Will WotC Keep Life Loss in Black?

General forum

Posted on May 25, 2018, 4:19 p.m. by DemonDragonJ

In Dominaria, there were a number of black cards that dealt damage to players, rather than causing those players to lose life, as has been traditional for black. Black has, in fact, dealt damage in the past, but always when draining life, as seen on cards such as Corrupt or Tendrils of Corruption.

Mark Rosewater has commented on this matter on his Tumblr account, saying that WotC is testing the idea of black dealing damage instead of causing life loss, but I very much hope that black retains life loss, as that is an essential aspect of black and helps to make it distinct from red, so removing that aspect would be bleeding the colors into each other. Not only that, it is pure laziness by WotC to think that players cannot handle the difference between the two effects.

Also, there are important reason both in terms of flavor and mechanics for maintaining life loss in black: first, from a flavor perspective, being punched in the face or struck with a bolt of lightning is very different from blood slowly draining from one’s body; second, from a mechanical perspective, effects such as Furnace of Rath will multiply damage from effects such as Lightning Bolt, but not life loss from effects such as Soul Feast, and a circle of protection will prevent the damage from a lightning bolt but not the life loss from soul feast.

Thankfully, black cards in Battlebond are causing life loss rather than damage, so I hope that WotC realizes that black should keep that essential aspect of its identity. What does everyone else say about this? Do you hope that WotC keeps life loss in black?

cdkime says... #2

Yes--I think black having its own distinct feel and mechanic is important. I do not foresee Wizards abandoning life loss as a fundamental component of Black's identity.

Also, I take issue with your statement of "dealt damage in the past, but always when draining life": Artifact Possession, Choking Sands, Corpse Lunge, Curse Artifact, Curse of Thirst, Cursed Land, Dakmor Plague, Dead Reckoning, Desolation, Dry Spell, Evincar's Justice, Famine, Festering Evil (I think this is sufficient to prove my point, but I'm only at the letter F and there would be a lot more to copy and paste).

May 25, 2018 5:36 p.m.

BS-T says... #3

Black does have a history of dealing damage in certain cases as you show cdkime. These cards do share thgeir own common groups - vampiric type effects, cursing things, sweepers like Pestilence and Crypt Rats too.

I think the issue is better demonstrated by the comparison between say Bitter Revelation and Dark Bargain. The obvious one from DOM.

My actual first thought on DB in spoiler season was 'what!?, doesn't lose life; I hope this isn't an indicator for the future'. So yeah totally agree, it is inherently black and specific. Let's hope we don't lose it and DOM can go down as a weird little experiment, an odd outlier for future Gatherer searches lol

May 26, 2018 4:52 a.m.

cdkime says... #4


Dark Bargain is not really an outlier. While life loss in exchange for some boon is more common, there are plenty of black spells (Ashes to Ashes, Hellfire, etc.) that deal damage to you, and a large number of black creatures that deal damage to you, usually provided certain conditions are not satisfied (ex. Archdemon of Greed.

None of the individual cards in Dominaria struck me as too unusual - perhaps not the norm, but none were problematic. Taken as a complete hole, the lack of life loss cards was quite strange, but I do not see one set as indicitavie of a change to how Black will function moving forward.

May 26, 2018 10:41 a.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #5

Some of the new black cards from Core Set 2019 feature life loss, so it seems to me that WotC will be keeping life loss for the foreseeable future, a fact that pleases me very much.

June 11, 2018 9:31 p.m.

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