As many of you may, or may not, know by now, the Timewalkers block is giving us a chance to look back at some of the most memorable time periods in the history of Warcraft. The first set of the block took place in a time period from about 10,000 years ago, specifically focusing on the time of the War of the Ancients for which the set is named.
For the second set of the block, we take a look back at the beginning of the modern age of Warcraft, specifically the First and Second Wars (Warcraft: Orcs vs. Humans and Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness for those keeping track at home). A lot of the big players from this time period have been added to the game through the heroes in this block, but we've got a few more big-name characters to add as allies, and given that the set is called Betrayal of the Guardian, there will be a special group of Monsters showing up that should make a lot of World of Warcraft fans quite happy. Yes, that's somewhat cryptic. You'll live.
A Rift of an Echo
The role of the Timewalkers in this block is to serve as watchers and supporters to all of the historical events that have taken place through Warcraft's history. The defeat of Deathwing caused the Dragon Aspects to lose their powers, and for the time being, the Timewalkers are doing their part watching over the timeways just as the Bronze Dragonflight did. Their permanent status as the keepers of time remains to be seen however. Betrayal brings the Timewalkers front and center, adding their flavor to the mix of the racial theme that the previous set brought. There are two new ability keywords, Echo and Rift, that make their debut with the new set:
War of the Ancients introduced a lot of new ally keywords/powers, and we really wanted players to feel like they could have fun and get invested in a racial deck. We haven't had a racial focus since back in Drums of War Block, but it isn't enough to just have allies asking you to buy in, we wanted to add something that would make you feel it at the class level too. Echo asks that you only invest a little bit to get paid out for your investment, while Rift offers you a much bigger reward for those who invest heavily into a racial deck.
When we first began working on the set we knew we wanted to get more of the time travel theme to come across. We messed around with a few other mechanics like cards that you could replay from your graveyard, cards that you could remove from the game to play later, or even cards that had variable costs depending on the turn you played them. We ultimately felt that most of these were too awkward to play against in the form of having more on-board tricks with the additional difficulty of coming up with ten different effects that we were happy with. We also felt that none of them did anything to play into the racial theme that we had established with the first set, and that's where Echo came in. We liked the time travel feel of making a copy of the ability feel like a ripple in time, but we didn't think the payoff was enough and we needed to add more class level incentives. We were asking players to put a lot of a given race in their deck, so how could we provide an exciting payout with something that was easy to push across all ten classes? We ultimately decided that cost was our best bet to be the incentive and something we could easily modify across all ten classes without fear of distorting class identity, and so Rift was born.
I Walk the Time
Now that you've seen a couple of the abilities that the Timewalkers are bringing to the table with Betrayal, you'll notice a common bond with the allies that bear the Timewalkers name and tabard:
The Timewalkers in this set are neutral allies that can only go in decks with a Horde hero or an Alliance hero, and just like the Echo abilities, they pay you out for investing in a racial deck. The common Timewalkers check when they enter play to see if you get their power, while the uncommon Timewalkers have a power that is on as long as you have at least two allies that share a Horde or Alliance race. If you've kept up with the information about our Sneak Previews, then you may have already seen what one of the Timewalker rare allies, Nazzik, does.
There was a short period where these allies counted as any Horde or Alliance race thanks to some of the illusionary tricks that have been displayed by the Bronze Dragonflight in some of the World of Warcraft's Caverns of Time instances. We didn't feel like we were gaining a whole lot just by having allies that could go in any deck and count towards a total, but once Echo started to stick, we felt there was a pretty good tie-in for the Timewalker allies as well.
Forget Me Not
All this talk of timewalking might make you think that I forgot all about the racial keywords and powers we set up with War of the Ancients. Fret not my friends, we haven't forgotten about the investments that you have already made, and I have a few friends here who have come to bolster your ranks:
These fine ladies, fellow, and bovine, should all help you achieve maximum efficiency and fun for your racial decks, while providing you with even more ways to make your Echo and Rift abilities work.
Back in Throne of the Tides, there was an epic ally by the name of. As you can see, he has a power that lets him heal his hero each time he deals damage to an opposing hero. We have since added a few more cards with the same mechanic like , , , and to name a few. Ultimately we felt that this mechanic was something that we wanted to keep using, and it was simple enough to warrant becoming its own keyword.
The biggest issue, however, was one of flavor. It would be easy enough to call this something along the lines of Lifesteal if it were only happening from shadow effects like the vampirism of Shadow Priests and Death Knights, or the soul-siphoning of Warlocks. We also felt that this should be, at the very least, a holy thing as well since Paladins used to haveand now they have Seal of Insight (in the video game).
There is probably no perfect answer to the dilemma that we came across, and we had a number of ideas thrown around, but we finally came to an agreement on using the word Absorb. The video game uses absorb almost exclusively to talk about damage absorption or healing absorption, but since we use the word "prevent" for a lot of those similar interactions, we felt that Absorb was our best fit on something that was magic-type neutral. So, here's your first glimpse at an ally with our newly keyworded Absorb:
The first two sets of the block definitely tend to skew a little heavily towards having a lot of action for the Horde and the Alliance, but that has been by design; Monsters will get their time to shine soon enough. We don't want to leave them out in the cold, though, so here's a little something for all the green lovers out there:
You'll notice that Nightbane is the first ally we have made in a long, long time with a cost of ten or greater. Who doesn't love a gigantic skeleton dragon?! Where there's a Nightbane, you might also find some other denizens of Karazhan as well…
Betrayal of the Who?
Some of you may be wondering who the Guardian in this set's name is referring to. Some of you may have already figured it out since I did give away the time periods that this set is focusing on. Well, spoiler warning, that Guardian is Medivh. We thought it would be prudent to add a few more thematically themed Medivh cards into the set. You may have already seen The Opening of the Dark Portal, but there are a few other cards that refer to Medivh as well:
And what sort of Medivh-themed set would be complete without his legendary weapon:
Keep your eyes peeled throughout the set for the many easter eggs we tried to include related to Medivh, and the First and Second Wars.
The Lion and the Thorn
I've showed off a lot of the new mechanics that are coming in just a couple of weeks with the release of Betrayal of the Guardian, and I've shown off a few of the more thematic elements that we've included with the set. With all this talk about promoting racial decks, and wanting you to invest in Horde or Alliance, I haven't given you your fair share of those cards though, have I? Let's fix that with a dash of thorn:
And a pinch of a good friend of mine that some of you may have noticed in the flavor text of:
I hope this gets you all as excited as we are at Cryptozoic for the release of Betrayal of the Guardian. Check out our Betrayal of the Guardian Sneak Preview page to find your nearest shop location and get ready to throw down!
Keep your web browser locked to wowtcg.com for more previews coming from some of the best and brightest of the World of Warcraft TCG community. Tomorrow the Blue team is up to bat asotherwise known as Tim Rivera will be taking a look at some of what the Alliance is getting with the new set.
Until next time, *insert catchphrase from Col. Hix in Aliens* and *insert catchphrase from Garrosh Hellscream*.