The Night’s Watch

Two Guys, One Deck: Targaryen — Banner of the Watch

by Luke Wortley (eldub)
This time on Two Guys, One Deck, we have Cameron Davisson, the King in the North, to build a non-stark deck with yours truly. The full decklist will be linked at the end of the article. Thanks for reading.
Luke
kinda want to build a targ deck
Cameron
Lately I’ve wanted too as well, but I don’t have any hands on experience with the faction.
It’s the only faction I’ve yet to touch.
Still, I’ve recently messed around with a Summer deck on thronesdb.

Luke

Targ-Watch is something I’ve wanted to try for a long tim.
Craven/Milk opponent’s big guys, burn smaller ones. attrition from military claim.
I say we start with the banner package.
Cameron
Let’s do it. I don’t think it will be too hard.
Luke
So start with 3x Craven?
Cameron
Yep. Old Bear’s Raven would be another consideration for attachments. It’s a one-of, I think.
Luke
Seems legit. Drogo or Mirri with Stealth is tasty.
Cameron
Alright. How about characters next?
Luke
1 or 2 Benjen?
Cameron
I’m not sure if he’s worth including. 5 is expensive for an out-of-faction card.
I think if we include him we’ll want at least 2 economy plots.
Luke
I think we want at least 1.
Imagine the jank! Drac your own Benjen for the win!
Even so, he’s a good 5-coster, a slot that targ isn’t exactly swimming in at the moment.
Cameron
Sure. Or you could pull the classic move and kill him and win on a Wildfire, after all.
Luke
1 Dolorous Edd?
Cameron
Yep! Keep those tears at bay.
Luke
I think you’re always running at least 1x of him, right?
Cameron
Sure, don’t know why you wouldn’t.
Luke
I love Ghost, and this deck is perfect for him.
Cameron
I still think he’s a one-of, though.
Luke
Agreed.
Cameron
2x Aemon?
Luke
He’s a card I waffle on.
Sure he kneels to save himself, but I have other things I’d rather spend 3 on in targ…like a dragon.
Cameron
Can’t win all of the military challenges. I think it’s gonna be tough to hit 12 without him.
Luke
3x ranging party and 3x steward puts us at 13 without him.
 And I’d like to sneak a cheeky 1x Shadow Tower as well.
 1x Waymar isn’t a bad shout, either.
Cameron
Eh. Ranging Party has great stats, but they’re going to be hard to afford pretty often.
I think we want to go pretty character-lite here as far as NW stuff goes.
 Waymar is a solid x1
Luke
I think the ranging party makes sure we don’t fold to FSoW, even if the meta is shfting away from it, no?
 Plus with cravens running around, they’re a solid defender.
 I’d rather drop a ranging party than an unsullied almost every time.
Cameron
I think we’ll have plenty of First Snow-proof cards without them.
Luke
You might be right. We can come back to them.
Cameron
If we’re running Dracarys!, Unsullied are a better fit and will be much easier to play between the loyalists and estates.
Luke
Stewards 3x or 2x, then? Without ranging party I’m not inclined to run 3.
Cameron
We can try x2, but I don’t know how often you’ll be using their reduction.
Luke
Setup and claim-soak at that point, really.
Cameron
Yep.
Luke
You down with that cheeky shadow tower?
Cameron
Oh, yes. I’m a big fan of that card.
Luke
Okay, with singleton Benjen, Edd, Ghost, Waymar, 2x Steward, and a Shadow tower, we have 11 banner cards.
So we should be able to make top 8 at a Missouri regional, then, right?

Cameron

Aemon, I tell ya!
Luke
I’m still an advocate of at least 2 Ranging Party, because the deck can be either defensive or aggressive, but Aemon is serious card advantage.
Are we running Here to Serve?
Cameron
I don’t think so.
If we see him, we see him.
Luke
This choice is fascinating.
We’ll leave it up to readers — Ranging Party or Aemon?
You’re the guest. 2x Aemon, then? Definitely want to see him, but not dupes.
Cameron
Sure, let’s go with that.
So move on to Targ characters?
Luke
Sure.
Cameron
Well, you seem pretty set on wanting to burn stuff to the ground.
Should we just start with the Dragon package?
Luke
I think the point of the deck is maintain your own board, Craven / Milk big guys, and burn (or at least threaten) the mid-range ones, right?
Cameron
Sure. Sounds like a headache for the opponent.
Luke
I’m a fan of the 3-3-1 build.
Cameron
Sounds good to me.
Luke
Ok, so 3 Rhaegal, 3 Viserion, 1 Drogon.
3 Dany?
Cameron
Yep.
Luke
My man
I love Daenerys; she’s a great card and really undervalued.
Cameron
Definitely. She can be a pain to deal with.
Luke
Do we wanna have singleton Aggo and Jhogo?
I don’t know that Rakharo is worth it in a non-Summer / LotC build at the moment.
Cameron
I’m not sure. But we at least want big papa Khal in there.
Luke
For sure.
We can knock out the upper end of the curve first.
Cameron
3x? He’s been wrecking people in our meta.
Luke
Okay, so with 3x Dany, I’m interested in how many Drogo / Mirri?
Cameron
Without completely destroying the top end I would saw 3x Drogo and 2x Mirri
Luke
I think that’s fair.
We could even go with 2x dany at that point, really.
Then it’s a matter of who we see: Mirri or Dany?
The little dargons help force through either one.
Cameron
I could see that.
Yeah let’s put that down for now.
Luke
22 characters at the moment.
I’d say we want to be around 33-34
So i think 2x Jorah.
Cameron
Yeah, agreed
Luke
1x Doreah
Cameron
3x Targaryen Loyalist
1x Viserys?
Luke
Hm. I like 2.
Cameron
Fair enough.
We’ll definitely want a Syrio.
Luke
My thoughts exactly
Cameron
And an Illyio or 2.
Luke
So, Illyrio.
I just don’t know if we’re going to have the board to sit back on gold or the money consistently without Tyrion.
Unless everything is going our way, of course.
I think we definitely want 1x Jhogo, though.
Cameron
Illyrio is very good with our expensive characters — Mirri and Drogo, in particular. Perhaps just one?
Luke
We’re at 32 characters without Illyrio.
And you wanted to try and include Unsullied.
Cameron
Sure, Jhogo is a solid body and dodges First Snow. And I think Unsullied gives our burn more bite.
Luke
2 or 3?
Cameron
Personally I would go with three, but we can try 2 for now.
Luke
Let’s go with 3. We can cut.
35 characters seems good.
Cameron
Are we missing anyone obvious?
Luke
Ranging Party ????
Cameron
Hahaha.
Luke
Perhaps Braided Warrior / Aggo to support Khal, maybe? It depends.
Rattleshirts, perhaps?
Cameron
If we’re running Conficastion we should be okay between that and Viserys.
Luke
So can I get 1x Crown and 3x Milk?
Cameron
Yes we can!
Luke
Sweet. 8 attachments seems legit.
Locations —  1x Shadow Tower, 2x Plaza, 2x Estate, 3x Roseroad, and 3x Kingsroad?
Cameron
I run all of the 9 economy locations, personally.
Plaza is tasty. x2 feels right.
Luke
I can see that, though we might end up cutting 1.
So we have 55 cards at the moment with those, which leaves us very little wiggle room for events.
3x Drac for sure.
There are so many I want to run!
Cameron
Yep. x2 Put to the Sword as well?
Luke
PttS might be steep in terms of cost.
I like Nightmares, Fire and Blood, Funeral Pyre, even a cheeky stand event.
Cameron
Nightmares is never “bad” but we should be nerfing enough between Milk and Craven.
Fire and Blood, sure.
Nightmares might feel redundant at times in this deck, is all.
Luke
But Funeral Pyre is so legit.
Cameron
I think we are gonna have to be somewhat event-lite.
 We could probably trim 1 or 2 characters but no more.
Luke
Okay, so I want to cut a copy of Illyrio’s Estate and go 2x Funeral pyre, 2x Fire and Blood. Gotta have those dragons.
Illyrio’s Estate can’t reduce any of our NW characters nor events, and it can only reduce one of our attachments.
7 events seems good to me.
Cameron
Sure, that’s fair point.
Luke
You don’t play banners enough ????
I really like Funeral Pyre or stand.
Cameron
I’m always cautious about losing economy in general, though.
Always sucks to lose a game because you can’t find any economy.
 Let’s try x2 Estates though.
What are we at?
Luke
57
So that’s room for 4 events.
Or 3 if you’re one of those.
Cameron
One of those? Oh! So your one of thoooose
60 or bust.
Luke
My vote is 2x Fire and Blood no matter what; Wildfire is everywhere.
And paying 1 for surprise dragons is nice.
Cameron
Yeah, it’s a great event.
Luke
Since I’m publishing the article, i’m going with 61.
I’m in favor of 2x funeral pyre, cutting an Unsullied, and then adding 1x Waking the Dragon.
That event is just stupid sometimes.
Cameron
I still think this should have Put to the Sword. We have more military icons than anything else, 3x Drogo, 1x Syrio, etc. Seems like a natural fit.
Luke
Fair enough.
Cameron
You can have your extra card, but give me my PttS!
Luke
We have the bird for extra stealth, too.
Cameron
Don’t forget about Ghost!
Luke
My case for the draw / stand over PttS is that this deck is generally wanting to go second, and with craven, a lot of big dudes will still be standing…all of our stealth characters (and attachments) are 1x. Plus the cost.
Cameron
Don’t forget, Dragons/Dracarys helps with enabling it as well.
Luke
Fair.
So 2x Fire and Blood, 2x PttS, 3x Drac is your suggestion?
Cameron
Yes, that’s probably what I would go with.
Luke
Ight let’s roll with it.
Plots.
Cameron
A Noble Cause and Calling the Banners straight off?
I’m not of big fan of Pentoshi.
Luke
I love Trading haha.
Cameron
You would…
Luke
I love-hate it.
I hate it because i think it enables the shitty big dudes decks that everyone complains about, but I love it because it’s the only reliable comeback plot in the game.
I think we want Noble, Calling, and Wildifre.
Cameron
Confiscation since all we have is Viserys for attachments otherwise.
Luke
Definitely.
So that’s 4.
Cameron
Marched?
Luke
I’m undecided on Marched; it’s probably my favorite plot in the game, but it’s kind of a win-more card in the current environment — that or it punishes bad setups.
Cameron
Targ can eat through guys like no one’s business. Marched seems like a good fit.
You don’t have to sell me too hard on Marched. Haha I’m down.
Luke
What do you think of Rebuilding?
Decent cash with the ability to recycle the drac / crown / marched dudes / terminal attachments?
Cameron
Sure. If we don’t have a third straight-up economy plot, Rebuilding may be nice to have.
Luke
My suggestion for a third econ plot would be a second Calling or Summer Harvest if we need one.
Lt’s consider other stuff first.
Summons?
Cameron
I’m never sad to see that plot.
Luke
One left.
So if we’re pushing the swing-back idea, I kinda want a 2-claim
If we’re pushing for more money, I want the second Calling or Rebuliding
Cameron
So it’s Rebuilding, a two claim, or another Calling.
I’m leaning towards Rebuilding or Calling.
Luke
I think Rebuilding is more fitting to what our deck wants to do.
Cameron
Make it so!
Luke
Well, that’s a deck.
Cameron
Sure is.
Here’s the link: http://thronesdb.com/decklist/view/6359/2g1d-targ-watch-1.0
targwatch

Two Guys, One Deck: Glazer goes to Cincinnati

This week we have the Inception edition of Two Guys, One Deck. Aaron meets up with Joe Habes (JoeFromCincinnati), co-host of the Wardens of the Midwest podcast, to discuss building a deck that’s not Night’s Watch.


Aaron
Hi!!
Eating.

Joe
Sounds exciting.

Aaron
Chicken parm.

Joe
The best kind of parm, in my opinion.

Aaron
Agreed. Now, what’s the best kind of house?

Joe
The kind that has food in the kitchen.

Aaron 
Night’s Watch never has food. They need to beg. I guess you need a new house.

Joe
But they appreciate the food they find. Is this the article?

Are we doing the article?

Aaron
This may be an article. I think we need to find you a secondary house.

Joe
Do you have a secondary house?

Aaron
I just play what’s best that I enjoy. If I had to pick a secondary house, it’s Martell.

Joe
So competitiveness is your main consideration?

Aaron
That and fun. I’ve never really been one to play the flavor others are.

Joe
Me neither.

Aaron
So, I assume, to you, that means no Lannister, no Targaryen.

Joe
Hmmm.
I’d be open to Targaryen because I respect the bluffing aspect of their game.
but yea, I’m not super interested in Lannister. At least not until they get a more interesting theme.

Aaron
So a Dany deck but no Drogo?

Joe
I wouldn’t say I’m opposed to any Targaryen deck. Just not interested in the Targ-Lion, which seems to be the most common Drogo deck.

I like the Bloodriders, though they aren’t really a thing yet.

Aaron
There are at least 3 other viable options: Stark, Martell, and Tyrell.

Joe
So, in an attempt to become more competitive than someone who plays Night’s Watch, you are suggesting I play Tyrell?

Aaron
With Targaryen, they’re excellent.
They are the forgotten great banner.

Joe
So Tyrell-Banner of the Dragon?

Aaron
No, Tyrell main doesn’t work. It would have to be Targaryen-Banner of the Rose.

Joe
Haha what a shame.

Aaron
Tyrell, as well as your house, are the only two that don’t work as mains.

Joe
I live in an apartment right now, actually.

Aaron
So do I. Paved with Gold, in the Sun.

Joe
Lucky.
I noticed you never even mentioned Baratheon haha.

Aaron
So, any interest in a Dany deck with a Rose banner?
I figure we should exhaust our options first.

Joe
I think a Dany-Rose deck would work out well. My biggest concern is draw, though.

Aaron
So let’s make that acceptable choice A. Draw is only a problem for a few weeks until Targaryen gets Funeral Pyre.

Joe
Assuming it does what everyone thinks it does.

Aaron
Right. So, next, let’s talk Baratheon, which may appeal yo you from a mechanical standpoint.

Joe
Can I be blunt, Aaron?

Aaron
No.

Beat around the bush.

Joe
okay.
When I was a young man, back in the eve of the summer months, in the year of 2015,
I learned of a game based on the book series I loved and the show series I liked was being re-released in the form of a 2nd edition.

Aaron
This seems familiar…

Joe
You may have heard of it. So when my brother and I both purchased our core sets for the Game of Thrones LCG, I tried a variety of factions, starting with Lannister and Stark, as one does, and circulating to Tyrell and Martell.

Aaron
This IS around the bush!

Joe
My brother, who has a knack for finding the least fun way to play any game we find, started with Baratheon.
As I tested the different factions, learning what I liked and disliked about each, he just played Baratheon.

Aaron
Hahahaha, so Baratheon is out because it’s gross?

Joe
The pummeling I received in those first 2 months of gaming, prior to us finding a group of people who also owned the core sets (a rare thing prior to its official October-ish release), have scarred me.

Aaron
I mean, you settled on arguably the weakest house to kneel!

Joe
I would rather not play the game than ever play a Baratheon deck.

Aaron
Ha, well, did I hear you were a book fan?

Joe
I don’t know if you heard it, but I did type that.

Aaron
I hear things. Best not to dwell on that.

You know, there is a house that’s a bit underplayed that really does support your faction in the books.

Joe
Is it the super obvious one?

Aaron
The other, really cold one. The other one with a Direwolf or two…
It has draw, a different kind of trick…

Joe
….
Drawing a blank over here.

Aaron
How do you feel about Stark?

Joe
I like them a lot. My favorite deck from the core set was Night’s Watch-Banner of the Wolf.

Aaron
So, how about trying a Stark main? There’s at least 3 different ways to build them, none fully broken open.

Joe
Sure. What kind of banner?

Aaron
It’s Stark. They don’t do Banners.
The real question is Direwolves, Tully, or Sacrifice?

Joe
The Sacrifice deck seems flimsy. Have you tried it yet?

Aaron 
Yup, it works fine. Stark has a lot of cancel.

Joe
Would a Sacrifice-themed deck require WotN Cate, do you think?

Aaron 
It can go either way. Both versions are great!

Joe
I really like the sacrifice theme, but I never want to play the new Catelyn.

Aaron
So then don’t. Jon Snow and Robb Stark are a fine basis for a deck.

Joe
I agree, so that would be my preferred deck type for Stark.

Aaron
Winterfell, Core Cat, Bran, and in-house event cancel to protect the combo?

Joe
Yea, definitely.

Aaron
Fealty or X?

Joe
Well, the Cate, Rob, Blackfish and Winterfell are all loyal.

And even with new Sansa and Osha, it is still lacking in intrigue icons, so I think Fealty is probably the right call.

Aaron
I like that idea. Let’s start there.

Joe
So are we going with Stark?

Aaron
If you like that as a base? (link to final version below)

Joe
What’s that Heart Tree Grove thing?

Aaron
Haha, economy. 0-cost.

Joe
They have those in this game?!

Aaron 
Crazy, I know.

I think you’re going to like Stark.

The next thing we need to decide: event package/whether to play Direwolves.

So, do you like Wolves? Would you rather a more general good stuff?

Joe
So, in a sacrifice deck that doesn’t have Fat Cat, the main power gain would likely be renown, yeah?

Aaron
Yes. But you can also play tempo, go second, and use your stand to gain more power.

Joe
I like the idea of having a handful of wolves for the event’s purposes.

Aaron
Sure. Like Warm Rain too?

Joe
Tthat would depend on how many wolves. I typically don’t like having tech for a specific card type unless I have 6 to 9 cards with that type in the deck.

Otherwise, the cards become dead a little too frequently.

Aaron 
3 Pups, 1 Summer, 2 Grey Wind, 1 Shaggydog — that’s only 7 — but Wolf Dreams and A Time for Wolves are options. So, yay or nay?

Joe
You drive a hard bargain, Mr. Glazer.

Aaron
There’s always a Tumblestone, more general set of cards.

Joe
Let’s start with the Direwolf set and see how the deck fills out.

Aaron
There’s more wolf tech, though. Do you want Lady, Nymeria, Wolfsfood, Kennel Master?

Some, all, none?

Joe
Hmmm.

I know 1 lady and 1 nym is probably a minimum. The only question is if the Kennel Masters are still worth running.

Maybe 1x or 2x if we’re feeling bold?

Aaron
I think so, given the number of military monocons. And you need cheap guys to sac for Jon.

Joe
Agreed.

Aaron
So 2? 3?

Joe
I think 2 for now.

Aaron
I like that. Alright — some general cards? Fast Eddie, Blackfish, and Arya…

2, 2, 1?

3,2, 2?

Joe
Depends on which Arya you’re talking about.

We’re at 27 characters now. I think 3/2/2 is good assuming you mean Core Arya.

Aaron
Core. The other one is atrocious.

Added. A few more must haves: 1 Hodor, 1 Rickon, and 1 or 2 jory?

Joe
2 Jory. He’s so good for all those high costers.

We have a ton of characters haha.

Aaron
We’ll end up cutting 2 or so haha.

Would you like 2ice?

Joe
At least.

What about Winter is Coming?

Aaron
I like 2, you?

Joe
I think that’ll be enough.

Aaron 
We need a cut. May I suggest a Bran?

Anything else you want? I think we’re missing a key card.

Joe
Gates?

Aaron
It needs to be a 2-of, no?

Joe
It does.

Aaron
What do we cut, then? Winter is Coming? An Arya and/or Bran?

Joe
I saw you had 3 kennelmasters, do you want to keep it at 3?

…We lost Aaron.

Aaron
I thought I had 2, sorry!

Had to change the baby!

2 more cuts…If we just lose Winter is Coming, we’re there.

Joe
That baby isn’t in college yet?

Aaron 
Ha, a month and 2 weeks old!

Joe
Huh, I thought baby lions matured faster than that.

Anyway, yeah, I guess Winter is Coming is just an add-on at this point.

Aaron
He’s going to be a lion for his first Halloween.

Joe
Shocking.

Aaron 
We could cut Wolf Dreams and use the plot instead.

Your call.

Wolf Dreams does kneel the faction card.

Joe
That’s a tough call.

I’d say remove the Winter is Coming. Wolves is a sub theme of the deck, but claim-raising is not critical; it’s just kind of a dick move haha.

Aaron
Ha, I like it for power challenges and when opponents use First Snow, but okay!

Joe
I agree about first snow.

Ugh…maybe remove 1 Wolf Dreams and 1 Bran instead?

Aaron
I can see that.

Joe
Then let’s try that.

Aaron
I took the liberty of adding 5 plots. Any you don’t like?

Summons, Building, Noble, Trading, Confiscation.

Joe
May as well add Wardens of the North, too.

Aaron
A Time for Wolves?

Joe
I think that about sums it up.

Aaron
Economy, Card Advantage, Action Advantage — we seem to have everything. So, willing to take this for a spin on your YouTube page?

Joe
Sure. I’ll try to get in some games this week. Maybe even tonight. My wife is headed home from school now.

Aaron
Awesome — so what’s your YouTube page / how can we find you in general?

Joe
My youtube channel is: http://youtube.com/joefromcincinnati

Wardens of the Midwest website is: http://wardensofthemidwest.com

Aaron
Let us know how you like it! IF it works, you have a secondary deck…If not, we do this again — Targaryen Rose!

Joe
I think we should do the Targaryen Rose deck anyway, because it intrigues me.

Aaron
As soon as Funeral Pyre is out, it’s a date. You bring the chicken parm!

Joe
I’ll make it a priority to learn how to cook chicken parm!


If you want to copy a list down for yourself, heres a link: https://thronesdb.com/deck/view/100309

Stark from Cincinnati

Faction: Stark
Agenda: Fealty

Plots (7)
1x A Noble Cause (Core Set)
1x Building Orders (Core Set)
1x Confiscation (Core Set)
1x Summons (Core Set)
1x Trading with the Pentoshi (The Road to Winterfell)
1x Wardens of the North (No Middle Ground)
1x A Time For Wolves (Wolves of the North)

Characters (36)
2x Arya Stark (Core Set)
2x Bran Stark (Core Set)
3x Catelyn Stark (Core Set)
2x Grey Wind (Core Set)
3x Robb Stark (Core Set)
1x Summer (Core Set)
3x Direwolf Pup (Core Set)
3x Winterfell Steward (Core Set)
2x Winterfell Kennel Master (The Road to Winterfell)
1x Hodor (No Middle Ground)
3x Eddard Stark (Wolves of the North)
2x The Blackfish (Wolves of the North)
3x Jon Snow (Wolves of the North)
2x Jory Cassel (Wolves of the North)
1x Osha (Wolves of the North)
1x Sansa Stark (Wolves of the North)
1x Shaggydog (Wolves of the North)
1x Rickon Stark (Wolves of the North)

Locations (14)
3x The Kingsroad (Core Set)
3x The Roseroad (Core Set)
2x Gates of Winterfell (Core Set)
3x Heart Tree Grove (Core Set)
3x Winterfell (Wolves of the North)

Attachments (4)
2x Ice (Core Set)
1x Lady (Taking the Black)
1x Nymeria (Wolves of the North)

Events (7)
2x Like Warm Rain (Core Set)
2x Winter Is Coming (Core Set)
1x Wolf Dreams (The King’s Peace)
2x The Pack Survives (Wolves of the North)

The White Harbor Times: Defending the Wall

by Lauren Fitch

Hi, everyone, and welcome to another installment of The White Harbor Times. As you may have gathered from reading some of my previous articles, I love power—especially power gained without even having to make a challenge!

I’m sort of a lazy player, so if I can get power without making challenges, all the better. Coincidentally, Second Edition is quite favorable to passive power-gain: The Boneway, Sansa Stark (Core Set), the upcoming Winter Festival, etc. Of course, none of these cards offer the turn-after-turn potential of The Wall. So this week I’ll be analyzing how best to defend The Wall and take advantage of that power gain—should you go Night’s Watch as your main faction or take them as a banner? Which factions pair well with The Wall? Which plots should I run?


The Watch Stands Alone

Currently we have two mono-faction agendas: Fealty and The Lord of the Crossing. Although a LotC deck may be feasible for Night’s Watch (maybe), it doesn’t add much to a defensive Wall build, so we’ll pass on that for now. Fealty offers economic advantage with a manageable restriction on the number of neutral cards we can run. Since a Wall deck doesn’t need many of the staple neutral events like Tears of Lys and Put to the Sword, Fealty’s downside isn’t much of a problem.

What about the two spoiled agendas, Kings of Summer and Kings of Winter?

Kings Kings

I could consider trying Kings of Summer in a Wall deck when it’s released, depending on what the Summer plots look like. Increased economy is great in a deck whose centerpiece is a 4-cost location. Summer Harvest and Calm Over Westeros are both potential plots in the deck that can help you build up your board position. This deck’s viability would depend heavily on the prevalence of Winter plots in the meta, since they essentially nullify the advantage of the agenda. Kings of Winter may help Night’s Watch develop a new theme—choke—where you win by denying your opponent the resources they need to develop their board position. It doesn’t fit the defensive Wall build, though. Therefore, Fealty is your best bet, currently, if all you purists you want to play mono-faction Night’s Watch in your Wall build.

But should you? I started to write that Night’s Watch has the highest number of monocons in the game when I realized I didn’t know if that was true, so I decided to check. According to ThronesDB, Night’s Watch currently has the second highest number of monocons in the game at 11, edged out slightly by Stark at 13. Baratheon has the fewest at 5, while Targaryen and Tyrell are tied at 6. The remaining houses have 7 or 8. So while Night’s Watch doesn’t have the fewest icons in the game, it’s certainly close. And, if you’re going to defend The Wall, you’ll need a good spread of icons. That’s why I’d chose to banner with another faction, either in or out, to gain access to more efficient characters. And I probably wouldn’t choose Stark. I’ll start by looking at some intuitive choices and then move on to some more unconventional ones.


House Baratheoncore_202B_banner-of-the-watchBaratheon/Banner of the Stag

Baratheon is a natural choice for helping to defend The Wall for several reasons. Kneel can control pesky stealth characters or those with a difficult ability like Balon Greyjoy. Bara also has several cards that pair well with winning dominance, a mechanic that many defensive decks like because it provides another way of gaining power passively. Finally, in a deck that is all about power gain, the power challenge is extremely important, and Baratheon excels at making and defending power challenges.

Banner or Main Faction? Let’s look at the loyal cards to see what you get out of each. In Night’s Watch you get: For the Watch!, Messenger Raven, Old Bear Mormont, Samwell Tarly, The Watcher on the Walls, Will, and Yoren.

Yoren isn’t particularly necessary in a defense deck, and Samwell has recently been outclassed by Moon Boy, but the rest of the cards are helpful in defending The Wall. Baratheon loyal cards include some kneel (Consolidation of Power), draw (The Red Keep, Moon Boy), and challenge denial (In the Name of Your King!, The King’s Peace), as well as Robert Baratheon himself. If we’re to compare side-by-side, For the Watc!h seems better than The King’s Peace, with more initiative and actually stopping a challenge versus just punishing your opponent for initiating it. Robert is objectively better than Old Bear in a vacuum. In the Name of Your King! is also an excellent card for defending the Wall when you can’t kneel Balon. I’d rule in favor of Baratheon Banner of the Watch in this case.

 

Martell/Banner of the Suncore_201B_banner-of-the-sunThe Night's Watch

Martell is another great choice for Wall decks. Stripping your opponent of key icons means you can more easily defend whatever challenges they manage to throw your way. They also have another passive-power-gain card—The Boneway, which, coupled with The Wall can put some real pressure on your opponent. Obara Sand can defend two challenges, and Maester Caleotte with Nymeria Sand can prevent your opponent from challenging optimally.

Banner or Main Faction? Martell contributes Areo Hotah, Doran Martell, Ghaston Grey, The Long Plan, The Red Viper, and Vengeance for Elia as loyal options. Doran and The Red Viper are both pretty iffy for a defense deck. Although tricons are great for defending The Wall, TRV only triggers his game text on attack, making him less useful. And you might not have a lot of Martell lords and ladies to get the full benefit of Doran’s ability. However, The Boneway, while not contributing directly to The Wall’s defense, can lead to massive power gain. Areo Hotah is useful for removing problem characters from challenges, and Ghaston Grey can deter your opponent from attacking with her best characters. Despite all these boons, Night’s Watch Banner of the Sun seems superior to Martell Banner of the Watch because of its superior draw and the fact that most of the useful, cheap Martell cards are non-loyal.

 

core_205A_house-tyrellcore_202B_banner-of-the-watchTyrell/Banner of the Rose

Tyrell offers a great banner package in Randyll Tarly, Margery Tyrell, and The Knight of Flowers. It also has several useful control pieces in Highgarden and Mare in Heat. Renown can help speed up games, while Tyrell also has some of the best draw in the game.

Banner or Main Faction?

Tyrell only offers a few loyal cards useful for defending The Wall, but they are huge. Highgarden allows for the repeatable removal of problem characters from challenges, which is incredibly useful when Balon Greyjoy is on the board or you’ve been stealthed. Pleasure Barge allows you to dig for the pieces of what is essentially a combo deck, and The Arbor helps to pay for The Wall and everyone you need to defend it. On the flip side, Taking Night’s Watch as your main faction and only bannering for a few Tyrell cards gives you non-kneeling defenders (Left & Right), cheap bicons (Courtesan of the Rose and Arbor Knight), and renown (Randyll Tarly and The Knight of Flowers). Advantage: Tyrell Banner of the Watch, but it’s close.

 

Targaryen/Banner of the Dragon

This probably looks like a crazy suggestion at first, but there are some good reasons to look at Targaryen when building a defense deck. First, Targaryen has one of the most balanced icon spreads in the game, which has enabled them to have a successful LotC build. Second, Targaryen has cheap, unique characters (that are bicons!). Why is that important? Unique characters can be duped, which helps Night’s Watch survive one of its most hated plots: First Snow of Winter. Ser Jorah Mormont, Vision, and Rhaegal are all great at defending The Wall and can survive First Snow with a dupe. Third, Targ has some nice control options, including Dracarys!.

Banner or Main Faction?

Targaryen has a lot of non-loyal cards that could be useful for defending The Wall, like the dragons and Ser Jorah. Illyrio is also great for letting you reuse defenders, provided you have the cash to spare. The Unsullied are a decent 4-cost Army that survives First Snow. The loyal cards include Dracarys! for burning away attackers and Plaza of Punishment for neutering strong characters like Balon and Randyll Tarly (Wall decks probably care less about using it to get rid of chuds). However, Targaryen does suffer from a lack of in-house draw, therefore without playtesting I’m calling this one an (intentional) draw.

 

Greyjoy/Banner of the Kraken?

Greyjoy, of course, has multiple stealth characters who can block and defend The Wall. Overall, though, its contributions to a defense deck are rather limited.

Banner or Main Faction?

Asha Greyjoy, Theon Greyjoy, and Maester Wendamyr are all non-loyal, so if you’re choosing to send the Greyjoys to The Wall, Banner of the Kraken offers everything that main-faction Greyjoy does. You can also add Newly-Made Lord for some location control and Iron Mines for saves.

 

core_203B_banner-of-the-wolfStark/Banner of the Wolf?core_202A_nights-watch

Stark, as mentioned above, has a large number of monocons, but as a banner, it’s not a problem since you’re only taking a small number of characters anyway. They have some passive power gain and a few useful characters for defense.

Banner or Main Faction?

If you’re recruiting the Starks to The Wall, Eddard Stark (Core Set) is a great choice, especially once equipped with a Little Bird and given stealth by a Wildling Scout. Sansa Stark (Core Set) and her power gain are great in a Wall deck, and I also like the Riverrun Minstrel, who gives herself a power and survives First Snow of Winter with much-needed icons to boot. Stark’s draw is only good if you’re running mono-faction Stark, plus most of the cards I like for this deck are non-loyal, therefore this combo goes to Night’s Watch Banner of the Wolf.


Notice the conspicuous absence of that faction?

What do you think? How would you choose to defend The Wall?

Taking the White: Selection Inspection, pt. 1

by Patrick Haynes (redviper187)

With the card pool expanding many of us are starting to look more and more at mono-faction decks and their potential in the meta. The big question now becomes which agenda is best: Fealty or The Lord of the Crossing?

Welcome to part one of the new Taking the White miniseries: Selection Inspection. In this article we will analyse which agenda (Fealty or The Lord of the Crossing) works better in House Lannister, The Night’s Watch, and House Tyrell. In two weeks we’ll continue the series with some brand new cards from the Stark box and the ever evolving Greyjoy, and two weeks after than we’ll close it up with Martell, Baratheon, and Targaryen.


House Tyrell
nmg_64_the_arborTyrell Fealty is most commonly played as a control deck. Many of the Tyrell loyal cards – Lady-in-Waiting, Highgarden, Paxter Redwyne, the Queen of Thorns, etc. – support a control type deck. With the release of The Arbor in the most recent chapter pack, this archetype has rocketed forward in viability. Having three extra gold per turn is huge for control decks. Extra income allows Tyrell to reset the board frequently and capitalize on all of its native draw. Time will tell if the deck is as good as it seems in theory, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.

Tyrell Crossing was one of the first main house Tyrell decks to gain widespread recognition. With the release of the agenda last month, many people turned to Tyrell, a house with an acceptable icon spread and a plethora of low-cost characters as a potential home for the new agenda. The addition of Hedge Knight and A  Tourney for the King in the same pack seemed like a match made in heaven. Most Tyrell Crossing decks ran a lot of power grab events like Lady Sansa’s Rose and Superior Claim to complement the rushing potential of the agenda. The main issue with the deck is that it relies heavily on its low-cost knight characters and may have trouble now that The First Snow of Winter is out.

So which is best? Well it’s certainly possible that a new version of Tyrell crossing that is less reliant on low cost characters will emerge – possibly some sort of hyper Randyll build that throws a little bird on him and gets all three challenges done with Randyll alone. Until then, I’m siding with Fealty. The Arbor is huge, and being able to play it for three gold is a real bargain. The limited neutrals is less detrimental when you are able to safely pay for Olenna’s cunning to grab the events you need.

House Lannister
by special guest author and Lannister fanboy Aaron Glazer!cersei

Fealty: Lannister Fealty is a control deck. It almost has to be. The Fealty agenda lowers a lot of Lannister’s best tempo and long-game cards. Cersei is huge, immediate card advantage assuming you can win even one intrigue challenge with her, but over time, she’s pressure galore. Add in Castery Rock and Lannisport and this advantage gets silly. Wardens of the West is best played in Lannister Fealty due to the cheapness of these options. Cersei at 3 and Casterly at 1 (with the Fealty reducer, obviously over more than one turn) is the two gold needed for a Wardens trigger. Add in the other ways to get extra gold (Tyrion Lannister, Tywin Lannister, Brothel Madame, Paid Off) and almost any opponent’s hand will be ripped apart that turn. Because of this hand destruction, Fealty, too, likes Wildfire Assault. What we’re seeing here, is a lot of high initiative and control, so going first is a huge help in Fealty, which aids two other Lannister cards, one Loyal card – Cersei’s Wheelhouse – and one non-loyal – Ser Jamie Lannister. That’s a lot of advantages over a long game for Fealty, and, of course, Tywin Lannister at 6 gold is a steal.

The Lord of the Crossing: Lannister Fealty does have one problem though. Because the deck is control, it accrues power quite slowly. The Lord of the Crossing tosses away a lot of the economy benefits to gain power significantly faster. To do this, Crossing relies on events that are rarely played in Fealty like Hear Me Roar! and I Never Bet Against My Family. These cards really add to the strength of the faction in that they create a third challenge (with potential kills and bonus power) at a huge economic discount. But can’t Fealty just run these cards? Yes, but without the power bonus, the cards have far less effect. Further, with the neutral restriction of Fealty, Shadowblack Lane, a key Lannister Crossing card, cannot be played. This amazing pseudo-draw will get Hear Me Roar, Never Bet, and Treachery, but at the cost of a house card kneel. That this search is repeatable and remains on the board means that it contradicts directly with Fealty. Crossing likes Wildfire and loves First Snow, as cards bouncing in and out are its stated goal, and it goes for a mix in plots of draw, economy, and, unlike the control of Fealty, aggro to really pressure opponents. That plot selection allows almost all the cards in the deck to be about board position and creating a benefit whereas Fealty, instead, uses plots to control and the deck itself to generate economy and draw.

So, which is better? It depends on your playstyle. 1st edition Lannister superstar and former World Champion Aioria prefers Fealty, as a control player at his core. Far more often, though, Crossing has shone as a top deck. Try them both out to see which fits your style!


The Night’s Watch
watcher on the wallsNight’s Watch Fealty has been a peripheral deck for most of the life of the game. The deck is most often built as a Wall defense deck, which Fealty compliments. It makes Old Bear Mormont more affordable and allows you to play many of your low cost characters at a reduced cost. The most recent chapter pack gave Night’s Watch Fealty two very solid cards that may put it back on the map. The Watcher on the Walls is a constant deterrent that makes your opponent heavily weigh the ups and downs of doing a military challenge with their strong characters. For the Watch!, on the other hand, gives you a turn which forces your opponent to throw away one of their three challenges. With this plot, it may even be possible to go back into our binders and give The Sword in the Darkness another look. If your opponent decides to throw a chump challenge at you to soak up For the Watch, or just to kneel out one of your defenders, potentially preventing your opponent from doing any other challenges can be a huge tempo swing.

Night’s Watch Crossing on the other hand has, to my knowledge, not been explored very thoroughly. The two themes that Night’s watch has excelled at so far are defense and frequently resets, both of which fail to synergize with Lords of the Crossing. If you focus on defense, you will rarely have enough standing characters to get three challenges off and if you have few characters on the board you will also be limited in your challenges, not to mention the fact that the Varys build relies heavily on its banner.

Which is better? Fealty by a long shot. Until we get more strong bicons in Night’s Watch, The Lord of the Crossing is just not going to be very strong. If you’re looking to defend The Wall then you’re best off finding a banner or pledging your loyalty to the Watch.


Well, that’s all for today folks! Testing for regionals and impending deadlines have forced me to cut this week’s article a little bit short. Hope you all enjoyed! As always feel free to message me with any comments or suggestions on facebook, or email me at Takingthewhite@gmail.com

Stay tuned for next week’s analysis of House Stark and House Greyjoy!

You’re Doing it Wrong

John Wright from the very competitive SoCal meta replaces Aaron as one of our regular contributors every other Monday.

by John Wright

Last Tuesday morning, I woke up, drank a cup of coffee, flipped through the Thrones Discord chat, poured myself a second cup of coffee, and sat down to play my weekly OCTGN Tournament match against Dennis H. It was a very good game, and Dennis was awesome to play against. Although I was behind the whole time, I felt like I was perpetually about to turn the corner and swing the game back in my favor. Then, suddenly, in the middle of the 6th round, I realized I had lost. There was no coming back. Soon after, our game was over.

Now, I generally try to be good natured about winning and losing games. I try to keep perspective that we’re playing a card game; as much as I like to win, there are no real stakes. And yet, this loss hung with me. I found myself stewing over it during my lunch break. Fortunately, Dennis had recorded our game, so I was able to masochistically watch myself play and lose again later that afternoon. I saw that I had made subtle (and no-so-subtle) play mistakes in throughout the whole game while Dennis’s flawless play had propelled him to a convincing victory.

A few hours later, I was asked if I would consider writing articles for this site. I agreed, and decided the best way to make sure no one would ever take me seriously here would be to show everyone what I bad player I am. So, I went back and painfully watched the game again, this time going through slowly so I could take notes. It is my hope that with this act of public self-flagellation, I can finally put this loss behind me.

Dennis’s recording can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AN6fKA9Yukg&feature=youtu.be

I am going to try to avoid too much narrative description because it’s all there for you to watch. I have provided time stamps if you’d like to follow along, and some relevant quotes from Dennis’s excellent in-game commentary.

9:50 – “I hope he forgets to trigger Arianne.”

So, I have a problem when I play sometimes, and that is that I like to make somewhat tricky, convoluted play moves. Something like, say, bouncing in an Arianne duplicate mid-challenge in order to make a Varys trigger less meaningful by having two duplicated characters on the board. Dennis, of course, sees that I have an Arianne stuck on the board and he can lock her there by skipping his challenges, which he then does.

There are two things that kill me about this move. First, I think that technically was the right play to make – it does, after all, result in Dennis making no challenges against me. However, it is also a bad play decision to make a sub-optimal play decision, while relying on an opponent’s error to make your choice worthwhile. Second, and even worse: it was later pointed out to me that Arianne’s ability is an Action, not a Challenges Action, so I could have still made the play in the Dominance phase. I’ve been playing Martell seriously for several months, but I clearly have never actually read one of their best cards. Ugh.

End result: instead of being able to keep either Arianne or Tyrion on the table after the Varys/Marched routine, I allow my board to be wiped, giving Dennis the upper hand in spite of my superior economy and hand size.

15:10 – “I need to let the Caleotte challenge through, whatever that is.”

At the start of the game I had a singular goal: get ahead in hand size before the board reset. Thanks to a green-bordered Calm over Westeros, followed by Heads on Spikes, I was in the place I wanted to be, even though I was now behind on board position due to Yoren. However, in the second turn I failed to transition back to a more aggressive strategy.

I make a single challenge, kneeling Caleotte for an intrigue challenge. I do this because I still am thinking card advantage. I leave Arianne standing as a deterrent to his returning intrigue challenge. This play is a pretty bad error – Edric has Stealth, and of course he is going to make a military challenge first. If I want to defend his intrigue attack, I have to let Caleotte die.

Of course he initiates that military challenge. Again, I am overly-focused on maintaining a lead on cards in hand, so I make one of my favorite “tricky” moves out of Martell: I pull back Arianne for a surprise Bastard Daughter and get to discard another card from his hand. My board now knelt out, Dennis is able to pick up two easy challenge wins in intrigue and power.

The correct order would have been to use Arianne in either intrigue or power on attack. Then, rather than fool-heartedly attempting to push my card advantage further, I could have used Caleotte on defense to stop Dennis’s incoming power challenge. Most of all, though, rather than putting a Bastard Daughter into play for card advantage, I should have put down the Rattleshirt’s Raiders and won the military challenge made by Edric. Because I was not able to alter the focus of my game plan in this second round I lost two more challenges than I needed to. Worst of all, I let myself be forced into a position to have my board wiped again with Dennis’s second Marched to the Wall.

27:05 “Now we got a game.”

In spite of my misplays, the board is fairly evenly matched here (mostly due to how good Nymeria is). This turn, my primary goal is to try and steal Edric back via Ghaston Grey – and I’m successful. However, at this point I start to play scared about board position for some reason. Perhaps I have realized too late that I am in danger of falling too far behind. And so, rather than using The Hound on offense and relying on my stronger economic base to keep characters on the board, I freeze and don’t do anything. Dennis breaks this decision down on the stream very well, but I needed to get some kind of use out of Sandor, even though it would have weakened my on-board presence. I believe, for example, that even something as simple as getting rid of his duplicate on Yoren would have made my next turn a lot more effective.

32:00 – “What’s he gonna do?”

Dennis’s plot catches me off-guard, and I definitely regret not having The Hound in hand as he is knelt down. Still playing a weak defense, I decide to go second this turn, which allows Dennis to lock my Kingsroad down for a second turn, which, in turn, really hurts the Ser Jamie Lannister sitting in my hand. If I’d been more aggressive with The Hound the turn before, I could have really pushed my board position this turn and still been somewhat effective on defense. Instead, my waffling play and decision to drop two locations stalls the game slightly, but doesn’t actually help my board position at all. (Dennis zeroes in on this fact at 36:00 in the recording).

Ironically, I decide that this is the time to start trying to reclaim board state, and the military challenge I make this round is extremely ineffectual. As Dennis mentions, it would have been better to intrigue Asha from his hand, leaving him with just a single power icon to play with in Theon and possibly opening a window for me to close the gap in the power sitting on our faction cards.

41:00 – “At least I’ll be able to get some chud out.”

This marshalling phase I miss a trigger. I have a Treachery! in my hand and Jaime on the board. I know Asha is coming back out, and I am trying to figure out how I can use my Treachery to my advantage in challenges to prevent Dennis from winning outright this turn. Because I am skipping ahead, I miss one of the best possible uses of a Treachery!: hitting my opponent’s economy. When he uses his Sea Tower for a Fishmonger, I let his second reduction go through – only later realizing I could have left Asha stuck in his hand.

Now, this mistake is not the one that ultimately cost me the game (pick one of the errors discussed above – that may be the one that caused me to lose); however, I do think it reflects the consistent error I made throughout this match of focusing in on a certain element of the game while neglecting other, more integral components. My lack of flexibility and my persistent delay in adapting to board-state left me well behind an opponent who was not making the same mistakes.

(As it turns out, Dennis had a Raiding Party in his hand, so the cancel would actually not have hurt him. Still a mistake, though.)

55:50 – “Wow. That is a horrendously bad choice.”

I know, Dennis. I know.

You always want to go second, except when you need to go first. I needed to go first here to have a chance to live another round. My only possible excuse: I had subconsciously given up already, so this decision counts as my brain unknowingly conceding the match.


 

Concluding Thoughts

If I can’t draw some teaching moments from this, I am really only embarrassing myself and it would have been better to remain silent. So, here is a list of things I did wrong:

  1. Stuck with my initial strategy too long after it was no longer relevant.
  2. Tried to be too cute with flashy plays rather than safe, consistent ones.
  3. Consistently failed to protect my board position.
  4. Played scared in the mid-game, waffling between making challenges and trying to hold back for defense.
  5. Chose the wrong moment to make an aggressive military challenge.
  6. Was not aggressive enough with non-kneeling Jaime.
  7. Missed triggers.

The above list all summarizes as allowing Dennis to dictate the flow of the match, rather than forcing tough decisions upon my opponent. Because he had total control of the board, the extent to which I attempted to pressure his hand really did not affect him at all. Furthermore, I frequently waffled between initiating challenges and holding back on defense, ultimately failing to accomplish much with either tactic. That does not mean that I think you need to go blindly swinging into military challenges…just that sitting back without forcing any sort of hard choices on the person you are playing against will get you nowhere.

Finally, I never won any impactful power challenges; so, even though I slowed down his pace, he was able to slowly amass a winning power total.

Actually, scratch that, I just went back to check and I did not win a power challenge that whole game. So, even though I was sometimes able to hang close on board state, I was never able to build any momentum towards the game’s one and only win condition.

No wonder I lost.

**Special thanks to Dennis for a great game and an excellent recording.**