My take on the Champion Cards is that we're basically balancing two factors.
1) These cards are technically the final piece of 'official' content. They also represent the "greatest prize in gaming" (FFG's own spin), and in a way are part of what makes Worlds what it is. It's also a particularly bum deal for Jeremy, Nathan and myself that this is how things panned out in the end. It would therefore be nice to have them included in the pool in some way.
2) However, clearly there are balance issues with at least some of the cards. And whilst they may have been produced by Brad/FFG they were clearly done so without the usual balancing procedures, or perhaps even the intent to balance them appropriately. (The sidebar of reasons why aren't relevant at this juncture, but I do think it's worth noting that there also likely was not an awareness they would end up widely dispersed due to BCL/Apoka and online play so the consequences were probably not intentional). There is still a decent sized community playing this game, a lot of online activity and fan-based continuation, and even new players who bought a set on the cheap joining up. Ultimately neither the 3 of us who made the cards (or even Brad himself), nor the intrinsic value of honouring the idea of championship cards, is more important than the healthy continuation of the game and the enjoyment of those still wanting to play in competitive online events.
I think if it came to it, the second point has to take precedence. Part of what sets Conquest apart from the field is the balance, and the (general) prevalence of skill over lucky draws. With a reasonable amount of interest in online casual and competitive play protecting the integrity of the game has to be the goal. So does not alienating the handful of new players migrating to online play or who just decided to try out a 'dead/complete' game. However, there is no reason we can't try and incorporate the first point in some way.
I would suggest the following approach (for Legacy/BCL/Apoka online play)
A) Treat all 4 cards as if they were in the final stages of development. Give them to the BCL and Apoka playtesters to test as rigorously as they would test new content. However this testing should not be done with a view to the Apoka/BCL pools, but just Legacy. As the final piece of semi-official content BCL/Apoka cards should be balanced around them, not the other way around.
B ) Recommend tweaks based on that testing. These should be stat-line tweaks or minor tweaks to how an ability plays out. However much a tester might dislike an ability or have issues with theme that's not the purpose of this testing, balance is. The designer's vision should be maintained where possible
C) In that respect, Nathan, Jeremy and myself have final say on our respective cards.
D) Include the amended cards in digital content and FAQS
This avoids banning cards that are already a seriously dumbed down version of the promised prizes for Worlds/GenCon, whilst preserving the integrity of the card pool and the game by fixing the serious balance problems posed.
My personal take on the individual card
(since we're on this topic, but I stand by testing them, as I'm as fallible as anyone and these views might be erroneous)
1) Herald - feedback here has been positive and that it isn't unbalanced. I'd still want to put it to the testers, there may well be unforeseen interactions and better to catch them now than have more problems in the future. However, beside the potential loyalty issue, it's probably okay.
2) Nathaniel - again, early indications seem to be that the balance is okay. As much as I might have been opposed to the idea of Ranged or R-choke for SM, those aren't balance issues and I respect Nathan's vision for the card. Tbh the Ranged and choke has grown on me a bit anyway, it is a 5 Cost Unique after all, so giving it something the faction doesn't usually have access to is more justified. Regardless, balance appears fine. Like the Herald, I would still test it, but my feeling is it's okay, besides the possible Loyalty issue.
3) Crusader - the big problem card and the subject of the above poll. I can appreciate Kaloo's pitch of banning it outright, but would want to find a way to balance it that respects Jeremy's vision for the card. I think the randomness is problematic so would perhaps actually take out the cancellation part whilst giving it a big cost hike. Part of the problem is the sheer efficiency of the card (both the Ambush stats and the ability individually are worth a lot more than 2R, and the other problem is the ease of use - it's hugely swingy for something you basically always pull off (2R is dirt cheap in this context). I would perhaps try it at 4R. It can't be DPA'd in for derp swings, it's still very strong, but much more situational, a bit easier to play around at that cost level, and isn't necessarily an auto-include in all SM decks, whilst still being capable of fixing a problem for decks that can't deal with Elites. 4R also means primarily playing it for Ambush comes more in line with when you do that with a Klaivex, rather than just absurdly efficient (Reaction vs Forced Reaction can then be tested at that cost).
4) Shadows - I can appreciate Nathan's approach with Shadows of intentionally creating an overly-efficient card to pull SM up (and that he didn't know Crusader was a thing at that point). However, I'm really not a fan of balancing a faction like that. When you don't see the card you're still under-powered, when you do you win by draw, rather than by skill. I agree with folk who argue you can play around it (though a skilled user of Shadows also has some say in this!), but that doesn't change the fact that it is far too efficient for a 3 cost unit. On rare occasions the cost of 3 will be prohibitive, but more likely, if used half-decently, the 1R choke will shut down the opponent's combat trick. That arguably makes it better than a 2 cost 4/2 Ambush unit, and, heck a 4/2 non-ambush at 2 cost would already make Warlock Destructor look weak. Ambush is incredibly strong when used well. It's very powerful, especially in a faction that already does that stuff, as well as stuff like Crushing Blow. I do like giving SM an Ambush champ card in general, but 4 Attack Ambush at that price is simply too easy for taking planets, killing WLs, swinging battles. Throw in the fact it's now the most efficient DPA target - and that's a horribly swingy play if you don't even plan for it, but luck into one off a DPA, switch off the opponent's Terror/Sneakaz/whatever their response would be and win a combat where the odds were well against you). I'd look at dropping it to a 3/2, even a 3/3 since damage is the bigger issue on Ambush. I'm not a huge fan of it triggering off DPA, but I don't know if that was a key part of Nathan's vision for the card, so if it was then I'd leave that part and just adjust the stats.
Apart from my own selfish interest in how this pans out, Nathan and Jeremy are both great players and good folk, so I would really like to see their cards reach a level where they were just part of the Legacy set without any controversy - and with changes they were happy with only. But, at the same time, preserving the skill focus of Conquest has to be the priority, and that requires finding a solution to the big swings being caused by Crusader primarily, but to a lesser extent Shadows as well. And to prevent unexpected surprises in future Herald and Nathaniel should probably be checked just in case. It's fine if they all end up at the top of the efficiency curve (I'm looking at you Klaivex), but given the controversy of Klaivex, going above that becomes a major problem (it also should be noted that atleast at 4 cost, you can't always drop the Klaivex, I actually think Shadows could be a bit crazy if it was more expensive as then you have more opportunity cost quandaries and counter play opportunities. Also a big criticism of Klaivex was the combination of a unique powerful effect *and* an overly efficient card, something that Crusaders and Shadows arguably repeat).