So I got the honor to be the one to share what I think we got going in my beloved faction in Dance of Shadows cycle.
Brief introduction? I’m Ivan from the Bulgarian meta or probably more famous with “the one with the weird Cyrillic name on FB (Facebook) not that one other thing”. I’ve been NW loyalist from the start. This year is the one that I had most success mainly because of the current cycle and thus Richard asked me to share my views on the faction.
The cycle offered us an interesting set of cards. We got lucky in the 6 characters we got as most of them are really decent and the rest are just great. I think both locations are outstanding and the attachments are … attachments. Both events are okay at most. But now let’s go in details. I’m arranging the cards from best to worst in my opinion.
Three Finger Hobb
Even in the Targaryen heavy meta, I don’t think anyone will argue with me here; I think that the best card we got this cycle is … Three-Finger Hobb. This little guy fits in all the NW strategies. Stark and Targaryen got also amazing card engines and I’m happy to say this guy doesn’t fall behind. Allowing to avoid the reserve with his timing and be with card ahead after that is what makes him shine. Also we have a positive trait here in the Steward.
Next is the hard one for me because I think it is 3 way tie but I’ll go with my preferred here.
The Wall – the piece that the Recruitment theme was missing. The most expensive location of the game but what a beauty it is. It is Nedly and Jaime at the same time. What more would we want? We get to play with all the characters, because when it comes to defending the realm, everyone has to do his part. Making everyone NW has negatives and positives at the same time. The Wall as a centrepiece for the current recruitment theme is a huge magnet for opponents control tools and that gives you some freedom with all other pieces you have. The fact that it is just a simple action is what makes it so strong.
Bastard, Commander and Lord. Wait what? Lord? When did this happen?! Still NW will not play A Noble Cause. Jon is probably the first card that screams into our face that Traits matter in the Watch. Everyone is there for a reason and assigned to his part of the Watch (blanked on the name here). We have our 3rd NW Jon and again he is Voltron-y. Getting access to 3 keywords potentially 4 with his favorite weapon in hand, he is force to be reckoned with. Also the loyalty is an added bonus, but with the latest Restricted List we don’t worry about that as much even with the other two Jons. Also being able to self-activate with a simple Sworn to the Watch is just gravy.
Ally. This is the Ally that we would hate to see fall for the charm of Daario Naharis. 2 cost 5 Str Intrigue/Power is really good. The price to pay is sacrificing a NW character. I would say this is a small price to pay, and in the era of Begging Brothers we can negate even that if required. The watch has a lot of characters that we would like to have in our discarded pile once their marshalling reaction is done (Yoren), or “re-stand” a stolen character with The Wall mid challenges. These are just some of the little tricks we can do with him. Also he comes in the light when Mutiny at Craster’s Keep comes to mind. Protecting your other few high cost characters and sacrificing himself in the name of the team.
From here on I don’t think there is a clear ranking. All the cards suit their themes and can find place in decks.
Draw 3 for 3. Seems good. We can even find exactly what we want. I’ll not lie to you it is really costly event but I do believe there is home for it alongside Littlefinger’s Meddling and few other high impact and costly NW events. Prime targets here we have Jon Snow, Core and WotW, Grenn, Aemon, Halder, Three-Finger Hobb, Dolorous Edd & Benjen Stark. As we can see this covers all the bases for all the types of decks the NW would want to run.
Speeeeed, Speeeed is what I need …. Combo, rush, power. NW isn’t a slow faction but wasn’t one of the fastest either. Until now, the extra power we were able to see was mainly due to The Wall (Core) and few random renown characters (only 1 native). Now we have this, and it makes every big guy to have mega-renown. This is fitting for the Lord Commander of The Watch. The funny thing is that the best character for the attachment is probably Craster, a Wildling.
We got a shadows card that really suits the theme. A dominance action that forces the opponent to sacrifice a standing character. Seems easy to avoid right? You may be caught by surprise with weird interaction this card has with the Bay of Seals – remember that card we had to read few times to figure what is going on there. Also the watch has Craven to semi control the situation and not to miss that we are in a stand heavy environment and non-kneeling characters to attack. This may be the silver bullet that wins you game and force you to say “Got’em”.
And the rest …
Daggers in the Dark
Shadow event. Thank God it doesn’t kill our own characters. Shadow (2) to force the opponent to kill attacking character or sacrifice two of his characters. On paper it looks good, but we will still have to see if it will make it into decks. Challenges which we win usually have nothing important in them, or sometimes because we have over-defended. Builders may like this, as I think is the only place where we win on demand 90% of the time. I do see myself trying and experimenting to see where this will find its home. Maybe in that Meddling deck with Fresh Recruits and Crow is a Tricksy Bird…
The Ranger in the set. Again we have a repeating theme here; cannot defend and no power icon. What are we supposed to do with this? Well, we attack as he is 3 cost for 4 strength and we all know Rangers don’t care much for defense. With Jaremy Rykker as the core of every Ranger deck, we have another tricon with solid stats. I don’t think that the Ally trait is such a drawback here.
A steward in the set. Our last shadow card and I’m not sure it needs it. Also I think he is overpriced for what he does. Tricon on defense isn’t that bad, but again the Unsworn Apprentice was the same and saw almost no play. The cute thing here is that doesn’t have the No Attachments keyword that all in The Watch share. This enables some really weird combos we can do with them and Sworn to the Watch (wink, wink).
The Builder in the set. A solid, solid addition to the Builders deck. Potential draw for no investment is good. And in the decks we will be running him he will hit probably most of the time. The limitation for in faction in my eyes is non-existent.
And with this we conclude the review of the 11 NW cards we got this cycle.
– What? There is 12th card?!
– Ivan you should know by now that every faction gets 12 cards.
*running to my binder to see what you are referring to*
– Nope can’t see it.
*shout in the distance*
– Miner’s Pick!
You are right there is that card, but I think we got the short stick here on the economy front (I blame you Underground Vault). From being limited to the traits we can use it on, and the fact it is an ATTACHMENT. The main characters we would like to attach this to are the Steward and Builder on/at the Wall. The sad part is that they are the first that go to claim. None of the big characters can’t use them without further investment. Rangers and the Recruiters can’t use it and those are the once we usually want to keep alive. The fact we can’t depend on it and to have its economy we have to re-invest makes it unplayable in my eyes.
– Happy now? All 12 cards
I would like to add few honorary mentions here on the Neutral.
Assault from Shadows
I don’t think this is our agenda. There are few cute things we can do with it but we will struggle for economy here.
Trading with Qohor
Lord Commander Jon loves the agenda. We have really good Voltron characters and having Dragon and Rose as good banners for it with Gifts for the Widow and Highgarden Courtiers.
Exchange of Information
The Watch has a good spread of good and playable events and attachments. Also we have the ability to turn cards into money.
“On a Misty Morn”
I like the event for all the Traited NW decks. Draw 2 for 1 gold is really good.