To preface this blog post, I want to say that unfortunately my computer had some problems that slowed down my work a bit and, in the end, required me to write over my C Drive. All that means is that I didn't make as much progress this week and unfortunately have to find my collection of images again, but thankfully since all of my cards are throughout my blogs and on Google Drive, I didn't actually end up losing previous work.
Now, to the cards!!
First off, I focused this week on the River King, the Demon, the Unbenched Frog - Tahm Kench.
Tahm Kench wants the deck to center around capturing and spitting out units. And so, capturing, which was previously only accessible by Demacia, is going to get some further Bilgewater support with the flavor of "throwing people in the brig."
Now, I don't know how true this is of pirates, but movies have shown pirates throwing everybody from enemies to their own crew to random people in brigs. And Tahm Kench is all in it for himself, so he doesn't care much who he captures either. So, perhaps his cards shouldn't much either!
And you know what? I doubt a ship with ravenous teeth cares much either. So, here's Slaughtermaw, a very hungry ship ready to capture anybody in its way!
Slaughtermaw was designed with splashiness in mind at the forefront (And honestly, I would hope his animation would include a literal big splash of seawater. If he's out and uncontested, he can serve as a big game-ender.
But, that's the problem. He's 10 mana, meaning no deny back-up and as late-game as you can get, and pretty easily counterable. He also only Captures Followers, meaning Champions are fine to continue their gameplan and block this if needed. You can Deny his Play ability, you can Will of Ionia to bounce him back to hand or kill him and get everything back, and you can even throw a 1/1 in front of him to block him. These drawbacks are because I don't feel that losing to a single card is necessarily the most fun way to lose, so having an ample amount of counterplay is important to this card. Where I do think this card could come in, however, is with further Capture support.
So let's see that Capture support!
Slippery Cephalopod is meant to be a main key player if you're trying to push towards a full Capture deck. He's similar to The Undying.
The Undying has been an engine for decks looking to repeatedly sacrifice their own creatures for value. Slippery Cephalopod has more power
upfront for far less scaling ability, which I think fits the playstyle of Bilgewater vs. Shadow Isles in some sense (that is, Shadow Isles has had many decks preferring to go late game while Bilgewater has shown to more often prefer to win games in the middle to late game).
I know I want the capture deck to push towards the late game, so I wanted to keep his cost away from the 1 and 2 range, where an elusive body can attempt to run away with a game. In my experience, the Undying being at 3 mana has been a bit expensive, since he has to contend with turn 3 plays like Zed, Solitary Monk, Kalista, and many others. But, you try to make it worth it with him being such a vital engine piece.
Slippery Cephalopod wants to sit in a similar boat. He's a more niche card and much more fragile than the Undying, however fits the same function of being a card you can use to fuel other effects. However, he himself has more power than the Undying upfront, thereby helping with pushing the game to ending more around mid-game.
So, what cards does he help power up?
There will be a series of cards like this - ones that essentially have a cost of capturing another unit. This had to be worded than other ones because in order to capture something, these followers needed to already be in play.
This is one meant to be a solid midrange threat that curves out right after the aforementioned Slippery Cephalopod. She replaces herself in many ways. First of all, she draws a card, keeping you even on cards after playing her. Second of all, when she dies, the unit she captures will come right back out (and will also trigger any "When I'm summoned" effects on the card).
This one features a bit more aggressive stats and is lower on the curve. This is where I want to talk a bit about the "modal" nature of these cards a bit. These, especially the card below, don't always have to capture a unit. When they're summoned, they still have an effect. This one, while not the strongest, still gives it some value.
Furthermore, when creating this card, I wanted to connect it with what Bilgewater already has - stealing opponents' cards. And so, he was a good way of branching the capture theme with that theme. This could push the "stealing" deck towards more aggressive and wanting to play more 1-drops to get this going on turn 2 as a reasonable threat.
This one, on the other hand, needs to capture something for any use, making him a bit harder to use than the other two (though, you really didn't want to just draw a card for 4 mana either). This card, unlike the other two, also wants you to push you towards eating units of certain costs in order to try to get spells that can more easily fit into your curve at that point in the game.
In the end, capturing a unit is not as bad as sacrificing it, or sometimes even as bad as bouncing it back to your hand. So, they don't have crazy over-the-top stats. What they do have, though, is the ability to replace themselves while fitting well with a central theme of this set.
Capturing your own units is something I felt could be tapped into, and it was definitely interesting designing cards in that direction. Going forward with the rest of Bilgewater, I will likely also make one or two cards that focus on capturing enemy units as well, just to make it not just about capturing your own units.