And we’re back again in the dank and cramped offices of one former maester, Qyburn. Here among the dripping slime and between the thick walls of crumbling stone, Qyburn continues his dark and gleeful experiments. Why does he do such terrible things and push the boundaries of acceptable science in Westeros? Because he can, of course!
And so we tinker and construct our own jank, pushing the boundaries of acceptable deck ideas. Why do we do so? For fame or glory or the chance to win a tournament? No. Merely because we can.
This time, we turn our eyes to the new Red Viper, hot off the presses in the Sands of Dorne expansion. On paper, he seems interesting, but needs a lot of support. So what if we build a deck where the rest of the characters are nothing but support for him?
The Red Viper SOD– The Red Viper here is the star of the deck, imperiously leading a horde of his bastard children in a quest for vengeance. Intimidate continues to be a very strong keyword and he can quickly rack up enough strength to really open up some choice kneels which further allows your bastards the chance to win challenges. Of course, he racks up this power thanks to you winning challenges on attack with your Bastard characters. While many of them are on the small end of the character scale, the sheer number of them in this deck should mean that any challenge you win as attacker should trigger The Red Viper.
Nymeria Sand– While many are currently star struck by Nymeria Sand SOD, this version plays many key roles in this deck. Not only is she Bastard traited to trigger TRV, but she’s also one of the bigger bodies that you have available, which increases the odds of winning challenges with her. But also, her ability to take opposing icons away and grant them to herself and fellow Sand Snakes means that you can simultaneously create an opening for smaller characters, but also diversify the challenges that you can commit your characters to.
Ellaria Sand SOD– Another beefy bastard character, Ellaria can not only push a challenge through herself if need be, but if you’re willing to sacrifice the challenge that she’s in, you can pull in a slew of defending characters in order to open up the other two challenge types for your smaller attackers.
Shadow City Bastard – One of the most talked about characters from the Martell box, the Shadow City Bastard is cheap and great for setup, while also creating openings by removing icons from a pretty wide range of characters. And it is of course a Bastard.
Every other character in the deck – I mean, they’re all Bastard traited!
This deck’s plan is to just superpower the Viper as fast as possible and close out the game. Sure, it’s not some silly near infinite combo deck that goes off in one or two challenges, but it should be fun nonetheless. Thankfully, every non-Red Viper character in a deck has the Bastard trait, so hopefully we can just win challenges in general and keep powering him up to ever greater heights. When you gain power from every challenge, it tends to move pretty fast.
Unfortunately, the bodies of most of our characters tend toward the small end of the scale. While this is great from a cost curve perspective, it also means that pushing challenges over the top can be tough from a strength perspective. So that’s why we have a variety of options beyond even the main ones posted above to help punch an opening through. Even Handed Justice not only helps give us the 12 cards to justify the Banner of the Stag but also lets us trade one of our small characters to kneel a much larger one. Starfall gives another repeatable option to snipe icons away from characters so you can get through. Even Dorea Sand pulls double duty as Bastard and giving a tempo swing by bouncing a potential blocker out of the way. Even Tyene Sand can help by picking off troublesome potential defenders. Even To The Spears! can be used to help offset our smaller characters by letting them attack en masse for a challenge to help close out a game.
In order to really maximize our potential, we want to embrace the Martell theme of going second. To this end, our plots skew fairly high in initiative so that we can dictate turn order. This lets our opponents kneel out their board making challenges and opens them up for retaliation from us. With our lower curve, often we should be able to commit something to defense to slow our opponents down just enough, while leaving characters for attack as well but don’t be afraid to let them go unopposed so that you can attack. Of course, we may also want to turn these lost challenges to our advantage, so we have Vengeance for Elia available to punish our opponent for winning as well as Dorne to help provide huge card advantage not only when we lose on defense, but also when we lose by having to throw out small attacks that we know will be unsuccessful.
The actual effects of the plots here tend to skew mainly into two camps. The first camp is focused on speeding us up with A Clash of Kings and Heads on Spikes to generate extra power to close out games. The second camp is a concession to the fact that the deck is built largely around a single character. Summons finds the Viper or a duplicate if we need it, Confiscation helps keep those pesky Milk of the Poppy away, and Close Call gives us an opportunity to play a new copy of the Viper if he dies.
There you have it, folks! Let me know how it goes.
You Killed the Red Viper. You Bastards!
Banner of the Stag
1x A Clash of Kings (Core Set)
1x Confiscation (Core Set)
2x Heads on Spikes (Core Set)
1x Summons (Core Set)
1x Close Call (True Steel)
1x Valar Dohaeris (The Archmaester’s Key)
2x Ellaria Sand (Sands of Dorne)
3x The Red Viper (Sands of Dorne)
2x Obara Sand (Sands of Dorne)
2x Obella Sand (Sands of Dorne)
1x Loreza Sand (Sands of Dorne)
3x Shadow City Bastard (Sands of Dorne)
3x Bastard in Hiding (Core Set)
3x Bastard Daughter (Taking the Black)
3x Nymeria Sand (The Road to Winterfell)
2x Gendry (No Middle Ground)
1x Tyene Sand (True Steel)
1x Elia Sand (There Is My Claim)
1x Edric Storm (Lions of Casterly Rock)
3x Flea Bottom Bastard (The Fall of Astapor)
2x Dorea Sand (The Archmaester’s Key)
2x The Bastard of Godsgrace (House of Thorns)
2x Dorne (Sands of Dorne)
2x Starfall (Sands of Dorne)
3x The Roseroad (Core Set)
3x Blood Orange Grove (Core Set)
3x Dornish Fiefdom (The Fall of Astapor)
2x Bodyguard (Core Set)
2x No Use For Grief (Sands of Dorne)
2x To The Spears! (Sands of Dorne)
2x Vengeance for Elia (Calm over Westeros)
3x Even Handed Justice (Wolves of the North)
2x Secret Schemes (The Red Wedding)