For the Watch, Part 2

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

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“The Night's Watch is a sworn brotherhood. We have no families. None of us will ever father sons. Our wife is duty. Our mistress is honor.”
  
–Benjen Stark, A Game of Thrones

The game of thrones affects everyone is Westeros—even those who would prefer to stay above its sordid power struggles and intrigues, such as the men of the Night’s Watch. In A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, you can take command the Night’s Watch, but the type of game they play is often very different from the strategies of the Great Houses. 

Today, we welcome back Joe Habes to continue his three-part series about 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 second part of my A Game of Thrones: The Card Game series about most beneficial plots for a Night’s Watch defensive deck. Last week, I went over For the Watch! (No Middle Ground, 67) and Here to Serve (Taking the Black, 20). Today, we’ll continue with the plots that help you control your opponent.

Wildfire Assault / Valar Morghulis

I’ve been posting deck lists for a while now (almost all defensive Night’s Watch decks) and Wildfire Assault (Core Set, 26) is the plot where I get the most questions, by a considerable margin. On the surface, it seems like a poor fit. Why would a deck focused on The Wall (Core Set, 137), a deck that relies on opposing every challenge, want to cut down their character base? Well, there are a few key interactions that help explain this plot and why I consider it a must-have.

The first and most important thing to remember is that, in order for you to win the game with The Wall and other sources of passive power gain, it’s imperative for you to control your opponent. Luckily, you possess several tools to do that. Maester Aemon (Core Set, 125) reduces the impact of your opponent’s challenges and kill effects. With Craven (Called to Arms, 26), you control your opponent’s best characters, turning them into sad defenders. The Watcher on the Walls (No Middle Ground, 66) can severely punish any overly aggressive play. And with Thoren Smallwood (For Family Honor, 45) and The Shadow Tower (Wolves of the North, 34), you can control your opponent’s decisions by penalizing them for losing attacks. All these cards force your opponent to react to your strategy, rather than proactively pursuing their own. For more extensive details on how the Night’s Watch controls their opponent, you can read an article I recently wrote on my website. 

These control cards are powerful, but if your opponent starts to overcome them and pull ahead, a reset may be just what you need to regain control. Wildfire Assault is perfect in this situation. For example, let’s say your opponent had the following cards in play:

  • Ser Jaime Lannister (Core Set, 87) with three power and Craven attached
  • Mirri Maz Duur (Calm Over Westeros, 93)
  • Tywin Lannister (Core Set, 90)
  • Tyrion Lannister (Core Set, 89)

Playing Wildfire Assault in this scenario forces your opponent to make a difficult choice—lose Ser Jaime Lannister (with his power) or lose a high-impact card. In the first outcome, they keep three capable characters, but lose three power, buying you more time to gain power from the Wall. In the alternative, they don’t lose power but are reduced to two usable characters. While the decision belongs to your opponent, you’re still forcing them into a situation where there’s no good answer. 

Valar Morghulis (There Is My Claim, 80) works the same way, but with a more extreme effect. Since the Night’s Watch generally plays fewer powerful, high-cost characters than other factions, killing every character in play can end up being quite advantageous. Along with their efficient characters, the Night’s Watch has some of the best card draw in the game with Samwell Tarly (Core Set, 127), Arry (Across the Seven Kingdoms, 6), Messenger Raven (Core Set, 130), Will (Taking the Black, 1), and The Watch Has Need (Taking the Black, 2)—all of which lets them recover from a reset quicker than most. If you can kill two or three of your opponent’s high-impact characters, cruising to victory could be much easier, especially after rebuilding your defenses with cheap economy characters such as Old Forest Hunter (Core Set, 131). Additionally, Maester Aemon—who can be brought into play with Here to Serve at any time—can save one of your characters from Valar Morghulis, which helps you keep your defenses around even after the reset. 

Finally, Benjen Stark (Core Set, 122) has the unique ability to grant you two power when he dies. Not only that, he gets shuffled back into your deck instead of going to your dead pile, so by playing Wildfire Assault or Valar Morghulis with Benjen Stark on the board, you might close the game in the plot phase. At the very least, you get something very valuable out of losing a character, which isn’t normally the case when it comes to the game of thrones!

Counting Coppers / Building Orders

As I mention above, the Night’s Watch has some of the best draw effects in the game, so you should consider how to augment that advantage into a win condition. With Counting Coppers (Core Set, 10), you draw three additional cards on that turn, which directly translates into more options. Still, there’s another plot that can also help you find control options, extra defense, or The Wall: Building Orders (Core Set, 6), which allows you to search your top ten cards to find a location or attachment and put it into your hand.

These two plots each have advantages and disadvantages. Counting Coppers won’t let you choose your cards, but all the cards you see become part of your hand. Building Orders only gives you one additional card, but you get to see ten cards and pick the one that best suits your situation. Which plot you prefer depends a lot on your play style. A lot of Night’s Watch players swear by Building Orders, because searching the top ten cards gives you a good chance of finding The Wall. Statistically speaking, if your deck is 60 cards and you’ve already drawn a seven-card hand with a three-card set up, you have about 50% chance of seeing The Wall with a first-turn Building Orders. Those are some good odds for starting the game with your win condition!

However, I personally prefer Counting Coppers for its very nice interactions with other Night’s Watch cards. First of all, Counting Coppers has a reserve value of ten. The Night’s Watch already has several cards that are better with a high reserve, such as The Watch Has Need and Night Gathers… (For Family Honor, 46), as well as cards like the Northern Rookery (Calm Over Westeros, 86) and Samwell Tarly that increase your reserve. It’s probably safe to say that the design team wants reserve to be a serious consideration for the Night’s Watch in the future. In keeping with this theme, the Night’s Watch has the Old Forest Hunter, who can discard a card for gold, converting your card advantage into an economic advantage, which can be absolutely essential when you’re missing the last gold you need that round. 

Finally, when it comes to defending The Wall, you need to make sure you can rebuild your defenses after a reset. By drawing three cards, you’re not just filling your hand with cards in hopes of drawing The Wall, you’re filling your hand with characters to replenish your board. It may take longer to get The Wall than if you were playing Building Orders, but in a deck that relies on controlling your opponent until you get the pieces to close the game, the more cards you can draw, the better. And of course, you don’t have to choose one! Plenty of Night’s Watch players run both Counting Coppers and Building Orders in their decks, so there’s definitely room for both among your seven plots.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this article and plan on joining us for the third part, where I’ll discuss economy plots and finish with a list of plots that, while attractive at first glance, may not be the best choices for this deck type.

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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