|A Game of Thrones LCG | Published 21 July 2011|
Meera Reed was sixteen, a woman grown, but she stood no higher than her brother. All the crannogmen were small, she told Bran once when he asked why she wasn't taller. Brown-haired, green-eyed, and flat as a boy, she walked with a supple grace that Bran could only watch and envy. Meera wore a long sharp dagger, but her favorite way to fight was with a slender three-pronged frog spear in one hand and a woven net in the other.
–George R.R. Martin
We recently announced Tourney for the Hand, the first Chapter Pack in the A Tale of Champions cycle for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game. That exciting Chapter Pack features character card Meera Reed, designed by 2010 Castle Stahleck Champion Andrea Gualdoni. Today, Andrea presents us with his design process!
A difficult beginning
The night after winning the joust tournament at Castle Stahleck was very surreal, with all the characters of A Song of Ice and Fire moving through my mind–I was thinking of so many possibilities. The real prize of winning a big tourney like this is not the trophy or an art print, it is the chance to design your own card. The Old Gods looked upon me that day, and they will always have my soul.
My goal in designing this card was to provide a boost to the Houses I love the most: Stark and Greyjoy. I tried to find a character that would fit this prerequisite but only Theon Greyjoy came to my mind. Since he was already well represented in the game I moved away from that original idea, to one of the other characters I’ve always been a fan of: Harren the Black!
For a variety of reasons, that card did not work out either. After that, I went through many cards, many abilities, and many Houses. Some of them were broken, others involved characters that creating a card for was not possible–at a certain point I truly understood that creating a good card is very difficult. My aim from the beginning was to design a card that players would love, including the art, the flavor text, and of course, its ability in the game. I wanted the card to be something not static, but rather a card that could be used in many ways and in many different decks.
I started thinking about Meera’s role in the books. She is a huntress and a crannogman, so she has to move quickly, be lethal, and when in danger, return to shadows to protect the Stark Lords. I tried to design a Meera that would represent the loyalty of House Reed to the Starks. So I came up with the following card text for Meera (who I made S1 - MIL, INT, House Reed, a Lady, House Stark only, and with Stealth):
After a character you control leaves play, return Meera Reed to Shadows.
Any Phase: If you control at least 1 Lord or Lady character, bring Meera Reed out of Shadows and into play by paying the rest of her gold cost.
Challenges: Kneel 2 influence or pay 2 gold to return Meera Reed from the discard or dead pile to your hand. Then attach Meera Reed to a Lord or Lady character if able, otherwise discard her. (Counts as a Boon attachment with the text "Attached Character gains an INT icon and stealth.")
This card was too wordy, and had too many abilities, but I liked her. The basic idea of this card would have been, “there will be always a Reed fighting alongside The King in the North.” However, I couldn’t find a way to represent that design idea with more efficient wording, so I moved away from it. I sadly moved away from it.
In my mind at this point was a scene in which Meera and Jojen protect the young Stark Lords. Thinking about this scene led me to this idea for my card: when there is trouble, if a Stark Lord is in danger, Meera Reed can go into Shadows to protect him. Also, when she comes out of Shadows, there must be a “surprise effect” to block and counterattack the enemy. This could represent her net (to block an opponent) and her trident (to counterattack). At first I thought about having her “cancel triggered effect” when she emerged from Shadows, but Damon Stone suggested that I try a text-blanking ability, since this is a Stark specialty, like with Frozen Moat (Beyond the Wall, F22) and Frozen Solid (Lords of Winter, F4). And thus, my card was born.
Some thoughts on the artwork
I told Tiziano Baracchi that I would love to have him designing the card five minutes after my final game at Castle Stahleck, and it came to pass. The card has the atmosphere of the crypt of Winterfell, and the feeling of the card is wonderful: Meera with her glowing green eyes lighting up the darkness. She doesn’t smile–she is protecting the young Stark Lords, and this is the only thing that matters. In the background is the statue of Brandon Stark and his father Rickard Stark, and outside of the card we can imagine Lyanna Stark at the left of her father…for she is too beautiful to see her as a statue.
I hope that you have enjoyed my tale, and that you will love to play Meera. I loved being “in Westeros” for some months looking at the Reeds and searching for inspiration.
Thank you to FFG, Nate French, and Damon Stome, for their support in this process. They helped me a lot as I was working with her abilities, suggesting to me that I should drop things to have her more balanced, and allowing me to make “the card I desired.” This will be ever appreciated.
Finally, thank you to all my friends that helped me with this design through their support: Erick, Jonathan, Jaquen, Dondiego, the Italian Community, Stukov & Spanish Armada, the French guys, testers, and players all around the world. You all rock…and now let’s begin reading A Dance with Dragons!
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.
Nice piece of design Gualdo.
Your card seems quite balanced, although I think I will not be very happy to see Meera across the board. I already hate Frozen Moat...
It will be a strong asset for Stark decks. I wonder if it will often be played in other House, though.
Great article and great card. Can't wait to play with Meera. The Reed's are such great characters. Finally one of them is represented correctly. Brilliant! If only we had a cooler Strong Belwas...
Great card, and congrats on the win!
Thank your friend from me for giving you the idea to create a Meera :)
Excellent article Andrea! Card is also awesome - well ballanced as well. Congratulations for your victory!
Great card, and great backstory! Congrats on your victory!
Thanks for the story Gualdo; looks like it all worked out well, because the card looks great and I can't wait to get it in a deck.