Another chapter pack is upon us, and it’s time for a card-review
They may not be the first cards you see when you open the pack, but surely the most game-changing cards from this pack will be the two new agendas: Kings of Summer and Kings of Winter. However, I think they are deserving of an article of their own, so I’m going to leave these for now.
Baratheon get a new character and a new location this pack. Maester Pylos is a 3-cost, 3-strength, Power character, with Stealth. It’s hard to get excited about a character so mundane, and Cressen is still Baratheon’s best bet for a Maester, but this does give you other options if you’re running Here To Serve, or if you’re relying on kneel to win unopposed challenges. Feels solid if uninspiring.
The Stone Drum is a bit more intriguing. As a non-limited zero-cost location, it certainly doesn’t ask much of you, but you’ll need to be running a fair number of “Kingdom” plots to actually get a meaningful gold boost out of this. Given how many other locations Baratheon already has, this feels like it will struggle for deck-space, but it’s definitely a card worth thinking about when you consider how many Kingdom plots there are which you’re likely to already be running, some of which (Summons, Building Orders, Counting Coppers) have challengingly low income
As you might expect during the war of the five kings, Greyjoy get a new version of their king, Balon. The new Balon is more expensive than his core-set counterpart at 7, with the same strength and icons. He has a little extra flexibility, being able to participate in multiple challenges (provided your opponent doesn’t control a king) and being able to convert locations into a multi-character strength boost, but for me this can’t compete with his core set version who does such a great job of smashing through those unopposed challenges.
“Ours is the Old Way” is a whopping 4-cost event that gives all your Greyjoy characters stealth, or takes stealth away from all non-Greyjoys. Stealth is good, but 4-cost in Greyjoy just seems way too steep.
Shae is a 3-cost, 2-strength Intrigue/Power character for Lannister, who can be re-stood for the cost of 1 gold. Obviously she’s in the right house to have the gold to spend, but she just feels a bit week to be of much use to me. She seems most likely to find a place in a deck that’s relying on pushing through multiple intrigue challenges, and will have knelt out enough of your opponent’s board to not worry about the character’s strength. That said, she is small enough to be vulnerable to burn and to First Snow.
The Boy King is a unique attachment that captures the sadistic pleasure of Joffrey as he preys on the weak. Until we see Valar Morghulis later in this cycle, keeping power on characters is still a lot easier than it was in first edition, and being able to profit from the demise of claim-soak (your own or your opponents) feels like a good deal for 1-cost. The attachment also bestows the “King” trait, which seems to be an advantage in this cycle (unless your opponent has Viserys!)
Starfall Cavalry are a remarkably expensive character at 6-cost, and they provide a decent-sized body, without being anything that’s going to transform the game. They continue Martell’s theme of wanting to play the long game as, from turn 4 onwards, you can draw 3 cards when you play them. Whilst they feel too expensive to run many of, the power of the draw effect (particularly given how ineffectual Doran tends to be) is probably enough to make you include 1.
Venomous Blade is another Martell card with a big ambush option. I’m still cooking up an article on Ambush, and will deal with this more there.
We’ve seen a rise in negative attachments in recent times, and the Night’s Watch one definitely plays to their strengths. If you’re running a wall defence deck, you want to avoid letting challenges through, and a 1-cost attachment that stops someone from attacking seems like a good deal. Their new attachment, Craven, is both terminal and a condition, so it’s fairly vulnerable as attachments go, but such a cheap way to neutralise someone like Balon or Robert make it worth a look.
Dolorous Edd has come to second edition, and he’s not happy about it. As you’d expect from a steward, he has an intrigue icon, and you can also ambush him in as a defender, for the cost of kneeling your house-card. Once again, this is stopping those unopposed challenges from getting through (as he can’t be stealthed in your hand), the cost is reasonable, and you have the option to return him to hand after winning the challenge, to save you from board resets.
A character and an event for Stark this time round: Donella Hornwood costs 4 for 3 strength, Intrigue and Power icons, which is acceptable, but hardly exciting. Her value lies in reducing the cost of the first loyal card you marshal each round: if you’re running a lot of loyal cards, especially in a fealty deck, she could give you some fairly powerful resource acceleration over time, and definitely seems worth a look. Without that critical mass of loyal cards, she seems a bit bland to bother with.
One such loyal card you might consider is Fear Cuts Deeper Than Swords. A 2-cost loyal event that cancels the effects of an ability that chooses a Stark character as its only target, and stands the character instead.
From what I’ve been able to glean from the Internet, this card is only going to help you out when an opponent triggers a card that says “Choose a character” and they choose one of your Starks. This means that it works on Mirri, Put to the Sword, Raiding Longship etc, but it doesn’t work on Tears of Lys or Tyene. Stark do have options for Intrigue these days, but it’s still not an area of great strength for them, so that’s a big drawback. The stand is nice, but I think I still prefer Treachery.
This cycle is all about Kings, and so far Viserys Targaryen is the only character we’ve seen who makes you want to not control a King. On that basis, their new attachment, Beggar King seems like a useful bit of resource manipulation: it won’t turn around a lack of economy altogether, and it’ll take at least a round to pay for itself, but the promise of having 1 or 2 extra gold when an opponent reveals a plot with better income will definitely help to smooth out bumps, as well as giving one of your characters the “King” trait.
Doreah offers Targaryen players some additional card-draw, gaining insight in challenges where you control a participating Lord or Lady. Like almost all draw we’ve seen up until now, she is loyal, and as a 2-cost, 2-strength bicon, she isn’t going to be setting the board alight, but she is cheap enough to include 1 or 2, and can combo well with characters like Viserys or Illyrio.
I found the Tyrell cards in the last pack quite underwhelming, and There Is My Claim doesn’t feel like much of an improvement. Obviously a free event is nice, but the requirement to reveal 4 Tyrell characters from your hand seems a pretty steep one, and just not that likely to trigger. As it’s free, you might want to chuck this in – unexpectedly changing the claim of a challenge is always a bonus, but it just feels too niche to rely on.
The Knight of Summer on the other hand, is quite an interesting proposition. At 4-cost, he comes the right side of the First Snow of Winter cut-off that hit the old Tyrell Knights deck so hard. As a body he’s decent without being exciting, but if you can get the “Summer” theme rolling, then a 5-strength bicon with renown seems nice. I think this might even be the inspiration I need to build a Tyrell Summer deck.
As you’d expect given the pack’s agendas, Called to Arms comes with a new summer plot, and a new winter plot.
Summer Harvest is certainly not the most exciting plot, but with income of X, where X is another player’s plot income + 2, most of the time it’s going to allow you to play plenty of stuff. Value definitely goes up in multiplayer, and it would be a real flop on a Rise of the Kraken or Valar Morghulis turn, but if you’re building for summer, it seems an obvious choice.
Winter Festival sticks with the more established theme of a season plot that hinges on there not being any plots in play of the opposing season. If you can fulfil that requirement, this offers plenty of gold, and two free power at the end of the round. Dangerous in melee, the rest of the time it’s probably a meta-call, and only worth it if you can leverage that Winter keyword.
So that about wraps things up for another chapter pack. Most of the cards in here seem interesting without being earth-shattering. I definitely think that the big long-term impact from this box will be the Agendas, and I’ll post more thoughts on these once I’ve had a chance to see them in action.