Q – When is a deck-builder not a deck-builder?
A – When you can’t build decks
With the first tournament coming up at our FLGS for Game of Thrones 2nd Edition, I’ve been trying to hone my decks, and develop some rudimentary playing ability ahead of the big day.
In terms of playing skill, my attempts to drag myself above the level of thoroughly incompetent mostly focus around actually trying to get a game or two in – somehow I’ve just not made it along to enough sessions over the past few months, and I’m still trying to get used to the flow of the new game.
The other issue, with deck-building, is a slightly different challenge. As those of you who follow the blog regularly will know, I briefly experimented with playing this game out of only a single core set, before concluding that this was essentially impossible, and buying a second.
Two core sets allows you to play the game legally. You can put together 60-card decks (ideally more than one of them), which meet the requirements in terms of the type and number of cards included.
However, calling this activity “deck-building” is still a stretch.
I’ve already experienced a fair bit of grief at the hand of Fealty decks. For the restriction of capping your deck at 15 neutral cards, it offers the ability to reduce the cost of a loyal card each round by kneeling your house-card. Given that there are only a very limited number of other reasons you’d want to kneel your house card at the moment (I strongly expect this to grow, acting as a 2nd-edition re-visitation of the old “Limited Responses”) this feels like a good deal – it smooths the economy, and allows you to either get your key characters out quicker, or else choose plots with more useful abilities whilst still being able to play the big cards.
Frustratingly though, with a minimum deck-size of 60 cards, and a maximum of 15 neutral cards, that leaves you needing to find a minimum of 45 in-house cards to build a deck and, out of 2 Core Sets, there is no house that can do it.
Adding in Taking the Black, the first chapter pack in the re-booted game, brings Targaryen up to exactly 45 cards (technically 46, but you can’t run 4 copies of the reducer location…) meaning that a Fealty deck is now technically possible – however, as the in-house cards give you literally no choice, the only real decisions to make are about the neutral cards. If you think that you’re automatically taking 3 each of the Rose Road and the King’s Road, plus Milk of the Poppy, that’s probably about 6 cards for you to pit your deck-building prowess against.
Obviously, there is no requirement to run a single-house, fealty deck. You can combine factions, which gives you a lot more possibilities. For each of the 8 houses, you have 7 banner options, which is over 50 different combinations – the house you’re bannering into probably won’t give you much flexibility (you have to have at least 12 cards, they have to be non-loyal, and you probably only have two copies of each). For your main house however, you probably do have a bit of wiggle-room, especially if you decide to go heavy on neutral cards.
Over time, these problems will inevitably ease. Each new chapter pack brings additional cards, three copies of each, and in six months’ time, there will be real decisions to make (especially for Stark who are getting the first big-box expansion in “the second quarter of 2016”). That said, the new rotation model means that only the Core Set cards will be around for the whole life of the game, and they contain so many of the staples, that having that third copy may well prove worth it, even if you no long need it for sheer bulking-out purposes.
For next week’s tournament, I’ll almost certainly end up running with something bannered. I’ll decide after that whether the Core Set is a necessary purchase and will report back in with a run-down of how it went.