Hello everybody. Welcome back to another Fan Community Spotlight, and this is an interesting one. Last time, we interviewed Zozoth to look at his aquatic-themed set, Deepsea Emperium. On this installment, we have Zozoth with us again to talk about the set that comes right after Deepsea Emperium in terms of year content, Crusade of Light.
This expansion follows a "good vs evil" approach in class division, much like Year of the Dragon. This time however, the sides of each class has changed. The evil classes each contain a boss from an old adventure as a Legendary and use the "Lieutenant" cycle, which consist of Rare minions with a keyword ability and an effect calling back to the Classic Legendary of their respective classes. The good classes form the "crusaders of light" and use the "Avenger" cycle, which consists of Rare minions with a keyword ability and an effect if a friendly minion died on the same turn you play it.
In Deepsea Emperium, the "Cleave" mechanic found on cards like Foe Reaper 4000, Cave Hydra and Flamereaper were keyworded. In this set, Elusive (Faerie Dragon, Winged Guardian, etc.) has also been keyworded as "Dispel".
But that's not all in terms of keywords, because this set introduces two brand new keywords, Shaded and Safeguard.
Minions with Shaded will add a 1/1 copy of itself to your hand that cost 1 when they are played (and they lose Shaded). Shaded minions are not found in the good classes, but do appear on Neutral cards.
Minions with Safeguard cannot be damaged for a turn after they are played, although this does not appear to prevent them from being destroy (or affected otherwise) by effects that don't deal damage.
Phew. That was a lot of information about the set to take in, but now it's time for the interview with Zozoth. Enjoy.
Give us a taste of the set. What's the set about? What can we expect to see?
Zozoth: "This is a revival expansion similar to Hearthstone's Rise of Shadows. At the end of the Year of the Dragon, I was a bit disappointed Blizzard did not reintroduce the other adventure bosses like Kel'Thuzad or Nefarian in some way, shape or form. So here I hoped to do justice to the four remaining major Adventure Bosses and give them the revenge they deserve. Similar to Rise of Shadows, the classes representing the evil bosses will have callback cards to the mechanics of that set such as Maraudon Portal or Blackwing's Lair. Additionally, I wanted to give some more representation to the alternate hero skins for the "good" classes, and so one of their two legendry characters will be based on one of the class' skins such as Peacekeepr Tyrande."
What connection (if any) does this have with Deepsea Imperium?
Zozoth: "Unfortunately the expansions this "year" of mine will not have connected lore like the Year of the Dragon. However, I did try to base some of the class cards' effects with Deepsea Imperium in mind. For example, Bog Guardian helps negate the effects of Illia's Torments, or how Courageous Stand can pull any of the minions shuffled in by Righteous Boatswain, as the card will provide a big tempo swing even if the minion summoned is low Cost."
Where does the new Safeguard and Shaded mechanics come from?
Zozoth: "Similar to Rise of Shadow's Lackeys and Twinspell keywords, I wanted to introduce two new keywords that would be specific to both sides of this "conflict", with some cards in neutral such that there would be options for the avid deck theorycrafter.
Safeguard came to me from the "Spirit" cards from Rastakan's Rumble. Here, however I took them one step further by effectively giving them Immune for 1 turn. Naturally, this could be a very risky effect if used too freely, but I did my best to keep the cards simple such that they could not be abused. Overall though, Safeguard works to aid the slower or more vulnerable cards, almost always guaranteeing them the ability to attack with an added benefit such as Skyborn Mystic or get their effect off like Steelforger.
For Shaded, I had the idea for a Twinspell-like effect but for minions. The standard "Twinion" idea seemed overdone and too easy to design for my taste, so I decided to go with the "mini" approach by making the "Shade" of the minion be a 1 1/1. This provides a lot of flexibility, allowing the controlling player to double up on powerful or utility Deathrattles similar to Reborn, or simply to have a 1 mana token with a powerful aura that could be used as a combo finisher."
What is the significance from the Paladin and Priest hero cards?
Zozoth: "I really enjoy the Deathrattle/Resurrect-type Priest deck, although I prefer the swarming type playstyle rather than "just play and Rez big stuff to win!" since designing a Hero Card around that might make a lot of players unhappy. So for Charla's creation, I first designed her Hero Power similar to Lazul's in the Tavern Brawl, since I thought it would be a pretty unique and powerful effect to have in the actual Hearthstone game. I added the refresh effect to help emphasize her use for smaller Deathrattle minions such as Lifekeeper. The player is still free to pull off large Deathrattles such as Radioactive Amber or Vibrant Crusader, as well as any of the powerful Priest minions today such as Convincing Infiltrator or Catrina Muerte, but like with Shadowreaper Anduin, the Hero Power works best with a swarm-type playstyle in mind.
Arthas, Fallen Protector was a bit of a different design process, since Paladin is an "evil" class for this expansion. Before anything, I wanted an Arthas Legendary that could somehow generate the Lich King for a late game value push or even a finisher of sorts. At first, I just had the Hero Card summon him from the Battlecry, but changed it after realizing how simple that effect was. Having the summon tied to a Deathrattle of a high-durability weapon like Twig of the World Tree or Charged Hammer allows for some counterplay from the opponent such as playing high attack Taunts to dissuade weapon uses each turn, or by Freezing your Hero. Naturally, this would promote a rather defensive style of play from the player, and that is where the Hero Power and cards like Bonekeeper come in. Paladin is already a swarm-based class, so upgrading the tokens to 2/2s as well as adding a board buff effect works as a powerful finisher in itself; pressuring the opponent to close out the game as your board gets more and more dangerous every turn. Bonekeeper, on the other hand works like a mini Sunkeeper Tarim, shrinking an enemy minion to a more managable size alongside providing some defensive utility on its own."
What other cards in particular do you wish to highlight for any reason?
Zozoth: "The three cards I had the most fun designing were Lord Malchezaar, Final Hour, and Curved Hatchet.
In keeping with the "revival" theme for Malchezaar, I tried to incorporate a way he could work with random Legendary minions similar to how the original Prince Malchezaar worked. After some redesigns, I eventually settled on a Khadgar-like design which benefitted off of token summoning since Hunter already has a number of cards that synergize with it. Additionally, added a few token-generation cards within my Hunter set to really wrap the archetype together such as Imp-vasion, which could be used for a 10 mana combo. I also designed a lot of these cards with Unseal the Vault in mind, since I personally have a lot of fun playing the quest and wish Blizzard would add more support to it.
Final Hour is flavorful variant of the Warlock card Power Overwhelming that does not extremely limit design space because the minion can’t go face! When designing this card, I wanted to make a Paladin “boardclear” type spell but modified so it fits within the defined Paladin class identity of “controlling the battlefield through debuffs(or buffs in this case) and focused attacks instead of destructive spells”. Its cost is flexible enough to synergize with pretty much any minion in your deck as well as your own Hero Power and the +5/+5 is usually substantial enough to clear an aggro or midrange board if they have committed to it. Very useful with Lifesteal minions such as Zilliax, Crystalsmith Kangor, or even another Paladin set card Duskfallen Crusader for some surprise super healing.
I enjoy Curved Hatchet simply because of the pun in the name, but I feel it could fit well in almost any popular Warrior deck these days due to its specific mana tutor. Ideally, you play this turn 3, attack with it and draw a 4-Cost minion for next turn. Then you play the 4-Cost minion and attack again, triggering the Deathrattle and ensuring another mana-efficient play for the turn after. Of course, the card can also be used in slower decks to guarantee the draw of removal spells such as my 4-Cost Monster Hunt or the ever popular Brawl."
Do you have anything behind the scenes that you wish to share?
Zozoth: "Probably the most unique aspect of this set is the "Curse/Burn Warlock" archetype. I found Curse of Rafaam as a really interesting card back when it was printed for League of Explorers, and tried to design a Warlock deck centered around it similar to how Bomb Warrior worked. Warlock already has a good amount of disruption, so cards like Lilac Manipulator and Lilac Avenger work nicely. The centerpiece Legendary, Nemsy, Soul Twister functions as a finisher of sorts, as her low cost allows for a ton of flexibility and she can be dropped following cards like Ceremony of Curses for a two-card, 4 Mana combo that guarantees 8 damage to the opponent at the start of their turn. It is always difficult to judge the power level of archetypes such as these since there is no real way to test how consistent it would be in the current meta. On one hand, it can function as a sidegrade Bomb Warrior, sacrificing the damage from the token spells for more consistent damage, but it can also fall flat as many of the cards are low tempo and it can be difficult for the player to recover if they are already behind."
Do you have anything else you wish to share?
Zozoth: "Not much else to say here, other than I hope you all enjoyed viewing my expansion! I'm in the makings of brainstorming the third and final expansion for my custom Hearthstone "year" so stay tuned for that!"