(Unfin.) Faction Concept - Ethereal Minds


#1

Hello, fellow Doolists. The recent bloom of a new faction idea created by none other than our glorious @halcyon98 has sparked a long-dead interest in world-building, and here I am. I present to you: The Ethereal Minds. P.S. I did the original whole Shim’zar expansion cards set for his Koralith Depths faction at reply no.44 or something if you’d like to check it out.

Changelog
Professional

July 15th 2018: Refined keyword descriptions, introducing Shardling minion variation, partial construction of Core Set, finished Starter Set and Shim’zar Expansion cards. Also refined the Ethereal Minds E-Guidebook™
July 19th 2018: Added cards for the Ancient Bonds expansion.

Memelog

July 15th 2018: Added possibility to triple, no, quadruple Astral Crusader play rate, Dangerous Texan Building Erections, furries and crystal lolis.
July 19th 2018: Added Vetruvian artifact steal support and more rocks.

History for nerds

Original Idea/ Lore: In the turbulent world of the Duelysts, the magical energy called mana has always been considered to be powerful and respectable by all who harnessed it. This attitude was passed from generations before, where lost stories tell of a race of high purity, with a form barely even physical. These beings are psychic souls of concentrated mana, born from extreme environments that rendered them sentient. The ancestors called them the Minds, and they called this peculiar state of being “Ethereal”. Thus came their identity, the Ethereal Minds.

Once a minority consisting of only a few strong enough to keep their sentience, the Minds grew into a race of decent number thanks to their quasi-immortality. Now they emerge from the shadows to search far and wide for resources to finally develop into a coherent civilization and live recognized by their fellow world-mates.

Characteristics
Visuals

Stark black and white, with mana crystals of colors akin to the in-match UI’s of all shapes and sizes adorning their armor/bodies. Their flashy magicks resemble the floating small blue particles in-match, creating shapes of flowing sparks. Their written language is a flowing river of symbols.

Playstyle

The Ethereal Minds are a deck hard to master for players who focus on specific metas, as they rarely have a strong core card and rely on multi-forking synergies with a lot of intertwining effects. Their keywords also boast a huge possibility quota to add to or improve on in future expansions. The Ethereal Minds are an exceptionally good faction against eye-for-eye cards like Joseki, Bound Tormentor or Reaper of the Nine Moons, as their keywords are exclusive to the faction.

In-Game
Keywords

Reflect: Minions with this keyword mirror the last friendly spell/triggered ability that contains the keyword Reflectable. Fractured Soul is the only exception to this, mirroring a friendly minion’s keywords. If Reflect has no other conditions or not noted otherwise, it acts like an Opening Gambit.
Eg. Reflect(Trigger)

Reflectable: Able to be targeted by Reflect. Some Reflectables are limited to one of the minion’s abilities, as shown: Reflectable(Opening Gambit).

Refract: Minions with this keyword trigger an effect when pulled from the deck while there is a minion with Reflect on board/hand. Refract minions will not reveal themselves if they stay in hand after triggers, instead playing a placeholder spell called Refract, manacost 0, which says: A Refract minion is being triggered.

Disperse: An extra condition to Opening Gambit and Dying Wish, Disperse as a keyword blocks the OG/DW and keywords of a minion unless a minion with Reflect/Refract is on the board, “Dispersing” the lock. Normally these OG/DWs are very useful/powerful. Keyword-wise, its pretty obvious Rush is overpowered so…
Eg. Disperse(Reflect). OG. Rush. / Disperse(Refract). DW. Ranged.
Disperse Dying Wishes do not need to be fulfilled immediately as long as the minion dies while the condition is fulfilled.

Core Focus

Card draw, deck cycling, replaces, consistent card dealing, peaks at midlate and decays towards far late game. No race, but there is a structure archetype.

Shardlings

Shardlings are an unofficial tribe without tribe effects, much like the Songhai Panddos. They are distinct from the other Minds as they have noticeably more crystal content in their bodies.

Generals

They do not have surnames, as they are but singular entities.

Xil’ Zyn (Core General)
Bloodbound Spell: Diffusal
Removes the Disperse on a friendly minion in your hand or on the board.

No’ Xlaph (Denizens of Shim’zar Expansion)
Bloodbound Spell: Soul Splinter
Summon a 1/1 Fractured Soul with Reflect(Keyword).
Note: Fractured Soul is a token, and can reflect multiple keywords at once from the same friendly minion.

Bul’ Zoti (Immortal Vanguard Expansion)
Bloodbound Spell: Temporal Disturbance
Replaces up to two cards in hand and activates any Refracts.

Cards!
Starter Set (7)

These cards provide a rough idea for players who wish to explore the Faction, and as a result these could possibly be easier to use than the later add-ons.

Psychotechnyst (3) 3/1 Minion
Disperse(Refract). Refract: Your next draw will be a card of Epic rarity or above if available. Reflectable.

Shattered Lantern (4) 0/5 Structure
Dying Wish: Reflect(Trigger). Refract: Grant a minion in your hand +1/+2 OR skip to replace to get a Structure from your deck.

Blue Mystblaster (5) 5/5 Minion
Disperse(Refract). Refract: You may summon this minion for 3 mana OR skip to replace itself and another card of your choice.
Note: This means the Refract can only be triggered when you draw this card with a Refract minion on board.

Crystallyne Gazer (2) 1/3 Minion
Trigger Reflect(Spell) if there is another friendly Crystallyne Gazer on the board. Opening Gambit: Replace 2 cards. 1 of them will be a Crystallyne Gazer if available. Reflectable(Opening Gambit).

Manaflow Blessing (2) Spell
Choose a minion. If it has Reflect, give it +1/+2, if it has Refract, give it +1 attack range, and if it has Disperse, give it +2 movement range.

Soul Burn (1) Spell
Dispel a friendly minion and deal 1 damage to it to dispel an enemy minion and deal 2 damage to it. Reflectable.

Ancient Manashard (2) Artifact
Whenever your General destroys an enemy minion, summon a 0/1 Shard Statue Structure with Dying Wish: Reflect(Trigger)

Core Set

The Ethereal Minds’ part in the original grand scheme of things, this may not be completed fully before expansions are released, as the expansions contain much fewer cards.

Swift Shardling (2) 1/1 Epic Minion
Rush. Refract: Grant a random minion in your deck Rush. Reflect(Spell). Reflectable(Refract).

Shardling Burster (4) 3/2 Epic Minion
Disperse(Refract). Ranged. If there are other friendly Ethereal Minds minions with a non-exclusive keyword on the board, this minion gains Flying.
Note: Basically Shardling support.

Resolute Shardling (3) 3/3 Rare Minion
Provoke. Refract: This minion gains Airdrop on the turn you draw it.

Astral Shardling (4) 2/5 Rare Minion
Forcefield. Dying Wish: Reflect(Spell).

Spellgazer (4) 0/8 Epic Structure
Once per turn, when an enemy casts a spell, friendly Structure minions gain +2 Health and take 1 less damage on that turn.

Denizens of Shim'zar Expansion (13 + 1 token)

The Minds are a cultured bunch, and so they follow expansion rules. Shim’zar Faction add-ons always have 4 commons and 3 each of rares, epics, and legendaries, 1 common and 1 rare being Battle Pets. Except for tokens. Screw token rules.

Battle Pets:

Tynk (2) 4/1 Common
Reflect(Trigger). Reflectable.

Logyk (1) 1/3 Rare
Refract: Summon a copy of this minion nearby your General and replace this card.

Minions:

Starguider (5) 5/4 Legendary
Whenever you replace a card, remove Disperse from a random minion in your hand, deck or on the board.

Psychic Shardpyre(6) 0/10 Legendary Structure
Disperse(Reflect). Whenever a Reflect is triggered, draw a card and gain 1 extra chance to replace a card. If this minion’s Disperse is removed by an effect or spell, remove Disperse from a chosen friendly minion in your hand or on the board.

Therian Soulmaster (5) 3/6 Epic
Friendly Battle Pets gain Dying Wish: Reflect(Trigger)

Ghastly Forgesmyth (3) 2/5 Rare
Friendly Structures deal half their damage taken to surrounding enemies.

Manaforged Sentry (4) 0/3 Common Structure
At the start of your turn, deal 1 damage to the enemy with the lowest Health. If the enemy is at 2 health or lower, instantly kill it.

Starklyte Mirage (1) 7/2 Common
This minion has -5 Attack. This debuff decreases every turn for all Starklyte Mirages in your hand, deck, or on the board.

Dimlight Ruin (1) 0/1 Token Structure

Spells:

Primordial Magicks (3) Legendary
A friendly Reflect minion gains: Trigger your Reflect whenever a Refract is triggered. Reflectable.

Shatterpulse (2) Epic
Destroy a friendly minion with Reflect to deal 1.5 times its current Health (rounded up) as damage evenly spread to nearby enemies.

Black Shine (2) Rare
For 1 turn, your General gains Deathwatch: Deal 1 damage to the enemy General and draw a card. Reflectable.

Mind Breaker (1) Common
Destroy a friendly Structure minion to summon a 0/1 Dimlight Ruin Structure in its place and dispel a 2x2 area.

Artifacts:

Arcane Beacon (2) Rare
Your minions take 1 less damage. Structure minions take 2 less. You General takes double damage.

Intertwined Lenses (3) Epic
Minions with Refract without Reflect gain Dying Wish: Reflect(Refract). When you draw a Reflect minion, Refract its Reflect effect.

Ancient Bonds Expansion (5)

The Ancient Bonds were a shitty expansion for an excuse to add in a HELLA AMAZING meta and a beautiful keyword, a conditional Opening Gambit called Bond. Apparently the Minds do have ties with each other. FYI, the Ancient Bonds Expansion is half of the Bloordborn Ancients orb set, the other half being the earlier Rise of the Bloodborn Expansion (sold separately). The Ancient Bonds Faction cards all have 2 commons,1 spell and 1 minion with Bond; 1 rare Artifact, 1 epic and 1 legendary minion. For the Minds it only seemed appropriate to label them Golem instead of Arcanyst, as soul-bound Shardlings have already laid down the foundation for material possession.

Minions:

Mana Hypercollectyve (6) 8/5 Legendary Golem
For every friendly Refract triggered this game by a Golem, this minion gains a random keyword ANYWHERE.

Face of the Shards (4) 5/5 Epic Golem
Disperse(Reflect). Refract: All friendly Golems, and minions with Refract/Reflect/Disperse in your deck, hand or board cost 1 less. Replicate a random Golem from your deck into your deck.

Living Arcanallyte (3) 2/5 Common Golem
Bond: Add extra replaces this turn equal to the amount of Reflects OR Refracts triggered, whichever is more. Refract: Draw a card with Reflect.

Spells:

Soul Watch (2) Common
Dispel a friendly minion. It gains +1/+1 and: “When this minion deals damage, draw a card.”

Artifacts:

Manawoven Shawl (4) Rare
Upon breaking, if your General dealt 5 or more damage(including buffs on your General), draw 2 cards, give a random friendly minion+2/+1, remove Disperse from a random minion in your deck, and gain an extra Replace as a buff on your General that is kept until used or dispelled.


#2

If the minds are only just coming out, would that mean hat they’re lacking a grandmaster?


#3

You flatter me. :sweat_smile:


#4

Really cool ideas so far. I really like the Refract/Reflect mechanic, and a keyword that is a disadvantage and should be removed is also a pretty interesting approach. (I shall assume that minions with Disperse will have very strong abilities to compensate for their Disperse?)


#5

so weird, but weird = good, imo


#6

Disperse relies on a little bit of luck and good mana management to work, but the abilities aren’t really strong, I just tuned them up to higher standards.
The reason for this is that the condition for Disperse (the two exclusive keywords) is gonna be quite common in the Minds list of cards, to contribute to the collective society vibe the Minds have.


#7

Luckily, the lore states that the collective wouldn’t have survived for so long without a Grandmaster to lead them before their Generals were created!

a.k.a. a reasonable lore excuse to add in a grandmaster


#8

Added some cool cards, refined keyword descriptions and introducing Panddo 2.0!


#9

FYI Grandmaster Wackynames will make its comedic debut in our next Core Set addition!


#10

Nice cards. It’s quite interesting how you are able to skip Dying Wish or Refracts to activate another effect. I also like the Battle Pet support in the Shim’Zar cards. Keep up the good work.


#11

Added Ancient Bonds!


#12

Also: Please correct me if the Memelog isn’t high quality enough.


#13
WARNING: LOVING CRITICISM AHEAD. TL;DR: Reflect is cool. Mechanics too reliant on each other. Faction too reliant on mechanics

First of all, I have to say your commitment to organization is very helpful. The changeling is a welcome feature and everything is thankfully easy to find and read. It makes my critique much easier because, unfortunately, I don’t like the core concept of Ethereal Minds.

I appreciate you including a “core focus” section, as it shows a good understanding of how you should structure a faction concept. However, everything in this section is unfortunately unusable. Card draw, cycling, and replace are mechanics available to all factions. Citing them as your “core focus” makes me think of this faction as more of a neutral archetype.
“Draw consistency” as a theme makes the faction very susceptible to breaking with a future expansion. Example: If a strong epic card is given to this faction, it becomes easy to fetch with Psychotechnyst. It’s a cool tool to play with, but should be restricted to higher rarities/mana costs and not be a basic function of the faction’s playstyle.
Choosing a stage of the game for your faction to be good at goes against faction design. Different DECKS may focus on one stage of the game or another, but factions are designed for a diverse range of archetypes that can focus on a diverse range of strategies. You aren’t building just one deck, you’re building a whole faction. Think of it more as a toolkit for deckbuilding, not a Yu-Gi-Oh archetype that has to play all cards at once as a unit.

Reflect is an acceptable keyword. First thing I thought was: it would be really cool to have a 2 mana 2/2 Reflect who can copy my Dancing Blades’ ability on the turn I play him :slight_smile: But then I realized that there were restrictions. And riders. Oh so many riders.
To play Reflect, you first have to play Reflectable cards. To play Refract, you have to play Reflect. And to play Disperse, you have to play either Refract or Reflect, depending on the cards. You might think having all your keywords being so interconnected is a good thing, but its not. All it does is make the faction inaccessible to new players and uninteresting to old ones. Reflect only works with Reflectable, so there’s a limited card pool available for a viable Reflect deck. Playing anything with Disperse(Refract) ends up being a compromise on one of the four mechanics.
Cards that restrict your options instead of opening up new ones (Disperse) are upsetting. Cards that need other cards to be available to do anything other than get replaced away/sit in your hand (Refract/Disperse) are annoying. Cards that gain free value when you simply draw them (Refract) feel unfair. Cards with extra text with no bearing on the board state (Reflectable) are lame. Nothing about this set of mechanics beyond the original idea of Reflect feels good. If Reflect was too strong without the Reflectable rider, then account for it in price.
Also, Reflect/Refract have very similar names (slightly annoying).

I read the Starter Set and decided I couldn’t do individual card reviews for you. As you said yourself, those cards should provide a rough idea of the faction to prospective mains. However, the choices you made there seem designed to show off simultaneously complex and boring effects typically reserved for janky epic buildarounds. Not every card needs to carry one of your frustratingly interconnected keywords. Why, why, why did you think Psychotechnyst was a good idea for a starter card? New players don’t have Epic minions to tutor!!!
Well designed factions have cards like Arclyte Sentinel, which doesn’t overtly combo with any of Lyonar’s core themes but is a key part of the faction’s identity (high health minions, damage buff, and removal all at once). You need more of those simple, effective, evocative cards, and less of these long, text-laden thematic messes.

I’m as much a fan of replace as the next guy, and I’d love to Reflect an Opening Gambit, but your concept, in its current form, is just not fun to read about, and I can’t imagine it being fun to build or play. I think you should take a step back and reevaluate your core mechanics. What would a big, cool minion look like for this faction? What would a cheap, aggressive minion look like? What would a removal spell look like? Cover a few NON-KEYWORDED cards for each deck style to get a feel for the faction, then go back to your mechanical focus and design from the ground up. Or at least, that’s my suggestion.