Announcement of changes to the Melee rules
Greetings, Thronesers! Without specific rules documentation available for the Melee format of A Game of Thrones 2nd edition, a group of Melee veterans and enthusiasts have taken it upon themselves to craft some new Melee rules. These rules are of course not official in any way; however, the Stahleck Melee format will be played using the below rules. If you intend to play at Stahleck, you may want to read the below…
Continuation of Melee Rules
Unfortunately, updated formal Melee tournament rules are unavailable for AGOT 2ND Edition. For the time being, we are utilizing the AGOT 1St Edition document linked below. The majority of mechanical aspects of running a tournament, awarding points, and policing behavior should still be applicable to 2nd Edition. For those of you that may be reading this document for the first time, beware that 1ST Edition cards are mentioned liberally and that the Title cards in use at the time had some significant differences from the 2ND Edition Titles. With that in mind, please note that certain aspects such as players defending for another player they “Support” are concepts that are no longer applicable.
The 1st Edition Melee Tournament document can be found here on FFG’s site.
In time, we hope to publish an updated tournament document for 2nd Edition that collates our changes listed in this article as well as expanding on appropriate standards of sportsmanship, play, and behavior at AGOT 2nd Edition Melee Tournaments.
Melee Restricted List
The below cards are restricted for Melee. This means that you may choose one and only one of the below list of cards. You may run that card as many times as would be normally legally allowed – so three copies of a draw deck card; two copies of a plot; or one copy of an agenda.
The Lord of the Crossing (Westeros Cycle)
A Clash of Kings (Core Set)
A Tourney for the King (Westeros Cycle)
Heads on Spikes (Core Set)
The Annals of Castle Black (Blood & Gold Cycle)
Draw Deck Cards:
“The Dornishman’s Wife” (Blood & Gold Cycle)
Flea Bottom (Blood & Gold Cycle)
Relentless Assault (War of Five Kings Cycle)
Superior Claim (Core Set)
Great Kraken (Core Set)
Iron Victory (Blood & Gold Cycle)
Casterly Rock (Core Set)
Cersei Lannister (Lions of Casterly Rock)
Catelyn Stark (Wolves of the North)
Eddard Stark (Wolves of the North)
Riverrun Minstrel (Wolves of the North)
Plaza of Pride (Watchers on the Wall)
All Men Are Fools (Blood & Gold Cycle)
Lady Sansa’s Rose (Westeros Cycle)
Mace Tyrell (House of Thorns)
The aims of this list were to accomplish a few things:
- Create more diversity and variety in the game. To this end, we wanted to restrict several neutral cards we recognise as going in the vast majority of Melee decks. By taking the likes of Superior Claim, A Clash of Kings and Heads on Spikes out of decks (that don’t pick them!), it will increase the number of different cards one can expect to see.
- Slow the game down. Most competitive Melee games end in the second round. If they make it past the second round, it’s usually so that someone can win with Heads on Spikes in the third plot phase. As a group, we agreed the best round for a Melee game to finish on is rounds three and four; to that end, several of the faster cards (i.e. ones that say gain power and especially those that say gain two-or-more power) have been restricted to allow for slower strategies to flourish.
- Balance the factions. Now, of course it’s a difficult task to balance 8 factions perfectly for Melee; however, as a group we agreed that there were effectively 5 “haves” and 3 “have-nots”. Baratheon, Martell and Night’s Watch remain untouched here, but the other five factions each have between one and three cards restricted, based on their perceived strength level. For the most part, we tried to pick restrictions that would allow for different strategic options for each faction – for instance, in Greyjoy we knew that we wanted to restrict Great Kraken and another card, but had a lot of discussion over what the second card should be. If we picked an unopposed-based card like Asha Greyjoy or Rise of the Kraken, we wouldn’t be pushing serious choices on GJ Melee players and would instead just be severely weakening the unopposed theme; by picking Iron Victory, we have presented two very clearly different approaches for Greyjoy without inhibiting any one strategy too significantly.
- Prevent nefarious combo decks and limit passive power grabbing. Alex Hynes stopped paying attention during our debate, so we threw Annals on the list to annoy him. In all seriousness, with our efforts to push the games longer, we didn’t want to encourage players to just play combo decks that aim to win uninteractively, and restricting Annals seemed like a sensible way to go about accomplishing that. Paired with the excellent enabler card of “The Dornishman’s Wife”, this should hopefully put the kibosh on combos, at least for now.
Obviously with a list like this there are a lot of potential cards that could go on the list or not, and there were several cards that prompted enthusiastic debate and discussion, some of which ended up on the list and some of which did not. We of course doubt that this list is exactly perfect; however, rest assured that no card was put on the list or left off it lightly.
Changes to Three-Person Melee
One of the problems with Melee as we perceived it is that three-person Melee tables are a drag. The problem comes down to the titles. With one player supporting another, they have no choice of who to challenge, and therefore no way of negotiating – which is one of the main points of Melee. Therefore, the following changes are being implemented:
- The Crown Regent title is to be removed from the pool at the start of the game; only the other five titles are to be used. This will prevent someone from guaranteeing dodging a challenge from one of the other players, as well as being able to attack any of the opponents. As we shared our experiences, in three person tables the value of rivals was minimal and the Crown Regent title was perceived as an obvious choice to pick. Eliminating this title not only will make the title selection more interesting, but will increase the value of the rivalry.
- Supports are to be ignored. Rivals will still be taken into account, but any player can attack any other player. Since the support in 2.0 only means that you cannot attack the player you support (players can no longer oppose challenges for a supported role as in first edition), removing it was also a natural step in the process to make tables less title-dependant. The elimination of support will guarantee more player interaction and foster diplomacy in each round.
We hope these two steps combined will make the experience and game play of three-player tables as close as possible of the standard four table format.
We know that the biggest AGOT Melee tourney ever placed on earth is about to be played this November in Germany with the above adaptations. We anticipate this making the tourney a better competitive experience in the game and format that we love. The below signed players formed a group to discuss improvements to competitive melee in April 2017, and these issues have been discussed since then. A lot of time, thought and discussion was put into this; however, we understand that the there will always be room for improvement. We also believe the restricted list needs to be dynamic as more cards are released and the power level of both cards and factions shift. After Stahleck, we look forward to hearing feedback on the impact of the changes from the Thrones community worldwide so that we can further refine these rules going forward.
Brought to you by the following people – when you want a super secret melee cabal, you know who to contact!
Luiz Gustavo Bretas