Welcome to another installment of Taking the White! Now that we’ve got the basics of deck building out of the way, let’s move on to a more focused line of thinking. The next eight articles will analyze each of the eight factions. I’ll examine their strengths, their weaknesses, and show off a few cool or competitive decks from each. This week’s faction is, as I’m sure many of you guessed for the super obvious article title: House Tyrell.
House Tyrell has a relatively even icon spread with a slight emphasis on intrigue especially if one is playing fealty. Tyrell has two characters with renown both of which are exceptionally good. Randyll Tarly is best when used in Tyrell main faction, as you will have enough targets to reliably play growing strong and you will have a few more backup targets for Heartsbane if you don’t find Randyll. Knight of Flowers, on the other hand is spectacular in any faction. At first glance he seems decent, maybe even a little mundane to the untrained eye. But when you’re staring down 5+ characters with 3-4 strength you’ll be ecstatic to draw this master of sword play.
Tyrell also has some solid defense advantages. When fully assembled the Left and Right dream team will block your opponent from getting any unopposed power unless they have stealth or the ever irritating Balon Greyjoy. Speaking of Balon Greyjoy, you know when he’s not useful? When he’s been removed from a challenge. Highgarden is the bee’s knees when it comes keeping annoying power characters out of key challenges. Lastly, their strength pumps can make challenge math a nightmare for their opponent especially when defending key challenges, or pushing through chump challenges after an overcommitment on defense.
Along with their fantastic high-cost characters Tyrell also has a lot of solid low cost chuds. Tyrell is tied with Martell for the most two cost characters in the game at four. Along with their unbelievably good three cost character (Margaery Tyrell) Tyrell as a faction is able to play out a lot of characters very quickly and use them to control the board. This rapid flood of characters along with strength pumps to make them more impactful means that Tyrell is often able to leverage Varys effectively. This fast recovery is further aided by their aquatic brothels (Pleasure Barge) which can provide easy, on demand draw to let you draw those extra chuds or those handy dupes before you blow up the board.
Along with their many pros, Tyrell has a few cons. Firstly, while their chud army makes for a great post Varys flood, it can leave them slightly vulnerable to Wildfire Assault. With one of the best characters (again Margaery Tyrell) being a supporting character who rarely participates in challenges, going down to three characters can be a bit frustrating. It will also often result in the tragic breakup of the Left and Right dream team
Basically Tyrell’s Yoko
Another major threat to Tyrell is Tears of Lys. Despite their relatively strong intrigue presence, Tyrells two renown characters are sorely lacking in the intrigue icon department and are fairly vulnerable to tears. It is important to compensate with hands judgements or little birds depending on the state of your meta.
Tyrell last major shortcoming, and probably their largest, is their lack of ability to come from behind (without some clutch Varys action that is). Because Tyrell’s primary draw location requires you to win a challenge by five or more strength, it can be difficult to recover from if you fall behind. The addition of the pleasure barge mitigates this downside but the economic disadvantage can also be detrimental.
The first deck I’m going to discuss today is Tyrell Fealty. I played this deck at a tournament in Chicago a few weeks back and it went surprisingly well. I went 3-1 only losing to Whitebook Podcast host Tommy in one of the weirdest games I’ve ever played which will hopefully be discussed on the podcast post-hiatus. The deck has a number of strategies for victory but the most common ones are: flooding the board with characters using the Queen of Thorns and winning challenges through brute force, or playing out a lot of dupes and using Varys aggressively.
The question about this deck I was asked most was, why would you play fealty out of Tyrell? I’ve seen a lot of people questioning the strength of fealty for Tyrell so I was happy to have the opportunity to demonstrate its validity as a competitive deck. When making the choice between mono-Tyrell and Tyrell with a banner, I decided to go with mono-Tyrell to leverage the Queen of Thorns, and get the maximum value out of the Rose Gardens and the Wardens of the Reach. The question then became, Fealty or No Agenda/Banner of the Rose? I built an early draft of the deck without an agenda and ended up with about 17 neutrals and about 10 neutrals (not counting pleasure barge because it’s free). It was easy enough to cut two neutrals and play fealty so that’s what I did.
The deck relies heavily on many of the same cards as other Tyrell decks, the Knight of Flowers, Randyll Tarly, and Margaery Tyrell are all fabulous for obvious reasons so I won’t discuss them here, instead I’ll focus on the cards that are good for this specific deck.
Queen of Thorns: As far as seven-costers go, the Queen of Thorns isn’t the best but she’s certainly not the worst *cough* Old Bear Mormont *cough*. In a mono-tyrell deck, she will almost always have a target to put into play especially during the early rounds of the game. Furthermore, because she is loyal she is often effectively 6-cost and has the ability to fully pay for herself off of one trigger of her ability.
Varys: This deck plays three copies of Varys and loves to see him virtually all the time. With the vast quantity of dupes, it’s often able to use him offensively or defensively, and the stealth on the intrigue is incredibly useful as well.
Paxter Redwyne: This guy is just dope. His +1 gold is just as welcome as any income boost and his reduction of the cost of events can be a real surprise to opponents who aren’t paying close attention. Also, running three copies of him mean that he’ll often survive your Varys and is a good way to protect someone like Randyll or the Knight of Flowers from a post Varys marched.
The deck will sometimes struggle against Lannister. If you don’t see Varys, if the Lanni player manages to dupe Tywin or if Varys is cancelled it can sometimes be hard to keep up. The best strategy in that scenario is to just go toe to toe with them as much as possible and gain as much power as you can on the Knight of Flowers and Randyll. It is also slightly weak to variance as it is heavily reliant of Knight of Flowers, Randyll, and Varys, and not seeing them will often result in a loss.
Tyrell is good, don’t underestimate them. They may seem like a weaker version of Lanni on first glance but they will often come out swinging very quickly and can win the game before you know what’s happening, but they’re also prepared for the long game and can wait you out to steal the victory even if you can control their key characters early. They’ll always find a chink in your armor and they’ll always be a thorn in your side.
Thanks for reading folks! If you have any feedback for the article let me know in the comments or email me at [email protected], also if you have any decks that you would like featured in the series, send them to the above email address with a brief description of how to play the deck and any tournaments it has won/done well at.
Look for my next article on the Night’s Watch in two weeks!