her ability to inspire loyalty.

Granted, these two aren’t very flashy, unlike most planeswalkers, but they are at least very different. They are also have a good contrast, showing very different views of the world. What I do dislike, is that they seem too much like stereotypical good and bad guy in their own colors, where I like to think that white can be evil (white is the color of organization, like the Nazis) and black can be good or at least work towards good goals (like Iron Man when he was just getting off on being a superhero).

I was also thinking that if I ever get to the third set of this block, I’d make new versions of these two, where they have changed. Andara would be more inclined to use force to make people act the way she wants them to and Karana would have learned not to burn all her bridges, but to work with other beings, at least those powerful enough, instead.

Since this world has plenty of elves, who need help, I’m going to bring back Nissa:

High Guardian Nissa 1GG
Hexproof, all elves you control have vigilance
+1: Target elf with no hexproof gains hexproof (this effect does not end at the end of turn)
-5: Exile all other planeswalkers.
Loyalty: 3

Note: Her first ability is a static ability, not an activated one. She’s pretty narrow, but that’s just going with what the original Nissa is like. She likes her elves and doesn’t care about anything else. She’s there to protect her own, who are stranded in this strange place.