News for March 2012
Winning Dominance with A Poisoned Spear
A spotlight on A Game of Thrones: The Card Game
A Game of Thrones LCG | Published 15 March 2012

In the south the last weirwoods had been cut down or burned out a thousand years ago, except on the Isle of Faces where the green men kept their silent watch.
    –A Game of Thrones

With the recent release of Lions of the Rock, the great Houses of Westeros have had greater cause to vie for dominance near the end of every game round. King Joffrey Baratheon (Lions of the Rock, 4) and Edict of the Rock (Lions of the Rock, 54) have given House Lannister the means to keep their foes knelt, but both trigger only when the Lannister player wins dominance. This means the other houses have greater reason than ever to marshal their own bids for dominance.

The tricky part, of course, is the timing. Because the dominance phase arrives only after players attack each other and declare defenders during the challenges phase, it’s often difficult to keep any of your characters standing. After all, if you can win a power challenge to steal power from your opponent’s house, that swing gives you a greater advantage than winning a single power in the dominance phase, especially if your claim is two or more. It’s possible to win dominance with gold, of course, but once again, you need to keep that gold on hand, rather than spend it, in order to count it during the dominance phase. And gold spent earlier in the turn might help you get the strength you need to win challenges.

Kneel your characters and win dominance, too

What if you could spend all your gold and kneel all your characters and still vie for dominance? Perhaps you could play through your challenges differently. Perhaps you could find new and interesting ways to take advantage of your strength in the dominance phase.

Among its other ambitious, the A Tale of Champions cycle has focused upon the Lords, Ladies, Knights, and other unique personalities likely to be found at tourney grounds. Now, at the cycle’s conclusion, A Poisoned Spear introduces Isle of Faces (A Poisoned Spear, 118), which further rewards players for including these unique characters in their decks.

Though winning dominance is by no means the fastest route to victory, it certainly doesn’t hurt. House Lannister can kick their opponents when they’re down, or if they can win dominance, Lannister’s opponents can slip free of the kneeling stranglehold. House Baratheon has long had a vested interest in the dominance phase. Melisandre (Return of the Others, 105) wins you an extra power, Storm’s End (Kings of the Storm, 32) allows you to translate a power on your House card to two on two different characters, and if you can’t just force your dominance with Compelled by the King (Beyond the Wall, 26) or The Iron Throne (A Sword in the Darkness, 46), the Isle of Faces places you in contention, even after your characters have knelt.

Of course, as the weirwoods are focal points for worship to the Old Gods, it stands to reason House Stark ought to find some benefit from the Isle of Faces, and they do. Stark commands a host of strong unique characters, and with the plot, The Minstrel’s Muse (Return of the Others, 120), they can grab a large chunk of power at one go. You can also borrow a trick from one of the top Melee players at Stahleck 2011 and partner The Minstrel’s Muse with some influence-generating location, the Isle of Faces, and Den of the Wolf (A Change of Seasons, 58).

Will the Old Gods answer?

Arya stared at the face carved into its trunk. It was a terrible face, its mouth twisted, its eyes flaring and full of hate. Is that what a god looked like?
    –A Clash of Kings

The Old Gods angered Arya with their silence. Where were they while her father died? Where were they while her brother fell and shattered? Where were they when the Lannisters killed her friend and her sister’s wolf?

A Game of Thrones: The Card Game grows a little with every new Chapter Pack, and while the challenges remain the same, the players and the powers differ. Will the Old Gods impact the game, through their focus on the Isle of Faces? Will the Starks benefit from their strength? Or will the Lannisters, Baratheons, and the other houses continue to dominate the dominance phase, secure in the knowledge that the south is free of weirwoods, barring one little island at the middle of the God’s Eye?

Questions of subtle influence are usually the hardest to answer. At one-cost the Isle of Faces is certain to see play in a good number of decks. It is harder to guess how profound an impact it will make.

Start envisioning your own tricks for the dominance phase. A Poisoned Spear is due to arrive next week!

Based on George R.R. Martin's bestselling fantasy epic A Song of Ice and Fire, A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, playable by 2-4 players, brings the beloved heroes, villains, locations, and events of the world of Westeros to life through innovative game mechanics and the highly strategic game play. The Living Card Game format allows players to customize their gaming experience with monthly Chapter Pack expansions to the core game.

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