News for February 2014
A Noble Trap?
A Guest Writer Explores a New Agenda in A Game of Thrones
A Game of Thrones LCG | Published 25 February 2014

The Kingsroad cycle for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game is now complete and a new House Baratheon agenda has stirred up significant conversation on websites devoted to A Game of Thrones: The Card Game. That controversial agenda is A Noble Cause (Forgotten Fellowship, 98). By granting renown to your Baratheon characters that cost two or more, A Noble Cause can certainly win games, but what’s the best way to build a deck centered around this agenda?

Alex H. is is an active player of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game and the co-host of the weekly A Game of Thrones podcast, “Beyond the Wall.” Today, Alex explores the importance of card draw in Baratheon’s newest agenda.

Guest Writer Alex H. on Card Draw with A Noble Cause

The new Baratheon agenda – A Noble Cause – is pushing rush decks to the spotlight for the first time since Martell Maesters had its day in the... ahem... sun. Love it or hate it, you can't deny the threat it poses to control decks that can't gain control fast enough.

To start exploring this agenda, we’ll begin with the obvious: A Noble Cause grants the renown keyword to your Baratheon characters that cost two or more. This benefit forces you to take another look at characters you'd dismissed. Suddenly, the original Renly Baratheon (Core Set, 73) looks more tempting and Brightwater Men-at-Arms (Forgotten Fellowship, 81) looks simply stellar. You'll be delving through the card pool for any card that can accelerate your rush and finding quite a few hidden gems.

Two-time World Champion Greg Atkinson recently piloted a deck using A Noble Cause to victory at a mid-sized tournament. (The deck-list can be found on cardgamedb.com, in the comments section of the podcast.) Despite Greg’s victory, A Noble Cause is being called a glass cannon, derided as a deck that builds itself, and dismissed as a one-trick pony. Sure, you might use holy crests and The Power of Faith (Kings of the Storm, 51), or you might rely on Forgotten Plans (Kings of the Storm, 50) and The Art of Seduction (Lions of the Rock, 52) to limit your opponent's meddling – but either way, you're trying to finish the game quickly, before drawing half as many cards as your opponent runs you out of options.

A deck built around A Noble Cause won't rely on card draw, gold generation, or anything else that favours a longer game. And why would it? If you're planning on closing the game quickly, the payoff of running a draw engine is much smaller. This is the root of an interesting fallacy and is why I think of A Noble Cause as a 'trap card': by building to its strengths, you accentuate its weaknesses.

True Nobility

Discounting draw is a fallacy, however, because card advantage is considerably more valuable to deck running A Noble Cause. Drawing an extra card each turn doubles your options instead of merely increasing them by half, and if you and your opponent both draw-cap, you're only twenty percent behind your opponent and the drawback of A Noble Cause is minimized considerably. The shorter the game, the less this matters – but in planning for the second turn win you are dooming yourself to failure when someone throws a wrench in your plans.

Let's have a quick look at the effects of card advantage. The following graph represents the relative disadvantage in total cards drawn between a deck with A Noble Cause and an identical deck without the agenda, drawing one more card per turn. Obviously, on a four-card setup for both decks, there's no difference between the two, but if you're drawing no additional cards you'll fall twenty percent behind a deck without A Noble Cause by the fourth turn. By adding just one card per turn to both decks, you delay that twenty percent threshold by two turns.


This graph illustrates the rate at which a deck using A Noble Cause will fall behind other decks in card advantage.

It’s important to note that these trends hold true for more than just draw; other forms of card advantage similarly increase your options. When you’re playing A Noble Cause, you might consider building a deck with a strong setup. Include characters like Dale Seaworth (A Turn of the Tide, 67), or Ser Davos Seaworth (Where Loyalty Lies, 67), both of whom provide card advantage and gain renown from A Noble Cause. Choose powerful card-providing plots like Negotiations at the Great Sept (The Pirates of Lys, 59) or Melisandre's Scheme (Reach of the Kraken, 9).

Finally, I'll touch on two of the best event options for A Noble Cause: The Battle at the Wall (Epic Battles, 67) and Riches of the Reach (A Hidden Agenda, 103). The first event speeds your power gain by providing an extra challenge for renown and if you win, it feeds you cards to add to your staying power. Riches of the Reach effortlessly nets you three cards, and costs only a card a turn from then on. Even better, it doesn't prevent you from using any of the alternate forms of card advantage mentioned in the paragraph above.

By goading you into pushing for a first-turn rush win, A Noble Cause can lure you into a trap. Dismissing card advantage in favour of pushing your rush a bit faster denies you the staying power it takes to make this deck function reliably and be a real tournament contender.

Thanks, Alex!

Alex H. is an active player of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game who enjoys taking up pen and calculator to defend contrary viewpoints. He is also a co-host of “Beyond the Wall,” a weekly A Game of Thrones LCG podcast hosted on cardgamedb.com. Look for more A Game of Thrones guest articles from writers like Alex in coming weeks!

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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