Agents are mysterious figures. Some say they represent a secret government organization whose task it is to keep the public in the dark about the paranormal and especially extraterrestrial realities around us. Others say these men in black are themselves supernatural entities, whether time-travelers or alien-human hybrids meant to manipulate. Only one thing is certain; where unexplained phenomena are afoot, the agents are sure not to be far behind.
The Agent has a number of unique class elements: Files, the Cover Up keyword, Half-Secrets, and Aliens. Let's get started taking a look at these more in depth...
HERO POWER & FILES
The Agent's basic Hero Power is Clearance, which adds a copy of the File token to their hand (the File token is not a collectible card). This Hero Power is most comparable to the Warlock power, though it sacrifices the immediate and inexpensive nature of Life Tap in order to avoid damage and potentially play around with Spell synergy. Justicar Trueheart grants the Full Access hero power.
THE "COVER UP" KEYWORD
Cover Up Removes something from the game, until a specific action occurs.
Most of this is rather intuitive, but it pays to be thorough when defining an all new game mechanic.
A Covered Up game element is removed from the game. Thus, it does not count against any game limits and cannot be affected as though it were in play. A Covered Up minion that was removed from the battlefield does not count against your number of minions, and it would not be damaged by something like Flamestrike. A Covered Up card that was removed from your hand does not count against your hand size limit, and it could not be discarded by something like Doomguard. A Covered Up card that was removed from your deck would not be counted by something like Reno Jackson. You get the picture.
Covered Up game elements are visible to players in a new, separate UI area that I have not visually designed because my artistic skills are poor. Covered Up elements appear to each player just as they did before they were removed from the game. That is to say, for example, that a Covered Up card from your opponent's hand would be visible face-up to them but only visible face-down to you. Hovering over a Covered Up element will also show the effect that Covered it Up, so you can always check how to recover a Covered Up element.
A Covered Up game elements returns in the same state as when it left. For example, a card in hand whose Cost was reduced by Emperor Thaurissan returns with its Cost still reduced, and a minion that had been given Taunt by Sunfury Protector will retain Taunt upon its return. Covered Up game elements return as though they were newly added to the game. That is to say, returned minions from the battlefield appear to the right (and cannot attack immediately unless they have Charge), returned cards from your hand are added to the right, and returned cards from your deck are shuffled in. If a returning game element would exceed some game limit, like your limit of minions on the battlefield or your hand size limit, it is instead destroyed. The exceptions to this will be Hero Powers and equipped weapons, as newly gaining one of those normally destroys and replaces an existing one.
The purpose of the Cover Up keyword is to allow temporary and conditional removal of game elements. Most uniquely, it allows for "hand attacks" and "deck attack" (game effects that "discard" cards from your hand and/or deck) that actually allow for recovery and counter-play. The full potential of the Cover Up keyword has not nearly been explored. While there are currently cards that can Cover Up minion, Secrets, cards in hand, cards in deck, and even Hero Powers, there's also potential, for example, for cards that Cover Up weapons or mana crystals. That the mechanic is so versatile and adds so many potential new strategies to the game is why I like it so much.
The Agent's Secret spells are unique because they all have "Deal 2 damage" as an immediate, non-Secret function. This means that, unlike other classes' Secrets, the Agent's don't necessarily lose you tempo when played. It is worth mentioning that, when put into the battlefield by Mad Scientist or Shrouded Conspirator, the "Deal 2 damage" portion of these Secrets will simply not occur.
As Warlocks have Demons and Shamans have totem, so do Agents have Aliens. There's nothing particularly outlandish about them. Well, I mean other than that they're aliens, of course.
OTHER SIGNIFICANT CARDS
If you don't take a look at the Agent's complete collection, at least also look at these cards, which form particularly important or interesting parts of the Agent's repertoire, despite being outside of any of the other above gimmicks.
Curse of Naxxramas Set:
Goblins vs Gnomes Set:
Blackrock Mountain Set:
The Grand Tournament Set:
League of Explorers Set:
Area of Effect
I do not believe that Agents could pull off aggro decks very well. With their inherent abundance of low-damage options in the form of half-Secrets, though, as well as an abundance of reasonable AoE options (particularly Chemtrails (Classic)),they could be extremely strong against aggro while themselves excelling best with Control and Combo decks.
Combo decks in particular require special attention in order to ensure that they don't become to overwhelming, and that's not always easy to get right. I'm going to be up-front and admit that the Agent does have have large burst and even OTKO potential. In my defense, however, so do plenty of existing classes if given enough cards, like Oil Rogue and Worgen Warrior, and I don't believe that the Agent accomplishes this with significantly less risk or difficulty.
The main culprits of the Agent's combo pieces, whether for OTKO or more likely just for a bit late-game burst, are its cost-reduction options (Crop Circle (Basic), Autopsy (Naxx), and Ancient Landing Site (LoE)), and Mutilation (Basic). Mutilation especially is an Agent win condition regardless of deck type, same as Fireball is a win condition for Mage regardless of deck type. While Mutilation by itself is technically balanced, I have taken special care because of its mere existence to avoid giving the Agent much of any other easy sources of significant face damage. I imagine Ancient Landing Site would be particularly well-used for summoning Alexstrasza or Malygos, but then again saving such a potent tempo card for late in the game will be about as easy and risky for Agents as saving Innervate for the late game is for Druids or saving Preparation for the late game is for Rogues. It's certainly the sort of thing that looks potentially overpowered on paper, but lots of similar things already exist in the game that turn out not to be reliable enough in practice, like Malygos Rogue, so I hope that this big combo burst potential can be seen as a feature rather than as a mark against the class. What can I say? Combo classes are very difficult and delicate to balance. >.<
Other than that, the Agent also has some very unique capabilities to make use of existing spell synergy cards. Because their Hero Power produces 1-mana spells and because they have a good number of 0-cost spells, as well as Crash Debris (GvG) producing Spare Parts, I think they could pull off some interesting things with Mana Addict, Violet Teacher, Gadgetzan Auctioneer, and its own Anunnaki Progenator, especially when you throw in Confidential (Classic) to Cover Up your minions and give them what amounts to a super-Conceal, even if only for 1 target. I'm not quite sure I can predict how these interactions would turn out, but one thing that I think is important and fun when creating custom classes is not just to make it self-contained but also to make it do interesting and unique stuff with existing cards, so this is sort of my attempt at that.
Speaking of design considerations, I want to say a quick word about my Half-Secrets. These were hard to design. Like, super hard. I might have bitten off a bit more than I could chew, to be honest. I like the concept of Half-Secrets a lot, both in that they're Secrets that don't necessarily result in tempo loss and in that they allow keeping the current trend of no Secret classes having the same-cost Secrets without creating 4+-mana Secrets that would be too powerful if pulled by Mad Scientist or creating 0-mana Secrets that would just be a rehash of what I already did with my Seer class (see my sig). What makes them hard to design, though, is that Secrets already are wordier than most other cards because of their inherent nature of not only needing to describe an effect but also a trigger, and so adding a mandatory "Deal 2 damage" in front of that makes them even harder to get concise, forcing me to lean towards very simple triggers and effects or else end up with crowded card text (like with "Weather Balloon" (Classic)) or non-standard card wording (like with Montauk Project (TGT)). I completely understand if some folks aren't into it. They were definitely a risky direction to go in, but potential innovation does not come without risk of failure. =)
Finally, I'd like to say a couple of things about each of my legendary cards.
I'm going to start off with Nessie, since she's the one that I like the most and that will be most familiar to folks. Her most obvious use is as a tool for delayed damage, particularly useful versus tempo decks, but she needs not be limited to that. After all, the Agent has two cards that grant Spell Damage (Manifestation (Basic) and Sirian Missionary (Classic)) and having a big-bodied Stealth minion providing Spell Damage, even if it can't attack or else be returned to your deck, could be a very interesting strategy to try out.
Indrid Cold, the grinning man, is a more obscure figure, but everything in this class was taken from real-world conspiracy theories and alleged paranormal phenomena, so look this creepy guy up if you're curious, particularly his connection to the Mothman incidents and the Men in Black. His purpose in Hearthstone is draw control. Played early on in the game, you should target your own deck, preventing yourself from drawing into dead cards. Played later on in the game, you should target your opponent's deck, preventing them from drawing into their big end-game cards. It's a simple enough but very unique effect.
And finally, we have The Black Knight Satellite. Again, this is a more obscure reference, but I highly suggest you look it up if you're curious. It may look familiar, as it has the same effect as a card that I actually won one of the Weekly Card Design Competitions with. It was a controversial win, and the card effect itself is controversial, so I understand if not everybody's into it, but I've made some efforts to make it less potentially problematic. For TGT, I wanted to see if there was anything I could do with Joust, and this alien satellite, always elusively circling us above, seemed like the perfect fit with this effect.
Well, I've rambled on long enough. If you have any questions about any balance concerns or other design decision, I would be more than happy to address them in the Poll Topic. ^_^
Now, move right along and just forget you saw any of this...
I gotta say, you really knocked the flavor for this class out of the park. So many of the cards are these clever references that are integrated into cards in ingenious ways. While I'm not to thrilled by the deal 2 damage secrets, so many of them are really cool, like Discredit, Elusive Species... I love it.
The sub-mechanic of Files I think was also done very well, again, with some super flavorful cards and tasteful effects.
Yeaaaah... awesome, did'nt know much about all these things... I mean,just the basics of aliens, illuminati, and strange creatures. But this thing is awesome, I would really play this one.
Flavored stuff, hero power synergy, interesting mechanic (cover up looks really annoying, but can live with that in most cases), variety, and weaknesses (example, mill, antisecret and weapons, and can struggle against a balanced minion-spell deck)...
I'm going to leave right now and pretend nothing strange happened here.
Added in a section about design discussions. It's long, but it includes a lot of insights about some of my intentions with the class's mechanics, so I hope you'll take the time to check it out of the class piqued your interest. And, of course, if you have any questions, I'm more than happy to answer, either here or in the grand finale poll topic when this gets closed and that opens up. =D
Love it, but maybe you could show the Tokens some more. For instance in the Grand Tournament, what's the Implant card?
I generally like to keep light on tokens (I know, ironic given the Hero Power choice), and when I do use them I like the cards that produce them to be completely intelligible without my needing to show them. Every token produced here is pretty much exactly what you expect. Men in Black just summons two 2/2 vanilla Aliens, Elusive Species summons a 4/4 minion with Stealth, Shapeshifter summons a 4/3 vanilla Alien with the triggering minion's card text added as an enchantment, "Weather Balloon" summons a 0/8 Mech with Taunt. The Grey Experimenter's Alien Implant token works just like similar cards Burrowing Mine and Ambush!, and it just disappears and draws you a card when drawn.
It is perhaps worth mentioning, though, that unlike with Burrowing Mine and Ambush, the Alien Implant still returns your Legendary minions to your deck if it gets burned by overdraw or Fel Reaver or something. This is because all Cover Up effects function as properties of whatever got Covered Up, their return triggers sort of added as enchantments to the Covered Up elements. This means, for example, that the card Quarantine can't be circumvented by Silencing or transforming the target minion, nor by using Faceless Manipulator to copy it. Think of it as similar to a what happens when minions are affected by auras, such as those from Flametongue Totem or Stormwind Champion; Silencing or Transforming those minions will not get rid of the bonus, nor will Faceless Manipulator copy the bonus.