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The First Tilt - Which House is For You: Greyjoy, Kings of the Sea

The First Tilt – Entry 8: Which House Is For You? Pt.5 “Greyjoy, Kings of the Sea”

Welcome to “The First Tilt”, a blog dedicated to helping new players get their bearings in A Game of Thrones LCG. We’ll be covering a wide variety of topics, from what to buy, basic strategies and tactics, and getting acquainted with basic themes. The next six articles for The First Tilt are going to be dedicated to discussing the various Houses of Westeroes and helping you decide which house is for you. This week we’ll be discussing House Greyjoy, the Kings of the Sea. Time to shove off!

A lot of times I feel like House Greyjoy is the red-headed step-child of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game. If they aren’t familiar with the setting and the Houses, then it’s hard for new players to get a good idea of what Greyjoy really is. First impressions are usually along the lines of “They’re Stark with Stealth” and they aren’t usually impressed with Greyjoy at first. This comparison is true to a degree, but Greyjoy has so much to offer Military minded players. They also have a lot to offer everyone else for that matter, as you’ll soon learn.

House Greyjoy is the power of the Iron Islands. After the conquest of Aegon Targaryen I, House Greyjoy was elected by the other Houses of the Iron Islands to become the Lords Paramount. Because of their relative isolation, the Greyjoys are culturally very different from the rest of Westeroes. They are a hard folk, who get most of what they need through raiding and piracy. They tend to view the people of Westeroes (which they call the Green Lands) as soft and weak. They have their own unique religion and are slightly xenophobic. Twice the Greyjoys have risen up in rebellion, the first immediately after Robert’s Rebellion and was quickly quelled by Eddard Stark. The second rebellion lasted longer, with the Greyjoys sacking several castles on the mainland, including Winterfell. The Greyjoy words are “We Do Not Sow”.

Play wise, House Greyjoy favors aggression. If you want to play Greyjoy and play it right, then play aggressively. With their House Keyword of Intimidate and plenty of Stealth, Greyjoy can keep the pressure up. Intimidate is a fun Keyword; any character with strength less than the Intimidate characters strength does not count its strength toward the challenge. So, I attack you with a strength 3 character that has Intimidate and you defend with 3 characters, the first defender has 2 Strength and the others have 1 Strength each. I would win the Challenge since all of your Characters have less strength than my Character. Crazy, right? Combined this with the abundance of Stealth that Greyjoy has and you will be winning Challenges left and right.

Let’s talk a little bit about themes. Greyjoy has two themes that I’m very fond of and have employed to great success. The first theme I’ll cover is the Raider theme, from the Brotherhood Without Banners cycle. Raiders is a highly aggressive theme that hits your opponent on multiple levels. Many of the Raider cards have multiple effects for winning challenges. Many have Stealth and Intimidate, and the War Crest, and if they win a challenge, have secondary effects. Most of these effects are discard effects, which stack on top of each other get stronger if you have several Raiders in play. Euron Crow's Eye (ASoSilence) is particularly useful, he is a Raider when he attacks he gives Raiders Stealth and prevents opponents from playing Event cards. Euron's Enforcers (DB) has Intimidate and gains +1 for each Raider in play. Called to Arms (CbtC) provides a losing situation for your opponent all around.

The Raider theme is supported greatly by the Warship theme. Warships are excellent because they always have useful abilities. Since there are several Warships, I’m only going to discuss a few of them. Longship Silence (ASoSilence) and Longship Iron Victory (KotS) are great for providing bonuses and card draw. Scouting Vessel (KotS) is great for challenge control. Warships have some amazing abilities but I’ll leave that to you to research on your own, for now.

Let’s move on to the other theme I want to discuss: Holy Discard. Back in my freshman year of college, I was having a blast. I had moved away from home and started cool. Found a local group that played Magic and I was tearing it up. I had a Mill/Control deck that was completely foreign to this meta, and I dominated for weeks. Mill is a concept from Magic (named after the card Millstone) where you attempt to discard cards from your opponents deck forcing him to draw from an empty deck and lose the game. Years later, when I transitioned to L5R, I was disappointed to learn that there was no real Mill option. I love the Mill approach, and was excited to learn that Greyjoy had a very strong Mill theme, Holy Discard. Using cards like Drowned Disciple (KotS) and Raiding Fleet (AKitN), you mill through your opponents deck. It’s called Holy Discard since a majority of the Characters are priests of the Drowned God and have the Holy icon. Aeron Damphair (KotS) is great for getting those Drowned Disciples out and keeping the Mill turning. Drowned Fanatic (WotN) discards 2 when you win initiative and combine that Ahead of the Tide (WotN) and you have a powerful combo. Consider that most of the Holy Characters have the Intrigue icon, then you can keep up the pressure even more by not only attacking your opponents deck but his hand as well. Baelor Blacktyde (TIoR) is great with this theme because he prevents opponents from playing copies of event cards that are in their discard piles, and Corpse Lake (TBC) can gain you up to 3 power a turn from milling your opponent.

Greyjoy also has the Choke strategy and some very powerful Winter strategies, but we’ll discuss those further down the road. Right now, just remember that Greyjoy is an aggressive House that favors aggressive players.

That will wrap it up for this week. Before you sail off into the sunset, let me remind you that we’ll be finishing up next week with House Martell, the Princes of the Sun. See you in Dorne!

Thanks for playing along,
  • baggymacaw likes this


Nice read on my favorite house of westeros. Eagerly waiting for more.

one small correction, intimidate actually affects every character in challenge, even your own attacking ones. So you gotta be careful with the intimidate while you are being aggressive :)
Oh, wow. Totally missed that. Thanks for the correction.

This article was actually written some time ago. I try to count on the other SC members to help with the editing but we all miss things here and there.
Thanks for the heads up Ire
Actually that's a pretty big mistake that even veteran players miss. It is rather unintuitive that you should be intimidating your own guys.
Yeah I don't play alot of Greyjoy but I can definitely say that my whole group has been playing that wrong...
Well, you would think that Intimidate would only affect your opponents. The ability kinda sucks now. I would say Infamy is now the second worse keyword.

But I think it's just one of the many problems Greyjoy players face. And for new players, I think Greyjoy is probably the worst house to play since they have such difficulties to overcome.
Yeah I would say that Greyjoy and Targ are pretty bad for new players to pick up. I think Intimidate is still probably the second best keyword next to Vigilant. Intimidate doesn't require any sort of combo to work, is great in the context of the house, and really only needs the one character to make it work. Sure it stops your guys from counting their str, but do you really need their str? Just look at Cotter Pyke. He is pretty much going to get an UO challenge every time he attacks.
It's probably worth mentioning that the Intimidate effect would also make the challenge considered unopposed if there are no characters with a high enough strength to count theirs in the challenge, given the wealth of unopposed effects in the GJ card pool.

Also, the Euron picture that you're using is from TGM, though the article mentions the version from ASoS right next to it. You do also mention discard effects, so I wasn't sure if it was intentional or not (especially since you can always use the link to see the raider Euron).
All glory to the Kraken!
All glory to Kalimari!

    • Zomboyd likes this
Apr 03 2012 07:14 PM
thats funny, i find greyjoy pretty easy for the new players in my group to pick up, not a heavy reliance on events, strong charcters strong locations and challenge mechanics, I find players have a much harder time with Martell and Targaryen
Well, let me put that another way. Greyjoy is hard for new players to be GOOD at. They seem to be pulling you in a bunch of different directions and its hard for new players to pick one theme and focus on it. So their decks are always unfocused and unreliable. Targ I would agree is pretty hard for new players to play for a bunch of the same reasons. Martell and Targ are also hard to play just through the sheer number of decision points they have.
I don't understand how you say that newer players think that greyjoy is 'stark with stealth?' Can you explain to me where that comes from? Greyjoy has a fair amount of ways to make challenges unopposed, but when it comes straight to stealth, stark has 7 characters with stealth compared to greyjoy having 5.

Otherwise I think this is by far the best one that you have written!
"Stark With Stealth" was the general first impression of our group. Greyjoy has ofcourse a lot of stealth, and primarily Military and Power icons. And keep in mind, Stark has a presence in the Core Set and Greyjoy does not. So a new player is going to see all of this and see a lot of similarities to Stark.

I'm not saying it's right, but I'm saying that's been my experience in my group, especially with players who aren't familiar with the books.
Yeah with the GJ expansion alone, its got the 'stealth to all GJ characters' euron, along with aeron, harlaw and marauder attachments, etc. Also, GJ is kind of herded into the 'military' theme like stark, with cards such as fury of the kraken, iron price, etc-- cards that release a different version for each house are generally military types for GJ and stark. So I would say that bends assessment is accurate. However I personally find most of my GJ decks a lot more competent at the power challenge than military. The high number of saves lets you slack a bit on military compared to stark.
Yes, I'm a noob, and it sounds like I'm a Ned too. Got the core set and want to develop a greyjoy deck. I've got the KOTS expansion on order. Will I need many other purchases of chapter packs. Any reccomendations welcome. thx
@baggymacaw: Take a look at our recent First Tilt series on expanding houses, where we covered Greyjoy just recently.