You Win or You Die
A Deck for Cersei Players in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game
Will Lentz is a long-time player of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, starting back in the Dawn Age of 2002, shortly after the launch of the collectible card game. Since then, he’s been an avid player of the joust format and constant proponent of the melee format. Over that time he’s written quite a lot about the game, co-founded the first A Game of Thrones: The Card Game podcast, claimed multiple top cut finishes, and earned the moniker of “championship-level player.” These days, you can find Will at www.whitebookpodcast.com, where new podcasts are launched each Friday, alongside regularly submitted articles, winning deck list archives, and event listings throughout the week.
Will Lentz Builds a Deck for the Cersei Player Archetype
As we explored in my prior articles, Choose Your Title Part 1 and Part 2, the Cersei player type is the most aggressive and single-minded melee player archetype. Cersei players want to hit hard and win as fast as possible with little care for what their opponents are doing. Now that we’ve explored that mentality in more depth, it’s time to build a deck that really shows off the cards and aspects of the melee game that Cersei players love.
In our initial article, Balon Greyjoy (Core Set, 68) was used as an example of the very aggressive, threatening cards that Cersei players like to use, so let’s start our deck construction with the decision to use Balon. This means that we’ll be playing House Greyjoy as our main faction, since Balon is loyal. This actually works out beautifully, since the rest of House Greyjoy’s strengths also play to a Cersei player’s interests. Greyjoy’s theme of abusing unopposed challenges lines up perfectly with the Cersei desire to exploit any opening and gain power as fast as possible.
With our primary faction determined, we should think about agendas. While Fealty (Core Set, 27) is an option for additional income and The Lord of the Crossing (The King’s Peace, 60) offers some additional power gain, neither of those agendas are as reliable as we want. This points us to using a Banner agenda. From our possible choices, the non-loyal Tyrell cards offer strong rush capabilities with the Knight and Lady subset. This seems like a good choice to maximize our rush, particularly since we’ll be using a Greyjoy Lady in Asha Greyjoy (Core Set, 67). Banner of the Rose it is!
At this point, we can start to identify the key cards we’ll need to make the deck sing. We’re going to break some of these cards down and talk about how they fit into the deck in the following categories: the Must Plays, the Synergies, the Resources, and the Filler.
The Must Plays
Balon Greyjoy – We’ve already mentioned that Balon is one of the most overt threats in the game, but it bears repeating that with his ability to generate unopposed challenges on top of his renown, he’s a shoo-in for a central character for our deck.
Asha Greyjoy – Although not as efficient at gaining power as her father due to a lack of renown, Asha makes up for it with the ability to use stealth in multiple challenges. Thankfully, in a melee game with multiple opponents, there will almost always be someone that we can send Asha against to make an unopposed challenge and stand her. Asha’s Lady trait will also be very important for cards we’ll mention further on.
Great Kraken (Core Set, 78) – This Warship offers a phenomenal way to gain extra power multiple times per turn, provided there’s an opponent somewhere who can’t defend a challenge. And that’s on top of granting stealth to Balon Greyjoy.
Rise of the Kraken (Taking the Black, 12) – The crown jewel of Greyjoy rush is almost certainly Rise of the Kraken. This plot has massive impact in melee. Its initiative is usually enough to let you dictate the turn order, and on top of that, you gain two claim and even more ability to generate power through unopposed challenges. It’s not at all unusual to claim six or more power when you have Rise of the Kraken is revealed.
Lady Sansa's Rose (The Road to Winterfell, 24) – One of the biggest draws to Tyrell as our banner faction, Lady Sansa’s Rose offers the biggest burst of power gain currently available in the game. This is also the card that we mentioned needing Asha’s Lady trait for earlier.
The Knight of Flowers (Core Set, 185) – Lady Sansa’s Rose requires a Knight to be attacking alone and The Knight of Flowers is our prime target. His own “jousting” ability ensures that it’s harder for opponents to defend and his built-in renown adds up fast. This is another character that we want to see ASAP.
Margaery Tyrell (Core Set, 181) – Margaery is another solid Tyrell addition to the deck. She complements both Balon and her brother, The Knight of Flowers, by boosting their STR to get maximum impact from their abilities and renown. Margaery is also a Lady to help trigger Lady Sansa’s Rose. She’s not quite a rush card on her own, but she really makes the rush parts of our deck run more smoothly.
A Clash of Kings (Core Set, 1) – One of the best plots in the game for the combination of gold, initiative, and reserve, A Clash of Kings also competes on claim by essentially giving two claim during power challenges. It also allows us to possibly steal an extra power on defense, and with such high initiative, we can really dictate the flow of a turn. This is the best plot for us to double up on.
Superior Claim (Core Set, 43) – This neutral event is another great way to get a burst of power for your faction, and conveniently, Balon makes triggering this event fairly simple. When you add in the fact that this event is one of the few in the game that’s free to play, it’s easy to see why we want it.
Theon Greyjoy (Core Set, 71) – Theon is a reasonably efficient unique character that offers additional power-gaining potential, even if he’s not quite the threat that some other characters present. A nice bonus is that the likelihood of finding an unopposed challenge in melee is high enough that his ability is close to full renown.
Maester Wendamyr (Core Set, 70) – He’s an efficient, low-cost unit that brings some extra stealth to the table, but with no other inherent ability, we’re not afraid to kill him and keep someone more valuable on the board.
Ser Hobber Redwyne (The King’s Peace, 43) – We need both Ladies and Knights on the board to use Lady Sansa’s Rose to its greatest effect and conveniently, Hobber provides both. There are fewer Ladies than Knights available for our deck, so having Hobber is like an extra copy of each of our Ladies. Unfortunately, Hobber is essentially blank after he’s been played, so we really don’t want more than one of him.
Arbor Knight (Taking the Black, 5) and Hedge Knight (The King’s Peace, 57) – We’re going to need cheaper characters to round out our curve and help with our icon spread. Conveniently, we have a couple cheap options that also have the Knight trait, which might help get a sneaky Lady Sansa’s Rose through.
Knighted (The King’s Peace, 58) – Not only does Knighted play in with the aforementioned Knight cards, but the extra strength can be quite relevant to boost Balon. This attachment is solid and nice for setup at one cost, but not quite something we want a full set of.
A Tourney for the King (The King’s Peace, 59) - More help for our Knights and an additional way to push by hopefully granting renown to several characters. Much like some of our other plots, the high initiative is useful, but the low gold could hurt in the wrong situation.
Randyll Tarly (Core Set, 183) – What rush deck using Banner of the Rose is complete without Randyll Tarly? His renown and standing ability are nice to have, but he doesn’t quite enough overlap with our other cards to justify a full playset.
Seal of the Hand (Core Set, 32) – It’s expensive, particularly in this deck, but the potential to get Balon Greyjoy into more than one challenge is huge. Seal of the Hand has other solid targets in The Knight of Flowers, Randyll Tarly, or even Theon Greyjoy.
The Kingsroad (Core Set, 39) and The Roseroad (Core Set, 40) – We’re sticking to the bare minimum of limited cards for this deck. It means we’re a bit lighter on resources than some others, but for a deck that’s trying to win as fast as possible, we don’t have the time to wait. Any time we hit multiple limited cards, our pace is hindered.
Iron Islands Fishmonger (Core Set, 74) and Garden Caretaker (Core Set, 188) – These characters are non-limited, great for setup, and easy to use as claim for military challenges. We want all we can get.
Here the card choices come more down to personal preference, so I won’t go into as much detail. Of course we need to round out some of the lower cost curve, so I’ve chosen several cards that help us on setup. This is balanced with a few other ways to get unopposed challenges as well as a little more emphasis on initiative, which is even more important in a melee game. You can see the final version of the deck below!
Total Cards: (60)
1x Banner of the Rose (Core Set)
2x A Clash of Kings (Core Set)
1x A Noble Cause (Core Set)
1x A Tourney for the King (The King's Peace)
1x Calling the Banners (Core Set)
1x Rise of the Kraken (Taking the Black)
1x Trading with the Pentoshi (The Road to Winterfell)
3x Arbor Knight (Taking the Black)
3x Asha Greyjoy (Core Set)
3x Balon Greyjoy (Core Set)
3x Garden Caretaker (Core Set)
3x Hedge Knight (The King's Peace)
3x Iron Islands Fishmonger (Core Set)
1x Maester Wendamyr (Core Set)
3x Margaery Tyrell (Core Set)
2x Randyll Tarly (Core Set)
3x Salty Navigator (Core Set)
1x Ser Hobber Redwyne (The King's Peace)
3x The Knight of Flowers (Core Set)
2x Theon Greyjoy (Core Set)
2x Wildling Scout (No Middle Ground)
2x Fishing Net (The King's Peace)
1x Heartsbane (Core Set)
2x Knighted (The King's Peace)
2x Seal of the Hand (Core Set)
3x Lady Sansa’s Rose (The Road to Winterfell)
3x Superior Claim (Core Set)
3x Great Kraken (Core Set)
2x Iron Fleet Scout (Core Set)
1x Street of the Sisters (Taking the Black)
3x The Kingsroad (Core Set)
3x The Roseroad (Core Set