I’m going to go against the grain here and spend this article talking about a faction other than the Night’s Watch.
You’re welcome, in advance (Don’t worry, I’ll get back to Night’s Watch in my next article).
As I’ve said in the past, I love challenge math (I actually didn’t say it in any article on this website, but in my introduction for the chapter pack review for Taking the Black, back when I still was known as Habesjn . Guys, I am, for real, everywhere in this community…). And there is a new deck that has recently emerged that has some of the most fun challenge math shenanigans I’ve ever seen in a game. For that reason, I wanted to take some time to recognize the deck type known as the Lady Sansa’s Rose deck. Or the LSR deck for short (Not to be confused with L5R, which is a separate card game that I used to play and constantly reference).
The deck is, by no means, a secret in this community, but it is still worth discussing in my opinion.
These decks are almost completely built around one core card: Lady Sansa’s Rose (imagine that). For those who don’t play much Tyrell and can’t be bothered to click the link, this is an event that costs 1 gold and has the text “Reaction: After you win a challenge in which you control a Knight character that is attacking or defending alone, that character gains 1 power. (3 power instead if you control a Lady character.) (Max 1 per challenge.)”
On the surface, this may appear to be somewhat of a Shagga (See link for an explanation of this term) combo that would be very fun but perhaps not all that viable.
That was my opinion of the deck after the chapter pack, Road to Winterfell, was released. That was the chapter pack in which Lady Sansa’s Rose was initially introduced. It was a fast deck and it was a dangerous deck, but it was a little inconsistent. If you couldn’t get a Lady, a knight and the means for that knight to win a challenge alone (plus having LSR in your hand and a gold available), it could be very slow.
In fact, during the store championship at Arkham House Games here in Cincinnati at the beginning of February, I played against 2 Tyrell Knight decks and I beat them both with relative ease (sorry Rob and Tyler). The top finisher for Tyrell in that tournament went 2-3. So…yea. Inconsistent.
However, I really think this most recent chapter pack gave them a few more tools that will ultimately make the deck run much more smoothly and actually opened up the LSR theme to pretty much any faction (yes, even Night’s Watch! :D….Kind of). And in almost every faction, it is completely legitimate and extremely dangerous.
Don’t believe me? Oh, big mistake. Because I got plenty to say about it!
Let’s take a look at the cards that came out in this chapter pack that are related to knights and/or ladies.
Ser Hobber Redwyne is a new character out of Tyrell that is non-loyal (portable into any deck). He is a knight and he also has the reaction to search for a lady character and put her into your hand after you marshall Hobber. This is amazing for increasing the likelihood of getting a knight and a lady out at the same time. Hobber is already a knight and he guarantees you a lady as well. He can search for Margaery, at the very least, as well as any ladies from the other faction that you choose to play (assuming you’re using two factions to increase the number of knights and ladies available to you). He is a little expensive, at 5 gold for a 4 strength bicon who cannot be reduced by A Noble Cause, but his effect is strong enough to justify 1 or 2 copies in any deck that wants to run the LSR theme.
Hedge Knight is a cheap, neutral knight that gets stronger when paired with other knights, including other copies of Hedge Knight. He is great for set ups, and can really fill you up on knights if you’re playing a second faction that doesn’t have as many knights as you may want.
Knighted is another cheap, set up friendly card that increases the number of knights you can put in your deck. It’s a 1 gold attachment that turns any character into a knight. This, when paired with hedge knight, is great for factions like Greyjoy and Targaryen, who don’t have all that many knights but still may want to run Tyrell as their banner to gain the knight and lady synergy. After all, it would be pretty awesome to go fetch Dany or Asha with Hobber, but neither faction had enough knights to make the synergy worth it without hedge knights and knighted in the card pool.
Side note: it is super fun to give ladies like Asha or Arya the knight trait and then, after winning a challenge, giving themselves a rose to celebrate their win. Makes no sense, but it’s fun :).
A Tourney for the King is a plot that doesn’t have the best gold, but has great initiative and gives all your knights renown and immunity to opponent’s events for the turn. This is an amazing closer plot that can be used for power rush if you don’t see as many Lady Sansa’s Roses as you may want. With Knighted as well as several new knights coming out this chapter pack, like Hobber, Rodrick Cassel, Alliser Thorne, Gregor Clegane and the Hedge Knights, you have the potential of getting a lot of renown on the board that cannot be removed from the game/challenges by events such as Dracarys, Confinement, Tears of Lys or Put to the Sword during that turn. The high initiative also makes it possible to win initiative, go first and make an all in challenge with all your knights that could outright win you the game.
I saved the best for last:
Mare in Heat is a card that kind of changed the way you look at the Knight of Flowers and Jousting Contest. And this is also where I think all the challenge math fun comes into play. Both of these cards were already strong without this attachment, but the Mare made them, in my opinion, some of the best overall cards in the game for Tyrell. Let’s break down the interactions available to players with Mare in Heat.
The first target that comes to mind is, obviously, Knight of Flowers (KoF). If you put this card on KoF, you are guaranteed a win on offense in any challenge you choose (barring a Treachery to the Mare’s ability.) With KoF’s text that restricts your opponent to only defending with one character as long as KoF is attacking alone, they have two options. If they defend with someone weaker than the Knight of Flowers, you win the challenge. If they defend with someone stronger than the KoF (such as Gregor Clegane :P), you may use the Mare in Heat’s ability to remove that character from the challenge, thus winning the challenge unopposed.
The second target that comes to mind is the Arbor Knight. Not much to look at on the surface, as he is only 1 strength. However that means that, unless your opponent defends with a 1 strength character as well, you can remove the defender from the challenge. Also, the arbor knight has an intrigue icon, which is somewhat rare for a knight (14 knights in the game, 4 intrigue icons). This may seem trivial, but it protects him from Tears of Lys, for the most part, which is very dangerous to characters like KoF, who can potentially be removed from the board after a single lost intrigue challenge, taking all the power he gained with Lady Sansa’s Rose and renown with him. In addition to winning any 1 on 1 match up with Mare in Heat attached, he may force your opponent to defend with two characters with 2 or more strength, just so that you can’t Mare in Heat one defender and win the challenge. He can also buff his strength using his ability, so they may have to commit 2 3 or 4 strength characters to defend against him. This can create some serious math problems for your opponent and, at the very worst, kneels out two of their higher strength characters in order to win a challenge against your 1 strength knight.
Then, as I said, if you play the plot Jousting Contest, the Mare in Heat will win you any one challenge you desire, again assuming that the Mare in Heat’s ability is not subjected to Treachery.
All these cards combine with the existing Tyrell cards to turn just about any faction into a rush deck. And rush decks are extremely dangerous in a game where the best decks, such as Targaryen and Lannister, require a few turns to set up their board state. With the right draw and the right circumstances, an LSR deck can win within the first 3 turns with relative ease.
So, that brings us to our next question. What faction uses knights and ladies the best?
This is going to be a topic of much debate over the next few weeks. I genuinely believe any faction can run them and have a lot of success because of the cards released in this chapter pack. You can take the deck building in two main directions in my opinion.
1. Build around packing as many knights and ladies into your deck as humanly possible.
This deck type will be primarily Baratheon and Stark in combination with Tyrell. They both offer the most number of knights and ladies among the factions in this game, other than Tyrell. They each have 2 knights and 3 ladies. Baratheon has Davos Seaworth and the Vanguard Lancer for knights and Melisandre, Selyse Baratheon and Shireen Baratheon for ladies. Stark has Rodrik Cassel and the Tumblestone knights for Knights and Arya, Sansa and Catelyn for ladies.
Whether you choose to go with Tyrell as the main house or the banner house depends on your preference between their loyal cards.
Stark Rose can potentially up the claim on power challenges with Winter is Coming, and have an additional knight and lady with Rodrik and Catelyn. But they have suboptimal card draw and would probably need to run Counting Coppers and/or Littlefinger to really guarantee they see Lady Sansa’s Rose in most games.
Baratheon Rose has great card draw with the Red Keep, and Stannis and Robert would make admirable knights, especially when holding Lightbringer. But you don’t really want to play Baratheon do you? (Joking! I love you Baratheon players! I’m not bitter at all :D)
I think they are all viable builds. I personally like Tyrell Banner of the Wolf just because the knights and ladies are all low cost and the card draw with Tyrell as the main house is fantastic. Plus, there’s the added nedliness of having KoF give the rose to Lady Sansa. It’s just…perfect!
- The other build when considering an LSR deck is to play a faction that doesn’t really have as many knights or ladies, but has extremely impactful cards for either strong control or even faster rushing.
I briefly mentioned the fact that Hobber could go find Daenerys or Asha if you choose to run Greyjoy and Targaryen with the banner of the Rose. Greyjoy already has a lot of rush elements in their deck, with the Great Kraken, Rise of the Kraken and several renown characters. And the lack of knights in Greyjoy can be compensated with Knighted and the Hedge Knights. A knighted Balon who is riding a Mare in Heat would be basically impossible to stop. If you defend with a weaker character, he wins unopposed. If you defend with a stronger character, he removes them from the challenge and still wins unopposed. Queue the triggers of Seastone Chair, Great Kraken, Rise of the Kraken and renown. The only way to stop him is to defend against him with 2 characters of strength 6 or higher (because remember, Knighted gives +1 strength as well). And if you do that, doesn’t the Greyjoy player win in that challenge regardless? From a board state perspective, anyway. The stealth out of Greyjoy also makes for some very easy 1 character challenge wins, which are essential for using Lady Sansa’s Rose.
And then, as I said, you could run Targaryen Banner of the Rose if you want to get Dany out with Hobber and use knighted to really abuse the synergies laid out in this chapter pack. I’m not convinced this is a tier 1 deck, especially when compared to the other Targaryen decks like Fealty, Banner of the Sun and Banner of the Lion. But it has potential.
Finally, with the Lord of the Crossing agenda coming out in this same chapter pack, I could see a Tyrell Lord of the Crossing deck really benefitting from the LSR theme. Imagine a Jousting Contest turn, with the Arbor knight riding a Mare in Heat. You use him alone for your first challenge, which lowers him to 0 strength (because of the Lord of the Crossing). Now, even if they defend with a 1 strength character, you can use Mare in Heat to remove that character from the challenge and then use 1 gold to increase the Arbor Knight’s strength to 1, and win an unopposed challenge with him. Then, with your weak challenge out of the way, you can do another challenge and then finish with a challenge with KoF as your 3rd and final challenge, win it and gain the renown, the Lady Sansa’s Rose, the extra power from Lord of the Crossing and maybe even a Superior Claim if they defend with something with 2 or less strength (or if you have Margaery out or if he is holding Heartsbane or if you use Growing strong etc). There is a lot of potential in that deck as well.
To sum up an article that, as they always do, went way too long, the LSR deck began when the Road to Winterfell came out, with the release of Lady Sansa’s Rose. But not until this chapter pack, the King’s Peace, where we got a lot more knights (and an attachment that turns any character into a knight), a plot to augment the knights’ power rush and to protect them from unfriendly events for a turn, a knight to go find a lady from your deck and an attachment that makes a knight losing a challenge extremely difficult, have we seen what this deck really can do.
Now, any faction can play with the LSR theme and I believe it will be a huge consideration in any given meta. Not only is it extremely fun to gain 7 or 8 power on a single challenge, but it’s also extremely dangerous and threatening to your opponent. If you thought challenge math was fun before this deck type arose, just you wait! You can’t really afford a chump challenge to go through unopposed anymore if that chump is a knight and your opponent has 1 gold.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on this new deck type and, if you weren’t considering it before, I hope you have been inspired to give the deck a shot. We will continue to churn out articles, videos, podcasts and blogs about A Game of Thrones LCG 2.0 Edition, so if you have any suggestions or comments how to improve the site, content or have a topic you’d like to hear about, feel free to comment below, or email us.