For the Watch, Part 3

The Night’s Watch in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game

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“They will garb your brother Robb in silks, satins, and velvets of a hundred different colors, while you live and die in black ringmail. He will wed some beautiful princess and father sons on her. You'll have no wife, nor will you ever hold a child of your own blood in your arms. Robb will rule, you will serve. Men will call you a crow. Him they'll call Your Grace. Singers will praise every little thing he does, while your greatest deeds all go unsung.”
  
–Old Bear Mormont, A Clash of Kings

For those sworn to defend the Wall, it is a lonely task. But while singers and bards may forsake the Night’s Watch for the courts of kings, the Night’s Watch shields the Seven Kingdoms against all dangers. Today, you’ll find another look at the best ways to guard the realm of Westeros—Joe Habes concludes his article series on the best plots for the Night’s Watch in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game!

Joe Habes on Plots for The Night’s Watch

Hello and welcome back! This is the final part of my article series about the best plots for a Night’s Watch defensive deck. Last week, I went over two of the major resets: Wildfire Assault (Core Set, 26) and Valar Morghulis (There Is My Claim, 80) as well as card advantage plots like Counting Coppers (Core Set, 10) and Building Orders (Core Set, 6). Today, I’ll discuss the best economy plots for the Night’s Watch, as well as notable plots that I believe, while attractive for this deck type, are either niche, unnecessary, or even counterproductive.

Economy Plots

“Economy plot” is a bit of a blanket term, so forgive me if this seems generalized. In this game, you generally require two to three plots that provide five or more gold, depending on your cost curve. While all of these share a purpose, each economy plot provides a different benefit. 

Winter Festival (Called to Arms, 40) and A Feast for Crows (Core Set, 2) offer passive power gain to speed up your victory and help compensate for games where The Wall (Core Set, 137) shows up late. 

Fallen From Favor (Wolves of the North, 47) and Trading with the Pentoshi (The Road to Winterfell, 39) each have a drawback, but provide lots of gold to make up for that. 

Calling the Banners (Core Set, 7) can give you more gold than any other plot if your opponent has lots of characters, but it can also give you less gold, especially with Valar Morghulis causing smaller board states.

Close Call (True Steel, 120), A Song of Summer (Wolves of the North, 50), Time of Plenty (Lions of Casterly Rock, 51), and Calm Over Westeros (Core Set, 8) each have a unique benefit and they’re all Summer plots, offering extra gold if you’re running the Kings of Summer (Called to Arms, 37) agenda. They also prevent the downsides of cards like Kings of Winter (Called to Arms, 38) and Fishwhiskers (Wolves of the North, 27). 

Which plots you use depends entirely on what you feel makes the deck run smoothest. Personally, I prefer Trading with the Pentoshi and Winter Festival. Trading with the Pentoshi gives me enough gold to play The Wall and two or three characters to defend it, all in one turn. Many players are put off by the gold it gives your opponent, but it doesn’t bother me too much since I can always use Wildfire Assault to carve down their board if they get too many characters. 

Winter Festival is important in a lot of match-ups. Even without its Reaction, it provides five gold, negates a lot of good Summer effects, lets you trigger card effects if you’re playing against Winterfell (Wolves of the North, 17), and provides additional power to accelerate you to victory. Some Night’s Watch players prefer A Feast for Crows; not only does this plot provide six gold, it alters the way your opponent plays by forcing them to consider holding back characters to win dominance. Other players prefer Calling the Banners because of its high initiative and potential to grant a bunch of gold during the mid-game. When it comes to economy plots, there’s rarely a wrong answer, so long as the plot works with the cards that you include in your deck. 

Unnecessary Plots

Finally, I wanted to close out my series by discussing some plots that may seem like good options, but that I’ve found to be a bit too conditional or weak.

Marching Orders (Core Set, 16) could seem like a good plot for the Night’s Watch. We need a bunch of characters on the board, and nine gold is plenty to get a character with every icon. The problem is that it negates a large portion of your deck. The most controlling parts of your deck, your locations, attachments, and events, can’t be played on a Marching Orders turn. The Night’s Watch thrives on defense, and ultimately, Marching Orders makes your defenses too predictable.

Confiscation (Core Set, 9) is another “red herring” plot when it comes to defending The Wall. The sheer amount of negative attachments in the game can make it seem attractive, but the Night’s Watch is unique in having a large percentage of characters with the “No attachments except Weapons” or “No attachments” keywords. Of course, there are exceptions— Benjen Stark (Core Set, 122), Old Bear Mormont (Core Set, 126) and Arry (Across the Seven Kingdoms, 6) can each take negative attachments—but for the most part, your characters are immune. Overall, I’ve found Confiscation isn’t worth a spot.

Finally, Fortified Position (Core Set, 12) is a plot that I put on this list very tentatively. And yes, I write this knowing that at both Worlds and Stahleck, a Night’s Watch player made it very far with Fortified Position, so there’s sure to be some disagreement here. Deactivating all renown, stealth, and other character text for a turn is extremely powerful, especially against faster decks that can get five to six power in a single turn. Without text, most of your opponent’s tricks are gone, meaning it should be easy to defend The Wall and gain two power, so long as you have the characters and icons to defend your opponent’s challenges. Fortified Position also leaves your locations untouched, meaning that you still get the STR bonus from The Wall, you can still trigger Castle Black (Core Set, 136) and The Shadow Tower (Wolves of the North, 34), and The Haunted Forest (There Is My Claim, 66) will keep making it difficult for your opponent to win challenges.

There is a downside though. As I mentioned above, a lot of your characters have the “No attachments except Weapons” keyword. On a Fortified Position turn, that text disappears, and if your opponent runs Milk of the Poppy (Core Set, 35)—an extremely prevalent card right now—they have the perfect opportunity to put a Milk of the Poppy on your Maester Aemon (Core Set, 125) or any other of your “No attachments” characters. I’ve also had Put to the Sword (Core Set, 41) played on Benjen Stark during a Fortified Position turn, putting him into my dead pile rather than back into my deck. 

Keep in mind also that Maester Aemon is your best defense against Valar Morghulis, allowing you to save whichever character best helps you defend The Wall. If Maester Aemon gets a Milk of the Poppy or is killed during a Fortified Position turn, he can no longer protect you from the incoming board wipe. Worst of all, of course, would be flipping Fortified Position against your opponent’s unexpected Valar Morghulis, which could kill Aemon and Benjen in one fell swoop.

In the right circumstances, Fortified Position will be worth the slot. Against Baratheon, for example, it’s a valid counter to their core tactics of kneeling your characters, including Melisandre (Core Set, 47), Robert Baratheon (Core Set, 48) and Stannis Baratheon (Core Set, 52). Baratheon rarely comes equipped with kill events, so there’s little to fear for Maester Aemon here. This plot is also amazing against heavy renown factions like Stark and Lannister, slowing them down enough to catch up or close out the game. If you do decide to include this plot, just keep in mind the risks. If you play it at the wrong moment, you’ll definitely regret it.

Now that we’ve discussed the plots, let’s put everything together into one list, shall we?

Night’s Watch Defense

Total Cards: 61

Faction: The Night’s Watch

Agenda: 1

1x Fealty (Core Set)

Plots: 7

2x Counting Coppers (Core Set)
1x For the Watch (No Middle Ground)
1x Here to Serve (Taking the Black)
1x Trading with the Pentoshi (The Road to Winterfell)
1x Wildfire Assault (Core Set)
1x Winter Festival (Called to Arms) 

Characters: 33

1x Arry (Across the Seven Kingdoms)
3x Benjen Stark (Core Set)
2x Dolorous Edd (Called to Arms)
3x Halder (No Middle Ground)
1x Littlefinger (Core Set)
3x Maester Aemon (Core Set)
3x Messenger Raven (Core Set)
3x Old Forest Hunter (Core Set)
3x Ranging Party (Core Set)
1x Samwell Tarly (Core Set)
1x Ser Waymar Royce (Core Set)
3x Shadow Tower Mason (There Is My Claim)
3x Steward at the Wall (Core Set)
1x Sweet Donnel Hill (Lions of Casterly Rock)
1x Thoren Smallwood (For Family Honor)
1x Veteran Builder (Core Set)

Attachments: 8

3x Craven (Called to Arms)
3x Milk of the Poppy (Core Set)
2x Practice Blade (The King’s Peace)

Events: 6

2x Nightmares (Calm Over Westeros)
2x The Hand’s Judgement (Core Set)
2x The Watcher on the Walls (No Middle Ground)

Locations: 14

2x Castle Black (Core Set)
2x The Haunted Forest (There Is My Claim)
3x The Kingsroad (Core Set)
3x The Roseroad (Core Set)
1x The Shadow Tower (Wolves of the North)
3x The Wall (Core Set)

I hope this series has been helpful to those of you who took the time to read all three. I’d like to thank FFG for giving me this opportunity to write for their website and Daye Kaniel for helping to keep my articles focused and on topic. If you have any questions for me, feel free to message me on Facebook, on CardGameDB, or on my website.

Joe Habes started playing A Game of Thrones: The Card Game when the second edition launched at Gen Con Indy in August 2015. He writes articles about the game for the Wardens of the Midwest, posts games he has played on his YouTube Channel, and co-hosts a podcast called Wardens of the Midwest, which can be found on the website above. You may know him as Joe From Cincinnati, the name that he writes and posts under on various websites, including CardGameDB.

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