A great deal of us are looking forward to the upcoming Kaldheim set and, at the same time, are a bit apprehensive. And with good reason. Wotc has had their moments of brilliance and, at the same time, dropped the ball completely at times. So it should be no surprise that tentative optimism is about all we can muster. And even more of us are trying not to raise hopes too high or expectations too lofty as to not have to fall so fall if they mess it up.
I became worried at the spoiling of a couple of titles for the Commander sets for Kaldheim; especially one in particular. ELVEN EMPIRE seemed so out of place in the coming set. I mean, we had been promised Dwarves would get an even shake, right? Where’s my Dwarven Commander deck? Ok, so it was a personal let down. But, obviously to anyone who knows anything about Norse mythology or, at least, have been steeped in Tolkien’s classics which were heavily influenced by Nordic tales, we know elves are a natural and obvious addition to a Viking inspired set like Kaldheim. And who out there really thought we’d get through a set without adding to the massive library of Elf tribe cards both in Standard and commander? Me neither.
But, like I just said, it was to be expected. Although not mentioned in detail (much like a lot of Norse legends), the Elves and their home, Aelfheim, are a given. But what do we know? And how will it influence the cards that come out in February?
The elves of Norse legend, mentioned only twice in Norse myth are, at times, separated into two or three categories. However, there are a lot of speculation as to the validity of this separation. The main designation of elves in the nine worlds are ljósálfar or ‘light-elves’. These elves were fair to look upon and luminous; shining ‘like the sun’. Their designated domain was actually called Ljosalfeim or ‘Home of the light elves’. They were akin to the godlike Aesir and Vanir and some old texts use aelf to designate Vanir. In fact, they are described much like demigods and are ruled by one of the Vanir, their god of fertility, virility, prosperity and kingship, Freyr. Some also postulate that it goes even older and deeper as the belief and worship of the Aelf had its roots in ancestor worship and that there was a definite connection to the ongoing worship of the spirits of these ancestors making it possible that the legends of Aelfheim evolved from it. It is also worth noting that the worship of the ELVES lasted longer than the Norse dedication and devotion to the gods themselves.
There is also talk about ‘dark elves’ and ‘black elves’. The dökkálfar or dark/black elves are identical to Dwarves of fantasy culture made popular by Tokien. And scholars believe that ‘dark elves’ were probably a reinterpretation by Christian chroniclers of Norse myths like those of Snorri Sturluson; Christian duality demanding there be polar opposites of elves.
So what we end up with is ELVES as beings of light, life and beauty.
The light elves of ALfheim translate well to what we know of the MTG elves. In fact, this is the only point of excitement I have for these beings and the spoiled commander deck coming ELVEN EMPIRE. They are all caught up in light and life; so Green and White seem obvious. I would love to see life gain get a boost from these elves. But we’re more than likely to get more counter growth decks or tokens (although the former seems more likely).
I run into a lot of speculation due to the four missing pathways and their color combos.
The closest connection to NORSE elves is White/Blue. But also, from the above color combos, there are some three-color combos that can be contrived and White/Blue/Green makes perfect sense here. Here we have the perfect combination of MAGIC, NATURE and LIGHT.
The type of magic that blue will influence is a type of divination magic called Seidr. Seidr is an obvious equivalent to MTG’s scrying which I suppose we will see a lot of in this set. Card draw will be the fruit of the Seidr/scrying as always. Interesting that the ruler of Alfheim is Freyr, brother of Frey, both Vanir. Frey, consort of the Aesir high-father, Odin, is a master of Seidr. Odin is also noted as a master of said magic, but I think he probably learned from Frey and, then, as the legends say, he quested and sacrificed much to gain the prowess in this sorcery.
The light-elves of Alfheim were known to cause sickness in humans. But they could also heal when properly confronted. This may hint to the life gain of white in their color and function.
Light-Elves have always been known to be friends of nature; being connected to forests, fertility and life. So, green’s focus on +1/+1 counters lately in MTG will continue.
Now, I know I’m running against the common consensus here. Most speculation seems to be that it’s going to be ELF GOLGARI. I don’t know if that’s because that’s what we got in Commander Legends or not. But I agree, obviously, with those who predict SEMIC instead.
Now, although it looks like we’re probably getting an Elf Tribe Commander deck, that doesn’t mean that Wotc will spend that much time focusing on them in standard. In fact, I don’t expect but a nod to elves there. I’m really hoping to get more attention to Dwarves and Wotc’s own version of the Norse gods than to elves. I also am not so naive to think we will get 1/1 representations of these gods and I’m actually excited about that. In fact, Wotc has a way of making it their own like in the sets for Theros, Amenkhet and Eldraine. I think, if those sets are an example of what to expect, we’re in a good position to get an amazing Kalheim set with plenty of Viking influence.