If you could make one card, how would you go about selecting which card to create? For an avid card creator like myself, it was not an easy process. Following Nationals, I had a fairly good idea of what I wanted to make. However, there was a slight problem. As it was, the first card I proposed was very similar to a card already on the list. Presented with the option of going forward with mine (and bumping the other off) or creating a different concept, I chose the latter.
After Nationals, I created several cards in my attempt to find one idea I could grow attached to. I’ve posted many card ideas over the years, and there were several I made last year that I seriously considered (versions of cards like The Triumphant, Angel o’ Might, Zadok, Prophesying Doom, The Flying Scroll, Leviathan, Villain, Wild Parties, and False Peace were among the ones I was most fond of). As a point of interest, one of my favorites of these created cards was the initial Watchman reprint idea that surfaced in the community-card project (and is now a sick promo!). To be thorough, I even went back to my oldest card idea posts (6-7 years ago) to see if I could glean anything from my younger self- stuff like Oil of the Lampstand or Augustus’ Decree still stand out to me as intriguing.
Knowing now what I went with, let me read your mind: “Josh (Master Q), why was the card you ended up deciding to actually create spoiled on the boards all the way back in August?” Was it a trick? A crafty deception? An attempt to throw people off track? Actually, I wouldn’t put it past me…
To dispel these questions, let me rewind to this January’s end. Playtesting was in full force, and I received a troubling message: my card needed reworking. Badly. Though I won’t go into detail here, I will say the way it was likely would have made decks like Mr. E’s 2015 T1-2p abomination run rampant again, giving defenses a power boost the likes of which they’d not yet seen. It was a meta-warping card in the making, though the warp would’ve been less than desirable. That is, unless time-out/lockout games are what the PTB strive for (spoilers: they’re not). In my attempt to make a unique, versatile card to combat hyperactive offenses and encourage unorthodox deck choices, I ended up with a powerhouse staple of pain that begged to be abused. Yikes.
I began to understand the concerns and admitted to myself that this was the inevitable outcome. Several suggestions were made to salvage the card, and, while I believe whatever version we came up with would’ve worked out fine in the end, I wasn’t feeling it anymore. The main reasons for its creation were lost in the process. Fortunately, I was given another choice; a second chance, if you will. If I wanted, we could scrap that card and try another…
Given that my original creation was going to lose its luster -at least, in my eyes- I easily agreed. Still, I was torn when two replacement cards immediately came to mind. Again, I had a choice to make. Without the privilege of an early screening of the new set to guide me (besides a basic knowledge of what the set was going to be about), this choice became less muddled mainly thanks to some further information from the PTB. It’s obvious by now what choice I made:
“An Angel Wars reprint? What?” Yes, I hear your confused cries. “Why not make a new card?” That was my original thought as well, hence my earlier choices, and why I posted the initial version of this card on the forums only weeks after Nats. However, some things about Ends in particular stood out to me when it came time to choose between this and the other replacement card I was considering. Read on, and you might come to see what I mean.
I first thought of this card during Nats booster draft last year, where I experienced some unlucky (though not uncommon) soul-drought during my last two games. In booster draft, nothing’s worse than not having souls to rescue (outside of not having Heroes to rescue with). Unsurprisingly, this translates to all of Redemption. Soul-drought simply does not make for a fun game. Apparently, the playtesters understand this as well, as evidenced by newer cards like Fishers o’ Men, Gideon’s Call, Barnabas, Philip’s Daughters, Melchizedek, and others I’m probably missing designed specifically to mitigate this problem. Recently, they’ve even taken it a step further by adding numerous hard Site counters to ensure that Site-lockout is a less-than reliable deck style. Steps in the right direction; yes. Still, as usual, I wanted all that and more.
So, how best to proceed? Right away I thought of the effectiveness of the Lawless LS and the older, still reliable Revealer LS. During the CoW season, these were the go-to soul-gen cards for me. Why? What separates these cards from the examples above? I think it’s pretty obvious, but I’ll explain with a list!
- Can be played in any deck
- Improve any deck they’re played in
- Flexibility/versatility (ties into #2)
- Easy to trigger
- Hard to protect against (ties into #4)
Out of all the soul-gen cards I’ve mentioned, only the Lost Souls meet all of these criteria perfectly for me. So naturally, I set off to incorporate these points into my card the best I could. Keep in mind while reading that I speak from a T1-centered perspective.
If you couldn’t tell, I have point #1 as the top point for a reason. Chiefly, I wanted reliable soul-gen available for all decks, not just those fortunate enough to play select colors and select Heroes. As well, I wanted an option that would allow you to use your best attack or favorite strategy, rather than a specific Hero that may or may not be the optimal choice. This high playability was the most important aspect, and why making it a multicolored Site was the obvious solution.
#1 and #2 are not necessarily the same thing. For a long time, it was common to see a Dragon Raid (wa) or Ends o’ the Earth (AW) in most offensive decks as insurance against random Sites or Site-lock strategies in general. As the game evolved, however, multicolored Sites lost their relevance. More often than not they were proven to be dead cards as their only function (outside of LS shenanigans) was accessing Sites. Once Sites started falling out of favor with the advent of a slew of multicolored Heroes and other means of access, Dragon Raid (wa), though still playable in any deck, wasn’t really improving those decks anymore. The PTB attempted to rectify this with Dragon Raid (p) by giving it a decently useful ability, but I still have yet to see that card played.
If you’re playing a balanced or offensive deck, the way I see it is this: you may never need access to Sites, but you will always want access to souls. This card fulfills what I want it to do (reliable soul-gen for all) while still retaining the functionality that caused the older multicolored Sites to see heavy play (providing access to Sites in a pinch). Two birds with one card, and two numbers off my list.
#3 may be the most difficult part for any card to attain without being too strong (as was the case with my original shelved idea). The Revealer’s versatility is evident mainly in the multiplayer format, where you hit all players and can choose who to attack if more than one draw a LS. It’s clear, though, that its 2-player brother, the Lawless LS, was my main inspiration. Why is that card so versatile? You’ll see it on The Ends o’ the Earth: the ability to target any player, giving a reward to that player. I’ve used the Lawless LS on myself just as often as I have on my opponent, despite the potential drawback, on the basis of a potentially greater reward. In terms of scope and longevity, Ends is even more effective. I may end up using it on myself more often than not just to get that clutch good Enhancement/Covenant/DAC and/or pull a vital LS to my strategy. Thinking of new cards like Covenant of Prayer, Not Alone, Humble LS, Darkness LS, Gain LS, or the new Seals that this can grab is pretty exciting to me!
The flexibility doesn’t stop there. If you’re using clay or disciples, chances are you’ve got a few missionaries. One of the first things to change from my initial version was the exclusion of the word “lone”, paving the way for you to use a banding chain involving a missionary (Paul, perhaps?). If there’s one card hindering you from rescuing (outside of battle; another change from the original), chances are it can be negated with this and a missionary. The options are limited only to what you deem necessary to negate for that rescue, and it can change from turn-to-turn based on your need; not unlike many other cool cards from this set.
Perhaps the best play and the ultimate example of flexibility comes with the fact that it’s a multicolored Site- you choose when to add it to battle. What makes this card a must-play for me is the option of using it after an opponent uses a card like DoU. Pull up a LS after their characters are gone? Don’t mind if I do! I have a feeling chump block cards like DoU won’t see too much play with the fear of an almost Harvest Time-like ability sitting in the opponent’s territory each turn, potentially waiting for precisely that moment.
#4 and #5 may go hand-in-hand, and, in the example of the two LS I established before, are achieved by the same means. For #4, they are both LS that activate when drawn; an easy enough condition to meet. For #5, they both use reveal as methods to accomplish their goals, an ability not readily protected against. Compare that to another LS that sees a lot of play thanks to its soul-gen powers, the Awake LS. While it can be easy to pull off, it’s not nearly as simple as Revealer or Lawless thanks to its limitation. And, though it searches for exactly the soul you want to get, search is more countered than reveal by far. Though #5 is more uncontrollable and not really as important as #4, when considering something as crucial to deck-building as soul-gen, I would rather have a card that does #4 and #5 well, as this card does. Moses and the FBTN LS shut down my old favorite soul-gen cards, Revealer and Lawless, as well as Awake and the previously-unchallenged champion of soul-gen, the Hopper. Take notes- Moses and the FBTN LS can’t stop this train.
As is with all cards, there is of course the matter of drawing it in time for it to be useful. Pure silver, a deck type most notably known in the past for its lack of soul-gen and poor speed, will likely run this card (possibly alongside Angel o’ Revelation for double the power), especially since they have Angel o’ Warning to search it out to reap its benefits early and often. For all decks, there is a card from CoW that can tutor Ends- a card that I’m sure many people have forgotten about.
Other things to consider relate directly to the symbolism of this card. Immediately, you may be thinking; “Why seven cards?” I more or less wanted this to be a “good” version of the Lawless LS, so seven seemed appropriate since it’s seen as a holy number in many ways. Here, I like to think of it as a tie-in to the seven churches of Revelation and even our seven continents today. Sure, even Antarctica. 😉
For a lot of testing, Ends was not limited to only giving Bible icon cards- it gave good cards. It went on like this until it became more apparent how strong that was when used to pull up, say, a good Dominant every turn. In response, the reveal was dropped to five cards and it retained the ability to hunt for your lambs. When that was shown to still be problematic, and it looked like this time Ends would radically change, we settled on probably what this card was meant to symbolize from the start. Giving a Bible icon card to the revealed player perfectly represents missionaries bringing the Word to save the lost. What a sweet blending of real life and Redemption application!
If you couldn’t tell, I’m grateful for this opportunity, as I’ve been passionate about card design for as long as I’ve played this game. I hope you leave with a deeper understanding of why I chose this card over others. The Ends o’ the Earth is my answer to dreaded soul-drought, while at the same time providing decks a bullet to use against rouge Sites. To put it another way, I thought this would be the best card of my choices for the game as a whole; both what this game needed and deserved- the ultimate access card. The fact it boosts an underused theme and is CBI is simply icing on the cake. If nothing else, it can remove two cards from your deck every turn, without using a draw/search ability to do so (greatly reducing the chance of it being a dead card). Personally, I’ll play it until I have a significant reason not to.
Not all of us are called to be lifelong missionaries abroad, but all of us are called to witness to the lost in our own way. Though this card makes witnessing to Lost Souls in a game easier, realize it’s about more than that, in the end. Throughout life’s troubles, remember:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
I’ll see you all come drafting time!
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