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    Designer Journal presents the weekly musings and ramblings of GoT designer Eric Lang.

    Past Weeks' Entries:
    Valyrian Edition Preview 07/14/2004

    Click to see larger image

    NEW 'Arya', 'The Twins', 'Jaime', & 'Asha'!

    OR, "The Longest Teaser You Have Ever Read!"

    Welcome to another installment of the COTW. I would apologize for missing the last two COTW columns, but the time for such has passed, methinks. I will continue to post the best quality column I can, given my time budget, every week if possible. And the next few weeks are going to be doozies, as you can imagine.

    After this, the next few weeks are going to be all about Valyrian Edition (VED) spoilers and metagame announcement. I can say with some confidence that this next base set is going to impact the game as no set before. I’ve been working on this set in some form or another since last year (before it was even called Valyrian edition), and even though it has undergone some radical and swift changes, I am extremely proud of the final result.

    So let’s take a moment to wax nostalgic about the game’s history to this point.

    The Road Goes Ever on and on…
    Wow. Let me just take a second here to say it again. Wow. Come August, this CCG will be two years old. Quite the miracle for a “cult” game in so volatile a market. I think we owe the game’s quiet success to a number of factors, a very dedicated and passionate fan base being the top.

    I’ve been asked several times whether or not I thought the game would survive this long. So often, in fact, that I’ve decided to answer publicly: “I always design sets for this game with the assumption that it will never die.” Which is folly, of course, because nothing lasts forever, but damnit … I’m an idealist at heart, and this game has proven its staying power on more than one occasion.

    The next set marks the beginning of the “Valyrian” block, which begins with the VED, continues into a November set called “A Tourney of Swords,” and ends with a set called “A Reign of Kings.” Once these three sets are done, you’ll see just how wide open the design space is for this game. Don’t you fear us running out of ideas any time in the foreseeable future.

    A Bit ‘o Backstory
    Here’s a tidbit from my original design document that should illuminate some of the philosophy behind this set:

    Valyria, before the Doom befell it, was the eternal city.

    The Valyrian Edition of the Game of Thrones CCG represents a slightly idealized look at all of the characters and locations in the world of Westeros. Most of the main characters depicted in this block will be close to their prime, either slightly younger (in the cases of characters like Ned Stark) or slightly older (in the cases of the Dragons).

    This is not a “legends” block; we are not looking too far into the past or the future. Rather, we are looking at the world through slightly rose-tinted glasses.

    Valyrian block is the first “point of view” block, and will be accompanied by a specific look and feel. The mechanics showcased in this set indicate a slightly new direction for the game: one of high quality characters and powerful challenges.

    The pendulum keeps swinging, and this year we are bringing some of the focus back to challenges and raw power. That is not to say that other strategies won’t be viable (wouldn’t that be boring!), but we’ve got some jaw-dropping stuff in store for you. Playing with VED, the game will feel quite different and new. Not so much that you won’t recognize it (that’s not the point), but I wanted some strategies to have a real chance to shine.

    In with the New
    VED introduces two new keywords and two metagame-shattering new mechanics. I’m not going to talk about them now – we’ve got weeks to do this! – but be warned: the game will never be the same. Despite all of this, there is a palpable “back to basics” feel about the set. I think many of you will find it less complicated overall than the Ice & Fire block.

    Another one of our major focuses (foci?) this year is getting new players into the game. New players are the lifeblood of a new CCG (cue Leonard Cohen: “cos Everybody Knows…”), and we are gearing up for the final stages of the master plan. VED is a great starting point for new players, and will draft better than any set in the game’s history.

    Okay, okay … I’m sure many of you are now thinking “Oh, quit with the teasing! Give us something substantial!!” Here are a couple of things you can expect:

  • An entirely new card type!
  • NO new Alliances
  • A tournament caliber Ned Stark
  • A new type of event card that needs its own icon.
  • At least 2 new cards that will put Baratheon back on the map
  • A new version of Sam Tarly that may actually be better than the old one!
  • A plot card with 8 income
  • Four cards from the “Design a card” archives
  • Walder Frey

    Is that enough to whet your appetite? I thought so.

    Oh, and the art!
    "BY THE SEVEN", this set has the best art we’ve ever had. Don’t belive me? Take a look at some of these tidbits!!!

    Join me next week, when the spoilage begins. Believe me, I’m coming into this one with an 'Agenda'...