News for October 2011
The Last River Before the Tourney for the Hand
An A Game of Thrones: The Card Game spotlight by guest writer Matthew Morgan
A Game of Thrones LCG | Published 20 October 2011

Tourney for the Hand has just released, kicking off the A Tale of Champions cycle of Chapter Packs for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game. While the cycle focuses on the unique personalities likely to attend tournaments and introduces two exciting new keywords, Joust and Melee, it also includes a number of solid new cards to build into new strategies or reinforce older ones.

Today, guest writer Matthew Morgan looks at one such card. Matthew is a fiction author and a longtime player whose roots date back to the CCG era. While he isn’t working on his current novel, Matthew enjoys winning military challenges with House Stark and managed to place among the top four finalists at the most recent Minnesota regional for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game.

Matthew Morgan on Tourney for the Hand and House Stark

One of my favorite Stark decks to build and play is based on their Direwolves. Even though such a deck is usually light on power and especially intrigue icons, it was formerly able to defend itself from those challenges due to the abilities of the attachment versions of Shaggydog (Lords of Winter, 3) and Grey Wind (Lords of Winter, 2). When the Secrets of Oldtown cycle came out with The Maester’s Path agenda (Gates of the Citadel, 19), it basically destroyed this sort of deck as being viable in a competitive environment, mostly due to the Tin Link (Called by the Conclave, 58) and its ability to discard your Direwolf attachments without effort.

With the recent errata to The Maester’s Path agenda and the arrival of some new cards to the environment, I believe the Stark Direwolf deck may have some new hope. I plan to build a deck and give it a try to see if one of my most beloved decks can again become truly competitive.

One of the cards I’m really excited to include the Direwolf deck has just released with Tourney for the Hand, the first chapter pack in the A Tale of Champions cycle. It’s called The Last River (Tourney for the Hand, 3). Read on, and learn more.

The Last River

As the winds swept down from the northern hills, Robb Stark felt the last gasp of autumn lingering in the air. He stood at the top of the riverbank, looking along the length of the river and back into the trees where his soldiers lay in waiting. The Starks utilized a series of streams to slow and harry their foes, and this last river was where they would make their stand…

The Last River can be used in just about any Stark deck, but brings additional consistent threat to a Direwolf deck focused on the attachment versions of Grey Wind and Shaggydog. It gives Stark players another way (besides kneeling Direwolf cards) to lower the strength of those pesky attackers in power and especially intrigue challenges, and then kill them with the ferocious wolves before they can do any harm. Such stalwarts as Direwolf Pup (Core Set, 19), Wolf Pack (Lords of Winter, 14), and Feral Pack (Sacred Bonds, 41) form the backbone of such a deck, along with the Guardian Wolf (The Isle of Ravens, 61), which provides some surprise Deadly. The recent Maester of Last Hearth (Here to Serve, 101) serves as good protection for these wolves as long as it’s Winter, making sure you can keep them in play once they are on the board.

Some have wondered about the synergy of the plot Threat from the North (Princes of the Sun, 56) with this sort of deck, and while it certainly helps with the scope of the deck, it can also backfire in certain match-ups, most notably against a Targaryen burn deck. It’s never a good idea to give such a deck type two rounds of true threat when they can already do considerable damage with just one. But that’s the beauty of this new location for Stark. It gives Stark a consistent and repeatable means of lowering the strength of enemy characters in the challenges where it needs it most, without the risk the aforementioned plot would bring. Still, it’s balanced by the fact it lowers the strength of Stark characters, too (if they don’t have a military icon).

The most useful application of this effect I can see is to trigger it as the defender of an intrigue or power challenge while you have Shaggydog and Grey Wind in play (hopefully attached to Robb Stark to take full advantage of Grey Wind’s ability). The unique wolves can then make short work of the attackers for you. Combine this with At Night They Howl (Lords of Winter, 38), and your wolves can ready to kill again in the next challenge. In some cases, you may not even need to defend such challenges, as the attacker may be wary of sending characters your way, fearful of the fury of your Direwolves and what they can do.

Additionally, this card can be used out of house, and the most likely scenario would naturally involve a Targaryen burn deck. Combine The Last River with the plot Threat from the North, the event Forever Burning (Core Set, 174), The Hatchlings’ Feast (A Sword in the Darkness, 50), Flame-Kissed (Core Set, 103), or any of the other burn cards, and your foes will be hard pressed to successfully challenge you, vexed by The Last River.

So if you are feeling weary and tire of being pursued by your enemies, perhaps you should head for The Last River for some respite. Cry havoc, and let the Direwolves of house Stark run wild once again!

Thanks, Matthew!

Consider running The Last River in a Stark deck for the upcoming Days of Ice and Fire 2011 tournament. We’re making a special exception to the standard waiting period for Chapter Packs in order to feature Tourney for the Hand and its exciting new cards for this special event!

If you haven’t already registered for Days of Ice and Fire 2011, now is the time to do so. You don’t want to be among the honorless ranks of House Frey, do you? Register now, and declare your allegiance to one of the Great Houses of Westeros!

Based on George R.R. Martin's bestselling fantasy epic A Song of Ice and Fire, A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, playable by 2-4 players, brings the beloved heroes, villains, locations, and events of the world of Westeros to life through innovative game mechanics and the highly strategic game play. The Living Card Game format allows players to customize their gaming experience with monthly Chapter Pack expansions to the core game.

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