|New Tales of Champions
A look at the A Game of Thrones joust metagame by guest writer Dan Strouhal
|A Game of Thrones LCG | Published 19 April 2012|
This week, as players everywhere get ready for the 2012 A Game of Thrones: The Card Game Regional Championship tournaments, guest writer Dan Strouhal, well known for his work on the Throne Times, shares his observations of the current metagame.
The state of the game:
Excitement and momentum are building for this year’s A Game of Thrones Regional Championship tournament season. Reports from recent events such as the Moonboy Classic in Missouri, the first USA regional at Kingdom-Con 2012, and several “weekend” Spanish tourneys suggest an influx of interest and participation this year. Local play groups are growing. Communities are growing. Competitors are gearing up. For those who will soon be participating in your first A Game of Thrones Regional Championship event or major tourney, you are truly in for a treat!
This year’s Regional Championship season is particularly exciting. Never before has the LCG been as balanced between its Houses, the mechanics as dynamic, and the play styles as diverse. Recent events and forum activity forecast competitive options within each house. To win a one-on-one Joust event this year, you’ll need to be skilled at deck construction, game play, and assessing the metagame, adjusting your strategy accordingly.
New developments since the fall tourney season
The fall 2011 tournament season featured several high-profile tourneys, most notably the Tourney of Stahleck and Days of Ice and Fire. At the time, the dominant decks centered around The Maester’s Path (Gates of the Citadel, 19) and the seasons (Summer or Winter) – led by House Martell. Victories frequently depended on the ability to kill, discard, or somehow disable an opponent’s Maester, as well as control the seasonal battle. Much has changed.
Since November, the competitive environment has evolved. The A Tale of Champions cycle of Chapter Packs introduced numerous cards that reshaped the way houses Greyjoy, Martell, Stark, and Targaryen are played competitively. The Lions of the Rock deluxe expansion added new fuel to House Lannister, and creative House Baratheon players gained access to a wealth of new “combos” with the removal of The Laughing Storm (Gates of the Citadel, 5) from the FAQ’s restricted list.
Additionally, this year’s competitive decks will combine the learnings of not just the last few local tournaments, but the collective wisdom of players spanning countries and regions around the globe. Players have begun to reach beyond their local groups to share deck lists and discuss strategies. Myriad strategy articles have emerged on the player forums and various fan websites.
Taken together, the addition of new cards and the increased online collaboration have reshaped the competitive landscape in a way that is difficult to foresee… But let’s try!
Builds that remain competitive: The Maester builds of late last year remain competitive, and most have received at least a slight boost based on a few in-house additions from the A Tale of Champions cycle. Martell Summer and Maester builds can now more easily trigger Ghaston Grey (Forging the Chain, 34). The addition of Myrcella Lannister (On Dangerous Grounds, 43) and Dagos Manwoody (Trial by Combat, 92) add consistency, while The Scourge (On Dangerous Grounds, 55) strengthens character control. The Kraken’s Winter decks received strong rush and control elements with new versions of Asha Greyjoy (Where Loyalty Lies, 70) and Alannys Greyjoy (On Dangerous Grounds, 48). Targaryen character control received a very potent form of draw in Meraxes (Trial by Combat, 91) and several new “burn” (Strength-reduction) cards, including the Dragon Knight (Trial by Combat, 89). Lannister kneel remains a solid choice, and with the return of Blood of the First Men (Return of the Others, 119), we may see the emergence of competitive Wildlings decks. Any one of these builds could win a Joust event, and it is likely that at some point each one will.
New decks that have emerged as contenders: Several decks have received more than minor boosts. Most notably, the newest threat is the Lannister archetype thats run the agenda, The Power Behind the Throne (Lions of the Rock, 48), paired with other treacherous effects such as Terminal Schemes (Lions of the Rock, 42) and Frey Hospitality (Lions of the Rock, 49).
Stark decks have become more resilient and deadlier than ever with the addition of No Quarter (Trial by Combat, 82) and Harrenhal (On Dangerous Grounds, 42), perhaps now the single best draw source in the game. Wildlings may also see an increase in popularity, most likely played out of House Stark for the targeted kill and powerful challenge-based location effects, such as that of Frozen Outpost (Lords of Winter, 26). Given the overall boost to House Stark, the earlier addition of Meera Reed (Tourney for the Hand, 2) in the A Tale of Champions cycle will likely be enough to result in multiple Stark victories this year. Last but not least, there is potential for the Baratheons to take home a Joust win or two by taking advantage of The Laughing Storm, perhaps in combination with Threat from the East (Queen of Dragons, 55) or Val (Return of the Others, 117).
Metagame factors: Metagame factors have always been an important part of competitive play, but they are now more relevant than ever. Because the Houses are generally balanced and because early indications suggest most events will see diverse House representation, winning decks must be competitive against a wide variety of deck builds, but players must also factor in their local play styles. Players must also consider the local popularity of attachments versus events, and which restricted cards their opponents are likely to play. If you expect to see Venomous Blade (The Battle of Blackwater Bay, 115), then you’ll want to reduce the number of characters of Strength two or less that you include in your deck. If Fear of Winter (Beyond the Wall, 40) is more common, you’ll want to run low-cost characters for faster setups. With an expanded card pool and greater house parity, accurately forecasting which restricted cards you will see will be tougher this year, but also more rewarding.
We wish everyone good luck in the 2012 A Game of Thrones: The Card Game Regional Championships. For more advice, and to share your results, visit our community forums.
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.