A Quick View on the Changes in Melee for Stahleck 2017


This article aims to provide a quick glance at changes proposed for Stahleck. It is a purely personal view of the matter. Since I want to discuss the change broadly, I will be talking about things like the impact of the restrict list, the philosophy and the process behind it. In order to organize these thoughts, I arranged the discussion and the comments in a “Top 10 Questions Raised by the Stahleck Announcement Concerning Melee”. Once again, this is purely personal and subjective. Feel free to disagree, but I hope you enjoy.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to read what is going to be different, here is the link to it:


Top 10 Questions Raised by the Stahleck Announcement Concerning Melee


1:  Why do they need to reference the 1st Edition Extended Melee rules?  

First, because Second Edition doesn’t have its own. Second, a lot of players should be reminded that Melee is an individual game and is not a team game. Eventually king-making situations will happen, but, apart from that, a competitor should play for his/her own and consider only inside match/game aspects to make decisions, hence – doing implicit and explicit agreements outside of the game is forbidden. These are things that were covered by the First Edition Melee rules. And third, recently players have been questioning if they really need opaque sleeves, so it is important to reference that in an extra piece of documentation.

2:   Why doesn’t the RL include the most powerful cards in the game right now?

It probably does. If it doesn´t, it is because the Restricted List was thought of as a whole. Also, the power level of the cards was just one of the aspects considered when adding a card in the list. But, being honest, just so you know, I do think the most powerful card was left out of the list… We talk about that in a minute…(spoiler alert – it is not Maester Lomys as you may think).

3:   Why are there bad cards in the Restricted List?

Because a bunch of people thought otherwise. Or, at least, some strong arguments were presented to include the card. And again, I do think there questionable cards in the list when concerning only their power level or efficiency, but that wasn’t the only decision driver.  

4: Why this is being made by players and not by Fantasy Flight Games?

I don’t have good answer for that. However, even if you do prefer the Fantasy Flight Official stamp on things when it comes to organize play, I would say that players are more likely to listen to themselves and improve things learning from mistakes. So embrace that, because that is the best way to go. FFG, I love you, but you know you are a bit of slow learner.

5: A lot of things have changed, is that because Melee was bad?

Over 200 hundred people were/are already signed up to play a melee tournament in the lovely village of Bacharach in Germany, so I don’t think that was the case. Also, a RL doesn’t change the game as much. The three player table got indeed some big changes, but here is another way to look at this change: Standard player tables are so much fun, that they wanted 3 people table to be able provide a similar experience.

6: Which cards got better/worse with the Restricted List?

Several cards will see more play. It is not that they were bad or didn’t see play before, but their value has improved. Below, I point out 3. It is a bold statement, I know, but I believe we will see more of:

Rains of Castamere: This is also true for all the other agendas. But if RoC was a great agenda before, now it is even better. The super-efficient “The Lords of the Crossing” is in the RL. The super-efficient Relentless Assault that would compete for a faction kneel is also there. Those are the main reasons I think this card is even better now.

Doran´s Game: This is also true for the Martell house card. Doran´s Game gets especially better because you likely will have one more round added to a game. Also, Gossip and Lies rises up as a good initiative winning plot to close, since Clash of Kings is on the list. I expect to see more Doran´s Games winning tables for Martell. Especially in RoC builds standing that sneaky vengeful Viper. The build is viable and strong.

Snowed Under: The fact that Clash of Kings and Heads on Spikes are restricted opens up a lot of room for closers. Since controlling initiative is so important, especially in the last round, it makes me expect more people trying to win initiative in other ways and this plot is the ultimate initiative control tool.

Well, every restricted card got worse. But apart from that, I point to 3 cards just to start, and, from there, you can think of others:

Margaery Tyrell (Core Set): This is a bit obvious since the knight´s build got nerfed as you can see. But also, the hyper efficient “win by 5” events will have to fight their way into your deck now. The extra pump of Marge changed from being a Superior Claim enabler to just a good extra pump. I would still play this version of Marge but its usefulness got reduced. It is still a good bargaining coin to use.

Tyrion’s Chain: This card truly went from being too good from being bad. The reason is that the interaction with Heads on Spikes is too costly now. I believe we will still see some Heads, but not as much.

Asha Greyjoy: Still the best Greyjoy character not hit by the Duel plot, but she is not as great as she was. With Relentless Assault and Great Kraken on the list, her ability to push through multiple unopposed is far less potent.

7: What is the best faction now?

That is easy. The same as before: Targaryen. Of course, this is my opinion and since I am far from an expert, I am very likely wrong. But I can say honestly that if I need to try to win a tournament right now I would bring Targaryen. Joust Targaryen decks are being piloted in top tables in melee tourneys. Imagine if they were more Melee-ish. But don’t worry, I can change my mind next 2 weeks when House of Thorns comes out.

8: What are the best cards not restricted that are not characters or plots (aka cards there are still super good)?

Since is impossible to point all the very good cards I´ve choose 2 to point out for their extreme power level (once again) in my humble opinion:

Sea Bitch: This card is a complete game breaker that can make you win the game in several ways. Sea Bitch still is, in my super humble opinion, the very best card in Melee. Of course, I’m not talking only about the ideal scenario where you marshal a Sea Bitch, steal Honeywine, marshal another Sea Bitch steal a Small Council Chamber, etc… It is a pure efficiency card that has many good targets to completely shift the game in your favor.

House of the Undying: Also a game winning card. Having this almost guarantees you have the best board presence in the round. I do believe Targaryen is strong even without this card. But I have seen this card win game alone so many times, that I would feel that I would be hiding a secret if I didn’t point this card out in the article.

What are the best characters that are not restricted?

I am not sure if that crossed your mind, but in the list there aren’t many characters, so the answer to this question is quite hard. Please, excuse myself for forgetting better characters there should be pointed instead of the choices below:

Khal Drogo: Double challenge enabler and a renowned big body in the house of Fire and Stand? Yes, please!

Ser Edmure Tully: Passive power steal (not grab) is just a silly strong ability that is hard not to love. Some can argue Tully tech is worse now, but this card is good on his own and probably still one of the best characters in the game for the format.

How about plots?


Rise of the Kraken: This signature Greyjoy plot is a bazooka. I don’t need to explain why this is so good. Also any high initiative plot got better. Opening deck space for closers is the best contribution of the list.

Varys’s Riddle: Some expert once said that he would play 7 Varys’s Riddle in the plot deck in Melee if he could. Another obvious plot that still super strong. I will try to be less obvious in the next plot, but it probably won’t be as good the first 2.

Littlefinger’s Meddling: This is probably me trying to be cheeky and surprise you with this pick. But I do play this plot and this is a very interesting tool in several decks. Last of the Giants into Rattleshirt, playing Blood of My Blood for Aggo and Jhogo (not the other one), doing Taena shenanigans, etc… Please, build with this option in mind.  

Duel: This was add was a suggestion by Laplante and is one of the few cards that really shapes the meta in Melee. Also, Duel opens room for old-school negotiations and deal-making. This card has only 1 problem: It’s limited 1 per plot deck.

9: Why did Annals of Castle Black get restricted? It is not high initiative, does not provide power grab, can be countered, etc…


10: Should other tournaments should use these rules?

Yes, but as some said before, keep in mind that the proposal is not perfect. However, I believe it was perfected as well as possible by many great players like Andreas Aldrin and some enthusiasts like myself. I play an average of 12 melee tournaments per year and I would love to be able to see these changes in all the events I play. Also, more people using it can mean more feedback for the group that made the changes which leads to further improvement.

So, those were my top 10 questions raised by the new Melee announcement. I hope I was able to provide a positive insight on the changes and also a bit of deckbuilding and card discussion. Feel free to reach me if you want to discuss any Thrones related subject. I have been a player in love with the game in all the formats since I played my first game in 2014. And for some that don’t know, the country I live in (Brazil) competes in melee and only every now and then play joust for funsies. That doesn’t make us any better, but that shows how relevant this proposition is for me and my meta. That can also give a rough idea of how much thought I had put into this. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed.

Luiz Gustavo Bretas


Melee Rules Update

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.


Final Thoughts


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!

Alexander Hynes

Andreas Aldrin

Daniel Göbl

James Waumsley

Luiz Gustavo Bretas

Remko Looten

RJ Hill

Ryan Jones


Game of Thrones: Card Game – North American Championship 2017 (Melee Finals)

Game of Thrones: The Card Game (2nd Edition) – Melee tournament held at Gen Con 50 in Indianapolis, IN, USA. This is the finals. In this match we have Lannister Crossing (Chris) vs. Greyjoy Rose (Jesse) vs. Targaryen Fealty (Sandy)…

The White Book S8E34 – 304

Updated with a tweaked edit!

This week, Will has the entire GenCon melee final table on to discuss what else? Melee!

Music by Spinozar

Game of Thrones LCG: Rochester, NY Regionals 2017 Melee #1

Game of Thrones: The Card Game 2nd Edition Regional Championship held at Millennium Games in Rochester, NY on May 27/28th, 2017. This is a featured match from round 1 of the Melee side event held on day 2. In this…

LOL Melee?

First of all, I must say it doesn’t feel right to be writing an article. I should be reading articles instead of trying to write one. And guess what, I do read them. I consume every single aspect of this Game of Thrones card game and I can say I love the game like few others. That gave me the courage to come here and share some thoughts with you guys!

The subject is Melee. More specifically, why the melee format should have support from everyone that likes the game. So, I present a series of 5 points that hopefully will make you cheer for melee as a competitive official format like it used to be.

1. Melee, despite all imperfections, is what makes Thrones unique!

Several card games will rise; several card games will fall and hardly will you find an LCG that provides such a good multiplayer experience. Making deals, forging diplomacy and trying to outplay 3 foes at the same time is something that only AGOT provides. I am sure Netrunner, Conquest, and others are wonderful games, but they lack a format that addresses this aspect of gaming. The same can be said about SW Destiny and the much awaited L5R.

Only Game of Thrones has Melee! For only joust, there are several other slightly worse options… Of course, some might even say that those options are as good as Thrones. I disagree.

2. Melee provides a group play experience.

This is obvious. Some might not like a group play experience, but I do believe that card gamers in general like social interaction.

Why not have this also inside the game we dedicate so much time and effort to?

3. Melee influences the type of players that enjoy the game.

This might be a bit too much of a statement to make, but people that are friendly/social enough to like melee are cool people. Those people do not take the game to a personal level and enjoy a multilevel game experience. They also tend to be great losers and great winners. They are my favorite kind of players!

The Thrones community is “different”. At least, we like to say it is… If that is not true, we for sure think it used to be “different” at some point. I think having a melee format has something to do with that. In my opinion, we have even the best type of joust players now. Cool people attract cool people.

4. Melee is an important entrance door to the game.

With the reset to Second Edition, everything was new and fresh. We lost our favorite cards and our collection, but we got this whole new game with a growing base of new players. The blossom was great for sure! But now it seems the time of renewal is passing.

New players now face themselves with big card pool and plenty of stuff to learn. Is not as easy to start anymore.

As more time passes, new entrants will become rarer. Melee can help in that. Picking a multiplayer game to discover with friends is something that most of us have done. Also, having a group of new players is always better than having a single person learning it alone.

I started 1.0 like that. I know others that also started with melee when the game was already in a mature stage. The chance I started playing would have been little if the game was presented to me like: “Hey, I know a great card game with an awesome lore… wanna joust?”

5. Melee relates with AOIAF perfectly.

Collusion aside (that is subject for a whole new article), schemes, betrayals, pacts, deception are what make melee great. In the Game of Thrones melee game, no one is your friend and melee gives room for all kind of situations. Hidden intentions in the deals, managing your threat level, making people believe you are the prey: all those aspects that are present in our beloved history come to life in a melee game. And the best part: there is no escape from it!


So, for those that made through all those five points, it must be said that besides all those arguments, melee will never prevent you playing joust! Melee is a great format and needs all the support it can get from the Thrones community and FFG. It is crucial for the making our game unique and special in the long run!

Lasty, I have to admit I am indeed very biased in talking about this awesome format and what it means to AGot. But, in my defense, why should it be different? Afterall, melee is my second favorite constructed format!


Melee Language – Pt 2

Melee is a social game.

Those are the words that I opened an article on social communication in the context of AGOT melee some months ago. I left with the promise not only that I would return to examine this topic further, but that I would move to another quadrant of the communication graph that headed the article. At the time, I had indicated that I would proceed from covert, unconscious communication into conscious, overt communication, but instead, we’re going to take a bit of a detour to keep the flow moving a bit more logically. So this time, we’re going to be looking at covert, conscious communication.

Now, the previous communication article dealt with body language and how various aspects of it may inform a studious and watchful player of how their opponents perceive the state of the table and any overt, conscious communication (ie, vocal discussion) going on at the moment. The caveat here is that other careful, knowledgeable players may then utilize their own awareness of these tells and how opponents are likely to interpret them. This leads to players attempting to coopt these unconscious actions and instead present similar actions that they’ve chosen in order to send certain (sometimes false) messages to their opponents.

For anyone that’s seen the movie The Princess Bride, you may be reminded of a certain Sicilian scene.

Man in Black: All right. Where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right… and who is dead.
Vizzini: But it’s so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy’s? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
Man in Black: You’ve made your decision then?
Thus, the battle of wits. Can you present yourself in such a way that you can signal a certain stance to your opponents without them second guessing whether it’s true or not?

With that said, let us take a look at some of the ways that we could use body language to represent things differently to our opponents in AGOT melee terms.
Mirroring- If you’re utilizing this, you may be intending to play the long game, so to speak. This is something that must be done subtly but repeatedly in order to appropriately signal to other players. Copying similar movements and body language of another generally means that you’re paying a high level of attention to them and shows a predisposition toward them. In AGOT terms, if you want to steadily build trust with another player in order to form or cement an alliance with them, you may attempt to shuffle your hand, examine your discard pile, or any number of other small actions just after that opponent does so.

Nodding – Here is another movement that is relatively easy to perform consciously if needed. I find this particularly useful if another player is trying to convince a third about something regarding the fourth player. Provided their plan appears beneficial to you (perhaps they’re trying to convince the third player to challenge the fourth in order to prevent a win) then you may nod along in agreement as they speak. Make sure this is a small, gentle motion that shows you appreciate their comments. A large or particularly fast movement looks false and may make the player you’re trying to influence more suspicious.

Eye contact – This is a huge consideration for decisions regarding honesty. If you’re trying to convince another player of something, say the importance of their need to help stop the person in the lead, you do want to make sure that you can and do look them in the eye while you do so. On the other hand, you can’t only look them in the eye. This can come off as combative and puts them on the defensive as they may feel that you’re trying to stare them down. This actually makes you appear less trustworthy and predisposes them against your idea. In general, look at people to start and end your statement, but be sure to look around, particularly at the target of your comment while you speak.

Gaze – This is related to eye contact, but is less about really looking at another person. Rather gaze is how your eyesight and appearance of attention interacts with the objects at the table (which can sometimes include players). In this case, you’re trying to misdirect the attention of other players. People generally tend to focus on and look at things that they find interesting, important or want to remember. So in light of this, you can utilize your gaze to present to other players that a certain piece of the game is more important than it really is. For instance, if you want to make certain that people continually think of a certain player as the biggest threat at the table, don’t just vocalize that, but also spend much of your down time studying their board. This will help illustrate their importance to the other players. Likewise, you can use similar means to deflect attention from your own cards. If an opponent is trying to decide who to kneel for a Melisandre trigger, everyone expects to be looking at their own characters, fearful of who gets knelt. In this case, feel free to scan your entire board, but really focus your site on a character that is a plausible target, but not your most valuable. Much like eye contact, however, remember that gaze looks artificial if you do it too steadily.

Touch- Here you can also deflect attention by using physical movements. For instance, many players look frequently at their hands when they have something that they don’t want to forget trigger, so if you can keep your memory on board, lay your cards on the table. Your opponents will feel that you are much less likely to have a key event that you need to play (like Superior Claim) if you seem to be disregarding the cards in your hand. Likewise, it may be possible to bluff or influence players decisions by actively touching or moving as if you were about to kneel certain cards that are open knowledge on the table. This may be particularly effective with things like Winterfell or Margaery Tyrell.

And there you go, folks. A quick look at ways to utilize conscious covert communication in melee. In the future, we’ll cover unconscious overt and conscious overt communication as well!