Instead of mentioning neutrals that impacted Targaryen at the end of the article, I decided to write about the neutrals (and one card from another faction) that impacted Targaryen (both negatively and positively) as I do the reviews for each chapter pack.
Let’s dive right into the reviews, shall we?
Taking The Black
This is not the Prince That Was Promised; if we’re being brutally honest, he’s not even the plumber that was suggested between the hours of 3 and 6pm. But he DOES know a thing or two about crap.
Coming out of the core set, every house was looking for efficient characters, and whoever could run the fewest bad characters in a deck prospered. This guy did no one any favors. Any strong attachment is better served on a naturally good character, and the best case scenario of Noble Lineage on him creates a 4 strength tricon for 3 gold and 2 cards. Mediocre returns that obligates me to run Noble Lineage, in a house without a great need for it.
This pack suggested Targ would be an attachment-centric house, but failed to deliver, so this guy hasn’t gotten any better by cycle’s end. It seems unlikely he’ll ever come to fruition in the future either. Had it been something like Does not kneel to attack/defend in a particular challenge, or first challenge, instead of the strength buff, you might have had something. As is, he’s probably permanent binder fodder.
Really bad attachment control, for a house that already was (at worst) tied with Baratheon for the best in-house options for dealing with attachments. Not only is this card bad, but the cycle also didn’t give us any Targ attachments that we might want to run or possibly toss to this. Given the uptick we’ve seen in attachments (beneficial, the omnipresent Milk, and Martell’s icon removal), this has a bit of potential long-term. Give us a semi-decent attachment that we can recur from the discard pile, and this could see some play. Right now you have little reason to run it, though, and it was terribly disappointing as a card featured in the first pack when you’re starving to add new cards to your deck.
Also, an aside: Dothraki don’t allow weapons in their holy city, so they don’t like attachments. Cute. Really hammered it home with the artwork for Weapons at the Door. But perhaps the devs could have used this opportunity to provide support for the nascent Dothraki theme they’re sorta pushing in this first cycle? Dothraki like to kill, maim, and burn, any of those would have been great. OK, I’m done.
Support of the People
Not something you’ll see often in Targ decks because while they’re OK at power, they don’t currently excel at it. I give it a minor nod just because the combination allows you to fetch and immediately trigger Plaza of Punishment, and burn is about the only reason to run Targ at this moment in time.
The Road to Winterfell
Crown of Gold
If you play Targ, you probably love seeing this card. Anyone else probably hates it. And if you play Targ and hate variance, then this card has you feeling all messed up. The gold cost is terribly expensive in a game so much decided by current board state, but the impact cannot be understated. Tyrion, Melisandre, Tyene, Nymeria, Catelyn, and others, problematic 4 STR characters just go away.
The downside is the limit 1 per deck, which can make the variance maddening. When a game gets blown out because someone drew Crown at the right time, it’s very frustrating. Discussing this card drives one of my metamates to absolute distraction, because he hates using that sort of variance as a limiting factor. Essentially, this is Targ’s “casino card” like Gregor. I’d have preferred something more analogous to Flame-Kissed from 1.0 (2 cost attachment, if character has no other attachments it gets -2 STR and killed, and Ambush), even if you adjusted the cost to 3 or removed ambush to balance, just so you could more reliably draw and use it.
Overall it’s probably the second best card that House Targaryen got in this cycle, the best loyal card, and maybe the best for when you’re actually playing Targ, as opposed to the #1 option that plays better out-of-house. A later card also gave a significant boost to this card, making it stronger still.
This card was a huge disappointment when he first came out, and has only gotten marginally better since. As the first installment of the bloodrider triumvirate, he was pretty bad. Intimidate is a potent keyword, but 6 cost for a 4 STR bicon is expensive. He’s not a Lord, so you can’t reduce his cost, and he’s hard to protect aside from dupes, so in addition to running a mediocre card, you have to run MULTIPLE of a mediocre card, to protect the power you’re going to accumulate on him. You could try to build a funky Dothraki military-rush deck that maximizes multiple military challenges and/or high claim to get power on him, but I just don’t think it’s worth the bother. The sole upside I’d say he has is that you insist on running Rakharo, at least both of the other bloodriders are cheaper and more effective, so they are easy to include to give him Intimidate. But I’m not sure if that even qualifies as damning with faint praise.
Syrio is amazing, and just about any deck at least has to give some consideration to running him. Giving the Targaryen heavy hitters in Danny and Mirri a military icon is hugely beneficial, and stealth is fantastic as well (moreso for Mirri, as Danny can get it from Viserion). Probably a x1 in a lot of decks for a very long time.
After this came out, people were running Shadowblack Lane in decks that only had 3 copies of Dracarys as eligible targets. And even though the hit rate wasn’t great on that, I don’t think they were necessarily wrong to do so, because Dracarys could be extremely impactful. It’s lessened somewhat of late because we’ve seen a proliferation of big, dumb idiot characters as the focal points of decks, ones with sufficiently high STR to survive Dracarys. However, the return of Valar will probably redress that issue somewhat, and Dracarys should always be good.
Moreover by cycle’s end we received another great event in Funeral Pyre (can’t be used the same turn, unfortunately), Blood Magic Ritual is a possible target though probably won’t see much play, and a return of Valar will also greatly increase the value of Fire and Blood, which was already great for recurring hatchlings. So I think Shadowblack will remain a valuable tool for Targaryen.
The King’s Peace
Crone of Vaes Dothrak
Remember that nascent Dothraki theme I mentioned earlier? Well this doesn’t do a whole lot for it. Three packs in, and Targ was still starved for a playable new character. This lady didn’t end the drought. If only she’d been a bicon. She has a little bit of synergy with the Dothraki Outriders that come later, in that they have Pillage and she’s a Dothraki to reduce their cost. But a 2-for-2 monocon is nothing to write home about, and she’s otherwise almost entirely luck based. Until Targ get a lot of hand destruction tech, or a heaping helping of pillage, Targ players can probably safely ignore her. Are the words “Vaes Dothrak” in a card title just a death sentence for card efficacy? Maybe?
That said, I can definitely see her having a place in a Lanni-Dragon deck that focuses on hand destruction. The previewed Cersei in the upcoming Lannister deluxe box will encourage that sort of deck shape, and with Lannister hand destruction, the Crone could actually prove valuable as a cheap character with occasionally great utility. Wardens of the West and her could prove a devastating combo in a post-Valar environment where you don’t want to throw down all your best characters right away. Sad that she runs better out of Lannister, but how many things don’t?
Not yet. That was my reaction when this card was first released, and I don’t think my opinion has much changed yet. But it’s got potential. Handing out renown is valuable, and an extra power challenge is great. Works wonders on Daenerys if you don’t have Drogon out, though Danny herself has lost some of her luster in the “Big Dumb Idiots” meta, and because First Snow hurts her dragons. Drogo can take it and use it to fire off a 2nd power challenge, though the renown is wasted. After that, eligible carriers are slim. Rakharo could take it, and benefit from it completely, but he’s bad, as we already discussed. The only other Dothraki character with a power icon is Jhogo, so he’s a good option, but then you’re looking at less than maximum return for either Drogo or Danny.
Give us some more Dothraki characters with power icons and this attachment will be worth including. As it stands, it’s not terrible but it is a bit underwhelming. Hang tight, this should get better.
Lord of the Crossing
I’ve never tried Targ Crossing personally, though I’ve read its fairly viable. Targ’s icon spread is adequate, and standing tech is one of their house themes, so I could see it really being a thing. I’d just like to see Targaryen get a stronger character base, particularly some non-uniques worth running (Dothraki with a power icon?), first. Being able to stand to do more challenges, and/or fire off additional challenges with Drogo, the Silver Steed, or plot effects all give it great potential, though.
No Middle Ground
Too early, was my initial reaction to this card, and it hasn’t changed. Finally, we see some proper support to the Dothraki theme beyond the Bloodriders. But this guy is really expensive, and the payoff isn’t that impressive. There was a 1.0 card that was very similar, same mechanic of being a big army reduced by the number of Dothraki characters, though it cost too much to be setup whatsoever, while this one technically can, but shouldn’t. However the 1.0 version had a much more impactful keyword (Deadly, which doesn’t exist in 2.0), rather than Pillage. This card could have used something else. I wouldn’t want to give such a big body Stealth and he’s not really deserving of Renown, but perhaps not kneeling to attack in military or some such? Unless Targ gets more cards to capitalize off pillage besides just the Crone, I just don’t see a reason to want to run this. And despite the advantages that the 1.0 version had, it STILL didn’t see much play until many cycles after its release, when they finally started printing a number of good Dothraki character and decks were able to reach a critical mass where they could drop a big body like this for 2 or fewer resources. Will we reach that point anytime soon in 2.0?
Blood of the Dragon
Threat from the North is back! Threat was a ubiquitous plot in 1.0 for Targ decks. It was neutral (though it was hard to build a deck to capitalize on it outside of Targ), had the same gold and a similar STR reduction effect (hit all characters though) but only discarded characters with 0 STR instead of killed.
2 gold and 5 reserve are both tough. Below average income, below average reserve, and it destroys your own reducer chuds. Right now, this card can be difficult to fit into Targ decks. As Targ gets more effective burn cards though, this will grow in strength. Once Targ has enough different effects to be able to burn down more than 1 STR characters with this consistently, it will be a Targ-specific reset plot.
Its biggest upside at the moment (besides just thinning out the very weakest of claim soak) is using it in combination with Crown of Gold. That doesn’t mean trying to play Crown on your BotD turn, though props to you if you have the economy to manage it. But unless your opponent has a way of disposing of your Crown between the time you marshall it and the following plot phase (which, IIRC, can only be accomplished by Rattleshirt’s Raiders, We Do Not Sow, and A Gift for Arya), this allows Crown to kill 5 STR characters as well. Put it on Robb, Balon, or even Robert Baratheon and drop those punks down to STR 1. Keep the above effects from triggering and next plot phase, flip Blood. Doesn’t matter if your opponent tries to save their character with Confiscation, even better if they do. Blood’s constant effect starts before “When Revealed” plot effects, killing the character. If they flipped Confiscation to dispose of Crown, now they have to find another attachment to discard, possibly one of their own.
Also, this card caused me to have to quip that “Targ only gets good cards if they have ‘limit 1 per deck’ written on them.”
First Snow of Winter
This is where Targaryen really got kicked in the ‘nads competitively. The mediocre new cards they had received thus far (and Limit 1 per Deck on anything useful) already was putting a serious crimp in Targ’s game. But First Snow wrecks Targ. One of the principal advantages of Targ’s character base is the strength of their low-cost characters. Jorah and Braided Warrior are both very efficient for their cost, and each of the dragons is either cost=STR plus bicon, or monocon with 4 STR for 3 gold, and provide boosts to Targ’s centerpiece character. Bouncing the dragons back to hand also removes most of the threat of Dracarys, which honestly was kind of the biggest thing keeping Targ competitive.
At four cost and above, Targaryen has Danny, Drogo, Illyrio, and Jhogo as solid character options. Aggo is very situational, and while Unsullied are pretty good while attacking, if you are forced to defend with them they are just outright bad. Targaryen lack natural ambush characters like Lannister, so their only real trick to get claim soak back on the table after First Snow is to use Fire & Blood with a dead hatchling. Good, but not consistent. Only certain decks really leverage and play First Snow, but they’re also very strong and likely to be seen in competitive settings, so this remains a problem for Targ. When Valar returns as a viable reset option, you’ll probably see less First Snow as more decks want to switch back to a cheaper cost curve featuring more non-uniques.
Wolves of the North
He’s better than Rakharo! Let’s just get that out of the way first, since it’s a step in the right direction. One other aside, I find it very odd that this version of Aggo will never rotate out, while the Rakharo and (eventually) Jhogo cards will. Just seems strange to have part of a Voltron combo be evergreen, and the rest not. Anyway, lets dig in.
5 cost for 4 STR bicon is about what we’d expect. An intrigue icon on a playable Dothraki character has value, so I like that. Aggo’s ability is rather different than Rhakaro’s, despite sharing a Bloodrider synergy trend. Aggo’s has an additional cost built in, of requiring a Summer plot revealed (though notably it can be EITHER player’s summer plot, so you might get more mileage than you expect). He makes up for that in not requiring another Bloodrider to be on the board to make his ability active. While you benefit from having one, by having another target for his stand, he himself is a valid target. A 4 STR bicon for 5 that can participate in two challenges per turn is definitely valuable, kind of a poor man’s Jaime Lannister.
Aggo’s strength will be directly tied to the number and strength of summer plots we are given. At cycle’s end you have A Song of Summer, Calm Over Westeros, Close Call, and A Tourney for the King as your summer plots. All of them except for Calm can be run x2, though Targ doesn’t get a lot from Tourney. That still allows for a plot deck of x2 Song, Calm, and Close Call to give you 4 summer plots to be able to use him, and each of those plots has good gold values and a decent effect. Fortunately next cycle will place an emphasis on summer and winter plots, and we’ll undoubtedly see more options soon.
Aggo is solid right now, with a good deal of potential to get better. If we get more bloodrider characters than anticipated (a non-unique, or some other character given the trait beyond Jhogo) or even better an attachment to confer the trait, or some other form of trait manipulation, then Aggo could become a real centerpiece character.
This card is a tough one for me to rate. At present I don’t think it fits into decks, but I’m inclined to think that perhaps it’ll have potential over the long-run. The effect is solid, giving participating characters -1 STR can be used strategically to good effect, even without just abusing it with your own dragon characters. If you are the defending player, you can use this after your opponent initiates a challenge to give -1 to all the attackers before you declare your defenders, and suffer no drawback. Even setting aside dragons, its usable on offense because ties go to the attacker.
However, the 1 gold cost and the duration only being for the challenge are problematic. Combos with other cards are possible, like using this on a Blood of the Dragon turn to wipe out 2 STR characters, or in a power challenge with Plaza to get a 3 STR, or in tandem with Dracarys, etc. But most of these combos offer limited payoff. If this had cost 0 gold I think it would be a very easy include. For now I’d wait until we get more “burn” effects that it can be combined with to greater effect.
Calm Over Westeros
Mirri Maz Duur
Mirri Mazz Murder, as I’ve heard her affectionately called. How much do I need to say about her? She’s the best card Targ received in the entire first cycle, and is arguably the strongest character for any faction post-core. Its unfortunate that Lannister has an easier time running her than Targ decks, owing to both their economic advantage as well as the hilariously stupid interaction with her and The Hound attacking at the same time. Against factions that are naturally weak in intrigue she can dominate on her own, but she can also be boosted by the aforementioned Hound, Wildling Scout for stealth, various Greyjoy tricks for unopposed shenanigans, Dracarys for burn, etc, etc.
In a post-Valar world, I think you’ll see less of Mirri, but until then she is a dire threat that needs to be answered. Post-Valar, you have an expensive character that is difficult to reduce, has fewer options for saves because she’s not a Lord/Lady, and I’m guessing the impetus to load your deck with every targeted kill effect possible will be lessened. Perhaps I’m wrong on that.
Blood Magic Ritual
Another interesting but difficult to rate card. The difficulty stems from how this card does multiple things, but none of them in a very efficient way. The first thing to note is that because it has a gold cost, you won’t be using this to save from any kills during the plot phase (i.e. Valar) unless you happened to flip Calling the Banners at the same time. The card being loyal allows Fealty to reduce it during subsequent phases, but there’s no pre-plot action window to use Fealty. Also of note is that this gives Targ another faction-specific event that it can use to bolster its hit rate for Shadowblack Lane.
Digging into what it actually does, for defensive purposes BMR is a less efficient version of Risen from the Sea. That isn’t innately bad, as each house has its own specialties, and while Targ can’t save as well as Greyjoy, they have more saves and recursion than most other houses. Your best case scenario for saving your own character is to use it with someone that has No Attachments or No Attachments Except X, so that you don’t suffer the drawback. In a pinch though, saving an important character like Drogo, Mirri, or Danny from death is still worthwhile even if you get stuck with a blank text box (most especially in Danny’s case), because you can always use attachment removal later to take care of that hindrance.
If you are the first player and your opponent has saves out for one of their important characters, BMR also opens up an offensive use of the card. First player gets priority of interrupts and reactions, so if your opponent’s character is killed (and would likely be saved), you can trigger this to pre-empt his save. The character still does not die, but ends up with a blank text box. It’s a niche use, but going from your opponent’s Robert Baratheon just discarding a dupe and being good to go, to him keeping the dupe but being blanked like he was Milked, it has some value.
My hunch is that this card isn’t going to see a lot of play unless the Targ event pool becomes sufficiently dense that someone feels they can’t afford to run both a blanker (Milk, Nightmares) AND a save/recursion effect (Fire and Blood), and is willing to compromise for a card that can do a mediocre job of both. Or just to up the hit rate for Shadowblack, again.
Not Targ specific, but it bears mentioning: spot removal/control is very valuable. This was one of the most omnipresent cards in 1.0, and even attaching a gold cost to it in 2.0 hasn’t made it bad. Particularly as I’ve noticed a bit of a trend towards excluding Hand’s Judgements in favor of more events that actually do stuff (and I don’t disagree with this school of thought at all), this card can save your ass. Your key character lost his intrigue icon and Tyene is about to win an easy one? Want to use a big character on offense but your opponent has Ghaston out? Playing Stark and know that your 6-cost slot is packed, and Gregor is trying to do his nonsense? Balon is going to make any challenge unopposed and that Greyjoy swine is going to claim 8 bajillion power? Shut it all down. I was very thankful to see this card return, it was probably the 1.0 card I missed the most, besides Valar.
Street of Steel
This card is extremely easy to trigger, just win a military challenge on attack or defense. Military is one of Targ’s strong suits, so no difficulty there. There aren’t a great number of eligible attachments that see play right now, but I include it on this list for one reason only—it can search out Crown of Gold. I wouldn’t use Street right now even though it will reduce Crown’s variance, just because there aren’t enough targets for it to trigger consistently. But if you banner Lannister you can also include Widow’s Wail, which is always great, and as the card pool expands, this location will become even more valuable. Earmarking this for later great relevance, just like it took a little while for Targ to get enough solid events for Shadowblack Lane to hit consistently.
Card draw for Targ? Sweet mana from heaven! To be certain, it’s no Red Keep. It’s not even Moon Boy. This is card draw you have to work for. And kneeling the faction card means that it’s not an immediate combo with Shadowblack Lane to search it out. But its definitely playable card draw for a faction that is absolutely starving for it, outside of plots and Daenerys’ insight. Thankfully it can trigger on the death of a Lord/Lady belonging to either you or your opponent. So if you burn down an important character with Dracarys, or Put Them to the Sword or whatever, you’re rewarded with card draw. If you lose an important character, console yourself with some card draw. Want to get all the benefits of Counting Coppers AND Confiscation? Then flip Blood of the Dragon when you have Viserys out, and get that card draw and attachment removal rolling. Given its use and limitations, my hunch would be that running it as a x2 would be appropriate, so that it augments but does not replace any existing draw strategy you already have.
Jhogo is the best bloodrider across two editions of the game. It is known. Jhogo is just a good, solid character, the sort which Targ has desperately needed. His one real drawback is a weakness to Ward due to his 4 cost slot, but that’s hardly holding back core set Cat, and he doesn’t run the danger of accumulating a game-winning amount of power to steal like say Theon, so it can be overlooked.
He can be viewed as sort of an improved Unsullied—same cost, base STR and icons, and both characters are inefficient when defending and best used to attack. Jhogo carries more weight than Unsullied though, because pairing him with another bloodrider will get you the ever-useful stealth and even without bloodrider synergy, he can reach ridiculous levels of STR if you’ve been achieving your goal of killing opposing characters. Also note that Jhogo is a good carrier for The Silver Steed, if you chose to include that attachment. I wish the other bloodriders had been this general purpose useful with a little bit of added benefit from synergy, but I won’t complain since Targ actually got a good character that doesn’t cost 7.
Ser Illyn Payne
Just when everything seemed to be going so well for Targ, this tongue-less bastard had to sneak in. Six cost is expensive, though there are some great targets for him to hit. Unfortunately, some of the best targets are the Hatchlings that form the backbone of much of Targ’s current strategy. You can recur them with Fire and Blood, certainly, but having them killed can throw a wrench in your plans much like First Snow does.
About the Author
Sokhar (real name Justin) is a proud bastard of the Dreadfort (central North Carolina) meta, and Targaryen aficionado. He played 1.0 for the last several years of the game’s lifespan, much of that time spent playing Targ, and spent a good deal of time playing Targaryen in 2.0 before admitting that right now Lannister is just better. While he would like to think that he has an informed and reasonable opinion about the state of the game right now, his only 2.0 accomplishments were piloting Targ-Lion to a winning record at Worlds while falling short of the cut, and winning a local game night tournament in his meta. So if his opinions on any particular card offended your sensibilities, there’s a good chance that you can claim to know better, and may even be correct. Not that he would ever admit it though.