News for August 2012
A Song of the Sea
The Next Cycle of Chapter Packs for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game
A Game of Thrones LCG | Published 08 August 2012

The warhorns sounded again, commands drifting back from the Fury. Davos felt a tingle in his missing fingertips. “Out oars,” he shouted. “Form line.” A hundred blades dipped down into the water as the oarmaster's drum began to boom. The sound was like the beating of a great slow heart, and the oars moved at every stroke, a hundred men pulling as one.
    –George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings

Fantasy Flight Games is proud to announce A Song of the Sea, the next cycle of Chapter Packs for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game!

From Winterfell to Sunspear, the Great Houses of Westeros play their game of thrones. Through schemes and strategic use of their agents, they pursue their interests in lands foreign and domestic, they seek to make alliances of convenience, and they hope to lure their foes into carefully woven snares. And when words fail or steel proves swifter and more decisive, they mobilize their militaries for war.

A Game of Thrones: The Card Game presents the struggles between the Great Houses in a riveting fashion that has long balanced the subtleties of the finest intrigues against the epic ferocity of wars that sweep across nations. One of the game’s particular challenges and triumphs has been to depict the world created by George R.R. Martin in his beloved fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, in such a way as to balance the stories’ epic natures against the depth of character of those people responsible for changing the course of history.

Now, with its release, A Song of the Sea will paint a larger picture of Martin’s epic naval battles even as it introduces another layer to the subtleties and personalities of those characters whose old grudges and deep-rooted ambitions fuel the game of thrones.

Lead Developer Damon Stone on the Birth of A Song of the Sea

George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire relates a fantastic story of epic proportions, but one of the most amazing things about this fantasy series is that it remains thoroughly character driven. Even the events that create seismic geopolitical shifts are rooted in the actions and weaknesses of its characters.

Likewise, as I work on A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, I am constantly challenged to reflect the dual nature of George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy and its character driven roots. A while back, Nate French and I sat down to talk about the naval engagements in the series and the importance of ships and travel. I wanted to find a way for the game to capture the feel of the naval battles and envoy missions Mr. Martin presented, something that would shake up the metagame without creating too drastic a change, especially with the flood of new players just coming into the community.

An intrigue challenge icon with the naval enhancement.

Working with the entire LCG design team, I nailed down the new direction that we pursued and developed throughout the next cycle.

A Song of the Sea introduces the first taste of a new mechanic, the “challenge enhancement.” Challenge enhancements allow characters to interact with challenges in ways that extend beyond normal card interactions. Represented by a symbol that overlaps a character’s challenge icon, each challenge enhancement opens up deeper strategies, modified tactical advantages, and increased card and character interactions. The mechanic also created the perfect means to define new mechanical game effects without creating a slew of new keywords.

Once the new mechanic was created, the naval enhancement () took shape. This particular challenge enhancement provides players a tremendous level of granularity when it comes to attacking and defending that has only been offered before by a small handful of cards. As an action during a challenge, a player may kneel a character with a  enhancement on the appropriate icon to declare it as an attacker or defender and add it to the challenge. This makes characters with the  enhancement exciting wild cards since they can join challenges outside of the normal declaration step. When  enhanced characters are on the board, challenges can result in bluffing games where players can up the ante by committing more and more characters.

Finally, the naval challenge enhancement and the cycle’s theme of naval engagements gave me the opportunity to craft a naval identity for each House, one which would play to their strengths but would also give players opportunities to pursue deck builds that stood apart from the traditional favorites. Baratheon sees a new influx of smugglers, enough to create a new deck type or supplement an existing build. Lannister gets some very interesting new cards that feed into their emerging “gold matters” theme, and the Stark bannermen of House Manderly make their first appearance in the game. Martell has no navy worth mentioning, though their Orphans and pole boats help the Dornishmen gain a little added flexibility. Targaryen’s Meraxes is joined by her sister ships Balerion and Vhagar, reinforcing Daenerys’s claim as the true heir to the Iron Throne. Lastly, Greyjoy gains new longships and the ability to fight their battles with their fleet of Warships, not just with their characters.

I’ve only just touched on the central mechanics of this cycle, but every House will see new takes on old mechanics and gain new cards that will reinvigorate older strategies. The plots and schemes of A Song of the Sea will change the landscape – and coastlines – of Westeros.

    –Damon Stone, A Game of Thrones: The Card Game Lead Developer

Thanks, Damon!

While you look forward to the new strategies offered by challenge enhancements, keep your eyes open for more information about A Song of the Sea, as well as our upcoming announcement of the cycle’s first Chapter Pack!

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.

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