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.
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Vikings: Althing

One of those things I find interesting in Viking society, was the Althing. This is probably a romanticized version of what actually happened. It was (actually still existing in a different form) a meeting of all the men in the land, who would come together to a large field and settle all the things that needed to be settled. This would include all sorts of legal disputes and define the law more or less democratically, but it was also the biggest social happening around. Everyone would come. Whole families were camped out there to have fun while the men debated issues (and probably got drunk).

Several interesting concepts here, like Lawrock, which will obviously receive its own card at some point, but right now I’m just thinking of the Althing itself. What should that be like as a card? I want it to be a land, since this is supposed to be a land set. I’m thinking, a land that can produce any color of mana.

In any case, the card should produce one colorless mana. It just makes lands that much more useful and takes away some of the variance of the land, especially since I’m going to limit its use otherwise, like lands of this sort should be limited. Here, I have two ideas. One which would work gameplay-wise, one which is more flavorful.

The gameplay version would require you to tap a creature as part of the activation cost to produce the mana. This is sometimes better than [scryfall]Shimmering Grotto[/scryfall], but generally probably worse. Actually, it might be very good in the early game, if you take this into account in your deck. I’d probably gladly use my [scryfall]Judge’s Familiar[/scryfall] to produce mana this way in the early game.

The more flavorful version would return to your hand after you tap it for any color of mana. This is more flavorful, because the assembly would disperse after its business was done. It would only exist part of the time. From a gameplay point of view, this would mean the land is pretty bad in the early game, as it eats the land drops you need so desperately, but later on in the game, when you probably don’t hit your land drops with the same frequency, you might be happy with it.

On the other hand, it could even save players who miss land drops in the early game. Just return the card to your hand and play it again. This isn’t true ramp, but it can save you.

Probably I’ll include both in the set, but the latter gets to be the Althing or at least the site of the Althing. Maybe the other card can be a common and the place where the local Thing is held.

Vikings: Odin, But Not Really

Again with not actual gods, but strong hints that there are gods. Another planeswalker actually.

Odin searched for wisdom. He did so by exchanging his eye for it, as well was pierced by his own spear and hanged from the Yggdrasil for nine days for the very same purpose. Now, by hanging from the Yggdrasil, Odin learned eighteen magical songs and eighteen magical runes. I’m not going to come up with 36 distinct abilities, but the idea of self-sacrifice for knowledge is something great.

Odin is clearly blue-black. Knowledge is a blue thing and ambition is a black thing. You might not think of him this way, because black has such a strong connotation as the evil color, but looking at these myths, there’s no question. Other myths might make him white, but for our purposes, I’m going with these colors.

Our purpose is this: Although earlier planeswalkers were pretty powerful by their own right, the current lore says that being planeswalker doesn’t bring benefits other than the actual moving between planes itself. They have to learn all the other nice abilities they have.

Therefore, one of these has come to this world to simulate what Odin did to become all-knowing himself. Of course she has some power already, but she wants more (I’m making her a woman, because our first planeswalker was male). She is, after all, black. Of course, she needs some other abilities as well. My first instinct would be some [scryfall]Jace, Memory Adept[/scryfall] style first ability, but that seems lazy. Beyond that, I’d rather come up with a character first and capabilities after that. Then again, I don’t want to step on earlier planeswalkers, either. The problem here is that Liliana has covered a lot of ground in black (discard, tutoring, raising the dead, weakness, spreading swamps, creature destruction), and the several blue planeswalkers have most of the aspects of blue covered. Finding design space for this gal is going to be hard.

What we do know about this person is that she is even more ambitious than other planeswalkers, such as Jace and Liliana. What separates this person from most black planeswalkers? She doesn’t just work for her personal benefit. Instead, she works for her personal benefit with a plan. Not just a plan for a quick heist or one murder, but instead, she has been studying this endeavor for years, possibly centuries, doing her best to mitigate risks and be as aware as possible.

At the same time, she is black. She isn’t just studious. She wants this power, so badly. She is patient, but at the same time, she isn’t immortal (even though she has elongated her life) and has really needs to work to keep herself alive. This is one step which will help her immensely.

So, she’ll take risks, but only very carefully calculated ones. She is deceitful, but not by nature. She just will stab people in the back, if she feels she can benefit from it in the long run, but at the same time understands that cultivating allies (not really friends, she doesn’t need those) is harder than making enemies, so she values those people who trust her. I feel like I should call her Lucretia, but that carries very different connotations. Still, can’t come up with a better working title at this very moment, so Lucretia it is.

Lucretia 2UB
+2 Up to one target creature gains -3/-1 until your next upkeep
-3 Take an extra turn after this one. Any player may sacrifice a creature to counter this ability.
-9 Lose half your life rounded up and draw 18 cards.

Feels about right… maybe. Definitely both black and blue, but I probably need to work on the first two abilities. Especially the second one. I was happy with it when writing it, but now I feel its not really her, if any creature can foil her plans. Well, I am really happy with the last ability.

Vikings: Whaling

Another interesting, but problematic concept. Vikings whaled. They had at least two methods. First, they scared the whales into the shallow waters of the fjords, where they could easily get the whale. Second, they just went out to sea and threw enough spears on a whale to kill it. This would usually take time, so they would just wait for the whale to beach itself and claim their share based on the spears, which would be marked as theirs.

Obviously, since the game only has a very limited number of whales (currently four), we can’t just have a creature that kills whales, unless we put plenty of whales into this set. That probably won’t happen. It will have one or two, but it won’t be a big theme, just to bring some flavor and justify whalers in the set. I already wrote about Transient Orca card, so there’s one, although I’m pretty sure they aren’t generally whaled (although other dolphins definitely were).

Whaling should probably at least resemble fighting. It doesn’t have to be that exactly, but that would bring the risks involved into forefront. If it is fighting, it has to be green or red, since fighting belongs to those two colors. Also, they are the enemy colors of blue, so that works out well.

Therefore, I’m thinking of a sideboard card. Probably only for limited, but you never know. I’m thinking [scryfall]Ulvenwald Tracker[/scryfall] with a different slant. Green isn’t really the color of organization (that would be white), but the whole enterprise is based on having large groups of people in a coordinated attack. So, I’m thinking the card should be something like this:

Whaling Expedition G
Creature – Human Scout, Uncommon
T: Whaling Expedition and any number of another target creatures you control deal their power in damage to target blue creature. That creature deals its power in damage to any one of these creatures.

Very straightforward. You can freely kill blue creatures, if you enough creatures of your own… and you can keep him on the battlefield.

It should be noted that the attacked creature doesn’t target. This should probably be worded differently, but I just wanted to give the blue creatures controller an out in certain situations, so he can feel he is playing well. Not often, but every once in a while.

Still, in most formats its quite a narrow functionality. Blue creatures aren’t generally very popular, as they do have the highest casting cost compared to P/T. And despite monoblue aggro deck winning the recent Pro Tour, mostly they are hardly seen. Even decks based on them, such as most [scryfall]Delver of Secrets[/scryfall] decks, are usually light on creatures.

But in limited, this guy could be great, if there’s a good environment.

Vikings: Huginn & Muninn

I’ll try to keep this shorter this time. My previous card design articles sort of got out of hand lengthwise.

Anyhow, although I’m not going to put any of the gods in this set (save for our Loki-analogue who goes around causing misery in the world), I’d like the gods to have a clear presence in the world. One of the things that we could see in this set would be Huginn and Muninn, Odin’s ravens, who roamed the world spying for their master.

Huginn and Muninn are literally translated Thougth and Memory, or something close enough. I’m not sure what color Odin would really be, but I’m guessing he is going to be blue, as the wise man. Therefore, Thought and Memory (which I’ll be calling them for now) should be of the same color. That’s not strictly necessary, but feels right.

The usual way of simulating learning is drawing cards. Therefore, I think our creature should do just that. However, we have two creatures on one card, so flavorfully it would be nice to give them distinct abilities.

So, obviously, our birds can fly. I’ll also give them flash, as they are able to travel between worlds, so you never know when they appear. The other abilities are a bit harder.

So, I’m thinking our birds should have an ETB effect which lets you draw a card when it enters the battlefield, but to give it another, distinct, but flavorful ability, I’m giving it the [scryfall]Mnemonic Wall[/scryfall] ability of returning an instant or sorcery into your hand, but when it leaves play.

I also decided to make it 2/4. Pretty big for a bird, but then again, its actually two birds with divine beginnings. Casting cost? I’ll go with 2UU, which seems fine with the card advantage it gives.

However, this presents me with a problem. The newer legends have a big board presence. They are Baneslayers, not Mulldrifters. This one just doesn’t. I feel like I should find another approach, but I haven’t come up with one just yet. I’d probably play this card, especially in EDH,, although I’d wish it had smaller casting cost.

On the other hand, there is another viewpoint. Thought and Memory are actually better, because they are legendary. You can play your playset and not mind drawing redundant copies, because then you just cast one to draw a card and return a card from your graveyard to your hand. The 2UU casting cost is pretty much for this purpose, but probably often worth it. Maybe I should push it a bit? Maybe I should make it just 1UU?

Vikings: Loki

While walking to work today, I had an idea. I’m not sure I’ll use this, but still.

Loki was Odin’s adopted son. He was actually a giant, not a god. So, maybe I’ll just use the ambiguity. Our Loki character might be a planeswalker, who just found a way to infiltrate this family of gods. Also, I’ll use the same idea I wrote about when I was still doing Exiled. I’ll let our Loki character only have abilities which will eat its loyalty. (Actually, WotC did this once with [scryfall]Sarkhan the Mad[/scryfall], I just didn’t remember at the time.)

That actually sounds about right. Loki is a fickle creature, who follows his urges without any long term planning. I’m not going to give it any abilities to protect itself. Actually, quite the opposite. Nor am I going to give it any abilities to raise its loyalty. What I am going to give it are abilities, which fit with his personality. This means he should be red. Maybe red-black, but I think I’d rather go with just red.

We have four red planeswalkers (well, actually three monored, nine with red in their casting cost, but I chose these four as they are a good basis for making mine feel different): Chandra, Koth, Tibalt, and Sarkhan. Chandra is the pyromancer character, who just burns things with certain amount of sarcasm. Koth likes his mountains. I guess he’s supposed to be some sort of geomancer. Tibalt is actually so close to Loki in feel, that I’m considering just bringing him back, but with very different set of abilities. Sarkhan works with dragons.

Based on this, lets give Loki the working title of Tibalt, Adopted by Gods. A bit clunky, but works for now. Although Tibalt seems to be much crueler than the early versions of Loki, maybe Tibalt has been living as Loki for a long time and has been more and more tempted by the possibilites available to him.

Since we want him to stick around we’ll give him a zero costing ability. However, going with the trickster ethos, this is something that will actually risk Tibalt himself. So, an ability, which risks Tibalt, but can be useful, but is still small enough to warrant the zero cost.

How about forcing attacks? This is mostly in blue, but often enough in red to warrant using it here, as it clearly represents Tibalt doing something to piss another creature off. Sounds like a great first ability to me. Actually, just word it in such a way that the creature must actually attack Tibalt. This would lead to situations, where you can sacrifice Tibalt in name of keeping yourself alive, which isn’t actually that flavorful, but a good possibility.

What else does Loki like to do? How about sticking his nose where its not supposed be and just gleefully doing what he feels like. This is a bit harder. I want a more random feel and I want payback for Tibalt. [scryfall]Sarkhan the Mad[/scryfall] has the following ability:

0: Reveal the top card of your library and put it into your hand. Sarkhan the Mad deals damage to himself equal to that card’s converted mana cost.

How about doing this with your opponents library? Obviously Tibalt can’t let you draw cards from your opponents library, but it can let you cast them. This feels pretty blue to me, again, but I’m just going to stretch the color pie. Randomness is a red thing and therefore this is a good starting point. So, I’d say Tibalt can exile the top card of an opponents library and cast it with his loyalty counters, or maybe just cast it for free, if able, and lose those loyalty counters. That way, you might get a huge benefit, but Tibalt will probably get rid of himself in the process.

Lastly, a variation on the original Tibalt’s second ability, which dealt damage to target player equal to the number of cards in that players hand. Well, working with Loki is always a gambit, so we’ll make that not targeted, but each player instead. Perhaps, as we want Tibalt to work against itself, this must be redirected to planeswalkers if possible.

So, what about casting cost and starting loyalty? I’ll go with original Tibalt’s casting cost of RR and I’ll give him a pretty low loyalty to start with, so you can’t cause mayhem for an extended period of time. Maybe 3?

So, our planeswalker would now look like this:

Tibalt, Adopted by Gods RR
Planeswalker – Tibalt
0: Target creature attacks Tibalt, Adopted by Gods during its controller next turn if able.
0: Reveal the top card of target opponents library. You may cast that spell without paying its mana cost. Tibalt, Adopted by Gods loses loyalty counters equal to the spell’s converted mana cost.
0: Tibalt, Adopted by Gods deals damage to each player equal to the number of cards in that players hand. This damage must be redirected to a planeswalker if able.

I’m pretty happy with that. He want win games on his own like some planeswalkers, but if played correctly (which might require some skill and much luck), he’ll be effective and fun. There would be a huge backlash if this was actually printed, but I’d blame it all on Tibalt himself causing the chaos. Also, people’s expectations of planeswalkers are skewed by cards such as [scryfall]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/scryfall] and [scryfall]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/scryfall] when you can get a huge advantage with different kinds of cards, like our Tibalt here.

I do hate how small the text became on MSE… Maybe I should change the middle ability just for that reason.

Vikings: Orca

One card which I want in my sea-oriented set, is the orca or killer whale. If you know anything about them, you know why. In our world, they are easily the second most efficient hunters in the world (after humans, if you’re wandering for some reason). The problem: Orcas are obviously blue, but blue has a very limited design space for creatures.

Granted, there already is a card called [scryfall]Killer Whale[/scryfall], but it sucks. Well, it doesn’t actually suck. Its very payable in a limited deck, but it doesn’t capture the brute killer intelligence of the orca. Some of the things killer whales have been observed to do in nature:

  • Making waves by swimming side by side to knock prey into water from safe places
  • Regurgitating to use the contents of their stomach as bait for birds.
  • Understanding tides
  • Using live seals to teach their offspring to hunt – they drag the seal out into the water and throw it away, then let their offspring catch it and then do this again, until the seal is dead
  • Drowning small whales by forcing them to remain under water for extended periods of time by swimming on top of it one at a time

They hunt in packs, which makes them even more dangerous. Dolphins are considered very intelligent (and killer whales are actually dolphins) and are faster and more agile than killer whales. That doesn’t help them. The killer whales are able to confuse the dolphin just long enough for one of them to catch it. They can plan this beforehand, because during the hunt, they are completely silent.

They also learn culturally, meaning they can teach each other these techniques. For example, the regurgitating trick. Once one of them had learned it, the whole pack was doing it. I don’t think they are the only animals to learn culturally, but they are the only ones who have been show to do it this extensively.

Now, obviously most people aren’t expecting this and would be very happy with the old Killer Whale card, but I’d like to bring the real killer whales into the game. Make them unique by giving them an ability, which lets them learn.

Now, blues keywords aren’t going to help. They have Flash, Flying, Hexproof and Islandwalk. None of them seem good for this purpose. Not to worry, blue also has the following, nonkeyworded abilities (as listed by Salvation’s wiki): Card drawing and variants, Counterspells, Change-of-control effects (Stealing), Library destruction, Mimicry, Power reduction, Returning permanents to hand, Tapping and untapping permanents, and Time manipulation. Do any of these work?

We can forget about countering, stealing, milling, bouncing and time manipulation. This leaves as with card advantage, mimicry, power reduction and twiddling. Any of these could work.

Card drawing is the usual way to portray learning, but since its used so much, I’d rather do something more appropriate.

Mimicry would be cool, if the rules had a nice way to do this. Think [scryfall]Cairn Wanderer[/scryfall]. Seems nice, but at the same time, its very limited, as it can’t copy any newer keywords, because it can only those listed, and you can’t do it in any other way without huge rewrites to the rules. Also, there’s a flavor problem. The creatures that copy, are shapeshifters, not animals.

Power reduction might work, because one of the newer flavor approaches has been putting the creature into disadvantage ([scryfall]Lost in a Labyrinth[/scryfall]), not necessarily just draining its power. Maybe this is the approach.

Twiddling (tapping or untapping) is problematic flavorwise as well, as mostly using cunning to tap is a white thing. But only mostly. Blue mostly taps through weather, distractions, or ice. Maybe this is the right way to go. After all, [scryfall]Lorthos, the Tidemaker[/scryfall] can tap. Its probably so big it goes under the weather category.

So, here’s a go:

Transient Orca 3UU
Creature – Whale
Whenever Transient Orca blocks or is blocked by a creature, that creature gets -X/+0 until end of turn, where X is the number of Transient Orcas you control.

Sadly, the Killer Whale name has been taken, so we can’t use that. Also, that Killer Whale is of the creature type whale, which it actually isn’t in real life, but close enough. A marine mammal, which could easily be mistaken for a whale. Aven aren’t really birds either.

Not as powerful as I’d like, but that’s the nature of blue. They aren’t the best fighters. I’m actually pretty happy with this design. Hopefully the idea of their cunning and ability to work in pods shines though. To make their ability count, they’d probably have to be common, or maybe uncommon. Since blue usually gets one big creature at common, I’ll go with common.

Is 4/4 the right size? Not sure. They’ve never had very good guidelines on this. Paraphrasing Brad Nelson, I wouldn’t stand a chance against Grizzly Bear, let alone [scryfall]Grizzly Bears[/scryfall], but I could kick the ass of a [scryfall]Traveling Philosopher[/scryfall]. Still they have the same power and toughness… and of course about 20 years between them. I’m guessing 4/4 is right, because making them bigger would mean higher casting cost, which would mean they wouldn’t be as playable and the ability would become meaningless, as they can’t really be blocked beneficially anyhow. In any case, they’d only be playable in limited.

And that’s almost 900 words on one card…

Vikings: First Mechanic

Having now put some thought into this set, I decided this set would be a land set. This goes well with the vikings themselves, as they went everywhere. Well, relatively for medieval people, but still. Their travels took them to quite a few places.

So, to show how these people have reasons to go to new places, I’m going to use Landfall, or something similar. On top of that, I’m going to have more lands than usual in the set. Not like a huge amount, but more than usual. Zendikar had 25 lands, including basic lands, which is maybe about 50%-100% more than normal large sets, or up to 200% if you take out the basic lands. I’m not doing more than that.

One thing about the vikings was their ability to find these places. This leads me to my first mechanic for dual lands:

Whenever you search your library for any kind of card, you may search for this card instead.

This doesn’t have a name, so many people don’t think of it as a mechanic, but it is one.

These cards would come into play tapped and produce two colors of mana. Of course, to make these usable, I need to put some searching abilities into the set, or these will become a sole possession of green, which can search for stuff anyway.

On the other hand, we don’t want “loading screens” that result from continuous shuffling. So, maybe searching should only happen in part of the library. This might result in feel-bad moments, as you might often miss.

On the other hand, I can minimize that problem by adding cards like these lands into the mix. Maybe even another monocolored cycle which come into play untapped, but have some minor upside to make them better than the dual lands.

On top of that, if the set has plenty of good landfall cards, people might not even be that bummed by finding one of these lands instead of whatever they were looking for.

One thing that might come up with my silly little searching thing is notes. If you can look at – say – top ten cards of your library to search for something, you will want to make a note of the cards you saw… which takes time. Maybe not in casual play, but in tournaments people would do this for sure. Maybe even use strange codes to keep their opponents away from the scent. Or maybe just put those cards on the bottom of your library. I guess its hard to call this actual searching, but calling it searching lets the aforementioned mechanic be much less parasitic (in other words less dependent on the microenvironment, parasitic cards are the reason Kamigawa-block is still very popular as a draft format, but doesn’t get much attention in constructed).

Anyhow, searching will be involved and it would be good to mitigate its downsides. Also, if I’m going to use this for other cards, I need to keep their power level low, as there are cards like [scryfall]Ranger’s Path[/scryfall]. Also, its hard to keep these consistent. I probably can’t make any cards that use this mechanic, which aren’t permanents, for just such reasons as Ranger’s Path.

Vikings, continued

So, as I’ve thought about this (losing some sleep last night), I came to the conclusion that I’m going for a full three set block, despite the fact I didn’t even finish the first set of my last attempt.

To make a block, you need a story. Nothing complicated. Just some change in the environment. Granted, back in the day they had a storyline with characters whose lives we followed, and so forth, but who cared about Gerrard? Therefore, we just need three points in a the history of the environment we are in. Of course, these need to be interesting points with some relation to each other.

What’s a good Norse event, which changes the environment in an interesting way? How about Ragnarök? Now, the question is whether its the second or third set. If its the second set, the third set would be the surviving world with rebuilding, if its the third set, the second set would be just foretelling.

Since the game already has an Ice Age set, perhaps its not a good idea to have the second set be the long winter before the Ragnarök itself, which would be the obvious choice. However, as the whole set, I could do this differently, with emphasis on the humans enduring through the bad years… and Ice Age was almost 20 years ago.

So, I don’t really have a name for the first set, but I do have names for the other two (which I thought up right now):

First set: Unnamed, probably just an evocative place name, like Innistrad. World of adventuring seafarers out there seeking opportunities and using them.

Second set: The Long Winter. Sort of middle step before the real Ragnarök. Some strange beings begin to surface (or move down in rarity) and there are bad signs. Lots of hardship for the common people. Larger communities break down.

Third set: Twilight of Gods. All sorts of calamities. The last battle. Gods and humans meet all sorts of monsters and the denizens of Hel in one last ditch effort to save the world.

In any case, that would give me three very different, but clearly related sets, with all the things people would expect from such a block, including (perhaps) even some of the gods, although they probably wouldn’t be indestructible like the Theros ones.

I decided to order a couple of books on Norse mythology, both versions of the Edda included (in English). Some of the more interesting books on Amazon (UK) were only available for British addresses, so I couldn’t get them, but I think I’ll make due.

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.