So for this week’s R&D Blog you’re going to have to hear what I have to say. I am Dan Clark, the newest member of R&D. Luckily for me all I had to do to get the job was beat Patrick Sullivan in basketball, bench press more than Drew Walker, be taller than Ben Stoll (this was the toughest one) and Phil Cape helped me defeat these knuckle-draggers through mostly subterfuge and sabotage.
Anyway I’ve been playing the World of Warcraft TCG since Heroes of Azeroth. I’ve had a little success here and there but nothing to get excited about. If I had to describe myself though, more so than anything else is the fact that I will only play decks that I have had a hand in building and isn’t in the mainstream. Once something is proven as a deck I will have almost no interest in ever playing it, which leads to quite a few “underdog” decks. Winning isn’t the most important to me. It's playing what I want to play.
Anyways that is just a little bit about me. What I would like to talk about this week is just what goes on here from my point of view. Coming in I had pre-conceived notions on how a lot of thought went in to each set (I Know, obviously a lot of thought is put in) but now that I am here and have the chance to ask everything from “What’s the deal with Edwin?” to “Why was Blade of the Burning Sun even made?”, I can see that what my expectations were had been far exceeded. From top to bottom nearly every card of every set has been analyzed over and over again, and goes through many different variations from start to finish. Also it is kept in mind to look at the card from as many different points of view as possible, from the most casual of players to the highest level of competition.
is one card that, when I looked at it, I wondered how exactly the card, its effects, and its numbers came to be. They are not just arbitrarily like that. So luckily for me each card actually contains a history as to each variation the card went through.
The first iteration of Ice barrier cost five and entered play with eight ice counters, and when your hero would be dealt damage, you removed that many counters. Now, the issue with this is that you know exactly how much damage this card will prevent, so there is no mystery behind evaluating the card. From there it changed to "if damage would be dealt to your hero, remove a counter and prevent that damage". The upside with this is that it could prevent anywhere from 8 to probably something like 20 damage. The downside is that eight counters is a lot to work through and the opponent doesn’t feel like they have an incentive to get it off the board past wanting to just finish the game, so they might just look for something that destroys an ability.
After R&D decided they weren’t happy with those designs, they tried these. Four cost and Ongoing: If your hero would be dealt damage on an opponent’s turn prevent it and deal that damage back to the source. Destroy this at the start of your turn. Now that basically equates to the opponent not attacking with allies .
The next version still cost four but when you play this you may pay 3 any number of times to put that many ice counters on the card. If your hero would be dealt damage, remove a counter to prevent it, and deal 1 to each opposing ally, and draw a card. Now that obviously is very expensive and makes the opponent never want to attack which is not a good feeling when playing the game. That wouldn't work either.
At that point, they went back to each counter preventing one point, but it came in with ten counter, and it got five more counters at the start of the turn. So the opponent just has to work at removing the counters to destroy the card. With this though, if left unanswered, it can just build up a massive shield, particularly true with multiple copies. They tried fixing it to only go back up to ten counters so it doesn’t get out of control but if the opponent doesn’t remove all ten they will feel like they have made no progress. So they scaled it down a bit and made it cost three and come in with six counters, and the counters would be restored if any were remaining at the start of your turn. It's better and easier to deal with but there is not really any real incentive for the opponent to remove it from the board.
Then it got the deal 5 damage to a hero clause instead of re-growing the counters. However, having each counter only prevent a point made it too easy to just attack through. So from there, we arrived at the beauty of entering play with three counters (not tiring for an opponent to work through), each counter prevents a damage packet (which leaves variance with not knowing exactly how much damage it will prevent), and dealing 5 to an opposing hero at the start of your turn (making the opponent feel like they have a reason to deal damage even though it will be prevented, and it also lets the Ice Barrier controller feel like they are progressing in the game).
I thought this was an excellent example of the thought put into each card and the experience associated with each effect. I am just glad to be a part of this process and to add as much input as possible for making each and every card, set, starter, and raid (good work PHIL!!) as fun and interactive as possible.
Thanks for reading and I’m sure you will hear from me again.