Hello everyone and welcome to Wardens of the Midwest! For Game of Thrones, it’s the end of the third cycle and, therefore, time for another review series! If you enjoyed the first cycle of this game, you may have despised the second cycle and vice versa. And if you loved either the first of second cycle of this game, you are probably kind of confused by the third cycle. “Why do they want me to bestow shit so bad?” was likely the most common question that echoed through the halls of gaming stores everywhere over the past 6 months or so. Well, that or “What group of assholes designed this builders deck?!”
That’s right, they came out with the Night’s Watch big box at last and it had many excellent cards in it and a few that made people question the state of mind of the designers (cough Abandoned Stronghold cough). As your friendly neighborhood Night’s Watch player, I will kick the review series off with the Night’s Watch. Following this article will (hopefully) be a similar article for each of the seven other clans.
I mean factions…
I’m going to do things a little differently this time around, as Night’s Watch got the big box. I normally review all the cards with nice long paragraphs for each card, but I’m going to try to shorten it a little for the bad cards because, well, that article would be insanely long otherwise. Then, if the article isn’t too long, I’ll also mention a hand full of cards that were released in this cycle that I believe heavily impact the Night’s Watch as well.
..You know what…Probably not getting to that part. This article will be plenty long enough.
I am a (non builder) Wall player, so my rankings will naturally align more with that deck style, but there were so many ‘specialized’ cards released in this cycle, such as Mutiny at Craster’s Keep, that is incredible in a low curve deck, awful in a Jon Snow deck and decent but a little harder to pull off in your standard Wall deck, that the rankings will be much more subjective and harder to really nail down in this cycle, so bear with me. If a card is lower on the rankings than you think it should be, it’s probably just because the cards ranked ahead of it are part of deck archetypes I have played/played against more and have more familiarity with their power level. So, in an attempt to organize the mess that was the third cycle for the Night’s Watch, I tried adding special headers for each category of cards, as I see them. Let’s begin!
Bad, Janky, Niche, Inefficient, or otherwise non ideal cards
What a disappointing card. First off, a 0 cost event with a heavy cost (kneel 3 characters of the same trait) is easily cancelled and, hence, extremely risky to play. And that’s assuming you have the three characters on the board at the same time in order to meet the requirement in the first place. If you’re already building a 1 trait deck, this may briefly cross your mind, but it ultimately has so many cons compared to pros that it’s probably never going to be worth running. I kneel 3 characters…and I don’t even get to win the challenge? Why? Even if I apply “theoretical beer goggles” and think about what kind of deck would ever want to run this, I’m still coming up blank. Easily cancelled, extremely high cost (not gold, but kneels) cards are probably never going to be good unless the tournament you go to happens to have a restricted/banned list that includes The Hand’s Judgment. Which it probably never will.
36 Ranger’s Bow
2 gold for, at most, +3 strength spread across up to 2 characters? And the +2 is only on defense? That just seems incredibly expensive for what it does. Yes, it provides a decent threat of activation, as you could win a challenge and gain some “after you win” reactions off of using it properly, but how many good 2 cost attachments are people not playing right now, across the game as a whole? From my perspective, this card has one use: protect Maester Aemon from Dracarys if you decide to defend with him to protect the Wall (sorry Darren :).
Or, and here’s the thing, you could also just…not do that (sorry again Darren :).
Dragonglass Dagger is generally better in that it costs less, works on both offense and defense, and it also adds the immunity effect on top of that.
I encourage someone to prove me wrong on this card.
If there’s one thing I rarely want to do, it’s stack attachments on a bad character. There are currently very few, if any, decks that run more than 10 to 15 attachments (and that’s ultra high end), and there are even fewer that run more than 5 to 7 positive attachments. For Night’s Watch, you’re typically running Daggers and Practice Blades. Maybe a Longclaw. You’re never going to be all that thrilled to pack many, if any, of those onto a 2 for 2 monocon nonunique builder. Even for the builder deck, there are much stronger options to fill out your deck right now. You can run him in the builder deck, of course. Economy and Draw aren’t bad things, after all. But those are two things the builder deck already has in spades (and, based on the Young Builder preview, there’s more to come). I just don’t see the need for this guy. I could see this card getting some amount of play if there were ever an attachment that cost 0 or maybe 1 gold and, as an action, could be returned to your hand. Why would this card exist? I’m not 100% sure, but I don’t see much of a reason to run this guy until a card like that exists. Or, if an archetype for an “attachment heavy” deck becomes possible (similar to how the builder deck is a “location heavy” deck.)
I understand that location control is getting more popular (thanks Flea Bottom…) and the idea of protecting the locations that are most valuable to you could be viewed as worthwhile, but this card really needed one last bit of oomph to get it into playable range. Even something as simple as “draw 1 card after attaching this card to a location” or something would have made it a decent card. But as it stands now, there are better ways to stop location control (like cancelling the event, for example) that aren’t insanely situational like this. And the newest type of location control, Nothing Burns like the Cold, has the “cannot be saved” tag added on the back, making this even more situational. The truth is you can often still go an entire game without your opponent threatening even a single one of your locations. If you’re running one of those crazy high location, character lite decks that Kidohearts is so fond of, you may run this, but otherwise it stays in the binder…On the plus side, Halder can kneel it for a strength pump! 😀
If there were ever a janky card, it’s Sworn to the Watch. It’s a card that gives the Night’s Watch Affiliation and the three Night’s Watch traits, based on the icons the character has. It’s free, so you’re not setting yourself back in terms of economy, but the application of that character once he gains the affiliation and traits can be dubious. I won’t rule it out, since at any moment there may be a deck that wants to import a particularly strong character and protect them with Maester Aemon or attach specific Night’s Watch only attachments to them. Giving Randyll a Dragonglass Dagger for tons of stand and swearing Wildlings to the Watch for the Jon Snow (WotW) synergy are both interesting ideas though, so you can’t knock it too much. However, for competitive players, I think this is more of a luxury to expand deck building for fun rather than building for Worlds or Stahleck (There’s always the chance I’m proven wrong this weekend, then I’d feel stupid…Doubt it though 😉 )
I see this card as mostly a banner of the Watch card, as there are a few factions that use this better than the Night’s Watch. Targaryen can use Dracarys (and other burn) in combination with this to kill high strength characters and even Tyrell can decrease the strength of a character by 1 with Renly’s Pavilion to put 5 strength characters (5 strength being the difference between good characters and great characters a lot of the time) into range of this. All that said, it is still a 3 cost attachment which can be painful to have removed via Confiscation the following round. So, worst case scenario, if your opponent plays this, you can just hold back your 4 strength (or 5 strength if it’s a Tyrell deck or all your characters if it’s a Targ deck) until the following round when you confiscate it. At the same time, I think it offers some dynamic and possibly game altering plays if it sticks on the board too long (or if Donal Noye can ambush it into play suddenly), so for that reason I rated it a little higher than I probably would have ordinarily (not that the rankings even matter that much anyway).
Do you remember the panic that occurred in the Facebook group when this card was revealed? Haha. Man, that was funny, wasn’t it? People’s memories of Wamma’s Builder victory were still fresh and this card triggered them in a way that was not rational but was definitely understandable. “The ONE weakness of the builder deck is now covered” was a common response to this card. But, once you actually tested it in the aforementioned builder deck, you realized just how superfluous it was. Who needs expensive icon distributors when you got Haunted Forests, Shadow Tower Masons, Dolorous Edd and Practice Blades? There may be 1 or 2 games where he would come in handy but, at 6 gold, that’s like…4 builders. Do you want this guy or 4 builders? Probably the 4 builders, since Abandoned Stronghold lives off of having an unreasonably large number of characters on the board. And if you try to put him in a non-builder deck you find that…man, there actually aren’t a whole lot of locations that you’d prefer to kneel for this effect. If strong locations that don’t require kneeling to be active come out for the Night’s Watch or if strong monocon characters that would really enjoy participating in other challenges of which they lack the icon come out, this guy may gain some relevance but he’s still an expensive body with a limited action and no other attractive qualities. Long story short, you can play this guy, or you can just build a deck with a functional icon distribution. Your choice. Again, my luck is someone takes Builders to Stahleck and runs 3 of this guy and I feel like a hack (Or, perhaps, am a hack?)
Situational cards that may see play in certain theme/trait specific decks but won’t make typical decks often (or are a feature part of deck types that haven’t been fully explored or fully materialized yet)
30 The New Gift
I remember being so excited for this card when it was spoiled.
The truth is, kneeling your characters that aren’t reducing characters is just difficult to build around. The challenges phase action is typically more powerful than the Marshalling action, as the Marshalling action kind of just reduces the steward you knelt to a Steward at the Wall with more possible targets (since it’s a gold and not a reduction on characters). This card is incredible when paired with Satin, as he can just stand any characters you may kneel with this card. In my testing, when I got both on the table, it was great. When I didn’t, I found that it was underwhelming. And it’s more difficult to play than you’d initially think, since it’s limited. So if you set it up, you can’t set up your other economy. I think eventually this could be better if more stewards that have actions that resolve upon kneeling (think the Citadel Novice from the Tyrell Box) come out, but for the time being I don’t think any deck really needs or wants this in their list.
This character is down here not necessarily because he’s bad, but mostly because he’s just a basic defensive chud. However, if you have Ser Jaremy Rykker out, this guy is suddenly a 5 strength bicon while defending the Wall, which is nothing to scoff at for 2 gold. In Fred Byrd’s Ranger Wall deck, this guy would be right at home. He may be a tiny bit redundant because of Lost Ranger, who is a 2 for 4 all the time (with the downside of a forced reaction that isn’t often a problem in a Ranger deck), but having a bevy of cheap, useful characters to choose from is rarely a bad thing.
Like with the Defender at the Wall, this guy goes well in a ranger deck that is already looking to play a good number of military monocons and add to their usefulness with Ser Jaremy Rykker. He is probably never more than a 1x in that deck, as insight isn’t so powerful that you’d build around him, but he will likely remain an option as a 1x for a while. He also has the added bonus of working well with both versions of Jon Snow, since Jon can either not kneel (Core) or stand himself after attacking (WotW) in order to use that insight a second or possibly third time in the same round. Not gamebreakingly good, but a decent consideration for inclusion in any Jon or ranger deck.
High impact/high cost non unique characters are still not all that common. The second they become more common, this guy may be worth building around. But until then? I dunno…Like I said above, Flea Bottom did change things though. There are now more low cost characters that are often nonunique that your opponent may be trying to seed into their discard pile (things like Veteran Builder or Southron Messenger). Old Bear is an answer to those cards and since when is thwarting your opponent’s plans a bad idea? I don’t think a deck that’s built around him exists quite yet, but the Night Gathers decks and Queenscrown decks probably don’t mind him as a 1x. If each faction gets a bunch of high impact non uniques that they feel compelled to play, Old Bear suddenly becomes a rock star. Unfortunately for him, this edition of Game of Thrones is definitely focusing on the name brand characters, so non unique characters aren’t all that common in many decks. I don’t think that ideology will change any time soon either. I bet he would have been decent in the first edition of the game though !
Another card I was excited about building with when it was released. And I maintain that there is still potential there with this guy. If more challenge denial, either in Night’s Watch or in a possible banner faction, ever becomes truly elite and worth playing, this character can really do some damage to your opponent. I built a Night’s Watch Banner of the Sun deck that utilized the icon removal strategies, UUU (the Martell Event) and 2 claim plots to put my opponents in “Sophie’s Choice” type situations that ultimately ended in my benefit regardless of what my opponent did. When it worked, it was amazing. But getting the combo together took good synergistic draws, a little luck and the ability to protect Aemon, which wasn’t so easy now that you don’t have Core Aemon!
This, in combination with Queenscrown, also set reviewers in a bit of a tizzy when the cards were initially revealed. It didn’t materialize immediately after the box released, but Queenscrown decks have started to ramp up gradually over time. Digging through discard piles has become a bigger part of the game since Flea Bottom arrived and cards that can seed/take characters out of the discard pile became more useful in kind. It doesn’t rank higher than 25 because that deck is still perfectly functional without Queenscrown and NMWB, as you can see in the decklist here:
But it is a possible “module” that you can import into this deck and it will function just fine, as it was at Canadian Nationals. The problem is there’s no guarantee that you can make it go off. Your best hope is when Queenscrown is out, but even then it’s not 100% guaranteed. So saving gold and hoping for a random pull for intrigue isn’t ideal because that gold may be wasted. Or, you don’t save the gold and then win an intrigue challenge and they happen to discard a Tyrion and then you’re just annoyed…
This will be the 4th time I’m mentioning it, but Flea Bottom has made interacting with the discard pile a thing. That made Night Gathers better, which in turn, made this card better. It isn’t necessary for the Night Gathers deck at all, but it is a nice way to selectively rip characters out of your opponent’s deck over time and fill their discard pile with cards you can purchase when you need them. It has the added bonus of filtering your opponent’s deck and creating the possibility that they start running out of characters on their top decks. This makes resets (like “The Last of the Giants”+Varys followed by Valar combo) even more impactful if you’ve also been gradually stripping (or placing on the bottom of their deck) characters out of their deck that they could have otherwise used to recover from the reset. That said, this card is purely a combo piece and doesn’t really do…anything particularly productive by itself. And that’s the main thing holding it back.
Solid 1-2x options that will probably never define a deck type
I think of Mallister as the perfect example of a balanced, and therefore, boring card. He’s 4 for 4 with 2 icons, which is exactly what you’d expect out of a character (especially since he is 5 strength with the Wall) and he has the potential to gain you power over time. I like to compare him to Thoren because, like Thoren, he gains you power for successfully defending challenges. And he has an additional icon, so he’s better than Thoren in every way right? Well…no. Thoren doesn’t have to be participating to gain you the power and it goes on your house card rather than your character. As power is naturally more susceptible to removal when on characters, that downgrades Mallister to the point that I think I’d play him, at most, as a 1x in a defensive deck and treat him like a faux 4th Ranging Party. The power he may or may not gain is purely bonus. The fact that he can be Warded is funny though. Fuckin…60 year old Ward.
I really like this attachment for Jon Snow (WotW) decks and Stark decks that want to splash Night’s Watch for a few other things as well. 2 cost attachments are expensive and recurring this card each time you use its ability to return it to hand can get expensive over time, but it is very helpful in keeping your key characters alive. At worst, it could potentially bait your opponent’s Confiscation, leaving your Cravens and Milks hitting them harder. Unfortunately, there are a lot of Night’s Watch staples that are no attachments except weapons, so your number of targets available for this card will depend on your build. The classic Night’s Watch Fealty deck has no time for this card but a NW Rains deck that runs Jon Snow (WotW), Cotter Pike, Bowen Marsh, Craster, Samwell Tarly (WotW) etc, you can probably fit in a Ghost or two and feel pretty good about it. It is quite sad that Core Jon Snow can’t hang out with his Direwolf though :(.
I’m beginning to feel like a broken record at this point, but Flea Bottom has made low cost characters more common. Low cost characters being more common means more targets that the Recruiter can steal (since your opponent has to play some of those low cost characters. Can’t Flea Bottom them all :P). Beyond that, he can feel pretty bad if you top deck him and your opponent doesn’t really have any significant low cost characters worth taking. He’s been a dead draw for me at times.
20 Donal Noye
Granted, I haven’t put too much time into making Donal Noye work, but I like what he brings to the table. A 4 for 4 bicon is an objectively good body for a Night’s Watch deck and the Night’s Watch do run weapons, in Practice blades, Dragonglass Daggers and possibly a Longclaw. A surprise Dragonglass Dagger could turn off a critical character ability (like Little Theon) that would possibly be creating an unopposed challenge if not dealt with. Unfortunately, he isn’t going to save you much gold. In fact, there’s a chance he’ll cost you money because you could bestow him with 2 gold and only end up using 1 gold before he’s killed in a Valar or other type of kill effect. He’s best used to try and bait your opponent into declaring challenges that you have an answer for rather than actually saving you very much money, such as the aforementioned Little Theon attack. The most common weapons are each 1 gold, so I like to think of his ability as an upfront ambush cost. That said, I can’t deny that combining Donal with Catapult on the Wall to make it much more affordable is an intriguing idea. Probably not worth running in a typical deck, but worth considering for a fun janky deck. And both can be bannered, so you could theoretically have a surprise Catapult coming out of Targaryen, which could be quite devastating…
A low cost bicon that can hold a Practice Blade to become a low cost tricon for defensive purposes. The bestow effect that can selectively give stewards stealth when needed (you want to defend with Samwell WotW but he is about to be stealthed, for example) is a nice addition. Also offers offensive potential, combined with Jon Snow for double stealth intrigue attacks to virtually guarantee the Rains trigger. Not a world beater, but a cheap efficient 1x for many decks that want good icon spreads at affordable prices.
18 Cotter Pyke
I really like Cotter. Mostly in the Night’s Watch Rains deck, as a complimentary stealth + high strength intrigue icon to pair with Jon but he’s not bad at all as a 1x in many other decks just for his solid cost, strength, icons and stealth. One of my favorite combos with him is playing The Fire that Burns in my NW Rains deck, win initiative, go second, defend whatever challenges they have (while not kneeling) and then coming back with Cotter and maybe someone else in intrigue, stealth their remaining intrigue icons, give stealth to another character, winning intrigue by 5 or more, flipping a more impactful plot like, say, the Red Wedding and then using that extra stealth I got, plus your other characters who did not need to kneel to defend, to start carving up their lords and ladies :D.
Cards that generally only go in one type of deck but shine in that deck type
Yoren on a card. 6th time mentioning that Flea Bottom is a thing and taking their 3 costers out of their discard pile seems like a fine way to counter act Flea Bottom’s impact. Do I need to say much more?
The better half of the Pyp and Grenn combo team. Ranger deck, Rykker synergy etc. He not only gains you power, but he takes power from your opponent! If you can get him in a challenge with either version of Jon Snow, you’re looking at a 4 power swing simply by winning that challenge. It’s not all that difficult to pull off in the right deck and can create a major power imbalance over time. You just gotta protect the character you’re putting all that power on.
There isn’t a whole lot to say about this guy. If you’re running a bunch of locations, he represents a pretty powerful economic advantage. He shines in the builder deck, obviously, as they love both locations and…builders. And they love gold that helps them pay for the 3 to 4 builders they’re playing per round. Outside of the builder deck, he still offers potentially strong economy, but nothing too mind blowing. I did run him in my NW fealty deck for a while, but he ultimately fell out just due to deck slots required for other cards that were more synergistic and consistent overall.
14 Lost Ranger
This guy is, what I consider, a better version of Defender at the Wall. They have virtually identical stat lines, except this guy has 4 strength whether he’s attacking, defending or just sitting there. He obviously belongs in the aforementioned Ranger deck and he works wonderfully in that deck, for the same reasons the Defender does. The only downside is that he sacrifices himself if he’s the only Ranger you control. Luckily, that doesn’t happen very often in the heavy ranger deck. Plus, his sacrifice doesn’t even happen until the end of the challenges phase so if you do only have the one ranger out, he can still perform in a challenge and then be used as claim, if necessary.
With the Wall out, he’s a 5 strength power icon for as little as 1 gold. Probably one of the best deals out there. Throw a practice blade on him and he’s a 6 strength bicon for as little as 2 gold with no negative text. In the dedicated builder deck, referenced in the Eastwatch Carpenter section, this card is pure efficiency and lends to everything that deck wants to do. Spam out a bunch of builders, make Abandoned Stronghold an absurdly large strength buff and deny power challenges (and military challenges and intrigue challenges). And he’s immune to First Snow of Winter since his printed cost is higher than 3, even if you’re never going to spend more than maybe 2 or 3 in order to play him.
I’ve been over the ranger deck before, so this doesn’t require all that much explanation. Rykker is outstanding when played with Grenn, Pyp, Lost Ranger, Thoren, Defender at the Wall and the like. Making all those characters bicons makes their already strong abilities even better. There’s even janky shit you can do with Sworn to the Watch where he can give any character with a military icon a power icon. Sworn to the Watch makes them a ranger and then, because they’re a ranger, they gain a power icon from Jaremy. And then, from Sworn to the Watch, they gain the builder trait too! All it takes is Ygritte, Jaremy, Jon Snow (WotW) and Sworn to the Watch and Ygritte suddenly becomes a tricon with stealth and all 3 traits that can’t be knelt by card effects! Totally worth it, right?
I LOVE this guy in the Night’s Watch Rains deck. It’s a little outdated at this point, but the gold standard of NW Rains can be seen here: http://thronesdb.com/decklist/view/9156/supersteward-1.0
And in that deck, it is relatively easy to get Samwell to be a tricon (with Noble Lineage and Practice Blade) that blanks just about any character your opponent attacks with (unless it’s a mirror match). That’s just…powerful. Stops keywords that would hurt, character text that can be a pain and is also not a bad intrigue option, all things considered, for triggering Rains. With the blade, he’s a 4 strength character with the Wall, so he doesn’t need all that much help to reach the 5+ mark.
10 Bowen Marsh
Another staple of the Night’s Watch Rains deck. When he gets going, he provides so much card draw, it gets to be a little ridiculous. He is a great practice blade wielder (making him a Tricon) and the reserve bonus is a nice add on as well. He basically makes your opponent want to avoid intrigue challenges if possible because, if you have 3 or 4 stewards on the board (Aemon, Reducer, Bowen, Jon, for example) you could possibly over defend the intrigue challenge and get a massive infusion of cards…and then stand everyone with Jon Snow. He’s hard to fit in many other decks, as Night’s Watch already has their star 6 coster for non-specialty decks in Qhorin, but in the steward deck, as well as any future steward decks to come, he’s a very nice piece of the puzzle.
Generically strong, if not somewhat boring, cards
Stand effects are really powerful and, in the right deck, you can get a lot of mileage out of some pretty powerful characters. Maester Aemon is the obvious #1 consideration. Being able to save a character from military claim and then a Tears of Lys later in the round isn’t bad. Another good one is Jon Snow. Having Satin out makes him much better against Baratheon and other kneel effects. The Supersteward deck has plenty of good characters that you won’t mind using multiple times in one challenge phase. As more stewards come out, Satin will only get better. Also, if the New Gift ever becomes the center piece to a deck, Satin will be right there with it. (9 is admittedly a bit high for him, but I wanted to put him in this category so…)
Eastwatch isn’t this high on the list because it’s one of the most impactful cards, but it’s more so this high because it can be placed in, basically, any Night’s Watch deck. It is just…card draw. Almost every round. There’s very little work required, there’s very little risk in playing it and it adds reserve, which helps all of the Night’s Watch’s Reserve based actions (The Watch Has Need, Night Gathers, Fist of the First Men [if you’re so inclined], the recently released Small Paul and, obviously, Eastwatch-by-the-Sea itself) plus whatever future reserve actions are around the corner. In addition, it’s a location that doesn’t need to be knelt to gain its effect, so it can’t be controlled (not that people would really bother controlling it) and can be knelt for an additional effect by Halder and Othell, as well as helping to trigger Grizzled Miners, Shadow Tower Masons, Eastwatch Carpenters etc.
Why is a 1 cost 1 strength monocon reducer in the top 10, you ask? That’s a good question. Why did the Night’s Watch get so many niche, situational or bad cards this cycle? See, I got snarky questions too…
The truth is, he’s up here because he’s easy to include in any Night’s Watch deck and he provides much needed economy for locations in a faction that DOESN’T HAVE A REDUCING LOCATION!
But no, it makes playing the Wall a lot easier. Which is nice.
Wait wait wait wait wait…you mean the thing that defines Core set Old Bear Mormont – the thing that presumably made him cost 7 gold in a faction with no money – is now offered on a plot with great initiative and reserve? And it works for all of your defenders?…
That seems fair. The 0 claim may “balance it out” a bit, but if I am defending the Wall, there’s a good chance I’m not too concerned about declaring challenges anyway and, like I said when talking about Cotter Pyke, this plot is great for going second, defending all the challenges, triggering Rains of Castamere for a stronger plot, with claim or another ability (Like the Red Wedding), either on defense (if they walk right into that) or doing intrigue as your first challenge and just going to town on your opponent. That, or they just skip their challenges phase entirely, which is okay with me too.
Theme Defining Cards
Building orders on a body. The cost of kneeling two builders seems prohibitive at first, but then you remember there’s a viable builder deck that runs 20 of them. And, like, over half of them are 2 cost or less, if you count the Grizzled Miners (which I do). And, to make it even more ridiculous, it’s twice per round. So you can building orders in the Marshalling phase to get a location you want to buy this round and then, after challenges, if you have two builders left standing, you can just do it again, at virtually no cost, during the dominance phase (after dominance has already been counted even.) This, in combination with The Watch has Need, is what makes the builder decks have a consistent influx of cards to play each round and why it feels like it’s so easy for them to get 2 to 3 Strongholds out before you even have a chance to mount a meaningful offense.
So, I discard my highest cost character and, in return, I can discard any character I want. What if my highest cost character is a 3 or 4 cost character? Doesn’t matter, you can pick any of their characters. I’ve also used this card to make Valar Morghulis even more devastating by removing dupes and bodyguards. This card’s biggest weakness is the fact that it’s a dominance action. So, you can be planning on doing it all round and then a random intrigue challenge can pluck it from your hand and leave you in sorrow…Or they can possibly close out the win in the challenges phase before you have the change to remove their 5 renown character…But other than that, it’s pretty great! Especially since Flea Bottom is a thing now, so Night’s Watch can theoretically afford to drop their curve way down and still defend the Wall just fine. This is a little anti-synergistic with some of the top Night’s Watch builds right now (Classic Fealty, as always, remains a top contender) because Qhorin is such a good card and you’d hate to sacrifice Qhorin to this, regardless of who you discard in return. But this can be played around, if you wanted to try it in that deck. And, obviously, a Jon Snow deck isn’t all that interested in running this card, but if you want to build a lower curve deck that has multiple ways of punishing your opponent’s high cost board (combination with Duel is pretty nice), this card is a very powerful part of that strategy. It’s almost like a reverse Marched to the Wall. Instead of us each discarding our smallest guy, we each typically discard our biggest guy. Not a bad effect for 0 gold.
This is one of the cards in the deluxe box that I 100% predicted correctly :D. I thought it was insane that this card was nonunique and I still think it’s insane. I’ve had (and seen) games where a Shadow Tower Mason could potentially become a 20 to 25 strength tricon if necessary for any given challenge (or higher). Even attempting to get over these things is so infuriating because, if they have 1 defender in the challenge, they basically have all the defenders they need. And Builder decks go so wide that it would be extremely difficult to get around all their defenders, even after a reset (since Brandon’s Gift and the general low cost of the builders, as well as a bunch of card draw, makes it easy for them to refill the board). And even if you are able to stealth their 1 intrigue icon that’s on the board…here comes Dolorous Edd! Yep, these strongholds don’t even need to target a builder! I am personally not a fan of the builder deck because I think it galvanized the community against Wall decks as a whole (even more so than they already were) and it does make the game genuinely unfun to play. I had a match against a builder deck at Gencon and, even with the likes of Jon Snow, Cotter Pyke and maybe even Bowen Marsh I couldn’t win an intrigue challenge, let alone win it by 5. And winning a power challenge against this deck? Extremely difficult once they get going. So they can just slowly creep up in power over time and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it unless you run enough board wipes to overcome the consistent flow of builders coming out of the deck each round.
Jon is ranked above Abandoned Stronghold for 3 reasons.
- I don’t like the builder deck and think it’s a bad representation of the faction.
I like the Jon Snow Rains deck and think it’s a positive representation of the faction, especially since it declares challenges, which people claim is the reason they don’t like Wall decks (real reason is probably just salt).
Because I finally get to play Jon Snow after having to look at Core Jon’s stupid face for almost 2 years. “But Core Jon is kind of good now” I hear you saying. That’s fine. However, in the core set meta, we needed a leader and Jon abandoned us :(. I will never forgive Core Jon for that…
This Jon’s synergy with the Supersteward deck is incredible, as stealth on a powerful intrigue icon that can stand himself after winning makes for extreme versatility. He can take a Noble Lineage (also extremely thematic, for what that’s worth) to become a tricon with stealth and stand on both offense and defense. He can be used offensively (I have tried him in a Wildling Deck that runs Mance and Ygritte to good effect) or defensively with the Wall or, in the case of the Supersteward deck, both offensively and defensively. I really like his versatility and power level. He is worth every bit of the 7 gold you spend on him while also not really feeling overpowered for his cost. That is a balance that I deeply respect from the designers (especially in the face of some past transgressions) and want to see more of. All that said, he does have his own archetype and he isn’t likely a card that you just drop into a classic Wall deck or steal stuff deck. He is best when built around and that’s why he didn’t claim the number 1 spot for me.
Generically Strong Economy
There was no Craven this cycle. No Core Aemon. There was no Messenger Raven or Qhorin. All thing considered, there were no cards that you would consider a potential auto include or high priority inclusion every time you pick up that Night’s Watch faction card, regardless of what kind of deck you were building.
Except for Underground Vault ! I’ve heard the argument against it before. There’s a chance it won’t trigger as often now that everyone’s economy location is released, and more impactful plots with lower gold are bound to come out over the course of the game, and Roseroads are not making it in decks as often anymore, and alternative economy sources not tied to the gold value on the plot are arriving and blah blah blah…That’s fine. But the fact that your economy is theoretically scaling with your opponent’s economy makes this location a valuable addition to the Night’s Watch. If your opponent plays low gold plots, you get less gold. If they play high gold plots, you get more gold. It’s a great way of never really falling too far behind in economy compared to your opponent. And, since we don’t HAVE A REDUCING LOCATION…
Having a Night’s Watch location (that can be knelt for Halder effects if necessary and counts towards Shadow Tower Mason and the like) that also provides economy is a welcome addition to the faction. Is it amazing? Not necessarily. It doesn’t define a deck type or blow your socks off, but it’s consistent, powerful and efficient. And you’re almost certainly going to run it for a long time. An unexciting end to the article but, what are you gonna do? 😀
So….so much for the low rated ones having shorter descriptions! I just can’t help myself, I guess. Those are my opinions on the most and least impactful cards for the Night’s Watch in this cycle. Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do you disagree with any? Did I wildly underrate or overrate a card? Let me know :D. My good buddy, Richard Walker, has helped a lot in organizing this cycle’s review series so I’m just going to give him a shout out at the end here. If you don’t know him, he is an active member of the Facebook groups and he also records gameplay from tournaments for his Youtube channel, The White Walkers, where Rebecca incessantly teases him while they pretend to commentate on games, which is just the sweetest thing ever. He works very hard for this community and we all love him dearly :D.
I’m also assuming his review on Greyjoy will be next, so look for that at some point early next week. He refuses to commit to any deadline because he’s a wanker (in case you haven’t heard), but I’m sure he’ll come through in the end :). Hopefully, Stahleck doesn’t delay these reviews too much! 😛