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

    Past Weeks' Entries:
    "The Sun and the Spear" 03/10/2004
    First off I have to apologize for being late. After all this time blaming Brian W for not getting my CotW’s up and I finally have to admit that this is all my fault. I wallow in my guilt and ineptitude. But, at least I get to talk about an announcement I’ve been dying to make for some time now.

    House Martell is about to join the game of thrones.

    Yep. The Dornishmen are coming to Westeros.

    Not as neutral characters.

    Not as a “trait” based theme.

    They’re coming into the game as their own House.

    Their own House.

    Ladies and Gentlemen: please give it up for House Martell! Can you tell I’ve been waiting awhile to make this announcement?

    Why a New House?
    Because this game is based on a series of books (and if you don’t know which series, shame on you!), our development is significantly impacted by what happens in said books. During conversations with George R. R. Martin, it became quite apparent that House Martell is going to have a significant role to play in the game of thrones from here on in. I am not going to tell you what happens; read A Feast for Crows when it’s released!

    In any case, we trust in George’s vision. He has written an incredibly rich series, and clearly has the best interests of the game at heart. Even the small sampling of the next book that I’ve read has convinced me that he is right. Martell deserves a place in the game, as befits their role.

    Colors and Numbers
    Martell is going to get its own border color. It’s a sand blasted orange; the color of the desert by twilight. Because this template fits so well with some of the desert themed art that we’ve received for the set, Martell has a good chance of usurping Stark’s place as the most visually gorgeous House. There should be plenty of Martell cards in the set for anyone who wants to experiment with them right away.

    Fear not, however. A Crown of Suns has something for everyone. There are only 30 House-specific Martell cards (although they are getting plenty of event support as well). Each of the other Houses will only be shorted approximately 4 cards each because of this. You’ll still see plenty of Stark, Lannister, Baratheon, Greyjoy and Targaryen goodness in this set.

    Additionally, the Martells are being given two alliances (I’ll reveal those next week). This will help to give them a running start without making them overpowered right out the gate, like what happened with House Targaryen.

    A Martell Pays His Debts
    Vengeance is the primary theme and mechanic of this House. When I was designing the original draft of ACOS, I had just realized what a wide area of design space this was. Simple revenge is a good thing; you’ll see a good deal of it in the set, but there are other, much more subtle vengeance cards that may make your head spin. Here’s a tease: ACOS is proud to introduce the most highly interactive card ever created in the game to date. We’re going to have to update the FAQ for it preemptively, but its very existence opens up a ton of possibilities for future cards.

    Players who enjoyed the more brutal side of Lannister trickery should embrace Martell. They don’t really play like Lannister – this House really does have a distinct “feel” to it – but those of you who enjoy creating lose-lose choices for your opponents will have a plethora of options while playing the Dornishmen.

    I have said in the past that “preemptive denial” effects were moving out of Lannister’s domain, and that Greyjoy would be inheriting some of them. Well, you guessed it; Martell is getting the rest.

    By “preemptive denial” I mean cards that can cancel other actions without resolution. Treachery and The Lion’s Claws are perfect examples. Part of my big picture plan for the game is to “divvy up” these sort of effects (ie. not make them so well rounded – “Lannister can cancel anything” is a rather boring approach to design; however “Greyjoy can cancel X and Martell can cancel Y” makes for a more varied metagame).

    That’s it for this week! I’m sorry to have skipped over the second half of the Premium Starter articles, but we have a lot of ground to cover with the next set. I will leave you with one tease, though: there is a new version of each Dragon Hatchling in the starters, plus an event that will give you a taste of “double challenge responses.” You’ll see what I mean.

    Join me next week, when we have a look at our first Martell card. Let the previews begin!