LoR Shadows of the Sands (Part 12) - Filling Out the Curve!
This week is a short one once again due to some personal things. Regardless, here's what I've got for this week!
This week is a continuation on next week, where I continue building on the early game for Shurima. Next, I'm looking at the 2-4 drops. This range of mana has two main functions - two snowball out of control as early as possible with synergies, such as the pre-nerf Noxus-Shadow Isles aggro deck or Freljord-Ionia Elusive decks, or a place to ensure you can keep the keyboard stable. I would say that, in general, this area of the game is where a lot of games can be decided and put somebody in a very favorable position of winning the game.
Shurima, like most regions, will have a mix of both cards in this range that look to stabilize and push to snowball. However, right now I'm building towards the aggressive unit-based archetype, meaning I'm more looking for that snowball effect than the stabilizing effect. So, how do I look to accomplish that?
Well, hard and consistent snowballing doesn't tend to be healthy for a game, generally speaking. When a deck can snowball extremely fast, it often pushes other decks out of the meta that either cannot keep up or survive the initial assault.
Furthermore, in this area there are 2 different types of units generally. There are units meant to be very synergistic, which is best as an early card so that the synergies can start going early. These sorts of cards fill out many decks and vary a lot from deck to deck. While we may see similar 1-drops and 5+ drops throughout multiple different decks, the synergy-based cards in different archetypes will be mostly different here.
The other type are the cards that fill out a deck's needed card advantage and removal. There is a limited number of efficient removal in the game, and these are often similar from deck to deck. Card advantage is the most important component to most card games, so most decks won't go wrong running them. Removal is incredibly important to this game due to the high amount of interaction constantly.
Often, this area ends up being a place that often gets hit with the team's patches since this is a point on the mana curve that can snowball and can become very ubiquitous throughout the meta game if it is too strong or efficient.
And so, here's my go and trying to create more cards for that point in the curve!
Sai Lookout fits into the 2-4 drop that will likely be widely included across aggro and midrange decks, and perhaps even a couple copies in control decks as well. It is a card that serves as easy card advantage for the deck while rewarding them for sticking to the board.
When creating card advantage cards for Shurima, I'm not looking for cards that simply draw cards and do nothing else. I want them to focus around their theme of board control and either capitalize on it or strengthen it.
It is, however, intractable card draw that allows players to kill the unit you are trying to draw an extra copy of. The punishment isn't overly harsh, as you still get a 3/3 for 3, but it is still a minor drawback.
Furthermore, I feel like the "copy" design space is still pretty open. We have those P&Z cards that shuffle extra copies of your things that got played as a pure meme deck when Elnuks were strong. This can at least expand that archetype out just a bit more - not to the point of being good and viable, but more just to the point of being a fun, memeing option.
Next is more of a standard piece of removal for Shurima - a card that comes in and fights an enemy. Honestly, this sort of effect is a pretty open one that could fit into even Freljord, Noxus, and Demacia fairly comfortably. I felt it was a nice inclusion in Shurima.
I decided to keep it in Shurima because it shows very blatantly what one of the region's specific purposes is - board control. I've spoken enough about it at this point, so you all get the gist of it. It also synergizes well with future cards I want to create for Shurima - cards that sit on the battlefield and buff units as they come in.
Next is Marrowmark Merchant, a new sort of design for a card within this game. So far, we have one other card that spends all your mana in Thermogenic Beam, which just does damage based on the amount of mana you spent on it. The flexibility of that card has made it played consistently as a 1 or 2 of in many Piltover and Zaun decks.
I wanted to do a similar design, where flexibility makes the card strong. However, I wanted to differ it a bit and twist it towards Shurima. And so, I did this - a card that just spends all your spell mana.
Doing it this way does a a couple different things for the game. It allows players to run a deck more heavily filled with units, since this will make use of the spell mana by itself. Furthermore, it gives more purpose to cards from Bilgewater with Attune, which gives the player spell mana, as it allows that spell mana to convert into cards on the board. It even has a place in control decks, since it is common for control decks to pass turns with a lot of mana up since they prefer card efficiency over mana efficiency.
Because of all that it can do for the game, I went back and forth on the power of the cards it should produce, and for now this is where I landed, though this is definitely a more safe direction. Since it's in Shurima, I wanted it to affect your board largely in some way while also providing a small ability to snowball if the opponent lacks interaction.
Let's start with the first Jewel - Brittle Mana Jewel. It's more meant as a blocker than anything, helping control decks and allowing them to continue to keep some mana banked if needed. Nothing insane, but a nice thing against aggressive decks to soak up some damage.
Next is one that buffs the whole board. While the effect is fairly small, it is definitely nice in Legends of Runeterra. One health is very relevant, hence why a lot of 1 damage spells see a good amount of play.
Even though this is Ephemeral, this effectively heals damaged minions even if the Jewel dies, since that is just how the game works - i.e. temporary health buffs will only make the units health drop if they would be above max health when the temporary buff goes away.
And lastly is Amethyst of Vigor. This one is definitely the most powerful, since a board-wide +1/+1 buff can provide a lot of damage. This is also where that small ability to snowball comes in, since it keeps producing more that not only buff the rest of the board by +1/+1, but also buff each other by +1/+1. The fact that they're the only ones that aren't Ephemeral can really push the board advantage over several turns.
I did think about making it so that they don't buff each other with some sort of text like "Other allies not named Amethyst of Vigor have +1|+1," however I figured removal is widely played enough in the game that it shouldn't be too big of a deal, especially sitting at just a 0/1 in stats.
Furthermore, I wanted to add a bit of flavor to these cards. It's some shady trader giving these jewels to you for spending your mana. The first 2 are fairly cheap for you so they're cheaply made, hence why they break. The 3rd one, which you spent premium on, is the real deal, hence it having a different naming scheme and not having Ephemeral.
Anyways, that's all for this week! I'm definitely looking to make more for next week, so continue staying tuned and thank you for reading!