Okay, the reason I was curt before, was that I didn't have the time to explain the whole point throughout. Hopefully I have the time now, so let's see it through, explain the different skill-sets and approaches, and then we can maybe identify what you are actually claiming.
First of all, I'm a bit worried about vocabulary here... we're using Aggro / Control / Rush very loosely, without founding them into actual definitions. So let's start with those:
Aggro - Board position supremacy, interrupting your opponent's play through high claim challenges (of all three types) and using (mostly) challenge-victory -based effects for targeted removal (especially on locations) to drill in the advantage. Winning challenges to drill in the advantage (on all fronts) is key. Individual cards are mostly dispensable, since the overall position is the primary target. Aggro is mainly a playstyle focusing on the mid-game.
Classic Aggro cards: The Price of War, new Victarion, any 2-claim plot, Wildling Horde, Northern Cavalry Flank.
Rush - Concentration on power-gain over both board supremacy and long-term advantage. Working with a very limited toolbox of effects for steering the direction of the game, and instead trying to use immunities/protective abilities to prevent destruction/control of key characters and grab the win through challenges. Always plays against a ticking clock, since it is the weakest decktype in mid- to late game. Except in hybrids, Rush is usually a playstyle focusing on the earliest portions of the game.
Classic Rush cards: Fat Bob, The Red Viper, To The Spears, The Power of Faith, Distinct Mastery.
Control - Using a large set of card effects to control the flow of the game and your opponents available choices. Strong individual card effects (Bleeds, Hatchling's Feast, Valar) are a hallmark of control, as are playing with a small and flexible board position, interrupting challenge math through card effects and stalling for advantage. Without other themes mixed in Control is a clear end-game deck, which instead of working against the clock, has all the time in the world... as long as it can thwart the opponent from winning quickly.
Classic control cards: Valar Morghulis, Threat from the North, Game of Cyvasse, Forever Burning, Burning on the Sands.
Combo - Uses a combination of card effects to assert an alternative victory condition on the game, trying to tutor and wield the pieces for the combo, in order to and fire it off through opposing cancel, board pressure, control, or ticking clocks against Rush decks. Combo decks vary quite a bit depending on the combo, but would mostly be classified as mid-game (since the combo usually takes a bit of time to construct).
Classic combo cards: Brass Link + Steel Link, Queen of Thorns, Riverrun, Sitting the Iron Throne.
Now, most decks in AGoT are hybrids of the playstyles, you'll rarely find a deck that is a pure example of a specific playstyle. For reference, let's list some common decktypes (their most common and well-known variants), so we know what we're really talking about:
- Martell KotHH: Control/Rush. Assert board control through challenge control and card effects (especially resets), but push for the win with a mid-to-late game Rush through To The Spears, The Red Viper, Southron Mercenaries. Can also be constructed as a pure hybrid of the three, by adding in Aggro elements (usually a decent portion of those Rush elements are still left in).
- Lannister PBJ: Aggro/Rush. Assaulting your opponent's hand through several high-claim intrigue challenges is pure Aggro, by definition. Gaining power from doing so, via Cersei and other renown character, is Rush.
- Greyjoy Choke: Control/Aggro. Choke your opponent's play-choices and clear their locations/characters with a combination of Aggro (Wintertime Marauders, Support of the Kingdom) and Control -style (Valar, Newly Made Lord) effects.
- Baratheon Knights: Rush/Aggro. Emphasis on board-position, high claim challenges and closing out the game.
- Stark Epic Siege: Rush/Aggro. Same deal.
- Stark Maesters: Control/Aggro. Strong board position, which is further fueled with (chain-powered) card effects.
- GJ Maesters: Control/Combo. Emphasis on obtaining advantage through card effects, especially combos.
- Targaryen "Rusted" Maesters: Aggro/Combo. Emphasis on huge board advantage, and fueling it through combos (Fighting Pit + Weapons, draw from Links etc.).
- Targaryen "Burn" Maesters: Control/Aggro/Combo. Again, an emphasis on maintaining board advantage, but this time it is pushed more through Control effects that are fuelled by combos.
- Greyjoy Black Sails: Aggro (or Aggro/Rush): High claim, big strength, pushing challenge wins, War-crest tech... pretty straightforward Aggro, but can also be Aggro/Rush with the inclusion of enough renown and Rise of the Kraken.
- Targaryen KotHH Burn: Control. Possibly one of the purest forms of Control (specifically, hard control) in AGoT, especially in the Bruno-style variant. Very few closers, not much high claim... but rather card effect after card effect.
- Baratheon "Mill" Maesters: Combo. The purest form of Combo, since it asserts a clear alternative win condiiton (deck your opponent to obtain victory).
- Baratheon Noble Rush: Rush. The purest incarnation of Rush, since it does not drive for board advantage, but rather concentrates all of it's efforts on pushing for the power-gain.
- Stark Winter: Aggro, probably closest to it's purest form. No power-gain, just high claim, stealth, strength and removal.
Okay, so now we've established what we're actually talking about. What that list will show you, is that there are very few decks that really epitomize a certain playstyle, instead of being a hybrid of two. So, we'd probably need to find out which decks, in particular, you find to be over-simplific. Based on earlier comments, I would assume those to be Aggro/Rush (you mentioned PBJ at least)? Now, while I can see the argument that that specific (quite narrow) playstyle can be built to function with a clear 'pattern', I would still be really hesitant to call out either Rush or Aggro as simple based on that.
NOTE: I left out the differences between soft / hard / challenge etc. control in order to somehow stay on point.
Honestly, any playstyle, if it is working perfectly, will be easy (not require playing skill) to play. If you can burn out or kneel out all of your opponent's characters, there isn't any skill involved. If your opponent never gets a single gold and only draws 1-2g characters, no playing skill is involved. If your opponent can't stop you from gaining power with Fat Bob, there isn't any skill involved. If you can just push through 2-3 claim challenges and your opponent can't withstand them, then there's no skill involved. In all of those cases the decks are doing the playing, not the players. Games like this will happen in AGoT, usually due to really bad setups or awkward/perfect draws... or because one player had not taken a specific playstyle into account in their deckbuilding. Oh and one more case, if a player had taken it as a known vulnerability for their deck, but had read the meta to not include such decks. I'm purposefully talking about playing skill here, since that's what I assumed the discussion was about (and the topic for that matter). If you wanted to talk about the finer points of deck construction, that's a completely different topic.
Now, I was talking about different skills being required for different playstyles. Let's have a better look at those (I'll expand more on the ones that Control doesn't require, since those were the ones questioned):
Knowing when to use/hold card effects: A very important skill for Control decktypes. With Aggro/Rush you usually don't have the luxury (time) of holding effects that much, while Combo is perplexed of the whole thought, since their cards are all pushing for that one single condition. Especially important in control for cancels.
Challenge Math: Very important for both Aggro and Rush, since both require actual challenges to push for the win. Not important for Combo. Not nearly as important for Control, due to having access to 'shortcuts' (control effects) during the challenges.
Expanding (on Challenge Math): You know those 'untidy and crowded boards' that Control players don't like? One reason they don't like them, is that it takes real skill (and a lot of maths) to navigate through them, especially if you're the one with a weaker (or more vulnerable) board position... and cannot 'simplify' the situation by taking out problematic characters or canceling claim from specific challenges. This is a skill I've seen many Control players lack, especially when you go to 8+ characters on each side. They tend to get a feeling of frustration, since they cannot use a 'shortcut' to simplify the equation... and instead have to think through the whole Challenge phase at the start, without really being able to react to opponent's choices mid-phase.
Plot Choices: Most important for Control and... Rush, surprisingly. Now, the control part here is clear (using plot effects to control, you will have to choose and time them to maximize their effect), but why Rush? Bad Rush players use a specific pattern. Good Rush players will adapt to the situation, bluff with cards like Power of Blood (not going for the second one on round 3, but rather dropping an Art of Seduction), know when to protect their position and when to go for closers... Conversely, Aggro plots are usually more straightforward (which 2-claim this turn?), while Combo will just try to play plots that help it get or keep it's game together.
Expection: Mostly based around card knowledge, the ability to assess what specific effects your opponent may have. Usually most important in Rush / Combo. I'll discuss this together with the next one, since they are inadvertently tied together.
Working around specific card effects: While this skill is important for most decks, it's usually critical for Combo and Rush, since you have specific very fragile pieces, by which your whole game will either succeed or fail... and no control/Aggro methods (removal, cancel etc.) of dealing with them.
Expanding (Working around...): Now, you know how it may seem to be difficult to time a control effect like Game of Cyvasse correctly sometimes? That's nothing compared to having to play against a Martell player, and having to take Game of Cyvasse into account (without knowing they have one or two, and not having any tools to negate it) with every single action that you perform during Challenges with a Rush deck. A huge amount of calculation, having to overcommit or take risks... and the best result you can ever obtain is to have it either be used on a non-optimal target, or having to redo the same dance all over again next round. It's not hard to see which side requires more skill to walk cleanly out of that one...
Reacting: Mainly a Control skill, of using the correct reaction to a situation at the correct time.
Targeting: The ability to choose the correct target for specific card effects. This is mostly connected to Aggro and Control. Flip-side of working around card effects, if you will.
Pattern execution: Combo and Control mainly, since you have very specific patterns of effects to execute. Remembering to leave influence for returning Forever Burning... and then actually returning it. That kind of thing.
Gambits: Assessing the right time to take a risk on your opponent having/not having specifc counters / cards available. More akin to an art, and reading very minor details from your opponent's board / situation... than any kind of science. This skill is mostly connected to Aggro and Rush. Combo requires a bit of this, while Control very little.
Expanding (Gambits): This is a skill that Control decks don't usually require at all, and try to avoid having to do like the Plague. Well, they do have to do it sometimes, but in only one situation - the Control vs. Control -mirror. Rush decks need to do this always, and with high stakes to boot.
Stalling / Delaying: Playing the long game, and not allowing your opponent to get too far ahead, while you're still building up. Mostly Combo / Control, but all decks have to do this in specific matchups.
Error minimization: Important in most playstyles, especially in Combo. Particularly arises in specific matchups, like fast Rush vs. slow Control, where the game can swing early on in either way on one small miscalculation.
I wonder if I got everything... probably not, but that at least should highlight some of the skills that the different playstyles require, and show how each requires a very specific portfolio of skills (to play well).
Now, let's tackle your argument about having any Control player take a Rush deck, and play it well. For this one, I have an anecdote (which is no proof at all, but I feel it's pertinent at this point).
Before Stahleck last year I handed one of my younger apprentices two decks (that I felt my own Stahleck deck needed to be tested against). He did not have a particular background in either Control or Aggro yet, and had been playing for 6 months.
This being the meta of Autumn 2012, the decks I handed to him were a Spanish-style Martell KotHH (Bleeds, Valar, huge card advantage, To The Spears and a bit of renown... Cyvasse and all the works) and a Stark Winter (pretty close to the DC-style decks). So, one Control/Rush (focusing more one the Control, and less on the Rush) and one pretty straightforward Aggro. He was able to play the Martell KotHH straight out-of-the-box pretty accurately (he does have cardgame background) even though he hadn't even seen a KotHH before. Beat me a few times. With the Stark-deck he always made clear (to my mind) miscalculations (in Challenge math and card interactions), which might not have seemed big at the time, but always lead to him losing the games.
Now, does that mean Aggro is harder to play than Control? Hell no. It means that he was naturally inclined towards the skills required for Control. The funny part of this? He was even worse with Rush than Aggro back then. He picked up Aggro later on, but still doesn't feel comfortable with playing Rush decks that don't have Control as a 'safety net'.
A lot of the skills required for a specific playstyle may not be perfectly obvious from merely playing against players of that playstyle. What you would need to do is put in a lot of hours with each of them, in order to see what the crucial points are. Rush will look stupid simple to you, if you aren't packing any tools to fight it, and it steamrolls you in two rounds. Control will seem ridiculous, when you never get to play a single character, or have it stay standing for challenges. Aggro will seem OP, with Chintarion bulldozing you for 4-claim military on Round 3. The real skills involved are most often seen only when you start playing something yourself... and especially when having to play against good and experienced players who are familiar with playing against that specific playstyle.
Honestly, the overall level of skill required in AGoT has much less to do with specific playstyle, than it does with how good players and how well-built decks you are playing against.
So, based on that analysis and vocabulary, which particular skills (required only for Control) are so much harder to master, that they can be used to claim that Control requires more skill (instead of different skills)? Something on the list I mentioned, or something that I missed out?
Damn. That's more of an essay than a Forum post. Well, let's end it in style, now that we're at it:
And who are you, the proud lord said,
that I must bow so low?
Only a cat of a different coat,
that's all the truth I know.
In a coat of gold or a coat of red,
a lion still has claws,
And mine are long and sharp, my lord,
as long and sharp as yours.
mishuoprescu, JCWamma, Ire and 13 others like this