Game of Thrones - Calm Over Westeros Review

For crying out loud, slow down Fantasy Flight! There's Calm Over Westeros, but it's certainly not Calm Over Portsmouth with the rate these expansions are coming out. I know I said I wanted a bigger card pool to drastically improve this game, but there's a limit guys! Already as I write this I know that True Steel is on the boat to wrap up the cycle. Here's hoping that maybe there will be a short break between cycles for us to catch our breath!

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.



Great Jon's Vanguard

As much as the prospect of a dual icon 6 STR character with renown for 5 gold is, I can't see this being used very much. Even in the best of rush decks you're only going to win so fast and if you use this guy for a setup move, you're just asking for Marched to the Wall to potentially ruin your day. To get his full benefit he HAS to be played early otherwise his stats don't justify the cost. So essentially luck of the draw yet again. I haven't seen him feature in any Stark deck yet.


Winterfell Crypt

Right, now we're starting to see the "sacrificial" archetype be fleshed out a little more. This gives you a nice way to sting the opponent for axing off one of your high cost characters, but you may even find a way to get rid of some supporting characters with one of your cheaper assets. Cheap to play as well, my only beef is the fact it shuffles into the opponents deck. Against Greyjoy that's brilliant with all their saves, but against most others I'd rather the person died as you're just asking for them to get a lucky shuffle and retrieve them back. But even with that minor nitpick it's still a big tempo hit if they want to bring him back. Solid card, just need a little more of this kind of thing and this archetype will start seeing some action.


Roseroad Patrol

Tyrell don't seem to be catching much of a break since Wolves of the North really. Having a character with the highest STR in play is a tall order given that other factions have ways of gaining obscenely high STR values. Stealth is a nice ability, but will you see it trigger very often? And there's plenty of other more worthwhile choices for that much gold. This one's a miss from me.


Pulling The Strings

This can be awesome or rubbish - because it depends entirely on what your opponent is playing in their plot deck. More often than not though, this will work out as a decent plot. It's got a solid gold value and chances are your opponent is going to be running something that fits this profile unless they've gone all out on Winter plots. What's handy is that this gives you a bit of flexibility to adapt mid-way in the game, using one of your opponents plots against him or maybe even effectively getting two uses out of a plot you already included in your deck if he's also packing it. Not game breaking, but solid and probably an auto-include in any Tyrell deck.


Chett

There's not a lot of targets for this guy to fetch in The Nights Watch so I don't see where this guy is going to be that useful. Possibly when paired with Stark, but then they've got enough ways to fetch Dire Wolves from their deck anyway. Being yet another mono-con doesn't help either, seriously would it kill them to put some icons on these guys? I am getting a bit sick and tired of cards being released way before their usefulness is fully realised. I don't want "teasers" I want fully functioning cards. Binder fodder unless something arrives to boost his ability.


Northern Rookery

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha  ha ha ha  ha ha ha  ha ha ha  ha ha ha  ha ha ha  ha ha ha  ha ha ha  ha ha ha  ha ha ha  ha ha ha  ha ha ha  ha ha ha  ha ha ha  ha ha ha  ha ha ha!!!. . . . . . . . rough translation, face-palm inducing trash.


Kingswood

This seems a little redundant given that The Red Keep already gives you +2 STR in all power challenges anyway and adds card draw to the bargain without a sacrifice drawback. If you're not winning power challenges left and right with the Keep in play then you're doing something wrong or they've got a board state so powerful that the Kingswood isn't going to make a difference. It's not unique so you can stack it, but then all it takes is for one power challenge to slip through and it's gone. A wasted opportunity.



Stinking Drunk


Not bad, but having to sacrifice it means you're only going to get one use out of it so timing would be crucial. A dedicated kneeling deck could find a use for this, but I fear that deck space will be limited already when you've got to include all the other Baratheon tech for kneeling characters. Least it doesn't cost any gold which is nice.


Bronn

This is a strange card, but Lannister and possibly Tyrell will go nuts for him. His constant swapping in the Marshall phase essentially turns the game into a bidding war and you know that Lannister and Tyrell will have the edge on the gold front there. If you can hang on to him though for cheap, maybe by going second in the turn order and waiting for your opponent to drain all his gold, 5 STR for 1 gold is ridiculous value. It's going to be a gamble though and you're going to have one turn where you get it wrong and suddenly you have issues.


Trial By Combat


I thought this would be ridiculous at first, but now I'm not so sure. It's a cool ability to essentially gain additional ways to force a military claim on someone, but it's a 2 gold event, which isn't cheap and it requires at least two claim on the challenge to be worth it. A Winter plot will sort that out, but also Cersei's ability for intrigue challenges. A turn where you can effectively force 3 or 4 military claim is nasty if you can pull it off. I think it's still a great card, no surprise Lannister gets it though.


Raider from Pyke

Remember what I said about cards coming out before they are fully useful? Greyjoy have two weapons currently, one which is barely used (the axe) and one which is not bad, but struggles to find the deck space (the net). You're not going to make a decent Greyjoy weapon deck with just those two on hand even if you banner the Kraken and use the signature weapon from another faction. I hope that more weapons will turn up to boost this guy as to be honest I think a weapon heavy archetype would be a cool deck to build. But for now, keep him in the binder.


Iron Mines

Other factions are getting more benefit from this card then Greyjoy so I don't know why they made it non-loyal, but regardless, this is a very good card. Being not limited and cheap to play means that a Greyjoy deck can potentially put out an obscene set up with all their cheap warships and this on top. Add Risen from the Sea to your deck and you can have six different saves for your characters being killed, which is an easy way to stop Greyjoy as they rely heavily on their front runners to do well. And unlike Risen, you'll need more than a Hands Judgement to cancel its effect.


Mirri Maz Durr

No synergy when it comes to traits but already Targ players are using her whenever possible just for her ability alone. She's an expensive one to put out as none of the discounts other than Targ reducers work on her, but a built in targeted kill that doesn't rely on a military challenge is enough to justify her. The two traits on her seem a bit odd, not sure if that's going to be developed in the future, but then I've no idea whether she features in the show or not and I've not read the books so she's a major unknown to me. Despite that, she's a powerful enough character to make the opponent fear an assault.



Blood Magic Ritual

Essentially it's a worse version of the Greyjoy Risen From The Seas card. It costs extra gold to play and it nullifies the text box of the character. Most people you want to save with this card will have a text box you want to keep so unless you're really desperate to have a high STR character remain in play, I don't see this being more than maybe a 1-drop in the deck.


Knights of the Sun

The opposite to Great Jon's Vanguard, but infinitely better. For starters Martell is all about playing the long game and having plots in the used pile, so the renown ability will kick in usually every game. On top of that it's 4 gold for a 4 STR bi-icon character which is pretty good value before you take renown into account. The knight trait is a bit of added gravy in case you're performing some weird shenanigans with Tyrell/Martell knights or something.


Vengeance for Elia

2 gold is expensive for an event, but man is this a scary card! Martell have waited for something like this to support their usual "attack us and you'll be sorry" style of play. Did you just hit me with a 2+ military claim challenge? Well you can lose the characters instead. Ouch! The rules regarding power challenges are a little weird but I think they simply cancel each other out, so ideally this is better off used on military and in some cases an intrigue challenge. But you can bluff with this effectively also, just have two gold sitting by and see if your opponent has the guts to send his guys over.


Street of Steel

Shadowblack Lane lets you search for events after an intrigue challenge, this one lets you search for weapons and items after a military challenge. Tutor effects are nice in a game where luck of the draw seems to dominate a lot of wins/losses, but just like my issue with the Pyke raiders, I don't think there's enough quality targets that MUST see play for this to get deck space. I'm certainly open to more non-unique weapons featuring in the future for this to be a new archetype, but so far this is too early to see use.


The Eyrie

Will this ever see play? I doubt it! 4 gold is an amount normally shunned by people who like locations. The Arbor and Winterfell break that rule by being phenomenally good, but I can't see room for this when you've got other ways to save characters for much cheaper. You're taking a big tempo hit to protect only one character and it only works for one phase also! Binder fodder.


Nightmares

Others like this card more than I do, but I can see where they are coming from. I personally prefer Milk of the Poppy on the basis that it stays put until the character leaves play or they work to discard it. Nightmares allows you to time the best point to nullify a character, but is only going to last for that one phase and then it's gone. Whether it makes that much of a difference or not comes down to the board state. It's not bad at all, I see its potential, but unless you want both in your deck which is perfectly viable in a control style, I'd rather use Milk.


Famine

Typically played after a First Snow of Winter, which is a still a heavy meta card right now, this can put a pinch in your opponent's ability to recover from it. However aside from the poor initiative, it has a flaw of providing you with very little gold. With First Snow and Famine you've only earned 5 gold in total. That's nothing. Now if you've got a lot of reducers out or The Arbor in Tyrell's case then it's not so bad, but otherwise you're hurting yourself as much as the opponent most likely and if he's able to generate enough gold to recover regardless of the added cost, then you're the one most likely in the deep end.


Summary

All in all aside from a couple of factions celebrating, this wasn't a very good pack, possibly one of the worst in this cycle. There's a few solid cards here, but the majority are redundant, bad or just outright appalling in an hilarious fashion. Martell are probably the only faction here to receive two decent cards, others have to make do with only one decent card and yet again the Nights Watch is left to wonder if Fantasy Flight Games have any interest in this faction becoming viable. True Steel needs to rectify this now!


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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