Game of Thrones - True Steel Review

So we now end the first Westeros cycle in Game of Thrones LCG 2nd Edition. Certainly didn't take long did it? And even though there's a long way to go in getting enough of a card pool to encounter some particularly varied deck builds, it's getting there, slowly but surely. So does the cycle end on a high note or will we be left pining for the next cycle to arrive. . . . . . which I'm sure won't take long given that it's already on the boat.

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.


Septa Mordane

I never seemed to get much mileage out of Luwin who boosted all the male characters. Pillage on Rickon Stark, really? But here these are some really nice bonuses to the ladies. Arya potentially becomes a Tri-Con with Stealth that can't be easily dealt with and Sansa in her newest incarnation becomes a powerhouse in her prime condition. Even Core Sansa is a good bet with power rush decks as you're talking up to 3 power a turn combined with her innate ability and Lady attached. However such boosters like this rarely find too much deck space available and so even though I like her better than Luwin, she'll only be a splash at best, but a decent splash.


Ward

Uh oh, Starks are really becoming feared now. Stealing a character is far more impactful than killing them off and the Stark affiliation gain is just icing on the cake for synergies. Playing this on a First Snow of Winter turn is bad enough, but following up with Marched to the Wall will make your opponent flip the table. It's expensive to play, but then it should be given what it does. If a Stark deck isn't featuring at least one of this card, they better have a good explanation.


Butterbumps

Insight is always nice, however this fool has a big weakness compared to his Baratheon counterpart Moon Boy. Moon Boy combines with The Red Keep for the STR boost to power meaning he's more likely to win his challenge. Here you have to use a separate effect like Margarey or Heartsbane and aren't you better off using their strength boosts on something better? Draw is never a bad thing though so expect at least a splash in every Tyrell deck.

A Gift Of Arbor Red

This is a very devisive card in the new pack. You love it or you hate it. The effect seems a little too random to be as reliable as I would like and you may even end up benefiting your opponent more than yourself. It can combo nicely with a hand removal event or Bear & The Maiden Fair, but I don't think such a deck build is quite ready yet. One to keep an eye on in the future, but I don't think Tyrell decks are going to be running this in great quantity for now.

Sworn Brother

Night's Watch do badly need some economy so it's nice to see some, even though it costs two gold to put him out which is a bit stupid. The other economy cards are only one gold so why does this guy deserve two with less targets? Granted they're all good targets, but even so if you were worried about overpowered combos, then simply make him loyal. He'll


Old Bear's Raven

This is pretty much only useful on Old Bear Mormont and doesn't even provide a STR boost which seems daft. However being able to defend against stealth is key and an intrigue icon stops him being easily teared to death. It's a must if you're making a Wall defense deck using Old Bear, but still I wish there was more synergy across the Night's Watch range.


Ser Barristan Selmy

I personally don't like this card and I'll explain why. Firstly he's insanely expensive. A 7 gold character that can't be reduced with A Noble Cause is going to hurt your tempo. Secondly he doesn't protect himself. So if your opponent wants to use a Put To The Sword or Tears, he's just going to use it on him. No intrigue icon makes him easily susceptible to the most common targeted kill there is. He may have some situational benefit to afford one copy in a deck, but I'm just not feeling it. Baratheon already have a near perfect deck build setup currently and he doesn't fit into it.


City Watch

Given that Baratheon is great at having more power than the opponent consistently, you're talking a four cost dumb body with two icons and six power, boosted further by The Red Keep. That's pretty nasty, on par with the likes of Ranging Party from Night's Watch. It also makes a Stag/Lion deck even more sick if you include Tyrion. Get 2-4 gold from Tyrion in intrigue challenges and then use that gold to bring a cheap City Watch out. Surprise! It's not foolproof, but I think they will see use. Despite all the Army characters showing up though, don't expect to see Muster The Realm becoming a decent plot any time soon.


Ser Ilyn Payne

Oh dear god! If this guy wasn't costing 6 gold I'd be crying foul! Even at that cost though he's downright nasty. Killing off chuds and claim soaks each turn is not to be underestimated when combined with military challenges. Most players have already figured out to stand him with Illyrio to enable two kills a turn which is another sick combination if you can find the gold to pull it off.


Small Council Chamber


This is become underrated in my opinion. It's not cheap, but considering how good Lannister is at intrigue challenges, why wouldn't you want another bonus for it, especially when combined with Casterley Rock, Trial By Combat and Cersei? Now people talk of 3 cards that will hurt it, Frozen Solid, Dagmar and Newly Made Lord. Now the first is only seen as a splash card at best and if it's played late it won't affect you much. Dagmar isn't going to be seen in Greyjoy decks for a long time (see later) and Newly Made Lord is the only real legit threat, despite the fact I don't like paying 4 gold for a mono-con so I don't use him personally. So against Greyjoy you'll have to be a little more careful, otherwise go for it I say, try something different than the same old Lannister/Lion builds.


Dagmar Cleftjaw

There goes my hope of a decent bomb character in this pack. This guy may be loyal, but he's still very expensive to get out and he doesn't even have stealth to win with his ability reliably. On top of that, it's such a situational power. You might have the perfect target to steal or you might have nothing useful whatsoever. It's pretty much only going to be that useful against The Red Keep or another Greyjoy player. And oh look yet another bomb with no intrigue icon, are you just asking for Tears/Tyene to ruin our day? Maybe in the future he'll be worth a look but right now, in the binder with you.


Drowned God's Blessing

This both pleases me and angers me at the same time. The Drowned God trait is only useful if you're running 3 Priests and you've got at least one if not two of them out in play, so that's a minor thing. The initiative boost is only that handy if you're running a Winter deck because they tend to have low values in this area and it suddenly makes running two copies of Snowed Under for a Fishwhiskers deck viable from an economy standpoint. But the protection part is where I'm torn. It does protect from some nasty cards like Dracarys and Put to the Sword, but otherwise cards like Nightmares, Like Warm Rain and Confinement are not ones I see that often. What really angers me is because of some stupid wording issue in the rules (yes shock horror FFG creating rule loopholes) it doesn't protect from Tears of Lys which is the single most popular kill event card in the game. Now you can argue that Risen from the Sea (countered by Hands Judgement) and Iron Mines will sort that problem out, but really it shouldn't have to come to that. In a Priest Winter deck I can see one or two copies being used, but otherwise I don't think the constrained deck space for Greyjoy will help it.


Jhogo

Slowly but surely we're really looking good for a Dothraki themed deck, maybe soon Targ decks will actually try to show some variety in their builds. This is one of the better Dothraki to come out and combo's nicely with Aggo. Considering Targ love killing things, his STR will rack up quickly. I look forward to being one of the first to give Dothraki decks a try, but this one does have a weakness in the current meta. Ward. Yes, at four cost this guy is just asking for Stark to take him in.



Funeral Pyre

A great card-draw ability for Targ and it doesn't even have to be an opponent's character. Should one of your decent bombs die, it's a consolation prize. Or better yet, kill off Viserys and don't look back. Even then, I'm sure you'll find some juicy Lord or Lady to kill off (especially if you're using a Wolf banner) and even just playing one of these will be worth it. Who needs Counting Coppers in their Targ deck any more?


Tyene Sand

Hellllooooooo Nurse!! Beautiful looking card, but aside from that, it's a great one too. Printing the best kill event card on the planet onto a character is always going to make it popular and I can talk from experience at my last 3rd place tournament with a Martell Icon Removal deck that when she gets going she's a beast. Granted she's prone to many different board control methods so don't be reckless, but then so was Nymeria and do you see people not using her? A bit too expensive and low STR to have 3 copies, but certainly every Martell deck will want to see two copies of her


Imprisoned

Now you've got an Icon removal card for every challenge in the game. My deck uses 2/3 of each one and even though it's janky, it was surprisingly effective last weekend! Some of the worst enemies you can face have a military icon that you just want to screw over, particularly in Lannister which let's face it you're going to see often. Some claim that military challenges aren't a big deal, but I think my dead pile would beg to differ. Yes you've got Vengeance, but it's not a cheap event and you only really want to play it in dire situations or when your opponent has more than a single claim. It's not as good as Attainted, but it's on par with Condemmed.


Maester's Chain

Yeah until Maester's become a major thing, this is not going to be seen in many decks. Play it as a casual splash, but really it's not good enough for the deck space.


Street of Silk

Finding deck space for these Street locations is always a pain. Most of the decent allies and companions in this game will be the reducer chuds, although you can get the odd Brothel Madame, Littlefinger and Syrio thrown into the mix, which isn't bad. However this will still require a specific deck build as you will need a good amount of Lords and Ladies (Stark perhaps). However at best, it's conditional card draw and I can't see it being that useful.


Forgotten Plans

Now at first glance, this will negate quite a lot of plots out there, not all of them typically seen, but quite a few decent ones including the infamous First Snow of Winter, which is essentially the reason you take this plot. However here's the problem. It's a gamble, pure and simple. You don't know what's in the opponents plot deck so you can't just assume First Snow of Winter is in there and even if it is, you're taking a chance to see if you can hit it at the right time, otherwise you are left with sub-par stats and nothing else to show for it. Naval Superiority has the same problem, it's just too much of a random gamble and the game has enough luck involved in it as it is.


Close Call

You may get a card draw out of it, but mainly it's a Summer plot with decent gold and can help restore a character previously killed who you've just drawn into your hand again. It's pretty situational depending on how important that character was or whether you even drawn the other copy into your hand, but it can result in a good comeback - that is if he doesn't simply just get killed by the same method again! I don't think it sees much play yet, but with the new Summer agenda on the way, it would fit nicely into that.


Summary

Aside from a couple of power-house cards like Ward, Ilyn and Tyene, this wasn't that impressive a pack to end the cycle with. Martell and Stark are certainly happy to see more good cards for them and they've definitely been brought into the Tier 1 category now. Now if only the same could be said for Tyrell and Nights Watch. Oh well maybe in the next cycle. . . . . . I'm not hedging my bets though!


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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