Guarding the Realm

Announcing the Second Chapter Pack in the Blood and Gold Cycle


She would be waiting on Dragonstone as well, waiting in all her beauty and all her power, with her god and her shadows and his king. The red priestess had always seemed loyal to Stannis, until now. She has broken him, as a man breaks a horse.
–George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords

Fantasy Flight Games is proud to announce Guarding the Realm, the second Chapter Pack in the Blood and Gold cycle for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game!

Great changes are coming to Westeros, played out through countless smaller stories. Jaime Lannister has been freed from the prisons of Riverrun and makes his way towards King’s Landing as a captive of Brienne of Tarth. Jon Snow has turned his cloak and fallen in with wildlings, while struggling to keep his true loyalties secret. Robb Stark fights to reclaim the loyalty of his bannermen, Daenerys Targaryen lays her plans to acquire an army of eunuchs, and Davos Seaworth returns to Dragonstone with a dream of assassinating the red priestess, Melisandre. Though the violence of the War of the Five Kings has paused, the intrigues and plots behind the scenes have never been stronger—or more dangerous.

Return to Westeros with Guarding the Realm, a new Chapter Pack of the Blood and Gold cycle! As with the other expansions of this cycle, you’ll be drawn into the events of A Storm of Swords. Gold has always been important in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, and the ways you earn and spend it will soon become more plentiful than ever before, as you contend with the new bestow keyword and new economic options for every faction. And of course, you’ll have the chance to add iconic characters to your deck, including Gilly, a new version of Melisandre, and a bastard son of House Botley, Wex Pyke.

Shadows Born of Light

Since the days of the Core Set, Melisandre (Core Set, 47) has been a linchpin of any deck that focused on kneeling enemy characters. In combination with the other servants of R’hllor in your deck, Melisandre conspired to kneel your opponent’s most impactful characters and keep them from contributing to challenges. 

As the Westeros cycle went by, however, a new deck archetype began to arise for House Baratheon—one focused on consistently winning dominance. With the help of A Feast for Crows (Core Set, 2), Gendry (No Middle Ground, 68), and Chamber of the Painted Table (Core Set, 60), House Baratheon could claim a significant amount of power in the dominance phase, without worrying about challenges. Though Melisandre certainly played a role in those decks, the Guarding the Realm Chapter Pack introduces a new version of Melisandre to join the ranks of your Baratheon dominance decks.

With a price of seven gold, Melisandre (Guarding the Realm, 27) costs more than her previous incarnation, but she has an increased STR to match. Even aside from her newfound STR, Melisandre has gained the insight keyword, helping her increase your options in the midst of the challenges phase. Still, neither higher STR nor insight are sufficient reason to use this version of Melisandre over the Core Set version. Instead, you’ll look at her ability: “Reaction: After you win dominance, choose an opponent and look at his or her hand. Then, choose and discard 1 card form that hand. If that card is a character, place it in its owner’s dead pile.

For a Baratheon player interested in controlling his opponent and the flow of the game, Melisandre can have an unimaginable impact. In fact, each sentence of her ability brings new benefits. First, you can look at your opponent’s hand, giving you exact knowledge of your opponent’s cards and showing you what you can expect to see in future rounds. Then, you get to choose and discard any card from that hand! If you’re worried about Put to the Sword (Core Set, 41), Milk of the Poppy (Core Set, 35) or The Hand's Judgment (Core Set, 45) messing up your plans, you can easily remove them. 

And if those benefits weren’t enough, if you discard a character, you place it in your opponent’s dead pile, preventing your opponent from playing additional copies of that character, even if he draws them. Removing your opponent’s most threatening character in hand is a game-changing prospect, and if you’re allowed to win dominance and trigger Melisandre round after round, there’s little chance your opponent will be able to stand up to your power. 

All of that is without even considering Melisandre’s application to other cards in the game. Ruby of R'hllor (Across the Seven Kingdoms, 9) becomes better if you're regularly looking at your opponent’s hand. And timing Heads on Spikes (Core Set, 13) is much easier if you know your odds of hitting a key character.

The only caveat to Melisandre’s ability is that you need to consistently win dominance. Of course, sitting on The Iron Throne (Core Set, 38) will help, but the other Baratheon card in this Chapter Pack is another tool that you can use. Light of the Lord (Guarding the Realm, 28) is a two-gold attachment that can be given to any Baratheon or R’hllor character. Because Light of the Lord stands the attached character at the beginning of the dominance phase, you now have the flexibility to use a character in challenges and still count its STR for dominance. And what will you do with an extra gold in the dominance phase? Perhaps you’ll play Ritual of R'hllor (Ghosts of Harrenhal, 88) to grab the extra power you need to win the game.

Hearts on Fire

The night is dark and full of terrors, but with the light of R’hllor and the power of Melisandre, you may lead House Baratheon to victory. Will you protect Westeros or let it fall to darkness? Look for Guarding the Realm at your local retailer in the second quarter of 2017!

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