By Louis Brenton– December 16, 2011
The Game of Thrones Core Set comes with 4 game-ready decks: Stark, Lannister, Targaryen, & Baratheon. As I’ve mentioned previously, I was sort of shoehorned into playing House Baratheon. Being familiar with the books, my sympathies tended to incline toward House Stark or House Targaryen. But when my boys first saw me researching the game, they declared their loyalty to those two factions. This left me playing with Baratheon, who were actually my distant third choice. In some Game of Thrones-related Twitter banter, Robert speculated that I would like the Baratheons, & he ended up being right. I find myself actually glad that circumstances forced me to play with the Stags. With a handful of games under my belt, I find that I really, really like them.
I’m planning on writing a short series of articles about the Core Set for the TC community. The purpose of these articles is to provide an introduction to some of my favorite cards from each Core Set faction. Since the Game of Thrones LCG is fairly new to our gaming community, I thought this might provide a helpful service to new AGoT players. I also thought it might help pique the interest of those who haven’t bought into AGoT but may be considering it.
My first article will deal with the Baratheons, as they’re the faction I’m most familiar with. Again, these articles will only deal with Core Set cards, since that’s all I have any experience with. I promise more articles as both my collection & my experience grow.
The Core Set Baratheon deck contains several really interesting attachments. For those unfamiliar with the mechanics of the game, attachments in AGoT work like enchantments in Magic. You play them on character cards to enhance or weaken them. Here are a few of my favorites.
Lightbringer is King Stannis’ “magic” sword. It can only be played on Baratheon characters. It has the Vigilant keyword, which is a Baratheon-specific keyword. If you win a challenge as an attacker, you may stand any cards with the Vigilant keyword. (Note, this does not give the equipped character Vigilant. The Lightbringer card itself has it, not the character.)
Lightbringer functions as a plus-5 sword of immortality. You can kneel (tap, in Magic parlance) Lightbringer to save the equipped character from being killed. This is very handy. Stick it on your favorite character & you drastically increase his lifespan. It’s not fool-proof, as there are many low-down-dirty-dog ways to kill people in AGoT, but it’s a nice buff.
Motley is a vicious little debuff. First it costs zero to play, so it’s no burden on your limited (unless you’re a Lannister) gold resources. It essentially cripples the character it’s attached to, unless the character’s owner pays you every single time he wants to use it. When the owner wants to use the character as an attacker, or as a defender or trigger that character’s ability, he must pay you one gold every single time. Terrible…& by terrible I mean awesome.
Stinking Drunk is another debuff attachment. It’s very straightforward. For the low price of one gold, you play it on an enemy character, & that character gets -4 on his/her strength during a challenge. It’s a guilty pleasure to watch an opponent’s face fall when you slap that card on the powerhouse character card that he’s just brought into play. Being familiar with the books, I love the flavor of this card. It’s hilarious to me that it’s Baratheon-specific. King Robert was not only a professional drunkard himself, but apparently he truly excelled at compelling others to get into as plastered a state as he seemed to prefer.
Next, I want to get into some of my favorite character cards from the Baratheon core set deck. There are 23 total character cards with Robert Baratheon appearing twice. I’m going to tell you about my 6 favorites.
Devan Seaworth is a card I like because of his relatively low expense & his relative usefulness. He costs 2 gold & has strength 2, but he also has 2 challenge icons, one of which is Intrigue. While not as Intrigue-starved as the Starks, the Baratheon core deck is still somewhat slim in this department, with only 7 of 23 character cards possessing an Intrigue icon. (However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that the Selyse Baratheon card has the ability to temporarily grant a unique character an Intrigue icon). Devan also gains the Stealth keyword if any of my other characters have power tokens on them. This makes him much more difficult to block when I’m attacking, & makes him able to block other stealthy characters when I’m on the defense. Since so many Baratheon characters have the Renown keyword (granting them power tokens on successful challenges), this is some easy synergy.
Because of Phil & Angela’s recent AGoT blogs, Melisandre has gotten a lot of recent press in our community. She’s a pretty tough card, so that press is well-deserved. Her marshaling cost is 4, which is somewhat high, but I think it’s a pretty good price to pay in light of what she brings to the table. Mel has the Intrigue & Power icons. She has 3 strength & the Renown keyword, so she can usually accumulate some power tokens. She also gives other Asshai characters a +1 strength buff as long as she is standing (untapped). However, it’s her last ability that really puts the hurt on. Normally, a player’s power tokens are stored primarily on his House card, with a few winding up on character cards. Melisandre’s presence on the table prevents opponents from counting power tokens on their characters from counting toward the victory goal of 15 power. For certain Game of Thrones factions, this can be devastating.
Knight of Flowers
The Knight of Flowers is a faction-neutral card, so he can be included in any faction deck without having to pay the extra “spawn tax.” (Normally, it costs 2 extra gold to marshall a card from a different faction than your house). He costs 3 gold for 3 strength & one challenge icon (military), which is about right. He cannot have any attachments played on him, so you can’t buff him that way, but your opponent also cannot debuff him with attachments. Regardless, buffing the Knight of Flowers isn’t that big of a concern, because you don’t put him on the table in order to attack or block with him. You put him on the table so he can just stand there. His special ability is that he gains one power token if he’s standing at the beginning of the dominance phase (which comes after all player’s attacks & blocks). If you can keep him untapped, he’s good for 1 guaranteed power per turn.
Now we’re getting into the heart of the Stags, the Baratheon brothers themselves. Renly is the youngest of the 3 Baratheon boys, & in my opinion the (slightly) weakest, but he’s still pretty darn good. He has a cost of 3 for only 2 strength, but he brings a lot of value. First, he has all 3 challenge icons (Military, Intrigue, Power). Second, he’s immune to opponent’s character abilities. Third, and best of all, he has the ability to stand (untap) during any phase of the round at the expense of kneeling 1 influence. This is incredibly valuable, as you can use him to both attack & defend in the same turn, & he can also end up standing at the dominance phase, where players are rewarded for having the most standing characters. Renly is an all-around great card.
Stannis is the middle brother of the family. He weighs in with a marshaling cost of 4 & a strength of 3. He has 2 challenge icons (Military & Power). Where Stannis really shows his value is in the combination of his 2 abilities when he’s on the attack. He has the Renown keyword, so he gets an extra power token every time he succeeds in a challenge, & his other ability makes him succeed a lot. When Stannis attacks, that opponent cannot even declare blockers unless he has a Lord character on the table. Because of that, Stannis ends up getting a fair amount of free hits, & in Game of Thrones, all unblocked challenges get you an extra power token reward. This can add up quickly.
In my opinion, King Robert is the big dog of the Baratheon Core Set deck. While there are several characters with higher strength, there are no other character cards that are so effective. You marshall Robert for a cost of 4 gold, & he has 3 strength & 2 challenge icons (Military, Power). Robert’s power is that he essentially has double Renown. He gets 2 power tokens for every successful challenge he makes. He’s sort of a one-trick pony, but it’s a pretty good trick.
That wraps up my Core Set Baratheon preview. I hope it’s been helpful. I’ll turn my attention to the other 3 Core Set decks in the near future.