Tuesday, 14 February 2023 13:10

Homarids and Viscerids: How WotC tried to dodge a hated creature type

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Artwork for Viscerid Drone (Alliances). Artwork for Viscerid Drone (Alliances). WOTC/HEATHER HUDSON

Magic: The Gathering has had a long list of creature types, with the game either using or not using them again based on their popularity.

Dragons, for example, seem always popular, while types, such as beebles, were so unpopular that an entire scale was named after them to see if creatures will ever be used again.

But what happens when Wizards of the Coast completely plans out several cards for a creature they didn't realize (during development) was very unpopular with players, only to find out too late into the process to be able remove or replace the cards from the set?

Do they keep them? Force a last-second replacement? Well, in 1996's Alliances, the answer was both.

Homarid WarriorIntroduced in 1994's Fallen Empires, homarids were a lobster-like creature unveiled as an in-color villain creature type for the set's merfolk. There was a problem, however, as players simply didn't like them.

The giant lobsters just were woefully underpowered and, largely, not seen as a threat. In short, homarids just were not aesthetically pleasing and rather boring. Maybe it's a good thing WotC only printed four homarid cards in Fallen Empires plus one card, Homarid Spawning Bed, which made camarid tokens (which were supposed to represent young homarids).

And that's where the homarids ended.

Except not really.

When Alliances started to go through playtesting in 1996, WotC they included a couple of homarids in the set. Guess what? They folks weren't too happy about it.

If you can catch this early on, you know, you can change it around. This feedback, though, was takin in a tad too late, though, with the cards all but finalized and art all ready good to go.

So, what did WotC do? Simple. They just changed the cards' names.

Viscerid DroneHomarid Armor and Homarid Drone simply got renamed Viscerid Armor and Viscerid Drone (despite the former's creature type remaining "homarid").

What's a viscerid you may ask? Well, it's because the homarids migrated to the Visceral Sea and was re-named by the locals there who didn't know any better. No, really.  That's the explanation. And if you look at the storyline, it kind of makes sense.

Wizards of the Coast more-or-less retired the creature type at that point, and it would remain retired until 2006's Time Spiral when the card Viscerid Deepwalker was printed for nostalgia's sake. Twelve years later, one more homarid joined the pool (as it were) in the Dominaria card Homarid Explorer, with one more, the Mystery Booster playtest card, Khod, Etlan Shiis Envoy, being printed.

Will we see more homarids printed in the future? Time will tell, but it begs the question: What would a compleated homarid be like?