Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken
Preview the Martell Faction in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game
“Oberyn was ever the viper. Deadly, dangerous, unpredictable. No man dared tread on him. I was the grass. Pleasant, complaisant, sweet-smelling, swaying with every breeze. Who fears to walk upon the grass? But it is the grass that hides the viper from his enemies and shelters him until he strikes.”
–George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons
South of the stormlands lies the realm of Dorne, set apart from the rest of Westeros by geography, culture, and custom. There, vast deserts of red and white sand stretch as far as the eye can see. Forbidding mountain ranges divide Dorne from the rest of the Seven Kingdoms. The heat is sweltering, water is more precious than life, and the people are known for their indomitable spirit and passion for vengeance.
The peoples of this inhospitable land are ruled by the princes of House Martell, and in the second edition of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, you can lead House Martell into the game of thrones. The Martells are cunning and cautious, willing to wait years for their plans to come to fruition. Many mistake this patience for cowardice, but when the rulers of House Martell make their move, everyone will see their victory.
As you plot with the Martells, you can plan your own victory by reading the Learn to Play (pdf, 6.7MB) and Rules Reference (pdf, 7.2MB) for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game! Download these pdfs by clicking the thumbnails below or from the A Game of Thrones: The Card Game support section.
Check out the rules and join us today for a preview of House Martell in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game!
Nate French on the House Martell Faction
In A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, the Martells are patient and strategic, preferring to play the long game rather than making an immediate rush for victory. They often avoid being the first player, waiting to see what their opponents do before making their move. The Martells are also vengeful, always looking for the chance to mete out retribution for past wrongs. House Martell is also prone to sweeping, dramatic gestures: with the Martells, it’s not just about winning, it's about making a show of winning. The concept of the delayed rush – building up slowly and plotting behind the scenes to set up “one big turn” – is strongest with the Martells.
A Viper in the Grass
The Martells are no strangers to patience. They wait as long as it takes to complete their plans, and as they wait, their strength grows. Few characters exemplify this patient strategy better than Doran Martell (Core Set, 105). Doran Martell is a Lord of House Martell, and he bears the insight keyword, which allows you to draw a card whenever you win a challenge in which Doran participates.
Drawing more cards with insight helps you bring the pieces of your scheme together behind the scenes, but Doran also contributes more overtly to planning your eventual victory. While Doran is in play, your other Martell Lords and Ladies gain one additional STR for each plot card in the used pile! With this ability, House Martell’s STR grows as more rounds pass, making them more and more formidable in combat. Doran Martell doesn’t even need to participate in challenges to offer this ability. He can stay behind the scenes, orchestrating events through the other members of his family.
Arianne Martell (Core Set, 104) is a Martell Lady who can certainly benefit from Doran’s influence. Where Arianne excels, though, is bringing new characters into the Martells’ conspiracies. As an Action, you may put any character that costs five or less into play from your hand and return Arianne Martell to your hand. With this ability, you can use Arianne Martell to make a challenge against your opponent, and then return her to your hand to gain a fresh, standing character to make more challenges. Alternatively, if your opponent attacks you and you have the perfect defender in your hand, you may return Arianne to your hand and bring in an unexpected defender. However you use Arianne, you can certainly surprise your opponent with some unorthodox tactics.
You can further increase a character’s STR by giving him the legendary sword of House Dayne: Dawn (Core Set, 115). The character that wields Dawn also gains one additional STR for each plot card in your used pile, potentially boosting a character’s STR to truly dangerous levels. What’s more, if Dawn is carried by a member of House Dayne, the character gains the intimidate keyword. When you win a challenge with a character that has intimidate, you may kneel a character controlled by the losing player whose STR is equal to or lower than the amount of STR by which you won the challenge. Because Dawn increases your character’s STR as rounds go on, you’ll soon be able to intimidate even the most fearsome characters.
House Martell can build strength and work behind the scenes indefinitely, but it’s all for nothing if you can’t bring your plans to a crescendo and seize power over the Iron Throne. One way you can suddenly gain power is with The Red Viper (Core Set, 109). The Red Viper is a formidable force even without an ability: he has all three challenge icons and he bears a base STR of seven – higher than any other character in the Core Set. That high STR is certainly useful for The Red Viper’s ability, however. Whenever you win a challenge in which The Red Viper was an attacker, he gains a power for every five STR by which you won the challenge. Naturally, Doran Martell’s ability makes this even more dangerous, and if you can throw the entire force of House Martell behind a single challenge, you may well claim three or more power in a single challenge.
The possibilities for an unexpected power play don’t stop with The Red Viper, though. For maximum power gain, you can play Doran's Game (Core Set, 119). After you win an intrigue challenge by five or more STR, you can play Doran’s Game to claim an amount of power equal to the number of plot cards in your used pile! At its most potent, Doran’s Game can grab you five power with a single event, but even without waiting that long, playing multiple copies of Doran’s Game over the course of the game can give you a significant boost in power and bring you close enough to suddenly seize victory.
While you build your forces and prepare to win the game of thrones with a single, crushing blow, you cannot simply leave the realm of Dorne undefended. For every affront that you suffer, you can take terrible vengeance against your opponents. Among the cards of House Martell, you’ll find plenty of options for punishing your foes when you lose challenges, starting with some powerful locations.
House Martell rules from the desert stronghold of Sunspear (Core Set, 117) on the shores of the Summer Sea. While you control Sunspear, you can punish your opponent for daring to strike out against you. When you lose a challenge as the defending player, you can kneel Sunspear to raise your claim by one during challenges of that type until the end of the phase. With Sunspear, you can repay your opponent blow for blow, whether you kill his characters, strip his hand of cards, or steal the power of his faction.
Alternatively, as punishment for attacking the princes of Dorne, you may exile your opponent’s characters to the island prison of Ghaston Grey (Core Set, 116). Whenever you lost a challenge as the defending player, you can kneel and sacrifice Ghaston Grey to return an attacking character to its owner’s hand. Not only does this prevent that character’s keywords from resolving in the challenge, it forces your opponent to pay the character’s cost again or leave it in his hand. Your opponent may not even dare to send his most powerful characters against you if you have Ghaston Grey in play.
You gain more control over your opponent’s challenges with Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken (Core Set, 120). As we mentioned earlier, the leaders of House Martell prefer to bide their time, waiting to see what their opponents will do before they make their own move. Because of this, you can only play Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken if you are not the first player – but alongside the restriction, this event carries a powerful effect. After you lose a challenge as the defending player, you can play Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken and name a challenge type. Until the end of the phase, your opponent cannot make challenges of that type! You might even strategically lose a challenge in order to play Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken and keep your opponent from making a more dangerous challenge later.
Princes of Dorne
House Martell has not survived across the centuries by rushing blindly into conflict. Instead, they stand aside, plan carefully, and when the time is right, strike with irresistible force. In the second edition of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, you can take command of House Martell and claim the Iron Throne!
Pre-order your copies of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game Second Edition at your local retailer today, and join us at Gen Con Indy 2015 to play the game for the first time!
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