Kaldheim Snow
15, Feb, 21

Kaldheim: Magic: The Gathering Snow Mechanic was Not Originally a Part of the Set's Vision Design

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MTG head designer Mark Rosewater talks about how Snow mechanic ended up in Kaldheim

The latest Magic: The Gathering set, Kaldheim, brought back some exciting mechanics like Sagas, Modal Double-Faced Cards, Changeling, and Snow, and since Kaldheim has a top-down design (Themes first before mechanics), you’d wonder if these mechanics were a part of the vision design for the set.

When Magic: The Gathering head designer Mark Rosewater was asked if the Snow mechanic was part of Kaldheim’s vision design, he revealed that it wasn’t.

“Obviously, one thinks of cold climates when thinking of Norse mythology, but, you see, snow’s first three outings (Ice AgeAlliances, and Coldsnap) didn’t really go all that well,” Rosewater said in an article published on Wizards of the Coast’s website. “Admittedly, part of that was the execution of the mechanic, but R&D has always been kind of cold to snow (pun, as always, intended). So, when it came up in vision design, we decided not to pursue it.”


Rosewater went on to talk about how the demand for snow-covered basic lands led to the addition of the Snow mechanic to the theme of Kaldheim.

“Meanwhile, Modern Horizons originally had a dual land cycle it was trying that didn’t work out, and we were looking for a different land-focused thing we could do,” Rosewater said. “It turns out we were getting a lot of requests for snow-covered basic lands, as they were being played in some formats and we hadn’t printed them since Coldsnap, so it was suggested we include full-art snow-covered basic lands in the set, something that we’d never made before. It seemed odd to have snow-covered basic lands if the set didn’t have any snow-related cards, so the Set Design team added the theme to the set. It kind of snowballed (just always I assume I meant to make the pun) and ended up playing a larger role than we expected.”

“When David Humpherys started set design on Kaldheim, he asked the same question we had at the beginning of vision design. Did the set want snow? But instead of three sets where it performed poorly as his model to look at, the latest set to use it was Modern Horizons, and although it hadn’t been released yet, R&D was enjoying how snow was playing out in the set. Because we anticipated it would be popular, Dave was both more comfortable.”

When fans think of Vikings and Norse, you’d also think of cold environments, so it’s surprising to find out that the Snow mechanic was not originally part of Kaldheim’s vision design, but I’m glad that it ended up in the set because it turned out to be my favorite archetype in Kaldheim Limited.

Kaldheim is now available for tabletop and digitally via Magic: The Gathering Arena and Magic Online.

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