The Vikings are here! The long-awaited top-down set inspired by Norse mythology, Kaldheim releases on 5 February 2021 in paper and 28 January 2021 on the digital platforms. Its vibrant world of ice and legends comes prepackaged in the variety of different forms adopted by all premier sets since Zendikar Rising, with Draft Boosters, Theme Boosters, Collector Boosters and Set Boosters all available, as well as two new Kaldheim-based Commander decks that replace the Planeswalker Decks as entry-level products.
Kaldheim is full of exciting mechanics, either brand new or returning from Magic's past. The Nordic setting lends itself organically to revisit the beloved supertype Snow, both on lands and nonland permanents, allowing cards like Frost Bite to greatly increase their effectiveness. It's a chilling environment, but also one renowned for its epic tales of mighty heroes and their prodigious destinies; so what better place to bring back the Sagas than the plane that celebrates the real-world culture that invented the very concept?
However, the single most anticipated return was the already announced second batch of Modal Double-Faced Cards. But Kaldheim doesn't just complete the Pathways cycle of dual lands that was started in Zendikar Rising, it also exploits this powerful mechanical space to engender a whole new breed of Gods unlike any we have seen before.
A Norse set was naturally expected to feature Magic's takes on traditional Scandinavian deities like Odin, Thor, and Freyja. The resulting cards are not simply indestructible or recurring creatures like we've seen with the Greek gods of Theros and the Egyptian gods of Amonkhet. For one thing, Norse gods have to contend with death, so they suffer the same ultimate fate as mortals. What makes these cards unique is their use of MDFC technology, giving them a backside that represents a divine item – sometimes a weapon in the form of an Equipment, like a certain hammer, or enchanted places, like The Prismatic Bridge, Kaldheim's adaptation of the rainbow bridge Bifröst.
Not everything in Kaldheim comes strictly from the past, though. The new creature mechanic, boast, can be activated once per turn, provided the creature attacked that turn. It can lead to any kind of effect. For instance, the legendary Demon Varragoth can boast to resolve the equivalent of a Vampiric Tutor for two mana. The second mechanic making its debut is foretell, a combination of morph and suspend, through which it's possible to exile a card from the hand face down by paying two generic mana. You then cast it in a later turn for its reduced foretell cost, thus essentially splitting the spell's cost across two turns. This way, an apparently ordinary three-mana Cancel surrogate like Saw It Coming can be prepped to become even easier to cast than a classic Counterspell.
The world of Kaldheim is extremely rich and picturesque, inhabited by fabulous creatures described by wondrous epithets, like Koma, Cosmos Serpent and Sarulf, Realm Eater (alias Jörmungandr and Fenrir), but also by frenzied Berserkers, magical runes and Viking ships. The set has a strong tribal component, featuring ten major tribes corresponding to the Ten Realms in which the plane is divided, all part of The World Tree (Yggdrasil), much in the same vein as the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology: white-blue Spirits, blue-black Zombies, black-red Demons, red-green Trolls, green-white Humans, black-white Angels (taking the form of the Valkyries), blue-red Giants, green-black Elves, white-red Dwarves, and blue-green Shapeshifters – the latter marking the return of the changeling mechanic. Fans of the Squirrels will be happy to meet the first legendary of its race, the indestructible Toski, Bearer of Secrets, modeled after the mythical World Tree dweller Ratatoskr.
Among all this setting-accurate tribal pandemonium, who would have thought to find the historical formalization of the Phyrexian creature type? That's right! The devious biotech monstrosities have found a way to leave their plane, or at least that's true of the green Praetor Vorinclex, who has come to Kaldheim to enact some Doubling Season scheme in its Vorinclex, Monstrous Rider form.