|Chasing Dragons to the Free Cities of Essos
An A Game of Thrones: The Card Game Spotlight
|A Game of Thrones LCG | Published 28 June 2012|
Meereen was as large as Astapor and Yunkai combined. Like her sister cities she was built of brick, but where Astapor had been red and Yunkai yellow, Meereen was made with bricks of many colors. Her walls were higher than Yunkai’s and in better repair, studded with bastions and anchored by great defensive towers at every angle. Behind them, huge against the sky, could be seen the top of the Great Pyramid, a monstrous thing eight hundred feet tall with a towering bronze harpy at its top.
–George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords
The Beyond the Narrow Sea cycle of Chapter Packs for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game transports players to the Eastern continent of Essos and introduces us to its intrigues, battles, and main players. One way the cycle has developed the flavor of Essos is through the introduction of its Free Cities. We’ve already seen several of the cycle’s new Kingdom locations, including Volantis (Valar Morghulis, 17), Braavos (Valar Dohaeris, 35), and Norvos (Valar Dohaeris, 36). These each provide a point of influence and reduce the out -of-House penalty for one character trait while providing an additional cost-reduction for characters with another trait.
Now, as the cycle moves into its third Chapter Pack, we see the Free Cities represented in a new way – as plots.
Cities of the East
One of the more exciting developments in Chasing Dragons is that it introduces two new City plots to A Game of Thrones.
City plots were first introduced to the game over the King’s Landing cycle and represented, more or less, the ways in which spies, spiders, lies, and soldiers jockeyed for power in King’s Landing. However, unlike the plots that preceded them, City plots can build in power, and many of them trigger effects with a variable number equal to the number of other City plots in your used pile. One of the new City plots in Chasing Dragons, A City Besieged (Chasing Dragons, 59) maintains this theme.
When it is revealed, A City Besieged allows you to choose and discard one location controlled by each player (including yourself) of a cost equal to or lower than the number of City plots in your used pile. Early on, this ability, plus the plot’s four gold can allow you to press for a gold advantage, discarding one of your opponent’s zero-cost gold producers, or another cost-reducing location, but its strength grows the longer you withhold its play. On your second turn, you could discard your opponent’s critical Ghaston Grey (Forging the Chain, 34) or Corpse Lake (Trial by Combat, 87), or in a melee match, you might find yourself discarding both in the same plot phase. Of course, if you hold off a little longer, you may be able to successfully lay siege to even more such potentially troublesome locations as Winterfell (Lords of Winter, 23) or The Wall (Return of the Others, 114). This is a plot that forces you to make a sacrifice of your own, but at the right moment, choosing to lose a cheap gold reducer to burn your opponent's most disruptive location is a move that can win you a game.
The second City plot, Manning the City Walls (Chasing Dragons, 60), does a pretty good job of reminding us how Dany built her army and won her early conquests in Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen. Like the game’s seventh City plot, At the Gates (Gates of the Citadel, 20), Manning the City Walls has a relatively low income value and initiative, and its ability only proves useful if you have no City plots in your used pile. This simply means you’re likely to want to play it first, but that shouldn’t be a problem for a deck built all around Armies.
The plot’s measly one gold appears like a giant turn-off at first, but since the plot allows you to play an in-House Army for free, that ability should give you reason to read the plot a second time. Free in-House Army? How about Queen Daenerys’s Horde (The War of the Five Kings, 7) or the Northern Cavalry Flank (Scattered Armies, 103)? Then, once you have your Army in place, the fact the plot gives you a claim of two is going to force your opponent to think very carefully about how to make challenges to avoid giant hits to his hand, characters, and power.
Plots with a Twist
Not only do these plots lend new individual strengths and give players new ways to construct City plot decks, but they provide even more versatility and strength to “plot twist” decks. These are decks designed to utilize characters like Bran Stark (Core Set, 13), along with events like Citadel Law (Mask of the Archmaester, 95) and the game’s various rookeries, in order to reveal as many of their plots as possible in a turn, gaining the benefits of each of their powerful abilities.
Certainly, A City Besieged and Manning the City Walls will find their way into these plot twist decks, but they shouldn’t be the only plots from the cycle to feature in these decks. The game’s new River plots cascade nicely, spilling into each other, much in the same way the City plots build upon each other, leading from street to street. As players evolve the plot twist deck type, the new cards from Beyond the Narrow Sea will assuredly find their way into the best of these decks. The only question is if a cycle dedicated to the exploration of Essos can successfully incorporate both Cities and Rivers into the same plot.
Chasing Dragons is coming soon, and there’s no better time to start experimenting with your own version of the plot twist deck!
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.