Plucking the Rose

Preview the Martell and Targaryen Cards from House of Thorns


“Your father keeps his secrets well, Prince Quentyn. Too well, I fear. If the queen had known of this pact in Qarth, she might never have turned aside for Slaver's Bay, but you came too late.”
–Ser Barristan Selmy, A Dance with Dragons

The strength of House Tyrell is growing in the Reach, as they draw upon their wealth and the prosperity of their lands to push their ambitions in King’s Landing. Still, there are those who have reason to wish the Tyrells ill. House Martell has a feud stretching back centuries—only exacerbated in recent years by the Red Viper’s crippling of the Tyrell heir, Willas. And while the Tyrells fought loyally under Aerys Targaryen against Robert’s rebellion, they have long since turned their cloak—paying no heed to the last of the Targaryens stranded in Essos. These Great Houses have nothing but fiery vengeance for those who bear the rose.

House of Thorns is an upcoming deluxe expansion for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, and it invites House Tyrell to step fully into the spotlight with a massive influx of new characters, locations, attachments, and events. Still, House Tyrell is far from the only faction to receive new cards in this expansion. Alongside a new agenda and an assortment of neutral cards to push the game’s Maesters, each other faction in the game receives two non-loyal cards. Today, we’ll see the Martell and Targaryen cards from House of Thorns!

Bastards and Bloodriders

House Martell has a long history of animosity with the Tyrells. The two Houses have bickered and warred over the Dornish Marches for decades, and even when House Martell was brought into the Seven Kingdoms by marriage with the Targaryens, there has been little love between Tyrell and Martell bannermen. It’s fitting, then, that Martell receives a location like Hellholt (House of Thorns, 32).

Hellholt is a two-gold location with a simple effect—after you lose a challenge by five or more STR, Hellholt gains one power. At first glance, this may seem like a simple inverse of a Tyrell location— The Honeywine (Watchers on the Wall, 38). There are, however, a few crucial differences.

First, The Honewine requires you to win a challenge by five or more STR as the attacking player. To trigger Hellholt, on the other hand, you simply need to lose a challenge by five or more STR—on attack or defense. This automatically raises the threshold for the number of times you could trigger Hellholt in a single round. The Honeywine could only be triggered three times at most, barring effects that grant additional challenges, such as Olenna's Informant (Core Set, 189). Hellholt, on the other hand, could conceivably be triggered six times in a single round! Even if that seems unfeasible, it’s undeniable that you’ll certainly lose several challenges by five or more STR in the course of a normal game. And with House Tyrell’s penchant for boosting their characters’ STR, Hellholt becomes even more likely to collect extra power.

The other Martell card in House of Thorns gives you a way to grab some power, but it can also boost your economy and help you spring some surprises. The Bastard of Godsgrace (House of Thorns, 31) is a respectable character on his own, featuring good STR and icons, and he's cheap enough to quickly bring into play with Arianne Martell (Core Set, 104). These attributes are paired with the renown keyword to grab more power—an aspect of the game where the Martells have been historically weak. You can use The Bastard of Godsgrace's power for far more interesting tactics than simply winning the game, however.

As a Challenges Action, you can discard one power from The Bastard of Godsgrace to reduce the cost of the next card you play or ambush this phase by two! Obviously, playing events like Tears of Lys (Core Set, 44), Vengeance for Elia (Calm Over Westeros, 96), or You Murdered Her Children (Lions of Casterly Rock, 30) without needing to save any gold can have a significant impact on the game. Or, you may use The Bastard of Godsgrace to ambush Areo Hotah (Core Set, 103), Southron Messenger (Watchers on the Wall, 31), or Venomous Blade (Called to Arms, 36) at a discounted price. Ultimately, The Bastard of Godsgrace offers an unprecedented freedom for planning your tricks.

House Targaryen has tricks of its own in House of Thorns—especially with Qotho (House of Thorns, 37). Characters with the ambush keyword are relatively common. Qotho offers a twist by allowing you to pay with your cards instead of gold. By discarding two other Targaryen cards from your hand, you can put Qotho into play without paying a single gold! In many circumstances, springing a five STR character into play without warning can be a notable swing in the game's tempo, and Qotho is even more valuable if you use him to activate your other Bloodriders. Giving stealth to Jhogo (True Steel, 113) and intimidate to Rakharo (The Road to Winterfell, 33) is simply a bonus to Qotho rushing to your side in the fight.

Finally, you may be able to combat the power-rush tendencies of House Tyrell with a new Targaryen attachment: Tokar (House of Thorns, 38). In A Song of Ice and Fire, the tokar is a garment worn by the Ghiscari elite… but it’s also a symbol of the strictures of Ghiscari culture, entangling Daenerys in a web of bureaucracy, tradition, and compromise. Now, in your games of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, you can use a Tokar to entrap your opponents in a similar way.

A Tokar can be given to any Targaryen character, and it raises the attached character’s STR for each attachment on that character. Boosting a character’s STR is most likely not enough to warrant inclusion—but a Tokar’s effects don’t stop there. In fact, it forces your opponents to play by your rules if they want to play the game of thrones. While your character wearing a Tokar is participating in a challenge, characters cannot gain power… unless they have attachments of their own! If your opponent was hoping to race to fifteen power by employing an wide assortment of characters with renown, a few Tokars could stop your opponent dead and force him to reconsider his battle plans.

Burn the Reach

Tyrell is ascendant with the coming release of the House of Thorns deluxe expansion, but that doesn’t mean the other factions are defenseless.

Choose which faction you will fight for, and pre-order your copy of House of Thorns (GT29) at your local retailer today!

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