News for June 2014
Build Your Advantage
Look at Card Advantage in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game
A Game of Thrones LCG | Published 25 June 2014

In A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, every Great House strives to claim the Iron Throne and rule Westeros. As the leader of one of these Great Houses, you have the chance to prove your family’s superiority through cunning intrigue and strength of arms. When you construct your deck, you must carefully evaluate a wide variety of cards, ensuring that you have the tools to claim victory. One of the most important weapons in your arsenal is a plan to establish card advantage over your opponent.

Today, guest writer Jonathan Andrews, an avid player of A Game of Thrones and a co-host of the Beyond the Wall podcast, offers his advice on developing your card advantage.

Jonathan Andrews on Establishing Card Advantage

Establishing your card advantage in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game is essential. The essence of card advantage is gaining more options than your opponent by drawing more cards. A Game of Thrones is a game where the person who maximizes his options and uses those options well wins. This is why top players say, Draw equals win.

As an example of the power of card advantage, imagine the following scenario. You play against someone with an identical deck, and you possess the same level of skill as your opponent, but he draws three cards per turn to your two. Who do you think wins this match most of the time? More draw means more options, and more often than not, your opponent would win that scenario. In most cases, card advantage is more subtle than this, though. Sometimes gaining just two or three cards over your opponent during the game gives you a huge edge. Today, I’ll discuss ways for you to gain this card advantage.

Expand Your Card Draw

The first way you can establish card advantage is further separated into persistent card advantage like Golden Tooth Mines (Core Set, 57), immediate effects like Insidious Ways (Core Set, 163), and recursion effects like Street Waif (A Time of Trials, 32). All three of these effects give you card advantage by using a card to draw or recur more cards.

The thing to remember with this type of card advantage is the immediate cost. For example, Golden Tooth Mines doesn’t actually grant card advantage until two plots after you play it, because the first time you draw from the Golden Tooth Mines, it only replaces itself in your hand. When playing a deck that aims to win quickly, you generally want to use cards that net you extra card draw immediately.

Attack Your Opponent’s Cards

You can force your opponent to discard cards in a number of ways. The easiest way to do this is through Intrigue challenges. Each time you make your opponent discard cards you reduce his total options for winning the game or stopping you from winning. This is one of the principal reasons that people usually initiate Intrigue challenges first during the challenges phase.

Effects that discard cards from an opponent’s hand, such as Rule by Decree (Core Set, 206) or The Bear and the Maiden Fair (The Pirates of Lys, 42) can quickly grant you card advantage. In the example of The Bear and the Maiden Fair, you lose one card (the event), but your opponent loses two cards, in addition to any cards lost to Intrigue claim. This means you always leave the exchange with a card advantage.

Investing too much into discarding your opponent’s cards isn’t always the best plan, however. Once your opponent no longer has cards in his hand, the discard effects you draw are useless, and drawing dead cards only sets you back in card advantage.

Streamline Your Economy

It’s always a good idea to use your cards more efficiently than your opponent. By neutralizing a number of your opponent’s cards with a single card, you create a resource imbalance that benefits you in the long run. For example, suppose Robert has four characters on the board, and Phil has none. When Phil plays Westeros Bleeds (Core Set, 176) he exchanges his single card for four of Robert’s cards (his characters), which gives Phil a distinct card advantage.

Repeatable saves fit into using your cards economically, because saving cards helps your characters survive Military challenges. Single-target events can also work this way. These are events that interact on a one to-one basis with other cards in the game. You can use an event like Die by the Sword (Lords of Winter, 47) to kill a character, essentially trading Die by the Sword for one of your opponent’s characters.

At face value, single-target cards appear useful, but unrelated to card advantage. In the right situation, however, you can use them to obtain card advantage. For instance, if the character you kill with Die by the Sword has an attachment, you net two cards for your one. In an even more complex situation, the removal of a key character might allow you to win an Intrigue challenge – indirectly generating card advantage.

Complex Card Advantage

Complex card advantage entails the idea that you can gain card advantage without drawing additional cards or forcing your opponent to lose more cards. A great example of developing complex card advantage is a choke deck that restricts your opponent’s income. If you’ve successfully choked your opponent’s income, he has no way to play his characters or locations, and the cards in his hand are dead.

Sometimes the threat of a certain effect can generate complex card advantage as well. I have seen games where a player doesn’t launch any challenges since he’s afraid of his opponent’s Areo Hotah (Reach of the Kraken, 12), allowing that character to create a huge card advantage. Unused cards are the same as undrawn cards: neither is useful.

To attain a solid card advantage over your opponent, you’ll need to develop your own card draw, attack your opponent’s cards, and focus some thought on creating complex card advantage. Hopefully you’ve found the information in this article helpful!

The Road to the Throne

Thanks, Jon!

In the struggle for the Iron Throne in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, you can’t rely on many allies, but card advantage is one of your best tools for achieving victory. Maximize your available options by increasing your card advantage, and lead your House to victory is Westeros. Look for more A Game of Thrones strategy articles in coming weeks!

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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