Magic: The Gathering‘s first Standard expansion of 2021, Kaldheim, will introduce the card game’s first-ever non-binary Planeswalker, Wizards of the Coast has confirmed.
Announcing the news earlier this week in a lengthy blog post exploring the origins of Niko Aris, the developer dives headfirst into the character’s history and how they ultimately wound up far from home in a strange new land. A native from the Greek mythology-inspired realm of Theros, Niko, like many of their people, is pursued by agents of Klothys, God of Destiny for circumventing their fate. Preordained to become a renowned athlete, Niko escapes the chains of destiny and is forced to flee their homeworld in the process, ultimately ending up on the aforementioned Kaldheim.
Folks eager to get their first look at Niko can do so via the image below, illustrated by artist Winona Nelson.
While Wizards has consciously decided to make Niko non-binary, it’s keen to stress that they’re not a token character and that their gender identity isn’t the defining aspect of their personality. Furthermore, their struggle to defy fate and stand against the accepted norms of Therosian culture is intended to serve as an allegory for the non-binary experience that many in real-world scenarios face.
As far as gameplay is concerned, Niko joins the likes of Jace and Teferi as a blue Planeswalker and, like their peers, has the ability to tamper with time and/or reality. Able to create shard-like spears and other weapons at will, these projectiles boast magical properties such as temporarily placing enemies or allies in a type of stasis as both an offensive and defensive tool.
A fascinating first look at one newcomer, then, and you can no doubt expect preview season to ramp up as Magic: The Gathering – Kaldheim‘s February release date draws closer. In the meantime, let us know what you think of Niko in the usual place below!