One day after we speculated whether one of the three images on the blurry MTG pack art for Kaldheim was a new planeswaker, we get direct confirmation that there will not be one new planeswaker in the set but two!
Dropping officially on Wizard’s Magic site is a full article about NICO ARIS. This character is not from Kaldheim actually. Niko is originally from Theros which makes me wonder if there is any truth behind my speculation of the nine worlds (see previoius article). What IS interesting is a planeswalker from one of the main planes we received our best group of ‘god cards’ from is visiting Kaldheim where we are hoping for another set of amazing ‘god cards’.
Destined on Theros to be a great warrior and athlete, Nico was a master Javelin thrower. But this destiny didn’t seem enough as they had heard stories of people who would fight to protect their people. In an attempt to show to all that they could control their own fates, Nico challenged fate itself and threw the match by taking a dive. Klothys, the god of destiny, sent agents out to confront those who challenged fate like Nico, but in the confrontation his spark ignited and ended up in the long run to Kaldheim.
Nico, as stated before, throw Javelins, but apparently has the ability to produce mirror-like shards as javelins. But besides being able to pierce an opponent, these magic weapons have the ability to ‘absorb’ a struck enemy. Obviously, this smacks of EXILE. Imagine one of the loyalty abilities exiling an enemy. One of my favorite planeswalker cards is Ajani, Inspiring Leader. His -3 ability is exiling one creature and makes for great suprise removal. This ability also gains life so I wonder what if any add-on abilities will come with Nico.
They mention that Nico’s ‘exiling’ ability lasts for only a ‘short time’ according to the power of the opponent, but that would suggest maybe more of a bounce or an unsummons rather than a pure exile. And by making the power contingent upon the stregnth of the opponent, are they suggesting a scaled bounce or phase according to say the power, toughness or mana cost of said opponent? Not sure right now.
It is also mentioned that Nico could possibly ‘smuggle’ an ally inside the mirrored shards. This way Nico can appear to be alone, throw the weapon anywhere revealing an ally like Ajani or Chandra. This brings thoughts of abilities that search the library and grabs a creature or a planeswalker card and brings it to the hand or the battlefield. If brought to the battlefield, this planeswalker could get banned out of the gate if not fashioned correctly. The most likey way this power will manifest is the creation of tokens much like Vivien and Garruck planeswalker cards.
“Blue characters in magic often focus on the cerebral or academic, but a somewhat unexplored aspect of blue is its capacity to refine specific skills through practice and training.” -Chris Mooney, Wotc
Niko will be blue. That’s right, blue. Which is a bit of departure from most warrior like planeswalkers. Most of them center on their magic prowess or mental abilities. And, although Niko has the ability to conjure the mirrored shards, throwing them with athletic accuracy. According to the article, the pursuit of athletic perfection is as blue as the quest for more knowledge or refined mental or magical abilities. It will make this character a unique departure from most of what blue stands for. About time blue got some punch.
“I think blue can often be cast as smug, condescending, and intellectually elite. Those things are fun to play as sometimes, but I think Niko is helping to express some of the more positive and aspirational sides of blue: the desire to learn, the dedication to improve oneself, the discipline to practice skills, and the curiosity to question the parts of the world other people might take for granted.” -Chris Mooney, Wotc
One of the more contemporary foci of the character is the development of Niko as non-binary. Now, although this isn’t the first planeswalker or character in MTG to carry this designation (Ashiok and Hallar come to mind), this decision will probably come in with mixed reviews. I personally (as well as all of us at the Magic Tavern) are neither yay or nay with this character. As long as it’s written well (Who doesn’t like some good Vorthos) and the card is well thought out and functional, I am not concerned with the designation or categorizing of any character. But this goes a long way to expand the representation of certain players and fans of Magic and I’m all for it.
However, I’m not sure the timing is conducive to Niko being a big hit with everyone. Upon discussing the upcoming ‘Viking themed’ Kaldheim set with many on the internet, I find some are a bit concerned with Wotc’s focus these days. Starting with making Kaya the cover planeswalker for the set, some think MTG is over compensating on some things to draw attention from those who see racist and white supremacist groups latching onto Norse/Viking themes as their own. Most I have talked to bear no ill will towards people of color or any sexual designation, they would just like to see SOMETHING that reminds them of the Vikings of yore.
Now, the planeswalkers are only a small portion of what we will see in Kaldheim, but they are the focus of not only the packaging, but the story and feel. I’m sure we’ll get to see plenty of burly warriors rampaging into battle, it’s just Wotc seems to have many concerned that they may not get anything close to what they’ve been clamoring for the past few decades.
“Obviously, as a non-binary person myself, it’s incredibly meaningful to see a non-binary hero joining the Planeswalker ranks. I think the power of representation is easy to underestimate—after all, it’s not like I can’t relate to male or female characters—but there’s something truly special about starting to see pieces of your own identity in the epic stories you love.” -Katie Allison, Wotc
Nonetheless, as I’ve said here and many times over, no matter all the particular designations and representations, write us a good character with a playable card and we’ll be happy. I like the feel of this new planeswalker and am afraid that all the chatter about the details may take away from their debut. All in all, it seems to be possibly the most unique blue planeswalker we’ve ever gotten to play; something that veers of the same ‘ole same ole’ of mind games and magic. And MAYBE it could change the meta for blue and we’ll get more than mill.
Let us know what you think in the comments below or on our social media. If news is dropped about Kaldheim or any other Vorthos, we’ll be there. If you could like to see an aspect of that fleshed out a bit more, let us know.