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Westeros Cycle: Community Poll RESULTS

The form of this article will be looking at the results of poll questions and analysing why we ended up where we did. All results taken from this topic.

For each question I will look at the top 3 answers, along with any other answer that scored over 10%. I will include the number of votes cast on each poll - the main topic's poll received 246 votes by the time the pol closed, but some questions gave the option to tick more than one answer; for the medals and awards, 39 people posted their thoughts but some people missed out questions, or their votes were discarded for bringing up cards from the Wolves box or the Core set.

Which Faction(s) got the most love from this cycle?

360 votes cast

1) Lannister (48.89%)

2) Martell (31.94%)

3) Greyjoy (9.17%)

My personal suspicion on this question is that people looked at "what's good in the current metagame" more than the cards in the first cycle and what's why Lannister are winning by so very much. Not that Lannister had a bad cycle - far from it, they saw The Hound, Ser Ilyn Payne and The Mountain to name but three cards, and should definitely be up there in this list - but for me, Martell outshone everyone. Almost every card they received was playable (as evidenced by zero Martell cards receiving even a single vote for the worst card award), and they also received the card voted best in the set.

Of course, it's possible that people were also factoring in the neutral cards in their decision here, and there Lannister had some obvious gains - no faction can utilise The First Snow of Winter quite so well, and arguably no faction utilise Trading wit the Pentoshi quite so well either. Throw in the tremendous cards mentioned previously and perhaps they are worthy winners here.

Greyjoy take the third spot, which given their current place in the meta game may surprise some, but they did receive some very powerful cards in the cycle too in the form of Iron Mines, The Seastone Chair, The Reader, Raiding Longship... The faction may be waiting for the return of Valar before it can move to the top of the pile, but while ill-suited somewhat for the current meta they were able to get a good haul nonetheless. However, it's important to note that huge drop off in percentage - this was very much a two-horse race, with Lannister and Martell getting over 80% of the vote combined. With them being two of the three factions dominating the current meta (and the third, Stark, having made their gains outside of the cycle in their deluxe box) this feels about right.

Which faction(s) drew the short straw?

341 votes cast

1) Night's Watch (45.75%)

2) Tyrell (37.54%)

3) Targaryen (7.04%)

There are no great surprises in the top two answers, with the two 'problem' factions, Tyrell and Night's Watch, hoovering up a combined over 83% of the vote.

Night's Watch are in a difficult posiion. They entered the cycle precariously poised, and while they received some very nice cards in the cycle (the likes of Halder and Unsworn Apprentice), they were shafted very hard from the meta push away from cheap characters with First Snow of Winter. To add insult to injury they got some of the cards...more frowned upon by the player base, with the likes of Northern Rookery and Brandon's Gift. While Forgotten Plans provides a counter to First Snow for those who need it, nobody likes a deck that can crumble away with only one misplaced plot. Even without First Snow, a game of removal and icon manipulation makes it difficult to control prevent unopposed challenges, and with other NW decktypes not fully fleshed out yet, they're broadly a one-trick faction with a trick that often misfires.

Tyrell felt like a "one-month wonder" faction in the first cycle - for the month between The Lord of the Crossing being released and The First Snow of Winter crushing dreams, Tyrell was flying high. Their broad collapse has been well-documented since then. My personal opinion is that they aren't that bad off really (let's see if this plays out come Gencon!), but if they were to be considered badly-off, you'd have to look at how they fare in the current meta game. In a "big guy" meta Tyrell gained no characters above cost 5 this cycle, and the two cost 5 characters they gained are both designed to synergise with other characters. With their burgeoning Knights deck hamstrung by the emergence of First Snow (and an aforementioned unwillingness to rely on Forgotten Plans to counteract it), Tyrell are left at sea.

Targaryen are in third place, and while I'm tempted to rail against those who voted for it by pointing out Crown of Gold, Funeral Pyre and Mirri Maz Duur, three powerful cards two of which are loyal, I think it's better instead to reflect on the low percentage and write it off as "well, someone had to come third". If we were to look for reasons for their 3rd place, I'd think of people being so offended by Merchant Prince, Vaes Dothrak, Blood Magic Ritual and First Snow's negative effect on the dragons that they've overlooked, intentionally-or-otherwise, those stronger cards in favour of protesting against mistreatment.

Baratheon, incidentally, were last on the "most love" poll, yet don't feature in the top 3 here - apparently people felt they had a very "meh" cycle in both directions". And 1 of the 341 votes went towards Lannister getting the least love from this faction - I'd love to pick the brains of that person...

Which Chapter Pack was the best in the cycle?

246 votes cast

1) The King's Peace (22.76%)

2) No Middle Ground (18.70%)

3) The Road to Winterfell (18.29%)

4) True Steel (17.89%)

5) Calm Over Westeros (15.04%)

6) Taking the Black (7.32%)

(Breaking my rule to include Taking the Black since including only 5 out of 6 seems weird...)

There's not much to really read into the results here other than "good job spreading out the packs FFG, only the first one lagged behind". First-placed The King's Peace, pack 3, represented the last pack before First Snow came out and fundamentally changed the meta; however, I don't think that was a major factor, as the three subsequent packs came second, third and fourth. The other notable aspect of The King's Peace is its inclusion of a new agenda, The Lord of the Crossing. I'm not sure how to explain Taking the Black's low score here other than "far enough away that people didn't remember it", as nothing stands out as particularly egregious unless you play Targaryen exclusively.

Which was the best faction-specific plot?

246 votes cast

1) Wardens of the North (34.55%)

2) Rise of the Kraken (27.64%)

3) The Long Plan (11.79%)

Wardens of the North wins out here, perhaps understandably given it's a powerful plot and one of Stark's only answers to the icon manipulation Martell have favoured in this cycle. I personally stand by my view that it's only a 4 out of 5 plot, and once Valar Morghulis enters the game its usage may well drop off (smaller boards reduce the value of the plot); however, in the current metagame, with large boards, a willingness to overcommit in challenges for Stark, and a need to add more bodies to intrigue challenges, a 5-gold, 5 initiative plot that is resistant to Naval Superiority.

Rise of the Kraken hasn't taken the game by storm in Joust yet, but in the Melee format it is the centrepiece of Greyjoy's strategy, an easy source of powergrab that also wins initiative more often than not. The plot was a stalwart of Greyjoy's in first edition, and the second edition version is better... as soon as the economy situation loosens up.

The Long Plan is a card that is solid for Martell now, but is only going to get better as the game goes on (read: Valar Morghulis arrives). Being able to carry gold over is about to increase dramatically in value. For now the plot remains stellar, in the top half of faction-specific plots, but look for it to rise even further in the future. How fitting!

Are you happy with the amount of kill effects in the game right now?

246 votes cast

1) Just Right (48.78%)

2) Too Much (35.77%)

3) Don't Know (10.57%)

4) Not Enough (4.88%)

The subject of kill effects has been a hot button topic amongst the Thrones community from the first cycle. Over a third of all voters felt there was too much kill, and less than half of the voters felt it was just right - although over half of the voters that actually expressed an opinion were happy. Nonetheless, this is something for FFG to keep track of going forward - hopefully the second cycle will see a little less attrition - aside from the V-word, of course.

Are you more or less hyped for the next cycle, War of Five Kings?

246 votes cast

1) More Hyped (52.03%)

2) The Same Hyped (39.43%)

3) Less Hyped (8.54%)

Either the first cycle did its job or people were surprisingly unhyped for it, given that the second cycle has people even more pumped up than the Westeros one did. Despite some qualms that people may have here and there, the overwhelming opinion seems to be that the future is bright for the game.

Sansa Award (Worst card in the set)

38 votes cast

1) Brandon's Gift (44.74%)

2) Vaes Dothrak (28.95%)

3) Dagmer Cleftjaw/Northern Rookery/Royal Entourage/The King's Peace (5.26%)

An obvious two-horse race here, with the 'winner' being Brandon's Gift. While there is a hypothetical future deck in which the card has value, it is objectively terrible right now with only 2 non-unique Builders and 1 unique one. In a game where economy is so important, Brandon's Gift had to go the extra mile to be awful, but - at least for now - it managed it. I hope the Night's Watch kept their receipt.

Vaes Dothrak, unlike Brandon's Gift, is a card that will likely only get even worse as time goes by - the only potential saving grace would be some sort of attachment recursion card effect. As it is the card is inflexible, unreliable, completely useless in some matchups, requires being built around to have any function, and that function can be easily achieved by multiple other effects, particularly in-faction where the excellent Viserys Targaryen outright embarasses this thing.

Balerion Award (Best card in the set)

38 votes cast

1) Nymeria Sand (32.89%)

2) The Hound (30.26%)

3) Iron Mines/Mirri Maz Duur/The First Snow of Winter (5.26%)

Another two-horse race, although with over a third of the total votes going to other cards Nymeria and the Hound clearly aren't quite as good as Brandon's Gift and Vaes Dothrak are bad; they are, however, comfortably the best two cards in the cycle according to our poll.

If I had to put my finger on why, I'd say it was down to their general efficiency and applicability. No matter whether you're playing Martell or Banner of the Sun, Lannister or Banner of the Lion, low curve, high curve, normal curve, First Snow, anti-First Snow, whatever - The Hound and Nymeria both belong in your deck and are both highly potent cards that will probably find multiple copies. Both can be enhanced further in the right scenario - The Hound paired with the likes of Tyrion Lannister and I Never Bet Against My Family (INBAMF), or Nymeria with Tyene Sand and other icon removal - but these scenarios aren't required to make these cards great. They're already great, these scenarios just make them amazing.

Nymeria is slightly better now, the jewel in the crown of Martell's current decks and a big reason why they were voted 2nd in the "most love" poll; however, the Hound's future looks even brighter, with the ability to dodge Valar meaning he's only going to get even better going forward.

Ned Award (Most thematic card in the set)

36 votes cast

1) Crown of Gold/Mare in Heat (11.11%)

3) Ser Gregor Clegane/Stinking Drunk/Ward (8.33%)

Unlike several other categories, no one card or two ran away with this one; a testament to how Nedly this cycle was throughout. Be it Crown of Gold making a King of its unlucky victim (however briefly), Mare in Heat so beautifully capturing the results of the joust at the Hand's Tourney, or an axe-crazy Ser Gregor, there was a lot to love here. Little to analyse though, so we'll move right along.

Shagga Award (Card with the most jaw-dropping effect in the set)

39 votes cast

1) Ser Gregor Clegane (40.60%)

2) The Watcher on the Walls (12.82%)

3) Mirri Maz Duur (11.54%)

The verdict may have been that there wasn't too much kill in the first cycle, but what there was sure did make our jaw's drop. In order we have random kill, mass kill and repeatable targeted kill - not bad. The degree to which all of these remain jaw-dropping in the future will be interesting to see, but for now the thing that scares us the most is Gregor pillaging Mirri to claim Tywin, or (my favourite) pillaging Arianne to kill Nymeria immediately after you've triggered Arianne to put Nymeria in play instead. Or pillaging Left to kill Right.

Renly Award (Card with the best art in the series)

37 votes cast

1) Pulling the Strings (24.32%)

2) Tyene Sand (19.59%)

3) Lady (16.89%)

Hooray, Tyrell wins one of these! In all sincerity, while in my personal opinion the art from the core set was better, the first cycle had some truly amazing pieces of art. Pulling the Strings is an absolutely gorgeous scene, and the perfect playmat art. Tyene Sand fits her character as well as can be, and Lady is unique among any Thrones art I've seen, truly captivating. It's perhaps of interest that the most popular pieces of art all involve female characters - and not in the context of a brothel, either. For a game based on a world that's often decried as **** and violence, it seems that's not what people look for from their card art. Or maybe it's a coincidence and these just happened to be the best images, which is entirely possible!

Hot Pie Medal (Granted to an adorable but utterly useless card)

36 votes cast

1) Renly Baratheon (16.67%)

2) Merchant Prince (12.50%)

3) Brandon's Gift/Loot (8.33%)

As per usual the votes for this category were spread out like pie crumbs in the wind, as everyone strove to figure out what we were actually asking for. Renly ultimately proved to be the winner, another economy card that still manages to be useless in these trying times. Here's hoping his anticipated upcoming second version from the next cycle will redeem him. In second place we have the poor Prince who foresaw so many gifts going Daenerys Stormborn's way, only for the only attachments Targayen gained to be for Dothraki or for enemies. I'd say it'd be nice to see him get an in-faction attachment he could hold next cycle, but it's somewhat fruitless now we have First Snow anyway. Still, at least he looks optimistic in the art.

Jaime Medal (Granted to a very efficient card that ends up ultimately being hated)

38 votes cast

1) The Hound (17.11%)

2) Ser Gregor Clegane/The First Snow of Winter (13.16%)

4) Nymeria Sand (11.84%)

5) Ser Ilyn Payne (10.53%)

The Hound seems like a safe bet, given that as said above he's already one of the best cards in the set AND is going to get better when Valar comes out. With Nymeria and the First Snow making appearances too, it appears that the cards people hate are the best ones. People also appear to be sick of the hate on low-cost characters - they tend to be easier for Gregor to pick off in a well-rounded deck, they're vulnerable to First Snow AND they die to Ser Ilyn. Whether these are still hated several cycles from now will be interesting to see, but right now people seem more inclined to favour interesting effects than repeatable triggers or raw efficient stats.

Kettleblack Medal (Granted to a card that was greatly hyped, but ultimately had very little impact)

34 votes cast

1) Blood of the Dragon (27.94%)

2) The Arbor (16.18%)

3) Support of the People (14.71%)

4) Trial by Combat (11.76%)

Of note here is the lower vote count - I clearly stated that only cards from the first cycle were included in the pool for this vote in the opening post of the topic, but nonetheless people ignored or forgot the message and we saw several votes for the likes of Tower of the Hand.

Honestly, I personally disagree with this list a fair amount. Firstly, Blood of the Dragon was never presented as an immediate big deal, but rather something that would be the centrepiece of a future strategy for Targaryen. So while it was greatly hyped FOR THE FUTURE, and has had little impact YET, it feels somewhat unfair to include it on this list. Likewise the Arbor, which has had little impact simply because Tyrell as a faction has had little impact. The little Tyrell that has seen success has been running it at 3 copies to the best of my knowledge, so clearly can't have been a complete dud - just not enough by itself to lift an unfancied faction out of the doldrums. Trial by Combat has had a moderate-to-low impact, but was also a divisive card before release - while some decried it as broken, there were more than a few naysayers who predicted it landing exactly where it did (a fact I remember clearly, having been one of those naysayers). However, in their own way, each of these cards were greatly hyped/discussed before their release, and comparitively few copies of those cards are in tournament decks currently for one reason or another, so I suppose they have their place.

Support of the People is a true example though - practically everybody was hyped for this card before its release, with talks of it being an autoinclude at 2-3x for just about any deck. However, people missed a couple of details in their initial hype - firstly, just how tricky it can be to win a power challenge by 5, particularly early on in a game when a tutor effect has the most value; and secondly, the degree to which locations would fall off the map. In an aggro meta it's very tough to take the tempo hit to drop a location, meaning players quickly found themselves minimising the number of non-limited locations they were playing in several factions, which in turn minimised the targets for Support. Newly-Made Lord and Frozen Solid coming out were the nails in the coffin (with Dagmer being a nail that the hammer bounced off of, hitting the wielder of the hammer in the face), and now this card seems confined only to Greyjoy decks that can push through a win-by-5 a lot easier and have several strong locations that are still important for them to run.

Tyene Medal (Granted to a seemingly innocent, but very deadly card)

38 votes cast

1) Nightmares (15.79%)

2) Winterfell Kennel Master (14.47%)

3) Condemned (10.53%)

Nightmares at the top is no surprise to veteran players - perhaps the only surprise is that it was seen as innocent to begin with. The ultimate answer card, it's a panacea that only grows in value in a meta like the current one, in which several bomb characters can decide the game in a round if left unblanked. Perhaps the nerf from first edition (costing a gold and no longer removing traits) caught people off-guard?

The other two in our top three, the Kennel Master and Condemned, both survived from "cardgamedbreviewunderrateditis", a rare condition. Interestingly Winterfell Kennel Master was better than rated at first, but since First Snow has actually dropped back off again and sees little play - perhaps the reviewers were right, long-term? Certainly not short-term though, as soundbytes like "He is terrible and will never fit into your deck" were thrown back in reviewers' faces. Condemned received an outcry when its low rating (7 out of an aggregate 20, with 5 as the lowest rating) was revealed, as players quickly realised the value of taking any icon can be - particularly when the icon you take is the one people win the game with.

Finally, credit to Winterfell Crypt, which has the honour of being the only card to have received votes (well, a vote) for being both a greatly-hyped card with little impact and a seemingly innocent but ultimately deadly card. For its next trick I presume it will be a middle of the road card everybody called correctly.

Euron Medal (Most controversial card in the set)

38 votes cast

1) Crown of Gold/The First Snow of Winter (26.32%)

3) The Arbor (23.68%)

4) Ser Gregor Clegane (13.16%)

If you want controversy, apparently there are three places to look in the game right now; high impact, high variance effects (Crown, Gregor); meta-warpingly powerful effects that nerf entire factions (First Snow); or, um, arguments over the rules of duping a unique limited card (Arbor)? The last of those caused no end of arguments in the game's facebook group, and the subsequent memes, deletions, bannings, etc., caused one of the simplest cards in the game to become a firestorm.

For true controversy that will stand the test of time though, look no further than a huge-meta warper, or best of all, a 1/deck limit card that FFG nonetheless gave us 3 copies of. In case we want to build 3 different Targaryen main decks at once, right?

Do you have any thoughts on cards that were wrongly nominated, or that missed out? Any other thoughts on the cycle as a whole? Let us know in the comments below!

  • WWDrakey, Ratatoskr, Ire and 10 others like this


Jul 20 2016 12:44 PM

I'm glad FFG chimed in about The Arbor.  Knowing at what point a duplicate loses its text will be important when we see that limited, unique Howland Reed champ card.


I liked all the faction plots quite a bit.  I think Blood of the Dragon will prove to have more of an impact once the perception of Targ settles a bit.. At first, everyone was talking about Dany, and more recently everyone is talking about Mirri. I wonder if a lot of the Jaimes went from Targ to Lanni, to something with Martell.  I really like Pulling the Strings. It's a good plot for a seemingly lackluster house. Tyrell just doesn't scream main house. PtS reminds me of Naval with all its potential targets, but players may be turned off by perceived variance and lack of positive net economy. It's a good meta tech card. I can't wait for FFG to errata Paxter with a power icon so I have another reason to Mainline the Rose.

Jul 20 2016 02:28 PM

Can't believe Lannister beat out Martell on that first question. Most of Lannister's defining, high-profile cards are from the core, while nearly all of Martell's are out of the chapter packs. Over the course of the cycle, Lannister went from just "one of the best" to "pretty much the best" whereas Martell had to climb from "one of the worst" up to "one of the best". I think you pegged it, people must've been more meta-focused than progress-focused.


Great survey and great article!

    • Itachi and Palpa like this