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
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
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.
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
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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:
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™!