Chasing the Sun
An Interview with Legend of the Five Rings Designers Brad Andres and Tyler Parrott
With the conclusion of the Imperial Cycle and Disciples of the Void on the horizon, Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game is on the precipice of change. As the game continues to evolve, we'd like to take the time to step back and examine the game from a wider angle, with the help of the game's designers.
Brad Andres has been a part of Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game since the genesis of the game, and Tyler Parrott joined the team last November after interning over the summer. We sat down to talk about the past, present, and future of the newest Living Card Game®.Join us today as we sit down with Brad and Tyler for an interview about designing the game!
Chasing the Sun
Fantasy Flight Games: You guys are the current design team for Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game. What is something unique that each of you brings to the design process?
Tyler Parrott: Brad tends to be very good at coming up with the general direction or theme of a set, and I’m good at coming up with specific cards, refining them, and making sure the rules work. I'm also good at the big picture, but Brad has a tendency to suggest things that seem ridiculous until you figure out how to make it work, and I feel like I'm more in the box. He’s teaching me to carry the game forward with a fresh view to the LCG’s take on the world of Rokugan.
Brad Andres: It's very much a partnership. Tyler is the main creative workhorse and primarily does the heavy lifting. I’m more of the overarching teacher, trying to teach Tyler about how we set up this game, and he is doing a fantastic job. Tyler brings new opinions and a new perspective that has been really valuable in thinking about the game in new ways. It’s been incredibly fun to work with him!
FFG: What areas or mechanics of the game would you like to explore more in the future?
BA: I like looking at base parts of the design and thinking "how can we expand this or that concept?" For the Imperial Cycle, it’s easy to see, it’s the Imperial Favor and fleshing out spots we couldn’t in the Core Set. In Disciples of the Void, it's expanding on the Phoenix Clan's base elements—it's almost a love letter to the Phoenix Clan.
I like to see us exploring familiar game elements, but with surprising twists to keep the game exciting. We want to zog when fans think we are going to zig, skipping right past the zag!
TP: The thing that blew my mind when I learned about it is that this game has something that that no other game has: the choice of clan roles and how players can shape the game through metagame choices. The field is wide open for how we want to implement that, but the framework is there to let players influence the game. There are cards that may have a prominent role for your clan in one year, and then that changes next year because different clans can use the cards. The role-restricted cards let the game feel dynamic from year to year in a way that doesn’t just require more cards.
On a more general note, I’m interested to take clans as we’ve seen them in the Core Set and explore different unique facets for each of them. I want to try to make it so each clan has multiple strategies that feel distinct from each other. Each clan is so deep that there are elements within a clan that can really stand out to one person, while maybe someone else likes the clan for a different reason.
BA: That’s something we tried to do, leave tons of breadcrumbs for different types of strategies for each clan.
FFG: What decks are you personally enjoying right now?
TP: The clans that I’m most drawn to are Dragon and Unicorn. The Unicorn are very fun to play, and they provide you with a really interesting challenge and tactical board state, and that feels really rewarding when you do it right. It provides you with a puzzle that’s always fun in every iteration.
BA: Lately I’ve been enjoying Phoenix the most. I’m super excited for the Clan Pack to provide new possibilities. I find the elemental rings to be a very intriguing mechanic of the game, and harnessing these elemental rings can be very rewarding. It could be claiming the Water ring at just the right time or picking the Void ring so your opponent can’t take it… all while you're also getting the benefits of cards X, Y and Z, or a perfectly pulled off Display of Power (Core Set, 179). All of those feel so satisfying to me as a player.
FFG: What are some of your favorite cards in the game?
BA: I really like Enigmatic Magistrate (Into the Forbidden City, 45). It’s just a type of card that makes you think differently about the game and deck construction. And while that deck is not quite there yet, the potential for it to exist one day would be very intriguing to me. Cards that leave me with a question that I need to answer as a deck builder are some of my favorite cards.
TP: I’m drawn to cards that get better when you are losing and worse when you are winning. One thing that hits that mark pretty nicely are cards that work when you are at lower honor or when your honor dial is low. A card like Good Omen (Core Set, 208) feels really good, because it is providing a very strong effect, but you have to put yourself at a disadvantage in order to use it. I love the interplay of taking the back foot and putting myself at a disadvantage for these effects. And it’s especially compelling when both players know what's going on. Because I can try to play in a way that enables my powerful cards and you can try to counter that, so I counter your counterplay. Putting yourself at a disadvantage to enable powerful cards is something I enjoy.
BA: I like cards in a similar vein that have a disadvantage, but through proper deckbuilding you can turn into an advantage. Like, “Oh, this card makes me lose two honor, but that turns on this card.” As a player, I like anything that makes me feel pretty clever.
FFG: Anything else you guys want to add?
BA: Mostly we're just super excited about what’s coming up in the future. We can’t wait to share all of the crazy plans we’ve been concocting.
TP: There's so much to the game, even in just the Core Set, that it feels like I could be finding new ways to use cards and new decks to build for years.
BA: I also just want to express that the LCG team is extremely happy to have Tyler on the team. We’re all very optimistic and see a bright future ahead!
To the Future
With the upcoming release of Disciples of the Void, Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game is bound to change forever. As the world of Rokugan shifts, which of the Great Clans will shape the future of Rokugan?
Shape your future and pre-order Disciples of the Void (L5C08) from your local retailer or our website!