Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Faction Review (Review): House Lannister

All the above ratings were drawn up by a group of the A Game of Thrones LCG veterans at CardgameDB, with each rating a card from 1 to 5 and the percentage score being an aggregate of all their marks.  So a card that gets 100% means everyone rated it 5/5, while a slight wrinkle in this method (or their refusal to hand out 0/5 scores) means the lowest result possible is 25% if they all gave the card 1/5.

While the chaps are CardgameDB were lukewarm in their praise for House Stark they were quite unanimous in their appreciation for the headline cards in House Lannister, such as Cersei and Tyrion.  It's a distinction that's not immediately obvious in the % score ratings of the cards, though, so let me expand a little.  The 5/5 rating that they handed down to a lot of the Stark cards like Catelyn Stark or Arya were of the "yeah this is a very good card for its cost" variety, while for cards like Cersei and Tyrion those 5/5 ratings are more of the "OMG this card is amazing!" variety. 
Basically, if they could have handed out a 6 on their scale of 1 to 5 for those cards then they would have done.
I summed up my thoughts for House Stark by saying they rarely made me think of the word "powerful", but there's a good half dozen Lannister cards that do.
For all House Stark's effective cards it was almost entirely lacking in anything capable of generating card advantage and trading 2-for-1 or better.  Lannister has tons of the stuff.  More card draw in Lannisport and the easy-to-overlook Grand Maester Pycelle, the 2-for-1 Intrigue claim via Cersei Lannister, Tyrion's combination of Stealth to ignore a defender and Intrigue to strip cards from hand, Ser Jaime Lannister's ability to attack without kneeling... throughout Lannister there are numerous ways to find little edges and advantages over your opponent.
The Lannister deck is a clear card advantage machine - outdraw your opponent, force them to discard their hand, and if you haven't already lost by that point then you're probably set for victory.
What's really missing from Lannister at the moment are the Clegane brothers - The Hound and The Mountain.  The two beefcakes in the Lannister arsenal would surely solve the House's biggest problem, which is a lack of Military might.  The Lannisters  aren't as helpless at Military as the Starks are at Intrigue as they've got Jaime and Tywin at the top end along with their trusty Gold Cloaks and the sacrificial lambs of the Burned Men, but they don't dominate the table like a Greyjoy or Targaryen deck.  This can be the undoing of a Lannister deck that focuses too heavily on solving tomorrow's problems with Intrigue at the expense of dealing with cards in play.

Perhaps the two best solutions to this problem lie in abandoning the Fealty agenda and playing more Neutral cards, either turning to the wiles of Varys to reset the board once you've emptied your opponent's hands or bringing in some hired muscle in the form of Wildling Horde (and possibly some supporting Put to the Sword).
The CardgameDB reviewers were pretty much as one voice regarding the Unique Lannister cards being good, where they really got split were in the values of the non-Unique characters and the value of the Ambush mechanic.  There's no doubt that adding Ambush to cards like the Gold Cloaks, the Burned Men and the Queen's Assassin has taken from the raw strength and icons on these cards - where Lannister gets a 2 STR Military in Burned Men other Houses are either getting a character with two icons like Tumblestone Knight, or +1 Strength like the Braided Warriors of House Targaryen.

The Ambush characters are good with Tyrion's challenge-phase Gold production and bad without it as the surprise impact is lessened somewhat by sitting there with a bunch of Gold unspent and six cards in hand.  However you feel about them it's clear that they're pound-for-pound weaker than what other factions get for the same cost, making Lannisters more likely to want to call a banner from a rival house to find better support cards for their top-notch Unique characters.


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