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An Empty Throne - Making deals

Welcome back to the An Empty Throne. In this article we want to talk about diplomacy in Melee. Specifically we want to talk about how and when to cut deals. So we have created a list of things that you can offer your opponents for to make a deal.

Here is a short legend for our list:

Timing: When is the best moment to offer that type of deal.
Offer: A description what you can offer or ask for to cut a deal.
Counter: Some things you could try to do to undercut other players when they attempt this type of deal.

Sharing Plots
Timing: After pre-plot actions are finished when you choose your plot.
Offer: If you are running any of the sharing plots like a Counting Favors (Core), Summoning Season (Core), Building Season (Core) or Spending the Winter Stores (QoD) you can typically get quite a lot in return for them. If you are looking to persuade a player to make you the beneficiary of the effects then offering to support them in challenges or go after one of the other players can be a good way to encourage them to pick you.
Counter: The only effective counter is to intimidate the player. "Choose me and your card is safe. Choose another player and the card is lost". If you are playing Stark threatening The Weasel's Way (TIoR) is another good intimidation avenue. The point is you do not need the card in your hand; you only have to suggest that you might have it in your hand. Intimidation is an avenue that is best used sparingly, if you constantly fall back on this eventually the other players will get fed up and start to focus on you to retaliate.

First player
Timing: After you have won initiative and nobody has cancelled the initiative with an Ahead of the Tide (WotN).
Offer: Initiative is very important. The selection of titles depends heavily on initiative. And often it is also good to be the first or the last player for specific reasons. So if you won initiative you might sell the choice of the first player to another player.
Counter: No chance, you have to offer a better deal to the players.

Protection from attacks
Timing: Before titles are selected, which means it could be useful before and after plots are selected. Anyway this option is open until the end of the challenge phase.
Offer: I will not attack you. That is not the same thing like we do not attack each other. Of course very often the deal can be created two-sided, but you do not fear the player anyway you can offer him not to attack him against any other advantage.
Counter: The selection of titles or any promises can help to counter those deals. You can help to be secured by a supported title, you can protect a player by selecting a supporting title or you can choose the crown regent and promise to redirect an attack.

Free unopposed
Timing: In the challenge phase.
Offer: Very often a lost challenge does not harm you. Giving an opponent the chance to grab an unopposed power and perhaps trigger various card abilities can be an advantage in itself. Depending on your house you or your opponent might be able to trigger some nasty effects from winning or losing challenges. If you notice cards with these effects on the table offering the chance to trigger them can be worth alot to your opponent.
Counter: The selection of titles may help to redirect a challenge or protect another player to avoid unopposed challenges. You do not have to spend resources, but you might argue that you will do it. Some card (e.g. Greatjon Umber (WLL) ) may help too to avoid those deals from forming by allowing you to defend other players.

Timing: React to possible harm.
Offer: There are a lot of characters and locations with control effects. Playing them might be good just to intimidate other people. If you do this, I will use it against you. Do not do it and you will be safe.
Counter: Try to form an alliance against the owners of those cards. Work together to get rid of them instead of being frightened by them.

Veiled threats
Timing: React to possible harm.
Offer: Control cards can be used to intimidate other players. Talk about your hand to create veiled threats. A Greyjoy player may argue "if you use your scourge against me this round, in the next round a newly made lord will discard it". Nobody knows if he really has that card in his hand.
Counter: Argue! A newly made lord is a high cost in a melee game and maybe the player cannot afford to play such a card in the current situation. You can also focus on intrigue challenges against those players. Promise that you will try to discard that card.

Timing: In the challenge phase when another player is thinking about his actions.
Offer: Who will I attack? This is a common question you have to ask yourself. Influence other players in that decision. If you attack him, I will use my effect X to help you. This has the good side effect, that he will not attack you. Also don't forget about the ability to support from title selection. You can often catch another player unaware and make a deal with the player you support in the process.
Counter: Threaten the players. "If you help him I will focus my attacks on you.“


So we hope we were able to give you a brief overview of some of the possibilities for making deals and working against them. Our intention was in first place to show you that there is always something you can deal about. Doing it successfully will ease up your melee games a whole lot. If you've got additional ideas to help or hinder deal making in your melee games make sure to let us know in the comments!
Remember to maximize your options, recognize the options of the other players, read the table, and give the best arguments.

We hope you enjoyed this article and even more that it was useful to you.
See you next time, when the struggle for the empty throne continues.

Tobi and SerJaime


A counterargument to any kind of deal is "Don't do that, he's getting way more out of it than you."
Lets not forget, "You should totally use that on someone else - because it will be funnier". Naturally only used amongst friends ;)
    • bigfomlof, scantrell24, GameOfPwns and 3 others like this
I was just rereading Storm of Swords last night and I loved the bit where Tywin says politely "King Balon's longships are occupied for the nonce, as are we. Greyjoy demands half the kingdom as the price of alliance, but what will he do to earn it? Fight the Starks? He is doing that already. Why should we pay for what he has given us for free? The best thing to do about our lord of Pyke is nothing, in my view. Granted enough time, a better option may well present itself. One that does not require the king to give up half his kingdom."

Because ain't that always the way?

A counterargument to any kind of deal is "Don't do that, he's getting way more out of it than you."

And the counter-counterargument is "don't listen to that guy, he's going to get ahead way more than either of us if we don't."
    • GameOfPwns likes this
Great article on melee deal making. I concur that if you're a third party to the item, you can talk about how they're getting more out of the deal than the person that you're talking to.

Conversely, if you're trying to persuade someone into a deal, don't say as much about how it helps you, but be darn certain you point out how it hurts others.
I have learned, from a friend, that the quieter that you are in melee, & the "dumber" you play (asking questions about a character's abilities even though you know them & other pool shark tricks) the better you actually end up. Maybe I play with kinder souled guys, but our friend always seems to win because we choose to attack someone other than him.
Apr 04 2013 06:14 PM
my favorite technigue is to ask the following question "who here is my friend this round ;) ) playing martell gives lots of options and reasons for opponents to be on my good side lol

A counterargument to any kind of deal is "Don't do that, he's getting way more out of it than you."

The point is you can and should choose deals, which helps the other player more than you. You just have to make those kind of deals with the player with the worst board position.
How can you not like melee? Yes, deal making is a skill jousters don't want to admit. Cool article.
I've found the secret to melee is partly dealmaking and partly perception. The first person to be perceived by the other players as "winning" always loses. His win condition characters get sniped, his locations get discarded, he gets crippled if not put out of the game entirely. The person who wins tends to be the one who can be first out of the gate after that--and good dealmaking before that, being perceived as someone who helps their allies, can slow the realization of who the real threat is.
Apr 06 2013 04:35 AM
^That- in the only other Multi card game I have ever played I had the good fortune to end up in the meta of a nationals winner and I saw what put him at that level- the obvious- Deck building skill- overall card knowledge- etc but his greatest strength is that he knew how to appear to be nearly helpless right up until the turn he won. Risking everything for that super cool combo you've been setting up is painting a target on your chest. Don't take Winterfell if you can't hold it, we all know what happens. Rhymes with...
    • Tobi likes this
Definitely the most important thing is not to rush first unless you're sure you'll snatch it that round (and still there could be surprises). Whole table turns against you and they won't stop even if you obviously aren't a threat anymore. When they finally stop you're so far out of contest for a win that you just can't get back in. I also find it as an advantage not to be first to propose any "alliances", as whoever does it first will be under the magnifier of others, even those who are his/hers allies... Or at least that's the way it works in our little group.
Was playing Conquest last night, (Lanni with Greyjoy conquered) and I managed to dissuade the Targ burn from taking out Gylbert Farwynd by pointing out that another player had as three times as much discounting stuff as him which was being locked out by me, and that the early power from prized going to all three players (except me) would end up on that players House, as he was so much stronger in power. No-one got another chance to remove him, thanks to Greyjoy character-saving and Gilded Plate,

Later in the game I had Tywin and Daven out, and had used Daven to get 8 power on him, with 4 on Tywin and 1 on my house. As I was now on 13 power (having been on 1 power a turn before) I expected a mass jump on me, but I confidently stated

"So I guess one of you guys are going to play Valar Morghulis now. The question is, which one of you wants to be 2/0/0 this turn while his opponents drop a tonne of stuff?"

To be great amusement, NOBODY played Valar Morghulis, everyone expecting someone else to. Wonderfully enough, a combination of plot cards massively favoured me, with the Targ burn player playing high claim but choosing to be first player (as well he might, with 9 power and a house condition decreasing his win target to 13), with me grabbing the title that meant he was supporting me, the Stark player picking ME for mutual cause, and the remaining Targ player picking Across the Summer Sea.

Needless to say I won the next turn, on Turn 5. :). Didn't even reach the Dominance phase, but instead used shadows Varys bounce to pull a military challenge onto myself, allowed it to be unopposed, then used Infamous to steal the power claimed for unopposed challenge, and then chose and killed one of my characters, used Iron Mines to save another character, then Infamous again to claim the Prized power that another player gained.