Well folks, temperatures have begun to drop and Winter has finally come. Here in Wisconsin we’re pretty far north, and around this time of year we have to be extra careful to keep out the people who live Beyond the Wall. Unfortunately it seems that they’ve caught on to the fact that we can hear their communications and have gone on a mysterious “hiatus” which can mean only one thing: Attack is imminent.
A new leader has united the clans
So if you’re like me you’re going to be wondering, “Well how do I defend the Wall to prevent those cunning wildlings from getting through?”. The answer is that we’re gonna have to rely on the defensive prowess of the Night’s Watch, and this article will explain how.
So, why play Night’s Watch? Well, if you like activities like fishing or solitaire, you’ll probably enjoy playing Night’s Watch. For most of the game, if you’ve set things up correctly, you’ll basically just be sitting back, cracking some beers, and watching your opponent futilely smash into your massive wall of defenses over and over again until you eventually rack up enough power to end their suffering. The majority of Night’s Watch decks right now are centered around The Wall. Having the wall essentially allows you to win slowly (or sometimes stupidly quickly) over time simply by ensuring that your opponent doesn’t score any unopposed challenges. At first this may seem like a tall order – what with Greyjoy’s stupid amounts of stealth and Bara’s kneel. Thankfully we have Benjen Stark to mitigate that stealth (and also give you some power if your opponent manages to kill him) and sheer volume of characters can sometimes overwhelm Bara, but more on that later. Essentially, while it may seem very difficult to give up zero unopposed challenges, it’s actually easier than it looks, and you will often be able to get to a position where there is simply nothing your opponent can do to stop your slow elevator ride to 15.
Did you win yet?
A Brief Note on Banner of the Watch
Night’s Watch is interesting in that the majority of the cards important to its main theme (defense) are non-loyal, meaning that, if you’re planning on building a Night’s Watch style deck, it’s very possible to do it using a faction other than Night’s Watch. The two factions that I’ve seen used in this way most effectively are Martell and Baratheon. I’d love to discuss those decks here, but frankly these articles get pretty long as is and I don’t want to bore you guys, so here are the links to the decks: http://thronesdb.com/deck/view/18481, http://thronesdb.com/decklist/view/1268/bara-nw-dominance-1.0
Deck Display: Protecting the Wall
This week I’m going to discuss the Night’s Watch defense deck. The interesting thing about this deck is that it has a huge number of variants: Banner of the Wolf, Fealty, Banner of the Lion, Banner of the Stag, Banner of the Sun, etc. But for the sake of brevity I am selecting two builds to highlight for this article: Night’s Watch Banner of the Lion and Banner of the Stag. Ultimately, these two decks have a lot of similarities, so I’m going to be discussing them simultaneously, highlighting differences when they occur.
This build, like all Night’s Watch main house builds, relies on their characters for draw. Messenger Raven is key to both of these builds as they provide affordable, on-demand draw. The decks also both utilize Samwell Tarly to provide some occasional draw if you can slip in an intrigue challenge with him; more importantly, however, he simply provides an extra intrigue icon. Both Banner of the Stag and Lion are beneficial to Night’s Watch – partially because they provide some much needed intrigue icons. Even with the banner characters, having an intrigue presence can be difficult for them so Sam can often provide a last line of defense for opposing intrigue challenges. He also provides a nice little bonus to reserve to help you use those ravens, as long as you remember to send them that is…
That moment when standing starts and you see a messenger raven on the table
Lastly, Will can provide some draw if you’re able to win a challenge with him. It’s also important to have characters capable of defending the challenges your opponents throw at you. Both decks rely heavily on Benjen Stark and the Ranging Party(ies) for this purpose. Being able to prevent your characters from being stealthed is immensely important for these decks, especially when playing against Greyjoy. Variants: The Burned Men provide a solid cheap body that can be jumped in to stop Greyjoy’s pesky military challenges from going unopposed so they can’t trigger the Seastone Chair. Unfortunately, these stalwart mountain clansman can’t do anything about that stubbly monstrosity that is Balon Greyjoy. A brief side-note, that guy can be the bane of your existence if you don’t control him effectively; use your plots and milks wisely. Furthermore, if you’re struggling with Balon, or stealth in general, adding in the Hound with your Banner of the Lion can do wonders for your defense. Lannister also brings in the Lannisport Moneylender, who is a lot easier to use with Night’s Watch’s low limited count. In Banner of the Stag on the other hand, you don’t get too many good defense characters, but instead you can the Mel kneel module. My number one rule for running the Mel module is to have a way to passively draw cards, and Night’s Watch is probably the best house for doing that (shortly followed by Bara itself).
First and foremost, The Wall is absolutely key and should be at least two-of in all of these defensive decks, and some of them should run it as a triplicate. Both decks should also run at least one copy of Castle Black for some extra defense. Variants: The Banner of the Stag version really likes to win dominance and thus runs both the Iron Throne and Chamber of the Painted Table to improve their power-gain potential.
Both decks use Longclaw to improve their power gain by giving some added strength boosts, and the renown can be useful for acceleration. The decks also use Milk of the Poppy to control those big characters that can give them problems (especially Balon). Variants: The Lannister version, like all Lannister decks, runs Widow’s Wail.
The events are honestly where the variants differ the most. They both use the Hand’s Judgement to cancel pesky Treacheries and Dracarys’ and they also both use Meager Contribution for some added income. Variants: The Lannister deck brings both Treachery (mostly for Varys) and the Things I Do For Love to push through challenges or add some extra income choke (TIDFL + Meager contribution + Treachery for Kingsroads can be some pretty brutal income denial), and the Banner of the Stag build uses Seen in Flames to remove opponents’ important cards in addition to providing some extra kneel with Melisandre.
The basic idea for the plots of both of these decks is to provide enough income to put out characters to defend challenges and also to slow down your opponent. Both decks, of course, run Calm Over Westeros, as it performs admirably in both of those areas. Calm allows you to have a solid opening of five gold while also stopping your opponent’s claim during one challenge; it is very often an opener for these decks, but it can easily be used late game to stop an impactful power challenge. Calling the Banners is another good economy plot because these decks both thrive on large board states. Summons is key for both decks to find draw when they need it and character support when they don’t. They also both use Filthy Accusations and Fortified Position to control the board and those key characters (still Balon Greyjoy). Variants: The Bara variant especially loves A Feast for Crows, as it augments they dominance sub-theme that they have; the Lannister deck on the other hand, capitalizes on A Game of Thrones. They use the added intrigue presence of the Lannister cards to hopefully stop the opponent from winning an intrigue challenge and thus winning any other challenges.
Make sure you have enough characters on the board to defend all three challenges, especially if you have The Wall. If you win initiative, go last, unless you can close during your challenges. If you don’t win initiative and are forced to go first, it is often advisable to pass on challenges if you need your characters for defense; don’t take too many risks. And above all else, for God’s sake, don’t kill Benjen on your Fortified Position turn.
Well guys, I hope you enjoyed this article. If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please leave them in the comments. And, as always, if you have any deck ideas that you want me to write about email them to me at Takingthewhite@gmail.com.