Famous Last Words

Hi all. In a recent episode of Maro’s podcast, I heard explained that Fateful Hour wasn’t popular because players are too optimistic. I felt it was a bit dismissive and I wanted to create some more designs to make the mechanic more attractive. I’ll be honest, my conclusions weren’t too far off in the end, but I had fun along the way. Let’s see what I produced.

The problem with Fateful Hour is not quite that it doesn’t do anything most of the time, but it only synergizes with dying. Not exactly a feel good mechanic. It also only applies at the last second in the game, so either it barely saves you – not many card save you when you are about to die – or it kind of did nothing. So I went after this week’s assignment from two angles. First, make fun cards that just use the mechanic in an interesting way, and second try to create some real life saviours.

Thraben IncanterThraben Incanter is of the first kind. For some reason it was the first thing I came up with when I thought of the mechanic. Honestly, a bunch of extra mana is not exactly what you want when about to die, but I do think the concept is fairly elegantly implemented here.
First, I had to make the mana elf less powerful to being with, so that at the end of the day the balance is fine. A 0/1 making colorless mana isn’t quite constructed playable but it’s tolerable in some limited environments. If you are near death though, it’ll make you 4 mana! I went for 4 as I figured 3 wasn’t yet overly impressive for green, keeping in mind Somberwald Sage from the same block.

Patient WarleaderPatient Warleader is a first attempt at making Fateful Hour actually save you. I like that it’s a playable card without it too. In its original form it is pretty similar to Archetype or Courage, with a toughness bonus that might have been overkill. I really like that French Vanilla body and wanted to implement it for a while.
Now when you reach the 5 life mark, things get real interesting. 2 soldiers a turn, when they have first strike, can be big deal! I love the idea of defensive first strike too. Outside of Innistrad, more powerful soldiers – not to mention Elspeth – might make this card too good, otherwise I would have told you that the power level is similar to that of Stromkirk Captain.

One thing that will happen when trying to make a last resort mechanic more exciting, is we run into Timmy type of cards.

Thraben MartyrThraben Martyr is the Timmiest of them all. In his original form he is pretty boring, which is also some issue I ran into when making Fateful Hour cards. I do believe it might be a concession to make if I want to make the alternate mode more exciting, don’t you think?

Paragon of Sacrifice is a different story. He’s an angel, a fairly large one, and he can lifelink you out of danger! There is a catch though: to get that effect you will have to put yourself even more in danger by paying some life, when your total is already terribly low. Red deck are going to love that. To balance this design, I kept in mind the similar and contemporary to Innistrad Blood Baron of Vizkopa.
I decided that the setup cost was such that I wanted my Martyr to turn into something bigger than Baron. When I looked at what kind of creature that would make, I bumped the activation cost from 1 to 2. Would you say it was wise? The good thing with this card is it will be a big blocker by just a flip of a switch, as long as you are at low life. It is most likely still quite risky to attempt it, but I like the card.

And that wraps it up for today. Hope you enjoyed, it’s time for me to get back to work! Have a great one, I’ll see you in 7 days.

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