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Davor Copic
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I originally bought this game to replace Magic the Gathering as a 1v1 game for my wife and I. We both enjoyed Magic, but the constant draw to buy boosters frustrated both of us. I've had some tries at playing this as a 3 and 2 player game. I have only played with the core set but I have Tales from the Red Keep, Mountains of the Moon, and Illyrio's gift chapter packs ready to be added to the card pool.

The minor problem I have with the game is that it is significantly less intuitive then Magic. The major problem for my wife and me is that, thus far, every game (out of 10 or so) played fundamentally in the following fashion:

1. In the begging both players gain a fair amount of points, since many attacks are undefended. The player who has more characters capable of issuing military challenges gains slight advantage.

2. The mid game is comprised of 1 to 3 turns (never more) of gaining a lead in the number of characters.

3. The endgame is that the person with the character lead destroys the characters of the losing player. After this tipping point we have never seen a recovery.

4. The soon to be victor takes a few more turns to clean up and gain the last few power needed to win. The loser, in the meantime, has lost the game, but out of good sportsmanship plays these last few to several turns.

There seems to be only a short time of struggle between the two players after which the conclusion is irreversibly set, yet the game takes at least 20 min to reach the end.

Is this how the game plays? Are comebacks rare (less then 10%)? Besides a total character wipe or getting extremely lucky what are the ways to recover from the character deficit? Are military challenges frequently superior to the other two? At which point do you just concede the game to save yourself 20 min?

If you have read this far thank you and if you would not mind please let me know what you think.

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Enon Sci
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Dowlow wrote:

1. In the begging both players gain a fair amount of points, since many attacks are undefended. The player who has more characters capable of issuing military challenges gains slight advantage.

2. The mid game is comprised of 1 to 3 turns (never more) of gaining a lead in the number of characters.

3. The endgame is that the person with the character lead destroys the characters of the losing player. After this tipping point we have never seen a recovery.


What houses do you regularly play?

Why the emphasis on military over power or intrigue challenges?

This game isn't about combat, it's about power.
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Matt Shinners
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Anarchosyn wrote:
This game isn't about combat, it's about power.


What Enish said.

New players, especially those coming from Magic, think the game is all about killing the other person's characters. That's only, at most, 1/3 of the game.

Start trying to focus on the other strategies. If you get the other person to discard their entire hand, it's harder for them to react to what you do. If you keep losing a military challenge, but then beat them at the power challenge, you'll win. Hold characters back, and only have enough out to beat the other person. Barring a few cards, winning by 1 is just as good as winning by 1000.

Also, if you took the reset plots out of the decks (Valar Morghulis, Wildfire Assault), put them back in. Especially for a 2 player game. And if you're playing a deck without them, swap the plots around to get them.
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Reverend Redd
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Military challenges are easy to ignore when you realize that you only (usually) lose one character... either a cheap weenie or someone you can save (with a duplicate, Nymeria, Lightbringer, or the effects of Bron, Viserys Targaryen, Maester Aemon, etc). Then, you swing back and strip them of power and cards. If your opponent has a big character advantage, run the Valar Morghulis plot or the Westeros Bleeds event and even things out.

Try Baratheon. Do a lot of power challenges with Renown guys (ESPECIALLY Robert Baratheon), and ignore military challenges by running dupes or Lightbringer to make saves. Win by turn 3 or 4 because of it.

Try Lannister. Strip cards through Intrigue and watch your opponent eventually lose their "character advantage" - it's hard to have one when you have no cards. Make military saves with Bron - he's brutal like that - or play "A Lannister Always Pays His Debts" or "I'm You, Writ Small" to punish anyone who goes military by killing their characters in return. Kneel beefy characters before they attack with the Brothel and Cersei Lannister. Grab power when you can, especially via power challenges and unopposed Intrigue challenges, rinse, repeat, win.

Try Targaryen, and control the board with its spot removal and strength reduction. Soak kill claims with Viserys Targaryen (or as we call him, "The Incredible Bouncing Asshole") and keep re-playing him every turn to make military offensives useless against you. Then, with a dragon or three out, start snatching power - not as fast as the Baratheon deck, but far more safely.

Only Stark really plays the game best from a military perspective, and even then, with defenders like Hodor and saves like Nymeria, it shouldn't have too much to worry about.

When you try to superimpose Magic strategies on this game, anyone is bound to have the same problems with it that you have. But it is NOT Magic, and once you have more experience and see the other strategies you have at your disposal (and get your hands on more cards to build more focused decks), things only get richer.

Also, if you have friends or older children, do try this as a multiplayer game. Though it's a damn good experience for two seasoned players, it gets even better with three or four.
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Evan Gleason
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Just a few things to add -


strong plot cards can help counter a weak starting hand. Some plot cards let you search your deck for 1 or more particular character or location that can help you survive until you get more cards that help turn the tide for you. Remember that you are allowed 1 mulligan as well if you don't like your starting hand.

It's important to build your deck to contain several engines to help you produce an effective plan. A series of plot cards (the "City" card for instance) can ensure you maintain dominance over your opponent. For the Lannisters, get your gold producing cards out early so you can afford to play any cards that come up. Put as many intrigue cards out early especially when playing Stark/Baratheon. My friend has a Stark "Tully" deck that has a bunch of cards that benefit Tully cards and lets you find them in the deck. I have a similar Dragon deck for Targ.

Your plan won't always come together but as with any deck builder, you just have to get the odds in your favor when you build your deck and hope the cards come out the way you need them to!

I have come back from a 7 to 14 deficit due entirely to having an intrigue only deck. Not 1 card of mine had a military or power symbol. My opponents depleted hand and undefended challenges won me the game.
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Davor Copic
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Thank you all very much for the responses. I think part of the problem is that my wife and I predominantly play military characters from our hand if we have a chance. The problem that develops is that she keeps killing one character per turn and I have to play another character to replace that one so that my valuable characters do not die. The turn I cannot play a character due to not having one in hand or not being able to afford one I start irreversibly loosing (sometimes I start loosing earlier, since she is getting a sizable character lead). Does this happen to you? What have I done wrong? Does my deck need more 1 or 2 cost characters? How many characters should a deck contain? In this scenario did she just get lucky with her card draw? At this point in the scenario would intrigue challenges help in the short term (I understand how they would help in the long term)? Thanks again.
 
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Dowlow wrote:
Thank you all very much for the responses. I think part of the problem is that my wife and I predominantly play military characters from our hand if we have a chance. The problem that develops is that she keeps killing one character per turn and I have to play another character to replace that one so that my valuable characters do not die. The turn I cannot play a character due to not having one in hand or not being able to afford one I start irreversibly loosing (sometimes I start loosing earlier, since she is getting a sizable character lead). Does this happen to you? What have I done wrong? Does my deck need more 1 or 2 cost characters? How many characters should a deck contain? In this scenario did she just get lucky with her card draw? At this point in the scenario would intrigue challenges help in the short term (I understand how they would help in the long term)? Thanks again.


The general rule of thumb is that half your deck should be characters. In a 60 card deck that means you should have about 30 characters. This ensures that on your regular draw you should probably draw into a character. Of those ~30 characters about half should be 1 or 2 cost. This ensure you have enough weenies to kill for claim. That leaves 30 other cards in your deck. About half of these should be resource generating locations and the other half should be events/attachments/etc. These are obviously rules of thumb but it's where I started out when I first started building decks.

The key with beginner decks is to not try and beat your opponent at their own game. If someone is dominating military, switch focus to intrigue. That'll stop them from playing more characters if you manage to strip some out of their hand. If they don't have any power icons on the board then steal all their power. It doesn't matter what the board position is, if you get to 15 power first you win so don't get too focussed on a single challenge type.

The plots also play into this scenario. It sounds like you're deckbuilding so take a look at some of the reset plots in the core. Valar Morghulis and Wildfire Assault are the two main ones included. If you're getting overwhelmed in military, then empty their hand via intrigue and play a reset to sweep the board. Sure you're characters are going to die too but since you've been keeping some in your hand (hint hint) then you'll be able to repopulate the board faster than they can. You're never going to beat an opponent's deck at their strength so don't even try, deny them power when you can afford to and hit them in their weak spots.
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Davor Copic
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Thanks for the break down. It helps immensely. I think that some of the decks included in the core set are very much lacking in 1 or 2 cost characters. I realize now that what I am trying to understand is how the game flows due to its mechanics and card balance versus the flow created or enforced by our decks. For example:

Scenario 1. Using core set decks. Setup: Lanister plays Bronn (Deadly). Round 1: Lanister plays the Hound. As another faction you have 3 characters, but only total of 4 military strength. Lanister wins initiative and chooses to go 1st.

Outcome: Lanister kills 2 characters, loses card, other player gains 2 power. From my experience with the core decks the other player has lost with a 90% likely hood. Would you agree (keeping in mind that these are core decks)?

Scenario 2 is similar to scenario 1 except that Stark is the one with the military strength advantage and a more reliable way to maintain it.

How would Baratheon and Targaryen counter this in general? Would they have to focus on wining initiative and going 1st?
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CD Harris
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Dowlow wrote:
Thanks for the break down. It helps immensely. I think that some of the decks included in the core set are very much lacking in 1 or 2 cost characters. I realize now that what I am trying to understand is how the game flows due to its mechanics and card balance versus the flow created or enforced by our decks. For example:

Scenario 1. Using core set decks. Setup: Lanister plays Bronn (Deadly). Round 1: Lanister plays the Hound. As another faction you have 3 characters, but only total of 4 military strength. Lanister wins initiative and chooses to go 1st.

Outcome: Lanister kills 2 characters, loses card, other player gains 2 power. From my experience with the core decks the other player has lost with a 90% likely hood. Would you agree (keeping in mind that these are core decks)?

Scenario 2 is similar to scenario 1 except that Stark is the one with the military strength advantage and a more reliable way to maintain it.

How would Baratheon and Targaryen counter this in general? Would they have to focus on wining initiative and going 1st?


I'd suggest increasing your card pool a little bit. A second Core set will allow you to rebuild the decks you're given to start out into standard 60-card decks that run more consistently (when we first started playing, we found Darksbane's suggested 2 Core set decks to be very helpful: http://www.cardgamedb.com/forums/index.php?/topic/207-4-deck...). That will give you a better experience overall. Also, one more chapter pack: Refugees of War. It includes the 0-cost Refugees for each faction, which you can slot into your decks to lower your gold curve, improve your setups (getting you deeper into your deck faster), and provide you some MIL claim soak.

A second Core set will also give you a second copy of Valar and Wildfire Assault, which are in the Core set for a reason. Don't be afraid to run them and use them. Not every deck needs one, but I think I'm safe in saying that a majority of competitive decks run a reset of some sort. A well-timed reset can indeed completely alter the course of a game (later, when you've got the rules down, the game within the game of second guessing your opponent's intent to use one adds another tactical layer to to the joy of the game).

In your first scenario you have Lanni killing two characters, presumably because of Deadly and MIL claim. Unless the Lanni player is running a 2-claim plot, you don't have to lose 2 characters, though. Claim happens before Deadly so you can block with one and name that character for claim, leaving no participating characters to die to Deadly. Deadly is far more potent on INT and POW challenges for this reason.

This game has a pretty steep learning curve, it's true, but it's immensely satisfying and fun to play once you grok it.
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Dowlow wrote:
Thanks for the break down. It helps immensely. I think that some of the decks included in the core set are very much lacking in 1 or 2 cost characters. I realize now that what I am trying to understand is how the game flows due to its mechanics and card balance versus the flow created or enforced by our decks. For example:

Scenario 1. Using core set decks. Setup: Lanister plays Bronn (Deadly). Round 1: Lanister plays the Hound. As another faction you have 3 characters, but only total of 4 military strength. Lanister wins initiative and chooses to go 1st.

Outcome: Lanister kills 2 characters, loses card, other player gains 2 power. From my experience with the core decks the other player has lost with a 90% likely hood. Would you agree (keeping in mind that these are core decks)?

Scenario 2 is similar to scenario 1 except that Stark is the one with the military strength advantage and a more reliable way to maintain it.

How would Baratheon and Targaryen counter this in general? Would they have to focus on wining initiative and going 1st?


Scenario 1: Read the FAQ, particularly the timing diagrams. They're pretty much essential for playing the game and FFG should've included a copy in the core set. Anyways the reason I bring them up is that I think you might be playing deadly wrong. Deadly goes off after claim has been satisfied. This means that if you only defend with one character then only that character has to die if you choose to use him for claim. This introduced the concept of chump blocking. Block an incoming deadly military challenge with a weenie you were going to kill anyway to prevent the unopposed power. Alternatively, let them get the unopposed power and save your strength for a counter attack. Whatever you do don't defend with two characters as then you'll have to kill someone for claim and the one of the two for deadly.

Scenario 2: I'll get back to you on his as I'm currently on my phone.
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Reverend Redd
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Scenario 1 and 2: Let the challenge go unopposed. Either kill someone you can save (re: my earlier post) or kill a weenie you don't care about. Then, on your challenges, attack for power and steal the power she earned from the uncontested challenge. After all, how do you plan to steal power if you don't let your opponent have some to steal in the first place?

Option 2, as said before - chump-block. Kill the participant for claim so Deadly has nothing left to kill. Swing back with everything you have and teach her why she shouldn't commit all-out to military challenges by stripping her of cards, power, AND characters.

Going last generally has its advantages - you don't have to worry about what you'll get attacked with if you don't leave anyone standing. Going first can be stressful like that - hmm, if I swing, will he defend or will I regret it later if he doesn't? What should I leave standing for defense, if anything?

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Davor Copic
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Thank you so much for the responses. We have misread the deadly rule and have been playing it so profoundly wrong. I think this along with your suggestions has really motivated me to give this game another shot.
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Enon Sci
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Dowlow wrote:
Thank you so much for the responses. We have misread the deadly rule and have been playing it so profoundly wrong. I think this along with your suggestions has really motivated me to give this game another shot.


Also, if you decide you like the game and would like to expand it, look to bring the Martell faction into play. They have a lot of lovely effects that trigger off losing challenges (plus committed defenders with their house's keyword stand after an attack).

A second core will give you more options -- duplicates of uniques so you can keep them from going to the dead pile, freedom to mix around neutral cards, freedom with plots, more low cost fodder characters to toss off the deck for claim, etc -- but I'd suggest expanding into the House expansions you currently lack (Greyjoy and/or Martell).
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CD Harris
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Anarchosyn wrote:
Also, if you decide you like the game and would like to expand it, look to bring the Martell faction into play. They have a lot of lovely effects that trigger off losing challenges (plus committed defenders with their house's keyword stand after an attack).... I'd suggest expanding into the House expansions you currently lack (Greyjoy and/or Martell).

Agreed. Once you have the basic rules down and have played enough that the FAQ makes sense and you have an idea which Houses you like to play the most, the House expansions are essential. You'll be ready to move beyond decks that can be built with just two Core sets and you are going to want the two Houses that aren't in the Core set.

Once you're at that point, another excellent resource for getting going without breaking the bank is the First Tilt series at CardGameDB. http://tinyurl.com/firsttilt
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Derrick Billings
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I second most of the above, so i'll keep my points brief:

1) it cannot be overstated how much the core set decks don't represent the overall game. The core set decks are largely dysfunctional in my opinion.

2) Chapter packs are nice, but for my money the biggest bang for your buck early on are the Deluxe Sets a.k.a. House expansions, in terms of opening up actual design opportunities.

Cheers!
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Grimwalker wrote:
I second most of the above, so i'll keep my points brief:

1) it cannot be overstated how much the core set decks don't represent the overall game. The core set decks are largely dysfunctional in my opinion.

Cheers!


Can you elaborate on why you feel the core sets are so unrepresentative? I mean, what is actually being underrepresented on a house by house basis?

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The core set decks have not been optimized for Joust. This shows in the plot selections as they have all been constructed for out of the box Melee play (most people would not play Condemned by the Realm in Joust, it makes no sense).

Due to the deckbuilding restrictions, it's quite difficult to optimize the starter decks for Joust without purchasing more cards/a second core. To this extent I can see where Grimwalker is coming from but to claim that they are dysfunctional is untrue. They work perfectly fine in the Melee format and can be a lot of fun without any tweaking. See this post for an example.
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Drew Dallas
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The decks themselves though aren't any better or worse in melee/joust, the plot decks are the only thing you should tweak when switching to joust.
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Ahh, ok. I asked mainly for clarity, but also thought he meant the range of each house's specialties weren't on display. I know this is true to an extent (i.e. Greyjoy's choke theme couldn't be a dominant strategy without loads of scattered cards), but that's to be expected in a game such as this.
 
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I just think that, as decks go, they're terrible. None of them does anything all that well, there's no synergy, none of them is optimized. Every house has two or three things it does well, but the Core Set decks are a hodgepodge of everything. The Stark deck has a little bit of murder, a little bit of defense, a little bit of aggro. The Lannister has a little bit of kneel, a little bit of draw, a little bit of gold production, et cetera.

I don't particularly feel that they're optimized for melee, let alone joust. The 4-player games we played were 8-9 turn exercises in frustration, until we got more cards and started actually building decks that had a specific purpose.

Bottom line, I look at the core set decks as tool kits, containing a lot of staple cards that will do well in certain decks. I stand by my opinion that playing with those four decks doesn't give a good impression of the overall game...so much so, that I'm actually running a demo event coming up here at our local gaming convention, and what I'm providing the players is actually these:

http://www.cardgamedb.com/forums/index.php?/topic/207-4-deck...
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Considering I've played well over a hundred games with just the core set in joust and melee, I'm going to disagree with you.

A deck that maxes out on only a single thing gets rolled in this game. Best to have few things a deck can do which provides more flexibility to respond to a given strategy or adapt to take advantage of a revealed weakness. Look at the champion decks in this game over the last few years. The rush Bara deck that won last year had control in it and stabilizers as well as power generation multiple stands and renown. The Stark deck that won this year had murder but it also had a lot of non-killing temporary control, and the Greyjoy deck that took second was an aggro deck with a lot of choke and saves.

This isn't magic where you have one combo you are setting up and every card is dedicated to that, nor does it rewad players who hyper-focus on a single strategy. Why? No side-board for one. You want answers for the meta? They must be in your deck.There are no game ending combos is another reason. The ability to search out nearly any card at the beginning of your turn (for a cost) is yet a third.

You can argue that the decks are generic and don't specialize. I'd agree 100%. But the decks work well against each other in melee, and in joust, oncethe plots are adjusted and give a good sense of what each house has as atheme and what they are weak in... which is precisely what the core set setout to achieve. It doesn't work as the base of a tier 1 tournament deck, but that was never what it was intended to do. If you want to be competitiveyou are going to need the core set, a deluxe expansion, and about 8-12 chapter packs.
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