Rohan - Designer's Notes | openCards

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Rohan iconRohan - Designer's Notes

    This Strategy-Note article was written by Joe Alread (Game Designer - Decipher, Inc) and was published first on "Lord of the Rings Online (".

    When we entered the design phase on Battle of Helm's Deep the TCG studio felt that while Rohan has some powerful utility cards, they needed more cultural definition. With cards such as Simbelmynë, Weapon Store and Éomer, Rohan had many generic strengths but when put together, needed a more cohesive feel to them. Along with all this, their strengths came at a relatively expensive price. With Rohan seeing little action in the tournament circuit and players screaming for justice, we decided to answer the call.

    Possessions, Possessions, Possessions

    A theme The Two Towers base set first touched on with Rohan was their specialty in possessions. Their culture has lots of them, and in general they are above average compared to other cultures.

    If you were to compare the cards above to their equivalents in other cultures, you would find them to be superior in many ways. With that premise in mind, we took Rohan possessions and gave them a flavor no other culture has.

    Playing Cards Out of Phase

    The LotR design team hadn't really investigated this concept yet. Cards playing during different phases sounded interesting, so we gave it a shot. After several iterations, we came to three final versions.

    As I said before, the power of Rohan possessions was somewhat weakened by the fact that they cost so much twilight. By spending one or two twilight tokens per possession easily gave a Shadow player enough pool to slow down a Rohan fellowship easily. By allowing Rohan to get around this drawback finally gives them the teeth they need to survive.

    We wanted to create a large number of these companions who get to play possessions out of phase. For now we only have three, but I have no doubt that in the future we will be expanding on this concept a whole lot more!

    Some of the new possessions released in Helm's Deep also have a bit of their own flavor.

    Each of these possessions discards to use its special ability. This was done to facilitate reusing these possessions at a later point in the game. Even though these possessions cost you twilight, you can compensate for this by using one of the three companions above to get around it (Of course, you don't really get around the cost, but you prevent your opponents from having access to it during their Shadow phase, which is important).

    At one point in time these were a lot more complex. We had allies who allowed you to place possessions from your discard pile beneath your draw deck, and other mechanics that let you take the bottom card of your draw deck into hand. We wanted to create a "mini-armory" on the bottom of your deck.

    Through testing though it soon became apparent that there was just way too much going on in a game to let something like this happen on a repeat basis. Imagine every turn having to search through your discard pile, picking a card, picking up your deck and placing a card beneath it. Then later on you'd play a card that would make you pick up your deck again and take that bottom card back into your hand. Quite the circus.

    So, in the end we abandoned the concept for simplicity's sake. There are lots of other things we have planned for Rohan and its possessions though, and their viability will only improve with the release of future expansion sets.