Breaking Ties

A Champion Card Preview for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game

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Lothar smiled. "My lord father bids me tell Your Grace that he will agree to this new marriage alliance between our houses and renew his fealty to the King in the North, upon the condition that the King's Grace apologize for the insult done to House Frey, in his royal person, face to face."
  
–George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords

In the game of thrones, alliances are forged and broken with disturbing regularity. Claiming the Iron Throne is your ultimate goal, but to attain it, you’ll have to make sacrifices. Sometimes, you’re forced to betray your own.

In Sands of Dorne, the fifth deluxe expansion for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, House Martell holds the spotlight, but you’ll find cards for each other faction, as well as an assortment of neutral cards and plots. One of those neutral plots was designed by none other than the 2016 European Melee Champion, Luiz Gustavo Bretas.

You can pre-order Sands of Dorne at your local retailer or online through our website today! Then, read on for Luiz’s thoughts on designing his champion card.

Luiz Gustavo Bretas on His Champion Card

I love A Game of Thrones: The Card Game! And, more than that, I love the community around it! Those alone were good enough reasons to make me leave Rio de Janeiro to play in the great Tourney of Stahleck! What more could I ask? Winning? Having a chance to work on a card design? Those things never crossed my mind. 

So, when the final match of the European Melee Championship started at Stahleck, I was already feeling like the luckiest person in the world! When the game ended and I had won, it felt like a dream. I was not only having the best time with my friends—I also won the opportunity to work on a card design!  

When the design process started, my goal was to make a very special card. I wanted to work with every feature of the card to make each of them meaningful. And now, since Fantasy Flight Games gave me this opportunity, I get to share some of my intentions and the meaning behind each aspect of Breaking Ties (Sands of Dorne, 50)!

Playstyle: I’ve always liked versatile cards. I wanted a card that could be used aggressively to apply pressure, or played more defensively. The best example of another card in this category is our beloved Valar Morghulis (There Is My Claim, 80). I think Breaking Ties is the same type of card—a card that can provide control when the situation isn’t going well or help you establish and hold the position that you’ve created.

The Mechanics: One of my favorite mechanics in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game is sacrifice, which forces you to pay a hard price in exchange for an impactful effect. I wanted the card that I designed to have that kind of ability. Also, I am a big fan of the loyal and non-loyal cards introduced in the game’s second edition, and I wanted my card to interact with loyalty. In its final form, Breaking Ties certainly has a strong and flexible effect, but it comes with the price of losing one of your loyal characters.

The Effect: Breaking Ties was meant to be an “on-demand toolbox effect.” I wanted a card that could help players deal with anything that might crop up during the game. After all, do you really have to find space in every deck for Nightmares (Calm Over Westeros, 99)? Isn’t it hard to deal with locations if you’re not playing House Greyjoy or House Stark? Don’t you wish that you had alternative ways to deal with The Wall (Core Set, 137) and Chamber of the Painted Table (Core Set, 60)?

These were some of the principal thoughts in my head while I was designing the effect. Even when you’re using Nightmares and other removal cards, sometimes you won’t draw them. A plot card is always there when you need it. And because Breaking Ties is a Scheme plot, it can’t be blanked by Forgotten Plans (True Steel, 119) and it can be accessed with  "The Rains of Castamere" (Lions of Casterly Rock, 45).

The Traits: Why House Frey? I know, it’s hard to like them in the books, but we can all agree that they add some spice to the story. Also, the Freys are probably the biggest family, spread across all of Westeros. For me, the A Game of Thrones: The Card Game community is a big family, spread around the world. We act nothing like the Freys, though!

The Art and Lore: High initiative and a threatening effect for negotiation are good things to have in a melee game, but Breaking Ties was designed to be a powerful toolbox card for joust as well. Still, another goal was to use its art to hail the melee format and the Brazilian meta, where we only play melee. The moment when the Starks arrive at The Twins to deal with the “betrayal” is a reference to the melee format and all the alliances that are broken in melee. Deciding when and how to make deals and when and how break ties is something that all good melee players have to know how to do!

The Name: This is my favorite part of the card and probably the most meaningful. In fact, this was among the first things that I chose for the card. The name “Breaking Ties” was a suggestion from Kostas Adamopoulos, one of the finalists at Stahleck 2016. For those who don’t know, I won the melee tourney in a tie breaker. Kostas, Wedge, and I were incompetent enough to only have twelve power after three full rounds. What were the odds? Of course, I was the lucky player who had more cards in the deck and won a card design. I like to think that I was the lucky player who won five tables in a row and was able to participate in the best melee game anyone could ever ask for. No collusions, great players, and great friends killing each other until the very last minute.

I hope I could give you a good idea of the meaning behind Breaking Ties! I want to acknowledge the designers and the playtesters so they know how thankful I am for their incredible work. The whole process was very professional, serious, and quick. And last, but not least, I hope that Breaking Ties can fight for scarce space in plot decks around the world! Can’t wait to have players finding creative ways to use it.

Luiz Gustavo Bretas started playing A Game of Thrones: The Card Game at the end of 2014, and after Gen Con 2015, he decided to make A Game of Thrones a big part of his life. Unlike most players, he primarily plays competitive melee. Belo Horizonte, his home town, holds a melee league that is already in its fourth year! His passion for the game has made him leave Brazil to travel to tournaments in Europe, Chile, and the United States.

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