Nobody enjoys going to school, and education has gotten a bit crazy due to our current world situations, relegating students to online classes. While you're online though, and before you click off of this article because I brought up school, just stick with me for a bit because our next Fan Community Spotlight is on a school-themed set called Ascella Academy made by Phoenix, aka Nix or Phoenixfeather (whom I've previously showcased another set of his on this series, Syndicate of the Mourning Sun).
Being that it's a Hearthstone set, it's not going to be some normal boring school with the normal boring school problems. No. Instead, this is a "cool" school full of magic and mysteries (no, this is not Hogwarts). Magically, this set has a keyword called Conjure which adds a copy of a card within the specified parameter, although it will disappear at the end of the turn.
Give us a taste of the set. What's it about? What will we see?
Nix: "Ascella Academy is a set about learning. There are students, academic archetypes, book titles (when I could sneak them in). Every class roughly personifies a subject. Hunters for engineering. Mages for math. Warlocks for english (ew). You’ll see students and teachers, some human, most less so, all in the pursuit of knowledge through different ways."
Where does the Conjure mechanic come from?
Nix: "Conjure adds a card to your hand, but it disappears at the end of turn. I’m not sure where I originally saw the Conjure mechanic. I’m sure others have done mechanics that perform similarly. The pure simplicity and versatility of it was what drew my eye."
One thing I really like about this set is the "Spend X Mana" cards. How did these come into fruition?
Nix: "Kicker (spending X more) is a very popular Magic the Gathering effect. However, its main issue from being evergreen was that the mechanic was poorly defined in identity. Kicker was almost too versatile. I translated it into a Hearthstone mechanic, spreading it around a dozen or so cards. I feel like, for the most part, it worked quite successfully."
One thing that is very notable to me, given this set's release date, is the amount of art used from Legends of Runeterra. Did they just happen to fit perfectly with what you were trying to do with the set?
Nix: "Haha. I was scrolling through many art galleries, one of them being art from Legends of Runeterra. Many of them seemed to just fit with the theme I was going with, so I put them in. So, really, everything was pure coincidence."
How difficult was it to make the set around this theme?
Nix: "I draw inspiration from the events around myself. This set was created whilst I was in a particularly stressful stretch of school (College Apps). All the pressures inspired me to make Hearthstone cards as an output (I’m sorry parents, I wasn’t actually writing essays). I started thinking about how school-based archetypes, like procrastination, stress, or literature terms could possibly translate into working Hearthstone mechanics. After a while, the ideas just flowed, one after another."
There are a lot of interesting cards here. What are your favorites among them that you want to show?
Nix: "My most favorite card in this set is Ink Into Reality. Oh my. I spent many hours tinkering with the wording to make sure it had its intended effect - without flowing into the fourth line of text. Yeah. Not sure what more to say about it.
Dramatic Entrance, Supply and Demand, and Cygnus are a few more of my favorites. Dramatic Entrance requires players to have another - preferably large - minion to hopefully clear the board. Supply and Demand encourages having a larger hand, yet each card drawn provides significantly less value for every card already in your hand. Cygnus plays on the Conjure mechanic - which is effectively useless when triggered during your opponent’s turn, but offers a 2 Mana 4/4 with Rush if you manage to remove it on yours. All of them require you to think before they’re played, about how their value can be maximized in every scenario. In a void, they’re weak and ineffective, but powerful when used in combination with existing Hearthstone cards."
And that would do it for this installment. Be sure to check out the full set, and maybe you might learn something from it. After all, what would a school-themed set be if you didn't learn something from it?