The Tides of War

Developer Danny Schaefer Shares His Thoughts on the New FAQ Update​

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“Euron Greyjoy is no man’s notion of a king, if half of what Theon said of him was true.”
   –Robb Stark, A Storm of Swords

In Westeros, great houses rise and fall as the tides of war shift and sway. Unrelenting battles raze and reshape the land, as the rulers of these kingdoms scrabble for power. With a new version of the A Game of Thrones: The Card Game FAQ now available , the tide has turned against a great power: House Greyjoy. Will the ironborn drown under the weight of war, or will they overcome the opposition and rise anew? Those under the banner of the kraken aren't the only ones impacted by this update, however—House Stark, in particular, faces its own challenges with the newly updated Joust Restricted List.

Learn all about the new shape of Westeros as developer Danny Schaefer offers his insight on this update. All of the changes found in this FAQ will immediately go into effect.

Danny Schaefer on the FAQ Update

Hello, A Game of Thrones players!

Today marks the release of a new FAQ update for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, and with it some significant changes to the Joust restricted list. I want to take this chance to talk a bit about the reasoning behind these changes.

The story of the metagame in recent months has been one of Greyjoy dominance, with it easily ranking as the faction with the most plays and the most wins. Stark has been the only other faction to have real success during Greyjoy’s reign, with the remaining factions really struggling. I’m not happy with such extreme faction imbalance over an extended time period, and as a result, this restricted list aims to aggressively shake up the metagame.

This shakeup starts with two neutral cards added to the restricted list, Great Hall (Guarding the Realm, 38) and Forced March (Sands of Dorne, 48). These two cards have played a big role in shaping the metagame, with Great Hall making it very easy to play expensive characters and Forced March providing powerful board control from the plot deck. These cards are especially potent out of Greyjoy (and Stark to a lesser extent), meaning their restriction should take the top factions down a peg while also forcing broader metagame adjustments.

The restricted list also takes more direct action against Greyjoy, restricting three cards from the faction: We Take Westeros! (King of the Isles, 46), Euron Crow’s Eye (King of the Isles, 2), and Drowned Disciple (All Men Are Fools, 11). We Take Westeros! is an exceptionally efficient plot that slotted easily into almost any Greyjoy deck, while Euron Crow’s Eye is the most powerful of numerous powerful high-cost Greyjoy characters. Restricting those two cards (alongside Forced March and Great Hall) should greatly reduce the power level of typical Greyjoy "good stuff" decks. With those decks weakened, there is a risk of the already-strong Drowned God decks simply rising up to take their place. The restriction of Drowned Disciple helps mitigate this risk.

With Greyjoy hit hard in this update, I also took a look at Stark. Stark has been pretty much the only faction capable of holding its own in the Greyjoy metagame, and with Greyjoy weakened, there’s a strong chance Stark could rise to dominance. For that reason, two Stark cards are being restricted: Meera Reed (Music of Dragons, 61) and Skagos (In Daznak's Pit, 82). Both of these cards play into the potent Stark sacrifice themes, with Skagos providing a repeatable and flexible sacrifice outlet while Meera reaps huge benefits from those sacrifices while being an efficient character in her own right. Separating these two from Wyman Manderly (The March on Winterfell, 21), Ward (True Steel, 102), and the newly restricted Great Hall should go a long way toward keeping Stark in check in the new metagame.

Growing Ambition (Streets of King's Landing, 44) is also going on the restricted list and, as often seems to be the case for Tyrell, combo is to blame. A new combo deck has sprung up lately, using Growing Ambition to return specific cards to hand and set up a single turn win. While this deck hasn’t had oppressive results yet, it has performed well and could easily become dominant after other decks are weakened by this restricted list update. Rather than risk a combo-dominated metagame, I’m restricting Growing Ambition now.

Finally, we have a couple of changes to Martell. The first is the restriction of Desert Raider (King of the Isles, 29). Desert Raider plays a significant role in Greyjoy Drowned God decks with Banner of the Sun, with an extremely easy trigger to return from the dead pile that feeds into numerous Drowned God effects. On top of this, Desert Raider is just an exceptionally powerful card that fits into a number of decks as a cheap, non-loyal character. Martell as a faction has been struggling a bit, however, so I didn’t want to restrict Desert Raider without boosting Martell in another way. I looked at the possibility of unrestricting The Wars to Come (Sands of Dorne, 45), but ultimately settled on Dorne (Sands of Dorne, 17) as a centerpiece card that could safely come off the restricted list to give Martell a boost. The fact that Dorne is loyal played into this decision, as it should push Martell as a main faction. 

I’ll be watching the metagame intently in the coming months to see the effect these changes have. I know that a lot of decks have been held down by the dominance of Greyjoy and Stark, and I’m excited to see the new possibilities these restrictions open up. I imagine it will take some time for the metagame to settle, but I won’t hesitate to step in again if need be. I’ll also be watching to see if there’s anything that looks like it can safely be removed from the restricted list.

That’s all for now—I can’t wait to see the new decks you build! Thanks!

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