Hi everyone! Welcome to the first installment of The White Harbor Times, where I’ll be writing about all things A Game of Thrones! Today I’ll be talking about a unique aspect of A Game of Thrones that sets it apart from other LCGs: the plot deck.
In A Game of Thrones, in addition to his or her draw deck, each player has a plot deck consisting of exactly seven plot cards. Players may include two copies of exactly one plot; all other plots in the deck must be one copy each. Some plots are limited to one per plot deck, for example: Fortified Position. These plots cannot be duplicated.
How Do You Build a Plot Deck? It’s All About the Benjen(amins).
In Second Edition, money is tight. That’s why I always start building my plot deck by thinking about economy. In a typical deck, I like to run at least three plots that will provide 5 or more gold for marshaling. These include A Noble Cause, Calling the Banners, Sneak Attack, Taxation, and A Feast for Crows; which of these to choose depends on what your draw deck is like. Running a Tyrell/Wolf with 6+ Nobles? A Noble Cause might be a good choice. Calling the Banners is a great choice for many decks, since you can time it for a turn when your opponent controls many characters, maximizing the gold you collect. It also can grant you gold even if your opponent flips Naval Superiority, an important consideration if this plot has much prevalence in your meta. Calm Over Westeros is also popular for this reason, and has the added benefit of reducing your opponent’s claim by one in one challenge type. Calm is a common opener; however it’s also a great play late-game (naming Power), preventing your opponent from claiming the power she needs to win. Whichever economy plots you choose, if you select fewer than three you should make sure you have adequate income-generating cards in your draw deck.
What’s the Most Important Thing? Consistency.
Consistency ensures your deck will play the same way through many games, avoiding unpleasant surprises and games where your deck craps out on you. It is achieved in two ways:
- · Playing several cards with similar effects. For example, Melisandre, Filthy Accusations, and Consolidation of Power are different cards with similar effects: they all kneel one or more characters. Repeating effects throughout your deck ensure that while you may not see a particular card in every game, you should see some card with that effect.
- · Seeing more cards. If you have 15 characters in your deck with Stealth, you are more likely to see one each game if you see more of the cards in your deck.
Although the first consideration is out of the scope of this article, the second can be enabled by careful plot selection. Search and draw plots bring consistency to your deck and help it to perform similarly each time you play. Summons, Building Orders, and Counting Coppers allow you to add cards to your hand. Decks that depend on a particular card (for example, Balon Greyjoy or The Wall) may even want to run Summons or Building Orders X2. I believe most decks should run 1+ of these three plots, unless you have incredible draw already built in. They will help smooth out your deck and make it play more consistently.
Staple Plots: Or, Should I Play Wildfire?
There are three of what I call staple plots: plots every deck must consider for their effects, but are not draw or economy plots. They are Wildfire Assault, Confiscation, and Marched to the Wall.
- · Wildfire Assault: Ever played a game where neither player has Wildfire Assault in their plot deck? It’s a pain. Double-digit character counts on each side make the challenges phase last 15 minutes. A lot of decks need this plot: Greyjoy likes small boards to facilitate unopposed challenges (and can use Aeron Damphair to bring back any Ironborn killed in the conflagration), and Baratheon’s kneel effects are stronger when the opponent controls fewer characters. But does every deck need it? If you feel very confident that you will never fall behind (or that you can always find Varys when you need him), leave it out. You may also want to leave it out if your deck contains a large number of characters who will collect power, since your own Wildfire could end up costing you power. Most decks will want it, so if you’re leaving it out, have a good reason.
- · Confiscation: There are two reasons not to play Confiscation: 1) you don’t need attachment removal or 2) you have attachment removal in your deck. Many Night’s Watch players skip Confiscation as many of their characters are No Attachments, removing the risk for Milk of the Poppy. However, this may be risky as there are many other great targets for Confiscation, such as an opponent’s Seal of the Hand. This strategy could be complemented by including Rattleshirt’s Raiders. Baratheon players have two options for attachment removal by including the Raiders and Maester Cressen (who can be searched for with Here To Serve). Any other decks will need to seriously consider including this plot.
- · Marched to the Wall: Most good players will play around the possibility of being Marched. Does that mean you shouldn’t include it? NO! Even the best player will sometimes get stuck with a single character on the board. You can also play it when you expect your opponent to flip Wildfire, which, depending on the board state, can lead to a 3-on-3, 3-on-2, or 2-on-2 matchup. You will win initiative in that case, giving you the opportunity to choose the outcome. You need a good reason not to include Marched to the Wall.
What’s the Point (of my deck)?
At this point your plot deck is probably 4-6 cards, giving you room for a few effects. Here’s where your plot deck will really differ from other decks. You’ll need to decide what strategy you’re trying for with your deck. Is it a more defensive deck, like Night’s Watch/The Wall? You may want plots like A Game of Thrones, Jousting Contest, or Fortified Position. Aggro deck? Try some 2-claim plots like Rise of the Kraken or The Winds of Winter, or play A Storm of Swords which lets you make an additional military challenge. When selecting these plots, you’ll also want to think about how important initiative is to your game. When defending the Wall, you’ll want to go second as often as possible, so in order to make that choice, you need to win initiative whenever you can. Pick plots with as high initiative as you can that also fit your strategy. Other decks, like Lannister or Tyrell, might be equally comfortable going first or second and can concentrate more on the effects their plots provide.
At this point you should be able to build a plot deck that will support your main deck and provide the consistency it needs to win! I’d love to hear your thoughts about plots. What are your favorites?