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Ascending the Ranks: Funeral Pyre

by Ruben Barnhoorn

This week we have an article from across the Narrow Sea — from The Netherlands, more specifically. En lieu of our normally scheduled Taking the White, we have an article from Ruben Barnhoorn, a newcomer to Thrones but a veteran of many years of competitive Magic: The Gathering.


It seems like only a few weeks ago that Targaryen and Lannister were running the tables at tournaments all over the world, but lately both have seen a drop off in terms of success (cut qualification ratio vs. factions played) with Targaryen dropping below the 1.0 qualification rate to 0.8.

This data might indicate any number of things, for example: 1) Targ isn’t as powerful as it once was or 2) people are playing the wrong lists. Do I think that Targ is negatively impacted by certain cards, say…The First Snow of Winter? Yes, Targ’s ability to get that Dracarys! has been somewhat diminished. But, nevertheless, I still think that a good Targ deck can win against any deck and take any tournament. There are three different types of Targ decks that are successful / popular:

  1. Targaryen-Fealty
  2. Targaryen-The Lord of the Crossing
  3. Targaryen-Banner of the Lion

The first two have seen the most success in Europe with Slime piloting both Fealty and Crossing to good finishes (don’t know your real name, sorry buddy) and Albert Lorenzo taking down several tournaments including Batalla por el Muro with Targ Fealty. I took best Targaryen at that tournament running Targ Lion, going 6-1 in the swiss. The best finish for Targ Lion is from Matthew Phillips running a hyper Mirri build at the Dallas regional, which he took down with the deck.

Now that we have come to the end of the cycle, we have reached the point where there are a lot of different ways to build a Targ Lion deck. I think all of them have merit, and depending on what you’re looking for in a deck, you can probably do well with any of them. There are a few key choices you have to make when building a Targ Lion deck.

House Targaryencore_200B_banner-of-the-lion


First question: What do you want it to do?

Do you want to go hyper aggro with tons of pressure, 2-claim plots and Mirri? A grind-it-out version that runs Shadowblack Lane and Rebuilding? Or a control-orientated build with Treachery, Burn, and nightmares?

Second consideration: New cards!

GT07_114True Steel, the final chapter pack in the Westeros cycle has finally given Targ something they were yearning for, draw! Funeral Pyre gives Targ a very good source of draw, the event is even 0 gold to boot. The whole card hinges on being able to kill a Lord or Lady character, which is its only (minor) obstacle. Close Call is another card that I think will be a boost to Targ (and many other factions), the ability to ‘recycle’ a dead character and potentially drawing a card is very potent. It is also another solid Summer plot, something that Targ seems to want to run with cards like Aggo. Now, if we were to build a deck that best abuses this card, I would probably build a Targ Wolf deck, but seeing how I really like what Lannister adds to Targaryen as a banner.

Additionally, True steel provided other impactful cards for other factions. Stark got Ward, GT07_109which pushes the meta away from running 4-cost or lower characters in multiples, at least important ones. Luckily for Targ, the most important low-cost characters , the dragons, have the No Attachments keyword. Tyene and Imprisoned gave Martell even more toys to work with — stripping the military icons from the smash brothers is brutal; in combination with Nymeria / Attainted, nobody is safe from Tears of Lys. Lastly, we have Ser Ilyn Payne, whose whack-a-dragon potential can be very annoying. I think that any Targ deck should have a plan for all of these cards. I think Payne won’t be as prevalent as the other mentioned cards, so that is a big plus for Targ decks.

How important is Funeral Pyre? I think it’s very important for the deck. Unlike Pleasure Barge, I don’t see Funeral Pyre as an early-game play but rather a mid-game play to replenish your hand. Be prepared to give up a significant character in order to be able to draw cards in the situations where you are not able to get rid of an opposing Lord or Lady or your own Viserys. To accommodate the event I think it’s imperative to play a wide range of Lord and Lady characters and have at least a single on-demand kill effect, such as Wildfire, to trigger the event.


So, the deck:

Faction: House Targaryen
Agenda: Banner of the Lion

Plot (7)
1x A Noble Cause (Core Set)
1x Close Call (True Steel)
1x Confiscation (Core Set)
2x Summons (Core Set)
1x Trading with the Pentoshi
1x Wildfire Assault (Core Set)

Character (35)
3x Daenerys Targaryen (Core Set)
1x Drogon (Core Set)
1x Joffrey Baratheon (Core Set)
2x Khal Drogo (Core Set)
3x Lannisport Merchant (Core Set)
1x Littlefinger (Core Set)
1x Magister Illyrio (Core Set)
1x Mirri Maz Duur (Calm Over Westeros)
1x Rattleshirt’s Raiders (Core Set)
3x Rhaegal (Core Set)
1x Ser Gregor Clegane (The King’s Peace)
2x Ser Jaime Lannister (Core Set)
1x Ser Jorah Mormont (Core Set)
1x Syrio Forel (The Road to Winterfell)
2x Targaryen Loyalist (Core Set)
2x The Hound (Taking the Black)
3x Tyrion Lannister (Core Set)
3x Viserion (Core Set)
3x Viserys Targaryen (Core Set)

Attachment (5)
1x Crown of Gold (The Road to Winterfell)
2x Little Bird (Core Set)
2x Syrio’s Training (Core Set)

Location (10)
2x Illyrio’s Estate (Core Set)
1x Plaza of Punishment (Core Set)
1x Shadowblack Lane (Taking the Black)
3x The Kingsroad (Core Set)
3x The Roseroad (Core Set)

Event (12)
3x Dracarys! (Core Set)
2x Fire and Blood (Core Set)
3x Funeral Pyre (True Steel)
2x Tears of Lys (Core Set)
2x The Hand’s Judgement (Core Set)

Now let me explain my card choices. First, my list runs 62 cards, which is heresy, 60 is the ultimate number right? Well, yes and no. 60 cards in theory is optimal, but being able to have answers to different strategies is very valuable; I don’t want to cut cards from the core elements of my deck, so instead of doing so I often run a few cards more, seeing how we can’t use a sideboard in Thrones.

core_160_daenerys-targaryenIn general, my Targ decks are designed to have a game plan againstmost decks in the meta. I like to design decks that are well rounded and have a wide array of cross synergies in them instead of focusing on a single aspect like a hyper Mirri deck might do. I am also a really big proponent of Ser Gregor Clegane — his ability to win a challenge while having renown is very strong and efficient. His random ability can be a bit stupid at times, but when it works, it’s huge. Daenerys is a true force multiplier for the deck and is too good not to run. I see Mirri as a big lightning rod, and when she hits the table, she has an immediate impact on the board. But, for the overall strategy, she is less important than Danny.

I am a big fan of icon attachments. In the Martell match-up, they are really important; against Greyjoy they provide you with chair protection; and, of course, they turn your characters into bicons or tricons (Gregor, anyone?), giving you flexibility in the Challenge Phase.core_167_viserys-targaryen

17 of the 35 characters are Lord or Lady, which is a good number for triggering Funeral Pyre. Close Call + Viserys / Viserys + Fire and Blood also gives you good attachment control, as well as multiple Funeral Pyre opportunities. Littlefinger is also a good character that can easily die to trigger Funeral Pyre. Fire and Blood is again back into the deck — a good trick is to kill a dragon with Wildfire when you have it in hand so that you can get that dragon into play when you need to. Rattleshirt’s Raiders + 3 Viserys + Confiscation gives the deck a good attachment control package, something which I think is very important at the moment.

Like I said before, I like having Targ Lion decks that are able to do a lot of different things; being flexible helps you to find different lines of play throughout the entirety of a tournament that always gives you a shot at winning. This deck has renown, draw, kill, stand, and I think that the deck is very well rounded. Is it the strongest deck in the meta? Probably not, but it I think it has a fighting chance in every match-up.

I don’t like that I can’t run / don’t run Milk of the Poppy, a card I think is very strong at the moment. I also opted to run double Summons as my draw plots instead of Building Orders or Counting Coppers. I think that Summons is a very important card in Targ decks — the ability to get that bullet that you need is very strong. I didn’t include any of the Bloodrider cards, as I don’t think that this is the build that will suit them the best.

Leave a comment if you have any questions or remarks and thanks for reading my rumblings and till next time.

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