by Luke Wortley (eldub)
Welcome to the third installment of Nerdly Ned. We’ve already reviewed the thematic value of Plots, Locations, and Attachments; this week, we’ll delve into the Nedliness of Events. Though the community has all talked about the Nedly value of certain events (trust me, some of them are talked about), there may be a few that didn’t get their due credit for accurately reflecting what actually happened in the story. Since we’re in the first cycle, any event that may refer to an event from a later book (Confinement and Dracarys! are good examples) is excluded from the list. I considered all the events from the Core Set, Taking the Black, Road to Winterfell, The King’s Peace, No Middle Ground, and the Wolves of the North Deluxe Expansion.
Without further ado, let’s start with Honorable Mention.
These cards just missed the cut but are hugely significant in the overall arc of A Song of Ice and Fire.
Lady Sansa’s Rose
I know, everyone will protest the fact that this card didn’t make the cut, especially considering the fact that we belabored the Nedliness of Mare in Heat. However, let me make my case. LSR’s ability, while potent in gameplay, is only about 50% flavor. The other half of the card’s value is purely game mechanics, which edges it out of my consideration for The Nedliest of the Nedly. I think my principle issue with the card, from a Nedly standpoint, is that the knight character actually claims power himself. Though Ser Loras certainly is of noble birth and has significant influence, it is readily apparent that he’s not riding in the lists to lay claim to the throne, right? It’s a great card, and it was particularly powerful for that chapter pack in particular and good for the game; it was especially Nedly given the innate synergy with House Stark. However, I just think that there were more potent cards in terms of thematic loyalty.
An event that has such a huge impact on the story and the game, Tears of Lys is only left off the Nedliest of the Nedly because of one all-important fact: Tears of Lys is only really mentioned in passing — most notably between Lord Varys and Lord Eddard Stark, Hand of the King, when discussing John Arryn’s death. “Sweet as water,” the poison is said to dissolve instantly in liquid and pass over the lips undetected. I bring up Tears of Lys because its ability is quite Nedly in the sense that it specifically targets characters who are either a) incapable or b) unwilling to play the only game that matters, the game of thrones. Tears seems to take advantage of characters whose honor is prioritized to the point of personal failure, which is fitting, considering the prime targets for this card are the Stark patriarchs, the Baratheon lords, and the Tyrell bannermen. I leave it out of my list for Nedliest of the Nedly because all of the actual interactions with the poison itself happen off the page.
So, this card, much like the plot Confiscation, barely misses the cut for Nedliest of the Nedly because you can move literally any attachment…because, you know, the card has to be playable and all. But if this card focused solely on Weapon attachments, it would just be one of the most thematically sound cards in the game, albeit way less playable. At any rate, it’s a good card with a good ability that has a nice nod to Arya’s first lesson in swordfighting: “Stick them with the pointy end.”
Nedliest of the Nedly
Here are my top picks for Nedliest events in the game up to this point.
Like Warm Rain
Yeah, what’s not to love about this card? The art is a bit cartoonish but we all get the point. Here’s where Summer saves the day. If you didn’t read or didn’t watch, then I’m not exactly sure what I’m supposed to do for you, here. look it up. Bran’s in bed, assassin comes in, Cat fights, Summer rips out throat. It’s awesome. But let’s talk about why the ability is Nedly.
First, the condition of losing an intrigue challenge is the manifestation Joffrey’s cruel machinations* to end Bran’s “pitiful” life after overhearing a brutal comment from the king. Let’s also not forget that the scheme is a convenient way for Cersei to tie up loose ends…after all, he had just seen the Queen and her brother having sex, which isn’t a great look for the crown. At any rate, the plot is successful, to a point, in the sense that the assassin is able to enter into the little Lord’s bedchamber largely undetected due to the distraction caused by the fire in another part of the castle. However, he expects Bran, a defenseless child at that point, to be alone. After a tussle with a desperate mommy defender, the assassin is finally killed by Summer, Bran’s direwolf, hence the Direwolf restriction.
Take the Black
What makes this card really shine in the Nedly category is the phase during which it must be triggered: Dominance. Only after all the prisoners have been taken and the chopping block set are you marched to The Wall to take your vows.
Secondly, the non-unique restriction is actually pretty Nedly as well. Though we all acknowledge that everyone is their own person, in the card game, the non-unique restriction, to me, seems to be the game’s way of saying that, generally speaking, The Watch takes all of the nobodies, the regular faces in the crowd or in the dungeon. Yes, we know that several noble characters have taken the black — namely Old Bear Mormont and Aemon Targaryen — but for the most part, until the other characters at the edge of the world got there, we wouldn’t have known who they were anyway.
I mentioned the thematic value of this card on the cast and was quickly dismissed; however, we all see how this card briefly changed the meta-at-large. Competitive value aside, I think this card is so clever. I’m also a Lannister player, so I had to put at least one card up there, right?
So, this card refers to Tyrion Lannister’s imprisonment in the Vale as he awaits his trial at the hands of Lady Lysa for the murder of her husband. Though Tyrion is innocent of that crime, his house affiliation is the wrong one to have in The Eyrie. Generally when you’re widely thought to have killed a Great House’s liege lord, you’re not going to be given a fair trial. Realizing the futility of lawyering on his own behalf, Tyrion demands a trial by combat, intending to name his brother, Ser Jaime Lannister, his champion. Throughout the first half of the first book, Tyrion is adamant that his family is rock solid, much like their house seat, and he maintains that he would never bet against his family.
So, on to the random nature of the card. Sure, you can have that mentality all you want, but sometimes who you want doesn’t show up. You just better hope that someone shows up if you’re putting all your eggs in that basket. I’ve been there in games hoping for The Mountain or Jaime and whiffing entirely. But you know who might show up? A temporary Tywin or The Hound. Or, in Tyrion’s case, Bronn.
In the Name of Your King!
Though generally seen as a “banner card” in competitive play (in the sense that it’s generally not a common inclusion in Fealty, given the anti-synergy with kneeling the faction card), this is just dripping with theme.
Of course, this card refers to the fight between Ser Gregor Clegane and his brother, Sandor (The Hound) after Ser Loras unseats Gregor in the joust. I won’t get into all those details. Go read the book. At any rate, a furious King Robert Baratheon stands up and yells, “Stop this madness in the name of your king!”
Both fighters stop immediately — two of the most feared men in Westeros. The Nedliest component of the card, in my opinion (though the art and title and ability are great), is the exhaustive nature of the cost. Kneeling your faction card as a Baratheon player is literally spending all of your royal influence on this one proclamation.
* There’s a bit of discrepancy over who actually plotted to have Bran killed. The case for Joff is largely based on the Dragonbone Dagger (as well as Tyrion’s / Jaime’s recollections), and the case for Cersei is largely based on motive.
Anyway, that’s me on the subject of events. Feel free to debate my inclusions or exclusions; please just pay attention to my disclaimer that, though several events could have made the list for Honorable Mention and/or Nedliest of the Nedly, they didn’t actually occur in the timeline that is supposed to correspond to the first cycle.
Yall take care now,