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The Trouble with Factions

The Trouble with Factions

By: Josh Lytle

 

I know everyone is excited to catch a glimpse of the new factions. Ever since The Spoils™ was launched nearly a year ago, people have been waiting to see where these central cards will take us. The theories have been many and varied, but the universal opinion seems to be that faction cards are one of the elements that give The Spoils™ great potential.

 

From reading the forums and talking with people in person, I’ve come to realize that most of you have very high hopes for the new factions. Let me be the first to say, yes, we are going to go crazy places with them in the future. But right now, we’re only taking the first step into a multi-faction world. The factions of Seed are simple compared to what we’ll do in the future, but they still add another dimension to game play.

 

I also have a feeling that you’d like to just skip to the bottom of this article so you can see the preview, but I encourage you to stay with me a bit longer. I am going to explain how the new factions work and why certain choices have been made.

The Fun

New factions could potentially change the way the game is played. To a large extent, the Tournament Faction has defined how we think. So many evaluations of cards are based on the idea that drawing a card costs 3, and playing a resource costs 4. But what if these numbers were higher? Lower? What if additional abilities were added? What if the number of starting resources changed? All of these questions run through player’s minds when they think about new faction ideas.

Unique Card Backs

Each faction features a unique card back with its art. So why do this? There are three prominent reasons. First, factions are meant to represent large groups or places which are better represented with more image area. By putting the art on the back, you can see much more of the detail. Second, having a unique card back makes finding a faction among your other cards easier. Since factions don’t belong in your deck, a different back helps it stand out. Third, we gain more textbox area if we need it. Since we would like to make future factions complex, we are able to utilize the entire front face for rules text.

The Challenges of Factions in Limited Play

It seems that most people focus on Constructed play when they think about factions. This naturally makes sense, because in Constructed you can choose the faction that you want and design a deck strategy specifically to abuse it.

 

It seems only natural that factions would have much less of an impact in Limited play. How can you base a deck on a faction if you don’t even open it? And if you are drafting, can you really do much with a faction that you open in the last pack? Also, if a faction has a unique back face, won’t other people know I’m drafting it? Not the mention the fact that a faction designed for Constructed play might not even work well with a Limited deck.

 

These are the same issues we struggled with when we were first deciding how factions would work. Luckily, we found what I feel is the perfect solution.

The Solution

We definitely wanted everyone to get the benefit of playing factions. If you were a primarily Limited player, you should have the experience of multi-faction play as much as a die-hard Constructed fan. It seemed apparent to us that if factions were going to work for Limited, then we needed to change the way we think about them.

 

Most Limited decks you build have a few holes in their strategy. Perhaps you didn’t get enough removal? Not enough characters? Tricks? Evasion? Or maybe you didn’t get adequate support cards for the mechanics in your card pool. Good players can design around these issues, but sometimes they simply don’t have any decent options.

 

We felt we could provide a solution to players by designing factions that could fill the holes in a Limited deck’s strategy. We’d simply distribute these factions as staples. It all started to make sense. Base sets would contain The Tournament Faction, and 5 trade-specific staple factions designed to enhance Limited play.

 

By taking this approach, we also eliminate the need to put factions into booster packs and therefore solve any issues that may have occurred in Booster Draft. Instead, the 6 staple factions are distributed in each competition pack.

What About Constructed?

I’m sure many of you are wondering, so how will Constructed work if factions aren’t in packs? The answer to your question is, yes, there will be factions designed only for Constructed in the future. However, instead of opening these factions in booster packs or finding them in competition packs, you will get them as box toppers.

Box Toppers

Box toppers are a new concept in The Spoils™. They are essentially a single card inserted into a box of packs before it is sealed. Whoever opens that box will receive an extra special promo card.

 

Boxes of booster packs will each contain 1 box topper, and boxes of competition packs will each contain 2 box toppers. Each promo is foil. Certain box toppers will be rarer than others, and you might even find one of the set’s ultra rare cards.

 

In the future, we’ll release special factions as box toppers. Most of these will feature a line of rules text that says “The card cannot be used in Limited play.” But this is the method by which new factions will be available to the players.

The Rules

So what does this all mean? Basically, when you play in a Limited tournament you get to choose which faction you want to use. Only factions from the cycle you are playing are allowed, but you are free to choose any of them while building your deck.

The Preview

Now that I've explained the thinking behind these cards, I can finally reveal the staple factions from Seed! Each one has been designed to either fill a common hole in a Limited deck or to work well with the mechanics of the set. You’ll notice they have a few drawbacks, but remain very similar to The Tournament Faction. So without further ado, I present the front and back faces of the new factions:



















Wrap Up

I hope everyone can make it out to our prerelease events for Seed. I know it will drive you crazy, but I can’t give you a rock solid date just yet. Information is coming soon! But I think once you have a chance to use these new factions in Limited play you’ll enjoy the extra layer of strategy they add. Go out, and have fun playing The Spoils™!

 

Josh Lytle



Arcane Tinmen