Welcome to the Targaryen fifth cycle review written by Queen Daenerys’ loyal bloodriders.
Contributions from Sandy Barnabas who has more Air Miles than Drogon; Alasdair MacDonald whose favourite food is BBQ’d Porg; Matt Slade/Slarday who loves Tokar parties & Luke Wortley who known for his snazzy outfits and dancing skillz at the annual GenCon karaoke party.
We won’t reveal the individual reviewers to make it more interesting but, please, let us know what you think of our views.
While I’m inclined to believe that the surname on this card is inaccurate, this cycle review isn’t about the stowaway prince’s lineage as a legitimate claimant to the Targaryen line nor his potential status as the last of a traitorous horde of pretenders.
Where to begin with Aegon? He is a massive tempo swing on board position, and if you see him early, it’s even deadlier. In Targaryen mono decks, especially running Fealty, Wars, or Crossing – as was the case before the revised Restricted List – Aegon was an insurance policy to nab an early Second Sons to get the Flea Bottom shenanigans going; if the Second Sons were already in play or in the discard pile, Daario was probably the next logical target for a big body with the potential for another character swing and a stand. All of that for 5 total gold, which is absolutely bonkers. Do I need to say more?
He’s an incredible card, and he’s good in every single Targaryen build (hoping to see Dothraki become a bit more reliable) as well as Banner of the Dragon package. Being able to get an Army in factions like Martell (Host of the Boneway for Intimidate or Starfall Cavalry for more burst draw) or Stark (King Robb’s Host for a little power pressure), even for just a single turn, enables some really fun and potentially devastating plays.
A 5 gold event at first glance seems very likely to be underwhelming. Being the single most expensive event in the game means you are expecting a lot and the effect is not insignificant. Recurring a character from discard not just for the phase but forever is amazing. Viewed on a simple cost benefit analysis, then you’re looking for getting back a bomb 6 or 7 cost character or someone with an enter play effect that will blow the game wide open for you. It’s not a surprise then that the very first and probably still the best home for this event is in fact not in main house Targaryen but Martell banner of the Dragon where the cost can be reduced quite easily with The Water Gardens.
Hizdahr zo Loraq:
Is there any doubt this card is great? He is a non-loyal king, who turns every card in your hand into a kingsroad+ (since you can use it on ambush and shadows as well as marshalling). Arguably the best card in a cycle full of good cards. It’s really difficult to imagine any Targaryen or banner of the Dragon deck that doesn’t run 3x of him in it.
A contender for best card in the set. Meereen is the engine that powers all the discard mechanics Targaryen has – Hizdahr, Queensguard, Plaza of Pride, Jhiqui, etc. Not to mention, you can also just play the cards you draw. It’s probably the single biggest target for any location control your opponent has, even more than Flea Bottom. The only problem with Meereen is deciding whether to use it in marshalling or challenges (it’s easy to whiff when looking for a card you can afford to marshal or an event you want for the challenges). Meereen even protects from intrigue claim! If you have a Targaryen deck and don’t run this, I have to wonder what exactly you’re doing.
One of those cases where an answer or pressure valve card for a theme or mechanic comes out ahead of most of those cards themselves. Without Hizdahr weaving his magic, this is 4 gold for a 1 strength bicon that maybe put a character that was safe in shadows into the dead pile. Funnily enough upon his release the only high value target you wanted to snag was Aegon. There are a few more now though, Meera is ever annoying but can be easily recurred with Summer. With Assault from the Shadows agenda though, there can now be all many of scary characters sitting in shadows. Still this guy isn’t amazing and I suspect will continue to find it hard to make his way into most Targaryen decks given the abundance of good cards the last 2 cycles have given us.
At first glance, a 3g attachment seems like it would have to be amazing to be playable. Luckily, it is.
A repeatable stand effect with a much less stringent targeting condition than Seal of the Hand – the only “downside” is that arguably this is a better banner card than in main house Targaryen. Oh, if that weren’t enough, it even has shadows, so it’s not a dead card on setup. It is still an expensive attachment, and it can be a tempo hit if you run into someone running attachment removal. Doing 3 challenges with Khal Drogo can be devastating and the cost of the stand can inconsequential (Meereen, Missandei, seeding Second Sons etc). Bannering this to any renown, insight, or intimidate character out of faction makes it very flexible.
Rhaegal (Music of Dragons):
The Dragon trait is obviously great, and built-in action advantage is a massive boon in a meta that seems to be getting faster by the minute; his icon spread is probably still the best pairing in the game, especially for the early turns, and the Ambush keyword will always be relevant. His ability is easy to trigger, and since there is no limit on it, the dream is to use multiple Dracarys! and still have a 4str bicon up for challenges (It’s worth noting that his ability cannot trigger when a character dies to military claim, as that is a framework mechanic, not a card effect). However, the biggest problem with him is the awkward cost for a trait that already comes on the much cheaper Hatchling, whose chief purpose is to ensure there are enough Dragon characters in play to reliably draw and burn with Dracarys! (and the efficiency with Fire and Blood can’t be understated). Dedicating more than 1 deck slot to this version of Rhaegal might dramatically slow the deck down and clog setups. The other 5-cost characters currently being played in more traditional Targaryen burn decks are Qotho and Daenerys (The Faith Militant), so it’s just hard to justify jamming up the upper end of the curve in that deck with a character like Rhaegal, even if he aligns very closely with Targaryen’s faction identity. His closest analogue is Aggo, who sees little play now despite the prevalence of Summer plots. I don’t think Rhaegal is a bad card; I just think Targaryen has a surplus of more efficient options that cost less. I hope to be proven wrong, because I want to play this card.
What a bombshell this was. Rightly so, this card set the meta ablaze by allowing Targaryen to have a monopoly on manipulation of discard piles in-faction. The non-limited income is baller but was looked at almost as an afterthought when everyone saw how this ability could be used both offensively and defensively – either adding key cards back to your own deck or taking Flea Bottom targets out of your opponent’s discard pile. Definitely one of the more potent of the non-limited, kneel-to-do-something locations.
Recursion/Dredge/Recycling is absolutely one of my favourite things in any card game, and Meereenese Market makes me happy for that reason. Is it a bit above the curve? Probably. Obviously, if you’re trying to “go infinite” with some of your key events, you’ll want to pair this with some search and shuffle effects (e.g. Aegon, Gifts for the Widow, Shadowblack Lane, etc.). But perhaps the most potent deck this card goes in is Targ-Qohor. Being able to tutor the entire deck for extra copies of attachments, have them be discarded or sacrificed, and then find them again immediately, is massive. I won’t go into all the plays, here, as I’ve already gone on at length.
TL;DR…Meereenese Market good
Oh boy did this guy cause a storm when he was spoiled. The sort of big bad dragon people have been waiting for and praying would never come. A 6 strength monocon isn’t great but ambush, no attachments and Dracarys on a stick with no limit and the ability to target anyone, sign me up.
Similar to Ser Gregor Clegane, Drogon has the ability lay waste to boards if you can stand him and do multiple challenges with him. Weirdly because of his cost he doesn’t seamlessly fit into traditional burn builds without issue and there are limits to what the bank of Hizdahr can allow you to afford. Outside of Voltron Dany decks, core Drogon won’t see much, if any play anymore.
In Daznak’s Pit:
Personally, I think this card is only good in Crossing, but it’s really quite good there. It’s expensive at shadows 3 (so 5g), but Hizdahr can help with that – just remember to discard the card before the challenge phase ends! Although it’s pretty obviously good with Win or Die, it also causes “at the beginning” and “at the end” of challenges phase things to fire, so Winter Festival and First Snow / Weapons at the Door will trigger twice. It also means anything brought into play with Fleabottom returns, and since it doesn’t stand locations, probably can’t be used again.
With all these caveats, it’s still basically an extra turn before your opponent can flip a new plot, which in Crossing often means you win the game. I don’t think it’s really worth the cost in any other deck, although arguably it might be a 1x in Sea of Blood.
An interesting character that is effectively an expensive Freedman. If you are top decking with a very small board, having Brazen Beasts in your discard pile could save your game. I feel Brazen Beasts should work well in heavy discard decks but will probably be cut as the 62+nd card.
Gifts for the Widow:
A fantastic constructive event that is great in banner dragon decks (Renly Queensguard) as well as main house Targaryen. It’s perfect for Voltron decks (Tokar, Breaker of Chains) and in Goodstuff decks that have 1x of a handful of positive attachments (Mother of Dragons, Drogo’s Arakh, Bodygaurds etc…). It can be played mid-challenge as a surprise and is another trigger for Queen Daenerys. Gifts for the Widow finally confirms Targaryen’s attachment theme.
Viserion (At the Gates):
A bonus review for you hardcore readers that have made it this far. The best things come in threes and it would be amiss of us not to include Viserion. New Drogon is the biggest Dragon, new Rhaegal is the smartest Dragon but new Viserion completes the trio of new dragons and is obviously the coolest Dragon.
Targaryen get another conditional intimidate character following on from Rakharo & Cohollo. Ambush, Loyalty, +2 STR are marginal improvements over his core set version but minus the hatchling and stealth boost to core Dany. The threat of intimidate can put your opponent a difficult position: they may feel they need to defend to prevent the kneel but they would be worried about the their defender potentially being burnt to a crisp. You’ll need to go first to play these mind games but is it worth an extra 3 gold? Probably not, I don’t see this Viserion replacing the 2 cost version which is so efficient but I hope I’m wrong. Finally, I feel both new Rhaegal and new Viserion would be very playable if they were 5 STR helping in the mirror match and the win by 5 triggers.
This is Queen Daenerys’ loyal bloodriders signing off. We hope you’ve enjoyed the review and don’t forget to let us know your thoughts. Hajas and Dothras Chek!