So, a while ago Extra Credits streamed some play of Infinity Wars. One of the things they mentioned in passing was the abundance of keywords. At first, I didn't think about it that much – until I took a look through my collection. Among the 441 cards non-order cards (418 of which are ranked-legal), there are 21 keywords (1 of which – Opening – doesn't exist on ranked-legal cards). This amount doesn't seem that huge, at first (even though, compared to several TCGs, it kind of is, especially if we take the amount of cards into account). However, more importantly, a lot of the keywords are either confusing or unnecessary. These are the ones I think need a closer look:Reach
– Exists on very few cards (actually, I can only think of one where it's keyworded). Its un-keyworded form (as seen on, for example, Defense Golem) isn’t long either. You could get rid of it and nothing bad would happen.Enrage
– With the reminder text that's printed on every card with Enrage, it’s actually longer than an accurate description would be if the keyword didn't exist. Scrap the keyword, it's one less word for new players to have to learn and you'll save card space.Infect
– When you have a card that actually says both “Infect” and “When this character kills another character, that character is raised to your support zone under your control”, that's a sign that not only are you doing it wrong
on a fundamental level, but also that the keyword probably isn’t necessary anyway (especially considering only 3 cards use it).Immolate
– First of all, not letting us see whether a card has been immolated is just silly. Second, consider whether immolation and poison have to be different. Third, if Immolated becomes a keyword (or is replaced with Poisoned), consider whether Immolate has to be a keyword or if it could be replaced with "Characters damaged by (this character) gain Immolated/Poisoned X"Two Lives
– It's confusing. The text says that when the card would die, it loses a life instead. But when that happens, the Two Lives effect disappears, wouldn't that mean it lost two lives? And if it only loses one life, why does it die the second time it would die? It should lose a second life before dying, since it had two at first and shouldn't die if it still has lives left. Rename it, change the description or just remove it entirely – the game doesn't need a keyword to describe two cards.Bloodthirst
– If a character gain +2/+2, takes 2 damage and then gets -2/-2, they will have lower health than they started with. Unless the +2/+2 and -2/-2 were from Bloodthirst 2. While this makes bloodthirst more useful, it’s inconsistent with other similar mechanics. Besides, the +health could be replaced with just straight-up reducing combat damage and have the same exact effect while requiring less text to accurately convey.Plunder
– There are three cards with it, none of which have particularly complex effects. It's not a very interesting effect either and I see no way in which it gains from being a keyword. Get rid of it.Ascended
– Despite the name, I really hope this isn’t an Overseers-only keyword. Lots of existing cards could be cleaned up by using it, such as Vasir Chained and the Enrage characters. It could probably be useful for a lot of future cards as well. Nothing that really needs changing about it at the moment, just something to keep in mind.Multistrike
– A character not having a keyword implies it having a value of 0. Since a character with Multistrike 2 attacks 2 times, characters with Multistrike 0 (i.e. characters without Multistrike listed) would logically attack 0 times, but they do attack. This’d be much less confusing if Multistrike X meant attacking X additional
times rather than attacking X times in total.
Also, I'm not sure this needs to be a keyword (especially considering how rare it is), but I suppose it makes Swift Strikes easier for the game to handle (considering how silly Alpha One and Bloodbath are).Poisoned
– Why is this even separate from being Immolated, again?Shield
– While this effect probably doesn’t need to be a keyword, the cards that use it don’t exactly have space to spare. I’ll let this one slide out of necessity (can’t have the card text completely cover the pretty pictures, can we?
If you have plans for Missions without Opening, let it stay. If not, make it an inherent part of being a Mission, since it only works well with those (characters would be 0/1 only, Locations would be awkward and Abilities would be nonsensical)
Actually, since writing this, I noticed that it could work really well with Artifacts as well and that missions both with and without it could be perfectly awesome. After some thought, I think Opening is fine, once it exists on more than one card. Also, this game needs more Missions.
So, why should this happen? Good question. Except, you know, nobody actually asked it because I wrote this before I posted it.
First of all, cleaning up keywords that are confusing, inconsistent or overall poor is something that needs to be done, no way around it and no excuses. Fixing a card fixes one single card, fixing a keyword fixes several cards. Granted, that "several" usually about 3 or 4, but that's still more than 1!
Second, reducing the number of keywords is a good thing. Every keyword is something a new player has to learn and the less you force them to memorise what particular words mean in particular circumstances, the more time they get to learn and enjoy the actual game. Introduce new keywords when you need them, don't just go throwing keywords at every card you make.
Third, if this doesn't happen before release, you leave me no option but to capture Skraar and send him to you by mail. You have been warned.