Taking the White: Selection Inspection, pt. 1

by Patrick Haynes (redviper187)

With the card pool expanding many of us are starting to look more and more at mono-faction decks and their potential in the meta. The big question now becomes which agenda is best: Fealty or The Lord of the Crossing?

Welcome to part one of the new Taking the White miniseries: Selection Inspection. In this article we will analyse which agenda (Fealty or The Lord of the Crossing) works better in House Lannister, The Night’s Watch, and House Tyrell. In two weeks we’ll continue the series with some brand new cards from the Stark box and the ever evolving Greyjoy, and two weeks after than we’ll close it up with Martell, Baratheon, and Targaryen.

House Tyrell
nmg_64_the_arborTyrell Fealty is most commonly played as a control deck. Many of the Tyrell loyal cards – Lady-in-Waiting, Highgarden, Paxter Redwyne, the Queen of Thorns, etc. – support a control type deck. With the release of The Arbor in the most recent chapter pack, this archetype has rocketed forward in viability. Having three extra gold per turn is huge for control decks. Extra income allows Tyrell to reset the board frequently and capitalize on all of its native draw. Time will tell if the deck is as good as it seems in theory, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.

Tyrell Crossing was one of the first main house Tyrell decks to gain widespread recognition. With the release of the agenda last month, many people turned to Tyrell, a house with an acceptable icon spread and a plethora of low-cost characters as a potential home for the new agenda. The addition of Hedge Knight and A  Tourney for the King in the same pack seemed like a match made in heaven. Most Tyrell Crossing decks ran a lot of power grab events like Lady Sansa’s Rose and Superior Claim to complement the rushing potential of the agenda. The main issue with the deck is that it relies heavily on its low-cost knight characters and may have trouble now that The First Snow of Winter is out.

So which is best? Well it’s certainly possible that a new version of Tyrell crossing that is less reliant on low cost characters will emerge – possibly some sort of hyper Randyll build that throws a little bird on him and gets all three challenges done with Randyll alone. Until then, I’m siding with Fealty. The Arbor is huge, and being able to play it for three gold is a real bargain. The limited neutrals is less detrimental when you are able to safely pay for Olenna’s cunning to grab the events you need.

House Lannister
by special guest author and Lannister fanboy Aaron Glazer!cersei

Fealty: Lannister Fealty is a control deck. It almost has to be. The Fealty agenda lowers a lot of Lannister’s best tempo and long-game cards. Cersei is huge, immediate card advantage assuming you can win even one intrigue challenge with her, but over time, she’s pressure galore. Add in Castery Rock and Lannisport and this advantage gets silly. Wardens of the West is best played in Lannister Fealty due to the cheapness of these options. Cersei at 3 and Casterly at 1 (with the Fealty reducer, obviously over more than one turn) is the two gold needed for a Wardens trigger. Add in the other ways to get extra gold (Tyrion Lannister, Tywin Lannister, Brothel Madame, Paid Off) and almost any opponent’s hand will be ripped apart that turn. Because of this hand destruction, Fealty, too, likes Wildfire Assault. What we’re seeing here, is a lot of high initiative and control, so going first is a huge help in Fealty, which aids two other Lannister cards, one Loyal card – Cersei’s Wheelhouse – and one non-loyal – Ser Jamie Lannister. That’s a lot of advantages over a long game for Fealty, and, of course, Tywin Lannister at 6 gold is a steal.

The Lord of the Crossing: Lannister Fealty does have one problem though. Because the deck is control, it accrues power quite slowly. The Lord of the Crossing tosses away a lot of the economy benefits to gain power significantly faster. To do this, Crossing relies on events that are rarely played in Fealty like Hear Me Roar! and I Never Bet Against My Family. These cards really add to the strength of the faction in that they create a third challenge (with potential kills and bonus power) at a huge economic discount. But can’t Fealty just run these cards? Yes, but without the power bonus, the cards have far less effect. Further, with the neutral restriction of Fealty, Shadowblack Lane, a key Lannister Crossing card, cannot be played. This amazing pseudo-draw will get Hear Me Roar, Never Bet, and Treachery, but at the cost of a house card kneel. That this search is repeatable and remains on the board means that it contradicts directly with Fealty. Crossing likes Wildfire and loves First Snow, as cards bouncing in and out are its stated goal, and it goes for a mix in plots of draw, economy, and, unlike the control of Fealty, aggro to really pressure opponents. That plot selection allows almost all the cards in the deck to be about board position and creating a benefit whereas Fealty, instead, uses plots to control and the deck itself to generate economy and draw.

So, which is better? It depends on your playstyle. 1st edition Lannister superstar and former World Champion Aioria prefers Fealty, as a control player at his core. Far more often, though, Crossing has shone as a top deck. Try them both out to see which fits your style!

The Night’s Watch
watcher on the wallsNight’s Watch Fealty has been a peripheral deck for most of the life of the game. The deck is most often built as a Wall defense deck, which Fealty compliments. It makes Old Bear Mormont more affordable and allows you to play many of your low cost characters at a reduced cost. The most recent chapter pack gave Night’s Watch Fealty two very solid cards that may put it back on the map. The Watcher on the Walls is a constant deterrent that makes your opponent heavily weigh the ups and downs of doing a military challenge with their strong characters. For the Watch!, on the other hand, gives you a turn which forces your opponent to throw away one of their three challenges. With this plot, it may even be possible to go back into our binders and give The Sword in the Darkness another look. If your opponent decides to throw a chump challenge at you to soak up For the Watch, or just to kneel out one of your defenders, potentially preventing your opponent from doing any other challenges can be a huge tempo swing.

Night’s Watch Crossing on the other hand has, to my knowledge, not been explored very thoroughly. The two themes that Night’s watch has excelled at so far are defense and frequently resets, both of which fail to synergize with Lords of the Crossing. If you focus on defense, you will rarely have enough standing characters to get three challenges off and if you have few characters on the board you will also be limited in your challenges, not to mention the fact that the Varys build relies heavily on its banner.

Which is better? Fealty by a long shot. Until we get more strong bicons in Night’s Watch, The Lord of the Crossing is just not going to be very strong. If you’re looking to defend The Wall then you’re best off finding a banner or pledging your loyalty to the Watch.

Well, that’s all for today folks! Testing for regionals and impending deadlines have forced me to cut this week’s article a little bit short. Hope you all enjoyed! As always feel free to message me with any comments or suggestions on facebook, or email me at [email protected]

Stay tuned for next week’s analysis of House Stark and House Greyjoy!

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