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Sands of Dorne Review: A Game of Thrones LCG Deluxe Expansion


In centuries past, many a host had come down from the Prince's Pass with banners streaming, only to wither and broil on the hot red Dornish sands. "The arms of House Martell display the sun and spear, the Dornishman's two favored weapons," the Young Dragon had once written in his boastful Conquest of Dorne, "but of the two, the sun is the more deadly."

Now onto the reviews, starting with....

Doran Martell - 2.8 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 2 out of 5
You could pay 7 for this guy… or you could, say, pay 6 for Varys, who has more impact on the board. His effect isn’t bad, don’t get us wrong, and it’s versatile - but to actually see play, 7 gold characters need to truly shine. You may well include him in your deck and enjoy playing him - but that deck will probably be suboptimal.

scantrell24 - 3.5 out of 5
Doran is almost like a Nymeria + Scorching Desert combined. He could potentially wreck an opponent’s plans round after round if you keep him on the board - especially against Crossing and Rains. The faction card kneel cost is real bummer though. Maybe some Martell Wars to Come control decks will feature him.

Von Wibble - 3.5 out of 5
The effects are very powerful for sure, with the removal of icons nicely leading to the ability to remove the characters from a challenge. Doran also combines very nicely with cards like Scorching Desert and Southron Messenger. My big concern however is that he has a lot of competition for places with other big Martell characters, as an icon removal deck that builds with his ability is going to probably go big on Sand Snakes, which means Harmen Uller, Red Viper, and possibly 6 cost Tyene are already there. Can a typical low curve Martell control deck afford Doran as well? Or is it time to start looking at a higher curve in terms of plot gold?

Florian - 2 out of 5
Doran doesn’t excel at one particular thing but is still a more than serviceable card, if all of his little advantage engines synergize with your deck. I think if you’re running 3x Great Hall in your Martell deck, you can easily play him as a one-of. That’s a pretty low opportunity cost for a character that can give challenge-oriented decks a massive headache, so I wouldn’t be too surprised to see him pop up even in competitive play every now and then. That being said, he’s still a 7 cost loyal Martell character that doesn’t compare favorably to (new) Arianne, so he was never going to be more than a niche playable anyway.

Ellaria Sand - 3.4 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 2 out of 5
Again, it’s not that she’s bad, as such, just very expensive. The Varys comparison is relevant again, fun though the shenanigans of combining her with the likes of this box’s Darkstar can be. We do appreciate how Oberyn’s paramour gets to be a supersized version of a regular Dornish Paramour, at least!

scantrell24 - 3.5 out of 5
Ellaria doesn’t fit in the typical Martell Fealty or Martell Wolf attrition decks, but she could be the lynchpin for a new Martell archetype, maybe with Tyrell for HoT Margaery and Renly’s Ride, or with Greyjoy for Raiding Longships.

Von Wibble - 5 out of 5
This ability is incredibly powerful, ensuring that 3 opponents characters are basically knelt for the cost of 1 kneel from you, with a chance to trigger effects for losing challenges on top. Usually an opponent’s board isn’t so big that they won’t notice their best 3 intrigue/power icons kneeling after all. There are a few disadvantages - you need to go first to get the best out of her (this can of course create a lose-lose situation for your opponent if you also have good go second tech), you are probably losing the relevant challenge, which slows your power gain or prevents some nice triggers off won intrigue challenges, and you may well be giving opponents use of renown, insight and pillage. But overall I think she will see play, and together with either Darkstar could incentivise a potent go first deck.

Florian - 3 out of 5
Ellaria is one of those high risk, high reward cards. The risk in this case is being matched against a deck that has a lot of standing tech or relies primarily on monocon characters. The reward should be pretty obvious, as forcing Jaime, Cersei and Tywin to defend an intrigue challenge seems like a good way to generate value. Usually, I’d give such a situational card a solid 1 out of 5, but Ellaria’s ability feels like it just needs one additional combo piece to be absolutely busted, so I’m willing to up the score by 2 for future potential.

The Red Viper - 4.3 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 4 out of 5
The first “Big” of the box we can see getting serious play, so no surprise it’s an aggro card.... One of those great centrepiece cards that can really make a deck sing but isn’t actually required for it to play well (compared to, say, Tyrion Lannister (LotR)). Stats, keyword and powergain makes for an excellent package, and the only real knock again him is that most Martell still prefers to go second, even if this theme has been slowly developing since the core set.

scantrell24 - 4 out of 5
I badly want this Viper to be good, because the first two versions have had their moments, but each left something to be desired. I keep comparing this Viper to Victarion (both are six gold uniques with Intimidate) and I wonder how often the Bastard win on attack will happen. That’s they key question. If it’s consistently at least once per round, then he’s basically got renown. If not, then he’s okay but nothing brilliant.

Von Wibble - 4 out of 5
This Viper requires a fair bit of deck building to get the most out of. Winning a challenge with an in house Bastard isn’t actually that common as most trigger off losing challenges (Bastard Daughters) or have abilities that make them lose (Ellaria). However, I can see the Viper doing well in builds that do start forcing challenges through with the larger Bastards, using challenge tricks to ensure they win, and the fact he is repeatable and doesn’t have to be in a challenge means he’s pretty fast. As with Ellaria this is a card that works nicely in a deck that aims to go first. I’m not sold that he will do too much in a pure Martell build, where the other Vipers are good - but with Rose for strength pumps or Stag for more Bastard tech, he could be a thing.

Florian - 5 out of 5
Man, I love this card from a design perspective. It’s a centerpiece for a theme deck that feels powerful but isn’t completely useless in any other deck. That means the player and not the designer gets to decide what he wants to do with the Viper, how much he wants to commit to the bastard theme. The 4 STR tingles a little because Targaryen is a thing, but it’s going to be so satisfying when you sagaciously maneuver him out of Dracarys range. Printed score for the Viper is 4 out of 5, but the bastard won the coolness challenge, which brings him up to a 5 out of 5 total.

Darkstar - 3.9 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 4 out of 5
Three “go first” cards in a row? Similarly to the Viper above, Darkstar is efficient for a go-first deck and has an interesting ability. We suspect more often than not he’ll get you unopposed challenges rather than bounce, which is still great for Intimidate, but less exciting than he first looks.

scantrell24 - 4 out of 5
What’s not to like? He’s an obvious 1x in a lot of Martell decks.

Von Wibble - 3.5 out of 5
Continuing with a theme here, Darkstar generally works well in a go first deck. The sacrifice ability will put your opponent in a difficult position, especially if you can pump his strength somehow - either they overcommit to defense and you use the sacrifice ability to hurt their board, or they under-commit and you intimidate a big character. However, stealthy Star is also very useful when going first as his icon removal can often amount to removing a big guy from contention (at least in the challenge you don’t want them to make) and his stealth actually wins the challenge in the first place, plus he is a bit cheaper.

Florian - 4 out of 5
If you were looking for a card that breaks new Ellaria, look further! Because this combo costs 11 gold and also leaves your own board in shambles. The score here is merely reflective of the fact that this is a 5 for 5 bicon intimidate character, which is incredibly efficient. And hey, the ability is a nice upside if you get to trigger it once in a while.

Obara Sand - 4.5 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 3 out of 5
This is a bad Arianne Martell. Now, there’s a lot of wiggle-room there, given that Arianne is arguably Martell’s best card. Consider this a perfectly good card that loses a point for having another character do their job better and a point for being a retread - though in practice she’ll likely do better than our score suggests.

scantrell24 - 5 out of 5
Redundancy = consistency = win. Now you can run Core Arianne together with this Obara and essentially have 6 copies of the same effect in your deck. Martell’s ambush package has never looked better.

Von Wibble - 5 out of 5
This is basically core Arianne, with different icons, and the restriction that the card you put into play has to be Martell. However, to make up for this you can return any Sand Snake to hand - you can use this to remove Milk from Nymeria, or to get to play out Dorea Sand again next turn. I think this will see a lot of play, whether as backup for core Arianne to get 2 ambush effects off, or as a replacement for her in decks running 7 cost Arianne.

Florian - 5 out of 5
The first bomb card in the box. Which is an odd thing to say because most decks will play her as a one- or maybe two-of. However, the effect she has on Martell cannot be understated. Between core Arianne and this version of Obara, you can now reliably cheat characters like core Areo Hotah or Southron Messenger into play without ever having to worry about their prohibitive ambush costs. It really cannot be understated how great a boon Obara is for decks that wish to do so repeatedly. And on top of all this she also sports the best bicon combination that Martell could ask for right now.

Areo Hotah - 2.5 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 3 out of 5
This would be such a lovely, dangerous card if not for that name. As it is, we think that, with the possible exception of Melee, Core Areo is just a better card. Pity!

scantrell24 - 2 out of 5
Cool design, but he’s a touch too situational and a touch too low strength to be really enticing. Besides, it would take a lot to overthrow Core Areo, especially considering that Martell just got another tool for jumping in Core Areo mid-challenge (see: Obara).

Von Wibble - 4 out of 5
Although core Areo is really good and getting easier to put into play all the time, this card still merits consideration in a lot of decks. Martell do have access to some decent strength pumps with Hotah’s Axe and Princes Plans, so winning the challenge with him may be easier than opponents would expect, and claim raising remains one of the most powerful effects in the game. The obvious time to play him out is on a Retaliation turn, where in combination with Sunspear he can scare your opponent into making very few challenges. As mentioned, the problem is competition with core Areo, who’s cost makes him Flea Bottomable and First Snowable, as well as having a strong effect himself. I might even run 1 of each.

Florian - 1 out of 5
The card itself is a 2 out of 5 in my opinion. The effect is potentially powerful but suffers from Sunspear syndrome, rendering it useless when you’re first player. Additionally, the weak body makes the response easy to play around if it doesn’t come with an axe. So the card is hit and miss to begin with and probably would have been an unspectacular one-of in specific decks (thanks to Obara), but then we get to the part where its title is Areo Hotah. So until the core version rotates out of the game, I wouldn’t predict this one to go anywhere except into binders.

Nymeria Sand - 3.9 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 4 out of 5
Makes a strong case to see play over the old Nymeria. There’s enough icon-removal with the arrival of this box that a 2 card swing every turn (if you’re winning dom with icon removal then congratulations on literally being a wizard) may offer more value than the redundancy of the 5-coster. We really like how controly she feels, but in a Martell way, and that this is on a (disruptable, interactive) character rather than stuck on a location like it might’ve been in days of yore.

scantrell24 - 4 out of 5
New-meria might force a true 50-50 split between new and old. Both versions are powerful, but in different ways. The one downside here is that she has zero effect until after the challenges phase, but four gold is a low enough investment where that’s okay.

Von Wibble - 4.5 out of 5
Another really good card which competes with a staple of Martell decks. I like that Nymeria has decent icons, and her ability is undoubtedly strong card advantage. In an icon removal deck it’s a tough call on which to use as cards with lost icons tend to act as massive Iron Thrones and therefore such a deck will often lose dominance and trigger this ability. That fact combined with the fact we probably have enough icon removal cards to fuel our challenge phase means that this may even replace the first Nymeria before she rotates out...

Florian - 3 out of 5
Also afflicted by the disease that is a strong previous printing, Nymeria at least manages to distinguish herself from her alter ego. That’s a good step in the right direction, since there likely exist decks that care more about the card advantage the new version provides than the icon control of the old version. Unfortunately, old Nymeria is still a powerhouse, so I don’t envision the new version making the cut all too often.

Tyene Sand - 2.9 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 4 out of 5
She’s held back a little by the setup and top-decking considerations, but she has good traits and, well, we hear free stuff is quite often good in card games.

scantrell24 - 1 out of 5
Mono-cons make me cringe. There’s just something repulsive about them. So, sure you can get her out for 0 gold, but do you really want her that much? I don’t have deck space for a 3 strength stealth intrigue character.

Von Wibble - 2.5 out of 5
In a Sand Snake deck this is not a difficult trigger, losing challenges and kneeling Sand Snakes is easy enough. A free character is always going to be a good thing, even if it is a monocon, and the stealth is very good for win by 5 conditions such as Rains. However, in such a deck I’d rather run the other Tyene as I want some scary effects and should be confident of winning intrigue challenges to get them.

Florian - 4 out of 5
Also afflicted by the disease that is a strong previous printing… I am kidding of course, since the advent of Consuming Flames has rendered old Tyene more or less obsolete. This one still dies to Consuming Flames but at least you didn’t spend 6 gold to get your snake roasted. The body is slightly below average, unless you’re playing Rains, but I think the pseudo-ambush makes more than up for that. Hence the optimistic score.

Nymeria’s Guard - 2.4 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 3 out of 5
Ooh, we wonder what deck this one was meant for. We guess Sand Snakes sort of have a “jumpers” theme in this box, but it does feel more like a hodge-podge of effects for effects’ sake than a coherent card. Averagely-good in one specific deck?

scantrell24 - 2 out of 5
Meh. Maybe not even in a Sand Snake deck.

Von Wibble - 2.5 out of 5
The ability at first looks fairly simple, paying 4 gold isn’t a problem as they have a cost of 4 anyway (though are probably worth 3), and standing any character is a good thing. However, unlike ambush cards, this cost can’t be reduced by Damon, and unlike ambush cards it doesn’t really benefit from Arianne or Obara. It should also be noted that most Sand Snakes are low strength characters, so a stand of them isn’t doing as much for you as standing most other characters. I just don’t feel there is room in decks for this one.

Florian - 2 out of 5
Right now Nymeria’s Guard is looking pretty atrocious. But that’s only because there are few (or none) Sand Snake characters that are worth standing in exchange for an overpriced vanilla character. I’m still willing to go up to 2 out of 5 though because all it takes is a reasonably sized, intimidating or renowned sand snake for Nymeria’s Guard to become playable.

Obella Sand - 3.8 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 5 out of 5
Curmudgeonly though we may be, we’re still rules lawyers at heart, and therefore want to take a moment to highlight the change in templating approach here, with it being a reaction instead of an interrupt. With the “implicitly from the deadpile” ruling, this essentially means that, say, Obella’s non-descript sister the Bastard Daughter could’ve been a Reaction all along.

Now, with that said, what a lovely(/hateful, depending on your point of view) card. After being a heavy-attrition faction for a while, it looks like Martell are finally re-establishing their spot as the faction that makes you scared to do anything against them. Drakey considers this the most fun card in the entire box, if you want an insight into his tortured, twisted psyche.
scantrell24 - 3 out of 5
Benjen-lite is a decent character with potential in passive pwoer gain Wall decks, Table/Chair decks, etc.

Von Wibble - 4 out of 5
A 3 for 2 bicon isn’t great, but the ability means you are probably “killing” her for claim anyway if playing her out, and if you view it as paying 1 for the power and 2 for the bicon you are doing fine. Against decks unlikely to use military just keep her in hand for intrigue claim. The very existence of this card is going to make players hesitate to do an intrigue challenge against Martell if they are close to the win. Whilst other kill and discard effects will remove her, I think this is generally a good cheeky 1 of in a deck.

Florian - 3 out of 5
While there are some merits to Obella, I feel like she doesn’t quite know what she’s supposed to do. Is she a win condition for slow control decks? Not really, because her trigger is unreliable at best. Is she an insurance against rush? Again, not really. Fast decks will probably steal the power right back from your otherwise empty faction card. In summation, Obella is a character with subpar stats that makes you wish she cost 1 gold less when you eventually kill her off for (hopefully) claim or (realistically) Valar. So yeah, she’s going to see some play but I don’t see any spectacular potential here either.

Quentyn Martell - 3.8 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 3 out of 5
From one of the most fun cards in the box to one of the most boring. Still, he’s plenty-efficient, and with the likes of Flea Bottom and Arianne/Obara you can drop him in before you’re ‘supposed’ to, which is important for increasing playability of these late-game cards.

scantrell24 - 4 out of 5
Great value for jumper decks. Losing renown to First Snow is rough, but on the flip side you can keep him easily when Valar Dohaeris hits.

Von Wibble - 4 out of 5
When he’s not knelt, he is very efficient for the cost. Otherwise he is fairly useless, although stand effects such as Shandystone and Plaza of Pride can remedy that.

Florian - 4 out of 5
An efficient beatstick with a downside. So far, so formulaic as far as design goes. I guess between Sands Obella and Core Arianne there’s actually enough ways to circumvent the Forced Reaction to make him a decent one-of in decks that choose to play the aforementioned duo. Outside of that he could be your fourth and fifth copy of Second Sons in a Targaryen/Martell list with Plaza of Pride and Flea Bottom, all cards that synergize well with one another. Quentyn will find use somewhere I am sure.

Ser Cletus Yronwood - 2.3 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 2 out of 5
This might warrant a 3 for being an OK body with an OK ability and a relevant(ish) trait, but we’re just disappointed to see this ability on a unique. If it was on a non-unique, you could reliably expect to have one on the board when you need it and change your plot deck to leverage it; as it is, he doesn’t impact your deck at all. He might occasionally benefit you still, but he remains a disappointment to us.

scantrell24 - 2 out of 5
3 gold is the worst slot for characters (too expensive to be claim soak but too cheap to be impactful), and Yronwood’s ability doesn’t do nearly enough to overcome that handicap. If you’re all-in on the go second theme (Sunspear, new Hotah, etc) then he’s worth a look, but that’s a tier 2 deck.

Von Wibble - 3 out of 5
Decent icons and strength for the cost, with a nice enough trait. Martell like winning initiative, and this could help ensure they win a key initiative battle in the game, especially if you are running the Wars to Come or Ricasso.

Florian - 2 out of 5
When I’m giving a card pity points for melee potential, then you know the card is suspicious to say the least. Playing an exactly average body with some non-ability is just not how you win a normal game of joust. That means Cletus’s playability will be solely determined by the playability of stupid used plot pile combo decks. A shame, really, as I was quite fond of the first edition version (that had the same artwork).

Loreza Sand - 2.9 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 3 out of 5
Cheap draw is good, and we like the art. Kind of like a unique reverse Bastard Daughter, only occasionally she’ll draw you an extra card. In the future she may well rise to 4 (and will overperform in a Targ burn meta where other uniques may die against your will), but right now we can’t think of many unique Martells we rather kill than her so she isn’t quite fulfilling her potential.

scantrell24 - 2.5 out of 5
If Loreza had another icon I’d be intrigued, but as printed she’s worse than Greenblood Trader in every way except on setup.

Von Wibble - 3 out of 5
Everyone likes card draw, and at worst you can trigger it when Loreza dies as an interrupt. Martell probably run less uniques than most however, although many are Sand Snakes in fairness. The limit of once per phase stops this being abusive on a Wildfire or Valar turn.

Florian - 3 out of 5
Okay, we need waaaay more playable, two- and one-(a man can dream, right?)-cost uniques to make Loreza more than a glorified cantrip. Then again, I won’t complain about a reasonable chud that replaces itself upon death. And she’s a bastard and a sand snake, which is becoming more and more relevant. Overall, a solid card that doesn’t draw too much attention but will draw at least some.

Maester Kedry - 2.4 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 3 out of 5
Caution: highly flammable. Despite that, and despite him being somewhat of a boring retread of his first edition version, we like that the “characters with economy” style lets you use him in challenges/for claim soak or as an econ engine, as the circumstances of your game requires.

scantrell24 - 2 out of 5
It’s nice to see more economy for big scary event decks. Now we just need more big scary events.

Von Wibble - 2.5 out of 5
Even if he is used once and then acts as claim soak he has done a decent job. As with the Bastard of Godsgrace and Water Gardens, Kedry allows for a lot of bluffing, and even with low strength his icons are pretty good for Martell at that cost. However, Martell have a lot of competition at that cost slot and so he may struggle to get a look in unless you are running Conclave or lots of costly events.

Florian - 2 out of 5
Maester Kedry suffers most from the lack of high-cost events that you would actually want to put in your Martell deck alongside him. I mean, there is Red Vengeance and then there is Last of the Giants. But the latter is already somewhat questionable. How much value will you be able to extract from character based economy in a deck that presumably resets the board quite frequently? That makes Kedry and okay chud with an okay ability, resulting in an okay score (eyes rolled).

House Dayne Escort - 3.3 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 3 out of 5
Very not-stellar, but he’s solid curve filler. This entire box is basically asking Flea Bottom to “SoD” off, and if it does the ability gets a lot better (while still not breaking the likes of Breaking Ties, huzzah!).

scantrell24 - 3.5 out of 5
Now here’s a chud that does one job extremely well. He gets discarded to Marched or Varys, then comes back for an encore later. Not bad at all.

Von Wibble - 2.5 out of 5
The ability provides a bit of utility, but for me what makes this a solid choice is the icon spread together with another House Dayne option. This could be the chud of choice for the go first and kneel everything out with Ellaria and intimidate deck.

Florian - 4 out of 5
This is the chud of my hard control dreams. A power icon plus attached value are everything you could ask for in a chud for such a deck. I also want to remind you that Martell Wolf (a very respectable deck) has been playing Tumblestone Knights since its inception. Being an upgrade of an already playable card makes me convinced me that House Dayne Escort will find a home in a variety of decks. If anything, its only weakness is that Martell now has a wide array of 2 cost chuds to choose from, which is why I can’t justify nudging the score up to a 5.

Shadow City Bastard - 5.0 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 5 out of 5
Let’s put a pin in Flea Bottom for a moment, and look at the card in a vacuum. It’s a fantastic card for icon removal, has a trait that gained new relevance in Martell, is cheap for setup, can make a challenge before his ability triggers, and has ambush for those niche occasions when you’d rather drop it in mid-phase (maybe due to top-decking it from other cards in this box).
OK, now let’s take that pin out, and open the gates of hell. This, triggering every round, for 1 gold? Forget your Second Sons and whatnot, this is the most abusive card to pair with that wicked location. Between this and one of the plots in the box, it’s making us suspect Flea Bottom might ‘encounter an unfortunate accident’ in the near-future.

scantrell24 - 5 out of 5
Flea Bottom needs to die, and soon.

Von Wibble - 5 out of 5
This card doesn’t hit the most powerful cards in the game, but still has plenty of really good targets - Theon, Core Asha, Knight of Flowers, HoT Marge, Greatjon, Core Cat to name but a few. What really pushes this over the top though is the combination of this with Flea Bottom, giving you 2 uses of the ability in the round in which this is played. As mentioned with Kedry, the bicon is decent for Martell for the cost as well, allowing a bit of a contribution to challenges before using the ability. I’ll forgive the strength 1 as this is usually sacrificed before burn can get it.

Florian - 5 out of 5
I was about to proclaim that this is the best card in the box, but then I realized: Flea Bottom is the best card in this box.

Dorne - 4.0 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 4 out of 5
A major tempo-hit, but draw is just so nice, and filtered draw is even better, with the reserve being a cherry on top. These 4-cost locations are difficult to judge though - how does this compare to, say, The Hightower, a location built around constructive swarming, when it’s clearly designed to be the beating heart of a traditional control deck? We’re erring on the side of sustained control needing a constant source of new answers, although it might not end up being played as often as the high rating implies.

scantrell24 - 4.5 out of 5
Four gold is a tough pill to swallow, but if you see Dorne early and reset the board a few times, you’ll have excellent odds of climbing back. The worst-case scenario is drawing Dorne mid or late game when you needed a character on the table to turn things around.

Von Wibble - 4.5 out of 5
Although I’d say the mantra of second edition is “gold = win”, draw is still a good thing. Choosing which card of 2 to draw is even better. Martell decks generally lose challenges, and this location has no limits, and triggers off attack and defense. The reserve is a nice cherry on top of the cake, after all, a lot of Martell’s best plots currently have reserve 5 or less. The only question is whether you can take the tempo hit of playing this, but I’d say if you get it early the card draw makes up for it, and if you get it late Water Gardens helps you out.

Florian - 3 out of 5
While I too am a strong proponent of doing nothing and drawing cards, spending 4 gold on Dorne might go even beyond my levels of professional procrastination. Therefore, let me cut right to the chase: When the board is a do-nothing affair on both sides, then Dorne is probably the best location you can ask for. But if you need to find an answer to an opponent’s threat, spending 4 gold and waiting is not going to cut it for you. So as long as Tyrell Rains and similar incredibly fast decks are a driving force in the meta I will remain doubtful of our ability to spend 4 gold on a location that doesn’t impact the board in any way.

Starfall - 4.1 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 4 out of 5
The comparison with Dragonstone Castle is an interesting one, as both are 3g soft control locations; Castle is strong, but the timing of Starfall makes it a lot more impactful in practice. It’s going to be a reliable, steady, functional pain in the proverbial for your opponents. We would definitely play this, which says a lot about both the card and us.

scantrell24 - 4 out of 5
With the right supporting cast, Starfall could be quite strong. You’ll need to keep the board small and have more icon removal, because taking one away isn’t great by itself. I look forward to trying HRD Starfall, though I’m afraid it might be just as un-interactive as HRD Dragonstone Castle.

Von Wibble - 4.5 out of 5
I can see this being the location of choice for a Red Door deck, and although it is only 1 icon, the threat of activation when combined with cards like the Southron Messenger can’t be ignored. This feels like the extra piece of icon removal Martell has been waiting for for a long time. However, 3 cost is expensive, whilst still cheap enough to be vulnerable to all the location control that seems so prevalent at the moment.

Florian - 4 out of 5
I believe Dragonstone Castle to be a more powerful card in a vacuum, but I like that you get to play actual cards when you pick Martell as your faction. So that’s how that comparison goes. Oh, and the above average score is solely based on its performance as an HoD location because I don’t think the board impact is great enough to justify the high cost. Especially when almost every deck is (or should be) running Nothing Burns Like The Cold or to a lesser extent Political Disaster. Being forced into HoD isn’t necessarily bad however, since you need to construct your deck with Starfall in mind anyway. The character-based decks nowadays are just too efficient at flooding the board with bi- and tricons for a single removed icon to matter greatly if you don’t have a game plan to go along with it.

Hotah’s Axe - 4.0 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 4 out of 5
A positive attachment we...like, and would use? And the grinch’s heart did gain 3 STR that day! Cheating it in is obviously the name of the game here, but we like that you have option to play it normally (for setup, topdecking or burn protection) too. Mostly though we’re high on this because it’s cool and interesting. As this axe whizzes in and out of your hand, remember the tale of Urrigon Greyjoy.

scantrell24 - 3 out of 5
If nothing else, Hotah’s Axe looks fun, and that’s got to count for something right? Cards like these remind me what a great move it was to let attachments return to hand in 2nd edition.

Von Wibble - 4 out of 5
This is a really flexible card, providing a nice strength boost where needed. It gets particularly good when used with Flea Bottom - now your chud has strength 4-5 and can actually win challenges if you want them to. If used on a card that sacrifices themselves such as the Shadow City Bastard, you can then play out the Axe on a card that you ambush/Arianne/Obara in too. And of course it works so well with Areo Hotah himself...I don’t often give high scores to positive attachments but this one I like.

Florian - 5 out of 5
4 out of 5 seems like a reasonable score for this one, and I can only echo the praise by my coreviewers that a playable positive attachment should rightfully receive. But allow me to bump the score up to 5 on the grounds that Targaryen is currently one of the (if not the) best factions and also not going anywhere with even more potent burn cards coming up next cycle.

Patience - 2.0 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 2 out of 5
We were umming and ahhing over 2 or 3 here. We very nearly went generous, but we really do wish this was simply an action like Orphan of the Greenblood. It’s a touch situational as a result. That said, the game doesn’t lack for interesting Enters/Leaves play effects, and it plays very well with Arianne/Obara, so it’s an interesting card.

scantrell24 - 2 out of 5
I wonder why Orphan of the Greenblood is an any phase action, but Patience is a Challenges phase action. You probably don’t have room for both, except maybe in a reset-the-world type deck, and the phase flexibility could be enough to tip the scales in favor of Orphan.

Von Wibble - 2 out of 5
And up to now the cards were looking so good! I can see uses for this card, whether it be removing Milk, or getting another enters/leaves play effect off, or even avoiding a reset. However, I think the Trader and TIBWHID do this job better, and I don’t think there is room for all of these cards.

Florian - 2 out of 5
The setup-friendliness coupled with the eh-I’ll-just-throw-a-copy-in potential provides Patience with an escape route from my binder. Don’t let that fool you though: Patience is slow and Patience shouldn’t be indulged in abundantly. So basically, Patience is what Patience is all about.

Beguiled - 4.3 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 4 out of 5
We’re pretty high on the design here, with it providing an interesting all-in-one alternative to the non-terminal first cycle equivalents. A suitable successor to those attachments when they cycle out; in the meantime, the crossover period could be quite nasty, with the ability to (if you squint) run six copies of one attachment.

scantrell24 - 4 out of 5
Flexible and cheap, but Terminal. Not a bad trade off compared to the others, especially in decks that want to win faster (wait, what?). Really gives Martell a leg up against Rains and Crossing.

Von Wibble - 5 out of 5
And we are back on form! Any deck that wants to focus on and remove icons, such as a Rains deck controlling intrigue icons, now has 6 cards that can do this. Whilst terminal is sad, the 0 cost makes up for it, and attachments are as often removed by the character involved leaving play as they are Confiscated, by which time you may be happy to have made that trade.

Florian - 4 out of 5
Actually having to make a choice between Beguiled and the other icon removal attachments is one of the more interesting aspects of this card. I’d advocate for Beguiled in tempo-based decks that care about challenges and even intend to initiate some of their own. (Heresy, I know.) In more controlling decks I still prefer the recurring value that the original icon strippers provide. These decks also usually know exactly which challenge types they need to prevent, so you get to choose accordingly during deck building anyway. As a result, Beguiled isn’t an auto-include but still a damn fine include that you will be happy to draw during any stage of the game.

No Use for Grief - 2.0 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 2 out of 5
A little too conditional for us to rate higher, but it’s at least playable in the Sand Snake deck, even if it’s not in danger of being a staple card. At least, fetching Obella mid-military challenge could be fun, and the TRV kicker is a nice throwback.

scantrell24 - 1 out of 5
I guess you could kill your Bastard Daughter, then search for…. Dorea? Obella? Another Bastard Daugher? There’s not many exciting options unless the Viper is dead, and you don’t want to count on that.

Von Wibble - 2 out of 5
Although the effect is undeniably good, I think this is a card that could linger in your hand for a while. Many players are very wary to make a military challenge against any Martell player, especially if they have ways to get the 2 gold needed, thanks to Vengeance for Elia. I think as a result there are better cards to put into your deck that will be used in the meantime.

Florian - 3 out of 5
No Use For Grief only goes into very specific decks. Very, very specific decks. Okay, maybe you shouldn’t go as far as intentionally offing the Viper for benefits. But the effect seems legitimately powerful in a deck that runs two copies of Wildfire Assault and a couple of Sand Snakes. (Note that the character only has to die in the same round.) And maybe then you’ll reap the benefits of offing your own units. Now I just have to figure out whether Rising Sun can be a rip-off of AGoT’s Martell faction, even though both games were technically designed by the same bloke...

False Plans - 3.0 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 3 out of 5
It’s somewhat unreliable to wait for it to be discarded, unless you literally empty your hand, and the 1-for-1 is rarely worth it. That said, there certainly are some decks that can leverage one effect or the other (likely not both), and we approve of the general petulance of the thing.

scantrell24 - 3 out of 5
Martell players won’t mind having more cards in the pool that opponents have to consider before launching attacks. Combined with Viper Eyes you could really damage an opponent’s hand and grind them down to few options. But then you’ve taken up 5-6 event slots with cards that aren’t impacting the board.

Von Wibble - 3 out of 5
I’m not sure what to make of this card. Generally paying gold and a card to discard an opponent’s card is not a good exchange. However, if they only have 1 card in hand, you can guarantee yourself that, for example, the Targ player can’t use Dracarys! on you - and if you have the card advantage in general it helps keep things that way. I also like that this (and Obella) actually provide threats on losing an intrigue challenge, as players would commonly choose this in the past as a Vengeance generally kept cards even and Vipers Eyes didn’t work at all. Solid but not necessarily spectacular.

Florian - 3 out of 5
This card is an annoyance on its own, but not one that I would consider worth a card and a gold. You really need to play False Plans alongside other hand disruption to make the effect worth its cost. Another way to extract that additional bit of value is Annals of Castle Black, so I’m sure there is some event heavy control deck that False Plans would happily call home just waiting to be built.

To the Spears - 2.9 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 4 out of 5
A name to put the fear of the seven into first edition players, and an effect that lets them breathe happy again as it’s a lot worse. We’re not keen on how it’s a dead card for the first couple of rounds either. So why the high rating? Simple: Melee. Get the game to plot 4 and this becomes a rocket pack that plays nicely with so many core Martell themes - we expect this to be staple card in that format.

scantrell24 - 3.5 out of 5
I’m a huge non-kneeling to attack fan. Anything that enables Voltron is worth a look (maybe not competitively though). I’m surprised that FFG didn’t limit Spears to once per round.

Von Wibble - 3 out of 5
This makes for a very nice finisher in combination with fast power grab cards like the Core Viper and Doran’s Game. At 0 cost it is hard to dislike this, even if you do have to wait a plot or 2 before using it. Unlike, say, Quentyn there are no ways to make it good in the early game, and as such I see this as a 1-2 of in delayed rush decks. Definitely another example of a go first card.

Florian - 1 out of 5
Ugh, I don’t think I’m qualified to judge a card based on its melee or combo potential, so here comes a bleak joust rating of 2. Von Wibble points out the relevant technicalities above, so all that is left for me to do is subtract one from the final score because this card is called To The Spears, completely and utterly obliterating my nostalgia.

At Prince Doran’s Behest - 4.5 Average

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Quill & Tankard Curmudgeons - 5 out of 5
In contrast to Wars to Come, we’re excited about playing a 6-card plot deck. Getting back to your high impact plots a plot sooner is enough to justify its inclusion, but this ALSO lets you choose your plot reactively with full knowledge of the best plot to use! Varys’s Riddle? Naval Superiority? Forgotten Plans? Any risk (and, dare we say, need for skill) is out the window. Oh, and something something used pile. Just make sure you don’t pin it. Most powerful plot in the game.

scantrell24 - 4 out of 5
I like Doran’s Behest mostly in Wars to Come decks, where you have more room to include toolboxy “answer” plots. Even if the opponent makes you first player, you get to decide plot order, which could be relevant for the new plot you choose (ex Riddle vs Harvest).
In a normal 7 plot card deck, cycling through your plots faster could be a blessing or a curse. For example, Secret Schemes ramps up quickly but also starts back at square one a turn sooner if you cycle all the way through your plots.

Von Wibble - 5 out of 5
Having the choice of any other plot having seen your opponent’s plot can’t ever be underestimated, especially as it allows you to start picking plots such as Naval Superiority or even Forgotten Plans, that usually would be left out as it is too hard to predict when your opponent will be worst hit by them. However, although I am giving it 5 I do have concerns. Firstly, you are pretty much guaranteed to lose initiative. A lot of Martell’s plots win this for you normally and want to go second - or first if you run a lot of the cards listed above. Secondly, a lot of Martell plots are easy enough calls to play as the board state determines that you just use them - Marched in Martell Wolf for example. Whilst I do see it as an auto-include for Wars to Come I think you still have to consider what you drop for this in other established tier 1 builds.

Florian - 4 out of 5
Don’t get me wrong, this is an incredibly powerful plot for the reasons already pointed out by the other reviewers. My gripes are that (a) you will become first player 90% of the time when you flip At Prince Doran’s Behest, which Martell strongly dislikes, and ( B) losing a plot slot is actually quite significant. I’m already at a loss when I have to cut plots from my decks, but going down to (effectively) six plots makes your plot deck even less versatile. Or it makes your plot deck more streamlined, depending on your point of view. My verdict boils down to: try it in every deck but don’t be afraid to cut it either if you notice that your deck is lacking a specific answer or a good economy plot.

Total Martell Average: 3.3

Top Cards:
Shadow City Bastard 5.0
Obara Sand 4.5
At Doran’s Behest 4.5
The Red Viper 4.3
Beguiled 4.3

Bottom Cards:
No Use for Grief 2.0
Ser Cletus Yronwood 2.3
Nym’s Guard 2.4
Maester Kedry 2.4

If you're hungry more content, check out the library of podcasts, articles, game video and more in the Community FAQ. Let us know in the comments how you feel about the cards in this box, and we’ll see you again soon to discuss The Faith Militant.


7 Comments

Q&T guys, I value your opinions highly, but what's with Varys comparison with Doran and Ellaria? Do you compare every 6/7 cost char with him? :)

Regarding Ellaria, I like to compare her to deluxe Marge. I'm aware of differences, but how is kneeling up to 3 chars not an amazing effect? She gets higher rating than Viper and Doran from me.

Viper's design could've been something less focused on a certain type of deck, and more generally good (broken :) ), now all 3 versions are for certain decks.

 

Overall impression of the box is: fun cards, giving old (and new) decks new tools. nothing broken (as it should be) - good job, design team!

    • VonWibble likes this
Love these reviews, absolute knocker of an article, applauding you pundits
    • Miklo likes this

great review

Do any meele games last more than 2-3 plots ?

Do any meele games last more than 2-3 plots ?

 

My last melee was 6 plots, and the last melee I judged ran to 6 plots (Can Nationals final), but the norm certainly is 3-4 since the introduction of the restricted list. However, At Doran's Behest gives you a full turn leg up, so it's perfectly feasible.

This box is really exciting. The sand snake/bastard decks, icon removal decks and late game decks got new shinny tools to play around with.

 

But what I like the most is that there are few cards that rely on me going second and some of them are even asking me to go first, which is how I prefer to run my Martell decks. Love it!

part 2 of review coming?