By Jake Kessler
Last week, we talked about the House of Wren, our seedy criminal underworld of street fighters, gangsters and rogues. This week, let’s take a look at Macedon’s ruling class: the bureaucratic Central Council.
The Council represents the colony’s reigning government body — a labyrinthine maze of bureaucracy and corruption or a shining beacon of democracy and justice, depending on your point of view. The Council government, after all, is defined by the Council itself: a reclusive group of political leaders who sculpt the laws and practices that shape the colony’s future. Each of those individuals’ ambitions, agendas, personalities, and ideals shapes how the Council deals with those it rules over. Greed or prosperity, freedom or control, are all subject to the whims and caprices of the five Council members, or Consuls.
Our goal in designing the Council deck was to make sure both of these perspectives show through on the cards — so that you, the player, could decide exactly how insidious or idealistic your government ought to be.
Virtues of the Council
Just as we did with our House of Wren design, we began our designs for the Council by figuring out its Virtues — guiding themes we would use to help unify our design and lay out paths for deck construction. Our approach to the Council’s Virtues was a little bit different from Wren’s, though.
While Wren was about an underground network of gangs and gang leaders, each with disparate personalities and goals, the Council is a unified group. So while the Wren Virtues tended to pull it in different, if overlapping, directions, the Council’s Virtues were more about fleshing out different faces for the same House. Each of these themes, at different times, are what the Council is ultimately about: each is true to the core personality of the House.
President Tromburg: Bureaucracy in Action
The Council is a political machine, full of interconnected parts that fit together to perform a function. Sometimes this means pushing everyone forward; sometimes it means pulling everyone back. Every cog in the machine serves a purpose, advancing the cause of every other piece. Equality means sharing in the work of humanity’s advancement.
Sometimes, though, you need to grease the wheels to get the result that you want. That’s where the Council’s unique keyword mechanic, Kickback comes into play.
Kickback is all about making your operation more efficient by getting to play extra cards in a turn. Since unlike other games, Age of Primes doesn’t have a system of resources you have to spend to play cards, the cards themselves become the resource: the more you can play in a turn, the more of an advantage you’re able to gain over your opponent’s board position.
The Kickback deck is all about fine-tuning your bureaucratic machine to be as efficient as possible, in order to gain tempo advantage by playing extra cards. To do this requires striking a sometimes-difficult balance between Kickback cards, which tend to be Followers, and the Action cards needed to capitalize on your advantage. Each time you can play a Kickback card and follow it with an Action or Hidden card, you’ve pulled ahead of what your opponents are able to do with their turns.
Shaun Mason: Law and Order
As much as the Council is about promoting democracy and progress, it’s also about enforcing the law of the land — whatever the Council decides that law should be, of course. Protection, security, and obedience are all necessary to the vision of democracy the Council seeks to embody.
Playing the “law and order” deck is about shutting down the ways that your opponents can hurt you, restricting their actions and protecting your own position. One way to do this is through the variety of defensive and “control” cards in the Council arsenal: cards that remove enemy Followers, stop enemy Actions, or damage the enemy’s Prestige directly.
Another way is through the high concentration of Followers that have the Guardian keyword:
Guards trade away the ability to duel offensively in exchange for a strong defense. If your party is full of Guards, you will be much less vulnerable to attack, leaving you free to focus on your own path to victory. Several cards, including Shaun Mason, can even enable your Guards to start duels themselves, allowing you to bring the march of freedom directly to the enemy.
Ben Gentry: Hidden Agendas
There’s only so much that can be done in the light of day, however. Sometimes, trusting in law and bureaucracy isn’t enough. Sometimes, a politician has to take things into their own hands.
More than any other House, the Council is proficient in the manipulation of secret information that its opponents don’t have access to. This allows it to gain advantage by laying traps that unsuspecting enemies will blunder into.
Hidden cards are something all of the Houses have access to, but they appear in greater numbers within the Council deck. Instead of taking effect right away when played, Hidden cards sit face-down in your on your side of the table (in a special zone called your Hideout), waiting to be triggered.
Hidden cards are especially useful in combination with the Kickback mechanic (described above): playing a Kickback card into a Hidden card is one of the surest ways to gain tempo advantage over your opponent during your turn.
Wield Absolute Power
The Council government can be a force for change — or for the rigid enforcement of its own power. The Council deck can be built in a variety of ways, depending on your own playstyle and the Persona you choose. The diverse set of cards available in the Council Authority theme deck offer many directions for unique and personalized deckbuilding: a myriad of paths to Prestige and victory over your rivals.
Will you seize power for yourself, or tax it away from your opponents? Will you protect yourself with legions of Guards, or with Hidden agendas and traps? Will your rule be a beacon of freedom and democracy, or the oppressive reign of a relentless tyrant? The decision is yours!