The Rose and the Thorn
Preview House Tyrell in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game
“All these kings would do a deal better if they would put down their swords and listen to their mothers.”
–George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords
The Reach is perhaps the most bountiful region of Westeros, blessed by fertile soil and fragrant meadows, a home to music and learning from the maesters’ citadel in Oldtown to the beautiful castle of Highgarden. Here, the Gardeners ruled as kings until the days of the Targaryen conquest, when dominion over the Reach was given to the Tyrells. House Tyrell served the kings of Westeros loyally, both Targaryen and Baratheon, but in the troubled times that mark the beginning of A Song of Ice and Fire, the Tyrells enter the game of thrones on their own behalf.
In A Game of Thrones: The Card Game Second Edition, you command the iconic characters and factions warring for control of Westeros in a never-ending game of battles and secrets. In our last preview, we walked the sands of Dorne with House Martell, but now we turn to the verdant gardens of the Reach and the secret schemes of House Tyrell!
Nate French on House Tyrell
The Tyrells in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game are a "more than meets the eye" faction. On the surface, they seem pretty straightforward, but the Tyrells usually operate with a hidden scheme waiting in the wings. The servants and bannermen of House Tyrell are numerous and wealthy, making this faction second in resources only to the Lannisters. The Tyrells are the masters of manipulation in the game, and in some ways, they’re a combo faction with noticeable synergies between their faction’s cards. Finally, the words of House Tyrell are "Growing Strong," so as you might imagine, raising STR is a significant part of Tyrell strategy.
Other, less noble factions may rely on ambushed characters, stealthy raids, or underhanded methods to win challenges. House Tyrell chooses a more chivalrous way to win – simply have more STR than your opponent. While House Targaryen burns its foes by reducing their STR, House Tyrell supports its own characters by raising STR. You can start boosting the STR of your characters by turning to Margaery Tyrell (Core Set, 181), the only daughter of Mace Tyrell.
Margaery Tyrell is eager to support the schemes of House Tyrell, and her ability essentially allows her to lend STR to any challenge. As a Challenges Action, you may kneel Margaery Tyrell to choose any character. Until the end of the phase, that character’s STR is raised by three, and because you can trigger this ability during any action window, your opponent must constantly account for it. If your opponent wants to ensure a successful attack or defense and Margaery is standing, he’s forced to overcommit his forces. If he doesn’t overcommit, you can kneel Margaery and win the challenge, but if he does overcommit, you’re free to leave Margaery standing and threaten to use her ability during a later challenge.
Margaery Tyrell can dissuade your opponent from making certain challenges, but her ability is also plainly visible to all players. Sometimes, you’ll need a sudden, unexpected way to raise your STR. You can swell the power of House Tyrell with Growing Strong (Core Set, 195). When you play this event during the challenges phase, you can choose up to three Tyrell characters and raise their STR until the end of the phase. Best of all, there are no restrictions on which Tyrell characters you choose. You could raise the STR of a character participating in a challenge in order to win the challenge, and simultaneously increase the STR of characters outside the challenge, preparing you to successfully attack or defend in later challenges.
Raising STR is powerful in its own right, but naturally, you’d expect House Tyrell to reap additional benefits from the support that its characters can offer each other. You’ll find some of these added synergies with Randyll Tarly (Core Set, 183), a fearsome battle commander and the lord of Horn Hill. Randyll Tarly bears the renown keyword, which allows him to claim a power whenever he wins a challenge. More importantly though, Randyll Tarly is ever vigilant to uphold the honor of House Tyrell. When Randyll Tarly’s STR is increased by a card effect, you can stand him, allowing him to participate in multiple challenges and claiming more power for the Tyrells.
Obviously, Randyll Tarly’s ability pairs excellently with the support offered by Margaery Tyrell and Growing Strong. But Randyll may be at his strongest when equipped with his Valyrian Steel blade, Heartsbane (Core Set, 191). Heartsbane can be attached to any Tyrell character, and while that character participates in a challenge, you may kneel Heartsbane to raise that character’s STR until the end of the challenge. Similar to Margaery Tyrell, Heartsbane can tempt your opponent into overcommitting to a challenge, and when Randyll Tarly bears the ancestral sword of his House, you can stand him on command.
The Tyrell’s focus on the fundamentals of winning challenges has less obvious benefits as well. Many deadly events, such as Put to the Sword (Core Set, 41), require a player to win a challenge by five or more STR. When you’re consistently raising the STR of your characters with cards like Growing Strong, it’s much harder for your opponent to trigger these dangerous events, and it’s easier for you to use them against your opponents.
Scheming in the Shadows
The outward face of House Tyrell speaks of chivalry, learning, and nobility, but the Tyrells have schemes that run just beneath the surface. The mastermind behind many of these schemes is the matriarch of House Tyrell, widely known as The Queen of Thorns (Core Set, 186).
The Queen of Thorns boasts a significant amount of STR on her own, but her true power lies in her ability to summon the loyal supporters of House Tyrell. After you win an intrigue challenge in which The Queen of Thorns participated, you can put any Tyrell character with a printed cost of six or lower into play from your hand. Bringing a massive character like Randyll Tarly into play for free represents a massive swing in economy – your opponent will have to work twice as hard to recover from The Queen of Thorns’s machinations.
You can use The Queen of Thorns’s wisdom to quickly respond to whatever your opponent has planned by playing Olenna's Cunning (Core Set, 196). After you win an intrigue or power challenge, you can play Olenna’s Cunning to have your opponent name a cardtype: character, location, attachment or event. After your opponent chooses a cardtype, you may search your deck for a card from any other cardtype and add it to your hand. In this way, you can find the solution to problems on the board or press your advantage by finding the perfect card for any situation.
Surprising your opponent with events like Olenna’s Cunning or Growing Strong is crucial to perpetrating the schemes of House Tyrell, but these events cost gold and that gold has to come from somewhere. Choosing whether to spend your gold in the marshaling phase or to save some for events is an important consideration in every game… but you can spread your gold further with the help of Paxter Redwyne (Core Set, 182). Paxter Redwyne doesn’t bring great strength to your challenges, but he increases the gold value of every plot that you reveal, giving you more gold to spend. In addition, while you control Paxter Redwyne, you can reduce the cost of the first event you play each round, which allows you to play cards like Growing Strong or Tears of Lys (Core Set, 32) for free. Reducing the cost of events also plays into the Tyrell’s schemes – saving a gold into the challenges phase often telegraphs that you have an event to play, but with Paxter Redwyne in play, your opponent will always have to watch for unwelcome surprises.
Paxter Redwyne will undoubtedly save you gold and the Tyrell Stronghold of Highgarden (Core Set, 192) gives you a way to put that gold to good use. The power of Highgarden can singlehandedly turn the challenges phase in your favor. As an Action, you can kneel Highgarden and pay one gold to choose any attacking character, stand him, and remove him from the challenge. You may use Highgarden to turn enemies away from your door, or you may use it to withdraw your own characters after your opponent overcommits to defense. Either way, you can use Highgarden to bewilder your opponents and lead them astray.
The Riches of the Reach
As the liege lord of House Tyrell, you can draw upon the bounty of the Reach and the flower of chivalry, even as you lay your secret plans to claim the Iron Throne. From the towers of Highgarden to the courts of King’s Landing, House Tyrell stands ready to make its bid for the Iron Throne.
Join us at Gen Con Indy 2015 to get your first taste of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game Second Edition! Check back after Gen Con for a series of previews exploring the decks that you can make from the Core Set of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game. Remember to pre-order your copy at your local retailer today!