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Variant of Play: New House Cards

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Hi forum,


I'd like to share a project I've been working on for the past month or so, on and off, every now and then.  I really love this board game (I loved Diplomacy in college, so this is a fun, thematic return to it).  
I love it so much, in fact, that I decided to make my own versions of the house cards to rectify some things that bother me (and seem to bother many other people, too) including (but not limited to);
-Renly in the House Baratheon deck (and therefore Brienne as well), as he should be in the House Tyrell one.  They're the ones who supported his bid to the throne, so having them both fighting in the same faction makes it hard to really make the game make sense to me.
-Patchface should not be a general at all! 
-The women of the game seem very underrated.  There are many strong female characters in the books, but it felt like the cards really undervalued them.  Additionally, the art in the Martell decks make the Dornishmen seem white, and I'd always imagined them differently, so I wanted to fix that, too. 
Given that, I downloaded photoshop and tried to make my own customizations.  I'd like to share them here to see what you guys think.  I don't know if this is okay on this forum, though, so, please, mods? If this is wrong, feel free to delete this post.  I definitely don't want to disrespect your company or your forum!
(Keep in mind that I have barely ever used photoshop before this project, sooooo these cards don't look beautiful.  I learned as I went, buuut they aren't great.)
Here's the link to my dropbox with the cards I made in them.  
I owe a lot of thanks to two sources:
So thanks to those guys for their help!
A few cards are listed twice with an ALTERNATE tag.  The one listed alternate is a second version (often weaker) that might be more balanced (or not).  I'd love to hear if anyone thinks one or the other version is better.
Some notes on my decisions for specific cards, and the thinking behind them:
-Stannis starts out without a lot of support - he has to hire mercenaries to fill out his ranks.  I've added mechanics to his deck that reflect that (Salladhor Saan and the Free City Mercenaries).  I think it makes the deck feel like playing Stannis much more.
-I improved Mellisandre's CS and gave her patchface's old power.  She's such a game changer for Stannis that she deserves it (and, again, I was trying to make women more powerful in these decks).  I sort of wish I had made her the four, though, as there's the quote from the book in which she tells Stannis "If you bring me, you'll win.  If you don't, you'll lose," which winds up coming true.  What do you guys think? It would be nice to have at least one female four in the decks.
-I broke my own rule and gave Selyse a photograph picture for two reasons.  One, I think it makes it easier for casual fans to know who she is (which my friends are) so, therefore, it's more fun.  Two, those baby-jars are MAX CREEPY. Love it.
-I presevered most of Sallador Saan's power, but kept it with the mercenary caveat instead of the original support one to continue my theme of Stannis relying on hired labor because so few lords support him.
- Davos is a new creation.  I feel like he was never much of a general - craft and moral, yes, but not a general.  Him powering up to a 3 seems.... wrong.  Instead, his new powers reflect his status as a smuggler.  I like them a lot more - they're appropriate to the character.
-Free City Mercenaries are brand new, too.  The book mentions that Stannis hires them to supplement his army, and I think these mechanics reflect that.  Their ability to power up based on what your opponent does is powerful, too - you can spend only enough to beat them, or none at all if you're not going to win anyway.
-I made Greyjoys more offensive, which makes sense thematically.  They want to explode and reave and burn and plunder, so their cards reflect that a bit more.
-I depowered Greyjoy sliiiiiiightly, but only just slightly.  I wish I could have found a way to tuck in more women to this deck, but there really isn't anyone, and all the characters they do have in here are relevant and it makes sense for them to lead armies.  Oh well.
-Aeron's ability is the same, but the wording is different.  This is purely for the sake of thematic flavor - it makes more sense to me that the Drowned God priest would summon someone else to fight for him.  The way he was written before made him sound more like a scout.  Again - only a cosmetic change.
-Balon is adjusted again so he only works while attacking.  This is the big nerf I did to Greyjoy.  This makes him an exact foil to Catelyn in the Stark deck, and I think it should be fine.  It fits thematically, and Greyjoy should be attacking enough that it won't be a problem, but, again, balances Greyjoy just a little bit more to make them more fair.
-Theon was a 2 in the original set, but I wanted him to be a 1 to reflect the fact that Asha is smarter than he is, and that, ultimately, he isn't a very good comander. However, he powers back up to a 2 when he's being sneaky - it thematically fits the Turncloak we all love to loathe.
-Asha doesn't need a clause to have her effects.  This is a gift for nerfing Balon a bit more, but, also, thematically, Asha deserves it.  The only other person with two swords and a fort is The Red Viper, and I think Asha is similarly intelligent and fierce, so I wanted to reflect that.  Also, I love Asha (who doesn't?)
-I tried to capture the flavor of the Lannisters by making them CONSTANTLY thinking about ways to best manipulate the board.  All of their cards are powerful, but ONLY when used in the right circumstances.  If you're playing Lannister and you've manipulated things, then you're dominating.  If you're playing Lannister and you've been outfoxed, you're folding like paper.  
-Gregor can reach his original 3 with 3 swords, but only conditionally.  Which makes him slightly harder to use, but it also has the additional benefit of being more thematic to the books.  Gregor would never, ever be helpful in defending a naval battle, you know? 
-I love the Joffrey card - it's perfect thematically.  The fact that he's a zero means you'll only use him when you're guaranteed a victory.  If you win, he happily chops off the head of one of your opponent's generals.  If you lose, he flips out, and then happily chops off the head of one of YOUR generals as a scapegoat.  And you have to remember that he's there because if you're forced into using him later, he might wreck your plans, which makes him a possible liability to your House - which Joffrey should be anyway.  This card is so good that it actually ACTS like Joffrey would.  It's maybe my favorite interpretation from all of them.
-Littlefinger has two alternates.  I think I prefer the one that lets you add a power token order if you win, because it best reflects his status as master of coin - he schemes and gets you more money or more troops.  The second one about adding a footman works, too, though, as it's like you came to him and said "Littlefinger, I need more troops - make it happen" and he borrowed and schemed and paid for more soldiers.  I made both because I'm not sure which would be more balanced.  Additionally, I could see moving him up to a 1 CS, particularly in the second muster-a-footman version.  
-Cersei is upgraded to two CS because she's SOOO crafty, and, again, I wanted to make women more powerful in these cards.  To balance the upgrade, she can no longer remove march orders.  I feel like her ability as a 0 made her not all that helpful, and too difficult to use well.  
-Tyrion pays to cut support for everyone.  This is cool thematically - after all, he hires Clansmen in the Mountains of the Moon to balance things out, and he buys a ton of Wildfire to cut support in the battle of King's Landing.  I think it's super appropriate, and I'm pretty proud of that one.  Powerful, but the fact you have to pay for it balances it a bit.
-Tywin, the long suffering Tywin, pays for Tyrion's shenigans by earning a ton of power if used right.  He presents a difficult choice to the Lannister player - they could use their 4 to squash an easy fight and win a lot of power tokens, or use it to win a closer victory.  It's also appropriate thematically that Lannister has a way to make a ton of power tokens, if they so choose.
-The whole Lannister deck is about carefully and thoughtfully picking your battles - every card requires a carefully orchestrated situation to win.  It's perfect for House Lannister! They were one of the most fun to make.
-I was a little uncomfortable with how the original cards seemed to make the Martells white.  That was never my reading of them, so I tried to avoid that - it's nice to have a more racially diverse game, anyway.
-Aero is now the opposite of Gregor Clegane - he gets stronger and stronger conditionally.  I like the way this card works - it really makes him feel like a body guard.
-Doran Martell was perfect as is.
-I added slightly to Arianne's old power, which is now on the Myrcella card.  I want the flavor of this to reflect that she's a hostage - it's supposed to be like you told the invading army that if they come any closer, the hostage dies, and you negotiate a peaceful retreat.  The ability is upgraded to protect you from casualties, and I'm not sure that's balanced, but it fits the theme I was going for so I put it in.  Hopefully it's not too unbalanced, but, again, I'm hoping you all will have opinions.  
-Arianne is a 3 because, again, I'm trying to reflect how powerful women are in the books, and, in particularly, in Dorne (where they are recognized as heirs).  I know it makes her a powerful card, but I also feel like that ability (originally Tyrion's) is only helpful on a stronger card, anyway.
-The whole reason I started out on this project was to combine Renly into House Tyrell (as he really is their claim to the throne) and get him out of House Baratheon (as that's mostly Stannis's faction, anyway).  
-Queen of Thorns gets Mace's old ability.  I think it's a nice zero power.  It's supposed to reflect the fact that she sets up some sort of scheme to destroy a part of your army - like how she um.... removed King Joffery. Yes - that picture is the Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey... it's the one indulgent picture I snuck in.  Don't know how many overlapping fans there are between the two but... it just felt right.  It made me happy.
-Mace is a 1 to reflect the fact that he's a chump.  I don't like the art much, but it was the best I could find.  There's countless examples of him making huge strategic mistakes in the book (such as during Robert's Rebellion he blockaded Stannis and spent the whole war sitting there, wasting a huge section of the royalist army), so I have no idea why they would have made him the four (besides the fact that he's the head of the male household which is... pretty patriarchal, and thereby sexist).
-Brienne is a 1 because, though a strong and powerful knight, she is far from a leader.  And even when she had experience, it would be hard to get an army to follow her.
-Marge cuts support by removing a support token permanently - play it in the right place and you might even set up other attacks down the road on weakened territories.  This is purposefully similar to Cersei but not exactly the same, to show how connected they are.  It's the Queen of Thorn's original ability, just watered down because it's on a 2 instead of a 0.  I like that Cersei and Marge are neeeearly mirror images of each other - two dueling Queens duking it out.
-Renly is moved down to a 2 instead of a 3.  It was the only way to make the set work, but I honestly think it's thematically better this way, anyway.  There was a lot of lines in the book about how Renly had no real military experience - he was charming and political, but not all that much of a soldier.  A 2 fits him, I think.  
-Loras is back to a 3 with his original power.  He was a 4 in my first set, but that was too powerful.  Now Randyll Tarly is a weak 4 for the set instead, with just one sword icon.  He works as a four, though, as there are quotes from the books in which he is described as one of the best soldiers in Westeros, and the military backbone of the Tyrells.
-The Stark cards originally were set up to encourage you to play defensively, so I tried to keep that in mind.  It makes sense thematically, too, but I am worried that I made them a bit too powerful.  These cards are supposed to solely reflect Robb's march south, and the army he collects to do so.  I feel like that's more fun to have a set that all clearly goes together.  I'm only sad that I didn't find room for Robb's wife in here.
-I added Frey, even though he's technically not a Stark bannerman to reflect reflect his deal to cross the Twins.  Therefore, it makes sense for Frey to get Roose's old power to bring cards back: in the books, Frey refreshes Robb's army by letting him cross the bridge so he can continue fighting.  In the game, Frey refreshes your army by bringing your cards back so you can keep fighting.  HOWEVER, he only works once and doesn't keep cycling back - I thought that would make this more fair, though I'm open for opinions about that.  Should Frey come back to your hand, too, or not? I have it this way right now because I added some other more powerful Stark cards, so they don't NEED to keep getting their 4 back to win.
-Catelyn becomes the defensive equivalent of Balon Greyjoy.  I like this as she's too smart and too crafty to have such a terrible card.  Plus, it makes her a fair counter balance to Greyjoys (who mostly always attack North, in my experience).  
-Roose gets a whopping three swords, but I feel like it fits the fierce cruelty that is Roose Bolton.  I had started with two but just put it up to three because Roose is suuuper evil, and I thought it would be fun to show that.  But I feel like it's balanced, having 3 swords on a one CS card would be tricky to pull off, but also a huge threat in your hand.  Don't attack Starks with a weaker hand - they might just send Roose in to cut that hand right off....
-Dacey is included as the representative of the young knights who form Robb's honor guard - and, again, in the name of including more strong women in the decks.  It makes sense that she gets the double fort as she was one of Robb's honor guards.  
-Karhold is regarded as very strong castle, so keep that in mind with Karstark's power.  I decided to scrap the Blackfish's text ability in favor of this because my group doesn't play with tides of battle cards, so really he was just another fortification card.  Having that power made Dacey feel weak by comparison, so I got rid of it.  Instead, I added this, which is a modification of Margaery's power from the Dance with Dragons expansion.  It's powerful, but you still need 3 power to tie, and more to win outright.  Again - Starks like bunkering up, so it makes sense that the lord of the Karhold would be skilled in holding a castle against invaders.  He would know how to use the castle to make their superior numbers irrelevant.  
-Finally - ALL HAIL THE GREATJON.  He's a favorite of mine and art was hard to find of him, until I found this.  It's just...so, so perfect.  It makes me want to cry with joy. (You gotta have a little fun, right?)
I would love feedback on these, if anyone's interested.  What do you think?
Edited by Ignavus

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