by Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor
style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">
by Evan Lorentz, Game Designer at SOE-Denver
The lore of the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/38"
series has been a source of entertainment for a vast number of players
throughout the years. From the shining sword of Mithaniel Marr to the
horrible deeds of Cazic Thule, the history of Norrath is rife with
faithful friends and fiendish foes.When SOE Denver’s href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/396"
online trading card game was originally released, it was apparent that
the developers had really taken their time to explore the lore of this
epic series. Cards like “Fippy Darkpaw” and
“Nagafen” resonated with longtime EQ lovers. With
their fifth expansion – dubbed
“Ethernauts” – the LoN developers have
delved even deeper into that rich lore to produce their cards.
Recently, Ten Ton Hammer had the opportunity to sit down with Evan
Lorentz and discuss this upcoming expansion. We hope you enjoy the
interview and the two exclusive cards that we’ve included!
afraid of spiders? The character in "Phobia" certainly is.
Ten Ton Hammer: You just
recently announced the fifth set for style="font-style: italic;">Legends of Norrath,
which you’ve titled Ethernauts.
What can players expect from this latest 280 card set? Where did you
focus the most attention?
The number one focus was on injecting greater strategic variety into
the game. The last few expansions we’ve released have tipped
the scales to a point where many serious tournament players tended
toward similar decks. They would load a deck with inexpensive units,
plan on never completing any quests, and “rush” the
opponent for a quick kill. We wanted to slow down the pace of the game
and rebalance things so that other strategies – especially
avatar-vs.-avatar combat – could have a fighting chance. More
variety is more fun, and better for players.
also has a new focus in terms of story. Every year, we intend to tell a
new story in the world of Norrath, and so we’re leaving
behind the target="_blank">Oathbound
characters, the Tribunal, and those story elements that have been there
from day one. In the next few sets, we’ll be delving several
hundred years into the past, to the style="font-style: italic;">Ethernauts and
their adventures. We wanted the gameplay to shift as well, opening up a
style of play not available before. That led to a subset of cards that
actually “reset” a player’s faction after
he’s already turned light or shadow. Now you can build a deck
where you don’t just think about going light or shadow once,
you can do it multiple times and gain strong, cool benefits each time.
Ten Ton Hammer: In every
previous set, you’ve focused on a particular class and
developed some cards for that specialty. What classes were given card
treatments in the Ethernauts?
Will my necromancer have something to look forward to?
We’ve actually decided to shake up that approach for this
set. I think we’ve been able to do a lot of fun things with
our “class focus” in previous sets, but I also
think it has sometimes had a down side too. For example, in our last
I really loved what we did for our warder cards. They
had a flavor that was really different from the pets we’d
done for Mages, and really defined what being a Beastlord meant in
Legends of Norrath.
But we had to use so many cards to set up that
flavor that I think if you were a Scout fan looking for a little help
for your existing decks, you were a bit disappointed by the cards in
This time around, we focused less on classes as they appear in EQ and
and more on the archetypes as they appear in LoN. You will still
see cards in the set that represent the skills of necromancers, druids,
shadowknights, and so forth – and we made every effort to be
true to the flavor of those classes where they do appear. But at the
same time, we did not ask, for example, “what are we doing
for paladins this set?” Instead, we asked “what are
we doing for light Fighters this set?” Sometimes, that meant
giving them a paladin-themed card, but other times it meant a warrior
or guardian card.
Ten Ton Hammer: On the
promotional site for the latest set, it mentions two new raids coming
into the game. Are we going to see anything that players are really
going to be excited about? Perhaps an old throwback to the EQ days?
are actually releasing the two raids separately. The first of them will
appear shortly after the release of the set, and it deals with the
Protector’s Realm, a raid that many EQ2 players will already
be familiar with.
One of the cooler aspects of the raid involves power generation.
Because of the quests in this raid, players will have much more power
than they usually do, which will re-define what they decide to use in
their decks. Also, the raid has a number of very strong units that the
players will have to defeat in order to win. These units have
attributes and text that have never been seen before, and will be a
major challenge to overcome.
will definitely give some power to card heavy decks.
Ten Ton Hammer:
It’s been almost a year since the original release of style="font-style: italic;">Legends of Norrath.
What has the development team learned in that time? How have your goals
changed? Where do you see the game going in the future?
Every new set teaches us a lot. One of the most valuable things
we’ve learned over the first year is how players value
certain kinds of gameplay. For example, I think it’s pretty
clear when you look at the costs of early Mage Cold cards that we
thought exerting an opponent’s card was better than it
actually is. And on the other end of the spectrum, we’ve seen
how moving an opponent’s unit from one quest to another is
far more useful than it costs. These kinds of specific lessons always
inform future sets.
On a more general level, I think our goal is the same: make the game
fun and interesting. We need to shake things up if they get stagnant,
add new facets and depth to existing strategies, and develop new ideas
that can take the game in different directions. I have ideas for things
I’d like to see in future sets, but there has to be room for
the gameplay to respond to the players, and grow in natural ways.
Ten Ton Hammer: What kind
of Shadow Odyssey
content will be included in the Ethernauts expansion? Will EQ2 players
really get a thrill out of seeing this new content before it goes live
in the game?
EQII team really helped us do some special things with this set, giving
us all kinds of information about Shadow
Odyssey and the Ethernauts.
Four of the major characters – Bayle, Asharae, Kaltuk, and
Illisia – are the avatars for the four decks in the Legendary
Starter Pack. More cards in our set feature them and their adventures
in the art and lore.
We also have a special Cloudskipper starter deck where your avatar is
actually the Ethernauts’ ship itself, and the quests depict
the story of its construction. The Cloudskipper starter, by the way, is
a special free product for registered LoN players.
Ten Ton Hammer: It seems
like the lore of EverQuest
was really drawn on in this particular set. How did the original style="font-style: italic;">EverQuest story
influence this particular set of cards? What kind of
cards are in the expansion?
most exciting original EQ concept we have for players is the second
raid we are releasing. While we can’t talk too much about it
yet, it deals with the new expansion set and the forces of discord
interrupting a major EQ story event. You will have to protect some
major EQ characters from being destroyed and make sure they carry out
their historic acts without being interfered with. It’s the
first time we’ve created a large raid where you actually have
to protect units on the board and we’re really excited about
seeing how players deal with the challenge.
Ten Ton Hammer:
You’re adjusting the starter packs in this particular set to
include the option to create all four archetypes with one pack. Why did
you decide to make this change? What sort of advantage will this give
think this is going to make the game a lot more approachable. There
were 16 different starter decks out there already, four for each set
we’ve released, and if you’re a new player looking
to try out Legends of Norrath, it’s hard to know where in all
that you should start. Now this one product will give you a taste of
all the archetypes, rather than just a sample of one-quarter of the
game. This will be the place to get started for the next several sets,
for as long as we’re telling the Ethernauts’ story
– there isn’t going to be another starter product
for our next couple sets. Want to join Legends of Norrath? The
Legendary Starter Pack is all you need to jump right in.
Ten Ton Hammer:
Personally, I’m a huge fan of the history and background of style="font-style: italic;">EverQuest. Will we
ever see a set of cards devoted to the original game, with a variety of
cards that older EQ players will really appreciate? Or will
it always be a combo?
expect it will continue to be a combination of both. It’s
possible we might decide to try something a little different somewhere
down the road. But still, we offer loot cards for both EQ and EQII in
each new expansion, and it seems to me like the LoN cards themselves
should do the same. The first four sets seemed to focus a little more
on EQ than EQII, and I think you’ll see that balance ebb and
flow all the time in Legends of Norrath.
Ten Ton Hammer: If you
could change one thing about the Legends
of Norrath card game, what would it be? Why would you make
this adjustment? Is there anything that just works perfectly?
neat thing about a trading card game is that the changes you wish you
could make, you often really can make. It’s usually just a
matter of how the cards of a given expansion are written.
For example, going into Ethernauts, the designers were a little
disappointed in the way so many players had settled on leaving the game
at “3 power per turn,” never finishing even one
quest. We felt it gave too much strength to cheap cards, kept more
expensive cards from competing, and made games play too quickly. The
level 2 quests in Ethernauts are aimed at changing all that. Many of
them represent major roadblocks that can hurt various “no
questing” strategies. This should encourage players to stock
the tools to complete at least one quest before proceeding with
“business as usual.”
Ten Ton Hammer: Is there
anything else you’d like to tell the Ten Ton Hammer readers
and LoN fans?
Thanks for playing the game! And to the players who are active on the
forums, please know that the designers do read what you’re
saying, even if we rarely respond. We appreciate the thoughtful
feedback players give on each expansion, and we do take it into account
when we plan for the future.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Legends of Norrath Game Page.