Design Democracy: Opaline Ambassador
So I’ve been toying around with what I think might just be my best Duelyst design concept for a good long while now, and while I should probably wait until a card design contest comes around where I can submit it I just don’t want to wait anymore. But I’m totes calling dibs on this one u gais (except if ur CPG, then totes gank it bro)!
In this thread I’m calling on you for help to make this–in my opinion–cool design the best it can be to create a card that would not only be played, but would help shape the game state as a whole. A lot of thought goes into making something like this and I hope you’re up for the challenge.
I give you my most recent incarnation of Opaline Ambassador:
Lyonar Epic Minion
5 Mana / 4 Attack / 6 Health
Provoke. Opening Gambit: Effects that would deal damage restore Health instead until the end of your next turn.
The way the effect works currently is as follows: both Generals are enchanted with an effect called ‘Cease Fire!’ that lasts until the end of your next turn after you played the Ambassador. It works like Concealing Shroud does, meaning the enemy can elect to dispel the effect but cannot get rid of it otherwise. Attaching the effect to the enemy General makes it easier for them to use dispel if they want to and avoids anti-synergy with Sunforge Lancer (dispelling multiple effects is very tempting). ‘Cease Fire!’ applies to all effects, meaning spells, minions but also BBS. So Phoenix Fire now heals for three, Frostbone Naga heals everything around her, Abyssal Scar heals for 1. Damage through regular combat is not affected at all, and the game architecture already prevents effect loops (like Sunriser’s). The entire text fits on a card (I checked using DuelystDB’s card creator).
Opaline Ambassador is a regal, stately figure dressed in lavish golden ornamental armor combined with flowing purple robes. An ethereal, detached look is probably best, I have no preference as to whether the Ambassador should be male or female, small or large. Slender women are already strongly represented in Lyonar’s healing component so perhaps a portly gentleman could look nice. I do think the Ambassador should be gray with age.
I set up six distinct design goals that I wanted to achieve with this card that constrain what it can become to quite a significant degree. If you have suggestions it’d be awesome if they line up with them or if you can explain why they don’t. I’ll briefly lay these goals out for you here:
- I want the card to act as a check or counter to currently common deck archetypes. This card punishes decks that rely on effect damage (Spellhai, Drawmar) and instead encourages the use of decks that rely on combat damage. In addition, its stats, Provoke and Opening Gambit promote a slower play style that makes it more difficult to aggressively rush opponents down, punishing aggro decks (Tempo Argeon, Vaath Smash, Faice).
- I want the card to provide further support to Lyonar heal decks. I can’t claim that Healyonar hasn’t been getting any love (quite the contrary), but I believe it’s at a point just barely under where it needs to be to become a more common sight on ladder.
- As a corollary, the card shouldn’t be as useful for Argeon. Lyonar cards that work well with Zir’An have a tendency to work equally well or even better with Argeon, and that’s something I want to avoid. Ironcliffe Guardian should remain Argeon’s staple five-drop whereas this card should be waay more of a common pick for Zir’An.
- Lyonar has plenty of good 2-drops, 3-drops (especially after the release of Scintilla) and 4-drops. 6-and-up-drops aren’t played as often yet, but Lyonar has plenty of good options there as well. It’s the 5 mana slot that’s a little sparse, and Zir’An generally doesn’t make as use of Ironcliffe Guardian as well as Argeon does. 5 mana is the high end cost for a minion that you’re likely to be able to summon during most of your matches, so getting a good one for Healyonar decks seems like it would make sense.
- There’s a tendency for Healyonar cards to work best when played off-curve i.e. a turn or two after the player has enough mana to cast them. This is because these cards tend to rely on combos to get their effects off. While this is fine, the archetype can really use a card that you can play on-curve and is almost always a good thing to play.
- I think the card should have a guaranteed impact: that’s why the card has an Opening Gambit rather than an aura effect: to make it less vulnerable to dispel and removal.
Effect on the Meta
Hopefully, this design would help diversify the ladder experience and promote the use of well-statted minions and archetypes that don’t rely on effect damage to win. I think the card is very fair (perhaps too fair) because the effect only lasts a turn and can be used to the opponent’s benefit as well (Dancing Blades using acupuncture to heal their own minion for 3 for example). All it really does is provide a pretty reliable body and an effect that stalls effect damage for a turn. Cards like Flameblood Warlock and Earth Sister Taygete can be turned against their owner, Bloodrage Mask becomes a downright asset and Punish can be made difficult to use, but it also seriously buffs cards like Elucidator and Draining Wave at the same time.
Opaline Ambassador is a straight check to Decimus decks and hopefully works to stall decks of its kind out for that crucial turn that allows the slower Lyonar deck to stabilize. This has a chilling effect on aggressive decks as a whole, promoting the use of more mid range and even control decks on ladder that don’t mind just building board presence for a turn.
How you can Help
If you’d like to give it I would really appreciate your help in completing this design to account for all its possible (adverse) interactions and judge its actual usefulness within the game. Perhaps the card needs to be changed in some way: perhaps make the OG apply to your own effects as well? Or exempt BBS from the affected effects? Or attach the ‘Cease Fire!’ effect to your own General? Maybe the stats need tweaking? I’d be really interested in hearing what you think.
I limited the OG to enemy effects to avoid cheesing the effect through self-harm minions by the way because it would effectively turn the Ambassador into an off-curve play. In case you were wondering.
I hope to hear your thoughts!