Choose Your Title, Part 2
Will Lentz on Melee Archetypes 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 on Melee Player Archetypes
Last week, I wrote a bit about personality archetypes in card games. These archetypes exist in many card games, and although we had three for the joust format of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game—Ned, Shagga, and Jaime—there weren’t yet any personality archetypes for melee. With these articles, I want to address this gap, and in my first article, we explored two melee personality archetypes: Cersei and Brienne. Today, I’d like to flesh out the full range of melee archetypes with two additional characters!
The Queen of Thorns
“All men are fools, if truth be told, but the ones in motley are more amusing than the ones with crowns.”
–Olenna Redwyne, A Storm of Swords
Lady Olenna Redwyne is best known in Westeros as the Queen of Thorns, a nickname earned by her biting wit and sharp tongue. She’s the matriarch of House Tyrell and the architect behind many alliances and political maneuvers. She is a shrewd manipulator, and though she appears feeble, it’s heavily hinted in the novels that much of her appearance is an act designed to make others underestimate her.
In gameplay, Queen of Thorns players tend to lean toward cards with a more subtle influence on the game. They tend not to push for overly threatening power-gain cards like Balon Greyjoy (Core Set, 68). Instead, Queen of Thorns players often opt for a card like Joffrey Baratheon (Core Set, 86) to pick up a few power tokens without looking nearly as powerful. They may also tend toward cards like Fiery Followers (Core Set, 54), which allow them to be flexible in challenges while also generating power through dominance. On the plot front, these players may use a plot like Wildfire Assault (Core Set, 26), which can even the playing field without knocking any one player too far behind.
When choosing titles, a Queen of Thorns player is generally cognizant of the strength that increased options gives them. To that end, they often choose titles like Master of Coin and Master of Laws that gain an immediate resource advantage. Having more vital resources at their disposal helps the Queen of Thorns player answer threatening situations and control the tempo of the entire game.
The social aspect of the melee game is where Queen of Thorns players take the most delight and truly excel. Here, they know that they are not only playing their own deck—they’re also playing their opponents around the table. Look for Queen of Thorns players to eagerly ask for and seek out deals with other players, all while attempting to spin such deals so that they sound especially sweet to their opponent. This type of player is likely to keep these agreements, but they are never above betrayal if their own interests are best served elsewhere. One last, interesting aspect of this archetype is that they are the most likely to spread their challenges and effects around the board—always wary of hurting one player so much that the game turns into a power-grabbing race of beating down a weakened player.
“The old woman is not boring, though, I’ll grant her that. A fearsome old harridan, and not near as frail as she pretends.”
–Tyrion Lannister, A Storm of Swords
Chella, Daughter of Cheyk
“Why should we trust your word?… Lowland lords have lied to the clans before.”
–Chella, Daughter of Cheyk, A Game of Thrones
There are few warriors among the clans of the Vale as feared as Chella, chief of the Black Ears clan. She is a small, dark, hard woman with the blunt love of battle exhibited by nearly all clansmen. Chella is known for collecting the ears of her enemies but leaving them alive to bear their grudges and scars into battle another day. Though she travels with Tyrion to King’s Landing, her main motivation is to collect the weapons promised to the clans so she can wreak havoc at home in the Mountains of the Moon.
When choosing the cards to include in their deck, Chella players often lean toward cards that cause maximum carnage at a multiplayer table. They commonly favor cards like Varys (Core Set, 29), even if it doesn’t leave them in a superior position—they only care that they have reset the game and destroyed the other players’ work. Chella players also like to use plots such as Marched to the Wall (Core Set, 15), uncaring that the effect won’t target each player equally and may drastically weaken another player’s position. This type of player also enjoys Naval Superiority (Core Set, 17), gleefully hoping to penalize at least one opponent, even if they can’t predict which opponent that will be.
On the title front, Chella players consistently lean toward cards that have the maximum impact against the other players. They love using Master of Whispers by attacking the weakest player and inflicting claim on the entire table. They also enjoy the Master of Ships title for the opportunity to deal extra damage on their rivals, even if they have no control over who those people might be.
Chella players are the least likely to play the social game of melee, not because they are unskilled, but because they simply don’t care about it. When they sit down at a melee table, they’ve established a different metric for their enjoyment of the game. Other archetypes play to win the game in their own particular way, while Chella players try to cause as much chaos as possible. Whatever you do, you can never trust a Chella player—your trust is only another tool that they can use to upset everybody’s plans.
“M'lord Varys complimented Chella on her ears and said she must have killed many men to have such a fine necklace. And Chella told him only cowards kill the vanquished.”
–Shae, A Clash of Kings