By Larry Gross– June 15, 2012
So… I figured this time I’d post my Top 5 BEFORE I listened to or read about anyone else’s Top 5 to ensure my votes aren’t swayed by other posts/casts/whatevs. This way, if my selections are awesome, they’re all MINE (muahahaha), if they suck… well, those are mine too. Selecting my Top 5 was a bit harder than I thought it would because there is just so much awesome in this pack. So, without any further ado, here are my selections for the Top 5 cards, in no particular order, of the new hotness that is Valar Dohaeris.
What an amazing card! You’re almost guaranteed (in most games these days) that your opponent is running an Agenda, so this hot little card is suddenly 3/3/2 WITH Immunity, Deadly, AND Stealth… wow. I can’t think of many decks that wouldn’t want to run this card! He adds a much-needed Intrigue icon to the Stark arsenal while maintaining a Military icon (the Stark forte).
This card is going to win a lot of challenges. Stealth and Deadly are a powerful combination. Most decks have few Deadly characters, and, often there’s only one in play. Having your Deadly character also have Stealth makes him a powerhouse… initiate a challenge, stealth the other player’s deadly and, boom, you will either get an unopposed or force claim – either way, it’s good for you.
I will say, this card, along with the new Victarion are both cards that I was blown over by. Just great uses and synergies for existing deck types. Auto-incude? In some decks – absolutely. His 3 cost will keep him out of some Murder decks that rely heavily on weenie characters, but I would still say he should be strongly considered.
This is another crazy good card. Greyjoy really didn’t need any more saves – I mean, honestly! But, this takes it one step further – this is Burn proof. It would take two kill cards to eliminate him because you can’t lower below zero and he can kneel to buff himself +2 (since he’s also unique). Being able to save ANY unique character from Targ Burn is a huge boon for Greyjoy as Targ Burn is the Achilles Heel of Choke decks.
What really makes this guy amazing isn’t just his save ability… it’s that Holy Crest. His save ability makes him fabulous… add in that Holy Crest and suddenly Power of Faith decks become just that much harder to nuke. He becomes a non-kneeling tri-con on a Power of Faith turn AND he can then STILL activate his save action after you’re done with your attacks (since that 6 Initiative on Power of Faith tends to make you first player).
Will this be an auto-include? I should think so in a lot of decks. He’s expensive, so that reduces it, plus he can be nuked by Venomous Blade. That said, he saves you from Burn… hard to not include him.
FINALLY! A Strong Belwas I really want to play. He’s almost a reason to include First Snow, or even Threat from the North in any deck running him. Save two characters, run First Snow… then do it again. Run Threat From the North… and do it again (from your hand this time). Run Narrow Escape… then do it again. And then add Illyrio… rinse and repeat. No, that’s not realistic… but I want this guy to recur.
Targ has really needed better saves. Our characters have tended to be a bit more fragile and you’ve had to run add’l dupes to try and overcome the problem of certain key characters. Belwas makes it possible to potentially reduce some of those dupes so that you can get some other characters into play and rely on him to do the saves. I can’t wait to see how he actually performs in play.
Auto-include? Not necessarily, but I can definitely see him in decks where I have a few uniques I need to protect (like a Dragon deck) and I don’t want to run too many dupes.
It’s about time we got a new Victarion! It’s obvious that FFG is trying to boost Greyjoy Holy as a theme. Greyjoy has 11 warships, all of which can be knelt by Naval Escort. A lot of Greyjoy decks run Longship Black Wind, Longship Iron Victory, Scouting Vessel, and the aforementioned Naval Escort. There are so many ways to buff Victarion that it’s simply ridiculous.
What would be better? Give him an Intrigue icon and you have another tri-con during Power of Faith turns. Even without the Intrigue icon, this guy is a hoss. Kneeling warships for any other reason or to buff any other character automatically buffs Victarion. I’m disgusted with how often I’m going to face a buffed Victarion in a Holy deck. Just a truly sick card.
On a side note – pretty funny how they got the image switched. That’s the wrong hand. In a Holy deck, I think this guy is an auto-include – even at 4 gold. he’s a powerhouse.
This is the first Charagenda that has really struck me as a golden card all around. Vengeful is one of the most annoying (and backward) keywords in the game. Lose a challenge, stand all of your Vengeful characters. He makes ALL unique characters Vengeful. That could be devastating in the right deck. I’ve heard some people say that he costs too much to kill… but, really, run 3X of him. Kill the first one, gain the ability and then play the other two (and they’ll have Vengeful!)
The only downside, of course, is running without an Agenda until you get him in hand. But, except for Knights of the Hollow Hill, Martell doesn’t tend to need and Agenda. Sure, they can take advantage of a couple of them and synergize well, but Martell is strong because the cards are strong – it’s why they have the most in-House restricted cards in the entire game.
Auto-include? Definitely not. You need to plan for him, but I could definitely see someone building a deck around him in particular.
Honorable Mention: Young Griff
I’m a Targ player first. A 3 Gold, 3 STR, Tri-con character? Yes, please! It was tough not to include Young Griff in my top 5 for those reasons. He’s a great Targ card, but those other cards just nudge him out, in my opinion, but I had to include an Honorable Mention (so my fellow Targs here on TC don’t completely hate me). Where do you put him? He doesn’t really fit Burn, but he can work in a Summer Shadows build and he could add some extra punch to an Aggro build, but he has no War Crest. His utility just isn’t as great as I’d like. His Shadows response is not usually going to be that helpful on a regular basis. I just can’t think of many scenarios where bringing him into play during the standard Shadows window is going to net me anything more than Dominance unless I’m facing a deck that kneels my characters pre-Challenges phase.
In a Maester’s build, if you kneel your Maester’s pre-Challenges phase to activate draw or some other effect, then he could stand them again, of course. Also, if someone hits you with kneel (like Lanni) during Marshaling, then, sure, his ability can save your hide AND give you another Shadows card the same phase. It’s certainly got potential and I’ll be playing around with him… but he’s not as awesome as I thought when I first read the card. If his Response were an Any Phase response… then he’d be unbelievably good (and probably OP).
Definitely not an auto-include by any means… but definitely worthy of consideration!
Honorable Mention 2:Penny
I know – two honorable mentions!! This is a cheat!? No, really, this is such an amazing set with so many cards, I really struggled with what my Top 5 would be. I also didn’t want to send Robert away crying again because I once again ignored a Lanni card (although, who knows, he may hate this card). This card isn’t awesome, but it adds this extra punch to a kneel deck by forcing that extra bit of choice on the opponent. Kneel your incredibly potent character or discard a card from a hand that is being constantly diminished by, arguably, the strongest Intrigue House in the game?
There are so many ways to use this card – and she’s cheap. The downside is that at 1 STR, she’s not going to last long because there are just too many game effects that could eliminate her in short order. She’s just too easy to kill. That said, her cheapness makes her incredibly appealing. She’s unique, so it’s hard to justify more than 1 of her (not sure if her ability is really worth protecting), but there’s really no downside to including another 1 cost character that potentially gives you repeatable kneel (or another discard effect).
Auto-include? Why not!
Okay – there you go – my take on the best cards in this latest set. Agree? Disagree? Think I’m crazy? Go ahead – tell me I’m nuts. I can take it!