photo of designer zack mader

An interview with designer Zack Mader

February 20, 2024

Unmatched: Sun’s Origin is now available for sale and we’re celebrating by chatting with the designers – both of whom were runners up in the Unmatched Design Contest!

First up, the designer of Oda Nobunaga, Zack Mader!

Why did you choose Oda Nobunaga?
I wanted to pick a significant character that brought something completely new to Unmatched. I made a list of tropes and roles that I like and hadn’t been used yet, and Samurai and General/Commander were two of the entries on my list. I have always appreciated Japanese history and the aesthetic of Feudal Japan, and realized that Oda Nobunaga would not only fit as a historically significant figure and legend, but picking him would bring some archetypes into the game that hadn’t been explored yet.

Who’s your favorite hero (that you didn’t design)?
It’s hard to pick, but probably Jekyll and Hyde. I enjoy Alice, Moon Knight, and Sinbad as well. Characters that change and grow as the match goes on are interesting.

Did you have design experience before entering the Unmatched contest? If so, what?
Not unless DMing custom content in Dungeons and Dragons counts!

How did you approach Oda Nobunaga’s deck design?
I wanted to make a character that fit the role of being a strategist, which to me meant giving his sidekicks a larger role than normal. I also wanted to relate the deck to feats and traits Nobunaga was known for, both good and bad. He’s a hero to some and a monster to others. He was ambitious, intelligent, and strategic, but he could also be ruthless. His famous nickname, “Demon King of the Sixth Heaven”, was not given as a compliment, even though he may have taken it as one.

What was your biggest challenge in designing the deck?
How do you make a character stand out as a strategist in a game where every character relies on strategy? I think the final version of Nobunaga does an amazing job of that, but it wasn’t immediately obvious how to get him there.

Any thoughts you’d like to share about the process or the final product?
Although I submitted the original draft, Restoration Games and the playtesters were able to take those ideas and refine them into a truly incredible set that has something for everyone! Oda Nobunaga is a massive gamechanger for 2v2 and Unmatched Adventures. Tomoe Gozen is one of the coolest solo fighters yet, and playing as her makes you feel incredibly powerful and intimidating. Finally, for those of you that prefer 1v1, the new Azuchi Castle map is both beautiful and fun to play on. I’m biased, but I do believe it’s one of the best sets ever (with some of the best art). That I got to be a part of designing an iteration of my favorite game system still blows my mind.

Thanks Zack! We’re ecstatic to bring this austere and powerful leader to the Unmatched universe.

Check out our chat with Jason Viddal (designer of Tomoe Gozen)!

Order Sun’s Origin today!