by Patrick Haynes (Redviper187)
This past Saturday, in the snowy tundra that is Wisconsin, I hosted the first ever Tourney for Patrick’s Name Day. The event was designed to be a nice, casual tournament with our local meta that would challenge people to get out of their comfort zone and play something they might not have otherwise considered. Before the tournament, each player was given, at random, a faction and an agenda; he or she was then required to build a deck using that faction and agenda without any sort of net-decking. In order to shake things up a bit further, I also allowed everyone to use proxies of up to three copies of any card that had been spoiled in full (preferably in English). The result was incredibly fun, and I highly recommend it to any metas hosting a casual tournament.We had some decks, like Tyrell-Banner of the Wolf, that are already fairly common and known in the meta, and others, like Baratheon-Banner of the Dragon, that are not nearly as fleshed-out in the global meta. The addition of proxy cards also meant that some decks (like Greyjoy mill) that are not possible in the current meta were playable. That caveat also meant that I could add Lords of the Crossing into the agenda pool for possible drawing, and as luck would have it, the Faction/Agenda pairing that I pulled was Tyrell-Lords of the Crossing.
I won’t dwell too much on the tournament here, but if people want a more detailed report of it, I will happily oblige. Today, however, I will be focusing on the upcoming Agenda, Lords of the Crossing and on challenge importance.
This is a question that comes up time and time again: “Which Challenge is the most important?” The simple answer is that there is none; in my mind, that fact is one of the reasons that makes Thrones so great. There are some decks in which military is king, and the sole focus is to blitz-attack their opponent, crush them by force, and not let them recover. Conversely, there are others that play more subtly, sending intrigue challenges from the shadows and slowly whittling down an opponent’s hand. Still there are others for whom power is the only challenge that matters; they don’t care how many cards or characters they lose as long as they speed to 15 power before you can stop them. One of the joys of this game is trying to figure out what kind of deck your opponent is playing and to attempt to counter it as best you can, using the tools at your disposal. However, that being said, barring extreme examples, there are general trends that can be seen in the importance of certain challenge types throughout the game, and I will attempt to provide some insight on what those trends are.
In the early stages of the game, card advantage is key; both players are trying to build up their board-state and prepare to start gaining power. At this stage of the game, both Intrigue and Military challenges are often more important than Power challenges. If you can empty your opponent’s hand, or clear their board, you’ll be in a great position to start winning the game. Which challenge is more important between the too depends largely on board-state and the deck you’re using. For example, a Stark deck is far more likely to have the tools to push through Military claim to the point where it actually matters (i.e. all dupes and chuds are dead and impactful characters will have to start dying); Stark is also typically very good at pushing through Put to the Sword for extra death. A Lannister deck, on the other hand, might be a better off focusing on emptying their opponent’s hand. With cards like Cersei Lannister and Wardens of the West, Lannister is often in a good position to focus heavily on Intrigue and then wipe the board.
After the first few rounds have passed and both players have begun to set up their boards, we enter the Mid Game. In this stage of the game, power becomes increasingly important. Some rush decks, in fact, should probably only be concerned with power challenges from this segment forward. The Mid Game is a crucial stage of the game, and it is in this stage that you really have to figure out what your opponent(s) needs to do to win and what you need to do to win. If you focus too much on your own strategy, you are gambling that your opponent will be unable to stop you and/or execute their own strategy first. As far as challenges go, in this stage, it really comes down to which challenges best allow you to walk the tightrope of disrupting your opponent and pushing for your own win. If you can kill an important character with a Military challenge, go for it; if they have few cards in hand and you think (or know) that one of them is very good, go for that intrigue; and, if neither of those two will do much damage, then focus on the power. If you read what your opponent is doing and are able to find the correct balance of furthering your own goals and impeding your opponent’s, you will have a solid advantage moving into the late game.
The classification of when Late Game begins varies from player to player. For me, personally, it is when one or both players is within striking distance to win. This could occur on turn two or turn eight; it really depends on the match-up. The most important challenge during this section is almost always power. If your opponent is close to winning, chances are the best way to stop them is going to be to block their power challenges and/or win some yourself on offense. Military and Intrigue challenges often fade into the background by this stage and will typically only matter if a key event can be pulled with intrigue claim or if a key character (usually one with renown) can be killed during a military challenge. Any challenge, even chump challenges, can be useful for kneeling out your opponents character or for snagging some unopposed power if you’re opponent doesn’t feel like blocking.
Back to the Freys
By this point I’m sure some of you are wondering: “So how the heck does this all connect back to your tournament and to Lords of the Crossing, Patrick?”
Well, my lovely readers, I’ll tell you exactly how. Lords of the Crossing is an amazing agenda if you A) have a good icon spread and B) know which challenges are most important during various stages of the game.
Ideally the first half of this article will have given you some help with “B)” and as for “A)” just play Lannister, Tyrell, or Martell and you’ll be fine. Otherwise, splash in some icon-granting attachments if you’re struggling with one icon in particular. During almost every phase of almost every game there will be at least one challenge that is less important for you to win than the other two. Once you can identify that challenge, just throw that one out first. It doesn’t matter if you’re characters have -1 strength if you don’t care about winning the challenge either way, and having +2 strength (on each character!) can be very important if you really need to win one challenge type. Also, while the one power from the third challenge may seem insignificant, it can add up very quickly and can result in a pretty potent rush deck.
Tyrell-Lords of the Crossing: http://thronesdb.com/deck/view/44413
I won’t delve too deeply into things here, but linked above is the deck I played at my Name Day Tournament this past weekend. Obviously, the evnet featured a slightly altered Meta, as there was no main faction Targ (hence the no Hand’s Judgments) but the deck performed very well. In my experience, the deck will very often win by turn two or three and can accelerate far faster than people expect. Its biggest weakness is Varys; if your opponent resets the board at the wrong time, you can basically just scoop, as the Lords of the Crossing drawback is significantly more pronounced on a freshly wiped board. Once the agenda actually comes out, I will be very curious to see how Lannister-Lords of the Crossing does, as they have Treachery to stop Varys and a very good icon spread.
Well, there you have it folks, a brief look at challenges and a new agenda. If you want to hear more about the deck or about the tournament, ask about it in the comments; I can do a full write-up on either if there is interest. As always, feel free to send deck ideas or article suggestions to Takingthewhite@gmail.com. Hope you enjoyed!