Welcome back to Austere Assembly. For more details on the series, check this article (https://www.agot.cards/2019/01/23/austere-assembly-hub-article/), and once you’ve read it come back here for the good stuff!
Greyjoy offer a small issue in that arguably the best deck they have, Drowned God, has a completely different set of cards contained in it to every other deck they build. I went back and forth as to whether to factor the archetype in to this list or not, but eventually decided that, in the first place, Drowned God isn’t representative of the faction as a whole; in the second place, these articles being aimed at newer players means I should stick to their more ‘standard’ themes; and in the third place, it would make the list super-short and the article less substantive. So to that end, instead I’m just going to bold those cards that are so ubiquitous they even go in Drowned God, and move on.
And now that I’ve showed my working, let’s look at Greyjoy’s most kraken cards:
1x Valar Morghulis
1x We Take Westeros!
3x Drowned God Fanatic
1x Euron Crow’s Eye (Core)
1x Hagen’s Daughter
1x Maester Murenmure
1x Old Bill Bone
1x Theon Greyjoy TFoA
1x Wex Pyke
2x Great Hall
3x Iron Mines
2x Risen from the Sea
2x We Do Not Sow
First of all it’s worth looking at the saves package – i.e., the Iron Mines, the Risen from the Sea, the Hagen’s Daughter and the Valar Morghulis. Greyjoy have got both the most saves of any faction and the best saves of any faction. This makes running Valar M a no-brainer, as no other faction can come out ahead against Greyjoy when the plot is flipped. You may wish to run more saves than those listed, but I believe them to be the bare minimum.
One other save not listed is Victarion Greyjoy LoCR, and the reason for that is that he, like most of the big flashy Greyjoy characters, has multiple versions. You will want an Asha Greyjoy, a Balon Greyjoy, a Victarion Greyjoy, and probably multiple copies of at least one or two of them. The reason I haven’t included them in this list is that which version you want to run depends on the deck archetype you’re pushing. For a quick summation:
Unopposed: 3x Asha Greyjoy Core, 3x Balon Greyjoy Core, 1x Victarion Greyjoy LoCR
Pillage: 3x Asha Greyjoy KM, 3x Balon Greyjoy KotI, 1x Victarion Greyjoy LoCR
Aggro: 1-3x Asha Greyjoy KotI, 1-3x Balon Greyjoy CtA/Core*, 1-3x Victarion Greyjoy MoD
Warships: 1x Asha Greyjoy KM, 1-3x Balon Greyjoy KotI, 3x Victarion Greyjoy MoD
Pure GoodStuff: 1x Asha Greyjoy KM, 3x Balon Greyjoy KotI/CtA**, 1x Victarion Greyjoy MoD
*Sea of Blood runs Core Balon to help win military by 5; others may favour the extra challenges King Balon can offer you.
**Depending on whether your agenda requires a faction card kneel. If you’re running the KotI version you may also consider King of Salt and Rock, to give you access to the King trait and supplement his pillage.
It is worth stressing that these are only templates, not hard and fast rules, and your specific build may need a different version of the character, or may get more value from increasing/decreasing the amounts of those characters. Regardless though, you’re going to want to have some combination of them or another, hence my inclusion of 2x Great Halls in the template (and that will often go up to 3x when you get to building your deck). The other economy cards I have left up to the deckbuilder, as Greyjoy’s 2-cost economy cards are for relatively specialist decks so will sometimes be used and sometimes not – often you’ll at least want Sea Towers though.
Euron Crow’s Eye also has another version, Euron Crow’s Eye KotI. There will be some boats decks that want him instead of the core version I have listed in the template; however, the majority will prefer the original, possibly even if you’re running Silence. In short, core Euron’s reaction can still win games against a large swathe of decks to this day. I’m not saying to never run the other Euron (as a tricon with Intimidate and the ability to stand can do serious damage), but you have to be pretty sure it’s the right decision. That game-winning reaction is also the reason I consider We Take Westeros to be mandatory – there are so many decks it just reads “when revealed, drastically increase your chances of winning the game” against. Even if your opponent isn’t playing one of those decks, it’s got great stats and can recover your own Iron Mines, which is a very strong floor for a plot to have.
Of course, to get these good locations out of the discard pile, you need a way of putting them there in the first place, and We Do Not Sow remains the best card in the game for that. Even if your regular gameplan isn’t unopposed, it simply stands to reason that you’ll probably get the odd unopposed challenge here and there. If you don’t, then more often than not it means your opponent is going out of their way to block everything just in case, allowing you to press the tempo advantage in other areas. Factor in its ability to hit all locations, be they limited or non-limited, and attachments as well, and it one of the most versatile and efficient events in the entire game.
Similarly, even if you aren’t running an unopposed theme, Theon Greyjoy is an excellent character. A lot of the time he’s a guaranteed unopposed power plus claim, and even when he isn’t he makes the opponent bend over backwards to deal with him, committing a minimum of two characters to win a challenge on defence by definition – and all for the low investment of 3 gold.
When it comes to chuds, Greyjoy actually have a very good selection. Acolyte of the Waves is great for rush-minded builds, and Stony Shore Raider and Lordsport Shipwright offer different jumping-off points for controlling locations depending on what icons you need and whether you are willing to sacrifice economy for tempo. Meanwhile there’s also the Raider from Pyke and A Pinch of Powder combination – for those unaware, due to wibbly-wobbly rulesy-wulesyness, Raider lets you ambush Pinch in for free – which goes in most decks that can justify the slots for it but isn’t necessary in Sea of Blood decks.
However, consistent presences in Greyjoy decks are Wex Pyke, who is their only 2 gold, 2 STR bicon (hence also bringing in the always-good Old Bill Bone) and can occasionally-albeit-rarely help you force challenges through with his ability; and especially the Drowned God Fanatic, AKA Vince after its designer (and the handsome chap in the art). Vince is one of the absolute best cards released in the entire game. Putting aside his action for the moment, being able to cancel a character ability for free at any time from a position of hidden information is just phenomenal. The number of times this effect can be vital to you winning the game are too numerous to list. Then, go back to that action we put aside previously. A 2 STR body that you can bring in for the cost of killing a character, with two icons, is just plain useful. It also has extra value on this effect specifically, as it means you get to include a strong cancel effect without it taking away from your event slots – unlike, say, Lannister and Treachery.
Lastly, I haven’t included two cards I previously described as mandatory in the Baratheon article – Nightmares and The Hand’s Judgment – and I want to explain why. Firstly with Nightmares, simply put Greyjoy can answer characters and locations differently. Between We Do Not Sow and Euron/We Take Westeros, plus the location-kneel effects, Sea Bitch, Newly-Made Lord and others, Greyjoy can more than handle locations without blanking them. As for characters, Greyjoy have access to the Raider/Pinch combination, plus Vince to cancel problematic character abilities. Nightmares is by no means a never-include, but it is often overkill to do so.
Hand’s Judgement is left out for a different reason. Often you will want to include it (as Greyjoy has no native event cancel), but simply put they are one of the most aggressively-oriented factions in the game, and will often struggle to find room for such a reactive card effect. Oftentimes when I include Hand’s Judgement in Greyjoy, the main event I end up cancelling is… my opponent’s Hand’s Judgements. More often than not I think a Greyjoy deck would rather include a card like Tris Botley and try to stop the opponent from being able to play the event in the first place.
Thus concludes the justification for my list. Agree, disagree? Think I’m crazy, and/or underrating the deluxe box Euron? Please comment below and help me advise our newer players on what they’d be mad not to run!