By Nick Agranoff
When Nate asked me to write a short article for the new Walder Frey card (soon to be released in the A Change of Seasons Chapter Pack), I have to say I was pretty excited. The Lord of the Twins is such an enduring and infamous character in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, I am glad to see him return to the A Game of Thrones LCG.
While working at Fantasy Flight Games, I was just messing around with some random card ideas floating around in my head for characters that I hadn’t seen in a while. Characters like Ser Guyard Morrigan, Ser Meryn Trant and Anguy the Archer. Ol’ Walder was also on this list.
The last (and first) time Walder Frey made an appearance in the game was in Valaryian Edition. A solid card in its day, and one I used on occasion. His purpose was to passively limit players to one attacker or defender while he was standing. He was, if nothing else, a good test to see if Melee and Joust challenge types would work in the framework of the game before they were implemented. The only problem I had with the card was it didn’t capture a Nedly, or story driven, aspect of prickly old Walder Frey.
While at work during lunch/inter-office league, I was using a Martel deck with the Five Kings Edition Red Viper. After jumping him mid-challenge into the attack, my vision of the new Walder Frey took shape in my mind. I suddenly remembered what Hoster Tully, the Lord of Riverrun had to say about The Lord of the Crossing. To paraphrase Lord Tully, Walder Frey only joins the battle once the outcome has already been decided.
“The Late Lord Frey,” was what Hoster Tully called him. I realized quickly that this concept was the key to making a Nedly and play-worthy Walder Frey. I came up with the basic idea that he would be forced, passively, into a challenge after defenders were declared on whichever side was currently winning the challenge.
Next came the question of icons? Walder Frey’s other version had an intrigue and a power icon. With his new passive ability, I did not want him to be able to be declared as an attacker or defender before it had a chance to kick in. (At least not without some icon manipulation.) I also wanted his STR to be four to take advantage of the “win or lose a challenge by four or more total strength” mechanic that occasionally surfaces in the game. One more Nedly aspect I wanted to integrate into Walder’s card was the fact that he is one of the most dangerous men in the realm. To do so, Walder Frey gets the Deadly keyword.
What cost does a four STR, no icon, unique, lord with deadly keyword have that can just as easily fight against you as fight for you? My answer was zero. If you are winning, he will fall over himself to help you in whatever way he can to see that he ends up on the side that stays alive (see Red Wedding). But if you’re losing... watch out!
The rest as they say is history. I pitched the card to Nate, who was extremely gung-ho on the idea and proceeded to clean up the language on the card I had made and make it work within the framework of the A Game of Thrones LCG. This will be my lasting contribution to the A Game of Thrones Card Game and to Fantasy Flight Games as a whole. Best of luck to all of you in “The Only Game That Matters”… Life.
Keep on Shuffling…