Photo of Jason Viddal holding Sun's Origin boxes

An interview with designer Jason Viddal

February 20, 2024

Even among the stellar submissions to the Unmatched Design Contest, Jason Viddal’s submission stood out. We’re so pleased to have a quick chat with Jason about his design for the epic warrior, Tomoe Gozen.

Why did you choose Tomoe Gozen?
Despite her relative obscurity in the west, I think she’s such a great example of a strong, capable lady. Tomoe’s appearance in the Tale of the Heike is brief, but so striking and inspiring that she’s stayed with me more than any other character from the story. All the women in my life work hard, excel and get things done, and I really wanted to submit a character who showcases and is a tribute to that spirit.

Who’s your favorite hero (that you didn’t design)
Mechanically it’s Robin Hood. With his versatile special ability and tricky but fair effects I think he really shows what makes the game fun and interesting. He’s not overpowered and always feels like he earns his victories. Thematically, Golden Bat. Such a great public domain character and the card names and art are absolutely perfect!

Did you have design experience before entering the Unmatched contest? If so, what?
I did provide a couple of character concepts for BattleCON from Level 99 Games, Baron Eustace Kherdoza (gentleman skeleton) and Feylana Chorgitz (magical rules lawyer), and got to have input in their mechanical development.

How did you approach Tomoe Gozen’s deck design?
I came at it with the concept of “a worthy opponent” at the forefront. Who’s worthy? How do you represent that and show the search for it? Fortunately the game has the perfect vehicle in its fighter classifications: heroes and sidekicks. Tomoe was charged with defeating enemy commanders, so in Unmatched she wants to defeat the hero and ignores any sidekicks for good or ill. From there I brainstormed a suite of effects that are better against heroes or help her to get to a hero that might be protected by sidekicks.

Skirmish is also my favourite card, so I knew it needed to be present in the deck!

What was your biggest challenge in designing the deck?
Honestly, settling on a special ability! When I submitted her she was a “mill” character who discarded a card from her opponent’s deck if the boost values matched. This was something Restoration wanted to change, so I went through a number of iterations before I got a breakthrough.

The current ability (dealing damage to heroes that leave her zone) was suggested by Justin and was the breakthrough that brought the whole deck together. It had synergy with my favourite card (Skirmish) and really made her seem like she was hunting the opposing hero relentlessly.

Any thoughts you’d like to share about the process or the final product?
I’d just like everyone to know how collaborative the development process was. I got great advice and suggestions from Justin, Brian, Noah and the other runners-up and contest winners. Zack’s submission for Oda inspired some of Tomoe’s more innovative card effects as counterplay for the in-box matchup. Without that collaboration and input she wouldn’t be the same mechanically, and I’m really thankful for all of it.

Thank you Jason. Tomoe Gozen is sure to be a new fan favourite!

Check out our chat with Zack Mader (designer of Oda Nobunaga)!

Order Sun’s Origin today!