Away From Keyboard – Magic: The Gathering – Kaldheim
Magic: The Gathering has always had a huge following. With more than 40 million players worldwide and with the game published in more than 200 countries and 11 different languages, it shows no sign of slowing down. Although COVID lockdowns have reduced the local interaction in recent times, the online version – Magic Arenas still allows players to collect - albeit virtually – and play against friends and other players. But for the purists, there is nothing like opening a new packet and finding the new cards inside that you can then add to a deck. On February 5th, a new set was released – Kaldheim - with a Norse inspired theme, a new hero Planeswalker, a new villain character, and a couple of interesting new game mechanics.
Hooked Gamers were lucky enough to be invited to a preview event presented by Wizards of the Coast. The new features were presented, virtual packs were opened, players went about building their decks, and then took on each other in online matches in Magic Arenas. And with a dinner supplied by the Norse-inspired restaurant Mjolner, it was an awesome event featuring the Kaldheim set.
Firstly, to the cards themselves…
There are four types of Booster packs – the standard 15-card Draft Boosters, a Set Booster – which in addition to the standard playing cards also contain an Art Card, Collector Boosters, and Theme Boosters – which contain cards from a specific colour and are great for an introduction to Magic: The Gathering for new players.
Kaya – Kaldheim’s main hero is a multicoloured Legendary card.
Tibalt – Kaldheim’s main villain – a devilish character - is a Modal Double-Faced card
Niko Aris – touted as the Magic: The Gathering’s first non-binary Planeswalker is a multicoloured card.
Tyvar Kell – A green forest Planeswalker
Lands and Modal Double-Faced cards
Being a Norse inspired theme means that most of the Land cards are depicted with snow or wintery settings. The basic lands have two variants for each colour, and like the set as a whole, look gorgeous. Dual-colour cards and land specials provides for some useful abilities. The Kaldheim set comes with sixteen Modal Double-Faced cards. These Legendary cards are mostly creatures or artifacts ranging in value.
Two new game mechanics...
This is a rather cool feature. Each card with Foretell has the usual mana cost to cast, but also has a function that enables the cost to be split across multiple turns. Paying 2 mana will exile the card from your hand face down. On a later turn players can pay the balance to cast the card. As most seem to be Instants, they are once-off cards, but can be quite powerful. But there are some creature cards as well with mid-range values. By splitting the cost over a couple of turns, this allows a variation of strategies.
Blue and Black cards feature Foretell heavily.
This mechanic can only be activated after a creature has attacked. Working similarly to an Instant, the Boast mechanic can be used to tap an opponent’s card or untapping your own, gain temporary boosts, create token creatures, gain (or take) life. Although the Boast mechanic does not seem as powerful as the Foretell mechanic since they must be activated before using, the cards generally have a lower mana cost to cast.
Red cards feature Boast heavily.
The Magic: The Gathering - Kaldheim set looks great and the addition of the two new mechanics mean that seasoned players will be able to test new strategies – particularly with the Foretell feature. The Norse inspired cards fit in well within the MtG universe and the wintery settings depicted on the land cards give players a sense of the Kaldheim region.