by Terence Jason Dorman, fill-in extraordinaire
With Shade of the Devoured Emperor as close to “around the corner” as it can be (test prints, w00t!), all the players I know are excited by the 130 new cards and the many ways those cards will shake up the tournament scene.
While adding 130 new cards is great, Shade is more than just the cards found within it. The release of Shade will mark a major turning point for The Spoils as a game, a turning point that will allow both Arcane Tinmen and Spoils players to really grow the game and raise it to the level it should be at.
How will Shade accomplish this, you ask? Good question.
Out from Under Tenacious’ Shadow – While Arcane Tinmen (AT) has owned The Spoils for a number of years now, the three sets that AT has released have all been influenced by Tenacious Games (TG), the former owner of Spoils. Second Edition, while an idea created by Arcane Tinmen, is made entirely of cards printed under TG’s ownership. Seed Two and Seed Three were even designed with heavy influence from Josh Lytle, the creator of the game and former TG employee.
Shade, however, is entirely AT’s baby. Every card in the set was designed by Ken and his design team OR are player submitted ideas from the Open R&D forums. The artwork is all done by artists under Ken and Michael’s supervision, and no card or artwork was “leftover” from the TG days. Everything about Shade is brand new and we have AT to thank for that.
New Block – When TG folded after the release of Seed: Children of the Lingamorph, they left a lot of questions unanswered regarding Spoils lore. When AT took over a few years later, they fleshed out the Seed story with Seed Two and Seed Three, finishing what TG started back in 2008. As such, Spoils players have been stuck in the same story for about five years now, only getting more details about stuff we were already involved with.
Now that Shade is releasing, we are finally getting completely fresh storyline material. While the set does take place in Clockman shortly after the events of First Edition, the story of the Unlikely Heroes block is one that no player knows anything about (with the exception of preview cards, of course). It will be the first time in a long time we are experiencing a brand new story, which has me very excited.
Fresh Limited Play – To say that the draft and sealed formats have become stagnant is a bit of an understatement. Players who have been with The Spoils since Open Beta in 2006 have been drafting variations of First/Second Edition for over six years, while players who were around when Seed was released have been drafting that set for four. Sure, we had Seed Two: Gloamspike’s Revenge to shake things up, but we’ve been drafting that for two years now.
The release of Shade, though, evens the playing field. Nobody except the handful of playtesters have drafted these cards, meaning new and old players alike will have to learn how to draft and build sealed decks with Shade. This should also help to revive the Limited tournament environment as competitive players will want every chance they can get to practice their Limited skills with the new cards.
New Art – I’m a big fan of the artwork found in The Spoils and I cannot wait to see 130 new Spoils art pieces. While the artwork itself may not do anything to grow the game directly, the gorgeous artwork will surely be a strong selling point to anyone looking to pick up a few packs and learn the game. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at some of the cards already previewed. They are gorgeous!
New Is Always Good – Anyone who is a card gamer will tell you that new releases always help to strengthen a game. New releases breathe life in to the competitive scene, give casual players more to work with, and get players of all varieties talking about new ideas and concepts.
Shade is no exception to this and will certainly do all the above. I have no doubt in my mind that Shade will be nothing short of spectacular, and I am sure we will all look back on it and say it was worth the wait. Plus, Shade is definitely the first step towards a very bright future for The Spoils, and I am very much looking forward to taking that step.
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