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Subject: Summer & Winter - A Time of Ravens mid-point review rss

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Simon Crowe
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I decided to write my thoughts on each chapter pack released since the core set. Though I've just picked up Refugees of War, I thought it might be a good idea to tackle the first three packs only, see how the game has developed at the half way point of the Time of Ravens block. When the block is over, I hope to do a second-half review. Rather than a card-by-card look, I'm just going to discuss my overall impressions of each pack.

I am primarily a casual player. Though I've been using cards from the CCG for a while, my gaming group is drifting slowly to LCG only decks. From what I understand A Time for Ravens was not necessarily designed with an LCG in mind, but since this is the first block after the core set, this is how it has to be judged.



A Song of Summer

This pack introduced us to the new game concept - the seasons of Summer and Winter. As befits the name, this focuses on the Summer aspect. Only 4 cards don't mention one of the seasons (and in Carrion Bird's case it still supports the theme). This is obviously early days for the theme, so with this pack alone it will be hard to make much of it for most houses, though Baratheon have 4 cards here to help them. It already seems that the seasons are supported much more than the Epic Battle theme, which was poorly used.

Also of note is that Martel get 4 cards, all summer related, so it looks like even without landing any cards in the core set it might be possible to build a deck, even if your options are limited.

One problem the LCG seems to have is that it is unsure how to support the various keywords and icons it has introduced. Jeyne Westerling searches for kings, but there aren't any in the LCG so far (LCG Stark players can probably skip this pack). Priestess of the Pyre, Fairweather Followers and Red Warlock all have crests (holy, war and learned). These crests were erratically supported in the core set, and it would be nice to see the designers decide to provide support cards or not.

Still, a pleasing start to the block with plenty of playable cards for some of the houses. Stark and Lannister get a bit left behind (though Lion's Gate can be evil). Baratheon, Martell and Targaryen come of particularly well. And a decent 5 gold plot as well.



The Winds of Winter

Carrion Bird again? Whilst it's a good card in both supporting and stopping season decks I feel a tiny bit cheated to have it reprinted in the pack after it appears.

The two winter houses, Greyjoy and Stark, get 3 cards each (less than Martell and Baratheon did last pack). Not sure if these are enough to start going crazy and building winter decks yet.

Lannister look a bit lost here (as it did previous pack). Janos only works in winter, which the house does not support, and even then he affects influence costs. I've not seen much influence using cards so far. As I said before, the game has various keywords and mechanics that seem confusingly supported. Similarly note that none of the characters here have any crests, which is disappointing. And Mance Ryder works against those playing Kingdom locations, of which there were none in the core set.

I can't help but feel a little disappointed in this pack compared to A Song of Summer. There are still some choice cards including a 2 claim plot and some neutral location removal. At this point I'm hoping for a few more cards next pack, to really get the season theme playable.



A Change of Seasons

Winding down the season theme a little here, as only 11 of 20 cards are related to Summer or Winter somehow. Still A Time For Ravens, a plot letting you search for a raven, makes the whole season theme worthwhile as you can finally search for whatever season you want. Then there are one or two cards for each house (Martell aside) to carry on the season theme.

Interesting cards include Den of the Wolf which can repeat a phase after it finishes. This is sure to lead to some broken combo, but for casual players this is just a lot of fun.

More keyword confusion comes with Unconventional Warfare. You can make it one of the three main plot types (Military Battle, etc.) but for what end? This theme has very little support in the LCG. Aside from that I was pleased to see the return of crests on three of the characters, can we have some crest support now please?

Unusually this pack contains only 6 characters (the previous two had 11 each). Instead there is an event for each house. These have no real connection, though a few rely on keywords. It would have been nice for each house to have an event connected to the seasons, but only the Stark one does here.

Each chapter pack so far has had a traitor card. A slightly undercosted card that forces a player of that house or another specified house to discard a card. So if you're playing against any of those houses you're fine, otherwise you're going to have to discard a card yourself. I'm unconvinced on these, I dislike putting them in a deck only to hope your game will be against the correct house.



So far...

A mixed bunch so far, halfway through this block. Using summer started well, but I'm not sure winter has been supported equally. Still the whole season theme has had a good mix of cards and by this point we will see plenty of LCG decks based round it.

In case you hadn't guessed from my comments, I'm a little disappointed in the erratic support of various themes in the LCG - from keywords to crests to influence. Part of the problem here lies with the core set, which ignored or poorly supported various part of the game. My hope for the rest of the block then, is that the designers will make a strong decision whether or not to support them. But I look forward to the rest of the block.
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Michal Vit
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Re: Summer & Winter - A Time for Ravens mid-point review
Thanks for the review. I have just recently acquired these 3 packs as well and, unfortunately, I must say I share your feeling of slight disappointment.
 
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Max Wax
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Re: Summer & Winter - A Time for Ravens mid-point review
The AGOT's Winter/Summer concept is taken and revised from another FFG card game, Call of Cthulhu. The difference is in COC it is called Night/Day and is just a theme and not a major game mechanic. In COC you can use it to support your game strategy, but you won't see Day/Night decks.
I don't know how this whole winter/summer thing works in AGOT. I don't like it much, but have to play it more to finalize my opinion.
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Old Scratch
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Re: Summer & Winter - A Time for Ravens mid-point review
Thanks for the review. I used to play the CCG casually when it first came out and I'm still trying to refine my sense of this new game. Your review helped a lot. Thanks!
 
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Miguel de la Casa
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Re: Summer & Winter - A Time for Ravens mid-point review
Very good review. You hit the nail about the poorly supported themes. Disappointing.
 
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Jonathan Benton
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One thing to keep in mind (and this was mentioned, but not gone into detail in the review) is that the set feels incomplete because when designed, the CCG cards were still legal. Thus, lots of Kings and Queens, lots of traited plot cards and effects that work off of each.

Most, if not all, of these problems are being corrected with the release of the Greyjoy expansion Kings of the Sea, due out in July or August. Kings and Queens for every house and Military Battle/Intrigue Gambit/Power Struggle plot cards will be included.
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