LoR Shadows of the Sands (Part 6) - Further Theme Development
Updated: Jun 14, 2020
I'm currently moving to weekly posts to keep up with more of a schedule, so my blog post should be posted on either Saturday or Sunday from here on out.
Now, moving on to the cards!
I've established the start of themes for Azir and Cassiopeia already, who introduce new keywords not seen prior to this expansion. And so, this week I wanted to pull back away and build on Shurima as a whole a bit more.
Shurima, similar to Ionia, has a focus on spells. But, unlike them, they are looking to use it offensively, buffing their units to assert board control through strong attacks. And so, when creating the cards, I had a few things I wanted to keep in mind:
What they do have:
Spells that buff your board or assert board control
Spells that allow your minions to kill opposing minions
Aggressive stats and keywords on units to promote attacking
Push leads further
What they don't have:
As many defensive spells or means to save their units
Strong stabilizing mechanics
This is by no means an exhaustive list of their "haves" and "have-nots," but this was what I wanted to keep in mind when designing the cards below.
Excavation Combatant has an ability that looks familiar to Rivershaper (below).
Rivershaper has seen off and on play, usually in old Fiora decks prior to the release of Rising Tides since he provided a good source of card draw. He's fallen out of favor since then for sure, though.
I decided to do a similar take on him, but flavor it more towards Shurima. Shurima wants to be incentivized to attack, so attaching a card draw source to "Strike" was a first good start. But, a big part of Shurima is preemptively using their spells for opposed to reactively. And so, making that lands us on the design for Excavation Combatant - an follower with aggressive stats that rewards preemptive spells and aggression with card advantage.
I also want to mention that I got these arts from the League of Legends Fandom Wikipedia. In it, they have a gallery of pictures, including ones called "[Region] 'Legends of Runeterra' Concept [Number] (by Riot Contracted Artists). These pictures gave me a lot more sources to use and to build off of, which was a great help in the process.
Next up came this unit. With an emphasis on spells, I also felt it made sense to create more spells that summon units than other Regions had. it not only fits the spell theme, but also the importance of magic in Shurima's history.
At first, I started with this:
When you summon an ally with a spell, grant them +1|+1.
To me, that felt very narrow, like it would only be used alongside a handful of cards. And, even then, if a card is too narrow without strong enough of a reward then it may not even see play in decks where it is synergistic. And so, I broadened the card to the card you see on the left. This not only buffs the creatures that you didn't play, but it also buffs creatures summoned from Last Breath effects, Elise, Hecarim, Azir, and many more.
This allows it to have quite a bit more versatility and see play in a wider variety of decks while still keeping with the spell-based theme of Shurima, especially with Azir decks.
Lastly, some more vanilla units need to be introduced. Desert Berserker is one I feel doesn't feel necessarily the most like "Shurima," however it reflects their more aggressive playstyle and focus on buffing your own units. That's because Double Attack only works when attacking, meaning this unit is only particularly useful as an attacker, and buffing this unit is even stronger thanks to the Double Attack. Thankfully, the recent Stand Alone nerf also allows for more of these sorts of units to be printed.
These sorts of fairly vanilla units are also great to have in the game. For starters, Noxus might want to dabble in Shurima a bit to have access to a strong 3-drop they give extra attack or Overwhelm to. While this may not necessarily be something that happens in constructed, admittedly, this is certainly a possibility in Expeditions, where just the pure strength of minions in combat matter a lot.
Killing enemy units is also a big part of Shurima. This is shown especially through the heroes Aatrox and Rek'sai. While I don't think they need a lot of explicit support like Azir and Cassiopeia needed, I still want to reflect killing units as a central theme throughout the Shuriman followers.
And so, that brings me to Hadiya Nadjem, a Hierophant and the ruler of a city that has been destroyed countless times throughout history. Having the ruler of a city that has seen destruction countless times works well along with the theme of destruction, and her work as a Hierophant can be reflected with spells and spell-mana.
This unit goes well with the theme of pushing leading board positions further. When behind, this is unlikely to help much in bringing back the board. However, getting, essentially, discounts on spells for taking over the board helps push the board advantage even further.
Earlier on in the blogs, I introduced a new card that makes both players rally. This is another card with a symmetrical effect that looks to really mess with the board.
Giving all units Vulnerable is a huge drawback for yourself, especially when you're running a deck that also wants to stick to the board, hence the low cost of the card.
This also goes very well with pushing advantages while you're ahead while not being the greatest while you're behind. If you can clear all of their units how you choose with this, it's great, but the opponent will be able to do the same back at you soon after.
During this week, I also wanted to put some work into creating some cards for the other Regions as well in order to ensure that the strategy/archetype put forth by their respective Champion can be fully supported.
To start off with, I went with Piltover and Zaun. However, for this set, I focused on Zaun, since that is where Ziggs resides. For a quick refresher, this is Ziggs:
There are a lot of people within Piltover and Zaun - Zaun especially - who like to, say, augment themselves in ways. And so, this region is perfect for this sort of strategy. For this, I decided to focus on a couple story characters and bring them into Legends of Runeterra.
First is Marko Volkage. He was only in the Camille comic and Camille believed that he was trying to marry an elite member of the Piltover society in order to worm his way into a place of power. Spoilers but, Camille killed him (in front of his bride, if I may add), however that doesn't mean he can't have a card here.
There isn't a ton to go on with Marko other than that he is augmented with these metal arms and has other metal appendages he can shoot lasers out of. His, and many people of Zauns', apparent liking to being augmented still bred creativity when making this card.
And so, why be augmented once when you can be augmented twice? He wants to reward the player for constantly buffing him to insane heights until he is an unstoppable force (even by the likes of Camille)! However, he doesn't just double your spells - he doubles the opponents' spells too. This allows for some counterplay from the opponent, allowing opponents to still keep pace with him even as he reaches insane heights. Oh, and of course it makes it really hard to stop Will of Ionia or Vegeance. And so, he provides a fun high-risk high-reward unit for those willing to go all-in on this strategy.
Next is Baron Velveteen Lenare. She transplanted her head onto Hextech technology to forsake her dying body. And, now, she primarily does research with golems. This was easily enough to go on to design a the card you see above. She rewards targeting her with board presence through these golems. On top of that, she's pretty likely to always get at least a 2/2 golem since she also triggers when your opponent targets her.
So why did I, in both of these cards, decide to make their effects symmetrical? Well, first, it puts the emphasis on interaction between the players, which is always healthy for any card game in my opinion. And, secondly, it fits with the only current existing payoff for targeting in Piltover and Zaun: Jae Medarda (below). There isn't much of a reason to pull away from his symmetrical theme, I feel, so I continued to go along with it.
And that's all for this week! Thank you for anybody still reading these blogs!