Hi I´m Gleb from Germany and with this article I try to summarize my long experience in this game as helpful and clear as I can. The goal of this article is to give beginning to intermediate players an insight into how and why all marshaling and challenge phase decisions fit into overarching major strategies. I think this understanding is this so called “game-sense” veteran players of the game are known for.
Since for some credentials are important: I´ve been playing this game nonstop since the CCG launch, with a lot of top-x placements at nationals and Stahleck. I´ll admit though, no victories even if sometimes close , in some part that´s what I get for disliking to play with obviously unbalanced cards the bigger part it´s because i´m to lazy for proper deck testing. The last years I have not been traveling much , because of family, that´s why I should not sound familiar to a lot of you. The online nick is/was moneylender, though rarely used.
Anyway for anyone interested, thank you and have fun. ( In the dry objective efficiency analysis kind of course, the German way).
I do appreciate any feedback, and will try to update any major missing points.
Ways to win the game.
1 The quick ones
1.4 Good Cards with additional Synergy
2 The slow ones ( AKA the fun ones)
2.4 Control with a power claim win condition.
3 The big one not mentioned : Midrange
4.0 The rare to exotic cases
4.3 Intrigue Focused Control
4.4 Recurring denial control
All decks win by fifteen power, but there are different approaches or strategies to reach them. (OK decking has a section too) To visualize this the best way is to envision the desired end of game board state when a deck wins. Do you win plot phase round 3 with heads on spikes while winning initiative before the opponent reset removes all your power? Or do you assemble a 15 power combo on one turn. Or is opponent completely wiped of the board with no cards in hand around turn 10? (my favorite ).
The thing is in a lot of games you have to decide on one stategic focus or another, to optimize your win chance, or sometimes even enable one. If you try to dominate in all things at once, power, board and cards, it will weaken all at the same time probably leaving you vulnerable to some counterplay. Or you are winning so much that your decisions do not really matter.
I´ll try here to create an thorough overview, because knowing your strategy and estimating your opponents and how these work out until the end of the game is what gives you a clear outline and reference point for each decision, beginning with the setup. Meaning it makes every decision way easier. And that is the goal of this, rather long, article.
Often I see newer players just “do stuff,” attacking challenges, not defending other ones, without a clear surrounding strategy. For me improvement in the game lies in the ability to explain and analyze every decision based on your long term plan. And in my eyes bringing your long term plan to fruition is the most compelling aspect in this beautiful game.
The other aspect of this is that very few decks have only one inherent strategy. And sometimes happenstance, like bad setups or weird draws create openings to play a in different way. If you can spot these clearly you will increase your win rates. That is why I included a “as a side path” variant in every strategy to show a “weaker” version of the strategy that a much wider range of decks are capable of.
Obvious example: You opponent has only one cheap character for claim soak and just two big dudes on the first turn and you are a slow attrition based Martell deck. But you have a way to get rid of the cheap character, get a military challenge through and have a Marched to the wall for a follow up. Well you just went aggro, but it only makes your overall game plan easier.
The key here, is knowing your decks potential for a specific strategy, and recognize the cards that allow that. (easy example “winter is coming“: late game power or early game military or even intrigue claim?) And how your opponents decks reacts to a strategy. ( An extra military claim on turn one against Martell-alltheresets… is probably not worth it)
I myself always go though all possible strategies for both decks in the first turn as a mental checklist, and i enjoy it.
Important disclaimer: I write this heavily influenced by first/CCG edition, which had more expressed strategies, like real rush, hyper-aggro, decks with only one character and such. I favor to use the extreme form to better demonstrate the strategy. 2nd Ed is usually more “midrangy”, but sure seems to be getting there.
Anyway here are the different paths, the main ones listed first, and the lesser seen corner cases added afterward :
1 The quick ones:
If you are not Running a reset, or counting on going 7( or 10) plots and your opponent having to play one, this are your strategies before a control decks usually grinds you down.
The obvious one: You want to gain power usually with renown characters, standing those and power-grab effects ( hello superior claim). And you want to do this before your opponent gets his cards/ resources and controls and/or resets your board. Usually some tempo is involved ( see tempo below) as you exchange cards in hand for power or resource generation.
And to get power faster your opponent needs a few tokens on his faction card for you to steal, so give him unopposed challenges where you don´t care. As you do not intendto play a lot of turns losing cards does not bother you. Just keep probable “if you win” triggers in mind that can slow your power gain (pinch of powder, Put to the sword etc.)
Resets like Valar Morghulis (or Valar Dohaeris to a lesser extend) are your biggest enemy. If you know or highly suspect there is one in your opponents deck, you can:
Hold back a bit until you can play a dupe/some sort of protection.
Go so fast the reset is forced early and you can refill the board with other threats. (2 Income on a plot is quite the downside early)
a mix of both. Playing a part of your threats, while holding back another, may either force a reset that you can refill afterward, or allow you to rush to victory next turn otherwise.
Be one turn faster than expected. If your opponent estimates that you cannot gain enough power in one round , and therefore plans on resetting next turn because of that, a surprise Superior claim into a heads on spikes (which thanks to the initiative will happen before the Valar) can give you that 15 before you would have lost.
The endgame board state is: 15 power, mostly on probably unprotected characters with no cards in hand, while your opponent is juuuuust ready to crush it all.
Rush as an side path:
It is always worth doing the math late game if you can close out a game in one turn by what usually would be be overextending. Maybe you are on the losing side and have like a 30% chance to win the game. Well going all out with 13 power total guaranteed and then playing heads on spikes with a 60% hit-chance is the better move. ( Or make the opponent have that cancel/ nightmares THIS turn or else you win, before you lose anyway in 3 turns).
The other situation is if, in a somewhat equal game, you notice you have better power gain than your opponent. Maybe your opponent has just a lack of power icons, or you just happen to have more renown in play and in the deck. This allows you to create power pressure, forcing your opponent into inefficient plays the closer you get to 15, meaning you lower the power level of his or her cards, and also increasing your chance for a scenario when you can just close a game by claiming power.
Both sitations are before your opponents resets are depleted, usually the “one” reset in most decks. After that you just can go all in.
1: Your opponent sacrifices cards for tempo and power . As long as you have either more draw or more value in the cards in your deck (f.e. anything that is not superior claim) and some way to reset the board, you will come ahead after the reset. You just have to slow the power gain until the resources run out and reset. Usually that means committing to the board more to be able to oppose more.
2: aggro: sometimes rush is weak to kill or claim, or lots of both. Ether wipe the board, or kill the important characters. As most important power grabbing characters are unique and there is only a small number of these in most factions, once the are in the dead pile they mostly stay there and the deck hast lost it´s win condition.
3. If you have none of the above then it´s just about being faster, and tempoing harder. But careful as sometimes a rush deck has space for a reset plot just for that case.
Well a real aggro deck has finally appeared with Free Folk, but there also are a lot of good pressure cards in many houses giving them good aggro plays early game, which can result in a blowout game.
Basically you use 2 claim, claim-raise, extra challenges, and kill-effects (which right now are more resource intensive then the former) to destroy your opponents board as fast as possible. As a side effect of this you get your 2 claim intrigue too, restricting your opponents come back potential. (Only intrigue focused decks are below). Also very likely uses tempo.
Note that sometimes a reset is involved to be able to catch up if your opponent gets to big on the board too fast.
The important decision point is whether to holding back any aggro/tempo effects. If you can get your opponent to zero characters, and probably have some follow up kill/removal pressure in most cases that means game over. The earlier the better, as this usually means a lacking economy for comeback plays.
The common risk is again a big reset. In you overextend so much that you have nothing left to pressure the board after a Valar M, then you might have put yourself in a bad spot.
The other less common risk is a deck that can come beck after being wiped, one or more times. To do so it needs draw, economy and 1+ resets/ or attrition effects or you competely runnig out of cards and being unanable to keep up with board development. Like Martell Wolf. Against such cases you have to always weigh if an aggro tool speeds up the game in your favor, by allowing you to conserve cards, or gain power, or if it just leaves you with a tool less for later. If you can, pressuring the economy or the hand/ draw effects will hamper the comeback potential.
The other important thing with aggro is, in AGOT you still need something to get to 15 power afterward, and just gaining 3x unopposed each turn is giving your opponent often too much time to recover, while you risk running out of steam.
So you need an supporting strategy:
Either increased power claim (rush), with renown or good old “rise of the kraken”.
Or draw and/or repetitive card advantage/kill effects to keep the pressure up and retain the dominant position ( like Khal Drogo/ Big Drogon IDP)
More theoretical now is Choke: restricting your opponents resources, so he/she never has enough for a potential comeback.
So the optimal winning board state is two 2 claim plots back to back with Khal Drogo (duped lol), while killing all the chuds with burn effects leading to a concession after challenges plot 2.
Aggro as a side path:
Basically any time your opponent is vulnerable to additional kill/ military claim, and your deck has the option to do so you should consider it. If you are likely to keep the momentum and profit from it, it is usually worth even using good removal cards like Dracarys suboptimal on 1-2 cost guys because you have just a good chance to win the board forever.
And to over analyze things, if a 6-coster dies to military claim that is just a lot of gained tempo and that is usually good.
Again know your opponents deck, if he will Valar M. or Varys anyway don´waste your resources.
I’m a big fan of having some aggro options in a deck, especially in a big tourney. Besides fun and flexibility it´s pure complacence: Blowout games are quick and easy, and allow you to conserve some energy in the swiss rounds.
1: the same as vs. Tempo, but as some cards will be focused on extra kill or claim and such, you can make those low value cards by not playing important characters as single kill targets, and preparing yourself to come back with a reset once an overkill turn happens.
2: if you are rather midrangy, but will struggle on the board the first turns, try to bait out the power cards with less important characters, so you have threats for a comeback and swing the board in your favor once your opponents aggressive potential is exhausted.
3: Your deck has so much resilience (saves, recursion, draw+ characters, or redundant characters) that after the very first turns your just have a hugely favored match up and all you need is to get a decent turn one and two and get on the board.
4: none of the above: well be faster, go for tempo. Be prepared for a probable reset. Usually aggro decks, being focused of a few very efficient characters, have a very finite amount of STR they can muster, meaning a midrangy deck can dominate challenges if it gets to setup.
Also because of the lack of draw and cheaper characters, and fewer plot gold, means aggro is often susceptible to aggro itself.
Tempo is not a strategy to win on itself, rather just a tool. Nonetheless the concept is of such importance that it cannot be left out. ( Side note there are a lot of different meanings attributed to this word in different games, i´m loosely using the hearthstone definition).
The idea of tempo is just getting on the board better and faster then your opponents can, with more STR, maybe some stand effects, dominating challenges.
And then you profit from it on one way or another. One of the ways is get tempo, dominate challenges, snowball into dominating next challenges even more, generating either board and card advantage through claim, or just power, or maybe “win by 5 STR effects” and such. If both decks don’t run a reset, well then it is all about who has the most tempo, and gets to snowball.
To simplify, in AGOT the most important resources are cards in hand, gold, and and cards in play.
And in the challenges phase it is all about how much strength can you muster in which challenges and what effects can you trigger.
To achieve this you sacrifice other resources (mostly cards in hand: best example Qotho) , to get more gold to play characters (like Kingsroads instead of Goldroads), favoring STR, or stand abilities, as well as effects with immediate board impact. This often includes “soft” control effects because of resource efficiency, as a kneel of a character is cheaper to get by as a kill. Or well at least used to…
Also duplicates are tempo, you basically gain a super-save for zero gold and a card.
An other ways to gain tempo is by exchanging cards with less cost/value on your side for cards with more value on the other side. ( for example you March to the Wall a chud, and your opponent a Tywin Lannister, or you trade a put to the sword (1 card 2 gold) for one Tywin ( 1 card 7 gold).
For an extended example see the swing y Lannister meta shortly after release of 2nd Ed (all about fastest gold generation, biggest challenge impacting characters, kill events …oh the joy)
Because there is such a thing as balance, most draw cards are anti-tempo, like Dorne, as draw has a cost associated with it that does not put stats on the board, so going for tempo in theory means foregoing draw.
Since there are reset plots like Valar Dohearis you always need some way to profit from dominating the board with tempo( like power) , or securing the board state, because you are using up the most important resource after a reset: your cards in hand.
Tempo as a side path:
That’s something you probably do anyways: check the board and the expected future plots to asses what can be achieved by committing more on the board (more or better characters) instead of holding back and how much this could be punished..
Even if your opponent is not actually sacrificing cards for tempo, he does have a board focused plan, very likely less draw, and you have a reset. So he will be forced to either stop development to play around your resets, meaning you can profit from temporary control like Nightmares etc. and work on setting up your resources and card advantage for the reset, while somewhat contesting the board . Or he will overextend and you get a good value from the reset.
The theory is easy to summarize, get card advantage, don´t loose the game, reset, win eventually, playing it out is usually harder 🙂
To play optimally you should know your resets and how to get card advantage, and how much you need on the board to prevent certain effects( we do not sow) or intrigue claim, to make sure the resources are depleted enough when you reset, and measure it against your opponents power gain and possible resilience effects to avoid resetting too late.
If you can´t do that you have to be faster, meaning by claiming power or having more tempo. Because having the weaker board will lead to card disadvantage by having to fulfill claim, slowly loosing you the game even if having otherwise complete parity.
1.4 Good Cards with additional Synergy:
This is what most top tier midrangy decks do, and not really a strategy on itself, but really important. You play really good, above the curve cards, that when combined get even better. (like Wyman Manderly + Robb Stark, or Queensguard + Mereen). The win-style itself can be rush/aggro/control/whatever, the point is to get those threats to stick on the board, and to play around probable counters/resets. Once you get the synergy running uncontested , even one or two turns, you just gain so much Tempo and or power that you ride it to victory.
As a side path: this is basically a side path as the decks are good enough to win without the synergy, it´s just the overdrive mode.
The counter: Well you counter the synergy. Know your answers, and how they can deal with them . (example: you have a Milk of the Poppy, does she/he run Confiscation? Do you play it right away or try to bait the confiscation?). If you have a reset/removal they will be vulnerable to, try to no play it too early to coerce them into not committing to the full synergy in fear of the card you have and buy you time.
So either you have a definitive answer that solves the problem once and for all, (like killing) or just try o buy time to outrace them with whatever your deck does.
If you know that your deck is likely to lose once the synergy happens, and none of the above works, then your only option is to hope both cards are not drawn or played soon, and try to win as fast as possible, playing risky because whatever odds you have they are better now than after the synergy.
Reminder: Generally you still have to counter whatever strategy this deck goes for, as simply removing one piece of the synergy does not win you the game alone.
2 The slow ones ( AKA the fun ones):
Control is again not a win condition on itself just the tool most slow decks use. It´s just about gaining card advantage, mostly by drawing cards, (and it´s about drawing more in comparison, whatever the numbers are, 3 extra cards to 0, or 25 extra cards to 18, whoever draws more is probably more favored in the long run) and using reactive cards, that handle the threats presented.
Such cards are: Milk of the Poppy, Nightmares, Melisande, most of Martell.
The goal is to make the game go long enough that all that card advantage gives you a favorable position, and enables a win condition. Your opponent just must not reach 15 power.
So power management is very key in the early turns. Control the renown, negate the unopposed power, and be really careful with winning unopposed challenges, as it creates power on your house to steal. Usually only intrigue is worth it. If you are rad get a tie in dominance.
Why do i say card advantage and not simply draw? Well it was a thing, that is creeping up again. Any effect that returns a card to you, or removes a card from your opponent also gives you a numerical advantage, (unless its one for one, then it … depends), more so if it´s a recurring effect, like Bridge of Skulls, house of black and white,or venomous blade.
And resets! Resets are the most fun and soul wrecking way to gain a numerical card advantage. You Valar Morghulis, or Varys a board of your two guys against their board of 6, BAM ( or BÄM as we Germans say) 4 cards more that were drawn gone on one side ( OK 3 with Varys).
So your ideal game state is your opponent has nothing, or just blanked or otherwise neutralized characters, just top decks, while you still have a board and an handful of reactive cards. Of course that is around turn 6+, and your opponent was at 13 power at some point in the game.
Control as a side path:
Whatever your decks are, if you draw more cards than your opponent, you become the control player, and are more likely to win if the game goes long enough . Just slow down a bit, stall the opponent and win, even if you just drew the only insight character in your deck turn one in a rush mirror match. Well in THEORY at least. The Tricky thing is slowing the power gain enough to have the card advantage matter.
Just know that stalling often leads to a lot of STR with renown on the wrong side of the table. If you can´t handle that even with more draw (like having not enough resets and weaker characters) then what are you stalling for?
But since the beginning of the game one of the “easiest” ways to win was just to have cards in hand (or shadows) after a reset if your opponent did not.
The counter: ( this is basically for all the listed control decks)
If you know that you are not the control deck you have to win before your opponents slow but inevitable victory.
To achieve this you have to go for tempo to claim power faster, or get an aggressive early board control which can pressure your opponent, especially through intrigue.
The best way to delay control is to destroy expensive resources, draw engines, like Dorne. And cancel their draw if possible. Maybe if you neutralize the draw effects, your draw comes out on top and you become the control player.
Know your decks threats, and your opponents answers, and try to time your threats, that either your opponent had not enough opportunities to assemble a lot, or has to use up more than he´s likely to draw and make him run out.
Well and always plan for the reset. Try to know or guess which ones, and how many of them are to be expected, keep a reserve to pressure afterward, and try to force or bait them out early. Because the later the game goes the more economy control has and the more the card advantage grows.
The better you can force a reset like a Valar M/D the more likely you are to hit it with the best plot possible, like a trade routes, or something with a 2 claim.
If you expect a reset that can be saved, try to keep the most important power character in hand until you get a dupe or some other save.
One alternative is to assemble your “combo” , and just win in one turn. Resets don’t stop that. But Nightmares does, so have a counter for the counter ready or just recognize if you are forced to risk it. Bear in mind that overextending with renown and stand effects, when you have 9 power on the house is as good as a real combo here.
It is just control that was too lazy to think of an interesting win condition :).
If you gain solid card advantage and use a lot of stall and resets or other character removal, eventually your opponent runs out of stuff, i.e. he or she just top decks without a board or hand. And then you win by doing unopposed challenges with whatever you have left.
Right now the upside of the style is that the usual suspects (Martell Wolf, and a lot of other decks featuring Ward) run numerous effects that can clear characters either one by one , multiple times per turn (marched, Ramsay Snow) allowing for huge tempo swings on smaller boards, and also have a global reset . That means you have multiple options to create a clear board, even early game, sometimes rather aggro styled, which slows your opponent down so much that a comeback is really unlikely.
Hot update for 2nd edition: Even if you cleared the board and hand, you still need to have cards that represent a threat or can handle a threat, remaining for you, even at very late game because of ….top decked big guys. (Unless all important uniques are in the dead pile). I learned that once as on turn 8 or something my otherwise opponent just top decked Cercei and Jamie, and just won with them against my board of 3 costers.
Side path is basically the same as control, and the same as aggro depending on the game state.
Counters are the same as Control, with one addition.
To counter attrition you really need to know the key cards that remove your character base and play around those.
For example, in the current Worlds/Stahleck 2018 meta it´s Ward, Ramsey(maybe + Skagos) , and Marched as singular removal and Valar M. as the global reset.
So you play around the global reset as usual, but try to have more cheap or otherwise expendable characters as a buffer for the “marched to the wall like” effects, that optimally are not susceptible to ward. No that does not sound easy.
Just uses the usual control stuff and draws a lot to amass a combination of cards that create an unstoppable win condition, or just win the game in one turn.
Examples are the old ladies combo that did not even have to control so much because it was so fast. Or the Nights Watch builders deck, that is sort of a combo variant, with the core Wall and a ton of synergies that make sure the Wall triggers.
It´s important to know what cards can counter you, and how to counter them (not attacking against his viper eyes until you have enough cancel f.e.)
The winning board state is usually a ridiculous combination of cards that just wins you the game and frustrates your opponent as I gives him little interaction, either after maybe drawing almost your whole deck, stalling for far to long, or far too early in the game, depending on current card balance.
Combo as a side path:
Having cards in you deck that are OK to good on their own (otherwise it´s hard to justify them in a deck you want to win with) that have a huge power when combined. Know them, play them if you can pressure an opponent that is not likely to have an good answer, or dig for them and protect them if you are in a situation when they are your only likely way to win a game, or just use them a a finishing burst.. See “good cards with synergy” above.
Examples are Mace Tyrell and Hightower, or Oldtown and scheming septon.
besides the mentioned control counters, the additions are:
-Unlike control you do not die slowly but in one turn, so you are even more on a clock.
-The other difference is that if a key card is missing or neutered the deck presents almost no threat.
-To slow down the clock you have to try to hit the crucial cards either in hand, maybe by card effects, like seen in flames, and destroy important resources on the board, if able. Also try to bait out the opponents cancels while you dig four your´s.
-Combo has fewer characters in play usually, so you can abuse this to gain power even faster.
2.4 Control with a power claim win condition.
Its just Control that hast thought of a win condition, that is a card that gets you a lot of power quick if a weak board state of the opponent is reached, being it an Doran`s Game, or a character that claims a lot of power quick if uncontested. ( Have you heard of the old Red Viper? http://www.cardgamedb.com/index.php/GoTCards.html/_/princes-of-the-sun/the-red-viper-pots
well there was an older almost better one http://cardguide.wikia.com/wiki/The_Red_Viper_(ACoS) )
As a side path:
Well it is always good to have some power grab in a control deck to speed the game up, and often the time limit is a consideration. And since a lot of decks are more on the mid-range side of things, you´ll probably have some anyway.
If you are not faster you can try to neutralize the (usually very easy to guess) power grabbing cards, giving you a chance that your deck will claim power faster giving you more pressure to work with.
The big one not mentioned :
(just as an example, that card, like lots of uniques, is like good for tempo and rush and control and probably combo too)
My point was to highlight the ways to victory on extreme examples. Midrange ( or sometimes (mis labeled as the “good stuff” deck) is a deck that can usually utilize a combination of them, just not in an excessive manner. It is not set to win in the first few turns or draw out the game. Because of the focus of the game on very strong unique characters, which usually claim power, that’s a very common type of deck. Since multiple victory paths are possible, being able spot what you want or can go for in any game and any round will give you a long term plan and ease decision making on every step.
The most simple guideline in a midrange v. midrange game that almost always works is: make sure you get more power each round than your opponent. One good way to do this is opposing their renown dudes with yours and gaining power on defense. And if you can clear the opponents board probably do it.
Just some broad advice, as this is an extensive topic. My approach for a midrangy v. midrangy game to get an overall game-plan, in addition to analyzing the board states you get every turn, is the following:
As soon as I know my opponents archetype (mostly when house cards are revealed) I asses who will have the card advantage ( usually by draw) at the late game, as well as who has which reset and how will these affect us both.
In addition to that I weight all my opponents threats (cards that win you the game if unanswered, especially light combos, like. Mace Tyrell, iron throne + chamber of the painted table, any Wall, or Doran´s Game) against my answers to those, and vice versa. In some cases if my deck has only a specific answer to a threat that will lose me the game, well I have to work for that answer, even if it is only the hope for a viper eyes on turn 1 on a sloppy opponent. Or if my opponent has a likely counter to an essential play ( …we do not sow, again), I have to neutralize it first.
Once this analysis is done I know who will likely be favored once the game goes long. Either by simply having more card advantage and resets or attrition effects, or by a specific threat that has no correlating counter, (like having nothing against Mace/Hightower means I will loose the game once these cards are on the bard long enough).
This creates the “role” for each player,( Who becomes the “control” and who becomes the fast deck “the beat down”) determining the general game style to either go fast, or just slow your opponent down and win eventually. And the threat assessment makes me aware of the important cards in this match up to search for/ protect/hold back/ get prepared for.
If there is no clear “control” deck between the two, it´s probably all about getting the board, economy, and winning the tempo race, while preparing for your opponents reset if you are winning the race, ore preparing for your reset if not.
The rare to exotic cases:
A board centric deck that just runs such an amount of threats (mostly characters that claim power) with a gold and a draw or a recursion engine, that just keeps them coming even after one or multiple resets. Since you are so good at generating STR on board, you are likely to have more tempo and probably don’t even run a reset, or even removal because you are also hard to out-rush.
An old example would be the Stark gates of Winterfell deck that ran …dunno 50 characters and 2x marching orders.
Your winning board state are just some beefy dudes with power on them that your opponent failed to stop after his resets ran out, and a lot of similar ones in your draw and discard pile.
Swarm as a side path:
Well this is one of the most common things that happen: a deck that will be outmatched because the opponent is more “control” ( has more card advantage and surely wins after recycling the reset plot on turn 8) tries to pressure just enough to force out a reset and still have the right amount threats held back or protected for a follow up push. And either repeat if a second reset comes or lose.
Another way to “swarm” is in a control v. control game, if you have more threatening characters in your deck (usually with renown). These will allow you to gain more pressure on the board ( by simply claiming power faster on an otherwise equal board state), forcing your opponent to reset, or use up other tools, making him run out of stuff before you do.
1 Be faster. As this is slightly slower then rush, and has no special pressure tool except resilience, be faster, by slowing down crucial cards if necessary.
2 Be super control. Some decks have enough resets and other attrition effects to handle even this.
3. Hit the engine cards: if you can counter the economy or the draw engine this will hamper the deck significantly.
Again a strategy that has not really been hugely viable, it´s basically the negative version of tempo. You use your cards ( like we do not sow, White Tree) to make sure your opponent has less resources, primarily gold, so he or she is forced to be weaker on the board than you. Traditionally this was coupled with Aggro. You do mostly utilize this by pressuring the character base, as characters that die to claim cost gold and attack cards in hand if you can.
The upside in comparison to just tempo is that after a reset the opponent is still so restricted in his or her ability to play cards that he or she cannot come back on the board, even when he or she has more cards in hand than you. (Also reserve pressures the hand, sort of). It was a thing in first ed ( Greyjoy Winter for those who remember)
Choke as a side path:
Just keep an eye out for bad resource starts (which do happen), and maybe gain some leeway out of them by going for more tempo, going for resource destruction ( we do not sow may win you some games here) if able, or using the window where your opponent only has very little resources to refill the board if he uses a reset.
If you expect such a strategy, mulligan more readily for resources and small characters. Sometimes draw/search aggressively for resources. If you can get your economy rolling, and have not significantly lost on board or on cards you will come out ahead. Expect a reset (maybe first snow of winter) and try to keep a hand to come back afterward.
4.3 Intrigue Focused Control:
A strange hybrid of control and aggro, that is only somewhat present in the game, with the goal of early game discarding cards from opponents hand to gain the card advantage to utilize, with resets. Because of a more claim based approach it can go more on tempo and reach a greater hand size difference already in the early turns, leading to an overall faster game plan. (as the most common deck uses big Cersei Lannister LoCR it can even go high on the rush scale.)
Intrigue as a Side path:
No better way then to gain card advantage then winning intrigue challenges. Just be sure that doing the attack does not use up characters that would be more useful, like stopping a renown, or claiming back some power to slow things down. Also mind that it can generate unopposed power to be stolen from your house later if you intend to stall out a game.
1 Since your opponent does go for tempo in some way, you can focus on protecting your hand and catch your opponent with a reset on an overextended board. Basically beating aggro as a control player. ( remember Lannister, the most likely house to do this has really suboptimal draw cards that are usually not found in a deck)
2. Go all in on the board. Intrigue claim does not hurt you if your hand is empty. Try to win the game fast, and create a somewhat resilient board state on the way, as your hand will not help you after the reset. Maybe you even have shadow cards to keep safe for later turns.
4.4 Recurring denial control:
A control deck that keeps assembling control tools that are reusable: recurring effects, and/or locations. That after some time amasses a board state that just negates all challenge potential an opponent could muster after being softened by a few resets. And then just wins by not caring about what your opponent does.
Such a deck does not exist in 2nd ED jet, but if those “remove an attacker and stand it” Tyrell cards keep getting printed it will probably happen one day. Nights Watch defense is sort of it, but has a combo aspect to it too.
Well you can also win the game by discarding your opponents deck. (called Milling since forever, it´s a Magic the gathering thing) I would just classify it as a combo deck, that is trying to reach it´s alternative win condition before the opponent reaches his or hers, or depending on the build maybe as a rush deck, that just does not rush you with power. In any way it “wastes” resources for a effect that is basically irrelevant until you are really out of deck.
As a sidepath:
Now that is a rare case, but if you have some pillage effects and such, or more recursion, you can try to mill out a very stall and draw focused control deck that does not really get to 15 power as long as you keep something on the board. Just stall and mill, always keep a reserve of cards to prevent having no board, and play reeeeeealy fast if you have a time limit.
Your deck wants to do your thing, depending on how likely you are to be out of deck by the moment your deck wins, you have to speed up your game plan accordingly and try to slow the mill down (usually by trying to oppose the pillage characters).