News for April 2009
A Game of Thrones State of the Game 19
An exhaustive update on the card pool, OP, and Kings of the Sea
A Game of Thrones LCG | Published 02 April 2009

by Nate French

“For what is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger.”
-- Aeron Damphair

Hello again! It’s been a while since I’ve been invited to write a “state of the game” for the AGoT LCG, and I know there’re a number of questions and concerns that need to be addressed. So let’s get to it...

The LCG Card Pool

Since the transition from “standard” sanctioned play to “LCG™” sanctioned play last fall, much has been made about the state of the LCG card pool. I’ve spoken directly to numerous players, playtesters, store owners, and Night’s Watch volunteers, and concerns about the new card pool are quite often the topic of these conversations. Without oversimplifying an often complex and detailed conversation, I’d like to address three recurring points that stood out in these discussions about the LCG cardpool: 1) There aren’t enough cards in the LCG™ cardpool for a robust tournament environment, 2) There isn’t enough synergy or context in the LCG cardpool, and 3) The LCG cardpool is missing two Houses.

At the time of the transition to LCG™ format, I would have pretty much agreed with the first statement. Since that day, A Time of Ravens has been released in its entirety and the card pool has grown, and it shall continue to do so in the months between now and the World Championships at GenCon, by which point the LCG™ card pool should be approximately 600 cards, and growing. Overall card count, it turns out, is the least of our worries, and one that will repair itself naturally over time.

The second concern is in some ways an extension of the first, and in other ways a by-product of some of the changes the game was asked to endure in its transformation from a CCG to an LCG™. It’s no secret that both A Clash of Arms and A Time of Ravens were designed for a larger metagame, one that anticipated (at the very least) the presence of the Five Kings Edition base set as a part of the environment. So while the transition from CCG to LCG™ did not just affect the numerical size of the cardpool, it also affected the context and synergy for which many of the cards in the cardpool were originally designed. The moment the decision to rotate Five Kings Edition into the Legacy format was made, I knew this would be an issue that would need to be addressed if the LCG™ environment was ever going to take off, and began working with Christian [Petersen, CEO] and Steve [Horvath, Vice President of Marketing] in finding a means of addressing the situation in a forward looking, exciting manner.

And this brings us to the third major area of concern, of whether or not there are enough Houses in the LCG card pool. This was probably the biggest shared concern by players and community members, and it is a concern that was also shared by Fantasy Flight Games. House Greyjoy and House Martell were an important part of the A Game of Thrones card game, and I’ll be the first to admit, it just didn’t feel the same without them.

To address these three major concerns, we have developed an expansion to the AGoT LCG™ Core Set, and we’re calling it the:

Kings of the Sea

Kings of the Sea was developed with three major goals in mind:

The first of these goals was to bring House Greyjoy back into the LCG™ environment. From this perspective, the expansion consists of a Greyjoy deck that is similar to the “out-of-the-box” decks that you’ll find in the AGoT Core set. With a mixture of both new cards and “old school” Greyjoy reprints (some modified and updated for the LCG™ environment), House Greyjoy can once again stand proudly alongside (or, if you prefer, against) Houses Stark, Lannister, Baratheon, and Targaryen in the LCG™ environment.

Secondly, I insisted on using the design of the Kings of the Sea expansion as an opportunity to address some of the context and synergy concerns noted earlier. In this product, you’ll find numerous King and Queen characters, some new Kingdom locations, and a spattering of Military Battle, Intrigue Gambit, and Power Struggle plot cards. Additional use for “crested” characters is also prevalent (particularly Holy and War), and a major black hole in the AGoT LCG™ metagame, a realistic check on powerful locations, has been confronted.

Third (and not unrelated to the context and synergy discussion), we wanted this expansion to have “something for everyone,” even if they’re not at all interested in House Greyjoy. Thus, each House gets at least 1 King or Queen, and the plot deck (with the exception of an important “House Greyjoy only” plot reprint) along with many of the neutral cards were selected as cards that could potentially be useful building blocks in the widest possible array of decks. So even a die-hard Lannister player (there aren’t really any of those out there, are there?) should be able to find something of use in this set.

In addition to the cards, the Kings of the Sea expansion also comes with a gorgeously sculpted “3D” resin House card (that should appeal to both players and collectors alike), as well as an alternate multiplayer variant called “The Kingsmoot,” in which players compete for six distinctive Iron Islands titles in an attempt to hold all six of them simultaneously. And the final bit of good news is that Kings of the Sea is already at the printer, and should be available for an early summer release.

And then, we turn our gaze to the South...

Other Concerns

I’m very much aware that not all of the concerns with the current state of the game have to do with cardpool or mechanical issues. The organized play program has been suffering from a lack of attention, and customer service and support have not been up to the level that you deserve. Paul Bromen has left the company, and Steve Horvath is in the process of putting together a new position for our marketing department, an Organized Play coordinator for all of our card games. A job posting should be going up for this position shortly, so if you’re interested keep your eyes peeled! We’re going to do everything we can to get the right person into that position, because a game like this needs consistent, reliable, professional, enthusiastic support in order to thrive.

In the meantime, the game is benefitting from the combined attention of the entire marketing department, and they are doing everything they can to help the game through this transition, until we have a full time OP coordinator. If you have any questions or outstanding issues regarding community support, please contact me directly ([email protected]) and I will pass your inquiry on to the appropriate party.

Chapter Packs, Chapter Packs

So the A Time of Ravens Chapter Pack cycle has come to its conclusion, and I’ve been hearing that Men With No King are pretty wicked. Should be an interesting twist on the metagame, where a neutral card border is somewhat dangerous. At the same time, I am aware of the concerns about this card, and it has been moved to my watch list. We’ll see how things develop.

Looking forward, the King’s Landing chapter pack cycle is on the horizon. We’re taking a month off before the debut of King’s Landing (this “break” between cycles may not always be the case), so there is no AGoT Chapter Pack release for the month of April. Instead, KLE will debut in May, and continue from there with the regular Chapter Pack schedule of one release per month.

KLE was the first cycle designed and developed entirely for the LCG™, and it has a number of exciting features. First and foremost is the Shadows mechanic, which allows you to play cards in Shadows and then spring them on your opponent at a later time. Additionally, there is a new plot cycle, that was designed around the City trait. These plots are kind of like the old “Wardens” cycle (long time veterans of the CCG might remember these cards), in that many later played City plots work better when you’ve played other City plots before them, with the intriguing difference that City plots can be played in any order. And then there’s some hardcore support for a tribal Kingsguard deck that should be a nice option for any House in the LCG™ environment. We’ll look at each of these items in more detail in the weeks leading up to the KLE debut.

And the LCG?

Another topic of frequent curiosity as I talk to old and new fans of the game is simply, “How is the LCG doing?” There are two parts to the answer.

As a product, the AGoT LCG™ is exceeding expectations, and the game has shown significant growth for the first time in years. The newly launched Spanish language version of the game has sold out of its entire print run, and this has generated a considerable amount of excitement for both the game and the LCG concept. The release of the Kings of the Sea expansion should demonstrate our commitment to the format, and generate even more excitement around the world. And as the card pool matures, we’re hoping that new and old players alike will continue to see just how rewarding the model can be.

The second half of the answer is that we are still in the process of ramping up the organized play program for the AGoT LCG™. We are committed to giving LCG organized play an opportunity to find its feet and best meet the needs and desires of the community, and as we move forward we will be closely monitoring feedback and trying a few new approaches to find the format that best serves the growing player base.

To this end, we’re asking ourselves and our fans what players (and particularly, LCG™ players) might want out of an organized play program, what it might take to get a gaming group who are into it as a casual “beer & pretzels” endeavor to participate in organized play, and what it might take to get a local group who play once a month at their game store to consider traveling for a Regional or National championship. If you’re a player (new, old, retired, or anything in between), Night’s Watch volunteer, or store owner who plays or is interested in playing or running events for the AGoT LCG™ and have any thoughts on these topics, please send them my way: ([email protected]). We are committed to gaining a better understanding of our audience, and to putting together the best possible OP program for the AGoT LCG™.

Talk to you soon!

Nate French
Design and Development
Fantasy Flight Games

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.

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Comments (19)

FloLeBlanc
Published: 5/11/2009 3:34:48 PM
#19

Just picked up the "starter" but another "preconstructed" deck sounds nice for our playgroup.

Dayne
Published: 4/11/2009 11:48:23 AM
#18

So for more casual AGOT gaming one could just take the core the Greyjoy and the Martell expansion...Good move...

Now show us a picture from the Princes of the South...

Dayne
Published: 4/11/2009 11:47:57 AM
#17

So for more casual AGOT gaming one could just take the core the Greyjoy and the Martell expansion...Good move...

Now show us a picture from the Princes of the South...

Purple Whisper
Published: 4/8/2009 8:03:53 AM
#16

Third (and not unrelated to the context and synergy discussion), we wanted this expansion to have “something for everyone,” even if they’re not at all interested in House Greyjoy.

Somehow, this sounds more like a marketing decision (everyone should want to buy this box, even if they don't want Greyjoy) then as a favour to the players.

 

Twn2dn
Published: 4/4/2009 8:19:11 PM
#15

 Just to echo what others have said, this addresses every concern I have had about AGOT recently, and I am crossing my fingers that these actually come to fruition. (Namely, viable location control is, in fact, viable, other mechanics become more synergetic, and organized play becomes fun again.)

In short, very nice update Nate. I hope we receive more updates like this one in the next few months!

Eldil
Published: 4/3/2009 11:15:51 PM
#14

Nate French, thank you for this update.

I decided to get into this game because I loved the theme and I was drawn to the LCG format. I'd gotten the core set and all the chapter packs up through The Raven's Song, but my local store closed and the play group dried up, and I wasn't sure I was going to continue buying the chapter packs.

Having read this, I've gotten really excited for the game again. I've ordered the last two ravens packs and I'm looking forward to the King's Landing cycle, and I'm especially looking forward to the Greyjoy expansion. I'm happy to hear that you're addressing some of the dangling mechanics of the Clash of Arms and Time of Ravens cycles. It's nice to hear you and others are putting this level of care and attention into the game.

Thanks!

Sworddancer
Published: 4/3/2009 3:38:17 PM
#13

Oh.My.God.

I came back to AGOT after a while of non-activity. The Winter Edition was the last one I played, before moving from Berlin to London.

Now I bought the Core Set, all Chapter Packs, and booster displays of ITE, HOT and FKE are on their way from Berlin to London. All within two months.

And now this announcement! There goes my money again. This is a MUST-BUY.

I'm already counting the days - although I am not sure how long I will have to count. ;-)
 

Ruvion
Published: 4/3/2009 2:06:33 PM
#12

I really hope an EARLY summer release = May or June not September or next year!

Kalidor
Published: 4/3/2009 8:50:21 AM
#11

Insta-purchase.

Please, please let it be released sooooooooon.

Rozy
Published: 4/3/2009 5:51:27 AM
#10

This is awesome. I will not curse LCG anymore :) This is the best they could do for the game. The only negative thing I see are the houndreds of $ spent for the cards... :)

RJM
Published: 4/3/2009 3:47:41 AM
#9

I feel a little like a kid at Christmas.  This is all great news, and just plain great to hear about all the things we've been concerned about too.

Now, I'm also with JJ on this one, bring on the Martell love!

Stalkingwolf
Published: 4/2/2009 9:10:17 PM
#8

 Sounds great! I fear April will take forever to pass!

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