|"He's not as black a fish as that," Part One
A card spotlight for A Game of Thrones by World Champion Erick Butzlaff
|A Game of Thrones LCG | Published 09 April 2010|
Hello and Welcome Back, Loyal A Game of Thrones fans!
This week we present a special guest column by 2009 A Game of Thrones World Champion, Erick Butzlaff. For those that don't know, if you win the World Championship (and we have three for AGoT: Joust, Melee, and Overall - Erick's title) we invite you to design a card that will enter the metagame. In this two-part Card of the Week preview of the upcoming Lords of Winter boxed set (to be concluded next week), we have asked Erick to tell us a little bit about his Champion card, which will be included in this expansion, and to give us his impressions of the expansion as a whole. Enjoy!
Erick at the Kingsmoot in the East tournament
Designing a world championship card is a tall task, and I was lucky enough to receive Nate’s blessing to break the mold when it came time to write my own legacy into the game. Today, dear readers, I hand down to you a chronicle that details the development of this soon-to-be Stark classic that I deeply hope the whole community will make use of and enjoy. Along the way, I hope to give you a peek into the nature of the design process itself, and spoil (or at least hint at) some of the cards and themes you’ll find in the soon to be released Lords of Winter, an expansion that will pull House Stark up toward the competitive forefront of the game.
So far, AGOT LCG World Champions have designed neutral cards powerful enough to be environment defining, so that the fruits of their epic victories would be felt in a very direct way in the metagame for years to come. After all, when a world champion shows up to GenCon to defend his title the following year, the champion is sure to find pleasure in seeing his or her work of art (and artist-rendered mugshot) included in the decks he or she faces off against over the course of the four-day gaming throw-down. I’ve been heckling my own meta members in our monthly local tournaments with a lightning-fast Baratheon power rush deck that makes good use of Tzu-mainn Chen’s Former Champion—a card which, in my opinion, was very tastefully designed.
Now that I, alongside fellow 2009 Worlds Joust and Melee champions Greg Atkinson and Jonathan Benton, have been through this process from beginning to end, my experiences and observations lead me to sum up the goals of the world champion-turned-game designer like this: make as powerful a card as the AGOT team at FFG will allow you to print, tailored to further your own favorite game mechanic, promote the house you love most, fill what you perceive to be a gap in the environment, or create a card that enables totally new strategies you think players will enjoy for years to come.
So before I sat down to the drawing board, I had to figure out exactly what I wanted to accomplish at some very basic level. Ever since winning Black Friday 2008 with what I likely will regard as my favorite deck of all time, I’ve hoped for “Stark murder” to make a competitive comeback in the current LCG environment in worst of ways. I felt like the best use of my card design would be an attempt to bring back some of the feel of that beastly creation—something that would help take down military challenges with ease, or provide some additional card advantage for winning on military, or bring back a little bit of that “power and murder rush” feel. For weeks late last summer, I bounced all sorts of ideas back and forth with meta-mates Dan Strouhal and Corey Faherty.
At first, we focused on non-unique, neutral characters that provided some extra benefit to or were more easily played out of House Stark. My favorites had threshold effects that killed characters, claimed power, or drew extra cards on the cheap; or came out of Shadows to kill characters, claim power, or draw extra cards on the cheap; or just easily killed a character, and allowed a Stark player to claim power or draw extra cards for doing so (all on the cheap). After a day-long discussion over mead and sword swallowing at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, Dan and I agreed that a low-cost, Deadly, Military/Intrigue character who could search the top few cards of a deck to take one into hand—the search effect went deeper into the deck if you were playing Stark—would be the way to go.
But then, AGOT lead designer Nate French turned my world upside down. Being a lover of all Ice and Fire characters who pull off epic and crafty with taste, Ser Brynden Tully had always been one of my favorites from the novels. So when I submitted my card design draft to Nate that fateful day last September, I jokingly mentioned that it would be a lot cooler if I could just design a main Stark character like the Blackfish—and when I unexpectedly got an email back saying, “Go for it,” it was with much extra excitement that I found myself back at the drawing board for a second time...
That's it for this week, loyal fans. Tune in next week for more insight into the The Blackfish's design process, as well as some more exciting new cards from Lords of Winter!
Based on George R.R. Martin's bestselling fantasy epic, A Song of Ice and Fire, A Game of Thrones: The Card Game brings the beloved heroes, villains, locations, and events of the world of Westeros to life through innovative game mechanics and the highly strategic game play. The Living Card Game® format allows players to customize their gaming experience with monthly Chapter Pack expansions to the core game.
very cool card, though in the card art and with the stache you look a little like the cop from scream ;)
Wow what a nice card. Nothing wrong with this type of "auto-include" in the stark deck, and with the knowledge that House Tully will be a theme in LoW, this will be a great card for them. Well made, ser!
THX ERICK... you broke me in last online match but you make "my" Stark dream a future of "Vengeance"... :-)