I know Kaldheim is a ways off, but the whole Viking, Norse motif intrigues me. And I’m not alone. Many of you have voiced it. If Wizards plays its ‘cards’ right, they may have a big hit on their hands.
The real question is, ‘What are we going to get exactly?’
To most, there are obvious, easy answers to this. And, for the most part, they are right. But, I decided to dig a little deeper for the not so obvious, not so easy answers as well.
Now, I intended to go over all of the themes involved in Norse mythology and Viking life in one article. I don’t have to tell you what a daunting task that is. Nor do I need to tell you how extensive this information actually is. SO, I decided to slow down a bit and take my time. And, seeing that we have a while before the set comes out, I don’t think we’ll have a problem filling the void between.
Let’s start with the subject of the gods of Norse mythology.
To preface the information, let me say that I have a love/hate relationship with the various god cards from Theros. I have used Heliod extensively, but I have been ramrodded by Thassa recently. The hard to circumvent mechanic of indestructible makes them hard to get rid of. And each brings its own set problems to deal with. So, I understand if the mention of ‘god cards’ puts you on edge. Could also be some PTSD from Yugio, but that’s another article.
I personally hope that Wizards returns to that type of card. I think its stood the test of time and bypassed all of the ban-hammers since. But how will Wotc treat them. Obviously, we’re not getting a Thor card or Odin card. Myself, being a Greek Mythology buff, I didn’t get that at first. But Wizards wants to make something original. As a writer, I, of all people, should have understood that. And, if they are anything, the gods of Theros are unique, but they are also on point for the themes you find in Greek Mythology.
So, if they decide to go the ‘god card’ route again, they will most obviously go for the themes of the gods and some of the looks rather than blatantly copying. But what are those themes? Well, to get those themes, we have to double back to the gods themselves.
Odin (WUBRG), whose name means Frenzy, Rage or Inspiration, is the all-father. But that doesn’t even begin to explain what one-eyed god is about. Of all the gods of mythology, Odin may be the closest to tapping from all spectrums of the color wheel. He is the god of sovereignty and rulers, so white. Against the mores of his culture he dabbled in divination magic, then blue. He is the god of war and battle frenzy, so red. He has connection with death as well as life, so black. And green? Well, just because he’s so Gruul and, in some incarnations, he’s the master of beasts.
The Norse gods were not an omnipotent sort. So, Odin was always on a quest for knowledge. He dipped into seidr, a divination magic usually regulated to only females. He also was a god of war. But, strangely enough, not like a king or ruler who controls and regiments. He is a berserker king; a warrior shaman. Odin is the total package.
ART: ODIN by Johan Egerkrans
Frigg (or Anglicized Frigga-White/Blue) is usually touted as a goddess of motherhood like a good little wife, but she is better known as a seer; a practitioner of Seidr or divination. She was the seer of all fates.
This honor could totally be saved for a NORN card. Not only is more on point, but the optics are more visceral.
Frigg by Johan Egerkrans
Loki’s name is usually translated tangle or knot (Probably Blue/Black). This is a clue to his skillset though. He is the ‘entangler’, the god of mischief and trickery; in truth, the god’s ultimate demise. He is depicted sometimes as a coward, always irreverent and can be either playful or malicious. He acts against all social expectations or norms; a true agent of chaos. Although he is never called a patron of rogues and Odin is actually depicted as the god of outlaws, it would be easy to connect rogues to him. He is, truly, the father of all of Asgard’s troubles.
Despite the Marvel makeover, he was the father of Hel who rules the underworld and is gathering an undead army for Ragnarok. His other two well known and prophesied about children are Fenrir, the wolf that will kill Odin in the end, and Jormungand, the world snake who is said to slay Thor during the final battle.
Loki by Johan Egerkrans
(Notice how here Loki looks so much like the Night King from GOT leading an undead army into Ragnarok)
Thor (Red/Blue) is probably the most widely known Norse god in the modern era because of Marvel comics. But they’re pretty straight on. He is god of warriors and of thunder. He carries the lightning in the form of his hammer. He is everything loyal and honorable; everything every warrior aspires to be.
Thor by Johan Egerkrans
Hel (Black/?) is not officially a god, but is the ruler of the underworld. She is the greedy, harsh and cruel Queen of the realm of the dead. Since all of those who died valiantly in battle go to Vahalla, she gets those who die by disease, old age or are cowards. For later discussion, there is a bit of talk of her amassing an army of the dead to march into battle against the gods at Ragnarok.
Hel by Johan Egerkrans
Tyr (Red/White) is also a god of war, but also of justice and order. He was a much older Germanic god and, at times, doesn’t fit into the Viking motif.
Just to be honest, through the whole list of gods, most of the rest just don’t stand out enough to warrant any further investigation. I think this covers a great many themes.
We could get a leader god type with either Mardu colors or with blue added because of magic. I could see him bringing warriors out of the graveyard, +1/+1 counters on warriors and, if blue, card draw. I think the esthetics of one eye, ravens and the wild white hair and beard could be present.
A god or goddess of fate or a seer god might be expected, but it may be a bit redundant with Klothys in Theros. Although, with actual divination magic happening, you might expect Azorius instead of Klothys’ Gruul colors.
A warrior god would be a must. In fact, you could have three different war entities; an Odinlike figure who is a berserker god, a war god fashioned after Tyr who is more a Boros warrior and a Thorlike figure who is the warrior-mage related to storm magic. This would be overkill in some cultures, but in the Viking and Norse culture it would be acceptable.
A trickster god seems necessary with the heavy influence of Loki. With the whole ‘Party’ mechanic, they may feel the need to make a Rogue god and, if so, they will gravitate to BLUE/BLACK (What other color would add to a LOKI god?). There is so much flavor to be had here. Because of Loki’s name meaning knot/tangle and mentions of him being the god of nets, there is spider imagery. And there is also allusions to him being a shapeshifter, so they could make a comeback along with illusions.
(NOTE: Our man Steps has long held that OKO should be from Kaldheim as a Loki type. What do you think? Read the article, OKO IN KALDHEIM, and check out last weeks speculation that started this fun little journey. Also, if you dig lore/vorthos, check out our articles on the lore of Zendikar!)
We’re taking the slow grind to Kaldheim, so we’re just getting started. Are there any of the other gods you would have included or would like to see a god card of? Any additions or omissions? Discuss all in the comments below or on our social media.
This is BDC till next time! Don’t let the Scute Bugs getcha!