Bannermen! Fábio Cury, Lead Developer, here again with you to talk about Commanders this time.
As we stated in our previous Visions in the Flames, Characters have an important role in ASOIAF TMG because of their unique nature and how they can either reinforce a faction’s playstyle or bring something to the game that wouldn’t usually be available to that faction. The apex of this statement is embodied in the Commanders and today we’ll elaborate on our thought process for reevaluating them.
First and foremost, all Commanders should be unique in their own right. No two character are the same in the ASOIAF setting and this should be accentuated in Commanders. Although not all Commanders have necessarily Abilities unique to them, they do have a higher chance of having unique Abilities and Tactics Cards. That being said, when Commanders don’t have any unique Abilities or Cards, their whole “Kit” should be unique through the combination of existing effects.
When discussing how a Commander affects a faction’s playstyle, we start by exploring the thematical aspect of “What is this Character’s connection to the faction?”. Are they the embodiment of their faction? Did they align with this faction out of convenience? How do they behave and what are their goals in the books?
All of these questions help us pin down effects and Abilities that would be relevant for this Commander. Once we start tweaking and playtesting with them, we can always go back to these questions and remember our initial thought process, avoiding them from straying too far from home.
Once the role of the Commander is established, there are a couple of questions that help streamline their development process:
These two questions above are fundamental for keeping the game consistent, but these conditions are seldom met “right out the bat” and most times adjustments are made.
Commanders and playstyles are highly connected, so we’ll flesh this topic through a Mechanical standpoint as well.
When doing so, the Commander should be cross-checked with all the Units available to that faction and be sure they are not redundant nor ineffective. Of course, some Units will synergize more than others, but all Units should usually be possible to be played with all Commanders in a faction. And speaking of synergy, some Commanders may embody a sub-theme in a faction (such as Umbers within Starks, or Faith Militants within Lannisters). When this is the case, the trade-off is assessed of how this sub-theme escapes the traditional role of their main faction and what are the list building and gameplay drawbacks that ensue with this choice.
During these reevaluations and checks, we’ve also solidified the cost of Commanders. “Wait… But aren’t Commanders Free?”
Yes, they are! But the fact that players must choose one, and only one, Commander implies they should be compared with each other and that there is such a thing as an opportunity cost of choosing a Commander. They should generally be the first element chosen in a player’s list simply because of how much they interact with every other element of an army through the use of Tactics Cards.
We’ve tried as a rule of thumb to adjust most Commander Attachments to something around the level of a 2 point Attachment. That being said, the influence that Tactics Cards have in the game is enormous and they will always factor in the Attachment’s general power level. So, a Commander with possibly stronger Tactics Cards might have a weaker Attachment in comparison to others, or vice versa.
Now that we’ve seen some examples, I’ll address them individually.
Jaime, Kingslayer, embodies a Commander that focuses on his own unit. Whenever Jaime is on the battlefield, people should know! By granting Jaime’s Unit the Agile and Counterstrike Abilities we also ensure that his Unit will stay alive and be a threat to any possible attackers. All of his Tactics cards have very powerful effects, but they all require Jaime to be alive on the battlefield. Because of this “Jaime tax” for the effects, we’ve also added a second (very open) trigger of drawing a card, so players won’t have their hands bogged in case Jaime is defeated.
Jeor, 997th Lord Commander, on the other hand, is completely focused on reinforcing the Night’s Watch aspect of Vows (attaching cards to units) as well as making their already good Morale into great Morale!
Tormund, Thunderfist, received few modifications from his previous version, apart from streamlined wording and some minor effects. Let’s cut the Chase: Tormund is here as a reminder that although we are making considerable changes to many Commanders, they were only done where it was deemed necessary. Here, Tormund’s has his own play-style and the transition from 1.6 saw little need to really modify anything he specifically did.
And that concludes our Visions for this Week! Hope to see you next time!