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Quill & Tankard Regulars - Issue 10Small Council Quill & Tankard Regulars Ire Ratatoskr WWDrakey
The Shadows mechanic has been introduced into the game in 2009, with the King's Landing chapter pack cycle. It adds another layer of strategy by giving players access to an additional out-of-play area whose contents are hidden from their opponents (much like a "second hand"), which interacts in new and unique ways with the cards in play, and which is governed by its own set of rules. In this issue we will take a closer look at the rules and timing of bringing cards out of Shadows.
Hey, was there someone there at the door just now? No? Hmm... I'm sure I just saw a glimpse... Oh well. Bartender? Anyone seen the bartender? Left with a plump bald man, eh? Well, I guess that means that no more drinks today. So let's proceed with the tale then. Oh, and could someone push that one fellow with the knife protruding from his back under the tables? Thanks.
Citadel Custom – Shadows
Citadel Custom is a set of articles presenting game mechanics through illustrated gameplay examples. It is aimed at all players from initiates to self-proclaimed Archmaesters. Each article will consist of a short recap of the relevant rules, followed by a detailed example with a more or less complex starting situation.
Shadow cards are easily recognized by the Shadow crest in the lower right corner of the card and the letter s next to the gold cost of the card. They are usually put "into Shadows" in the Marshalling phase by playing them from hand, facedown, for the cost of 2 gold as a normal Marshalling Player Action.
Each player has the opportunity to bring exactly one card out of Shadows at the beginning of each phase by paying the rest of its gold cost, as indicated in the upper left corner of the card. Oddly enough, how bringing a card out of shadows exactly fits into the timing structure of the game is not specified in the shadow rules. Additionally, the timing flowcharts in the FAQ document, preceding the introduction of the shadow mechanic as they do, offer no help either. But basically, based on discussions on the FFG Rules Board, what happens must be this:
As you can see in the flowcharts in the FAQ, each phase begins with a "Beginning of the Phase" Framework Action Window. Before the Shadow mechanic was introduced, nothing much happened in these Action Windows. The phase, well, begun, and passive effects keyed to the beginning of the phase resolved - you know, things like Knight of Flowers (Core), Daario Naharis (Core) or Tywin Lannister (Core). Oh, and theoretically, you could respond to the beginning of a phase with a Response, or even cancel the beginning of a phase with a cancel Response, but no such effects currently exist in the LCG, so let's not go there.
The introduction of Shadows made these "Beginning of the Phase" Framework Action Windows busier places than they were before. As we said above, the exact mechanics are somewhat arcane, but we do know that after the phase has begun, but before passive effects keyed to the beginning of the phase happen, cards can be brought out of Shadows. It is probably best to think of this opportunity as a "Shadows action window" opening up and interrupting the resolution of the current "Beginning of the Phase". That "window" works like a Player Action Window in many ways, with the reservation that each player can only trigger exactly one action, and that action has to be bringing a card out of Shadows.
If we accept this premise, the structure would be like this:
1. Beginning of the Phase initiates
2. Save/Cancel Responses
3. Beginning of the Phase resolves
"Shadows Action Window" opens up
First Player has the chance to bring a card out of Shadows
I. Bringing a card out of Shadows initiates
II. Save/Cancel Responses
III. Bringing a card out of Shadows resolves. Card is put into play
IV. Passive effects initiated by the card coming out of Shadows resolve
V. Responses (beginning with the player to the left of the player who brought the card out of Shadows)
VI. Moribund cards leave play
Player to the left of the First Player has the chance to bring a card out of Shadows
After all players had the chance to bring a card out of Shadows, the "Shadows Action Window" closes4. Normal "Beginning of the Phase" passives resolve
6. Beginning of the Phase ends. Moribund cards leave play.
Now, after all the dry theory, onto our play example.
A heated match between some very powerful Ladies is ongoing between a Baratheon Shadow deck based on cards from House Tyrell and a chilly Stark Winter Shadows deck with some cards that we all love, or love to hate (depends on whether you're playing Stark yourself).
Baratheon (5 power, 1 gold, first player)
Sister of Truth (KotStorm)
Fiery Kiss (ODG)
The Queen of Thorns (TftRK)
Margaery Tyrell (TftRK)
Old Red Priest (Core)
Ser Eldon Estermont (MotM)
Stannis Baratheon (VM)
Seat of Power (WotN)
Aegon's Garden (Core)
Smuggler's Cove (KotStorm)
Paper Shield (QoD)
Stark (4 power)
King's Landing (SaS)
Arya Stark (CoS)
Meera Reed (TftH)
Damon Dance-For-Me (VD)
Catelyn Stark (AToT)
Hungry Mob (CoS)
White Raven (TWoW)
Tower of the Hand (TTotH)
Hidden Chambers (CoS)
No Quarter (TBC)
Hungry Mob (CoS)
Figures 1. Starting situation for both players, Shadows cards are shown horizontally below the locations, and the hand is displayed as a fan.
With the Challenges phase just beginning, both players are looking to grab an advantage by bringing to light schemes long hidden in the shadows. Before any action can actually proceed within the Phase, and even before the Begin Phase Framework Action is finished, both players have the opportunity to bring one card out of the Shadows area.
Baratheon Shadow Opportunity: As our Baratheon player is the First Player, the first opportunity goes to her. She decides to bring her Sister of Truth (KotStorm) out of Shadows, and pays the rest of her gold cost (1 gold). Since this is not cancelled by anything, Sister of Truth (KotStorm) enters play succesfully.
Passives (Baratheon Shadow): The first thing to happen after she enters play are passives, and there is one in play that initiates - Tower of the Hand (TTotH). Smiling, our Stark player takes 1 gold from the gold pool.
Responses (Baratheon Shadow): The first opportunity for playing a Response: is with Stark, but since he does not have any to trigger, he passes. The next opportunity is with Baratheon, and she decides to trigger the Response: on The Queen of Thorns (TftRK), who then gains 1 power. With Stark passing again, Baratheon triggers the Reponse: on Margaery Tyrell (TftRK), blanking the Stark players' Damon Dance-For-Me (VD). Stark passes again, and since Baratheon wants to retain the ability to trigger both of the Tyrell Ladies later on, she uses the response of Sister of Truth (KotStorm) on herself. Sister of Truth (KotStorm) goes moribund:shadows, but remains in play until the Shadow Action ends. With no further responses from either player, the Baratheon player moves Sister of Truth (KotStorm) back into Shadows.
Stark Shadow Opportunity: With the Baratheon Shadow Opportunity being succesfully resolved, Stark now has his opportunity. He has three interesting options in Shadows, but only two of them are really viable to be brought out at this point, since Meera's blanking ability only works when she is brought out of Shadows by triggering her ability. Since he obtained 1 gold from Tower of the Hand (TTotH) and also has Hidden Chambers (CoS) in play, he decides to go for card advantage by bringing King's Landing (SaS) out of Shadows. The price is lowered by one, so he only pays 1 gold.
Passives (Stark Shadow): As King's Landing (SaS) enters play, two passives are initiated. The passive on King's Landing (SaS) itself does nothing (since it is already standing), and Tower of the Hand (TTotH) again gives Stark 1 gold.
Responses (Stark Shadow): Now, the first response opportunity is with Baratheon, and she triggers Margaery again. Since Catelyn is a Lady, she cannot be targeted by Margaery, and thus Baratheon elects to blank the textbox on Shadowcat. Stark again has no responses available and the response on The Queen of Thorns (TftRK) has a limit of 1 per phase, so neither player triggers any more responses.
With the shadow opportunities past, the Begin Phase Framework Action continues, and any passives or responses happening at the start of a phase being triggered here. Since there aren't any, the Framework Action ends without any further happenings.
While most Shadows come out during the oppurtunity at the beginning of the phase, there are some nasty exceptions like Meera Reed (TftH) that can spring onto you as actions or responses. Since it is the Challenges phase, there is a Player Action window after the begin phase Framework Action. To showcase how these special Shadows cards work, let's have a look at what kind of havoc she can cause there.
The first opportunity to initiate a Player Action is with Baratheon, since she is First Player. She decides to play Nightmares (LoW) in order to blank Catelyn. Since Stark has no way of cancelling this, Catelyn's ability is now neutralized and Baratheon is once more free to also initiate intrigue challenges.
The next opportunity for a Player Action is with Stark, and he decides to first trigger King's Landing (SaS), since he has 1 more King's Landing location than Baratheon. He kneels King's Landing (SaS) and draws 1 card, another No Quarter (TBC).
With Baratheon opting to pass on further Player Actions, it is again Stark's turn, and he decides to bring another Lady, Meera Reed (TftH), into play with her character ability. Since Hidden Chambers (CoS) only works on cards brought out of the Shadows area using the regular opportunity, Stark pays his 1 gold to trigger Meera's ability. Meera's Any Phase: action initiates in Shadows (see here for a detailed explanation on Meera), and she enters play. Since it is Winter due to White Raven (TWoW), Stark decides to proceed by blanking both of Baratheon's renown characters, Ser Eldon Estermont (MotM) and Stannis Baratheon (VM).
Another card has come out of Shadows, and the passives on both King's Landing (SaS) and Tower of the Hand (TTotH) initiate again. King's Landing (SaS) stands and Stark once more takes 1 gold from the gold pool. As it is Stark's Player Action, Baratheon has the first opportunity to respond. She could trigger Margaery again, but there aren't really any opportune targets... so both players pass once more.
Figures 2. Ending situations for both players, Shadows cards are shown horizontally below the locations, and the hand is displayed as a fan.
From here the play will move on towards the rest of the Challenge phase, with tenacious Ladies on both sides looking to thwart their opponents most cunning machinations. King's Landing is once more standing, ready to fuel the Stark player's card draw, while Baratheon is looking at pushing through some intrigue now that Catelyn is temporarily neutralized... while further surprises still lurk within the Shadows.
Questioned by the Conclave
Questioned by the Conclave is a series of quizzes for our readers, loosely based around the topics of the Issue in question. Correct answers will be posted in the comments, after enough readers have had their chance of testing their knowledge. The difficulty of the questions will vary from those directed at Apprentices, to those best suited for Archmaesters.
1. Does the order in which you trigger The Queen of Thorns (TftRK) and Sister of Truth (KotStorm) matter?
2. Can you cancel The Shadow of the South (CoS) with a Paper Shield (QoD)?
3. Can you bring Turncloak (VM) out of Shadows during any other time than the beginning of the Challenges phase?
4. What is a bit perplexing about the way Jaqen H'ghar (FtC) copies abilities?
Antti Korventausta (WWDrakey) is a self-proclaimed Finnish AGoT philosopher and nitpicker, who also used to practice Quantum Mechanics, but found that it paled to AGoT in both interest and complexity. As a Stahleck regular and judge, he sometimes has oddly vivid dreams of understanding portions of the game. In AGoT, he'll play anything as long as it's suitably twisted... often ending up with something that has horns on it.
Helmut Hohberger (Ratatoskr) started playing AGoT in September 2010 and has never looked back (although his wife has, longingly). As a German, he loves rules - and I mean *loves* 'em. Try triggering a Response at the end of a phase on his watch, and he'll probably invade your country. He has actually read the FAQ, and was made a judge at Stahleck 2011 and at various other events. He sometimes answers rules questions on boardgamegeek and the FFG rules board. Some of his answers haven't even been contradicted, corrected or expanded upon by ktom - there is no higher accolade for a rules board morlock.
Every Maester needs a Raven on his shoulder. As a Finn, Iiro Jalonen (Ire) got pulled under the waves by Krakens years ago, and has never looked back. A self-inflicted Shagga and active member of the global AGoT community, he has always strived to know the rules of the game, in order to make them do ridiculous things.
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