|Uniques Find Stronger Footing On Dangerous Grounds
An A Game of Thrones: The Card Game spotlight by guest writer Matt Ley
|A Game of Thrones LCG | Published 17 November 2011|
The second Chapter Pack in the A Tale of Champions cycle for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game has recently gone on sale, and the first Chapter Pack has already made an impact on the tournament scene. Today, as we look forward to the third Chapter Pack, On Dangerous Grounds, we welcome the insight of guest writer, Matt Ley. The 2006 World Champion and a perennial participant of the top 8 at Gen Con tournaments, Matt has previously contributed to the game through playtesting and remains one of the most charismatic members of the community.
Matt Ley shares his appreciation of the A Tale of Champions cycle and some of the exciting, new cards from On Dangerous Grounds:
Uniques Matter! or Jaime Lannister > House Payne Enforcer
Anyone who has played A Game of Thrones: The Card Game with me during the last decade (in either CCG or LCG format) will know I love uniques. Almost all of us play the game because we love the world and characters that George R.R. Martin created, and we are lucky that the game mechanics live up to the subject material, something that does not always happen…
As part of this love for the world of Westeros and the game’s underlying mechanics, there is something to be said about beating your opponent into the ground using one of your favorite characters, rather than what I like to call “random chud #47.” Don’t get me wrong: non-unique, non-named, generic personalities and locations certainly have their place in the game. But I hold a special place in my heart for the characters I root for while reading (and now watching) George R.R. Martin’s world. Long story short, I would just much rather have Jaime Lannister beat you than some castellan of some rock!
This is why I am so excited for the current cycle of cards. Many of its cards really make uniques matter again. There are already a few great cards that reward you for playing uniques, or (more often) punish your opponent for fielding nameless chuds. Seductive Promise (Core Set, 175) steals their best non-unique. Wintertime Marauders (A Change of Seasons, 47) is probably the most powerful of the Winter or Summer cycle of cards, and it repeatedly controls your opponent’s non-uniques.
Let’s take a look at one of my favorite characters, abilities, and pieces of artwork in the cycle, Lyanna Stark (On Dangerous Grounds, 56). Wow… a great card for me. Lyanna is unique and has a great story in the books (one of the big mysteries). She’s a Lady, has a noble crest and strong abilities. Still, three Strength, and Renown with the noble crest are fairly standard for four cost. The next two abilities are what make her shine.
Probably the most obvious will be the fact that she has a passive ability to give -1 to all knelt non-uniques. Just on its own, this is powerful. No more solo military challenges with Carrion Birds (A Song of Summer, 16) or profiting from the fairly popular Oldtown Scholar (Forging the Chain, 36). No more “chump blocking” to stop your opponent from claiming a power for the unopposed challenge. Math suddenly becomes much more difficult for a deck running a high level of non-uniques.
There are some strong combos as well. Lannister can use their normal kneeling tricks, coupled with Threat from the North (Princes of the Sun, 56) and Lyanna, to discard any two-strength non-uniques. Meanwhile, House Targaryen has all sorts of tricks at their disposal that a passive strength reduction can only help.
The second ability is not obviously as strong, but it can still change a game for a Baratheon or Stark power-rush deck. Going second could actually help you out, allowing you to defend all the challenges against you with the wealth of Lords at your disposal, sacrifice Lyanna to military claim, stand them all, and give them Deadly to either push through unopposed challenges or remove characters from the table with the Deadly.
Players have already seen one of the new tourney grounds. On Dangerous Grounds brings four more to the table. Lannisport Tourney Grounds (On Dangerous Grounds, 44) is a powerful card with a strong kneeling ability, and it gets even better if you decide to make a commitment to uniques. Sunspear Tourney Grounds (On Dangerous Grounds, 54) gives cheap protection against strong character abilities, but while you control more uniques than your opponents, you get protection against events as well.
Overall, I love the direction of these cards. It gives the A Game of Thrones development team some added ammunition to reward people for playing the unique characters we have come to love (or hate).
Uniques already have a drawback in the fact that when they hit the dead pile, you can’t play another unless through a card effect. Many times this results in players only playing one copy of a unique card, rather than risking “dead cards” in hand if they die. Putting slightly more powerful abilities on uniques therefore many times creates a more varied game-to-game experience, as more often than not, players are only packing one copy.
While you wait for On Dangerous Grounds to arrive at your local retailer, keep checking our website for additional spotlights and updates.
Based on George R.R. Martin's bestselling fantasy epic A Song of Ice and Fire, A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, playable by 2-4 players, 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.
@Zordren - I could see it either way, narratively. Likewise, you could argue a similar point about Ser Arthur Dayne's neutral card. That said, Ser Dayne is completely playable in a House Dayne theme deck (Dorne helps, obviously) in addition to a kingsguard or even a knight focused deck…
By comparison, I just dont think Lyanna is worth playing as a house stark deck, which is annoying 'cause i feel like the 2 other 'stark' cards in this pack are also great but 1 gold more expensive than is worth playing :(
The Ned in me cringes at the fact she's nuetral. Dual(/triple?) house would have been better, or to prevent possible spoilers ( I assume that's the reasoning behind the neutrality), just make her Stark. Big Ned fail, IMO.
But on the main topic - definitely like to see the uniques getting some love this cycle. The relative power of cards like Carrion Bird, etc. have always really, really bothered me. Happy to see Nightfall & Highgarden in the last set - & still a lot of unique locations out there to represent. Definitely approve of this direction.
Good article Matt!
Lyanna is going to be fantastic with Killer of the Wounded...yay!
Also, gotta agree on the artwork, not just for Lyanna, but the tourney grounds look extremely impressive. The artwork for Sunspear Tourney Ground is exactly the sort of image I would picture. Compare that to the old version (http://agotcards.org/card/v/2279), which just looks silly by comparison.
One of the guys who plays in our local meta said yesterday that it's easy to determine CCG vs. LCG cards just by the quality of the artwork. FFG has really found some great artists!
Have they ever made a character that was multi-house, with one of them being neutral?
having Lyanna as Stark/Neutral would seem ideal - added benefit for Stark, which is clearly her main association, but also making her available for other houses (without discussing which one(s) those might be on an open, non-spoilery forum
@RobotMartini - I wouldn't necessarily disagree with you, but without going into spoilers I think there's a lot of justification for her being "neutral", vice "Stark". (Not that most characters in the book don't have some dual-affiliations/changing affiliations, etc...)
Lyanna is going in my Neutral deck immediately!
Old Ben, unless it is a flashback we would not be seeing Lyanna in the show as she is long since dead.
He's "one of the most charismatic members of the community?"
If by "charismatic" they mean "most likely to heckle the championship table" then I'll agree. ;)
i would be a lot happier if lyanna was a house stark card. being neutral makes her defacto 2 gold more expensive than everyone else in the family, blocks her from using stark only attachments, prevents bear island from triggering and gives her no str buff for winterfell. while coupling her with edmur tully gives stark a 2str character shield, those cons make for a huge pill to swallow...
That artwork for Lyanna sure is something! Then again, Katherine Dinger - with her previous artwork for AToT Cersei - has always been one of my favorite artists for this game.
~Sheesh, they let anyone write articles nowadays!
~Dang that author knows what he is talking about. He sounds good looking too.