(My face while writing the Targaryen cycle review)

Across the Seven Kingdoms

Viserys Targaryen

Cute. Viserys is an annoying twerp, so he’s the annoying king that can’t win anything by himself but can inconvenience other kings. When you have a well-developed and balanced card pool, I don’t mind seeing cute little thematic bits, but when you’re starving for good new cards, this is disappointing. If your opponent doesn’t have a king character then Viserys is a bit of passive power gain, which admittedly Targ doesn’t have, though it comes at the expense of not playing one of Targ’s cheapest and most efficient characters (core Viserys). If your opponent does have a king though, Viserys is only an annoyance by forcing the king(s) to defend. The problem is that many of the other kings have Renown, so even if forcing them to defend is inconvenient, your opponent is still gaining power and defending the challenge that ultimately wins the game (Viserys’ only icon is power). Outside of a very niche situation where said king’s ability is particularly potent on offense (Robert Baratheon), I don’t see that as a favorable trade. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, stick with core Viserys.

Shierak Qiya

Yawn. This card isn’t terrible, but there’s nothing to get excited about. Too limited for my tastes. The zero cost is great, but a faction card kneel isn’t nothing, and it only works on power challenges you win by five or more. Given all that, it really feels like you should get more than a single stand out of it. All participating characters and some potatoes and we’d have a stew going! Even two characters or not requiring the faction card kneel and maybe. But in the end it’s more binder fodder for the faction that seems to receive more than any other.

Called to Arms


Now we’re talking! I hate that good, solid characters like this for Targ are the exception, but let’s not dwell on that right now.  Two-for-two bicon is solid, and loyal makes her cheaper when running Fealty. Card draw is always welcome, particularly on an otherwise playable character. She seems roughly comparable to the Fool characters other factions have received that sport the Insight keyword. Doreah’s card draw is more limited because hers is conditional and requires her to participate with another character.  However, Doreah comes without the potential drawback the other Fools have of discarding a card at random from your hand if they lose the challenge, and she’s not a monocon. Overall, a very good card that should feature x1 in just about all Targaryen decks for a long time.

Beggar King

This is the best Targ card of the cycle, and fortunately or unfortunately, it’s not even remotely close. Fortunate, I guess, because the card is really good, unfortunate because most of the other cards we’re going to discuss in this article are varying degrees of bad.

Let’s discuss the downsides to Beggar King first. Other than its economic boon, the only other affect it provides is the king trait. Given that we’re seeing more kings printed, that isn’t nothing, but not helping you gain power or have any significant impact in the challenge phase is a little bit of a downer. Also, not only must your plot have lower income than your opponent for it to pay off (and on the turns you don’t, you paid 1 gold for the king trait), but you must survive both Valar potentially killing your character before you claim gold (as a reaction to plots being revealed, Beggar King triggers after all When Revealed effects), but also and alternately survive Confiscation as well—and Beggar King is a pretty nice target for Confiscation.

Did it feel like I was stretching a bit in that last paragraph? Because I certainly was, to try to present an impartial assessment of the card. The good strongly outweighs those bits of downside. You can just slap a copy or two of B.K. into any Targ deck and look at it as just a plus for when your opponent beats you on income (and also a way to screw over any Tyrell players who put down Renly), and that’s not a terrible idea. But you can also embrace the Beggar fully, and craft your plot deck around running 3 copies of it. Gold is the primary balancing factor on plots with strong effects (and reserve) coming in second, but if you run Beggar King you can manage a plot deck with dramatic effects AND still have your income available. Summer Harvest is the obvious card to pair with Beggar King, as you’re guaranteed to trigger it versus anything except another Summer Harvest. Counting Coppers is another great plot to run x1 or x2 in a Beggar King deck, giving you tremendous card advantage and helping circumvent Targ’s tricky draw. My personal favorite plot to abuse with it though, is Famine. You still have to contend with low reserve, but actually being able to throw down a big character or couple small ones while choking your opponent AND hammering them with 2 claim? Glorious. Even cards with reasonable income of 4 like Marched to the Wall and Confiscation have a fair chance of coming in below your opponent (particularly if you’re good at guessing your opponent’s plot choices), so it’s not always a race to the bottom on economy.

Beggar King won’t cure all your economic woes, but it can definitely smooth over some rough patches for you, and belongs in most, if not all viable Targ decks right now. Awesome card.

For Family Honor

Devoted Bloodrider

Well, this was a surprise.  When we got the trio of Bloodriders in the first cycle, I wasn’t expecting them to revisit this theme again already. Still wish they’d made these cards with Dothraki synergy rather than the specific Bloodrider, but it’s better than it just being an abandoned loose end. In theory, this makes the earlier Bloodriders more effective, providing more targets (and cheaper ones) to “activate” their Bloodrider abilities. In practice this only makes it easier for Rakharo to get Intimidate or Jhogo to gain Stealth because standing this guy with Aggo is a weak play.

Let’s get to the rub though. Bloodrider support is good, but these needed to come on a better body. A three-for-three (once you factor in his self-buff) monocon is not a good package. For that to make the cut we need a solid, always-on ability, not questionable synergy. Moreover the established Targaryen weakness against First Snow (discussed in the first cycle review here) only grows worse if you play 3 cost characters. All they needed to do for this card to soar is to bump this up to cost 4 and give it a power icon. Suddenly you have a viable character that also boosts earlier characters….and could take the Silver Steed attachment they’ve given us almost no targets for whatsoever. Man, this card design gig is hard, ain’t it? Long story short, take a pass.

Blood of My Blood

I’ve pilloried the devs on several of these Bloodrider cards, but this one I actually quite like. I don’t see it making many decks in the near future, but don’t think that its acronym (BOMB) is a coincidence, because this event has great potential. The big shortcoming of the Bloodriders are that most of them are mediocre or even bad characters without another Bloodrider or significant investment from your plot deck (exception being Jhogo), and that holds them back. Being able to reliably search out the Bloodrider you need already helps quite a bit, but being able to “borrow” him by putting him into play for a phase and having it go back to your hand at the end is pretty great.  That search plus borrow is already a potent effect, but seeing as the Bloodriders have synergy with one another, you’re also activating abilities on characters you hopefully have in play. Surprise Intimidate from Rakharo, Stealth on Jhogo to bypass a big defender, or getting to use someone twice because you snagged Aggo can all be big swings.

Given the cost of this event (3 gold), I really wish that it were loyal—and thus Fealty reducable—and I’m somewhat surprised that it’s not, given that most effects that draw or search are, but perhaps it is not precisely to keep it expensive. I’ll be keeping an eye on this card with an itchy trigger finger, because if we ever get a more playable non-unique Bloodrider, more generically useful and viable versions of Rakharo and Aggo, or just generalized Dothraki synergy I could see this event really making an impact.

Lions of Casterly Rock

Ser Barristan Selmy

Sometimes actually playing a card really can make a world of difference. When ol’ Barry was first spoiled I probably shrugged him off. 5-for-4 bicon, not bad, not exciting. Interesting ability that is clearly designed as anti-Lannister tech. A non-conditional ability would be sexier, and my gut reaction was that if you have fewer cards in hand than your opponent, that you’re probably losing. Nice that it helps when Lannister is hammering your hand, but if they’re hammering your hand it’s still a bad thing.

But then there’s actual play testing. Using him to good effect recently in a Targ Fealty deck swayed my opinion. With said deck I liked opening with Famine to establish early board control. One downside to Famine is a low reserve of only 4. Suddenly it became easy to have fewer cards in hand than my opponent. When Khal Drogo landed on the tabletop, Barristan Selmy was firing off two military challenges and a power on offense, and defending as well! Targ’s earliest strong build was Banner of the Lion, based on the infamous “Smash Brothers” (Drogo & Jaime). Barristan has limitations that Jaime naturally lacks, but he also packs a valuable power icon, and has flexibility in being able to defend as well as attack, while also not requiring you to go out of faction. This beat stick approach is still viable in today’s environment, and the addition of Famine and others to the plot pool makes it even stronger. So consider me a surprised fan of Ser Barry, and you should give him a test drive if you haven’t already.

Daenerys’s Favor

Why, exactly, does this cost 2 gold AND affect my characters as well? Its marginal utility for characters that are required to attack alone (i.e. Mirri) does not save this from just being binder fodder. Bad card.

There is My Claim

Pyat Pree

I’m assuming this guy got nerfed in play testing. His ability sounds good on paper, but he’s just too inefficient for me to want to put him in my decks (whether I end up doing so anyway is more a reflection of Targ’s putrid character pool, and not his individual worth). Something about him just doesn’t add up for me. A 6-for-4 bicon is poor, and his ability is just occasional card advantage with rather poor odds. Someone smarter than me can calculate the odds of him actually triggering and hitting on a relevant card, but I would guestimate that you’re going to have maybe 10 targets for him to actually hit. So for me to feel like I have a decent shot at success I’d probably want to look at be able to search 6ish cards, which means winning the challenge with him by 6+….with a 4 STR character. Thanks, FFG. He works on offense or defense, so there’s that at least, and Crossing would seem to be the ideal build for him, and his combination of Intrigue and Power icons probably helps that build. But man is this a lot of hoops to jump through for a very dubious payoff.

Cost 5, Stealth, or Insight all would have made him far more playable. But instead we once again get a character that pales horribly against other printed cards—like Rakharo and Victarion, you can just look from Pyat Pree to the Blackfish and die a little inside. Then figure out which dev hates Targ and go sign him up for a bunch of spam mail. I know someone out there is going to play Pyat and win a game because he topdecked a Dracarys in a two card search and tell me that I’m completely wrong. And that’s fine. You can do that just as long as you keep track of the number of games where this six cost dud effectively had zero game text. I think we all know which situation is going to have more tally marks next to it.

Vaes Tolorro

This card intrigues me. It’s not the sexiest effect ever, so it can be hard to take an established deck and find something to cut in order to squeeze in Vaes Tolorro. That said, I think it could certainly be worth it. Unlike so many things Targaryen, V.T. is priced appropriately.  There will be plenty of situations where you might not trigger the ability, so you want it to be cheap, and a 1 cost location that is setup friendly fits the bill. Then as soon as you or your opponent plays a renown character, you’re looking at profit. Killing opposing characters would be ideal (particularly with a Dracarys), but even salvaging power off your own characters is worthwhile—using Jorah as claim soak after he’s claimed 2 power and would otherwise be discarded should be a fairly common use. I’m a bit hesitant on other locations that would store power for you like Small Council Chamber, because if the location gets discarded then you’re out all of that power. But unlike the Chamber, you’re not building around Vaes Tolorro nor investing much in playing it, and most importantly, power placed on V.T. would have been lost anyway when the character(s) would have been killed. So while it would suck to accumulate a few and then see it get hit by a Newly Made Lord, you’re only out 1 gold and power you would have lost without V.T. Probably worth a single copy in Targ decks focusing on aggro, and/or that include Valar in their plot deck (so presumably, a lot).

Isle of Ravens

For everyone who ever wanted to recur Dracarys and Crown of Gold, this card is for you. Works great with Shadowblack Lane. If Pyat Pree wasn’t ass, this could have been a great card for Targ. If they ever get a tutor effect like Olenna’s Cunning then it could really take off.

Ghosts of Harrenhal

Xaro Xhoan Daxos

Yuck. Don’t compare this guy to Donella Hornwood, or else you’ll wonder what FFG’s agenda is. 5-for-4 bicon with a crap ability and a non-useful trait. Lame. Nothing to talk about with the body, so I guess we can evaluate the relative use(lessness) of the ability.

Without going out of faction for additional attachments to use to try to trigger this stinker, you’re looking at Mother of Dragons, Beggar King, Crown of Gold, The Silver Steed, Seal of the Hand, and Drogo’s Arakh as options. Silver Steed still has almost no viable carriers, the Arakh is mediocre, Seal of the Hand is useful but seen less often than it was a year ago, Crown of Gold is Limit 1 per deck, Mother of Dragons is discussed below…and then you get the only good and probable choice in Beggar King. If you have Xaro out and draw Beggar King, then you can probably expect to have a decent economic base. But you shouldn’t be playing Xaro. FFG, if you’re wedded to this terrible idea of Targaryen as “the attachment house” instead of one with an actually GOOD sub-theme, try to make it worth our while.  If it was just gain a gold after marshalling an attachment, limit once or twice per phase, you might have seen a new sort of deck taking shape. But not very likely now. Failing grade.

Mother of Dragons

Really not a fan of attachments that can barely attach to anyone. We already have a nearly-Danny-specific attachment in The Silver Steed, now we get another. How many copies of an attachment can you run when you only have a max of 3 cards to play it on in your entire deck? Without Danny on the table, you have a completely dead card. If you DO have Danny on the table and this in hand….well, not sure it’s worth the effort.

This card presents an odd situation. On the one hand, getting Danny participating in more challenges should be a good thing. Since all 3 dragons have a military icon that Danny lacks, this gives you one way to get her involved in challenges she otherwise could not. Jumping her into the challenge probably means you’re going to win, which triggers her Insight and is also useful. Moreover, if Danny is standing when you jump her in, her strength reduction ability can dramatically swing challenge math. The rub is that all these great scenarios require a participating dragon character. So we’re now up to 2 other cards required just to get this attachment into play and do anything. At most you can only have 3 dragons on the table at once, but only one or two at a particular time is more realistic. While Rhaegal and Viserion are both cost efficient characters, usually the most important tasks for the dragons are to remain standing to either allow you to play Dracarys, or bluff your opponent that you might play Dracarys. Either you give up that psychological edge on your opponent, or you now need two dragons to execute our four card combo to get Danny participating in an extra challenge per turn. Is your head spinning yet? Yeah, any card that requires you to jump through THIS many hoops probably isn’t worth your time at this point.

That said, I’d bookmark this card for future use. If we get something to make having Danny on the table more reliable, and particularly if we get new versions of the dragons, I could see this perhaps having some use. I would guess that this card would have more synergy with older versions of the dragons, more expensive incarnations with beefier statlines. Such characters would be more appropriate for actually making challenges rather than bluffing burn effects, which is what this attachment is trying to do.

Tyrion’s Chain

House of the Undying

Running  a 6-cost location that sacrifices itself to achieve its effect in a meta still saturated by Lannister seems like a poor life choice. The effect is powerful, particularly with Valar making it easier than ever to get characters in your opponent’s dead pile, but you have to seed those characters, afford this, and not lose the game in the meantime, and hope that triggering it WINS you the game, or else the tempo cost is probably insurmountable. Gonna take a pass for now, but mayhaps down the road this could see some use as Rhaenys’s Hill did in 1.0. Also, totally willing to revisit this assessment if Targ ever gets something comparable to Kevan Lannister, allowing them to cheat it into play instead of paying its cost.

Quaithe of the Shadow

Very nice. Thanks FFG, please send more. At absolute worst, Quaithe is a cost-efficient bicon that will probably be a x1 include in Targ decks for quite some time. Ignoring the ability for a moment, she’s kinda like a slightly more expensive Burned Men that has the benefit of an additional icon. Aggro decks thrive on Mil/Int characters to press advantage, and Ambush for a surprise factor is valuable. That alone would probably see her in many Targ decks with the card pool as is. Her triggered effect though adds additional value when you can make it work. Removing chump attackers/defenders or people you’ve reduced in STR from burn effects is nice. We haven’t really gotten any more burn effects to make that more likely, but it’s still an option, and the fact that she just has to jump into play and not participate means she can extend her influence to all 3 challenge types. When you get to use her ability, awesome, but if you don’t, she’s still respectable. Better bomb characters would have been nice, but a solid foundation of versatile, reliable characters can prop a house up just as much. Perhaps moreso now that bombs have to worry about Valar.


The spoiler article for The Fall of Astapor chapter pack has increased my opinion of Quaithe considerably. Strong, repeatable burn effects in Grey Worm and Astapor should make it much more likely for you to be able to use Quaithe’s removal ability, even on STR 5+ characters. When those (or other possible burn cards in the third cycle) become available, I might even start running Quaithe x2 in decks, because the possibility of being able to remove—but not STAND—a big character like Fast Eddy is just amazing value.

Relentless Assault

Not a Targ card per se, but it’s a real boon to aggro decks, and I feel that that needs to be the focus of successful Targaryen decks at this time.  The faction card kneel isn’t nothing, but right now Targ Fealty decks are only really using it for economy or to bluff Dracarys (perhaps Funeral Pyre sees more play in your area than it does mine). In a non-Fealty build this cost becomes even more manageable, and in Targ Crossing this card becomes extremely valuable to either make it easier to get and win a third challenge, or to use the strength pump from the third challenge to ensure the win criteria. Obviously it cries out for a two-claim plot for maximum impact, and I feel that Targaryen is one of the houses best situated to run two claim plots, because it has Beggar King and a low cost-curve to be able to offset the downside of low income that those plots suffer. Triggering this on a Famine turn would be living the dream as it would likely board wipe your opponent, but a second dose of heavy intrigue or power claim are both large swings as well. I could see this card replacing Put to the Sword or Tears of Lys in aggro focused decks due to it not having a gold cost, leveraging higher claim, and also being more flexible in its application, albeit not as straightforward as either of those two events.

Top Five:

  1. Beggar King—Non-limited economy is hugely powerful (Tywin says “hi!”), and added flexibility in plot selection is another great asset. #1 by a county mile.
  2. Ser Barristan Selmy—The biggest bomb character Targaryen got this cycle. Sucks that that refers to a character with only a situational ability, but when it’s activated it is an outstanding ability.
  3. Quaithe of the Shadow—She nudges out Doreah for the #3 spot because of the previewed burn effects coming next cycle which will make her substantially better, and at worst Ambush is something useful that Targ otherwise lacks. Still, there’s a significant gap between the #2 and #3 slots.
  4. Doreah—Cost efficient, reducable with Fealty, sometimes has Insight. Nothing sexy about it, but solid and playable.
  5. Blood of my Blood—A lot of this ranking is based on potential, and also because it was hard to identify five really good Targ cards from this cycle. As it stands its borderline playable in certain builds, and if we get another solid Bloodrider or a better version of Rakharo, could be great.

Bottom Five:

  1. Daenerys’ Favor—Only use is for Mirri, and it’s expensive and detrimental for any other purpose
  2. Viserys Targaryen—He’s cheap, but the abilities aren’t that great and he shares a name with one of Targ’s better characters, just can’t see him making a viable deck anytime soon.
  3. Mother of Dragons—I hate attachments with limited targets, and it calls for other cards and a deck type that don’t exist yet. Even then, not sure it’ll be worth the effort.
  4. Pyat Pree—You are so over-costed and bad, but the potential of his ability will always beckon like a light guiding ships right onto the rocks. You can try to build around him, but you’ll probably suffer for it.
  5. Shierak Qiya—Not terrible like some of the cards here, but so bland that it doesn’t really inspire you to try and build around it either.


For those of you that have actually read this far (both of you, and Hi Mom!), I’m just going to assume that you’d like to read a little more and I’m going to throw in a couple of hot takes on the current state of previously released cards. The meta is ever-changing, and it can be good to look back at cards that have come before to re-evaluate their status moving forward. With that in mind, here’s the 3 cards from the last cycle/core that I think have been most impacted by this cycle:


As I said in the first cycle review, I quite like Aggo. At the time of release he was an adequate character because he was roughly efficient with a useful icon pair, and unlike the other bloodriders, his effect doesn’t require the presence of another bloodrider. I said that his ultimate usefulness would depend on the number and quality of summer plot cards that were released in subsequent packs. Fortunately, we’ve gotten two additional ones since last cycle, and both (Time of Plenty and Summer Harvest) are extremely playable, as well as our prior options (Song of Summer, Calm Over Westeros, Close Call, and the rarely seen Tourney For the King). Not only is it a sound idea to include a few of these plots in your own plot deck, but I regularly see Summer Harvest, Time of Plenty, and Close Call in my meta, giving you a lot of opportunities to trigger Aggo. Simply put, he is now one of Targ’s very best characters, and should probably be a x1 even if you’re not running Summer plots, and probably a x2 if you are. Him and Jhogo are like totes besties.

First Snow of Winter

Still a possible threat in the meta, and still really hoses Targ because the only worthwhile character we received this cycle that costs 4 or more was Barristan. On the plus side, Valar gave people options when it comes to resets, and the popularity of First Snow seems to have waned significantly. In fact, outside of Lanni jumper decks and occasionally Greyjoy, I rarely see it. That said, Lanni jumper decks are still popular, so it’s something you should keep in mind. But it’s no longer an enormous hurdle to circumvent in competitive play, and allows Targ to capitalize on the strength of its lower cost-curve again.

Daenerys Targaryen

Poor Danny, opinions on her have fluctuated more than my weight at the holidays. Core set meta had her regarded as one of the best 7-cost characters due to her fistful of keywords (once you factor in the dragons that everyone ran x2 or x3) and game text that brought most characters into Dracarys range. Then over the course of the first cycle, FFG printed beefier characters with much higher strengths for their cost (not for Targ) that could survive Dracarys, and the meta became completely kill-centric as the game devolved into who could play big characters, keep their big characters alive, and kill the opposing big characters. Since said big characters had less to fear from Dracarys, the strength of Targ as a faction waned, and Danny got pushed to the side in favor of Mirri Mass Murder.

With the reintroduction of Valar to the game, I think we’re seeing a bit less focus on kill effects, though saves are still popular. With your opponent not necessarily being able to just blindly vomit out every character in their hand without any care beyond Wildfire Assault anymore, Danny can see play again despite her lack of murder. Moreover, the return of Valar raises the value of the intrigue challenge—needing to hold back characters means you have to protect your hand. And also restores that age old Thrones axiom that “Draw = Win.” Well, Danny can protect your hand, and Danny can draw cards. For a while there I had cut Danny down to 1 copy or even zero depending on the deck, but I see a lot of value in having her around again now. Moreover, whereas Mirri can only be protected by dupes, Danny has that all important Lady trait making her much easier to protect. And if you really want to go back and revive an old archetype, Targ Banner of the Rose has even more Lady tech you can use and abuse. Could be a fun one to try again.


About the Author:

Justin Sengstock (Sokhar) is a proud bastard of the Dreadfort (central North Carolina) meta, and Targaryen aficionado.  He is a five year Thrones vet and the “championship caliber player” of his meta, taking down about half a dozen local tournaments, one Store Championship, and posting winning records at Worlds each year, while never actually winning any tournaments you would have heard of.  He plays Targaryen regularly and eagerly awaits the next cycle when Targaryen actually gets good cards and he can stop running Lannister for every tournament.

Feature Image Source: HBO