It’s All About the Handmaidens

Or, why you should consider Banner of the Dragon

As many of you are aware by now, I am quite the fan of House Targaryen. I have promoted Targaryen Fealty on numerous occasions and you are likely familiar with the success of that deck in many tournaments across the world. You are probably also familiar with my deck building “conversations” with Aaron Glazer (Two Guys, One Deck) and with special guests (The Deck Doctor). These decks almost always focus on my Jaime tendencies, by which I mean that I focus solely on creating the strongest, most consistent decks that I think are capable of winning tournaments. The actual strength of these decks varies by the factions and agendas chosen, but the goal has been to build a “Jaime deck” every time.

What you might not know about me, is that I have a large dose of Melisandre in me that is frequently suppressed when building decks with Aaron (and even my special guests). Just so it’s made clear, a Melisandre player is one who loves the crazy combos and interactions of certain cards and chooses to pursue these flashy effects, even at the cost of consistency (a blasphemous statement to a Jaime player) when building a deck or playing a game. You are probably familiar with this player type being described as a Shagga player in the past, but Melisandre is a much better fit in my opinion. First and foremost, she is a character of importance to the story, as are Eddard and Jaime in our “traditional” player types. Secondly, her use of tricks and misdirection to create the aura of mystery and magic that surrounds her (not to mention her actual magic) make her an ideal identity for players that try to make ridiculous, impressive, or downright magical things happen in A Game of Thrones LCG.

Banner of the Dragon

core_169_handmaidenMany people have been making Banner of the Dragon a joke on par with Banner of the Watch, and while I won’t argue that there are several more “powerful” banner options, like Lion, Rose, Sun, or Wolf; not many are more fun. A lot of the reasons for dismissal stems from the question: “What do I even use Banner of the Dragon for?” By now you should be able to answer this yourself: Handmaiden.

There are other reasons to consider Banner of the Dragon however, the primary reason (from a Jaime perspective) is a low cost character curve. If you feel like your deck is lacking 1-3 cost characters, look no further than Banner of the Dragon, you can get 12 characters added to your deck that are all 3 gold or less. So if you play a faction that has a suitable high-end on its own, you can add Dragon for a more robust cost curve.

So let me introduce you to two decks that I have built (and had reasonable success with) that utilize Banner of the Dragon. These are both decks that I think fit squarely in the Melisandre category (built for specific card interactions rather than consistent victory).

Tyrell Banner of the Dragon (Taking the Black)

core_36_noble-lineageThis is a deck that I played in our January GNK (Game Night Kit) tournament where I went undefeated. This is already rendered rather historic given the fact that two chapter packs have since been released and have made a big impact on how we are playing House Tyrell, but I’d still like to mention it and perhaps spark some interest in pursuing these ideas further. You can find the deck on ThronesDB.

You’ll notice that this deck only used Margaery Tyrell and not Queen of Thorns, so Handmaiden was perhaps a little less important, but Margaery is a fantastic card to use twice in the challenges phase and with Randyll Tarly, you could get a lot of power very quickly. The other interaction this provides is the Merchant Prince with Noble Lineage combo. Getting a 3 cost 4 STR tricon is pretty awesome, but most decks don’t need Noble Lineage, so you are taking valuable spots to get a pretty unlikely combo to happen. However, this deck, with Arbor Knight, Ser Jorah, and Paxter Redwyne, had numerous good targets for Noble Lineage, making its inclusion worthwhile and the possibility of attaching to Merchant Prince worth pursuing. Is it consistent enough? No. Is it fun and amazing when it happens? Absolutely.

Stark Banner of the Dragon (The King’s Peace)

This icore_143_catelyn-starks my current deck that I’ve been working on quite a bit, hoping to get a victory or top cut placement so I could publish it. I sent Chris Kizer to Springfield, MO for the Moon Boy Classic hoping he would come away with a win or at least a spot in the cut, but thanks to FFG’s current tournament rules, he missed the cut, finishing 6th place due to his strength of schedule. A story we are all becoming familiar with thanks to insufficient rounds and small top cuts. Since it didn’t win or place, I haven’t published the deck list on ThronesDB (and won’t), so you can find it at the end of the article.

The use of Banner of the Dragon is almost entirely for Handmaiden in order to use Catelyn Stark multiple times (or Arya or Sansa). Lots of Ladies in House Stark that can benefit from the stand effect. Specifically Catelyn because this deck is built around the idea of getting Catelyn with a military icon and Ice or Put to the Sword or Tears of Lys to remove the biggest threats. Which is not exactly consistent enough to rely on in every game, but amazing when it gets going, a worthy goal for aspiring Melisandres everywhere!

Which Faction Next?

Hopefully you have enjoyed this look at two factions and how Banner of the Dragon is used, perhaps it has inspired you to try your own. So what other factions can benefit from Banner of the Dragon? Let me drop a few ideas and then hopefully you’ll try some for yourself.

House Lannister could try an interesting hand destruction build bringing in Handmaiden for Cersie and Crone of Vaes Dothrak to actually kill those discarded characters. Don’t forget to include the Braided Warrior for more potential Crone triggers!

House Martell could be good for a Noble Lineage/Merchant Prince deck, they also have numerous characters that can benefit from the attachment: House Dayne Knight, Bastard Daughter, Greenblood Trader, Dornish Paramour, Nymeria Sand, Edric Dayne, etc. Pretty much every Martell character could use a power icon, so let’s give it to them and also potentially get an efficient tricon with the Merchant Prince.

Happy Bannering!

As promised, the Stark Dragon deck can be found below.

1x A Noble Cause (Core Set)
1x Calm Over Westeros (Core Set)
1x Confiscation (Core Set)
1x Counting Coppers (Core Set)
1x Jousting Contest (Core Set)
1x Summons (Core Set)
1x Wildfire Assault (Core Set)

1x Littlefinger (Core Set)
2x Arya Stark (Core Set)
3x Bran Stark (Core Set)
3x Catelyn Stark (Core Set)
1x Grey Wind (Core Set)
3x Robb Stark (Core Set)
2x Sansa Stark (Core Set)
1x Summer (Core Set)
3x Winterfell Steward (Core Set)
1x Rhaegal (Core Set)
2x Ser Jorah Mormont (Core Set)
1x Viserion (Core Set)
2x Braided Warrior (Core Set)
3x Handmaiden (Core Set)
3x Targaryen Loyalist (Core Set)
1x Maester Luwin (Taking the Black)
2x Syrio Forel (The Road to Winterfell)
1x Ser Rodrik Cassel (The King’s Peace)

3x The Kingsroad (Core Set)
3x The Roseroad (Core Set)
3x Heart Tree Grove (Core Set)

2x Bodyguard (Core Set)
2x Syrio’s Training (Core Set)
3x Ice (Core Set)
2x Lady (Taking the Black)

2x Put to the Sword (Core Set)
2x Tears of Lys (Core Set)
2x The Hand’s Judgment (Core Set)
1x Wolf Dreams (The King’s Peace)

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