Hello everyone, and welcome to the King of the Isles Greyjoy card box review! The fifth cycle came to a close, and with that came rising seas and Kraken dominance. You thought Tyrell was oppressive after their box came out? You know nothing about the Drowned God, for what is dead may never die.
My name is Dustan Archer, and this is my second big box review. As I mentioned in the previous one, I was a Greyjoy loyalist early on in the game, but my competitiveness encouraged me to try out other factions. When this box was released, with Thrones WAR visible on the horizon, I felt the call of the sea and knew that my time of returning to my favorite faction was at hand. The restricted list that followed hit Greyjoy very little, thus ensuring their top status.
The box has obviously been out for quite awhile and you’ve all felt its effects, but I wanted to wait until after Thrones WAR to really delve into this – for both competitive reasons and to ensure I really gave fair rankings to the box cards. As a team, we did a sincerely disgusting amount of testing, and I think some of the early reviews of the box may have missed out on just how good some of the cards would really end up becoming. The box built well on the existing themes for Greyjoy, from the Drowned God recursion to pillage, and created a competitive Warships-focused style of deck. My order of ranking is more about the power of the card in relation to the type of deck it goes in than its overall power level, since nearly every card in this box seems meant for specific styles of Greyjoy decks. So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
#25 – Gwynesse Harlaw
With a pillage focused deck, there’s often other things I want to be doing with their discard – either stealing their characters with Balon, removing them from the game with Tris, or taking their locations with Euron. Moving cards back to their deck means less tutor potential with Asha, as well. With 4 cost and a 3 str pow monocon, AND a limit of once per round? Enjoy the binder, Gwynesse.
#24 – The Knight
Stealth and renown on a 5 for 5 mil/pow bicon is great, but if you’re attacking alone with him you’re going to need support elsewhere – Raiding Longships and the like – to ensure the challenge win. He’s a less good core Knight of Flowers – the stealth isn’t enough to offset the fact that the opponent can defend with multiple characters. There’s a lot of great options in the 4-5 cost range, and I just don’t think The Knight makes the cut in most decks.
#23 – The Drumm
Another 5 coster with an underwhelming text box. No keywords and conditional unopposed with underwhelming strength to boot. I’d much rather have a more impactful 5 coster that synergizes better with the overall deck, like Iron Victory’s Crew in Warship decks.
#22 – Fleet Captain
Even in a Warship-focused deck with Maiden’s Bane, I wasn’t running this – it’s a tight deck and there’s little wiggle room for unnecessary attachments. If I want strength boosts I’m looking at Corsair’s Dirk, because the Captain trait doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot right now.
#21 – Nighttime Raid
Surprise stealth is nice, but the restriction of pillage or Raider characters limits this card’s overall usefulness to a couple of decks. Even then you’ll be hard pressed to find room for this card competitively, because while it could win you the game by surprising your opponent with stealth when they thought they could block you, it’s also a bit of a dead draw earlier on.
#20 – Great Wyk
This CAN make for some pretty epic hand destruction in HRD Greyjoy as you’ll likely be able to trigger it in the marshaling, challenges, and dominance phase, but that’ll require having quite a few pieces in play. That said, a location like this that has no utility until you get other pieces on the board and get through a round or two is a pretty rough tempo hit.
#19 – Orkmont Reaver
A cheap pillage character, which is definitely needed in pillage-focused decks – or is it? Getting stealth after 10 cards in the discard is great, although even in dedicated pillage decks that can take a bit, and the strength is atrocious enough that the Reaver isn’t making a go of it alone. I haven’t found myself thrilled with this character, but he’s not the worst – at least it’s not a 2 cost monocon for once!
#18 – Eager Deckhand
Speaking of 2 cost moncons…the Deckhand can be a nice tempo boost or a surprise extra character for claim with Silence on the board, but there’s some competition for the 2 cost slot in Greyjoy – Lordsport Shipwrights are almost always a great inclusion, and if you’re running Pinch you’re running Raider, even with the new Restricted List. But, really, 2 cost 2 strength military monocon? It’s already been done in Greyjoy, y’all. Like, three times. We get it.
#17 – Golden Storm
I know, I know, some people have liked this ship quite a bit for the “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” style of play. It can be a great surprise claim with Silence, but I keep finding that I’d rather have other ships in play or in my deck. More than once this card has been in 61st card status for me.
#16 – Red Rain
The limit once per phase on this card was definitely necessary, but it also limited how much I’m likely to play it. It feels much more like a 2 cost Superior Claim with harder restrictions. Sure, it sticks around, but it’s also harder to pull off! Of course, I’m ignoring the Drumm part of it – because I don’t think he’s ever getting a slot in one of my blue decks – but it’s definitely a win more card that costs more than I’m willing to pay.
#15 – What Is Dead May Never Die
Who the hell can afford to save 3 gold until the Dominance phase?! That said, at least that 3 gold helps you win Dominance, but it seems to me that Drowned God decks have enough ways to bring their characters back from the dead or to your hand between Old Grey Gull, Tarle, Old Wyk, old Aeron, and Drowned God’s Apostle. If you’re running big characters and new Aeron this can help you bring them back, but really – you shouldn’t have let them die in the first place. Shame on you.
#14 – Andrik the Unsmiling
Andrik isn’t bad, but his monocon status does limit his utility. He’s great in Sea of Blood and pillage decks, and I love that Greyjoy is getting its own location-based version of Gregor, but I doubt I’m running him much outside of those decks. Greyjoy has other, better location control a la Captain Vic, but he definitely works well alongside core Euron.
#13 – Qarl the Maid
I’ve never been a big fan of characters like this that only exist to buff other characters and do little for themselves. Topdecking Qarl after a rough reset is just plain frustrating. That said, Qarl does fit into a Warship deck when you’re running big Asha – extra draw or an extra Warship trigger can be huge, even if Qarl goes in with another character when it wasn’t necessary just to get the trigger off.
#12 – Asha Greyjoy
Like I said, I’m not a fan of characters that only exist to buff others. This Asha certainly does it better than others, though, with every unique Ironborn getting stealth – even Hagen’s Daughter. This is situationally good for unopposed and Sea of Blood decks, but how often do you have two or three other unique Ironborns on the table with her? Wouldn’t Pyke serve more usefulness for targeted stealth without restriction? I’ve rarely wanted to stray from big draw Asha, and buddy cop Asha here doesn’t give me enough reason to change allegiances.
#11 – Priest of Old Wyk
Another Drowned God chud that can help you win dominance, but Nagga’s Ribs generally does that duty anyway – if you’re even going for a dominance style Drowned God deck, which isn’t necessarily required anymore. At 4 strength he’s far more formidable than other Drowned God chuds, but he’s generally the first on the chopping block in my decks.
#10 – Drowned Prophet
We’re starting to get into my favorite cards of this box – everything from here down has been incredibly useful in their respective decks. The Drowned Prophet, for instance, is THE tutor that was needed to go find those Drowned Goddamned Disciples you need to close out a game. We tested Drowned God a bit for Thrones WAR, but it didn’t fit many of our playstyles. However, now that I’ve played Drowned God decks quite a bit since, I can say that the Prophet, and recurring it, is what makes the deck consistent and reasonably competitive.
#9 – Scouting Vessel
I’m not the biggest fan of pillage focused decks – I think tempo based, Warship/unopposed decks are the stronger choice – but Scouting Vessel certainly makes pillage a lot more worthwhile. Besides the triple draw with Asha or triple steal with Euron, it helps seed the discard for things like Tris, Andrik, and box Balon. If you run King’s Landing in your Greyjoy pillage – which is a whole other type of fun with Sea Bitch and Inn at the Crossroads – you get to keep using them over and over, too. It definitely brings pillage decks up from the low rung they were on before.
#8 – Maiden’s Bane
Warship decks and unopposed decks are one and the same in my mind, and nowhere does Maiden’s Bane shine better than in this style of deck. Being able to get multiple draw with Asha, multiple intimidates with new Euron, multiple renown with Balon or Big Vic is just bonkers! Even if you aren’t using a Captain, the character still stands if it’s unopposed, letting you come in again or block if needed. I love this boat oh so very, very much.
#7 – Balon Greyjoy
I’m not a fan of King Balon anyway, so the only one this is going up against for me is Core Balon – and these two go in separate decks anyway. Box Balon’s ability is possibly my favorite in the game, especially when combined with Drowned God Fanatic in a pillage deck. “I’ll just go ahead and take that Tywin annnnnnd HE’S DEAD!” Very little is more viscerally satisfying than stealing your opponent’s big beefy characters, using them in challenges, and then brutally murdering them with a Drowned God Fanatic trigger. Unfortunately I don’t think he can go in just any deck, as much as I’d love for him to – you need to fill their discard with characters to make him remotely worth it – but he’s great in pillage and Greensight!
#6 – Maester Murenmure
Lovingly referred to as Maester Murmurmur by myself and Andras Fulop, my co-conspirator, friend, and fellow Stormbruh, Maester Murenmure is one of the strongest pieces of location control Greyjoy has gotten other than Big Vic. Murenmure cancels Winterfell, one of Greyjoy’s biggest threats, and for that alone he’s nearly always a one of in any Greyjoy deck I’ll play.
#5 – Old Grey Gull
Old Grey Gull has obvious uses in Drowned God decks – on demand kill is important for those decks – and it’s also an interesting way to get around terminal attachments. But really, Old Grey Gull’s best utility is as a Drowned God Fanatic recurrer, giving you one cancel every single turn for the entire time you’ve got him on the board. You thought Vince was overpowered? How about if I have him every single turn?
#4 – Aeron Damphair
Never lack for draw again with new and improved Aeron Damphair! I’ve managed to get 5 cards drawn with him in one round, and while you’ll more typically get 3 per round, I think that’s pretty damn good for a Drowned God deck that needs to find its pieces as fast as possible. He’s even a decent body in other decks, too – you’re likely to get 2 cards per round in any given deck, and while Greyjoy’s days of having crap draw came to a close recently, Aeron bumps their standing up considerably.
#3 – Silence
Why would a card that’s only ever going to see one copy of it in play in any of my decks make it into the top 3? Because it’s SILENCE, that’s why. Combined with Euron (see below), this card gives your deck incredible economy, tempo advantage, and the ability to determine first player even on some of the lowest initiative plots. Once Euron’s gone, Silence still does work by bringing in surprise boats for free. Surprise – Raiding Longship! Surprise – Golden Storm! Your opponent always has to respect the trigger or face the consequences, and there’s serious value in a boat you can almost always get into play with a beast like box Euron.
#2 – Euron Crow’s Eye
Some people really shit on this Euron when he was spoiled, with reviews stating that core Euron was better and this Euron’s ability wasn’t enough. Frankly, they’re wrong, they’re bad, and they should feel bad, because box Euron is the hottest thing since wildfire burned King’s Landing to the ground.
Quite a few of the cards in this box are meant to work with each other, and that goes for Euron as much as it did for Silence. Euron isn’t just a Silence tutor – he’s a tempo generating machine. With a well-crafted deck, you’re using Euron in challenges two times every single challenge phase, more if you’ve got Maiden’s Bane. This forces your opponent to block your intimidate, unless you’ve got Raiding Longships on the board to get unopposed instead. And any of those ships can be a surprise – the Longships, Maiden’s Bane – that your opponent doesn’t know is coming until Silence gets used. No matter what ship you drop in, Euron comes right back up to swing again. If you get a Support of Harlaw on him too, well…I hope you like playing by yourself, because your opponent at a local game night is liable to just take their cards and go home.
His main drawback is that he’s the only big character you never, ever want to see as your only big character for setup. You want him in your hand, sure, but you want to go find that Silence with his trigger, because that’s a significant part of his value. If you have no other choice – like a really bad mulligan – he’s still decent, but the tutor is really important. In mirror matches I’ll often hold on to a Drowned God Fanatic to cancel their DGF when they inevitably play it on my Euron trigger, because it’s just so important to get it off.
#1 – We Take Westeros!
Quite frankly, this card is straight up power creep. Compare this plot to any other House-specific plot and you’ll catch my drift. 5/9/1/6 with one of the best When Revealed abilities ever made? Besides the incredible utility of stealing opponent’s big locations without even using Core Euron, not to mention forcing the opponent to hold onto important locations in hand until you use this plot, it also functions as an extra save with Iron Mines in your deck, or as extra econ if you run Kingsroad. Sea of Blood burn your one copy of Silence? Not anymore! Need to discard an important location for reserve, or did your opponent get a good intrigue hit on your Great Kraken? Who cares – now you get it for the low, low price of a When Revealed trigger! IT DOESN’T EVEN KNEEL YOUR FACTION CARD. Take that, King’s Peace! Sorry, Bara players. That was a cheap shot.
In a less immediate, more niche use, it also works well with Heads on Spikes. Since they’re more likely to hold on to big locations in hand until you play WTW!, HoS can either get it into their discard for you or get you some power and an intrigue hit. Win win, unless you whiff and snag an event or something. But who does that with Heads on Spikes? No one I’ve ever played against that runs it, that’s for sure.
Truly, WTW! will likely be in every GJ deck from now until the end of 2.0, and Kingsroad will make its way back into those same GJ decks. The initiative boost of Kingsroad, being somewhat unnecessary because of Silence and Refurbished Hulks, does help ensure that GJ determines first player every single round, even on low initiative plots, making things like Balon’s Solar useful as non-limited economy. The ability to control the tempo and flow of the game is one of Greyjoy’s greatest strengths, and WTW! reinforces that.
Really, what DOESN’T WTW! do?! And that’s why I feel it’s straight up power creep. It’s got good reserve, amazing initiative, great gold, and possibly the best When Revealed trigger in the game. If you disagree, I’m interested to hear why, because I can’t think of a solid reason why it doesn’t meet the definition.