I have a slight problem and a proposal with how the game starts and agenda are revealed. Let me start with my motivating example, House of Dreams and Bear Island. Now if things are done properly we would randomly decide who goes first and then that player would reveal his house and agenda. So, if I get elected to go first, I am required to select my HoD location without knowing what my opponent is playing at all. In the case of Bear Island this is a problem because playing Bear Island against another Stark player is fruitless and I’d be better off with something else. But I don’t know what house he has so I have to choose to gamble he doesn’t have Stark or always choose a safe bet when I am required to go first. It gets more complicated in a tournament because, while officially you wouldn’t know what someone is playing until you see them flip their house card you have ways of knowing. Players talk and word gets around who’s playing what. This gives the player who knows fewer people a disadvantage. It gives the player a reason to look around and find out who is playing stark. It would also give the Bear Island player an incentive to just sit back and see if the other player would reveal his or her house card thus delaying the game. Of course many players use things like artwork sleeves that give it away, assuming they are using the appropriate ones.
Now whoever goes second in revealing houses / agendas has a significant informational advantage as to what the opponent is playing. As far as I can see this really only matters with HoD so it’s not a huge deal but I still think it is an unfair advantage given to the player on the basis of a coin flip when it needn’t be so. And if any other agendas come out where you have to make a decision after revealing it that may change a reasonable rule would be in place.
As a fix I would propose the Houses and Agendas are revealed and resolved like the plots. Everyone would reveal them and then the agendas would be resolved in the order determined randomly. So at least each player would know what house the other is playing and there’s no incentive to hide your house or agenda because that information would become public before any decisions are made. It would help the flow of the game such that it would be proper to sit down and flip up your house card etc. I see no downside to this set up and it would marginally help the specific example of the Start HoD player.
While this wouldn't impact 99.99% of games I was thinking about a Stark HoD Bear Island deck and this would be an issue. I have no idea if anyone else would care about this issue but I wanted to throw it out there. Thoughts?