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Redesigns by the Design Team

by Hanno
Hello Thrones community, we proudly present the Redesigns the Design (and Playtesting!) Team has been working on for the last months. Our Development Team and our IT supporters have done an outstanding job: You can find the Redesigns, the new Restricted List and a document highlighting the changes here:

The Redesigns are also playable on theironthrone.net.

Our Development Team has finished work on printer-friendly documents: You can find image files to use on card-printing websites here (custom card size 63 x 88 mm, 2.48″ x 3.46″ or poker card size 63.5 x 89 mm, 2.5″ x 3.5″):
I will explain our reasoning for every redesign in this post, but let me first tell you that we’re of course aware that not everybody is a friend of modifying existing cards. But redesigning too poweful cards serves several important purposes that are very useful for the game right now:
  • We will be able to dissolve the huge Restricted List and start with 0 cards for the next RL update.
  • This will drastically change the meta, which means lots of new possibilities to explore, new combos, new decks. It will be a fresh experience!
  • It’s the quickest way to have new cards. Tweaking well-known cards is much easier to get right than designing new cards. Production-wise, when we’ll get back to play in person, you can just slip a piece of paper in your card sleeve. And we don’t have to worry about artwork for the redesigns.
  • The redesigns will also help us design new interesting cards in the future. Keeping overpowered cards in the card pool would limit our design space.
Selyse Baratheon
  • Selyse Baratheon (FotS): Selyse ended up on the RL because of her power in the Bara Q’hllor deck. It wasn’t unusual to marshal 3+ R’hllor attachments in one round, which made Selyse generate 7+ gold. That was especially brutal if it happened round 1. These tempo plays enabled Bara Qohor to easily close games round 2. With our update, her upside is capped at 3 gold. Which makes her still a more than reasonable choice for said Qohor deck and other R’hllor attachment themed decks, but the broken interaction is gone.
Victarion Greyjoy
  • Victarion Greyjoy (MoD): Big Vic wasn’t restricted, but his unlimited standing ability was problematic (and was prone to be even more abusable in the future). A simple limit on the stand option also makes his renown option matter a bit more.
Euron Crow's Eye
  • Euron Greyjoy (KotI): The tempo play of a Euron turn 1 made him able to compete with the Fanatic as GJ’s most chosen restricted card. We tone down the tempo play by actually needing to have Silence in hand. On top of that, his intimidate, which made his stand really obnoxious, is now a bit more conditional. This is also a first glimpse at the Raider theme we’re pushing for Greyjoy.
Nighttime Marauders
  • Nighttime Marauders: Losing your hand before marshaling was what made Marauders really oppressive in shadows decks. Delaying the effect to the challenges phase prevents the most broken effects, while still allowing for nice combos with First Snow or Weapons at the Door.
Drowned Disciple
  • Drowned Disciple: The passive power Drowned God decks could easily get out of hand if there were several Disciples on the table. Gaining 6 power in the marshaling phase isn’t fun, so we turn the limit into a max per phase. Together with an almost unchanged Fanatic for DG decks, there are still plenty of ways to stretch out the passive power gain over several phases.
Drowned God Fanatic
  • Drowned God Fanatic: Vince is one of the most versatile cards in the game: free cancel, basically a stand once per round if you have two of them, unconditional enter play from dead pile trigger, and killing stolen characters. We stop the most broken combo by only allowing to kill characters you own. He’s still a free cancel, but if you don’t have Nagga’s Ribs he ends up in the discard pile now. That makes him thematically fitting a very strong choice for Drowned God, but still playable in other Greyjoy decks.
Raider from Pyke
  • Raider from Pyke: We stop the ambush Pinch of Powder for free ability and use the occasion to make him a bit better for your Raider decks.
Iron Mines
  • Iron Mines: Greyjoy’s ability to agressively play Valar Morghulis can make for very one-sided games. Iron Mines was restricted for that reason. We return the card to the card pool by making it unusable during the plot phase.
We Take Westeros!
  • We Take Westeros!: This plot would see play for its stats alone. The ability to steal the opponent’s key location like The Wall or Dorne was broken. If you want to take full advantage of it, you now need to build around it a bit more. Or you just play it for the stats 😉
Taena Merryweather
  • Taena Merryweather: Our first of the many combo cards on the current Restricted and Ban List respectively. A simple limit on her ability takes care of the combo abusability.
The Red Keep
  • The Red Keep (DotE): One of the strongest cards in the game, it can just shut down entire decks. We were considering other restrictions like a faction card kneel, but that would just make Lannister tend to choose agendas without a faction card kneel. The extra gold cost makes the Red Keep a bit harder to use in some phases: no more simple cancelling of bodyguards on Valar Morghulis turns, or marshaling abilities
Desert Raider
  • Desert Raider: Istvan’s champ card is now like its iteration in 1st edition. The Prized makes you pay the cost upfront, which makes the card much less annoying. This also prevents the combo with Karhold, and Barring the Gates now actually stops his ability.
  • Dorne: Dorne was removed from the RL, but that was due to Martell’s position in the meta, because the card itself definitely deserved a place on the RL. Excluding the intrigue challenge makes sense for several reasons: it reduces the power level, it’s not a disadvantage anymore to declare a intrigue challenge vs. a Martell player with Dorne, Intrigue is supposed to be Martell’s strong suit, and there is a precedent in His Viper Eyes.
Doran's Game
  • Doran’s Game: This card was only restricted for Melee, but the combo potential is undeniable. With our upcoming support for bestow (and hence Ricasso), it was prudent to put a reasonable limit on this card.
A Mission in Essos
  • A Mission In Essos: This card had absolutely no purpose outside of combo decks. So stopping the combo would just mean banning this card to the binder. That’s why we decided to redesign this card more profoundly. We hope it’s a cool, tricky card with lots of possibilities for the players to explore.
  • Yoren (TB): Another one of the strongest cards. The swing of Yoren is absolutely brutal: Being generous and saying a blank Yoren should cost 2 gold, you pay 4 gold to steal a cost 5 character, which is a 6 gold swing. On top of that, the opponent loses a card, and the target could have attachments, power, duplicates. Absolutely bonkers for a card with no condition. So we made Yoren much more situational. In attrition decks, where he belongs, he has still the same potential. But in a general NW deck, he will be less effective. But still a good playable card in my opinion, even stealing a reducer is almost worth his cost, because the opponent loses 1 card and 2 gold (the reducer must be standing) and you gain a claim soak. And it’s more thematic that you give your worst characters to the NW instead of them picking your best.
  • Clydas: Another very annoying card. Choke mechanics are very NPE, and Clydas put that over the top, especially when paired with Trading with the Pentoshi. Kneeling him makes the ability fairer (compare with White Tree), and we used the opportunity to make a nedly connection with Raven cards.
  • Halder: We simplified his (tedious) ability, and put a limit on it. The X wording is easy to read. As long as X is not defined, it can be a player choice (like Gifts, Devan or House of Black and White)
Three-Finger Hobb
  • Three-Finger-Hobb: The best draw card in the game got a little condition based on an underused NW theme.
Abandoned Stronghold
  • Abandoned Stronghold: We tested a lot of possibilites, but in the end chose this option, as the card is only really oppressive when there are several on the board. It being unique could refer to the Nightfort, which is already a draft set card.
Bound for the Wall
  • Bound for the Wall: Another really swingy card, which we redesigned to fit into recruitment decks. Making the opponent choose is both less NPE and more nedly.
Wyman Manderly
  • Wyman Manderly: Wyman’s draw ability is almost as good as before the redesign. The main problem with Wyman was the easy access to the sacrifice trigger. Stark had to rely on tricks before to stand their board with Robb. Killing a standing character forces you to plan your turn a bit more. And it’s also more thematic, think of the poor Freys who were Wyman’s guests (aka characters you control?). If you wonder what happened to those Freys, read the flavor text on the card 😉
Meera Reed
  • Meera Reed: We raise Meera’s shadow cost to a more reasonable 2. But the major change is moving the trigger to the Winter theme. This way, we elegantly restrict her blanking ability to once per round. The Winter synergy is something Stahleck Champion Andrea liked for the card (Meera had Winter synergy in 1st edition).
Bear Island Scout
  • Bear Island Scout: This card was only on the pod-extended RL, but it is clearly a powerful key card for the Stark weenie decks. As a principle, every tutor effect that doesn’t need an upfront payment like Qohor or Gifts for the Widow shouldn’t be a full deck search, but limited to a number of top cards. 10 cards is still reasonable for a typical Stark goodstuff deck, or maybe you should include a couple more Mormonts in the future.
  • Skagos: Skagos was also recently moved to the extended RL, but the reasoning was mostly to diversify Stark builds, not the power level. We increase the cost of triggers after the first one to 1, while allowing several uses per round. But we balance this by making the searched for card enter play knelt, so you cannot easily use it twice on the same card (Ramsay anyone?). This also weakens its use as attachment hate or for enter play trigger, but it’s still as good as before for most attachment shenanigans and to get your sacrifice trigger condition.
  • Ward: Stealing opponent’s characters is the most powerful ability in the game. We limit Ward to unique characters, which makes thematic sense. It also makes sense that you should care about your ward, not kill/march/sacrifice it at the first opportunity, so we added prized. You need your ward alive to discourage the ward’s family from attacking you. With this redesign, the card will no longer be in every Stark goodstuff deck, but it is still powerful in aggro and attrition decks.
I Am No One
  • I Am No One: Another key card of the Stark weenie/Crossing decks. Winning the challenge and drawing a card for insight is now more difficult without stealth. This alone makes the card thematically fitting more effective with Arya than with Sansa (who with Septa Mordane on the board was the best target). And to increase the thematic connection to Arya even further, we allow it to be played on 4 and 5 cost Arya.
Daenerys Targaryen
  • Daenerys Targaryen (DotE): Big Dany was also pod-restricted, and she was the centerpiece of Valyrian Steel decks that dominated the meta lately. Targ Steel still won the playtesting tournament by the way. Big Dany now focusses on what Dany is all about: her dragons and her titles. It was a shame that Big Dany was basically a strictly better version of Core Dany. Dany’s -1 STR doesn’t really matter as burn decks will always play Pyro Dany. So what did we do? We made Big Dany interact with the big dragons. She represents the Queen of Meereen, so it makes sense that she doesn’t put Hatchlings into play, but full-grown dragons. In a Hatchling deck, you will probably prefer Core Dany, which feels appropriate.
  • Drogon (IDP): The first of the cards that wasn’t on the RL but was a close contender/would have ended up on the next RL. The -4 STR reduction devalued a lot of characters in the card pool. He made playing cost 5 and especially cost 6 characters with STR 4 a very risky choice. We’re seeing very few of these. One successful Drogon trigger on a high-cost character can single-handedly win games. So we’re making a very small adjustment, that doesn’t stop Drogon being a considerable threat.
Hizdahr zo Loraq
  • Hizdahr Loraq: The first of 3 Targ econ cheats in a row. Targ’s ability to cheat characters into play is one of the reasons they have been constantly on top of the meta. Hizdahr’s Super-Kingsroad ability (non-limited, +1 gold, not only for characters) is still a huge tempo play. The redesign hopefully makes him conditional enough that you no longer include him in every Targ deck, but he will still be amazingly effective in “discard” decks.
  • Qotho: Econ cheat no. 2. The summer condition makes you work a bit harder for his effect. No more Qotho on claim 2 plots is a very good thing (unless your opponent has a Summer plot of course).
Womb of the World
  • Womb of the World: Econ cheat no. 3. Womb is the core of the Dothraki decks, and it should stay this way. But card advantage on top of the tempo play was too strong. We keep the return to hand effect (note: also duplicates return to hand now), as it’s a core Targ mechanic. But we tone down the tempo play by making it a bit more difficult to cheat Drogo or Raiding Khalasar into play.
  • Meereen: Meereen was so good that Red Door Meereen decks were the best decks of the meta for a while. As with Hizdahr, we want to direct this card to “discard” decks instead of making it an auto-include again.
Crown of Gold
  • Crown of Gold: The draw deck limit 1 was a really lazy solution to balance a powerful effect. This kind of point-and-click removal also did not feel like Thrones at all. By removing the terminal burn effect this card will now be played solely in burn decks, but combined with Blood of the Dragon it’s still a very good card.
Gifts for the Widow
  • Gifts for the Widow: Full deck tutor effects are undoubtedly very strong and versatile, so a faction card kneel as an additional cost (like Wolf Dreams) is an appropriate cost.
Mace Tyrell
  • Mace Tyrell (HoT): Mace’s cool ability remains unchanged. His power gain (which was totally broken combined with The Hightower) is now more difficult to use and to protect. It’s also thematic that it’s not Lord Oaf/Lord Puff Fish who gets all the power. He may be the formal head of House Tyrell, but everybody knows it’s the other Tyrells who make their House grow strong.
The Queen's Retinue
  • The Queen’s Retinue: A “may draw” wording takes care of the mill combo.
Oldtown Informer
  • Oldtown Informer: A reasonable limit stops the combo abuse, while it keeps the card viable as a cool tricky effect for more regular decks.
Unexpected Guile
  • Unexpected Guile: We tidy up this card a bit. The weird forced end of the challenge trigger is gone, and more importantly you can’t use the same Guile several times in the same challenges phase, as it returns to your hand now.
All Men Are Fools
  • All Men Are Fools: Same as for Doran’s Game, we preemptively limit the OTK potential of this card.
To the Rose Banner!
  • To The Rose Banner: This pure combo card got the same special treatment as A Mission to Essos. Tyrell has a lot of interesting enter play effects, so it makes sense to make Mace’s action ability more widely available for decks that don’t want to play a 7-cost character. Playtesters really liked this card, there are lots of cool possibilities.
Flea Bottom
  • Flea Bottom: It was blatantly obvious to make this card have bestow. It even was part of the bestow cycle! With the upcoming bestow support, it will be great in dedicated bestow decks and still good in normal decks.
The Iron Bank
  • The Iron Bank: Just a simple limit to stop the OTK Orphan of the Greenblood combo decks with Sparrows or Core Sansa.
Great Hall
  • Great Hall: Similar to Abandoned Stronghold, Great Hall was only over the top when you had several in play. As a unique limited, it’s still a great econ card to get with At the Gates.
"The Dornishman's Wife"
  • “The Dornishman’s Wife”: I loved this nedly design when a member of the design team suggested this. Please note that the power is gained by the killed character, so its best use is to close when you have 13 power. “Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
  • Bribery: We stop the Mercenary Contract combo. This will still be a good card with regard to the upcoming bestow/mercenary theme.
The Dragon's Tail
  • The Dragon’s Tail: We discussed this card a lot, but the Melee players within the Design Team didn’t like the proposed changes. Why change a perfect Melee card?
Kingdom of Shadows
  • Kingdom of Shadows: We get rid of the econ bonus, because it’s really not needed. Access to all shadows characters is this agenda’s appeal. The additonal marshaling into shadows cost encourages you to have characters on the board and including more in-faction characters makes sure not all KoSh look the same.
Sea of Blood
  • Sea of Blood: Boy, this was difficult to balance. Even more than with KoSh, the agenda disadvantage will lead to unique decks for each faction. Spending the blood token will stop the snowballing effect SoB was infamous for.
The Free Folk
  • The Free Folk: An agenda hated by many for its straightforward playstyle and uniformity. It’s now a bit more flexible. You don’t have to exclusively play claim 2 plots, and you can include the Stark and Night’s Watch wildlings. You can still play this agenda as an aggro agenda, but your usual military claim will be 3, not 4.
The Wars To Come
  • The Wars To Come: This agenda got a penalty like all agendas referring to the War in its name. There will be more War plots and War trait synergy in future designs.
Valyrian Steel
  • Valyrian Steel: This agenda can still be used to draw 3 (or more!) cards per round, but it’s a bit trickier to use than simply “draw 3 cards during marshaling”. The winner of the playtesting tournament used 3x Blood Magic Ritual for example 😉
Breaking Ties
  • Breaking Ties: The title of this card referred to the Meele final, in which Luiz won his champ card design by having more cards in his deck. The changes (limit depending on opponents & shuffle into deck) are nods to that memorable final.
Forced March
  • Forced March: This plot was really ubiquitous and we don’t want this to happen again. You now kneel the same number of characters and have to decide how many upfront.
Littlefinger's Meddling
  • Littlefinger’s Meddling: One use per phase stops the combo abuse.
At the Palace of Sorrows
  • At the Palace of Sorrows: This plot warps the current meta. The stats are great on top of its strong ability. It has a lot of interesting synergies, but in the end its best use was by weenie decks flooding the board. Plo deck limit 1 is a reasonable fix.
Return to the Fields
  • Return to the Fields: This plot is now also Plot deck Limit 1, so it’s a bit more difficult to anticipate the opponent’s reset. No gold means it’s harder to flood the board again.
The Annals of Castle Black
  • The Annals of Castle Black: This plot needed a limit, and twice per phase seems fair.
The King in the North
  • The King in the North: Jakob wanted this plot to be like Burning Bridges from 1st edition, i.e. no triggered abilities at all. We come closer to that version, which makes the plot less one-sided. We keep the thematic king connection and extend it to queens.
Trade Routes
  • Trade Routes: This fix was also very self-evident. We kept the possibility to choose an opponent.

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