Greetings again everyone and welcome to another edition of the Designer Journal. So, where to start? Ok, so the AGOT community has many happenings in recent weeks, including the much anticipated release of A Feast for Crows, the new "killer deck" based on Vayrs and his Circle of Spies and even a new expansion on the way. While much of this might seem like old news, how about A Song of Twilight spoilers to get the blood flowing?
And as I alluded to in the community chat awhile back and an earlier DJ, the next set in the Winter Edition block is themed heavily towards the epic conflict between the Night's Watch and the Wildlings, and other threats found in the frozen north. In English, it means that A Song of Twilight has an absolute ton of new Night's Watch and Wildling characters (many never seen before). What that means of course is a set with the most unique character ever included in any AGOT set, and more neutral cards than any other previously released set. The latter got me thinking about an interesting post on the message boards, the perceived "graying out" of the game. Now, considering that the game is grounded in the house vs. house conflict it might seem odd that R&D would go in this direction. But as we've learned in Winter Edition, rules are made to be broken.
As many of you have no doubt cracked open a booster display or two, you know WED is packed with useful neutral cards. What really separates WED from previous base sets (and expansions) is the sheer amount of solid cards that could find a home in most any deck. Many of these are staple cards simply replacing what may have been lost in the new set rotation (think Bandit Lord vs. Roving Pillagers)
It might seem that while looking at these cards, R&D is offering a selection of neutrals that mimic house abilities both in theme and power level. Let me say that we firmly believe that house flavor is extremely important to the game, but that being said its also important for us to provide a selection of cards that help balance out each house's strengths and weakness. Keep in mind that some house's core themes (card draw, permanent removal) are also fundamental deck building concepts, so introducing neutral cards that mirror these effects (to a lesser degree) are essential, and at the very least effects must be playable.
While it may seem odd that many "no-name" neutral cards are included in many decks its all part of that fine line between the story of Westeros, and the medium in which we are telling it. Since this has always been an issue of debate, R&D created the WED block to address two hot topic issues: card flavor and neutral power level. In a Song of Twilight, I think we've hit a certain sweet spot that is heavily themed, with a lot of neutrals that are powerful in the right deck.
ASOT: Wildlings vs. Night's Watch. What's not to love? But as you'll find out, you can't just throw them in any old deck, if you want to get the most out of these cards, they work best together with the right theme. In ASOT, many house specific effects are added to the neutral mix, but are only effective if you follow a certain theme. Oh the irony is sweet. Today's card is a neutral event save, but has a specific capture radius with a little nedly twist that rewards you for having the most Night's Watch characters in play. This is a part of a large cycle of cards that crosses all houses that are all affected by the struggle between the Night's Watch and Wildlings, but that is another article.
I think that ASOT is going to be a great set, but hopefully many of the players wishing for more "Nedly" cards will be happy, but our inner "Jaime" will also be pleased, because they are quite powerful, when used correctly. Join me next week when we'll discuss a new ASOT card, and one each week up until the final week of ASOT's December release!