Hello everybody, welcome back to a special edition of the Fan Community Spotlight - the 20th one here on the site! It looks like somebody has been messing around with the timestream, and I've had to take over for this one. The culprit is none other than Demonxz95's Time Traveler class, which he's been working on for quite some time. Or is it no time at all? Hard to tell, sometimes. Stick around and you'll find out which timeline is the correct one!
The Time Traveler
When playing as a Time Traveler, your default hero is Thomas Temporison, a delightfully dapper looking gentleman.
Your Basic Hero Power is Glimpse, allowing you to take a peek into the future and shift events slightly so that they fall in your favour. The upgraded Hero Power takes this scrying effect from 3 cards to 4 cards, allowing you to plan just a little but further ahead with that Foresight.
The class also comes with its very own Keyword which goes hand-in-hand with the Hero Power. Quick-Time effects activate if the card was added to your hand that turn - which means that card generation effects count - so knowing when you're going to draw something is very handy!
Give us the basics of the Time Traveler class. What's the class fantasy? What are they all about?
Time Travelers are masters of chronomancy and space, bending the very laws of time. In terms of their mechanical gameplay, their mastery over time is illustrated through the game with their strengths in card draw, card generation (a lot of copying), cost reduction, AoE, and removal. Thematically, you can look at a card like Accelerate Time and instantly know exactly what the class is. Their main playstyles go towards control and combol through controlling the board, generating lots of cards and making them easier to play. If you really use all your brainpower, you can find a whole myriad of possible combos in this class.
There's a few different ways that they play with time beside that though. Parallel Dimensions is a shuffle card that gives you a new hand when you play, which can be really useful for Quick-Time. Path to Nowhere similarly allows short-time destruction or a funky way to play with Deathrattles or save a minion. Crystal Phoenix allows you to start your turn over with their Temporal Loop spells, just like Toki in Monster Hunt. The Shadow Dealer will also give you an optional second mulligan at the start of the game.
As far as class weaknesses go, Time Travelers do not have any access to healing (although they do have a small amount of pseudo-healing), and sometimes struggle closing the game if they can't keep minions on the board as most of their damage spells can only target minions.
In ways similar to Priest, Time Travelers are masters at being able to copy their own cards, through cards like Cube of Memories, Sapphire Maiden, Frozen Reflections, Dark Replication, or Riftjumper Vexion. Copying cards is also good for cards like Tharon'ja, the Serpent in which you copy it and play it enough times to win the entire game, or Chronos which reduces the Cost of any cards in your hand that you've already played a copy of this game down to 1 mana. Outside of adding them to your hand, copying is also represented by cards like Theatre Symphonist, Shroud Summoner, Lost Timestone, or Sul the Sandcrawler.
Fitting with their Hero Power, effects based on the top of your deck are also present. My favorites in this regard include Chrono Prophet, Sapphire Maiden, Theatre Symphonist, Guild Teleport, and Astral Summoner.
In terms of their art flavor, Time Traveler has a lot of blue in it, intended to represent rift magic. Outside of that though, they do also have a lot of sand (sand is the element of time after all). In the Basic and Classic sets alone, this can easily be seen in cards like Sand Attack, Sandstorm, Sandmancer, and Temporal Golem. I also wanted to give them a bit of an astral side to them and use the power of space, which thematically would be their whole class theme in Descent of Dragons. Outside of this however, this theme choice is quite noticeable in cards like Black Hole, Astral Storm, Cosmic Portal, and Astrophysicist.
Their primary tribe of choice is Elementals, which goes back to when I designed Rift Elemental as one of the very first cards for the class. Journey to Un'Goro was a very fun expansion in particular where I could design lots of Elemental synergy cards. In that set alone, we have Dunebringer, which functions as a Quick-Time fixer. Aerial Skycutter is an Elemental synergy card giving you a Future Sight (a strong Basic card for the class), Boulder Elemental is a simple enhancer for your on-board Elementals, and Vortex Elemental is a decent Elemental generator (although it does have negative synergy with Fire Fly). One of the earliest cards for the class and one of the most popular during development is Eternos the Time Lord, whom appears in the set and represents absolute control over time through the game itself. Their Un'Goro Quest, Unlock the Rift is also an Elemental synergy card giving you full power over time with the ability to completely restart the entire game over again. Outside of Journey to Un'Goro and specific synergies, they still have access to several other Elemental cards, such as Astral Summoner, Portalwraith, Cosmic Guardian, or Temporal Golem.
How long have you been making cards? How long have you been working on the Time Traveler?
I've been creating my own cards for quite a few years. My first card creations are (as expected), not very good (I'd show them, but I don't have them on this computer). I always loved being able to create my own card designs for games like Yu-Gi-Oh or Magic, so as soon as I found out that HearthCards existed, I was really excited to get into it. I competed in a few competitions before this, but I only really started lifting my nature as a card design and competitor in the WCDCs during the Expansion Comp, where I ended up landing 5th place out of over 100 entries. 1 spot short of the overall finals, but a place I was happy with nonetheless.
Time Traveler was created as a product of the Big Comp that would come after the Expansion Comp, which was "Deathwing Needs a Friendwing", the 4th Class Comp. Chronomancy is one of my favorite types of magic in any form of media, so I ended up gravitating towards that first. I started this shortly after Kobolds & Catacombs released, so I've all in all been doing this class for about 3 and a half years now. If that sounds, let me tell you, it is.
How did you come up with Quick-Time as a keyword?
Quick-Time came around when I was just thinking of what possible time-flavored keyword I could make for the class, akin to Combo for Rogues. Thinking of what mechanics Time Traveler did best in, I landed on Quick-Time when I realized that it was extremely flavorful for the class, and ended up working extremely well with the Hero Power that I had already made for the class.
As soon as I established Quick-Time as a potential keyword, I thought of some early designs, with Rift Elemental, Black Hole, and Demented Lackey being the first Quick-Time cards for the class. After some positive reception of the mechanic and the class as a whole upon initial reveal, that's when I knew that I really had something going. It ended up being a pretty good title for what the effect did as I never once over the course of the competition needed to remind anybody what it did.
What about the Hero Power?
Glimpse and Quick-Time go hand-in-hand. Glimpse was actually the very first thing I made for the class as soon as I knew that I wanted to design a class that focused on time-mechanics. Scry effects have naturally been one of my favorites for card games, and an effect that I've wanted in Hearthstone. As soon as I had this Hero Power in mind, and that it followed all the guidelines for what a class's Basic Hero Power should do, I knew that I was set to go. Finding an upgrade for it was easy and it has a number in it, so I could just easily increase the number.
Future Sight was actually the very first card I made for the class with the same idea. As I had already felt like I had a good Hero Power in mind. Future Sight is pretty much designed as a 0-mana Hero Power with a power spike but it's only a one-time use as it takes up a card slot. It was originally 1 mana, but I realized I needed a 0-mana card for the Basic phase of the competition due to a challenge, and it dawned on me that Future Sight was perfect for that role.
You've updated the class as new expansions come out. Were there any expansions that were particularly tricky to design for?
Entire expansions, no. Tid-bits of expansions, definitely very much so. Lots of things that specifically rely on lore or very intrinsic artwork details proved to be problematic. In Rastakahn's Rumble for instance, it took me quite a while to land on Tharon'ja as the loa for my class, and the art for his Spirit sadly doesn't really match him, but I still feel I did a pretty good job communicating the card.
Year of the Dragon was an interesting case where I decided to join the "good" side as they only had 4 classes, whereas EVIL had 5, so I thought I would balance it out. That worked out, but in Saviors of Uldum, I ran into a situation where the Quest would feature the Legendary minion of the set in their artwork (for the good side), which I knew would be impossible so I simply didn't even bother with that part.
What's also pretty tricky to design for are content for the PvE modes of the game, like Dungeon Run. While Kobolds and Catacombs as far as the normal set goes, wasn't too difficult as I already have good theme, Dungeon Run represented an entire different beast as far as design content goes. Unfortunately, the future sets with this style of gameplay don't get easier to design for.
This class was initially designed for a competition. Were there any unique challenges in designing a class under those conditions?
Designing for a competition put me up against several different competitors all trying to claim the top spot. As a result, there was even more incentive for me to be at the top of my A-game. Despite the fact that I constantly felt like a lot of competing classes outdid me in that department, I ended up lasting throughout and grabbing 5th overall out of 100 entries (for the second time in a row), and feedback from my fellow competitors/friends (everyone who's a regular in the WCDC are all pretty much friends, which I like).
Sometimes the challenges of each phase would force me to build my class in a way that I didn't want to. The worst offender of this was in Phase 4 where I couldn't use Demented Lackey because I needed a card that buffed C'Thun without just giving it a simple +X/+X stat-buff. While it wasn't necessarily difficult to find a solution for this, it did agitate me a bit that I couldn't use one of my favorite cards from the class at the time, and I thought it was a very stupid challenge to begin with. In preparation for Phase 5, I made a card called Robbing Time for a challenge that ended up not getting passed through, but I liked the card enough to keep it.
It's been several years since you first started the class. Are there any things you'd change about the first cards you designed? What do you think you'd have done differently if you started it today?
Honestly, if I were to design this class starting today, I'd probably just design a new class altogether instead of a Time Traveler. In the context of this class though, I think some cards (Banish in particular) could be buffed. Crossfire Bolts would also be replaced for a different, better Basic AoE. A few cards that ended up being similar but worse than cards introduced later (Timemage for instance) would probably also be cut.
If I was designing a different time-themed class, I probably wouldn't add Quick-Time. Designing Quick-Time cards sometimes presents a challenge because you're on a timer to play them, so I wanted to make sure they did something good enough even if you didn't activate Quick-Time, which as a result, often ends up putting cards on to 4 lines of text. I'd also probably try to find a way to not design as much card draw and generation for the class, as they have A LOT of it, more than any other class by quite a bit. I sometimes feel that the class is overwhelmed with its ability to add more cards to your hand.
Do you have anything behind the scenes you want to share with us?
Indeed I do. I have lots of general trivia as far as some of these cards go.
- The name of the hero, Thomas Temporison, was suggested to me by CogitoErgoSum, a friend of mine on the site, and a very strong competitor. Wish she was more active here.
- Astral Summoner was originally in Whispers of the Old Gods before being moved over to Mean Streets of Gadgetzan because I had 3 Epics and chose to move that one.
- Murozond originally had an ability which restricted both players to only be able to play 1 card every turn. Due to negative reception and some anti-synergy with Time Traveler's playstyles, I changed it to its current effect. This is a concept that I would revisit for Frozen Soul (their Lich King boss card), and Temporal Project.
- Another earlier version of Murozond saved your hand instead of your board. This would be something I would use for Sarax's Emergency Rift, their Legendary spell in The Boomsday Project.
- As I was knocked out of the competition as a semi-finalist in 5th place, Chronecromancer, Frozen Reflections, Greased Lightning, and Gorgon Archer are all homages to the top 4 finalists of the competition (Necromancer, Summoner, Chef, and Sea Witch respectively), each with their own Time Traveler twist put on it.
- A few cards (Time Twister and Cosmic Portal immediately come to mind) use art from Magic: The Gathering (Mana Drain and Meletis Astronomer). Sometimes art from MTG, Smite, or similar media can work wonderful for your cards.
- The cards Disturbed Flow, Arch Rivals, and Delayed Reaction are cards that originated from Thepowrofcheese's Chromancer class, which I made here as pretty much an homage to his class.
- I made Chronomantic Arrow about a week or so before Rapid Fire was revealed. I really liked the way Twinspell interacted with Quick-Time, and decided to keep it.
In addition to this, I usually have a few card ideas in my head saved at any given moment for future sets.
What design philosophies do you have that you wish to share and spread to new creators?
One of the absolute best tips I can give you is to start competing in the competitions. Experience and feedback are two important parts of card design, and the competitions will accomplish both at the exact same time, seamlessly, and in a fun environment where you'll meet a lot of nice people. From here is where you'll be able to learn how to make better cards.
Do you have anything else you want to share with us?
A few of my favorite, weird, obscure references come from Aerial Skycutter and Thomas the Endbringer. The name for Aerial Skycutter comes from "Skycutter", a helmet powerup from a Sega Genesis game called Kid Chameleon, which is a really awesome platformer, and a great game for the system that deserves more recognition. Thomas the Endbringer's Concede quote is "My time is up, but yours soon will be too", which is a line spoken by N. Tropy in Crash Bandicoot: Warped. Crash Bandicoot is one of my favorite game franchises, so of course I tried to reference it somewhere. The fact that N. Tropy is also an evil time lord helps too. Cosmic Guardian's flavor text is also a reference to Celtic Guardian from the Yu-Gi-Oh series.
One of my favorite cards that I ended up not mentioning in this interview is Power of Yogg-Saron from Whispers of the Old Gods. I'm particularly fond of the way I was able to use Quick-Time on this card, and it ended up receiving really great reception due to this.
A few cards actually ended up getting printed in some way, notably Parallel Dimensions was one of the first cards I made, and then 2 years later, Plot Twist was printed. As I saw several different people evaluate the effect, I felt really good about myself when I ended up nailing the balance perfectly. I had a similar feeling when Sightless Watcher for the Demon Hunter was revealed.
Also, Keli'dan the Breaker. His effect is literally Quick-Time. When I saw him for the first time, I thought to myself "they actually did it. Quick-Time is in the game!