Born of Iron

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

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“I am the Greyjoy, Lord Reaper of Pyke, King of Salt and Rock, Son of the Sea Wind, and no man gives me a crown. I pay the iron price.”
   –
George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings

The men and women of the Iron Islands are a harsh and unyielding people, descended from raiders and pirates. The ironborn were brought into the Seven Kingdoms by the Targaryen conquest under the Greyjoys of Pyke, but they have never truly acclimated to the customs of the mainland. There are still those among the ironborn who dream of a future when they are free to sail the waves as they please, pillaging the coasts of Westeros. When you play House Greyjoy in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, you can bring this dream into reality.

The second edition of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game invites you to immerse yourself in the world of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire in a game of cunning intrigues, pitched battles, and deadly encounters. Last week, we traveled to the continent of Essos to support the return of House Targaryen. Today, however, we sail with the ironborn raiders of House Greyjoy!

Nate French on House Greyjoy

The Greyjoys are tactical and impulsive in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game. They want to attack and exploit any weakness in their opponents and take advantage of temporary opportunities by gaining benefits from unopposed challenges. House Greyjoy is rash and quick to act, so they prefer to be the first player. They also play the tempo game well. In addition, the Greyjoys do not sow and they’re quick to raze the fields of their foes by destroying enemy locations. Finally, House Greyjoy is resilient and difficult to kill. After all, what is dead may never die…

The Reavers of Pyke

When you command House Greyjoy and the raiders of the Iron Islands, you’re not afraid to take advantage of any sign of weakness in your opponent. An undefended coast can become a  landing point for your longships and a village without a garrison can be looted by your warriors all the more easily.

Making unopposed challenges benefits any faction: whenever you win an unopposed challenge, you receive a bonus power from the bank to reward your victory. Despite this, no faction in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game gains more from winning unopposed challenges than House Greyjoy. Hit-and-run tactics are your specialty, and characters like Asha Greyjoy (Core Set, 67) can help you make the maximum number of unopposed challenges. 

Like many other Greyjoy characters, Asha Greyjoy features the stealth keyword, which naturally helps you evade defenders and make more unopposed challenges. Whenever you attack with a character that bears the stealth keyword, you may choose one of your opponent’s characters. The chosen character cannot defend your challenge, allowing you to burn, pillage, and escape before your opponent’s armies arrive. Stealth isn’t all that Asha Greyjoy brings to your raiding party, however. After you win an unopposed challenge in which Asha participated, you can stand her, readying her to attack again! If you equip Asha with a Little Bird (Core Set, 34), she can bring her stealthy mode of attack to all of your challenges, helping you raid and escape to sea with your spoils. 

Asha’s father, Balon Greyjoy (Core Set, 68), offers an even more effective means of keeping your challenges from being opposed. While Balon Greyjoy is attacking, each defending character with a lower STR than his doesn’t contribute its STR to the challenge. If the defending player counts zero STR to his side in a challenge, the challenge counts as unopposed, which makes it very difficult to successfully oppose Balon Greyjoy. Balon also bears the renown keyword, allowing him to claim additional power from your victories.  

Balon Greyjoy becomes even more powerful with the support of his longship, Great Kraken (Core Set, 78). This location grants the stealth keyword to Balon Greyjoy, allowing him to sneak past any character that does have a higher STR than him. That’s not all though – Great Kraken gives added relevance to every unopposed challenge you make. With Great Kraken, after you win an unopposed challenge, you can choose to either draw a card or gain a power. The versatility of this location makes it vital to House Greyjoy’s reavers. Whether you need more cards or a last push to claim victory, Great Kraken can support your raiding forces.

With so many rewards for winning unopposed challenges, your opponent may choose to throw characters in the path of your oncoming forces just to deny you the bonuses of unopposed challenges. You can dissuade your opponent from this kind of tactic by equipping your Ironborn with a Throwing Axe (Core Set, 77). A Throwing Axe can only be given to an Ironborn character, and after you win a challenge in which the attached character attacked, you can sacrifice the Throwing Axe to choose and kill any defending character! In this way, you can slay any characters that stand against the ironborn onslaught.

We Do Not Sow 

The reavers of House Greyjoy leave the work of sowing crops and planting fields to lesser men. As a member of House Greyjoy, you prey on the weak and take what you need from those who are unable to protect themselves. Few members of House Greyjoy exemplify this ruthlessness more than Euron Crow's Eye (Core Set, 69). Euron Crow’s Eye boasts the renown keyword to claim more power with every successful challenge, and he also offers the pillage keyword to help you burn your opponent’s villages to the ground. 

The pillage keyword allows you to discard the top card of your opponent’s deck whenever you win a challenge against that opponent. Euron Crow’s Eye won’t rest until he’s stolen his enemies’ land, though. After Euron Crow’s Eye discards a card with pillage, you can put any location from the losing opponent’s discard pile into play under your control. With this ability, you may be able to seize some of your enemies’ most powerful locations, like The Red Keep (Core Set, 61). Alternatively, locations like The Kingsroad (Core Set, 39) naturally find their way to the discard pile as they are used, meaning they’ll likely be available for Euron Crow’s Eye to steal. 

Of course, there may be a specific location that your opponent has in play that you want to destroy or capture. Fortunately, there are ways to raid even your opponent’s most prized locations. After you win an unopposed challenge, you can play We Do Not Sow (Core Set, 83) to choose and discard an attachment or location controlled by the losing opponent. Because Reactions to winning a challenge are resolved before keywords like pillage, you can play We Do Not Sow during one of Euron’s challenges to discard your opponent’s location, then bring it into play under your control with Euron Crow’s Eye. When the Crow’s Eye leads your fleets of ironborn, no location in Westeros is safe from your attacks.

What Is Dead May Never Die

The raiding lifestyle of the ironborn is not the only thing that separates them from those who dwell on the mainland. Much of Westeros holds to the faith of the Seven, but on the Iron Islands, the faith of the Drowned God still holds sway. You can call upon the Drowned God to aid your exploits with his priest and prophet, Aeron Damphair (Core Set, 65). Aeron Damphair offers your characters the Drowned God’s blessing: “What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger.” With Aeron at your side, you can put an Ironborn character into play from your dead pile whenever you win dominance. In this way, Aeron grants a surprising resilience to your forces, allowing them to even return from beyond the bounds of death. 

You gain another way to save your raiders from death with Risen from the Sea (Core Set, 81). You may play this event whenever a Greyjoy character would be killed to save it, which prevents the character from dying. Then, you can attach Risen from the Sea to the saved character, raising the character’s STR and making him even more dangerous for future challenges. Between Risen from the Sea and Aeron Damphair, the men and women of House Greyjoy can raid and battle without fear of death, inviting you to display the daring that sets the ironborn apart.

Ahead of the Tide

Gather your raiding party and put to sea in your longships! As House Greyjoy, you can pillage the green lands of Westeros, claiming what you want from those too weak to protect their riches. Follow the Drowned God and sail to victory with the Greyjoys of Pyke!

Next week, we travel south to Dorne to plot vengeance alongside House Martell! In addition, we'll be posting the Learn to Play and Rules Reference for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game with next week's article, giving you the chance to dive into all the rules of the second edition. 

Pre-order your copy of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game Second Edition at your local retailer today, and join us at Gen Con Indy 2015 for your first taste of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game!

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