A Deck for Brienne 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 Melee Deck for the Brienne Player Archetype
As I discussed in my first melee articles, Choose Your Title Part 1 and Part 2, the Brienne player type is the most defensive and loyal archetype. They generally don’t want to make enemies or be attacked, so they put their resources into looking as unappetizing as possible. Today, we’ll take a closer look at this archetype by making a deck that Brienne players might like to use in a melee!
When you start to think about the best defensive cards, a couple come to the top of that list pretty quickly— The Wall (Core Set, 137) and Eddard Stark (Core Set, 144). Both of these cards reward us for defending challenges and both are non-loyal, so they don’t individually push us too far towards either faction. House Stark has an array of exceptional supporting cards, however, ranging from additional renown to the ability to easily stand their characters. With these advantages on your side, it’s much easier to propel yourself to victory and defend multiple attacks. In this case then, we’ll look at House Stark for the primary faction and the Banner of the Watch as our agenda.
Do be careful, though, as having The Wall in play can make you more of a target for the other players. You’ll want to leverage your board and titles while you make some strategic deals to deflect as many challenges as possible. Don’t worry too much though; most enemies are unlikely to work together well until you’re within striking distance of victory.
At this point, we can start to identify some of the key cards that we’ll need to make the deck sing. As in our previous deck article, You Win or You Die, 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
The Wall – One of the most interesting locations in the game, The Wall gives a primarily defensive deck a method for winning the game. The power gain from The Wall isn’t terribly fast in melee, so you’ll still want to make strategic challenges when you can afford to, but The Wall certainly gives you some power behind defending your opponents’ challenges.
Eddard Stark – Probably your most reliable defensive option in melee, Eddard Stark is a card that you want on the table early to dissuade incoming challenges. Particularly since everyone has to spread their characters between attack and defense against multiple opponents, Eddard’s standing ability gives you a huge leg-up in character usage economy. Even better, his renown is important when you start pushing to actually close out the game.
Robb Stark (Core Set, 146) – Robb is another one of our most important defensive tools. His ability to stand all of your characters after one of your characters is killed or sacrificed almost singlehandedly convinces opponents to send their military challenges elsewhere. Robb's character economy value is huge, and he also has the all-important renown keyword to help you keep pushing in melee. Between Robb and his father, it can be very difficult for opponents to get challenges past you without at least one defender.
Superior Claim (Core Set, 43) – Power gaining events are always strong in melee, but Superior Claim is particularly nice for this deck since it allows you to overcommit on defense and play this event in response to winning. In general, it’s much harder for opponents to keep track of the power that you might gain on defense, making Superior Claim a great way to close out games.
Little Bird (Core Set, 34) – Little Bird clearly shores up the intrigue icon deficiency that’s built into House Stark. Once you have this on Eddard Stark, you have a powerful character who can defend multiple challenges every round. Little Bird is also great protection from Tears of Lys (Core Set, 44), though you should expect to see that event less in melee than in joust.
The Blackfish (Wolves of the North, 4) – Another strong unique character for Stark, The Blackfish adds a bit of extra card draw and, as usual, the renown to speed you along to victory. The particularly nice thing here is that if you can get enough power on The Blackfish, your House Tully characters don’t kneel to attack, meaning you can play more offense without compromising your defense. Again, character usage economy is huge for this deck.
Seal of the Hand (Core Set, 32) – As another way to get more use out of every character, Seal of the Hand is a great option for standing your beefiest character. While Eddard Stark rarely needs it, you can use the Seal of the Hand to give Robb Stark or The Blackfish more flexibility. Even using it on a character like Catelyn Stark (Wolves of the North, 2) gives you the opportunity to shore up your weakest challenge, incentivizing your opponents to send those challenges elsewhere.
Riverrun Minstrel (Wolves of the North, 9) – I think this is the type of deck where the Riverrun Minstrel can really shine. She helps fill an intrigue slot, she costs enough to dodge The First Snow of Winter (No Middle Ground, 79), and she’s a body that you don’t mind killing for claim or Wildfire Assault (Core Set, 26). Finally, her ability could let you win the game in marshaling when your opponents least expect it. At the very least, she can activate The Blackfish faster.
A Clash of Kings (Core Set, 1) – Deciding player order is huge for this deck. You really want to go last, presenting a strong defense until everyone else is spent, then counterattack once you know no one else is coming after you. The high initiative on A Clash of Kings gives you a good chance of winning initiative, along with respectable income. Better yet, the Reaction can be triggered when you win on defense, giving your opponents further reason not to attack you. On the other hand, you can also use A Clash of Kings to boost yourself to victory on the final turn of the game.
A Game of Thrones (Core Set, 3) – Anything that affects your opponents’ abilities to make challenges is something this deck can enjoy. This plot can especially target decks which use The Lord of the Crossing (The King’s Peace, 60), since those decks often need to make their challenges in a specific order for maximum effect.
The Roseroad (Core Set, 40), The Kingsroad (Core Set, 39), Winterfell Steward (Core Set, 152), and Steward at the Wall (Core Set, 133) – There’s only so much to say about these characters and locations. They’re the standard basis of income for nearly every deck, and this particular deck has no reason to deviate from that.
Heart Tree Grove (Core Set, 156) – Several of our Stark characters skew toward the more expensive side, so we’ll include a couple cost-reducing locations to smooth things out just a little bit more.
The rest of the filler choices here come down to personal preference, but in general, we’re looking at more cheap characters to fill the board and even out our icon spread. We’re also including a bit of stealth, not only to mitigate the effects of enemy stealth, but also to give us the chance to push our own challenges through with minimal character usage on our side.
Total Cards: 60
Faction: House Stark
1x Banner of the Watch (Core Set)
2x A Clash of Kings (Core Set)
1x A Feast for Crows (Core Set)
1x A Game of Thrones (Core Set)
1x A Noble Cause (Core Set)
1x Calling the Banners (Core Set)
1x Calm Over Westeros (Core Set)
1x Benjen Stark (Core Set)
1x Ghost (Core Set)
1x Maester Aemon (Core Set)
1x Ser Waymar Royce (Core Set)
3x Steward at the Wall (Core Set)
3x Winterfell Steward (Core Set)
2x Arya Stark (Core Set)
3x Bran Stark (Core Set)
3x Eddard Stark (Core Set)
3x Robb Stark (Core Set)
2x Tumblestone Knight (Core Set)
1x Syrio Forel (The Road to Winterfell)
1x Hodor (No Middle Ground)
2x Catelyn Stark (Wolves of the North)
2x The Blackfish (Wolves of the North)
1x Jon Snow (Wolves of the North)
3x Riverrun Minstrel (Wolves of the North)
1x Osha (Wolves of the North)
1x Sansa Stark (Wolves of the North)
1x Shaggydog (Wolves of the North)
2x Seal of the Hand (Core Set)
3x Little Bird (Core Set)
3x Superior Claim (Core Set)
3x Winter Is Coming (Core Set)
3x The Kingsroad (Core Set)
3x The Roseroad (Core Set)
2x Castle Black (Core Set)
3x The Wall (Core Set)
2x Heart Tree Grove (Core Set)