Throwback Thursday is a common theme on sites and blogs where you hearken back to something interesting or random from the past. On Land of Redemption, we’ve started our Throwback Thursday trend with re-posts of preview articles from years past.

Fast forward to 2006 and we have the first of the Priests preview articles. Here Bryon provides insight into the choice behind creating a new brigade, which sheds some light on what the thought process may have been when they created Clay in Early Church as well. Enjoy!

Originally Posted By: Bryon | Date: 2006

When Redemption started in 1995, there were six good brigades. Four years later, with the release of the Warriors, the seventh good brigade was added: Silver, for angels. Finally, seven years after the debut of silver, another new good brigade is being added: Teal, for priests. Why are priests getting their own brigade? Read on.

The first draft of the Priest list (early October, ‘05) had about 26 priests from the Bible lined up to be heroes in the set. We had them divided into the six original human brigades. We added “priestly” enhancements such as sacrifices, and began several special abilities, “If used by a priest …” In addition, we had about 19 other heroes that were not priests that we spread through the brigades. It looked like this was going to be an average Redemption set.

Then Rob made a comment to the playtesters that some of the special abilities were a little too long. Too many words means less art is visible, plus it is daunting to new players. Much of that was fixed by using concise language, and dropping extra requirements and extra abilities. But we knew that some of the extra words had to do with the limiting phrase “If used by a priest…” on many of the cards. One option at that point was to drop the requirement that a priest use the ability (and have Jael performing priestly duties such as Burnt Offerings!). That would have been OK.

Instead we brainstormed. After church one Sunday I talked with my friends Brandan and Calvin, two long-time Redemption players who remember the release of The Warriors. I showed them some of the list from the Priests set. They liked a lot of the cards, but were not sure how many of the heroes and good enhancements they would put in their deck. You see, when players have a great deck and a new set comes along, the players usually replace some cards in their decks. But the more expansion sets a game releases, the fewer new cards are added to a deck. Redemption is 11 years old this summer, and it was beginning to look like decks were running out of space for fresh cards. In an effort to find a solution to that problem, Brandan, Calvin, and I looked back at what had happened in Redemption over the years:

We started playing in 1998, when the Women was the newest set. Our decks contained a mix of cards from the Women, Prophets, and original sets. When the Warriors released the next year, we changed about half the cards in our decks. When the Apostles released, we changed about 10 cards in each of our decks. When the Patriarchs released, we changed about seven cards in each deck. Each set thereafter we’ve only replaced about 5-7 cards from each of our decks. Now with the Priests we were looking at a 250-card set that was going to have great cards that might lose the competition for inclusion in a deck. That was not acceptable to us. But how does Cactus make a set that really invigorates creativity; that challenges players to make big changes to their decks? Or build whole new decks?

The three of us discussed a few options:
– Go higher: ramp up the power of the set. The Warriors did this. Enhancements and characters were produced for many brigades with numbers higher than had been seen before. But if we keep that ramp going, we will eventually have 8/8 enhancements and 20/50 evil characters. We could ramp up the power of the special abilities instead, but then we’d have every enhancement either interrupt the battle, or cannot be negated, or remove opponent’s draw pile from the game. Clearly, we are not going that way. We’re keeping characters in the 1/1 to 12/12 range for the time being, and keeping the maximum total stats on good and evil enhancements at 7 and 6, respectively. (OK, one good enhancement breaks that rule, and several evil enhancements have the potential to break that rule, but you get the idea.) The special abilities are powerful, but not ridiculous (for the most part).
– Go deeper: add extra layers of complexity to the game. We could add a new card type in every set and add new phases to the turn. The Warriors did that, but if we kept that up we might eventually have some cards that require a magnifying glass to read the special ability, printed in size 2 font. Soon you’d need a master’s degree to play and a doctorate to be a tournament judge, and games would last 4 hours. Don’t worry; we’re not going that deep.
– Go broader: add cards that strengthen existing strategies, and add some cards that create new possibilities for brigades. Add cards that make current powerhouse strategies less dominating, and make a player question the inclusion of almost any card in a deck. Add a new brigade every once in a while.

Bingo! A new brigade worked well with the Warriors set, and we were hopeful it would do the same with the Priests set. Not only that but it would eliminate the “If used by a priest…” line on all those priestly enhancements. Two giants with one stone!

Rob and the playtesters were all in agreement that a new brigade would be good, so in mid-January of ‘06, the priests were granted their own brigade. Doug even designed a classy unique border shared by all the heroes in the Teal brigade, as you see in this week’s sample card, as well as on the High Priest Jehoiada card, seen in Priests article #2.

But besides a theme (priests) and a sweet new border, what does a new brigade need?

When a new brigade is introduced, it needs to have enough characters. Other brigades have had an 11 year head start. Look at the head start White brigade has, for example: combining all the existing sets and not counting reprints, the white brigade has 28 different heroes. Teal gets started with 26 heroes. The heroes in the Teal brigade have strength stats ranging from 1 to 12, and every number in between. Almost every teal brigade hero has his own unique stats, and they all have a unique special ability. Most of those special abilities are based on the Bible story about the priest, or are in keeping with the roles of a priest. The weaknesses for teal: no female heroes and only one NT hero in this set. Golden Calf is going to hurt! Or not. Teal’s heroes are very good, but Teal’s enhancements are jaw-droppingly awesome!

Teal gets 18 amazing regular enhancements, 2 helpful covenants, and 1 superb weapon-class enhancement. In addition, there are 6 two-color enhancements that tie the Priests to the six existing human brigades. Many of these will see frequent play. So, that is 26 teal heroes and 27ish teal enhancements. Adding the 3 Teal sites you get 56 teal cards out of a 251-card set. As the set is called “The Priests,” it makes sense that 22% of the cards should relate directly to good priests.

Those who are concerned that the other good brigades might be left out have nothing to fear. The other good brigades each get three helpful heroes (White gets four), and five good enhancements (silver gets only three, but last set they got 39!). Plus, don’t forget those 2-color enhancements that Teal shares with each other human brigade.

Without spoiling the details, Teal is going to be a fun and interesting brigade. It is new, but powerful. The Priests expansion set as a whole is really going make Redemption a fresh new game! Prepare the operating room for deck surgery. Or will you build a whole new deck?

To buy singles, sealed product, and other gaming supplies mentioned, please visit Three Lions Gaming!

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