Preview the Tyrell Intrigues of House of Thorns
The wrinkled old lady smiled. “At Highgarden we have many spiders amongst the flowers. So long as they keep to themselves we let them spin their little webs, but if they get underfoot we step on them.”
–George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords
An outward show of chivalry and honor may impress the naïve, and for House Tyrell, it’s a useful façade. It buys them the love of the smallfolk and leads political rivals to underestimate them—but beneath the surface, the Tyrells are as cunning as House Lannister or House Martell. They simply know how to hide it better.
The House of Thorns deluxe expansion for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game brings a verdant garden of new options to the table for House Tyrell. In our last preview, we looked at the Knights of House Tyrell and how you can challenge your opponent to joust for victory. Today, we turn our attention to the more devious side of House Tyrell for a look at how their intrigues grow in House of Thorns!
A Cunning Ploy
Shadowy dealings may seem alien to the knightly valor on display at a tournament, but the Tyrells are equally prepared for a contest of words or for a joust. In fact, these two worlds are nowhere near as different as the innocent may believe. Anything can happen in battle—and even a mock battle like a joust or a melee can be the perfect breeding ground for the darkest intrigues.
Among the family of House Tyrell, few are better equipped to manipulate the courts than Olenna Tyrell. As Mace Tyrell’s mother and the matriarch of the family, she has the presence and authority to work behind the scenes, orchestrating the ambitions of her entire household and moving her family members like pieces on a board.
In the card game, the new version of The Queen of Thorns (House of Thorns, 4) can enable your schemes by giving you the exact event that you need for any situation—after she’s knelt, you can discard an event from your hand to search your deck for any event, reveal it, and add it to your hand. In other words, The Queen of Thorns invites you to transform one of your events into any other event in your deck—and that can be extraordinarily powerful.
Perhaps you’re making an intrigue challenge with The Queen of Thorns. Your challenge will certainly be more impactful if you can guarantee that you have Tears of Lys (Core Set, 44) to kill one of your opponent’s characters. Or perhaps you know that Dracarys! (Core Set, 176) is a threat, so you search your deck for The Hand's Judgment (Core Set, 45). Or, you could set up a future challenge by grabbing Lady Sansa's Rose (The Road to Winterfell, 24). When you add in The Queen of Thorn’s insight keyword to replenish your hand, you can threaten your opponent with events on demand.
There are plenty of impactful events to draw on, both neutral and loyal to House Tyrell, but The Queen of Thorns has a special affinity for her signature event, Hidden Thorns (House of Thorns, 24). Hidden Thorns simply forces your opponent to choose and discard two cards from his hand after you win an intrigue challenge by five or more STR—thinning your opponent’s hand with an ability similar to Wardens of the West (The Road to Winterfell, 30). The difference, however, is that if you control The Queen of Thorns, you can immediately return Hidden Thorns to your hand instead of discarding it. With The Queen of Thorns and Hidden Thorns together, you can destroy your opponent’s hand and vanquish it again whenever they replenish it.
The Emissary of the Hightower (House of Thorns, 11) gives you another way to get the most out of your events after you play them. This character can be ambushed into play, and whenever she enters play, you can choose an event in your discard pile. Until the end of the phase, you can play that event once as if it were in your hand! Perhaps you want to threaten a powerful event like Put to the Sword (Core Set, 41), forcing your opponent to play around it. Or perhaps you just want the utility of having a copy of The Hand’s Judgment on call. Either way, Emissary of the Hightower is highly useful—and her “enters play” effect works naturally with Flea Bottom (Oberyn’s Revenge, 98).
Though events are some of the most surprising and “flashy” effect in the game, they’re not the only tricks that the servants of House Tyrell employ in the hidden war of politics that runs throughout A Song of Ice and Fire. Another hallmark of House Tyrell is removing those who oppose them from challenges—pushing them out with cards like Highgarden (Core Set, 192) or Offer of a Peach (Ghosts of Harrenhal, 84). This theme also receives support in House of Thorns, beginning with Maester Ballabar (House of Thorns, 14).
In most circumstances, Maester Ballabar won’t participate in your challenges. Instead, he’ll stay on the backlines, waiting to help your other characters push their challenges through. Maester Ballabar reads, “Action: During a challenge in which you control a participating character, kneel Maester Ballabar to choose a character with the lowest STR among participating characters. Stand that character and remove it from the challenge.” With House Tyrell’s penchant for increasing STR, your opponent will have to commit a significant number of characters if he wants to even win the challenge.
Finally, you can gain a similar effect with Queen of the Seven Kingdoms (House of Thorns, 20). This attachment can be given to any of your Ladies, and from that point forward, your opponent will never have easy decisions to make during challenges. That’s because, at any point, you can stand the attached character and remove it from the challenge to choose any other participating character, stand it, and remove it from the challenge as well! Whether you use this to foil a powerful attacker like Ser Gregor Clegane (The King’s Peace, 49), or to feint with your own characters and pull them out after your opponent defends, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms brings an unprecedented level of manipulation to the challenges themselves.
The Power Behind the Throne
When an overt show of strength is not enough, the Tyrells are not above turning to intrigue. Join us in our next preview for a closer look at a neutral champion card included in this expansion, designed by Ryan Jones!
House of Thorns is planned to release late in October. You can pre-order House of Thorns (GT29) at your local retailer today!