|Threat from the North
A preview of Princes of the Sun, the expansion for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game
|A Game of Thrones LCG | Published 16 November 2009|
Today, we present a guest article from Greg Atkinson, the 2004 A Game of Thrones: The Card Game world champion. Greg generously agreed to share his thoughts on Threat from the North, one of the new plot cards included in the upcoming AGoT expansion, Princes of the Sun.
The metagame is a funny thing.
For those of you not familiar with this term "metagame,” it often refers to the "game outside the game,” or more specifically it involves the strategy, tactics, decisions, or interactions incurred by a player before the actual game play begins. Anticipating the composition of an opponent’s deck, guessing the general nature of a competitive tournament field (everyone is playing Lannister!), selecting the cards that go in your plot deck and draw deck, identifying problematic cards or players: all this is part of the metagame. And because each of these aspects are fluid in a customizable environment, the metagame itself becomes a slippery entity to try to hang on to.
The moment we think we understand it, something changes. New cards and a new crop of competitive players all change the way we view the metagame. Princes of the Sun will introduce a card I believe will change the way you build decks, both as a possible tool to use, and a weapon to fear.
One of the things that has always appealed to me about A Game of Thrones: The Card Game was the plot deck. The ability to selectively modify game conditions from round to round with the plot deck, while still dealing with the "luck of the draw" aspect of the draw deck provides an interesting dynamic which has kept me involved in this game for 6 years now.
Threat from the North provides a game condition which greatly modifies the existing board at the time it is played. All characters with STR 1 or lower get wiped off the board and placed in the discard pile. All other characters get a reduction, but are also given a terminal condition should someone find a way to lower their STR further. So how does this affect the metagame?
First, we look at how it affects a specific type of deck that is seeing a lot of play: the swarm deck. It is common to see successful decks that run 35-40 characters, many of them low cost/low STR characters, and lots of draw to replenish the hand. Wildfire Assault and Valar Morghulus are reset plots which can even help these swarm decks, as they often replenish the board faster after the mass reset. Threat from the North, when companioned with a draw deck packing a minimum of low STR characters can act as a one-sided reset when timed correctly.
It can also help (or hurt) the seasonal decks. When I play a seasonal deck, the one card I hate seeing my opponent marshall is a Carrion Bird (A Song of Summer F16). If I don't find a way to remove or neutralize the Carrion Bird, then he becomes a serious deterrent to my seasonal advantages. Threat from the North offers an almost immediate removal of the Bird. But be careful, if you have Samwell (The Raven's Song F66) in play, he will be meeting his immediate doom!
The fact is, regardless of what type of deck you are builiding, you will probably not look at 0 or 1 STR characters the same knowing that Threat from the North exists in the LCG™ card pool.
Second, let's look at how it affects the balance of powers. I believe most players would agree that House Lannister has been sitting atop the strength tier for some time now. Not far behind has lurked the house of the Dragon. While Threat from the North can only be revealed once per 7 rounds, it provides a huge boon to House Targaryen. Targ's bevy of burn effects gain a huge boost with a constant terminal effect that Threat of the North offers. A handful of influence + Forever Burning + Threat from the North creates massive carnage during a Dominance phase. Or perhaps you have a Shadows-heavy deck? Dragonpit becomes a fantastically nasty card. It might only last for one round, but one round in a game is enough to shift the balance of powers.
Targaryen is not the only house that can benefit from the plot. Stark with the Long Winter, Baratheon with Shadows Blessing and Hunting Spear, Martell and Field Spikes, etc, etc. As you can see, there are interesting opportunities for each house to explore.
Thanks for taking the time to read, and I hope you enjoy the new Princes of the Sun expansion. It might herald House Martell back into the field, but new toys like Threat from the North will stir the whole pot.
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.
Wow! Amazed that this card was reprinted. The game just got more interesting.