The Houses of Cards…

Welcome back avid reader!  Since last we met I’ve been busily playing the Game of Thrones card game and it is excellent.  Even when you’re getting the snot kicked out of your chosen house (sorry Nights Watch!) it still feels like the game you want to be playing!  It has presented some issues however with deck building.  With eight houses that each have a distinct flavour to choose from I guess to start with a sensible (boring!) person would have played mono but not I because I am a born tinkerer!

The first thing I did was build a deck around one theme of one house – the intrigues of House Lannister!  Yes, I built a discard deck (again), but this seems like it has legs; Tyrion Flash as I have dubbed it pairs the strong abilities of the Lannisters in the intrigue challenges with the ambush mechanic that they also have a few good examples of to really try and lock out my opponent.  Now this has an issue.  Since it’s main focus is on being terribly clever it sometimes finds itself on the receiving end of an almighty beat-down.  The deck functions best if you can drop an early Tyrion and one of the big unique military characters such as Randyll Tarly.  If you can’t stick a military defence early then all of the cleverness will be for nothing as your board is whittled down by blunt force trauma.

Which is precisely what I did with my next deck!  Calling upon the natural combo of Khal Drogo and Asha Greyjoy to build a deck capable of multiple stealthy military challenges each turn.  Greyjoy and Targaryen both seem very strong and utilising the banner of the kraken actually leaves you with most of the core set cards anyway.  Being able to launch unopposed challenges or just hurl guys into the attack to make use of Put to the Sword seems like a decent way to put the opposition under so much pressure that eventually they break beneath the waves.  The issue here is that a few very strong unique characters can quickly allow the opposition to stabilise and your own lack of defence against intrigue makes this something of a glass hammer.

The two decks themselves work neatly but the other facet to deck building is those pesky plot cards.  It’s here that the real trouble begins.  With so many plot effects and differing amounts of gold and initiative to pick from there are almost too many options for noobs like me.  Lots of the plots give great effects but for little gold or are situational to say the least.  Finding an ideal mix and choosing to play them in the right order is the trick I imagine but there’s the rub!

So far my deck building tips are: Make sure that you can muster at least some defence against each challenge type even if it will take a turn or two to get into place.  Roseroad is pretty much a shoe in or if you’re playing mono the cost reducing location.  The Kingsroad is immense too but only run it if you’re not running the Roseroad and cost reducer already because of the limited keyword.  The cost reducing characters are a must, they’ll almost always pay for themselves and will probably do so on arrival.  If you’re sensible then some way to kill an opposing character is a necessity; Tears of Lys or Put to the Sword depending upon your decks strengths.   For combo or control based decks The Hand’s Judgement and Milk of the Poppy are very good.  Nights watch isn’t as good as it could be (yet).  Also play Littlefinger.

My first foray into deck building here has been a challenging experience which is awesome and speaks volumes about the depth of the game.  I mean if it were easy we’d all be sitting on the throne right?  I think that the hardest thing is to try and see which mechanics fit together given the plethora of options available and which are even worth pursuing.  With such a huge scope for deck building this can seem overwhelming but remember that if we try and fail we at least will learn!  I shall endeavour to try out more strategies and cards on your behalf and will return with more deck ideas and lists!

Well that’s enough of my opinions for now but turn up next Wednesday to see a preview of the new and exciting Battle for Sularia!  – Mark


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