“We are ironborn. We’re not subjects, We’re not slaves. We do not plow the field or toil in the mine. We take what is ours.” -Balon Greyjoy
There is a certain purity going into a new card game blind, especially after playing games like Magic: The Gathering for years. Not knowing all the nuances, meta calls and archetypes free you to make your own decisions without a nagging voice in your head saying “No, this is wrong!”. So when I was shown the second edition of the Fantasy Flight Games Game of Thrones LCG my mind raced as to what decks I could craft in these uncharted waters.
So how does one design a deck for a game with no established archetypes, tournaments, decks and isn’t even released yet? Easy, just pick your favorite card and go from there. What could be more fun than that? So I present to you my man Euron “Crow’s Eye” Greyjoy the Third of His Name since the Grey King.
Look at him! He’s huge and he has three icons and a whole lot of text, surely he has to be spectacular right? He discards cards off the top of your opponent’s deck, gains power and steals locations from their discard pile; Now that is something I can work with. First, Euron Crow’s Eye is loyal to Greyjoy which means I’m committed to that faction so let’s take a look at some of the cards I have access too.
It looks like a lot of Greyjoy cards really get benefits from being unopposed so we should play cards that help them achieve that strategy. Luckily, they seem to give us a lot of options to accomplish this like Asha Greyjoy with her stealth, Balon Greyjoy with his ability and the event card The Kraken’s grasp.
However, The Kraken’s grasp seemed a little weak to me so I decided to make Baratheon the house I bannered to. I chose Baratheon due to a wealth of cards that kneel your opponent’s defenders making your stealth cards even more powerful and helping you win unopposed. Let’s take a look at some of the All-Stars from House Baratheon.
Melisandre is perfect for a deck wanting to go unopposed as much as possible so she is an obvious include along with her Fiery Followers for maximum triggers. Having Baratheon as your banner also gives you some other goodies like Maester Cressen who is instrumental in removing that pesky Milk of the Poppy that might find themselves on your Euron or Balon.
Greyjoy has a lore appropriate theme of location removal/control, fitting with pillaging Vikings like Euron and Balon, so let’s use that as a focus of our deck. The more times we can remove and steal our opponent’s locations the harder it will be for them to stage a comeback. Let’s take a look at some of the ways we can get our opponent’s locations into their discard pile in our Greyjoy/Baratheon deck.
We already saw “We do not Sow” but we will need a little more disruption to keep the pillaging going.
First up we have Seen in Flames. In every card game I’ve ever played targeted discard has always been a very strong effect and I assume it will be here as well. The downside of having a R’hllor character in play is minimal since we will be playing enough copies and the effect is very important in disrupting your opponents curve, tricks and economy. Snagging a Kingsroad from their hand then stealing it with Euron to boost your economy next turn while limiting theirs is a pretty big swing.
The second card is actually a plot but it’s effect is so powerful in combination with other discard that I’m going to include them as part of the decks overall strategy. Heads on Spikes is a win/win cards in this deck because if they discard a character you gain two power and possibly prevent them from playing a unique character later on in the game, if they discard a location you can steal it with Euron and if they discard an event then you can get unopposed attacks easier knowing they are less likely to have combat tricks. With this in mind Heads on Spikes will be my duplicate plot card.
Now that I know what I want the deck to do and the cards I want to do it with this is my current list. I went with around thirty characters since I will most likely be the aggressor in most challenges and I want to always be able to dominate the field.
So there you have it, a solid curve along with a good economy. Dragonstone Faithful and Fishmongers allow you to accelerate out larger threats like Euron and Balon and also soak up military claims saving your other characters. I included a lot of one copy uniques because they can serve a purpose but I didn’t want to have cards clogging my hand if they somehow were sent to the dead pile. I play six Rh’llor cards giving me ample chances to kneel characters and have the ability to play the event Seen in Flames. From the Neutral category I obviously chose Littlefinger for his draw and economy and Put to the Torch to facilitate Eurons ability.
The plot deck is self explanatory. You will want to setup A Noble Cause to power out a large threat like Euron. Heads on Spikes will be your go to midgame plot to disrupt your opponent’s hand and cards like Filthy Accusations and Confiscation allow you to gain board presence and unopposed attacks. Wildfire Assault can be a game winner due to your stealth characters. If you play it then attack with a stealth Balon preventing their largest guy from defending you are surely going to kill off a valuable character.
The basic strategy of this deck is to setup one or more unopposed attacks early using stealth and kneeling effects then use that opportunity to wreak havoc on your opponents locations using events like We Do Not Sow and Put to the Torch. Once you get Euron up and running each successful challenge should further your economy by bringing back your opponents locations. Cards like Risen from the Sea help protect your main characters from harm and Aeron Damphair can recur even unique characters from the dead pile if you win dominance.
Cards like Great Kraken combined with Balon can win games outright if they cannot put up a defence against your unopposed attacks and even low drops like Lordsport Shipwright can prevent your opponent from gaining too much of an advantage with their locations.
A good overall mix of icons allows you to defend and attack in many different challenges and a superb suite of disruption can throw even the most careful control deck off its game. Little Bird is included to protect Balon from Tears of Lys and The Hand’s Judgement is a late game catch all to stop a devastating event from resolving. Milk of the Poppy and Throwing Axe are included to neuter your opponent’s large threats and to deter defence from axe wielding ironborn.
Overall, I think this deck is powerful and sure is fun to play considering Greyjoy lore. Who knows what’s in store for us later this month when Game of Thrones LCG second edition launches. I’m sure veterans from the original game will have a leg up in the beginning months but as the game grows and changes even new players like myself will have a better understanding of the game and its many nuances. Trial and error is the cornerstone of deckbuilding in any game but the more you fail the more you learn so don’t be afraid to try new things because you never know when you may develop a new strategy. And of course I welcome any and all input, maybe you saw something I didn’t? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time and remember; “We do not Sow”.