Iksar Explains why no Keyword Exists for "Can't be Targeted by Spells or Hero Powers"
- There's now 10 collectible cards in the game with the exact effect or a variation on it.
- This year we've seen 5 cards added to the game with the effect, and an entire keyword that can add it to cards (Adapt).
- Interestingly, a change to a single word could make Deathstalker Rexxar's hero power change as it's shorter text.
Noteworthy historical blue mentions on the card text.
- 2014: Ben Brode stated the team had discussed Shroud, Untargetable, and Ethereal as potential keywords. (Source)
- 2014: Yong Woo stated when they have enough cards with the same effect they may turn it into a keyword. (Source)
Now, here's what Iksar is saying today.
- There isn't a great word for the effect that clues you in to what it does.
- Trying out Elusive or Ethereal ending up being more misleading than helpful.
- The effect isn't going to be used on many cards in the future as having too many of these minions decreases the ability to interact with an opponent.
Quote from Iksar
We've talked about this before but opted to spell it out. A keyword is essentially something we ask you to read and understand, so in the future you can look at a card and quickly understand what it does without having to parse through a bunch of text. Sometimes when we can use the right word, you already have a pretty good idea of what a keyword does without reading the description. Divine Shield does a pretty good job of this. People on the team have different opinions on this subject, but one of the reasons not to keyword it is that there isn't a great word for 'can't be targeted by spells or hero powers' that would clue you in to what it does. It's sort of a strange concept to begin with that something can be targeted by a battlecry or an attack but not by a spell. When we used something like 'elusive' or 'ethereal' or various other words I think it ended up being more misleading rather than increasing the ability to understand it quickly, which is counter to the point of making a keyword in the first place. Lastly, this isn't a concept we plan on using on many cards in the future. It's cool to have one-offs like Shimmering Courser or Soggoth but having too many of these types of minions greatly decreases your ability to interact with your opponent. (Source)
Or, and this is a long shot, but what if a keyword was a descriptive-enough single word that defined itself when you hovered over it.
We often state, then restate, then restate this again.... but trying to keep the game easy to pick up and grasp does not also equal a belief that the playerbase lacks intelligence. It's very rare that one particular thing is so complicated that no one will understand it, it's more that in order to protect against a death by a thousand cuts we have to stay vigilant when accessing all decisions (no matter how minor) to make sure that by adding an increase in complexity we are getting something valuable in return. (Source)