Game Of Thrones LCG - No Middle Ground Review

So far so good on the LCG reviews so let's continue the Game of Thrones saga with No Middle Ground, the fourth pack in the Westeros cycle. The meta scene has undergone some dramatic changes following this pack with some of the underdogs starting to rise up again and one plot in particular killing several archetypes stone dead. It almost feels like the meta is changing too rapidly because it's difficult to keep up with it!

To repeat a previous disclaimer, I'm a casual player that enjoys the game and can hold my own in a local store tournament despite having much to learn myself. That's all. Take that for what its worth, but maybe that will allow me to consider combos and ideas that will be fun to use rather than simply dismissing anything that doesn't make a Tier 1 level deck or whatever! So that being said, let's start. You can already check out my Game of Thrones LCG review on my site. If you want to see all the images/text for each card, I recommend you visit thronesdb.com and use their search engine - far easier than me regurgitating it here.




Hodor

Most people packing Hodor will be playing a Stark deck and thus also be using Bran Stark so his main weakness is mitigated for the most part. But even without, he makes for a very cheap and powerful defender with two icons and if you do get Bran out, he can go on the offensive. He'll never be a 3 copy card and likely won't see much use outside of Stark, but when playing at home, he's going to be included.


Wardens of the North

Good amount of gold and initiative for this plot and an ability that messes with the opponents maths for working out challenges. Twice in the round you can suddenly decide to include another character in a challenge when things don't go your way and thus gain the upper hand and swing the tide. Pretty solid plot.


Ser Horas Redwyne

I doubt I'll ever see a deck with more than two of this guy in, but he's got plenty of solid targets for a Lady to stand. In Tyrell Margarey is a perfect match for him and even the Queen of Thorns may get some mileage. If combined with Stark then Sansa will enjoy standing earlier than expected for her power gain. And of course being a Knight he can fit well in that classic archetype going round and is immune to the effects of a certain plot we'll get to later.


The Arbor

Oh do I replace my Roseroad's in my deck with multiples of this unique location or not? This is the question going through a lot of Tyrell minds lately. On the one hand it almost makes up for itself on the first turn, but on the other hand it's using up half of your starting deployment allowance. To play this during the game is still good, but getting it at the start can give you such a huge head start on the gold front. It is however a Loyal card though so sorry Tywin, this isn't for you.


Halder

Pretty underwhelmed with this one. A +1 to STR isn't that big of a deal and you're having to kneel something potentially more important to do so. You aren't kneeling The Wall or Castle Black for this that's for sure and the weapon attachments already give a decent STR boost so exactly what are you planning to kneel to get this to go off? Can't imagine he's going to be very popular, certainly I've got no plans to use him any time soon. You can't even effectively tutor him with The Watch Has Need because there's barely any builders in the set worth tutoring for.


The Watcher On The Walls

I've been told that this is a bit of a red herring. Kneeling two characters is a lot I admit and I suppose now that swarm decks are dying out it's not as easy to find that spare resource, but still being able to simply go "right your guys are all dead, challenge lost" sounds pretty painful to inflict on someone. A ranger focused Night's Watch deck would love to include at least one of this card to spring up at a cool moment. However again the opponent has less incentive to win military challenges against you when you've got a Maester who can save them from dying and Benjen who wants to die.


For The Watch!

A very cool plot and in conjunction with other cards, has the power to shut down entire challenge phases for an opponent allowing The Wall to effortlessly gain some extra power in the turn or just to help you build up your forces again for the next round. The fact it works for each phase is obvious foreshadowing of things to come. . .



Gendry


Gendry is a nice fit into a standard Baratheon dominance deck as that is generally what they are good at with all their kneeling abilities. Essentially a renown ability without having to get caught up in challenges. The disadvantage may occasionally sting you, but if you're focusing on dominance you should ideally be winning it more often than not especially if you're got the Iron Throne out.

Tobho Mott's Armory

Getting extra card draw is all well and good, but to me this just seems like a "win-more" card. You're already getting decent card draw from The Red Keep which also helps you with challenges so I don't see why you would desperately want to include this in your deck as well, except maybe a single copy as a bonus. Plays to the dominance strategy of Baratheon though.


Red Cloaks

A very popular card for Lannister right now. It's already efficient at 2 gold for 2 icons and 2 STR, but it's ability to be boosted with excess gold which is Lannister's forte makes them even better especially in intrigue challenges which are very hard to defend against half the time anyway. They're pretty much an auto-include.


Paid Off

This can be a potentially annoying attachment and shut down a rebuttal challenge from an opponent, but if they've kept any gold back it's not the biggest hindrance ever. You're likely to place more value in them having to kneel a character rather than get an extra gold especially if you're using Tyrion and make all your excess gold from him anyway. I'm not as big a fan of this card and would sooner just take more common annoying attachments like Milk of the Poppy, etc.


Priest of the Drowned God

Brilliant! Brilliant! Going in every Greyjoy deck I make. Greyjoy has always had a bit of an issue with intrigue icons, now we have it present on an efficiently costed character that buffs other common characters found in Greyjoy. At bare minimum this is 3 STR for 3 gold, but get one or two other priests on the table and it quickly racks up. Drowned Men especially love this when used in conjunction with Warship locations as they start reaching obscene levels of STR in challenges. Now you're lacking on stealth yes, but you can't have everything.


Loot

I went nuts for this at first, but now I'm a little hesitant. On the one hand it rids your opponent of a ton of gold they might have had spare which when played on a Martell player with The Long Plan out is just beautiful to see. But milling the opponents deck doesn't necessarily hurt them that much and space is VERY tight in a Greyjoy deck with so much cool stuff to consider. Pillage in Greyjoy has its moments but it's not quite at the level to base an entire deck around yet - but we'll keep this one in storage for the time being until that time arises.


Dothraki Outriders

Wow that's some big power right there, outside of Gregor anyway. However it does come with a hefty cost that isn't getting reduced by A Noble Cause any time soon. In time this card is going to be pretty beefy, but currently there aren't many worthy Dothraki's to use in a functioning Targ deck to get the cost down considerably. As more start being released though, this will only grow in power.



Blood of the Dragon

A cool way to wipe off all the cheap characters off the board, although be warned this also hurts your guys as well so your economy better be up to speed at this point. It can also put some harder characters in range of a nice looking Dracarys too. However 2 gold and 2 initiative with a single claim aren't the best stats for a plot ever. It should be noted that this card kicks in before plots like Marched to the Wall with their "when revealed" abilities are resolved, so you can clear the field a little forcing them to get rid of someone a little more valuable. Still it could have been better.


Maester of Starfall

Sticking to Martell's recent trend of denying icons and now keywords as well. However the loss of an icon is generally more devastating than simply losing a keyword and you have to keep kneeling this guy as well. I can't see him being used in conjunction with Colette as his ability fits more in line with the other trend of Martell losing challenges only to bounce back with a vengeance.


Condemmed

Exactly like the other Attainted card which took away an intrigue icon, this one removes a power icon. I've yet to see many people combine the two however to make an ultimate icon denial deck - something I might give a go myself, but here's one problem I can see. Power icons are really easy to come by, there's definitely a lot more of them then there are intrigue icons so the removal of one probably won't have as big of an impact as losing an intrigue icon. That being said, making a powerful character less effective is never a bad thing and it will probably give Greyjoy a bit of a headache. Both aren't terminal though so you'll be getting these back to use again.


Wilding Scout

I must be missing something here, because I play Greyjoy a lot and I see him popping up in many Greyjoy decks. But is he that useful? Intrigue icons are hard to come by I guess and we're all about stealth, but sacrificing something that cost you two gold just for a one turn benefit? We got enough ways to give stealth to our characters, do we need another that burns itself to do so?


Wraiths In Their Midst

And where's that big stack of cards that I'm using as coasters? Oh yeah there it is with the fantastic Brandon's Gift on it, I'll just add this one to that pile. I'll eat my words if someone uses this with devastating effect against me but otherwise, how rubbish can you get? I'm barely even looking at my reserve value let alone caring about it as most decks aren't running around with that many cards in their hand.


The First Snow of Winter

Save the best till last, well the most game-changing one anyway. This plot has by itself changed the meta so much it's insane. Swarm decks have been killed stone dead and even Knight decks are seen less now because they were all about cheap characters. Nights Watch got yet another kick in the teeth as well forcing them to utilise their more expensive characters they normally didn't use before. Thankfully the cards mentioned earlier might have saved them from being completely forgotten. But just the mere fear factor of this card has made people made drastic changes to their deck design. It's not an auto-include for everyone's deck, but welcome to the resurgence of expensive characters long forgotten.


Summary

This included quite a lot of solid cards and some that have completely revamped the Game of Thrones meta as we know it. Will future packs and the upcoming deluxe expansion do the same, who knows? But I can't imagine one will make such a change as First Snow of Winter.

The vast majority of the cards have a use even if slightly limited currently with only 3 that I would say aren't going to get any decent time in decks so this is definitely one of the stronger packs out there. Only two more to go in this cycle and they have a lot to live up to.

Now the next release is the anticipated Wolves of the North deluxe expansion which obviously I won't be explaining my thoughts on every single card in the box, I'd be here all week, but I will be doing a normal Broken Meeple review on the subject. Check that one out soon!


If you are interested in this game you can find a copy at your friendly local gaming store - http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/

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