Starnheim Unleashed

Posted in Card Preview on January 12, 2021

By Ethan Fleischer

Ethan Fleischer works for Magic R&D as a designer. He can sing, but not dance, and is an indifferent fencer. He lives near Seattle with his wife, three sons, and mother-in-law.

Greetings, humans! As my dwarven skalds would no doubt have told you, were they not eaten on the road by trolls, I am Ethan Mitchellson, the God of Vision Design. It occurred to me that, isolated as you are in the backwater realm of Bretagard, you may not know the saga of how the ten realms of Kaldheim were created, and how I was instrumental in that creation!

When building a universe from scratch, it doesn't pay to reinvent the wheel. Certain universe-design principles and motifs can be repurposed to achieve a result guaranteed to resonant throughout the Multiverse. So it was that I and the fellow members of my pantheon took inspiration from Norse mythology and from medieval Scandinavian society. We each read 150,000 books on the subjects, of which I particularly recommend Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology and Geoffrey Bibby's The Testimony of the Spade, as well as L. Sprague de Camp's and Spencer Pratt's fantasy novella "The Roaring Trumpet," which I read often as a godling.

Lifting my dry erase marker, which was the size of a mighty oak and was fashioned for me as a gift by the dwarves of Axgard, I made a series of marks upon the whiteboard, each as wide as three oxen lined from nose to tail. The marks formed runes, which translated thusly: "NINETEN REALMS, EACH HOME TO A RACE." The old Norse gods had nine realms. We would do them one better. The old Norse races were a tad ambiguous. Were the Vanir the same thing as the light elves? Were dark elves the same thing as dwarves? Who knows? Our races would be clearly defined by the type lines on their cards. Very neat and tidy. NEAT AND TIDY?! That wouldn't do at all! Glory demands conflict, so we set the ten realms to crash into each other occasionally, enabling bands of mighty warriors from one realm to invade another, leading to battles worthy of song and saga.

Reckless Crew
Reckless Crew | Art by: Izzy

Another distinguishing feature of Norse mythology is that it looks not only into the past, to the beginning of the universe, but also to the future, to its end or renewal. I loved that idea of a universe where both past and future weighed heavily upon its denizens. A mechanic that looks to the past was obvious: Sagas! We'd designed them for another world, Dominaria, and they were arguably a better fit in Kaldheim than they were there! The very word "saga" comes from Old Norse. Not content with making just any old Sagas, we decided to make multicolor Sagas this time, which afforded us design space of untold breadth!

For our "future" mechanic, we wanted something new. If these crashings-together of realms were the causes of great conflict, mini-Ragnaröks, then the augurs and soothsayers of Kaldheim would make it their business to predict these Doomskars, as they are called. We made a mechanic to represent these creatures and events approaching from another realm, and the divination magic used to foretell those events.

Mechanically, the mechanic implies foresight by forcing you to plan ahead. Your opponent can see the signs; something serious is about to happen, but what? Finally, the spell comes in from exile, by implication from another realm.

Of course, knowing that a Doomskar is going to happen and preparing for what comes to pass are two different things. As gods, my fellows and I have enough foresight to know the end of all things. But you humans aren't so far-sighted. What would you do to prepare against a massive Doomskar when Starnheim, the realm of the Valkyries, overlapped your humble domain of Bretagard?

Starnheim UnleashedAlt Starnheim Unleashed

Were I to gather a mighty host to invade one of the ten realms, I could do no better than to compose that host of Valkyries! You can use Starnheim Unleashed to make one Angel in a hurry, or many Angels if you can afford to be patient. Here's an example of what to do with the rest of your host of mighty Valkyries:

Ethan Mitchellson's Lyra Dawnbringer Commander Deck

Download Arena Decklist
COMMANDER: Lyra Dawnbringer
Planeswalker (1)
1 Serra the Benevolent
Enchantment (3)
1 Angelic Accord 1 Dawn of Hope 1 Land Tax
99 Cards

A mono-white deck can be challenging to play in Commander, but songs aren't sung about the mighty frost giant who defeated the human infant in combat. Challenges must be overcome if one is to be worthy of being immortalized in a saga! This deck will enable you to charge into glorious combat. An army of large flying creatures can rarely be blocked, and Lyra's ability to grant your Angels lifelink ensures that you can attack without fear of dying to a counterattack.

Starnheim Unleashed
Starnheim Unleashed | Art by: Johannes Voss

There isn't room to share more tales of the creation of Kaldheim here, but be sure to follow my Twitter account @EthanFleischer, where the dwarven skald who runs all of my pantheon's social media accounts will post tales of Kaldheim's emergence from the primordial darkness!

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