Hello again everybody with yet another update on Shadows of the Sands, my custom set for one of my favorite card games! This week we're on Noxus - the mighty... well... aggro-heavy (in LotR) region, home to gladiators and great warriors! For a quick reference on the champion native to this region, let's look at Kayn:
Now, let's jump right in!
First of all, I wanted to make sure that with these sets, I don't just try to push new things. It's important to strengthen or add new things to previous archetypes, or else other archetypes can grow stale and old really quickly. And so, I developed another Crimson unit for Noxus! This one is meant to be a powerful engine that keeps the Crimson goodness going, but in a bit of a different way than the other Crimson units do.
This one does a few things. One, it works with all the other units that like to be damaged, thereby also powering up Swain and Vladimir rather quickly. Having it at a four-drop is perfect for this because they often want to practically turbo out their Champions' Level Ups.
And two, this provides board control, constantly knocking down enemy units a couple pegs. In fact, when you have 2 of these out and deal 1 damage to one of them, they chain each other until they deal 6 to the whole board and 1 of them kills themself. This card also allows for some counterplay as well, as opponents can hit it in order to try to wipe your board (though also thereby proccing all your "when I survive damage" effects on your units).
Although it doesn't directly work with the Kayn gameplan, I again think continuing to build on established archetypes is important.
Going further on that point, I developed Dorrik of Bel'Zhun, who is the Steward of the Shuriman Noxian state of Bel'zhun (owned by Noxus but in Shuriman territory). Not much is on his character either other than that he deals with rebels.
Well, what better to deal with rebels than with offense? That's what I assume Noxians would say, at least.
Dorrik works directly with Kayn, as it gives Shadowstep a tremendous target to use it on. It also allows early minions to transition into the mid-game better, and Kayn wants to shine around the mid-game as his ability wants to close out the game earlier rather than later.
However, Dorrik does a lot more than work with the champion we've developed. First of all, a lot of Noxian units like to attack, and allowing them to also either deal extra damage or offer a more favorable trade is great. Of course, this doesn't help their health at all, so your 5/1s will still die to pesky spiderlings. Also, it works with a sub-theme within Noxus of having units with 5+ attack. Cards that cared about these have fallen out of favor as the meta evolved and the new set came out, and I believe it's worth revisiting.
This set is about unleashing the strongest empire in Runeterra history and apolypse-bringing demons. So, this seems perfect to be the set of huge effects and big splashy spells.
Ferocious Sundering is just that - a potential board wipe and finisher all packed into one hugely expensive spell. It's 9 mana and slow, which is the realm of hugely impactful spells that better be close to winning you the game or pushing you into a huge lead. But it's not just expensive mana-wise - it also requires players to establish a board to actually play this spell effectively. And, it is not only hampered by Deny (like most big spells used to be pushed out by), but also by unit removal, as it makes this card less effective.
That huge cost is all why I'm fine making this both a board wipe and a finisher packed into one. It's meant to be a fun finisher you can toss into a deck if you're going for this big splashy plays!
This card, also, goes with the Kayn theme of Striking the enemy Nexus, since the excess damage dealt to the Nexus would count as the same "Strike." It doesn't help Kayn, however I don't think Kayn should be a hero who gets a ton of help to try to push through. I want his ability to be a bit difficult, forcing you to either give him Overwhelm or Elusive or run removal to kill of opponent's things to let him through. Having you have to build around Kayn as opposed to allowing you to run 1-2 different cards to push him through for free seems like the right thing to do.
Merciless Executioner further fits into the aggressive theme of Noxus and taps into more of its "Overwhelm" sub-theme as well. However, this isn't a usual unit that will go in traditional Noxian burn decks - it's more meant to go into mid-late game Noxian decks that can really benefit off having their biggest beaters gain Overwhelm. This big-threat-centric deck is where Kayn would thrive, since it allows his Shadowstep to have much more impact. If you've ever died to Atrocity, you know how powerful of an effect it can be, and pushing Noxus towards that direction could be a good thing to pull it away from the usual burn strategy.
This card, however, is more meant to be pushed towards Expeditions, where sometimes what you need in Noxus is another way to push damage through. The mediocre stat-line still surely hurts in the tempo-based Expedition format, however Noxus is often willing to forego tempo to push for more face damage, especially if they have a champion such as Kayn or Darius.
Only 2 cards in Noxus rally - Katarina and Shunpo. Both these cards, from a thematic standpoint, are meant to represent Katarina's ability to do "resets" within League of Legends and keep unleashing your merciless damage upon them (or even retreat in some cases, possibly hence why she bounces back to your hand).
However, I think there's more thematic space for Rally within Noxus, and I try to portray that in Rallying Fury. Noxus has a big focus on war and power, whether that be through their armies or the gladiator rings. And the fighters are warriors within these are (likely) absolutely relentless, and what better to show relentless in this game than with Rallying? (Though, Overwhelm is also a very good way to show relentlessness).
Rallying Fury takes this up a notch. Not only are they relentless, but they're willing to die to keep the aggression, to keep putting on the pressure. But if you're looking to put this big spell on something, you've got an extra hoop to jump through - hitting the enemy Nexus. And, since this is a slow spell, your opponent can see exactly who they should block. And, although units in Noxus are fine dying once they got their damage through, they don't always just flat out want to kill themselves off. So, this card tries to get you to even push towards other Regions to get the successfully. This could get Noxus to explore with Ionia or Bilgewater a bit more for their Elusive allies, or perhaps with Shadow Isles to try pairing this with an Elise Spider deck so you have a plethora of units to attach this to.
I want to go a bit further into the design decisions of this card. One, the wording "If you do." Currently in the game, there is an 8-mana spell that makes a unit of your choice unable to die or take damage - Unyielding Spirit. I believe that Unyielding Spirit may also be them experimenting with the design space of cards unable to die. Rallying Fury, if it didn't require the unit to do for the effect to go off, could easily go "infinite" with unkillable units or whatever you cast Unyielding Spirit on. So, in the interest of not having infinite combos in the game or constricting the potential design space of unkillable units, I made the "destroy me" a requirement for the effect to go off.
Next, why random ally? Well, part of it is because that Nexus Strike effects don't ever go on the "stack," meaning none have you target anything, and I didn't want this to be a first. Second is because if you could choose, this just easily goes infinite with Elise, since you can keep putting it on new 1/1 spiders she creates. Yes, it can still technically go infinite. If you have just Elise and a 1/1 spider, and you cast this on the 1/1 Spider, there is a 1/32 chance that it gets cast on the new spider 5 times in a row and attack 7 times in a row (since the last cast can hit Elise since you're killing them), killing the opponent. This is also assuming the opponent has no blockers and no removal up for the 1/1 Spider. It's pretty unlikely, however this is definitely something that can be further tested anyways and nerfed if needed.
This is a relatively short blog post and progress update this time. However, I'm working on something extra that would allow me to QA this with friends easily, digitally, and remotely. More on that next week, and that's through Cockatrice's ability to add Custom Cards and sets! Take a look!
However, what is taking so long is the data I lost meant I have to get the images throughout my blog once again and and upload them onto Imgur, along with remake some cards that got lost through the data loss. So, this should be done by next week and I should be able to start to QA!