Good day friends, and welcome to another installment of World of Warcraft TCG R&D Blog, where we give you a peek behind the curtain of what goes on inside the hallowed walls of Cryptozoic. My name is Drew Walker, and I'm the Creative Design Lead for World of Warcraft TCG as well as the design lead for Tomb of the Forgotten…I'm also petitioning to have my official title changed to Dragonic Overlord, but that appears to be stuck in limbo for the time being.
As much as I would love to say that I'm here to answer all your dragon related questions, Mike Rosenberg has informed me that until Dragonic Overlord is my official title, I'm not allowed to make a blog post about dragons. I guess I'll just have to regale you with splendiferous tales about the making of Tomb, from where it started to where it finished.
From the beginning of the block, we knew that Uldum was going to be the focus zone of the third set, and we had already decided on Monster races for all of the classes. Monster Paladin being the trickiest, we had to nail this down at the very beginning or Monsters might not have ever made it. Thankfully, the Tol'vir was a Monster race that was dealing holy damage in the MMO, so we sort of lucked our way into being able to justify Monster Paladins. We also knew that the focus of the set, much like the previous two sets, was going to be class matters and Monsters. There was also a loose Earthern Ring theme (briefly there was talks of having some stories for them) going on that started in Throne, and the intended payoff for the Earthern Ring was going to be Thrall and Aggra. We wanted to tie in as many relevant MMO themes that were going on in Uldum and during patch 4.1, so ultimately that's how the Constructs, the Thrall Aspects, and a lot of the equipment ended up in the set.
A Gift of Stone
If a djinn with magical wish-granting powers showed up and offered you one wish, what would you wish for? Obviously I'd wish to become the king of dragons, but the Tol'vir had something else in mind when Siamat showed up. I won't go into too much detail about their past, but basically, the Tol'vir got hit by the Curse of Flesh, just like the Gnomes and Dwarves did. Some of them wanted their stoneforms back, so they agreed to Siamat's offer and joined Deathwing's troops only to later turn on Siamat. This group of Tol'vir would become known as the Neferset, and in the MMO, you spend much of your time in Uldum dealing with them.
That being said, Tol'vir have feline heads, humanoid torsos, and feline bodies in a centaur-esque form, and some of them have wings. So these guys should design themselves, right? Stealth for the cat part, Hardiness for the stone part, and viola!
Clearly that wasn't going to cut it, so I went and delved a little deeper to try and find some inspiration for them. I knew I had seen something similar to these guys before, and after a little searching, I found that Obsidian Destroyers in Ahn'qiraj and from WarCraft 3 were actually Tol'vir that had been enslaved. For anyone not down with the Lore, Obsidian Destroyers basically crave and absorb mana. This pushed me to try a keyword, called Surge, that allowed them to get empowered by revealing random cards from your hand and getting a payoff if you hit. Take a peek at www.mywowtcg.com and you can see a card that originally had Surge on it; that card eventually became . The keyword had some success, and pushed people to build specific types of decks to get the Tol'vir to go off, but after a few team discussions, we ultimately felt that it was too close to the feelings that you get from Enrage (an emotional state that you get a majority of mileage out of the first time you do it, and it is significantly less fun/exciting/interesting the next time you try it within the same set/block), and that we didn't want another deckbuilding type of keyword because we just had Harmonize.
Keep it Simple
We spent some time trying to think about the Tol'vir, specifically how we wanted them to play and how we could get them to promote the block. Through what can only be described as the love child of Patrick Sullivan and myself, the present day Tol'vir were born. I realized that we had a good case to make some dual-class allies, which would go a long way into promoting class matters and to helping splash some of the Empower allies and abilities into different classes, and Patrick realized that we had a text box that we have used a bunch of times, without keywording it, that could promote a lot of themes we had setup for the block, while also being a workhorse in Limited. And so Sentinel was born, and the Tol'vir became dual-class allies (which then led to the inclusion of dual-class heroes). We chose the word Sentinel because the Tol'vir were charged with guarding the ancient titan technology that's housed within Uldum, and the Sentinel keyword mixed with Protector goes a long way to showing that these guardians are not to be taken lightly.
So there you have it, the brief history of the Tol'vir. Hopefully this helped shed some light on what it is that we do, and I'll be back next week to talk about something else that Rosenberg has probably told me about, that I somehow managed to forget. It's probably my subconscious trying to get my hopes up that he will ask me to write about dragons next time. (Editor's note: It's not about dragons.)