Cuties of Kaldheim

Alrund foretells cuties

Magic: The Gathering – Kaldheim’s Cutest Creatures Ranked

Gather round, young and old, for here’s a tale freshly told: Magic: The Gathering is off to Norse-land! The new set promises Viking-inspired sagas and ten whole realms to explore. What better way to mark the occasion than by introducing our cutest new friends from Kaldheim?

Lore-lovers and art-fanciers alike are in for a treat, because Kaldheim has its own series of showcase art treatments. To match the Norse theming, the special versions have their own frame, styled after the interlace designs found in Viking art.

But the resemblance is more than skin deep: read on to get a glimpse into the impressive world-building behind Magic’s latest plane. Because while the cuties are hogging the limelight here –out there? –there are sure to be dragons.

In Magic, even cuties have rules

If you were with us for the Zendikar leg of the trip, you know the drill:

  • No snakes
  • No spiders
  • No humanoids

Just so you know, Koma isn’t a snake…

Damnit Jamie, serpents are snakes!

Top vote with non-zero legs? Scorn Effigy

I specifically said no humanoids!
Also wow, that flavour text.

I guess, but look how cute he is!

But you don’t have to be good to be cute?

That’s not a rule, no-

…Congratulations to our Honourable Cutie of Kaldheim, Infernal Pet!

Kaldheim’s Cutest Spells

Now, not all of the cutest creatures live on creature cards, especially with all the rune-magic and seidr going on in Kaldheim.

(Although they weren’t cute enough to make the list, it’s worth checking out the art on Kaldheim’s Saga cards. See if you can tell which ones were actually carved in wood!)

Before we dive into the top ten creatures, I’ve rounded up the three cutest non-creature spells from Kaldheim. I think you’ll agree they’re too lovely to exclude.

A wolf is lifted by magical white wings. The rest of its pack look on.

3. Wings of the Cosmos

“Argh, why am I doing this? Did you know we could fly?” I love how the rest of the pack is posed like a Renaissance tableau, with each wolf frozen in its best reaction pose. Bonus points for the wolf pups hiding at the edges.

A wolf bows its head to greet a squirrel with an immensely long tail.

2. In Search of Greatness

In Search of Greatness offers two cuties for the price of one. Toski and Sarulf (of Realm Eater fame) are definitely up to something here. It’s all a bit troubling: should this make me feel kinder towards Sarulf, or suspicious of Toski with his wee Viking braids?

1. Esika’s Chariot

If the glowing fluff-balls in the normal art are ‘how I think I look in the morning’, the showcase Viking art is more ‘WHO DARES DISTURB MY SLUMBER?!’ Raoul Vitale has also contributed this very fluffy cat token to match the draught cats.

Esika is the god of the World Tree, with a chariot based on Freya’s one from OG Norse mythology. I like to think we’re seeing Esika’s viewpoint as she despairs of getting the cats out of the chariot so she can get back on the road.

We’re calling it the Catmobile, sorry.

The Big Ten: all the cutest creatures in Kaldheim

The results are in! By which I mean “I made a spreadsheet.” Buckle up for a whistle-stop tour of the cutest creatures we’ll be meeting on our trip to Kaldheim.

An immense spirit bear prowls a snowy mountainside by night.

10. Spirit of the Aldergard

Sounds suspiciously like ‘spirit of the elder god’, so possibly not cute in the scheme of things, but certainly bear-like. Its home, the Aldergard Forest, boasts scenic spots such as “The Cursed Tree, a massive oak that is perpetually covered in snow” and “The Skelle Mire, a dreary swamp”. No wonder he looks miffed.

You know a list is good when it starts with a bear!

(Don’t worry folks, I looked up the etymology of Aldergard. No old ones here! Alder: from root *el- (2) “red, brown,” used in forming animal and tree names; Gard: from PIE root *gher- (1) “to grasp, enclose.” Don’t say Hexagorgon isn’t educational.)

A stocky red dragon sits atop an ornate golden bridge.

9. Goldspan Dragon

Wings? Four. Antlers? You bet. Talons? Fabulous. I initially thought the goldspan part referred to its wings, which are very much not gold. On closer inspection, the dragon is guarding the span of an ornate golden bridge. Probably helps deter tourists.

The most likely location for the bridge is Axgard, since the dwarves managed to build their city on top of an inexhaustible lake of molten gold, which they use like concrete.

I’m a fan of tiny dragons, but this certainly isn’t the cutest example, so it’s down at #9.

A grey puppy howls beside a bonfire with animal skulls.

8. Fearless Pup

“Awoo”. From the background, our pup could be living among the Tuskeri, a boastful tribe of red-flavoured humans.

Is that a pile of curse-sticks he’s guarding? Has he been taught to play fetch with short stories? Wizards, if you want Fearless Pup to top this list, these are the questions you need to be answering.

A regal hawk with golden armour flies away from an explosion.

7. Battlefield Raptor

Not that kind of raptor. This battlefield bird won me over with its rad composition and filigreed wings. At a glance, the armour could be mistaken for barred feathers; on closer inspection, it looks like beaten gold inlaid with rubies.

I’m no ornithologist, but I do know eagles are a type of raptor, which leads me to think this feathered friend might be aligned with Halvar, the white-flavoured god of battle. Conveniently, he was found as a baby in the nest of a giant eagle, so perhaps this is a long-lost nestmate. Either way, be glad the raptor has your back.

(FYI, pseudo-Odin-god Alrund spotted baby Halvar in the nest, named him, then left him to be raised by dwarves for twenty years because he had other stuff going on. I have a lot of time for Halvar.)

In a forest, a strangely-dressed elf rides a reindeer whose antlers glow blue with magic.

6. Boreal Outrider

You know how reindeer look really cool as mounts but always require a six-month scavenger hunt and a severed head to unlock? What I’m saying is, don’t mess with Boreal Outrider.

From a lore perspective, the elves of Kaldheim are a particularly hardy bunch (read not to be messed with). They survived losing a war against the current gods, being kicked out of the pantheon, and even having their race cut in half with a magical axe* (that’s why some are Green-aligned tree-dwellers and others Black-aligned tunnel-dwellers.)

It takes otherwordly resilience to wake up every morning and decide to stay in the forest realm where your former leaders are eternally imprisoned in trees. The scenery is pretty nice, to be fair.

*Surprise! This one’s on Halvar.

A barred white hawk with a glowing eye perches on a snow-laden branch, magical talisman clasped in its beak.

5. Pilfering Hawk

I don’t think this stone-cold badass cares what you call it. The flavour text refers to the Beskir, a white-flavoured tribe of humans working to bring peace to Bretagard (the human realm). I like to think she has a Robin Hood pilfering situation going on, whereby her controller benefits from her canny ways.

In the rafters of a Viking longhall perches a white lion, green eyes alert.

4. Gods’ Hall Guardian

Surprise surprise, it’s another cosmos monster.

The best ratter in the ten realms, depicted here chilling in the rafters of the Gods’ Hall in Istfell. All the souls of animals end up in Istfell, so this cat probably has its work cut out.

Funnily enough, the gods surrounded Istfell with a river-moat and a stonking great wall specifically to keep the cosmos monsters from getting in and nibbling the roots of the World Tree. Was the Guardian too cute to keep out?

3. Vega, the Watcher

It’s a magical owl (yes, and a cosmos monster.) What were you expecting at this point?

Bonus points for the showcase art, which manages to look metal as all Hel without losing the fluffy owl texture. I think that’s what makes me look at a winged predator with a revolving head and go ‘awwww!’

Vega hangs out near the Gods’ Hall, presumably clearing up any ghostly mice that evade the Gods’ Hall Guardian.

2. Toski, Bearer of Secrets

Cutie with a prosthetic arm and a mystical scroll-tail. Will keep your secrets super safe on account of being unable to talk.* Apparently he communicates telepathically with Esika, god of the World Tree… So why is his tail covered in writing? Does he have trouble remembering the secrets?

Despite his diminutive size, Toski is actually one of the cosmos monsters –you know, like the world-eating serpent Koma. So that’s a bit less cute.

*Except that one time Alrund beat him up and took his secrets for some epic quest chain.**

**Yes, Alrund was busy punching the secrets out of cosmos monsters when he could have been raising Halvar.

Wait, number 2? What did you think was cuter than Toski?!

Against a backdrop of ice and explosions, a very happy-looking goat carries its dwarven rider into battle. Both are armoured with gems.

1. Axgard Cavalry

Tally-ho! Look at the face on that charger! Who else will carry you so joyfully into battle, in that getup?

Surprising nobody, the dwarves brought the cutest cavalry to the cosmic battle.* You’d be mad not to. This goat is having the time of its life, and you’re going to love hearing about it at the afterlife-party in Istfell. Somebody get this hero a drink.

*Did I mention dwarves are cool? Their currency is iron, which is both metal and something of a flex.

Oh, what stories will be told! This set is one for the skalds. We can’t wait to get our hands on pre-release packs, but in the meantime you can find all your new friends on Arena.

Cuties of Zendikar

Magic: The Gathering card art; Prowling Felidar. A horned wolf-like creature carries a large fish.

Magic: The Gathering -Zendikar Rising’s Cutest Creatures Ranked

A few weeks ago, Zendikar Rising brought a host of new cards to Magic: The Gathering Arena. The new set invites players back for another round of questing on the adventure plane of Zendikar.

With paper Magic off the cards for most of us and controversy rife, we could all benefit from reconnecting with the parts of the game we love.

That’s why I’ve assessed all the cutest creatures in Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising and rounded up just the top five.

Need help getting into the spirit of things? This is the only time you get to yell “get in my party!” at the screen without being ostracised. Alright, let’s rope-swing into the fray!

Magic: The Gather card art; Tajuru Snarecaster. A rock-climbing elf throws a rope to the viewer.
Tajuru Snarecaster bids you welcome

New for Zendikar Rising, the Party mechanic (real name) provides payoffs for playing members of the traditional D&D gang:

Your party consists of up to one each of Cleric, Rogue, Warrior, and Wizard.

Now, I like to party as much as the next Magic player. Possibly a bit more. But if you’ve been focusing on packing party members into your decks, you’re missing out on the best part of the new expansion.

Disregard parties; acquire cuties

Not all cards are created equal: some are objectively cuter, and that’s what we’re here for. Consider, if you will, a new kind of party.

Forget rogues, clerics, warriors and wizards; the folk you really want at your side when the going gets tough are the ones with soft fur and big puppy eyes. 

Honourable mentions

Honourable mention number one goes to our Jamie’s favourite new mana dork, Tangled Florahedron.

Flora, formerly a rune-carved stone hedron, has been stunningly brought to life in this double-sided art from Randy Vargas. And she’s got a lot going for her: those shockingly good looks hide tantalising mysteries. Just check out the flavour text hints about the ‘unfettered wonder’ of new life blossoming on Zendikar.

It’s lovely, yes. But we’ve been around Zendikar long enough to treat mystery with a touch of suspicion, no?

Magic: the Gathering card art; Nahiri's Binding. Spiky hedrons surround Jace. They do not look cute this time.
You’ll be sad when Flora goes all Nahiri’s Binding on your ass

Honourable mention number two is going to be divisive. The latest printing of Lotus Cobra is 60% pretty flowers but the snake still gives me the heebie-jeebies. If it’s your favourite, then I’m sorry, but snakes and spiders are disqualified.

Similarly, I’ve nothing against Skyclave Geopede, but we’re pursuing the maximum cuteness for the maximum number of people here. More than six legs or fewer than two, and you’re out.

So without further ado, here are the cutest creatures you can take for a walk round Zendikar Rising.

Zendikar Rising’s five cutest creatures

Magic: the Gathering card; Veteran Adventurer. A human rides the cutest scaly six-legged beast.

5. Veteran Adventurer

He is a Good Boy. I am of course referring to the six-legged steed, who I prefer to think of as the veteran in question. Perhaps he’s mentoring the tiny human through their first adventure? Either way, I would like more details and perhaps a novel about their exploits.

Adventurer doesn’t make it further up the ranking because it’s frankly hard to see what’s going on. Get that hairy rump out into the sun, friend!

Magic: the Gathering card; Gnarlid Colony. Several of the cutest horned beasts perch in trees.

4. Gnarlid Colony

My only gripe with Gnarlid Colony is that it could do with more gnarlids. These horned hunks look something like a koala (famously grumpy) crossed with an antelope (famously spiky). It’s fair to say there are some questions I’d like answered before inviting a Colony home.

As a result, I’ve had to mark them down for temperament, but there’s no doubt you want them on your side.

3. Felidars (as seen on Felidar Retreat & Prowling Felidar)

These fluffy friends will catch your dinner and cuddle afterwards. Their lush fur makes them perfect fireside companions -and their fangs are bound to come in handy, too. Will watch over you during wild camping adventures.

In your cutie party, I imagine Felidar is going to act a lot like FFXV’s hyperactive groupie, Prompto -although without the hair gel, hopefully. 

I’m a big fan of the showcase art treatments Wizards have commissioned to highlight the landfall theme in Zendikar Rising. Since both Felidar Retreat and Prowling Felidar are featured in that series, I couldn’t pick a favourite: it’s a tie for bronze.

Magic: the Gathering card; Lullmage's Familiar. The cutest spiny blue lizard climbs out of a rucksack.

2. Lullmage’s Familiar

Not everybody is a fan of Simic’s -how can I put this –hands-on approach to evolution. I’ll be the first to admit there have been some spectacular failures in the cutie department. (Hydroid Krasis, I’m looking at you.)

But don’t let that colour your opinion of this Familiar. He’s hitched a ride in your rucksack just to spend the day together and -according to the flavour text -might also charge your phone?

Either way, we can’t get enough of this mischievous stowaway. Welcome to the party, Familiar. Enjoy your silver medal!

1. Canyon Jerboa

The only downside to this card is that I’m no longer going to win any quizzes for knowing what a jerboa is.

Look at that snoot! And those gracious, tufted ears!

Bonus points for the alternative art clinched the victory for Canyon Jerboa. Who wouldn’t want an adventuring companion with Sandshrew’s looks, Raichu’s tail and creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn?!

Cutest groupings: is this a deck?

Now, I did promise you could take these cuties for a walk, but I have to be honest: that’s going to depend on whether you want to win any games. 

All of our picks pull their weight in the Limited format -so no major concerns provided you’re happy taking them out one at a time. But if you want to ramp up the cutie count (don’t call it a draft strat), here are Hexagorgon’s compatibility hints:

Rediscovering the Magic

There’s no denying we have a lot to worry about -as Magic players and as human beings. But, by focusing on things that bring us joy -no matter how small or fluffy -we can build resilience.

I hope this tour of Zendikar Rising’s cutest creatures helped you reconnect with one of Magic: The Gathering’s most underrated attributes.

How are you finding Zendikar Rising? If you’ve scored a handful of cuties, let us know -and yes, pictures are welcome!