The King's Decree
A New A Game of Thrones: The Card Game FAQ Is Now Available
The latest version of the A Game of Thrones: The Card Game FAQ is now online! This update contains the usual streamlined language, clarifications, and other minor changes that come with refining the rules, as well as the introduction of a restricted list for the Joust format. Learn why these changes were made directly from the developer in the paragraphs below and download the new FAQ to see all the changes for yourself.
A Game of Thrones: The Card Game Lead Developer, Daniel Schaefer
Greetings A Game of Thrones: The Card Game Players!
The introduction of a new restricted list for Joust is designed to curb the impact of combo decks in the metagame. In recent months, a few different combo decks have emerged, each focused on filling the discard pile with events and then using The Annals of Castle Black (Guarding the Realm, 40) to replay those events and go from 0 to 15 power in a single round.
These combo decks are problematic, because they regularly spend two or three rounds without interacting with their opponent, followed by a single, explosive round during which there are very few ways for the opponent to meaningfully interact. A Game of Thrones: The Card Game is built on interactions between players, and in a typical game, there will be dozens of points at which a player has to make a decision based on what their opponent is doing—these decision points are an integral part of what makes the game fun. These decisions may still exist when playing against a combo deck, but they are far scarcer because the nature of the combo deck cuts off many angles of interaction. This leads to many games in which players lose with the feeling that there was nothing they could have done to change the outcome. In general, this is an undesirable result for any game, and one we wish to avoid in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game.
Combo decks also put undue pressure on the metagame, warping the types of decks and cards that players feel they are able to use competitively. When fast combo decks are prevalent, other decks are forced to adapt, either by finding a way to win even faster than the combo, or by playing the specific cards that can interact with the combo; decks that can do neither are pushed out of the metagame. Because The Annals of Castle Black combo decks are able to win so quickly, it’s difficult for all but the fastest rush decks to race them successfully. Attempting to play interactive cards against combo decks is also difficult, because on their winning turn, the deck has access to all the events in its discard pile, including cards like Nightmares (Calm Over Westeros, 99) or The Hand’s Judgment (Core Set, 45), which can be used to protect important pieces of the combo. Of course, there are decks capable of beating the combo decks, but there are also many otherwise viable decks that are unable to compete due to the presence of these combos.
For these reasons, five cards are being placed on the Joust Restricted List. The first is The Annals of Castle Black, as it is the centerpiece of the combo decks and the card that allows explosive game-winning turns. The second restricted card is Wheels Within Wheels (Oberyn's Revenge, 100), which provides an easy way seed the discard pile with events, setting up The Annals of Castle Black. Splitting up these two plots will make it more difficult to fill the discard pile quickly, slowing down the combo and making it possible for more decks to successfully race against it. The third restricted card is The Hand’s Judgment, which can protect the combo from a variety of interactive events that could otherwise disrupt it. Without access to The Hand’s Judgment, combo decks become more vulnerable to interaction from the opponent, opening the door for still more decks to successfully disrupt the combo. Finally, we are restricting Taena Merryweather and Highgarden Minstrel. These two characters offer repeatable rewards for playing events, in the form of card selection and gold production, respectively. Restricting these characters will remove a lot of consistency and explosiveness from Lannister and Tyrell-based combo decks. With these changes, The Annals of Castle Black combo decks should be significantly weakened.
As these are the first cards to be added to the Joust Restricted List, I’d like to close by briefly discussing the purpose of the list, and what you can expect from it in the future. In general, the Joust Restricted List will be used as a tool to promote a healthy metagame, in terms of both diversity and gameplay. In today’s case, the restrictions target a specific combo that appears to be stifling diversity and creating games that are often neither interesting nor fun to play. Future restrictions may similarly target specific decks or cards. Or, they may aim for more general improvements to the metagame, whether by restricting key cards from factions that grow disproportionally powerful or restricting ubiquitous neutral cards to promote more deckbuilding and metagame variety.
Players attending an event before March 26th can still find the previous FAQ on the A Game of Thrones: The Card Game page. As always, other rules documents and support materials for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game can be found on our A Game of Thrones: The Card Game page as well.