The Crowned Stag

Preview House Baratheon in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game

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“Yet now the banners that flew from its battlements were golden, not black, and where the three-headed dragon had once breathed fire, now pranced the crowned stag of House Baratheon.”
  
–George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

With the death of Mad King Aerys and the ousting of the Targaryens, a new House became the sovereigns of the Seven Kingdoms. Robert Baratheon ascended the Iron Throne in King’s Landing and became the new king, while his brothers held the citadels of Dragonstone and Storm’s End in his name. At the beginning of A Song of Ice and Fire, the power of House Baratheon is beginning to slip away as House Lannister and others plot behind the scenes. In A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, you can fight to consolidate your power and subdue the masses with the Baratheons!

Enter the world of Westeros in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game Second Edition, a new Living Card Game® of iconic characters, deadly encounters, and political powerplays. Last week, we stood on the icy heights of the Wall to defend the southern lands with our preview of the Night’s Watch faction. Today, we turn our path to King’s Landing to uphold the rightful claim of House Baratheon.

Nate French on House Baratheon

The Baratheons hold the Iron Throne at the opening of A Song of Ice and Fire, and their play style in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game is very consolidating and reactive as they attempt to hold on to this status. House Baratheon doesn’t focus so much on claiming power, as they did in the first edition; rather, they want to hold onto the power they have. In general, the Baratheons try to subdue, avoid, and appease threats, using kneeling tactics instead of killing or harming their subjects. At the heart of it, House Baratheon exists in a position of privilege and entitlement (which makes them good at winning dominance), and they want things to stay the way they are. There is a little bit of a reverse-landslide mentality guiding this faction – House Baratheon is trying to prevent everything they’ve gained from falling apart.

Ours Is the Fury

As the rightful king of Westeros, you must subdue those who would challenge your position and prevent them from undermining your authority. Fortunately, House Baratheon is still the ruling House of Westeros, and you can flex your power to intimidate those who would stand against you. 

One  of the most powerful characters available to House Baratheon is none other than the reigning King of Westeros, Robert Baratheon (Core Set, 48). Robert Baratheon bears the renown keyword, which allows him to claim a power when he wins a challenge, and he also carries the intimidate keyword, which he can use to kneel weaker characters when he wins a challenge. Of course, as the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, Robert’s Baratheon’s power grows as more characters kneel to him. Because of this, Robert gains one additional STR for each other kneeling character in play, allowing him to intimidate more powerful characters. As more challenges are made and more characters kneel, Robert Baratheon’s STR increases.

You can support Robert’s claim and keep your opponents under control with the strict justice of Stannis Baratheon (Core Set, 52). Stannis Baratheon enacts the king’s justice throughout the realm by preventing each player from standing more than two characters during the standing phase. Although this ability affects your characters as well, Robert Baratheon likes nothing better than a host of kneeling characters on both sides. When you combine Stannis and Robert with plots like Filthy Accusations (Core Set, 11), you can neutralize most of your opponent’s characters by simply kneeling them, rather than killing them.

You can kneel even more characters with events like Consolidation of Power (Core Set, 62). Consolidation of Power allows you to kneel any number of characters controlled by the same player with a total STR of up to four. Then, one of those characters gains a power. You may use this event as an offensive trick before the challenges phase, waiting until your opponent has played all of his characters before you choose which ones you want to kneel. Alternatively, you may play Consolidation of Power on one of your own characters to claim the last power you need to claim victory. 

Of course, all of your kneeling prowess has an ultimate goal: to hold onto the power you’ve claimed and maintain dominion of Westeros. You’ll find it much easier to keep your power safe with The Red Keep (Core Set, 61). This location contributes two STR to each power challenge you participate in, making it easier to take your opponent’s power or protect your own. That’s not all though: when the challenges phase ends, if you haven’t lost a power challenge this round, you can kneel The Red Keep to draw two cards. This kind of repeatable card draw can be priceless on your path to maintaining control of the Iron Throne.

You’ll find another way to increase your power with the Chamber of the Painted Table (Core Set, 60). After you win dominance, you can kneel the Chamber of the Painted Table to move one power from your opponent’s faction card to your own. Thus, when you win dominance with the Chamber of the Painted Table in play, there’s a total swing of three power – you gain one power for winning dominance, your opponent loses one power, and you gain the power your opponent lost. With such rewards for winning dominance, you’ll want to be sure you win it consistently. The Iron Throne (Core Set, 38) makes it much easier for you to win dominance, as well as increasing your reserve so you can hold more cards in your hand between rounds!

Servants of R’hllor

Many members of House Baratheon have forsaken the faith of the Seven and turned to the Lord of Light, R’hllor. In A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, you can call upon R’hllor to aid you in your quest to claim the Iron Throne. If you want to ally yourself with the Lord of Light, however, you’ll need the help of Melisandre (Core Set, 47). Melisandre’s ability invites you to use the faith of R’hllor to kneel more characters – after you marshal or play a R’hllor card, Melisandre allows you to choose and kneel any character. Her ability even triggers when Melisandre herself enters play, granting you an immediate benefit for your faith. 

You can trigger Melisandre’s ability additional times with the Fiery Followers (Core Set, 54). Not only does this character bear the useful R’hllor trait, you can stand the Fiery Followers after the dominance phase begins. This accomplishes several useful goals. First, it gives you a way to get around Stannis Baratheon’s restriction against standing during the standing phase. In addition, it means that you can count the Fiery Followers’ STR towards winning dominance, making it more likely that you’ll win and trigger cards like Chamber of the Painted Table. 

Sometimes, though, you need the knowledge of the future that R’hllor can grant. If you control a R’hllor character, you can play Seen in Flames (Core Set, 64) to look at any opponent’s hand and discard one card from that hand. In this way, you not only gain full knowledge of any secrets that may lie in store for your forces, you can discard the most pressing threat to your power. Seen in Flames can protect you from impending danger, and with Melisandre in play, this R’hllor event also allows you to kneel one of your opponent’s characters, keeping him from opposing your rightful rule. 

The Rightful Kings of Westeros

For you and the other lords of House Baratheon, the Iron Throne is yours by right of conquest. It is your sovereign duty to exercise your dominion and defeat all who defy you. Protect your rightful throne and subdue those who stand against your rule as House Baratheon in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game!

Although House Baratheon rules in Westeros at the beginning of A Song of Ice and Fire, there was another House that ruled for hundreds of years before the Baratheons ascended to the throne. Although the last scions of that house are now far from home, they dream of the day they return to their kingdom. Join us next week for a preview of House Targaryen.

Pre-order the second edition of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game at your local retailer today!

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