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LoR Shadows of the Sands (Part 13) - New Insights and a New Cycle!

Hello everybody! Starting off, I want to preface this with a small bit of bad news. Unfortunately, another problem necessitated a C: Drive wipe on my computer. And, unbeknownst to me, although Cockatrice was on my D: Drive, the files it held for custom cards sat in the C: Drive. And, thus, almost all my progress on the QA side of things has been erased. So, for now, that will have to remain on hold as I move forward with continue design of cards as to not halt the process too much. Thankfully, though, the rest of my work is still safe thanks to correct storing.

Anyways, enough with that. Let's get to the cards for this week!

I recently talked to Brian Feeney once again about narrow card design versus wide/broad card design. Although he's not a card designer at the moment, he still had some useful insight to give me regarding the function of usefulness of both present within sets.

I want to ensure that available units in Shurima don't feel like "This third of them has poison synergies, this half of them have piercing synergies, and this half of them have spell synergies." So, I'm starting to try to bridge more together. First, I wanted to start with something simple just to experiment with the design space, and that created the card on the left.

This functions both as a useful card to buff due to it having piercing while also being something that spreads poison effectively for Cassiopeia. Thereby it serves multiple purposes in a fairly clean and simple design. There isn't much to say about the card itself, though it did show me that just clean designs like this can function in multiple archetypes effectively, and I'll be continuing to try to branch more archetypes moving forward. This is especially true for the other classes that only get around 10 cards each, since those cards should want to also be able to fit in other existing archetypes.

Next up, we've got a cycle of cards in Shurima - the Seals. Each seal does something different than cards currently existing within the game - they summon a Vulnerable unit under the opponent's control. It's similar to Stalking Wolf in that design space, but I wanted to expand on it further and use the new keyword from the last set - Vulnerable.

These sets work incredibly well in shurima since you are providing Vulnerable targets for you to attack into. Since positioning during combat matters so much for SHurima, these Vulnerable units allow you to help force your opponent's positioning when blocking your units. Two champions within Shurima and several units thus far want to see enemy units die as well, and these provide easy fodder for you to kill and get benefits from.

This all makes it so that the seals can work with a wide theme of Shurima, allowing them to synergize with multiple different things Shuriman decks are trying to do simultaneously.

This is the only Seal of all of them that is within the current canon. While I know the picture is not accurate - as the seal is supposed to perfectly fit Sivir's boomerang - I couldn't quite find a great picture for that. So, for now, I settled on this instead.

Anyways - to the design! This one is the splashiest of the Seals, and experiments with something I've messed with in this set - cheating out units early. That design space is relatively untouched within LoR, and it's understandable why. Any sort of cheating of any resources tends to be the strongest thing you can do in any resource-based card game, or at least among the strongest.

And so, to hold it back a bit, I'm makin git symmetrical, which has also been a small theme within Shurima so far. Of course, though, you get to benefit much more on this with correct deck-building. And, furthermore, the card's strength varies wildly per matchup, making it most likely unable to remain as a mainstay within a format. for example, if opponents just started running a single Tryndamere within their deck to counter this, it would severely hurt the strength of this card.

As such, this card fits more as a fun build-around card that can create for some strong plays without overtaking or dominating an entire meta. And, usually, I feel that's where cheating of resources should remain - a niche fun thing as opposed to a meta-defining thing.

Next is a fairly innocuous card that can help create some big turns. Seal of Mana is simple - it's a 1 mana investment that, with a little bit of work, can get you 3 mana back. That by itself is already pretty strong, as it can ramp you out to full spell mana quickly for a low investment.

This also directly synergizes with the spell theme going within Shurima, especially for Azir decks. Not playing anything on turn 1, then playing Azir on turn 2, then casting this, will help bring Azir closer to his Level Up and give your opponent a unit to run the Sand Soldier into. Then, after that hole play, you get to bump up to 3 spell mana as if you hadn't played anything on turn 1 or 2.

Several other champions and classes will be able to bread this with ease and will appreciate the spell mana. However, if the extra spell mana isn't important enough - such as in an aggro deck looking to play units every turn early in the game - this card is likely not worth a card slot.

When doing the seals, I wanted to ensure I put one in that focused on the board-buffing theme I want to continue to put into Shurima. This felt like a good place to do it because having units is the easiest way to break these seals and gain their benefits. And so, the synergy was just naturally there, further rewarding the player for their continued dominance in board presence.

And lastly, I wanted to ensure that all the different archetypes got something, and so I wanted to put one that poisons. I wanted it to do more than just "Poison an ally" or "Poison all allies" though as that wouldn't make it very unique. And so, i decided to let Shurima attack the hand just a little bit by also poisoning an enemies unit in hand.

Hand disruption is rare within LoR. And, I don't believe Shurima is the class to introduce a swath of hand disruption in. However, this sort of hand disruption is light, only really ensuring that the poison runs deep through the opponent for Cassiopeia's sake. And so, I'm fine with the design and can see it as an interesting way to apply poison.

That's another batch of cards for this week! I have some closing words though!

For one, the QA stuff isn't all lost. I posted the beginnings of it in another blog post that just showed some cards without any of the functionality. Thankfully, that at least means I can redo the word and start and a not-so-painful starting point. However, although testing is important, I do feel like that's not the highest priority right now given that this is a project to show my capabilities in initially designing cards. At the very least, the small bits of testing I did do at home with my girlfriend helped with the bad outliers, such as Kayn that needed an immediate small rework.

For two, I'm actually looking to apply earlier than expected. For those that don't know - this project is one that was eventually meant to evolve into one that helps me apply for riot Games as a card designer for LoR. At first I was looking to finish the whole set, and thus far I am at 73 / 133. However after some consultation with others, I feel like I'm at a place to do my application. That does not mean that's the end of this project, though! I have too much pride in this to put a stop to it now!

Thank you everybody for the continued watching and support with my custom set!

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