With the new expansion on the horizon, and the spoiled cards shining gloriously- I thought to, as a player perform a thought experiment concerned with utilizing existing design space (my favorite exercise.)
Something strange occurred to me, how some cards push a certain General too hard, or under-utilize the flavor or mechanics behind bloodborn spells. Like, how in a Zi’Ran deck, Holy Immolation allows the player to push needed damage, or create board control. In Argeon, however. it’s a nuke spell to utilize with an overly-generous abundance of Provoke minions, to push silly amounts of damage and finish with the Tiger+Roar combo (sick value, sick flavor). In Kaleos, Juxtaposition is an omnitool to put your units in favorable positions and the opponent’s in unfavorable ones- but in Reva, it’s just another way to activate Mask, Magi, or hide a Heartseeker/Magi.
So, then why doesn’t it stand to split some faction cards into a mode for each of their Generals, as a means of balancing elements without destroying an entire faction in the process- or even to just expand the flavor built into every general, making the differences deeper than just Bloodborn spells!
Target minion gets +5 Health, and gains Flying
Your general gains Flying this turn. Draw a card.
In this example, we created a “Sajj Mode” for Astral Phasing, that allows Sajj to manage the ever-present hole in her kit that Zirix would normally handle with further board development. The nightmare scenario with the Sajj variant would be the hypothetical involving extreme Wildfire Ankh kiting. Though, that strategy generally tends to involve sacrificing the mana tiles and center board control- so it would probably be a non-issue for Non-GigaVaath decks. Also, Rust Crawler is still waiting in the wings for an artifact deck that pushes too hard.
Some faction spells/minions are already tailored to work for one General. So, why not introduce a second side to these cards to expand the utilities to under-supported Generals, or Generals with situational Bloodborn Spells? Why not try improve the experience by letting each General handle things just a little differently than their companion? The flavor can make the generals more unique than “Faction General 1” and “Faction General 2”.
With this, the actual number of cards implemented into the game, isn’t effected. Allowing for flavorful designs to occupy used card slots, without the need to implement a larger number of art/name assets. The UI implemented here could also be rather minimal, showing the card twice when opened, or displaying only the active mode when deckbuilding with a General selected.
This will allow balance oriented fixes to deny a specific General from an effect that they might push too hard (EG, Reva’s usage of Saberspine Seal and Mana Vortex.) The idea here, isn’t to to have any instances of a card being nerfed when used with a specific General- but to have 2 “sides” to the same flavor of spell or minion. For example, an alternative Holy Immolation for Argeon, or an alternative Visionar for Vaath (both situations that are sensible for entirely different reasons.)
The duality of the General paradigm could do to be given more in the way of legs.
If it would tickle you guys, I’d really like to see your own examples of creative flip-sides to cards which might not perform for one General, or would make sense as a fundamentally different tool for one of the faction Generals in the comments!