News for March 2010
A Card of the Week for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game
A Game of Thrones LCG | Published 18 March 2010

Hello and welcome back, loyal A Game of Thrones fans!

This week we will once again preview the upcoming Chapter Pack in the Defenders of the North expansion, A Sword in the Darkness. In this preview we will be looking at House Baratheon's sonic boom-level acceleration, by way of this new addition to your Baratheon deck, Salladhor's Crew.

As a refresher to those of you who are new to A Game of Thrones, one of House Baratheon's prime strengths is renown and a strong spread of the Power icon. Among the veteran players of AGoT, the combination of the two comes together to form a strategy often called the Baratheon Rush. The strategy is basically to put out a ton of characters with renown – Robert Baratheon, Stannis Baratheon, Renly Baratheon, Melisandre, Knight of Flowers, etc. (the list goes on and on) – and win a ton of challenges, hopefully earning 15 power before your opponent kills your characters with a Valar Morghulis, Westeros Bleeds, or similar card. This strategy can be especially potent in a Melee when there is the potential for more challenges in any given round.

Any player of the Baratheon Rush will admit that it is quite fragile, and characters are the easiest thing to get rid of in A Game of Thrones. Still, if you can go fast enough and gain a ton of power before your opponent is ready to counter you, the Baratheon Rush can be a real wild ride to victory.

Which brings us to Baratheon acceleration. There are two main ways to strengthen the Baratheon Rush: the first is to make your Baratheon characters harder to kill – duplicates, attachments like Bodyguard (Core, T150), etc. - and the second is bringing your characters into play even faster, flooding the board with them before your opponent has enough characters or effects to oppose you in challenges. This is especially strong if you can overwhelm your opponent with enough characters to win unopposed challenges and earn extra power.

Both approaches to strengthening your Baratheon rush have their drawbacks. In the case of duplicates, attachments, and save events, you might draw unplayable cards, e.g. dead unique characters, or attachments that are specific to a trait like Lord or Lady. With acceleration, you might end up packing your deck with resource locations (Stormlands Fiefdoms, Aegon's Garden, etc.) in order to increase your gold pool and bring more characters into play and actually slow yourself down since the cards you really want to draw in a rush deck are characters, not locations. Moreover, because most resource locations are limited, drawing too many of them might mean that they just hang out in your hand.

These limitations aside, a few new cards have entered the metagame which make the supersonic rush of House Baratheon even faster. As stated above, this week's Card of the Week is Salladhor's Crew and it is representative of House Baratheon's accelerators. Yes, Salladhor's Crew is kind of expensive at 4 gold, but given the massive 3 gold discount they provide, that up-front cost is mere peanuts if you're holding a decent Baratheon character in your hand, preferably one with renown. Add to your Baratheon Rush deck Seat of Power (Wolves of the North, F6) and you have even more speed. Seat of Power is limited and you have to discard it from play to trigger its ability, but again, a 3 gold discount is massive. At those rates, you can afford to bring into play really expensive cards like Army of the Faithful (Core, B85).

If you are playing Black Raven (A Song of Summer, F2) to make it Summer, apart from the additional gold you will be drawing, you can also take advantage of Summer Port (A Song of Summer, F18) to bring characters into play. What really sells Summer Port is that it is not limited, unlike Stormlands Fiefdoms.

Finally, as the theme of the cards above is bringing characters into play at discounted prices, you must take into account Royal Entourage (The Tower of the Hand, F47). This card is FREE if you play Lord or Lady character and House Baratheon is packed with them. This card is also awesome because it can be played from your discard pile as well as from your hand. Lost it in an intrigue challenge? No problem!

So there you have it, more ammunition for your Baratheon machine gun. Of course, apart from lowering costs, it is also handy in a rush deck to draw more cards and search your deck for the ones you need (see Herald of the Stag, Sacred Bonds F54), but then again, those kind of speed effects are pretty much useful in any kind of deck and would probably make for a whole Card(s) of the Week article on their own. Maybe some other time... Until then, we hope you fans and enemies of the House of the Stag have plenty to discuss here in the comments and in the A Game of Thrones LCG forums. So, until next week, keep R'hllor's flame burning and keep those Baratheon decks rushing!

Based on George R.R. Martin's bestselling fantasy epic, A Song of Ice and Fire, A Game of Thrones: The Card Game brings the beloved heroes, villains, locations, and events of the world of Westeros to life through innovative game mechanics and the highly strategic game play. The Living Card Game™ format allows players to customize their gaming experience with monthly Chapter Pack expansions to the core game.

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