Welcome back as we continue our exploration of the exciting upcoming expansion cycle, A Tale of Champions , with A Game of Thrones ' developer Damon Stone's look at some new features of this cycle. In particular, Damon will be discussing the two new keywords that are being introduced in A Tale of Champions . Without any further ado, take it away, Damon!
Going it Alone
A Tale of Champions introduces two new keywords that capture the feel of the tournaments of Westeros. The tourneys are an opportunity for warriors to practice specific skills needed to be successful in battle in a comparatively safe setting. The ability to ride alone and place a lance "just so" requires self-reliance, concentration, and a strong sense of purpose. These skills, while excellent for the lists of the joust tournament, also serve warriors on the battlefield, and even in the shadowed alleys of King’s Landing. Commonly in A Game of Thrones , combat is done en masse, with multiple attackers against multiple defenders. The joust keyword indicates a character’s ability to narrowly focus on his or her task and force an engagement with just a single combatant.
When a character with the joust keyword is attacking alone, the defending opponent cannot declare more than 1 character as a defender.
The epitome of the classic joust card is House Baratheon’s Knight of Flowers . The young lord of House Tyrell is known for his skill with a lance. He is one of the most obvious choices for the joust keyword, and coming up with an ability for him that would make him a good addition to Baratheon’s core strategy of rushing to 15 power and victory was paramount to me. His character ability and noble crest are a definite boon for the Noble Rush-based decks (for unfamiliar players: a House Baratheon Noble Rush deck is one that is centered around characters with the noble crest such as the Baratheon brothers Robert, Stannis, and Renly, winning challenges with them, and claiming extra power through renown. Their noble crests let them take advantage of cards like Distinct Mastery (Core Set, S177), as well as survive assaults through cards like The Power of Blood (Core Set, L194) or Loyal Guard ( Wolves of the North , F5)) , with the joust keyword making it that much more likely that he would win that challenge. When he is coupled with Stormlands Bastard ( The Isle of Ravens , F65) and given renown through that character's ability, he can claim an awesome 3 power in a single challenge!
A not so obvious choice for the joust keyword is Arya Stark . Arya is a loner, the “black wolf” of the Stark family, if you will. She has learned to be self-reliant, depending on Needle and her wits to survive where so many others have not. Her ability also outlines House Stark’s identity in the multiplayer melee format: "Do not oppose me, or make me oppose you." If you win a challenge in which Arya attacked alone and also forced the defending player to defend with only one character, then after the target of your attack fulfills the normal claim each player who has a Title that opposes you is suddenly open to possibly losing a character as well, if you trigger the response that makes them also fulfill the claim.
Enemies on All Sides
In war, being surrounded by foes and fighting through it requires situational awareness, the ability to use your opponent’s greater numbers against them, and the heart to keep fighting against impossible odds. Whether you are engaged in the melee tourney, a battle at the gates of Harrenhal, or during a kingsmoot on Nagga’s Hill, identifying your opponents and using their numbers against them is a skill to be desired. The melee keyword does just that, letting you take advantage of the fog of war to increase your own strength when engaged with multiple enemies.
When a character with the melee keyword is participating in a challenge, it gets +1 STR for each participating character controlled by an opponent.
Sellswords are used to being surrounded by an overwhelming number of people they cannot fully trust. Those who cannot see through the chaos of battle are not long for this earth. Enter House Targaryen’s Daario Narahis . As a character with all three icons, Daario can attack or defend any challenge type and his melee keyword keeps him in the fight even against greater numbers. His war crest makes him a great card to demonstrate the Power of Arms (Core Set, S200) or to offer a Mercenary Contract ( The Battle of Blackwater Bay , F111). Given Daario’s devious nature, his ability came to me pretty quickly: to discard Knights and Traitors from play when he comes into play is just icing on the cake. A cake that with To Be a Dragon ( Sacred Bonds , F48) you get to have slice after slice.
The hatched-faced man, whose voice is law in Great Wyk, a reaver of old, The Sparr is one to be feared. Introducing a new unique character to the game is always a pleasure. The Sparr is a man who rules his part of the largest of the Iron Islands, has seen kingsmoots, and still at his age holds his lands with an iron grip. His noble crest makes him a possible candidate to sit The Seastone Chair ( Beyond the Wall , F28). His low printed STR may denote his age, but his melee keyword shows those who would align against him that opposition only makes him more tenacious. The Sparr also has a strong passive ability: slowing your opponent down and helping you gain tempo control. A fun card to use, but not so pleasant to face.
Thanks Damon! We hope this piece has whet your appetite for the dynamic action coming in A Tale of Champions , and given you plenty to discuss here in the comments and in the A Game of Thrones forums . Come back next time for a look at some of the champions that have made Westeros and A Game of Thrones great!