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Calling the Banners: Season 1 Article 2

Game of thrones new players stark lannister Baratheon nights watch

Welcome to the next installment of Calling the Banners, a series of articles dedicated to helping new Agot 2.0 players, written by the new players at Pawn Games, a game startup. We apologize for the delay in bringing this to you, but there were some technical difficulties. In our last episode, we went through the Exploiting Weakness deck that was created by FFG and whether it accurately showed the present and the future states of House Baratheon. Today however, we will be taking a couple steps back and talk about the factions as a whole in a series of New Player Overviews. Today we will be looking at 4 factions, and in little while we will look at the last 4. For every faction, we will: Assign a rating on how easy it is play and build decks for, where 5 is average, ten is easy, and one is difficult. We will also talk about the different archetypes that lie within each faction, list some plots that work well with it, list the faction’s preferred agendas, the challenge that the House focuses on the most, and a spotlight on a few cards within a brief summary on the faction. A note on the simplicity rating, it is not meant to say that there is no depth in a faction with high simplicity (ahem Stark), it is just saying that new players will find the faction easier. Readers, please comment on anything we miss. So without further ado, here is House Stark.

House Stark
  • New Player simplicity, 10/10: It doesn’t get much easier than this. Stark is the faction that most new players are drawn to do to its focus on a simplistic part of the game, claim. As long as you run 3x Little Bird, it is difficult to go wrong with House Stark.
  • Preferred Plots: The Winds of Winter, A Storm of Swords, Sneak Attack. Stark has a heavy focus on military and getting the most out of it through increased claim, so naturally these plots will appear often, particularly Sneak Attack and Winds.
  • Preferred Agendas: Stark has some glaring holes in it, mostly when it comes to intrigue, gold, and stealth susceptibility. This means that Fealty is out of the picture. So, even though it is thematically awful, Banner of the Lion is a good choice, in order to grab cards like Tyrion, as well as possibly some potential synergies and stealth from Banner of the Kraken.
  • Deck Archetypes: In addition to being home to the “Ned” archetype, the majority of Stark decks either are claim-heavy or Direwolf heavy. I have yet to face a Stark deck that did not fall into one of these two categories, and some even blend both.
  • Challenge Focus: Definitely military. Military challenges are where claim can hurt the most, and keeping your opponent's character count down can help patch up some of the problems that can occur in most Stark decks. With plots that have high initiative values, Stark should easily be able to kill off characters that could potentially wreck their plans.
Faction Summary: Stark definitely tries to focus on taking as little damage as possible. Claim raising cards like “Winter is Coming”, and military cards like For the North! and Grey Wind are common when playing this faction. But the few characters that survive can cause many problems, so that is where Eddard Stark comes in. He can ready every time challenges are initiated against you, helping for both defense and dominance. Robb Stark can ready all of your characters for a big assault on your opponent if they manage to get the first player marker and kill one of your characters. As long as you have a Little Bird on Eddard and Robb if they enter play, you will be able to avoid Tears of Lys, the bane of Stark’s existence. That is, if you aren’t running Bran and his event cancellation. See where this is going?

House Lannister
  • New player simplicity, 7/10: Gold is gold in every game we play, so half of Lannister’s strategy is about as basic as you can get. The difficulty comes with trying to engineer a deck that will get Lannisport, Casterly Rock, and important characters like Cersei and Tywin into play as soon as possible and that will make use of their powerful effects. Intrigue is probably the most difficult challenge for new players to use properly, which makes this a little tougher.
  • Preferred plots: A Game of Thrones, Calling the Banners, Counting Coppers. Game is an obvious choice for any Lannister deck, for intrigue is their thing. Calling the Banners is another good choice, for Lannister has very few ways to kill characters beyond Tears of Lys, and so they can make good use of the gold gain. Finally, Lannister has lots of gold, and so they need cards to buy, which Counting Coppers is the best way to get.
  • Preferred Agendas: Banner of the Rose is an obvious choice, since both factions focus on intrigue, and Margaery is nice for boosting Lannister’s military strength, since that is lacking. Another option could be a Banner of the Sun deck, in order to get even more dirty tricks for an already nasty faction. Even Fealty could work, since Lannister doesn’t rely too heavily on the neutral cards.
  • Deck Archetypes: Most Lannister decks revolve around one or more of the following archetypes: Gold, Intrigue, Ambush. The Gold strategy revolves around cards like Tywin and the moneylender, the Intrigue strategy tries to create as many intrigue synergies as possible through the use of Lannisport and Cersei, and the ambush strategy focuses on throwing your opponent off balance with Gold Cloaks and Burned Men, with Tyrion in play to fund the ambushes.
  • Challenge Focus: As expected, the preferred challenge of the Lions is intrigue. From the Lannisport-Casterly draw engine to Cersei’s increased claim and Tyrion’s gold gain, intrigue will always be a major focus in every red deck. Keeping an opponent’s hand size down can help prevent losing too much due to the shortfalls in Power that this faction experiences.
Faction Overview: Lannister, at heart, is devious. They have many ways to make the intrigue challenges worse than normal. Lannisport and Tyrion can provide cards with enough intrigue, and Cersei and Casterly Rock can allow you to wreak havoc on an opponent’s hand. Tywin can make use of any excess gold you have to dominate the board, second only to Bob as far as the effect on everyone’s strategies. Overall, Lannister is fairly well-rounded in terms of being able to defend most challenges through the use of cards like Gold Cloaks and The Tickler. The difficulty is trying to win power or military on defense.

The Night's Watch
  • New Player Simplicity, 3/10: A lot of decisions need to be made when one is playing with the guardians of Westeros. The Wall, which the faction is built around, is a very tricky card that will require players to weigh the risks and rewards of different actions. Cards like Maester Amon provide further difficult decisions to make. However, those people who play Netrunner (including myself) will find this faction to fit their playstyle and will not have as much trouble as the other new players.
  • Preferred Plots: Building Orders, Sneak Attack, Confiscation. Building Orders is definitely a must-have for any NW deck that runs the Wall. Since Old Bear and Jon Snow are built around it, and since NW has many small characters that could benefit from the strength boost, it is highly important. NW is also very well-rounded, so a Sneak Attack could help in many different situations. Finally, since NW has a defensive “prepare for anything” strategy, Confiscation is important since Ice, Lightbringer, or Milk of the Poppy could ultimately wreck a carefully built deck.
  • Preferred Agendas: I never thought that I’d say this, but I think that Fealty is a good pick for this faction, at least until another non-allying agenda is released. Since The Wall, Old Bear, Jon Snow, and Maester Amon, all key cards in NW decks, only work with NW cards, there is really no reason to ally with another faction. Cases could be made for any of the Banners (particularly Kraken, Wolf, Sun), but I will stick by my decision for now.
  • Deck Archetypes: There really are no archetypes in this faction. The majority of cards fit a defensive playstyle, and only a few allow you to get much from attacking your opponent. Even Jon Snow, who at first glance seems offensive, really just exists so that you will have more cards at the ready for defense after your Challenges turn. There is the chance that eventually a deck could be built that thrives off of other players through the use of cards like Meager Contribution and Taking the Black, but that is currently impossible with the card pool.
  • Challenge Focus: There really is no preferred challenge for the rangers of the North. They have a good amount of intrigue (Maester Amon, Jon Snow), but then they also are strong with power and even military. I haven’t done the math, but I am pretty sure that the three icons appear at similar amounts within this faction. If I had to pick just one icon though, Power is probably the most important for most NW decks.
Faction Overview: The Night’s Watch focuses on defense, let us first say that. Through cards like The Wall, we get an idea that they don’t like giving up unopposed challenges. That is where Old Bear comes in. While The Wall is in play, Old Bear doesn’t kneel to defend. So if a Little Bird and the renown-granting Longclaw is in play, he is unstoppable. They also have several “leave play” abilities within the faction, furthering their defensive prowess. This is definitely a “play it safe” faction that relies on shutting down opponents and then using The Wall to get the power and win.

House Baratheon
  • New Player Simplicity, 6/10: Most of the effects in this house are pretty basic, and will be easy for new players to work with. However, it takes a lot of skill to actually win when using this faction, and that combined with the lack of power play effects can serve as a deterrent to new players.
  • Preferred Plots: Filthy Accusations, A Clash of Kings, A Noble Cause. Filthy Accusations is a 1-2x plot for any Baratheon deck, since many of their effects revolve around kneeling opponent's characters. A Clash of Kings is also important due to their focus on power, and since Baratheon revolves around their three big, expensive lords and ladies, A Noble Cause is key to any yellow deck, no matter what focus.
  • Preferred Agendas: Banner of the Dragon will eventually be a good choice, as non-loyal power-linked cards from Targ become more common as the Westeros Cycle marches on. Banner of the Kraken is another good choice since stealth synergizes with the many kneeling effects within this faction. Banner of the Sun or watch are other good choices for their defensive power, and so on.
  • Deck Archetypes: The first archetype is the R’hllor deck, which revolves around Melisandre's ability to kneel characters when R'hllor cards are marshaled. She then can make good use of Stannis, who restricts standing. The other major deck is the "Bob" deck, which focuses on winning challenges by large amounts and kneeling anyone in the way. This deck makes use of Robert and Consolidation of Power and uses Stannis, the support card that he is, to keep them knelt. A third deck that has not received much support is the Power Challenge deck, which focuses on winning power challenges to achieve victory, gaining bonuses from cards like the Red Keep. Hopefully we will see more of this in the future.
  • Challenge Focus: At heart, Baratheon loves its power challenges. They play the steady game, and so they enjoy the steady gain of power. Most of their characters have power icons. However, they have yet to receive any other power synergies besides the Red Keep.
Faction Overview: Baratheon doesn't contain many flashy effects. Instead, they are more of a "play it safe" faction, with preventive cards such as Seen in Flames and Maester Cressen. They prefer a steady stream of power from cards like Chamber of the Painted Table and renown effects. They heavily revolve around kneeling, and their play style is best summed up by the word, stalling. Through Vanguard Lancer and the Red Keep, Baratheon tries to stall in order to get their effects into play, steadily gaining power all the time.

That's it for today. Sound off below, and we will see you in a week with Martell, Tyrell, Greyjoy, and Targaryen!
  • KruppSteel likes this


Sep 03 2015 04:05 PM
Had trouble with the links and photos this time, sorry.

I'd suggest you use some formatting in the article to break up the different sections. As it is right now, it's pretty  hard to read. 

Had trouble with the links and photos this time, sorry.


I added some rudimentary formatting/re-spacing to aid legibility. If you're having trouble editing your document, contact Pipes (one of the administrators) via Private Message on these boards for the appropriate permissions.

In the meantime, if you dislike the changes I made, let me know, I can reverse them!

    • KruppSteel likes this

Thanks for sharing!

    • MightyToenail likes this
Sep 03 2015 09:57 PM

How did you get the bullet points?

How did you get the bullet points?


The default editing tools when posting an article include bullet points, in between superscript and numbered points. If you don't see these options, you might have collapsed the toolbar - check the tiny little arrow above the scrollbar on the right of the article. It should be facing up, not sideways.

Sep 03 2015 11:44 PM

Thanks for the help! I am still learning the system. How come you can't copy and paste pictures into the body of the article?

The "Calling the Banners" plot picture does not show the FFG overlay. Better not tell the FFG police about it! ;)

Sep 04 2015 11:59 AM
I noticed the beanstalk is your avatar image. You and your corporate beliefs! I can use the image if I want. :-)
On OCTGN, the image and the textbook show up, sans overlay so haha. :-) And we all know that Weyland is the worst corp.