News for March 2012
Strength Into Weakness
A look at Valar Morghulis for A Game of Thrones by guest writer Joe Becker
A Game of Thrones LCG | Published 29 March 2012

“Secrets are worth more than silver or sapphires, Varys claimed. Just so. I grew so respectable that a cousin of the Prince of Pentos let me wed his maiden daughter, whilst whispers of a certain eunuch’s talents crossed the narrow sea and reached the ears of a certain king. A very anxious king, who did not wholly trust his son, nor his wife, nor his Hand, a friend of his youth who had grown arrogant and overproud. I do believe that you know the rest of this tale, is that not so?”
    “Much of it,” Tyrion admitted. “I see that you are somewhat more than a cheesemonger after all.”
    Illyrio inclined his head. “You are kind to say so, my little friend.”

–George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

The lands beyond the Narrow Sea are as rich and full of intrigues as those in Westeros, and while the cards from Beyond the Narrow Sea introduce us to new characters from the Eastern continent, they also give us new versions of some we’ve already seen. Today, we look at the new version of the first major personality that we met from Essos, Magister Illyio of Pentos (Valar Morghulis, 16).

Somewhat more than a cheesemonger

Each version of Illyrio offers different strategic benefits to your deck design, and this new version takes advantage of one of House Targaryen’s strengths, the ability to bring characters into play outside the Marshaling phase. Anyone who has read A Dance With Dragons now gets to see Illyrio put his plans into motion as some previously hidden players enter the game of thrones. Then, every time a new player enters play, Illyrio finds a way to make his opponents weaker, killing them if they get too weak.

House Targaryen has two easy ways to bring characters into play during the Challenges phase, Shadows and Ambush. A character like Syrio Forel (Tales from the Red Keep, 77), who comes into play from Shadows for 0 cost, suits Illyrio’s talents perfectly, as he can then return to Shadows after winning a military challenge, and dance in and out of play to trigger Illyrio’s response each turn. Better still, you could first bring Young Griff (Valar Dohaeris, 33) and respond by bringing out Syrio, allowing Illyrio to sap your opponent’s character of two Strength, enough to kill off many utility characters. Meanwhile, Illyrio’s ability also triggers anytime one of your opponents brings a character out of Shadows. Illyrio’s crafty machinations may keep your opponents from bringing their characters out of Shadows if doing so means you target another to die.

Still, House Targaryen and Illyrio really shine when in combination with Ambush. Here, the number of characters you can bring into play is often limited only by your pool of influence. For only two influence you can Ambush in your Dragon Thief (Ancient Enemies, 37) to discard a non-unique attachment then use Illyrio to reduce a non-unique character’s strength. You can take it a step further with Ambush from the Plains (Queen of Dragons, 36), the Dothraki Honor Guard (Core Set, 119), or any other number of characters that can come into play and trigger Illyrio’s ability. If Threat from the North (Princes of the Sun, 56) is your current plot, Illyrio turns each card in your hand into a potent threat, providing your opponent a true taste of fear.

Death comes for us all

Other houses can also take advantage of Illyrio’s ability. House Stark can jump Catelyn Stark (Lords of Winter, 7) into a challenge, and Greyjoy’s Aeron Damphair (Kings of the Sea, 6) can bring out a new Holy character when he dies. Furthermore, every House has access to Shadow characters and their own Honor Guards. If they’re willing to work with him, Illyrio can find a way to serve any House.

Valar Morghulis. “All men must die.” It is a saying in Essos, and Magister Illyrio does his best to see that death comes as often as possible.

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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