House Lannister. The den of lions that for an entire first cycle made such a large portion of the player base groan in agony. Lannister. The prominent house of all that is the “Good Stuff” archetype. Lannister, world championship winning house.
Lanni had a pretty good first year. They won a large batch of events, including worlds with a little wolf-ish support, and in the minds of many, dominated the meta from the time the first chapter pack (The Hound) “dropped” into play, if you will. I said some controversial things when reviewing the first year of the game through the Lannister-colored goggles. So how did Lannister fare in cycle 2?
Well I am going to be straight forward when I say Lannister got some really good cards. They also got a lot of really bad cards. The cries of those who screamed “Tyranny!” at Lannister’s dominance were answered by the design team, who modeled several of the new Lannister cards after a “win more” card advantage strategy where you get neat stuff for emptying your opponents hand. Considering that emptying your opponents hand means you are likely winning anyway, it makes a lot of these cards fairly lackluster. But Lannister certainly got some staples I think we will see stick around for a while. I have classified all the Lannister cards from this cycle into 5 categories:
Additionally, I will be listing each card’s comparable wrestling maneuver, to keep in theme with the previous Baratheon article. Much like Chris Jericho once did, this will allow for me to show my extensive knowledge of wrestling holds.
Most of the negativity directed at Lannister in the first year of the game was pretty simply that they just did everything well and “Big Stuff” decks of whatever flavor banner, were dominating, thus driving a pretty monotonous meta. Harrenhal (in conjunction with Rains and a smattering of events and new utility characters) really spearheaded Lannister finally having new deck types. Lucas Sydlaske’s jumper deck was a breath of fresh air, but I certainly felt some more consistency was needed for the archetype to really shine. Harrenhal gives us more consistency and availability to tricks. Now “jumpers” has a lot more versatility to it, and with Tower of the Hand finally having it’s day in the sun, we have some great combos to play with. The expansion of Lannister’s card pool through the box even allows us to play with various themes within the jumper archetypes (clansmen, heavy discard, winter aggro, general big guys, the Red Sat. heavy ambush tricks build, etc.). Overall, it’s this red card that has done the most for the house creatively in cycle 2.
Future Prospects: I think Harrenhal will reach unplayable status by the end of cycle 3. We keep feeling this storm on the horizon for all things “contested”. Location stock in this game is on the rise, and when the answers to location glut finally arrive, I feel like the ones that are 3-4 cost with a contested trait are the ones that start getting cut from decks. Whatever the contested hate does, I imagine both Harrenhals and The White Tree will suffer the most to its introduction at their respective costs. So, enjoy bouncing those dudes now, just in case.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: The RKO: It comes out of nowhere, often for devastating effect!
4-cost Cersei was certainly a fine card, but having a “heavy hitting” version that is a queen is thematically satisfying. When you don’t always want your Tywins to be bouncing around for your new-fangled Lannister tricks it’s good to have someone who can be utilized effectively with jump cards and Towers to help control a board, or just soak up power for doing what Lannister does well, winning intrigue challenges. This card has a nice flavor call back to one of the favorite Cerseis from the previous edition. As opposed to some people who bitch and moan about hearing about 1.0, I for one enjoy the designers embracing the history of the game, and when it shows in the modern era. There would never be a John Cena without Hulk Hogan. Remember that, kids.
Future Prospects: I think Cersei just becomes more common in the future. I see a future with less jumpers, which means her board presence capabilities are still viable among the top of the 7-cost slots. She only really seems to ever be competing with her 4-cost variant, which has more specific uses and the Ward drawback.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: Tying your opponent’s hand in the ring rope and then smashing it over and over with a foreign object.
Kevan is a decent body and a virtual reprint of a commonly used 1.0 card. The great thing about this version, is you can play with your reserve in 2.0, willingly pitching expensive targets (Harrenhal, Seal, Tower) to get them for a much more economical price the next turn. Getting back milks and kingsroads is always great too. Admittedly, he hasn’t had the impact I originally thought he would have, but he certainly still goes into consideration for deck slots in some builds. If you can set up the engine to afford it, him and a tower can be pretty oppressive.
Future Prospects: As more big, juicy toys come out for both the lions and the neutral sphere, his utility only increases. If Harrenhal hate becomes a real problem, and the deck remains viable, we could see him become a standard 2 copy character just to keep getting it back.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: The Sharpshooter: Keep the pressure hold on with those reoccurring attachments and econ, or cheat expensive goodies in for a Montreal Screwjob!
Podrick hasn’t been around long, and I haven’t seen him pop up much yet, but I think when he comes down he makes an impact. I consider him a force to be reckoned with. In a perfect scenario, your opponent expects you to ambush a Hound, instead your 4 gold saves a claim, kills a decent opposing body, then you eventually first snow so your opponent has to work around the effect a second time. This is of course all predicated on drawing the boy wonder, and having Tyrion in play, but I hear the latter happens fairly often in Lannister player’s games. Situational, but worth having in your bag of tricks I think.
Future Prospects: Pod probably sees less and less play over time in the event Tyrion becomes less playable or potentially restricted.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: When Christian waits for you to run at him in the corner, then he slips through the rope and kicks you in face.
This has been a pet card of mine since the Lanni box released. It’s had a harder time making deck slots lately, but in a world filled with resets, I think this card is heavily under looked in ambush heavy decks. Pulling back key dudes before a reset can be huge. Having an escape valve when your important guy gets locked into play after a Nightmares on your tower is also great. The extra power is also icing on the cake. I have won a handful of close games that would have gone another round, but instead I can just have my 15th power and be done with it. I religiously ran 2 of this for about 6 weeks after the box dropped. I still try to find room for it in jumpers, but that has been harder since Nightmares has become such a key card. Nevertheless, Daring Rescue is a good card, albeit situational like Podrick. “You are still a maiden I hope? Oh good. I only rescue maidens.”
Future Prospects: Less value over time, but seems like one of those cards that may have a bright day in the sun with future combos.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: Having your sexy valet come onto the apron and take a hit for you while the referee is distracted.
He is an investment. I notice a lot of people’s deck lists not giving love to ol’ Neck Jowls, and it makes sense. I think ordinarily he isn’t so great, but I think in a Rains deck I will always include 1 of him just because of how easy he is to ambush without caring he will be dead that turn, trigger on his own, and can potentially intimidate twice if you are free to flip into Power Behind the Throne. He is a great card with those tools at your disposal.
Future Prospects: Not good. He has a lot of weaknesses and is sort of a drag to just play. Truthfully, when I play Lannister now, I hate marshalling any Lannister dudes that don’t produce 2 gold in some capacity. Ambush is just the way to go. Marshalling is for plebes.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: Sleeper Hold: Use that gold to wrench it in. “Sleeper hold, sleeper hold! Nobody gets outta the sleeper hold!”
Much like Janos Slynt, she sort of excels in a particular deck type, Rains in this case, but isn’t terribly useful in your usual scenarios. She also has the added drawback of being ward-able, which is pretty soul crushing after you work to make her good, just to have her stolen from you.
Future Prospects: It seems like Clansmen will be getting more love in cycle 3, so maybe she will shine outside of mid challenge Wildfire tricks.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: Chella is the one who lays low and pretends to be resting in the corner while the ring fills up with dudes in the Royal Rumble. When you hit that mid-challenge Wildfire Assault and dudes start flying over the top rope left and right, Chella swoops in and cowardly tosses the next best guy aside.
A solid body and an affordable power icon in Lannister is always welcome. He has some good traits. Lorch saw a fair bit of play in the more aggressive builds this last year and while he isn’t a looker, he certainly will see consistent play going forward methinks.
Future Prospects: I think Lorch will have staying power. He is good people.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: Double Chokeslam: Only really useful in 2 on 1 and 3 on 1 handicap matches.
Moon Brothers is a pretty solid card…
Future Prospects: While he is a great surprise pump (burned men lite is always welcome), the more cards that will require house card kneel going forward, the harder to justify this guy it will be.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: Lou Thesz Press: Suddenly this dude is on top of you, hammering away at your face multiple times.
I love this guy. He is probably my new go-to main house 2 drop. He is probably the only guy from the “win more discarding design philosophy” that I think will see consistent play for a while. Lannister’s other card draw options are so inefficient that this little fellow is totally worth giving our opponent a card for what you get. It also just brings warmth to my heart knowing I can kill Viserys and reducers with this guy and King Joff.
Future Prospects: I’m sure he will eventually be obsolete, but he is swell for the time being.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: Test of Strength Lockup: Could end up helping your opponent, but hopefully you can cheat something in for an advantage.
I have never been very big on this gal and her brother the Queen’s Assassin. I don’t like the cost and stipulation for the body. But there has been some success lately. She can certainly be a lot more devastating with the right set up of cards than the assassin. Dave Strohm’s Red Saturday deck got a lot of mileage out of these cards, so I am glad they have their place however…
Future Prospects: … I don’t think they will ever hold significant mainstream appeal.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: Referee banning a manager from ringside.
If you ever wanted access to a 4th burned men with a little bit of a steeper cost, look no further. He is pretty efficient as a surprise character if you have the fodder for him, and he can be slightly hilarious with Chella (as Chella gets an ear token if you ambush Shagga in and kill one of your characters in the middle of a challenge she’s attacking in). Mmm, all that clansmen synergy. Overall, he fits in with a similar card that see a lot of play, so he certainly is pretty playable. He had a fair bit of success in the clansmen Rains that were played in the last few months. I personally haven’t gotten much mileage from him, but he is pretty ok.
Future Prospects: I think he stands to come and go as “Ambush Lannister” fluctuates in popularity. As an evergreen, he seems like he will always have a place waiting in the wings for decks.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: Top Rope Diving Headbutt: Devastating move, but repeated use eventually results in some of your own people getting murdered.
Our bomb clansmen head honcho. He has seen some love since his release, he is fantastic chud removal when you have a couple clansmen running around. The power icon is nice. He isn’t terribly fascinating.
Future Prospects: I think as long as clansmen always have the chance to be slightly competitive, or at least fun to play and not as terrible as something like pillage decks are, all these box clansmen will have their well-deserved places in decks.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: Dudley Death Drop: Have another clansmen tag team with you for this potent double team.
All hail the king, baby! I was sort of shocked that the online Thrones community didn’t freak out more heavily when this card was revealed. Of course, there isn’t much intimidating about a 7-coster with 3 strength and a single icon, but that ability is flashy. He isn’t exactly a life ruiner, but he is the kind of effect most people who hate Lannister hate dealing with and he isn’t bad at all. I think people generally just aren’t slotting him in, but I have tracked a pretty decent amount of mileage out of him. When you catch a Ned, Randyll, Robb, etc. without a save, point and click removal can be harsh. Even if it’s something as small as picking off a reducer with the aforementioned Lannisport Guard so that you can catch better guys for claim or a Marched, Joffrey certainly has a welcome place in a lot of my Lanni decks. Especially compared with the core version. Of course, with lord/king fetcher Margaery just around the corner, the more economical core version may finally start popping up in lion banners and Alliance decks to fetch bigger and better lords. Let’s not forget the annoying little shit will also shut off your opponent’s possible king tech. I love this card and I think he is underplayed.
Future Prospects: I think King Joff will always have a place. Every time a meaty, playable, and loyal Lanni character comes out, this guy is more empowered.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: Sweet Chin Music: Very effective on smaller dudes, not so effective on guys bigger than you. When you tune up the band by kneeling your just played character and your house card, the crowd knows someone is about to catch a face full of foot.
I wanted so badly for this card to be a staple. I love this card deeply because A. It’s a Lannister card and B. It clearly should have been a Martell card, and I love Martell house themes. Somehow though, a card that just seems bonkers on paper hasn’t turned out to be very impactful. I stop to wonder if it’s the cost, but how hard is it for Lanni to have 3 gold sitting around in challenges, really? Not very. It seems mostly to stem from the issue of event gluttony in the meta. There are so many answers a deck has to run currently and this bad boy just isn’t essentially enough to fill into almost every Lannister variant’s demanding event package of cancels and nightmares and bounce, etc. I tried using a single copy in decks for a while, I had maybe once spectacular blowout with it, but sadly it just doesn’t live up to what I was looking for.
Future Prospects: Come on Dark Wings, Dark Words reprint. I need a reason to include 1 of this in a deck.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: Bronco Buster: No one uses it anymore, but if someone hits you with it, it’s embarrassing.
The first non-loyal card cycling? A reasonable little power icon with a lady trait? It seems like she should have seen more play than she has at this point since her release, but I feel like she isn’t getting too much representation for what seems like a super good card. Her best place I think is in banner decks that are concerned about hitting their Treachery and Things I do for Love requirements. I toyed around with her in prep for Thrones War with Martell Lion and she was ok, but I never felt she added a ton to the deck.
Future Prospects: I feel like she should scale up. I guess her biggest issue is Lanni is the house that tends to still want to run First Snow most often, and that’s a pretty big ding for her, as well as…
Comparable Wrestling Hold: ARMBAR!
Similar in stats to Taena, synergizes with one of the best cards in the game in Tyrion. She sees some table time, but she suffers from the main weakness that Taena shares. If I have to run guys I may end up just first snowing, I think I just want to keep Pycelle as my main man since he has the same icons and draws cards. Bros over Hos.
Future Prospects: Likely becomes even less desirable to play over time, especially if Tyrion ever gets restricted or SOMEHOW replaced. But who knows, you can’t keep a good whore down.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: When Undertaker or Kane fall down, but then spring right back up again.
This card is cute, but ultimately not that interesting. I’ll give credit where it’s due to Rebecca Gillard for her hilarious “King Blackfish” deck at one point. That made for a good viewing experience.
Future Prospect: Ultimately, I don’t see this card as making decks much of ever.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: Taunting your opponent while they are down.
This guy, he seemed like he might be a decent little splash in lion banners, but I have yet to see anything about him that makes me want to include him in decks. For some reason, his potential at such a low-cost slot still keeps me from completely ragging on him as complete garbage.
Future Prospects: Probably will become even more forgotten as more and more good lords and ladies get made.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: ARMBAR!
Boy, I wish this had cost 1. It’s a pretty strong buff, but where can you really find room for it? Mirri has really fallen from grace in a post-Valar world, otherwise maybe this would show up in your occasional dragon banner. It’s crazy useful for pushing Rains of Castamere, but the beauty of Rains has sort of been that it’s great when you can trigger it, but you rarely NEED to do it, so this tool doesn’t have any real necessity.
Future Prospects: Keep em’ handy in case the Walkers come.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: Finlay’s patented Shillelagh Strike.
I think in our current card pool these cards just aren’t that efficient. Golden Tooth has seen a little love in the past few months, and being able to treachery in unusual timing windows is cute, but how much better are these than your go-to economy cards? Not much, really. The crazy thing with the treasury is with Tyrion often having leftover gold this seems like a great card, but has anyone ever made room for it? Bleh.
Future Prospects: Lannisport Treasury, ehhhh. As for the Golden Tooth, I think as the game progresses and eventually becomes more complicated by virtue of the expanding card pool, I feel like access to gold in the plot and draw phase (and your opponent’s marshalling when you are second player) is going to increase drastically in importance. I could envision a day when Golden Tooth is an automatic include in every Lannister deck. But it is not this day!
Comparable Wrestling Holds: When the Road Dogg would do those weird dancing punches, followed up with a lethargic, shaky knee drop.
PRETTY NARROW APPLICATIONS
This card has proven to be fun as hell. Obviously, he is only good with Clansmen synergy which is a strike against him. His second strike is core Tyrion (theoretically) will always exist. But it’s three strikes you’re out and so far, Box Tyrion is still at bat and not out of the running. Cards with his level of flexibility (tied to nedliness) is so welcome that’s it’s a shame how much his diversity is overshadowed by the blanket goodness of his predecessor’s single ability. It’s disappointing that when I consider clansmen builds, I would still rather have gold-shitting Tyrion in most cases.
Future Prospects: I want him to be good. I could see him increasing in playability if clansmen get something really strong to protect him akin to the effects from 1.0 that let you use clansmen to save him. If your 7-cost Tyrion is generally safer from board clears than your usual big dude, then he might find his way into more competitive clan builds. Who knows.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: Scorpion Death Lock: Pales in comparison to the original.
I mean yea, clansmen having icon flexibility is good and this location is cheap. It’s probably totally playable in clan builds, but has no place elsewhere. Not much to say here.
Future Prospects: See all other clansmen cards.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: Right Hand.
This is hard pressed to find slots outside of really cheeky decks. It’s application is really narrow right now. I don’t to see it used for anything other than trying to spam Heads on Spikes really hard.
Future Prospects: This card has a much higher ceiling than a lot of the cards this cycle. It can only get better the bigger the card pool grows and the more likely a crazy good war plot worth multi-triggering eventually comes along. I won’t reserve this card to uselessness for that reason alone. Someday people will hate this card with a passion.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: Stone Cold Stunner: Great if your opponent sells it like the Rock, horrible if your opponent sells it like Vince McMahon.
Holy muttonchops! I don’t need to beat a dead horse about the better Tywin. This card has good stats and traits, but it’s ability is niche and he is a far inferior version to one of the best cards in the game. He isn’t really even all that interesting in my opinion outside of empowering your Gregor and depowering your opponent’s.
Future Prospects: Will mill ever be decent enough that this card’s incredibly narrow application will be worthwhile? Don’t hold your breath.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: Finger Poke of Doom.
This is where I address a major gripe with the game. I came from 1.0, I understand that at times themes are seeded and they would not come to fruition at all, or in a lackluster manner. I also get LCG models produce content slowly, but in the name of the seven, at least when they decided to double down on kingsguard tech in 1.0 an ENTIRE chapter pack was dedicated to them. We are getting a kingsguard member at the rate of a single dude per cycle. How are we ever supposed to actually make a kingsguard deck? If we aren’t ever going to be able to, why make cards like this? It’s a waste of time and frankly, a waste of content (and a blasphemous waste of one my favorite 1.0 arts). Stop jerking us around. Maybe I am wrong and the design team will suddenly grant us a shining gift from heaven with a pack of all kingsguard. Maybe we will get attachments like White Cloak and Lord Commander of the Kingsguard to make knights into kingsguard-traited fellas. But I’m guessing the odds of that happening is about as likely as Jaime fucking anyone other than his sister in the near future. We hope he will, but it’s looking less and less likely.
Future Prospect: Check back in like 5 cycles when we have 7 kingsguard, just as the old ones begin to cycle out and the problem persists.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: ARMBAR!
(This bracket will be brief because frankly, these cards just aren’t worth talking about much.)
- Tanda Stokeworth– Why, just why, ever. (Foot Stomp)
- Levies at the Rock– Ughhhhh. (Eye Gouge)
- Chataya’s Brothel– I would rather get herpes than this cards economy. (Back Rake)
- Shield of Lannisport– Can’t I just have Tywin and other good lords instead? (Punch)
- Alayaya– Pretty underwhelming body. Oh, and the card isn’t very good. (Kick)
- Ser Gregor’s Marauders– This small a card pool, and already so many better 4-costers. (.)
- Insidious Scheme– No, just… NO! (When Ric Flair falls face first to the ground)
- Lions of the Rock– Why would anyone ever use this. There is better money. Period.(Slap)
- Tommen Baratheon– It brings tears to my eyes that this card just isn’t that playable. (Hair Pull)
- Without His Beard– So bad it’s reprinting is an actual in-joke with the design team. (Airplane Spin)
CARDS OF NOTE THAT ARE NOT LANNISTER
A plot that generally seems pretty bad. It’s not quite as bad when it’s a sort of a 4-gold plot that brings your dead Tywin back and for that reason it has seen some fringe play with jumper builds. If anything, that makes it more Lannister than anything else.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: The Kip-Up: Tywin Lannister is a main-eventer like HBK or the Rock. Just when you think you get em’ down, they pop back up again!
Fairly cute with Harrenhal. Maybe someday we will get enough Bolton characters that a legitimate subtheme of Bolton jumpers will be viable. I imagine this idea will be explored about as thoroughly as kingsguard.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: When Kevin Nash threw Rey Mysterio JR. into a trailer like a lawn dart.
Thank the Gods for Alvaro. This was the most interesting agenda to drop for 2.0 to date. I was actually pretty surprised to see something like this as much as plot cycling was hated and condemned in the last edition of the game. Of course, this has some interesting balancing tricks to it as to prevent it from being “true” plot cycling. It’s nice to have an agenda that empowers intrigue challenges, the one often considered weakest in the beginning stages of second edition, and provides you with a tool box of choices for relaxing your plot deck a little with a reasonable restriction of never being able to play a scheme unless your opponent lets you trigger one. I’m thrilled to see how this agenda evolves in the future as more schemes come out and how each house uses their strengths to leverage it. It makes the list because obviously, Lannister has one of the easiest times utilizing it. This is the agenda that really brought some flavor to the house beyond “good stuff decks”. I was going through a pretty down period around worlds but I have to say that this and Valar re-ignited my enjoyment of the card pool. I debated adding Valar to the list but I think it benefits a few other houses much more than Lannister (it’s ok, we still have First Snow), whereas Lannister has probably had the most mileage from this agenda, but it’s great that any house can use it. If more agendas come out like this, mono house decks can remain interesting and competitive as the game moves forward.
Comparable Wrestling Hold: The People’s Elbow: Flashy and effective. Give the people what they want.
So that’s pretty much it. We got a lot of Lannister cards lately, but this house proved quantity does not always equal quality. If you really wanted to hear someone pontificate the greatness of Tanda Stokeworth… then you are an idiot. But luckily, we did get some great cards and some interesting tools. Lannister is still good, but I’ll admit it’s nice seeing other houses start to rise up at event finishes. Can we all start bitching about Watch now?
And there we have it. The second cycle is wrapped.
Every deadline was hit (a big thank you to all the writers for their diligence) and in two days (theoretically), the third cycle begins. Talk about excellent timing! 😀
It’s almost like I planned it that way…I hope it was a nice distraction during the break between cycles :).