|A Game of Thrones LCG | Published 22 July 2010|
"We are brothers here," Thoros of Myr declared. "Holy brothers, sworn to the realm, to our god, and to each other."
"The brotherhood without banners." Tom Sevenstrings plucked a string. "The knights of the hollow hill."
- A Song of Ice and Fire, Volume III: A Storm of Swords
Hello and Welcome Back, Loyal A Game of Thrones Fans!
For those of you that don't know, the winners of the A Game of Thrones World Championships - Joust, Melee, and Overall - at Gen Con Indy, as part of the prizes for the event, each get to design a card that will enter the A Game of Thrones metagame in a future release. In previous Cards of the Week we got some insight into the design process from 2009 Melee World Champion Jonathan Benton and 2009 Overall World Champion Erick Butzlaff. This week we present a very special Card of the Week preview, brought to you by 2009 Joust World Champion Greg Atkinson. Greg's Champion card will appear in the upcoming Mountains of the Moon Chapter Pack, from the Brotherhood Without Banners cycle of expansions. Without any further ado, take it away, Greg!
It is very hard to believe, but I have been playing A Game of Thrones for seven years now. I began playing this game with a simple Westeros Premium Starter during the CCG era, and within one month I was showing up to my first tournament and less than a year later I was winning the World Championships at Gen Con (2004). It has been a wonderful ride that has seen me make many new and fantastic friends, participate in ten long and fun road trips to different Regional and Gen Con events, witness multiple set rotations during the CCG era, as well as survive the transition to the highly successful LCG era of A Game of Thrones. The game and the environment has changed drastically over the past 7 years, but I still love it as much today (if not more) than I did seven years ago.
I've learned quite a bit about myself during the process of playing this game. First, is that I like to win. All the time. Second, despite my desire to win, I still have a personal style I like to stick to when playing the game and building decks. So while I might be a Jamie player in my head, I'm a Shagga* player in my heart. For those of you that have never heard of the term "Jamie" or "Shagga", these are metagame terms describing different types of A Game of Thrones players using aspects of several of the characters from George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire Novels. Jamie players are all about winning, using any and every tool at their disposal to win games and tournaments. Shagga players tend towards combos decks, large displays of card awesomeness, and decks that win via alternate routes . Anyone who knows me well, or plays with me often, knows that most of my decks tend towards odd combos, alternative deck building, and possible counter-intuitive decision making.
One of my favorite cards during the CCG era was a card called the Eyrie. It drastically changed the way a player could view the deck building process. So when I won the Joust portion of the World Championships in 2009 and was given the ability to design a card, I knew I wanted to re-investigate some of the options the Eyrie created, but this time for the LCG environment. So those of you that are long-time players may experience a slight amount of Deja-Vu when reading or playing with my new card: Knights of the Hollow Hill.
One of the initial goals of my card was that I wanted to make it an Agenda. First, no Gen Con champion had ever created an Agenda. Second, I wanted a card whose benefits were highly protectable, and whose drawbacks would be impossible to remove through actual game play, and an Agenda satisfied those requirements. Anyone who played with the old Eyrie knows how it felt to get hit with a first turn Frozen Solid (Lords of Winter, F4) or High Tide. I wanted to avoid that aspect.
Upon first seeing the card, the initial benefits look incredibly impressive. An immediate +2 Gold, 2 Influence, +2 Initiative. Wow! Cards like Vigilant Stag (A Change of Seasons, F54), Red Vengeance (Princes of the Sun, F25), and Feigned Retreat (A Sword in the Darkness, F42) all are playable on the first turn regardless of your opening hand. The increased likeliness of winning initiative allows for the owner to dictate the flow of each round a little better. And the extra gold?! Who can complain about that?
But with benefits comes trade-offs. The biggest and most obvious one: you skip the setup phase. While this may seem like a huge drawback (likely a 3-5 card advantage for the opponent at the get-go), one of my hopes for this card is that it drives alternate deckbuilding. Do you want to build a deck with 30 events? Maybe 30 attachments? How about 15 armies all with cost 6 or above? Well, prior to Knights of the Hollow Hill, if you built such a deck you would be looking at horrible setups. Now you can build a deck with a disproportionate number of cards that can't be played on setup because you don't get a setup anyway! Perhaps you want to use Men With No King (Scattered Armies, F113) with 15 Reinforcement events (Scattered Armies, F114-F119). Or maybe you want to build a Viserys (Kings of the Sea, F36) deck with 30 attachments. Give it a shot! There are many directions to explore with this new card.
The second trade-off, which has much less impact, is the inability to count income bonuses on other cards. Other than Lannister, it means you likely won't want to be using Crossroads, the house chambers/tent, Kingdom of Shadows (Kings of the Sea, F32), or the House specific, limited, +1 Gold, location for each house. But you can still use reducers, of which there are both neutral and in-house options. But do you really need that many locations with the extra +2 Gold you get each turn? Something to think about.
This Agenda was not created to be an auto-include to a deck not already running an Agenda. I do not expect everyone to go out and immediately build decks with it. This card was created for the player that wants to think outside the box a little, the player who relishes the process of building different and unique decks, the player who has a little Shagga in them.
Thanks to Greg for a terrific Card Spoiler! If you're going to Gen Con Indy this August 5th-8th, be sure to stop by the Fantasy Flight Games tournament area in the card game hall and check out all the LCG action. Compete in the World Championships and you could be a creator in the next wave of Champion cards!
Until next week, A Game of Thrones Fans!
* First described in A Song of Ice and Fire, Volume I: A Game of Thrones and originator of the famous line: "Chop [it] off and feed it to the goats."
Based on George R.R. Martin's bestselling fantasy epic A Song of Ice and Fire, A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, playable by 2-4 players, 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.
Wow, I really really like this card.
Definitely my favorite of all the Champion cards... really opens up possibilites for different kinds of decks, and allows decks that don't want to go for the really big setup to have a fighting chance. Brilliant and balanced. :)
Very cool. I love the two influence available from the beginning of the game. As you explain, it opens up a lot of possibilities.
THX THX THX... I'm in love :-)