Nerdly Ned: Theme decks

by Luke Wortley (eldub)*

First of all, please excuse my tardiness in doing a wrap-up of the first cycle with Characters; I’m still trying to hammer out exactly how I’m going to tackle each faction’s Nedliest characters.

En lieu of that piece, though, I’ve been contemplating the larger scope of Nedliness to extend from individual cards to entire deck archetypes as well. Though the card pool is still quite limited, the Core Set + Westeros Cycle card pool has given us several deckbuilding options if we want to explore a theme that is consistent with A Song of Ice and Fire series. Though some factions are a bit harder to diagnose than others, some decks are just dripping with theme.

In an attempt to add a bit of entertainment value to the inevitable lull between the end of Regional season and GenCon, I’ll be attempting to break down the Nedliest decks in the current card pool (notice I don’t use the term meta, considering only a handful of decks on this list will actually have any viability in even the most casual of tournaments).

Honorable Mention:

Most things Banner of the Wolf
Because Sansa…

Baratheon Banner of the Lion
Obviously this deck, if built to be competitive, is dynamite. However, from a Nedly perspective, it’s got major upside and downside. For pros, you get: Bob, Renly, Moon Boy, Joff, Tyrion, Jaime, Ser Ilyn, Widow’s Wail, The Hound, Gregor, In the Name of Your King!, The Iron Throne, Small Council Chamber, and The Red Keep, all of which are cards that are representative of key characters and events. Cons — Unfortunately, however, you don’t get Tywin, Cersei, nor Pycelle, not to mention the fact that it makes zero sense thematically to run Stannis, Mel, Chamber of the Painted Table, Selyse, Shireen, Cressen, Davos, nor even Dragonstone Faithful / Dragonstone Port. So, unless you’re willing to sacrifice theme for deck consistency, which I’m not, Banner of the Lion is only an honorable mention.

Lannister Lord of the Crossing
Lannister characters with an agenda traited House Frey. Need I say more?

Martell Lord of the Crossing
I mean, the deck is thematic in the sense that, mechanically, LotC is exactly the type of game that Prince Doran will play — losing a couple battles on purpose to win the one that counts. But the real Nedly value of LotC comes from the fact that it’s representative of Lord Walder Frey’s refusal to commit to battle until the winner was all but determined. In that case, it only makes Honorable Mention.

Night’s Watch Banner of the Stag
Pretty much all the same reasons I listed in the Bara-Watch discussion sans Stannis…In that case, it’s not quite the Nedliest of the Nedly. I suppose this one is really just a bone for the TV show.

Targaryen Banner of the Sun
Because isn’t burning your own Quentyn such an OG move?

Targaryen Banner of the Watch / Wolf
Because Jon Snow is non-loyal, yall, come on.

Tyrell Lord of the Crossing
I’m sort of going out on a limb, here, but Tyrell LotC isn’t thematic because of all the Knight characters and such…it’s thematic because Tyrell does sort of show up out of nowhere to carry the day and, within no time, starts ruling the court at King’s Landing. The rush potential of LotC puts it in the Honorable Mention category. Ultimately, though, I think Tyrell is a control house that’s just biding its time…at least, I hope so.

Nedliest of the Nedly:

Baratheon Banner of the Watch
What’s there not to love about this deck? It may be the Nedliest deck in the entire game. Want to take Stannis to The Wall? I do! Sure, you have to sacrifice Bob and Moon Boy, but you get to have the satisfaction that the Lord of Light will guide a Lightbringer-wielding Stannis to victory over the invading Wildling hordes. You get the entire R’hllor package, Jon Snow, Halder, Chett, Davos, Shireen, The Wall, Ghost, Maester Aemon, Ser Alliser Thorne, and Castle Black. I mean…come on, right?

Baratheon Banner of the Wolf
Big Bob, Fast Eddie. Are we done here? Not really, because even if Bob dies, Eddard does support Stannis’s claim (and it’s really the only deck that can effectively leverage Tobho Mott’s Armory from a Nedly perspective). And you get to marry Joff and Sansa. It’s like the “Road to King’s Landing” deck.

Greyjoy Fealty
House Greyjoy of Pyke hates every other house in Westeros that isn’t loyal to the Kraken banner. I will do a primer on all of the Nedliness to each individual card in the Greyjoy arsenal, but for now I’m including Greyjoy Fealty as a super Nedly deck because it is completely reliant on the unopposed challenge. Much as in the books, the GJ-Fealty deck must win initiative to catch the opponent unaware and use its warships to raid the mainland, blitzing villages the coast (or even castles) before anyone can dig in defensively. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Lannister Banner of the Rose
Once a meta-defining deck, Lanni-Rose has fallen out of favor somewhat…except for Nedly players! Getting the package of Marge and KoF, along with the courtesan, Horror and Slobber, Mare in Heat, the Mountain, and other key players (Cersei, Tywin, etc.), this deck still has a ton of thematic value if for no other reason than the deck is held together by sheer force of wills; let’s be honest, this deck has a ton of beatstick characters who are important, rich, crafty, and obstinate.

Night’s Watch Fealty
Does this one really require explanation? The Night’s Watch takes no part in the vapid intrigues of the Seven Kingdoms; as they say, they are the Watcher on the Walls, which, coincidentally, is a loyal card. The Wall deck is something I’m so ready to play but haven’t committed the resources necessary to get good at playing it, yet. But thematically it’s just so rich. Meager Contribution, Old Bear, The Wall, Castle Black, Sam, Ravens…it’s up there with Bara-Watch for Nedliness.

Stark Fealty
Do I really need to get into why this deck is so Nedly? Arguably the Stark faction as a whole has the Nedliest identity of all…a no-nonsense, insular house that gets disproportionately better depending on how well you can protect the Stark family, including Jon Snow. Should’ve never left Winterfell, yall…though, to be fair, if you hadn’t, Robb wouldn’t be able to call the banners and stand your entire board.

Targaryen Fealty
Nobody is flocking to Dany’s side. She has to rely on her dragons, bloodriders, and a ragtag Khalasar buoyed by a vanguard of Unsullied and sellswords. That’s pretty much what the deck is. Can’t run Mirri, though…that’s just heresy.

* image used with permission from the artist The Mico / Тхе Мичо

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