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MarthWMaster

House Traits in 2E

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I've been thinking a lot about the concept of Traits, and the line they straddle between mechanical importance and thematic importance. Sometimes they appear inconsistently, and this situation toys mercilessly with my OCD. For example, in the Star Wars LCG we have the Emperor's Royal Guard, which appropriately has the Imperial Guard trait; whereas the Imperial Shadow Guard does not, despite representing a secret cadre pulled from the already-elite ranks of the Royal Guard. I give this one a pass, though, because I believe it's an issue of space on the card, and nobody likes reducing font size as it just looks wrong. But it's still inconsistent. Ideally, cards should be both consistent and tidy, and the irony is that sometimes one of these must come at the expense of the other.

 

But in the case of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, the most important traits that may appear in Second Edition, I feel, are house traits; e.g. House Frey. But more and more I am finding myself of the opinion, again as an OCD fan and as someone deeply invested in the lore of the setting, that these should not be traits at all, but should instead be built into the card's title, both to save space and to leave open the possibility of future cards that refer to them. Rather than giving Walder Frey the "House Frey" trait and having cards that look for said trait, why not simply have them look for the "Frey" in his name? All that would be needed for this to work would be the elimination of epithetical names for characters; e.g. "The Hound" and "Littlefinger" versus "Sandor Clegane" and "Petyr Baelish," which again feels inconsistent to me, since in the books these characters are referred to by their actual names often enough that they could serve. This idea might be slightly harder to accomplish with Army cards: "King Robb's Legion" would not work whereas "Robb Stark's Legion" would, but with some dedication I feel it could be achieved (and to be fair, in this case the card should probably have no house synergy at all, since it likely represents a collection of various banner houses pledged to Robb Stark). It would also pose an issue for Ramsay Snow/Bolton, but one could argue that this is a case in which there could be two versions of the character with separate names to represent him before and after his legitimization, with text that clarifies them to represent the same person.

 

What do you guys think about this idea? Good? Bad? Discuss. 

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As a an OCD fan, you'd really rather see a card named Petyr Baelish than Littlefinger?

 

I don't like the idea for a number of reasons:

A) It creates two places you have to look for a trait -- the written traits and the name of the card.

B) If the name of the card also denotes traits, what do you about names that mimic traits the cards probably shouldn't have? "Frey Outrider" isn't a big deal (it's House Frey), but what about the Arbor Queen warship (is it a Queen?) or, everyone's favorite example, Lady the direwolf (is the creature a Lady?). 

C) It potentially blurs the line between traits and House affiliations. If "Joffrey Baratheon" has the House Lannister affiliation (as he does in v1), is he a Lannister because of the affiliation or a Baratheon because of his name? And do you really want him to act as a "House Baratheon" character just because of his name?

D) What do you do about affiliated entities that your fan OCD tells you should be included with a House, but doesn't include the name of the House? Do you want cards named "The Bolton Dreadfort" or "Dayne's Starfall" or "Heartsbane, the Ancestral Sword of House Tarly"?

 

Honestly, I think it's better to try to avoid "trait houses" within other houses, sidestepping the whole thing completely. After all, it's not like there was ever a whole lot of support for "trait houses" beyond some of the big ones - Tully, Arryn, Tyrell, etc. -- and those could simply be made affiliations at some point. (A lot of people seem to believe Tyrell will be an affiliation instead of a trait, for example).

 

Personally, that's what I'd like to see in v2.0 - fewer traits that have no purpose in the game. There are other ways to honor the theme.

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After reading your post, I have to agree that no house traits would be better then some but not all. And I think you're right that all of the houses that "matter" Will eventually receive their own affiliation and cards, regardless of their great/small status at the start of the series. Anyway, you pointed out quite a few issues with the idea that I had not considered.

Edited by MarthWMaster

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I am hoping for epithets, monikers, subtitles, or flavor text to be printed underneath the title of a card.  Meaning, some text that has no function, but identifies a card by it's flavor or placement in the story.  Again, the title of the card is the same across all versions, but the subtitle is what identifies them by alias or by placement in the story.

 

For example, Hugor Hill is Tyrion's alias when he crosses the Narrow Sea.  Having a Hugor Hill card that keeps you from using Tyrion in the way we had it in 1st edition is a little sloppy.  If Hugor Hill was instead used as a subtitle to Tyrion Lannister, we can still get a thematic card without dealing with making sure other versions of Tyrion are kept out of play when Hugor Hill is out.  It caused problems with how the discard effect worked in 1st edition because we'd see things like Aegon Targaryen whose effect was meant to keep Young Griff from being on the board controlled by the same player.  Instead, his "discard Young Griff" effect can discard opponent's Young Griff's if you happened to control him.

 

I generally enjoy this idea for other reasons like not having to identify a unique character's version by chapter pack or deluxe box.  Now you can say "I am running Hugor Hill version of Tyrion" or "I am running Kingslayer Jaime Lannister" instead of "I am running Tyrion from the 'I'm on a Boat' chapter pack and Jaime from the 'I Love Sleeping With My Sister' deluxe box."

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I miss games that used subtitles. Never understood why out of all the LCGs, only CoC uses them. Beyond aliases, a cards subtitle can be used to highlight a specific aspect of that character or object's personality. Myrcella Baratheon, Tyrion's Gift could represent her bethrothal to Trystane, for example, while Myrcella Baratheon, Called "Lannister" would be a tongue-in-cheek reference to the various flavor explanations for her being named Myrcella Lannister in 1E. Similarly, The Iron Throne, Seat of Power projects a very different mental picture than does The Iron Throne, Empty.

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Once upon a time, there was a rule like you proposed in L5R (the title being a source of the equivalent of traits). However, it became a problem when possible traits appeared in the title of cards that really shouldn't have the trait (a bit like King Slayer being considered a King). It was removed some time ago and never reintroduced.

 

On the other hand, I'd love to see subtitles for different versions of unique cards. An easy way to distinguish versions (and identify they are versions of the same unique card) is really necessary.

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It's funny you mention Legend of the Five Rings. There was some talk around the release of Doomtown: Reloaded, of whether L5R would ever become a fixed-expansion product like the former (an LCG, but without the legal rights to naming it such). During this time, the biggest argument against such a reboot was the abundance of factions, and the game/setting's tendency to nurture fierce loyalty to one or more of these. The solution I proposed was having an alliance system that worked very similarly to what we're being told will appear in this game's Core Set, so that until the card pool was deep enough to allow single-faction play, two factions could be played together. The primary difference was that my alliances took the form of separate cards, and each imposed a drawback to compensate for the advantage of an essentially doubled pool of deckbuilding choices, so that these alliances wouldn't see universal use years into the life of the game, because L5R as a setting is less about alliances than ASOIAF.

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What was wrong with Fat Bob, Angry Bob, Shadows Bob, Party Bob, Combo Bob, and Sad Bob?

If you don't know the answer to that, I don't know what to say.

 

I doubt Grimwalker's post was intended seriously (at least I hope so).

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What was wrong with Fat Bob, Angry Bob, Shadows Bob, Party Bob, Combo Bob, and Sad Bob?

If you don't know the answer to that, I don't know what to say.

 

I doubt Grimwalker's post was intended seriously (at least I hope so).

 

No I actually did enjoy giving the various versions of unique cards nicknames. 

 

I don't see any mechanical reason to do more than was done in 1E. We already have "subtitles for different versions of unique cards. An easy way to distinguish versions (and identify they are versions of the same unique card)". 

Eddard Stark (Core)

Eddard Stark (LoW)

Eddard Stark (tTotH) 

 

et cetera.

 

If you titled those cards, say, "Lord of Winterfell" "Warden of the North" and "Hand of the King" respectively it might be more evocative but it really wouldn't add anything of substance, it would take up space on the card, and you'd need encyclopedic knowledge of the card pool to track what the abbreviations "LOW", "WotN" and "HotK" refer to when people start using shorthand. To say nothing of the confusion it will create when the acronyms for the subtitles start overlapping with expansion names, as happened 2 out of 3 times just now without even trying.

 

I'm not really opposed to it, but I will miss the nicknames if they go that route.

Edited by Grimwalker

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You have some fine points, and for the most part I agree with them. The reason I am such a proponent of subtitles is simply that I value the flavor of an IP-based game very highly, especially for an IP that exists outside of FFG's ownership, and I see subtitles as an opportunity, both to add flavor to a card without using up space in the text box, and as a tool of conversational shorthand as I have mentioned. Having played a few games that used subtitles in the past, I never found there to be any confusion over which version of a particular character you were referring to. In most cases the subtitle flowed out of what the card's effect did (or vice versa perhaps).

 

The way I see it, the biggest drawback to using subtitles, apart from your example, is that they would need to come up with evocative subtitles for the major characters, and that these could potentially take away from the "word pool" when naming cards, expansions, etc. as per your example. One way of mitigating this that I can think of, would be to share card names between expansions and cards. We're already seeing them do this in LCGs, where a card will be called Knowledge and Defense, and later an expansion will come out, also labeled Knowledge and Defense. I'd prefer to see them come at it the other way though, e.g. Eddard Stark, Hand of the King appearing in a cycle that includes a Chapter Pack also named Hand of the King. But there seem to be logistical concerns with regard to getting artwork to appear on the same pack that contains the card bearing that artwork, so perhaps the same is true of card titles. Who knows? But having the card appear alongside the expansion should help to mitigate the potential confusion.

 

The other issue that is worth considering is physical card space, and the need to keep things looking neat and tidy in spite of the existence of an additional line of text. FFG handles this in Call of Cthulhu by making dividing the title bar into two smaller lines, but I have a hard time imagining how this would look good on a card made for this setting. A better option, I think, would be to keep the card's title large, with the subtitle occupying a smaller space beneath it. The 24 TCG did this, and I liked it very much.

 

MikeNovickPragmatist_zps8328c29d.jpg

 

I could see this looking even better on an FFG-made card, now that they are eliminating borders entirely. (Of course the font and overall feel of this card's template is modern-themed to fit the tone of the IP, whereas AGoT would need to have a more rustic appearance.)

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Another advantage to having subtitles/epithets is that it can turn an abstract effect into something that is more easily recognizable thematically from the book.

 

For example, I have heard countless times that a number of cards and their text box/icons/etc do not make sense thematically and those people cannot translate them into something from the book.  With a subtitle or epithet, you can use it to help make some more sense as to which part of the book that character's card has been created from.

 

One example could be giving Summer an intrigue icon and some effect akin to that of when Bran Stark is controlling him through a green dream.  It is not clear why a Direwolf would have an intrigue icon or a text box like that unless the flavor text or subtitle gives you some of the direction needed to understand its origin.  Obviously a Direwolf doesn't have the ability to gain information and relay it any other way(intrigue icon), but this is something I can more easily conceive if I know it's been done through Bran Stark and a green dream.

 

Without clear flavor added to a card, not everyone would understand which point in the book this may make sense since Direwolves shouldn't have intrigue icons naturally.

Edited by Bomb

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Bran Stark, Struggling Warg
Bran Stark, The Last Greenseer
Bran Stark, Crippled Lord

Robb Stark, King In The North
Robb Stark, The Young Wolf

 

I'm having trouble coming up with epithets to accompany every character you'd make more than one version of, but that's just my limited creativity.
 

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My biggest complaint about deckbuilding in AGOT is having to look up the set to describe which version of a character I am using when building a deck.  I would much rather have subtitles for cards that are unique, and thematically they make the most sense. 

 

Tyrion - Hugor Hill

Tyrion - No son of mine

Tyrion - The Imp

Tyrion - Hand of the King

 

Jaime - Prisoner

Jaime - Just as deadly with his left

Jaime - Lord Commander

Jamie - KIngslayer

 

Cersei - Utterly Mad

Cersei - The Old Queen

Cersei - Schemer

Cersei - Tywin's Heir

 

Jon Snow - Bastard

Jon Snow - Lord Commander

Jon Snow - Traitorous Crow

Jon Snow - Warg

 

Theon - Ward to Winterfell

Theon - Reek

Theon - Lord of Winterfell

 

Littlefinger - Lord Baelish

Littlefinger - Master of Coin

Littlefinger - Regent of the Vale

 

Etc.  The main reason - each subtitle gives you more of an idea of what the character is doing in the story at that time, and defines especially which version. Arya would have a million names btw.  And the same character could have different factions.  For example, Jamie (Prisoner) May be a Stark card, just like there may be a Stark Brienne.  Hugor Hill version of Tyrion may be a Targ card, etc. 

 

And please have a Night's Watch and Citadel Faction, in addition to Arryn, Tully, Stark, Targ, Tyrell, Greyjoy, Bara, Martell and Lanny.

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Eleven factions...you don't ask for much, do you?

They've said there'll be eight factions in the game, and those will be Bara, Stark, Lanni, Martell, Targ, Greyjoy, and Tyrell. It is known. Smart money is the eighth being Night's Watch.

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i love the idea of subs. under the name, for those who have read the books you know that the same character is doing completely different thing during the books.

 

a Jamie Lannister with only one hand not as strong as the "kingslayer" and now you can know why

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