Welcome back for another Cycle 4 Review! This time we benefit from the insight of Nick Hansen of the Wausau meta, who gives his opinion of the whole of cycle 4 (and cycle 3 too for good measure!)
Nights Watch Review
The Crow is a Tricksy Bird: 6/5
Man. The Crow is a Tricksy Bird. This card was an automatic 6/5 for me because you get to see some beautiful artwork of Sam Braatz getting ready to stunt on some Wildlings who are completely oblivious. It even has Sam’s name on it, what more could you possibly want from a card.
Oh, I’m supposed to comment on what the card does? Yeah, this cards still a 5/5 in a vaccuum. Getting to pick your opponents plot t2 to set up a Naval/Riddle/White Shadows can be incredible. It’s definitely a card that you have to build around. You can just win a game on turn 1 in the plot phase sometimes. Even if your opponent doesn’t have anything great to setup for the turn 2 plot phase, you get knowledge of your opponents plot deck, and that is incredibly valuable.
Recruiter for the Watch: 5/5
I don’t like claiming my own characters for military challenges, instead, I much prefer to claim my opponents characters, and this card lets me do it! Thats why I absolutely love it. It does two great things for you, makes your opponents military claim less impactful, and makes your military challenges more impactful. When you are playing an aggro deck that’s exactly how you want the game to feel. This card combined with Mutiny can really set up some incredible Marched to the Walls and Valar D’s.
Mutiny At Craster’s Keep: 5/5
Have you ever wanted to trade a 3/4 drop to discard your opponents Mace? I know I sure have. That makes Mutiy at Craster’s Keep the card for you! I don’t really know what else to say other than trading your highest cost character for a character of your choice is going to be beneficial anytime you choose to use it. In combination with 2-drop Arya this card can be an absolute blowout.
Underground Vault: 5/5
This is one of the 2 best 2-drop limited locations from this cycle.
Coldhands gets a solid 4.5/5 from me because he is incredibly versatile. He can be used defensively to dodge Valar M/D, aggressively to tempo your opponent by trading a 6/7 drop for a 1 drop, and he can be used to duplicate ETB effects (with some effort). A neat example of this is the new Aegon, you can bring him out of shadows one turn to get some tempo in the challenges phase, and then Marshal a Coldhands, followed by an IBWHID in the challenges phase to get that huge tempo hit again.
Haunted Forest Scout: 4/5
Do you like Lords of the Crossing? Well then you will absolutely love Haunted Forest Scout. Multiple Icons? Check. Doesn’t kneel as an attacker? Conditional Check. Can’t be used on defense, thus creating more incentive to go all in on the offensive? Triple Check. I’ve played against a crossing deck that drops these guys, Core Jon, and the Ranger that gives power Icons and just watched it steamroll me for 15str challenges without kneeling a single character.
Othell Yarwyck: 4/5
Othell is by no means an auto-include in every deck, but he is one of the best new cards that Builders got this cycle. He solves the only hole in the Builders deck, and that is icon distribution. His ability to pass icons to the other Builders at (almost) no cost makes it impossible for your opponents to win ANY challenge, let alone an unopposed one. Initially I think people undervalued him because he is a 6 cost character in a deck that was previously playing only cheap characters.
The Bay of Seals: 3.5/5 (Once the 6 cost wall is out) 1.5/5 now
The first time I read this card I thought it was strictly awful. Then I reread it and realiezed it said OWNED by my opponent, not CONTROLLED, and then I thought it was just bad instead of awful. Then I saw the spoiler for the new 6 drop wall and I was hyped. Once that wall is out, Bay of Seals turns into a 2 cost Plaza of Pride without a trigger cost. Maybe I’m overvaluing without testing, but I’m excited to build that deck in the next couple months.
Eastwatch Carpenter: 3.5
This card’s textbox basically says +2/3 gold, which when you are playing a Builders deck is a dream come true. I don’t think he is good enough to see play in a non-builders deck, but maybe he will. Playing cards is good, and you can’t play cards without Gold.
The Rat Cook: 3.5/5
The Rat Cook. As Ratatouille taught us, Anyone Can Cook, and in the right Stewards Deck, you can cook some incredibly important characters of your opponents. If you have enough cheap Stewards on the board, you can use Rat Cook to take a 6/7 drop from your opponent for the round, and then get their character caught in the crossfire of the Mutiny at Craster’s Keep.
Donal Noye: 3/5
I dont expect Donal to see a lot of play soon. I do expect that in the future there will be enough good attachments that a deck will come to power that revolves around ambushing attachments into play with Donal and swinging challenges/games in ways that it is difficult for the opponent to predict. Being able to play a Catapult at the Wall mid challenge is a powerful ability.
Guarding the Realm: 3/5
This card is Yoren as an event, which makes it a good card. It’s not insane and I don’t think running 3x is right in most decks, but a NW Steal Your Dudes deck should play at least 1 and probably 2. Especially if you are playing the 6-drop wall since this can clear out the lower str characters that your opponent would want to give to you. It can even be recurred!
Septon Cellador: 3/5
Are you playing a Steal Your Dudes deck? Then Septon Cellador is the drunk for you. He’s pretty expensive, so it might be tough to afford the slots in your deck for him, but he messes with your opponents plan, they can no longer rely on keeping a character in hand to marshal next turn. This can also be used to Trigger your Now My Watch Begins, which can cause a huge challenge phase tempo swing.
Are you playing NW/Winter trying to choke your opponent out? Well, maybe you will want to include Dareon and some songs, but maybe not since Combo had to come along and get them all restricted. Something important to note, The Rat Cook is a song, which can get you a cheeky 1g steal in the challenges phase that your opponent wasn’t expecting. But, overall it’s pretty tough to slot Dareon into a deck, but in the right deck? He could be influential.
This synergizes well with Night Gathers, in the sense that it gives you +1 Reserve and incentives to have higher reserve than your opponent. It can draw you a card in the dominance phase, which can sometimes clutch up when you draw a Mutiny, but all-in-all this card is far from one of the best NW cards this cycle, but will see play occasionally.
Young Builder: 2/5
Drawing cards is good. I could see this card being a 1x in a builders deck, or more than a 1x in a non-builders Bestow deck, but overall I think it won’t make the cut in a lot of decks.
Garrison on the Wall: 2/5
This card isn’t very good. It can be good in a banner deck, or a Steal Your Dudes deck, but to get any value out of him your opponent has to be attacking and you have control characters from multiple factions. I could be convinced to play this card if I was banner Dragon because I can use Aegon to grab him, and then kneel Aegon to get my stand, but overall I don’t think this card will see much play.
Journey to Oldtown: 2/5
I love this card, giving it a 2/5 really breaks my heart, but I’ve tried to make it work and it really just isn’t very good. The initial plan was to Journey to Oldtown my Ramsay Snow every turn, but pretty soon you realize you are giving up 2 cards for one, and that math doesn’t work in your favor. You can get some cheeky saves from Valar D/M with this card though, so maybe I’m not being as generous with my review as I should be.
Improved Fortifications: 1.5/5
Improved Fortifications is a wonderful example of a card that has good intentions, but very little practical usage (currently). If in the future PD is more ubiqutious and location hate is rampant, I could see this card being played, but in the current atmosphere of the game I think that it always gets cut early in the deckbuilding process.
Defender at the Wall: 1/5
If there is one thing that NW does not need, its more monocons with horrible textboxes, and that’s exactly what this card is. The best way to play Rangers is aggressively, so a Ranger that is only useful on defense isn’t anything that will see play anytime soon.
Mole’s Town: 1/5
I don’t see much value in Mole’s Town. It’s a single turn Craven that can’t hit the same character in consecutive turns. But I guess you could do some cool things by giving gold to your own Bestow characters? Overall, I don’t this card has enough utility to see play in any but the most devoted Bestow decks.
Ranger’s Bow: 1/5
NW has a ton of weapons. This one is incredibly boring, and not incredibly powerful. That is a fatal combination that results in a card being binder fodder, and that’s exactly where I expect this bow to sit for the remainder of it’s duration in rotation. Oh, and it costs 2, so let’s just bury these even farther.
Obsidian Arrows: 0.5/5
This card is bad. If there wasn’t loyal, it could be good in Targ Burn or in Stark Wolves, but as it is this card might see play if you are playing a Bestow deck, and you have a Donal Noye out so you can ambush it in to get a surpise challenge. But all-in-all this card most likely won’t see a lot of use. Maybe you can sneak one into a LotC Rangers deck because you could put it on your Haunted Forest Scout/Jon Snow and threaten it in any challenge?
If this card ever sees play I would be incredibly surprised. I can pay 2 gold for a one str bicon, or 3 gold if I want a Steward to have stealth this turn. Whoopdi-doo. I would play this in a Wildling deck before I would play it in a Steward deck, but really I would just never play this card.