Many of you have requested to see insight into the decisions made for the latest restricted list. As Maesters, we are here to serve and happy to do so. In the future, we anticipate that we will be able to provide an article like this at the time that the announcement is made.
How did we come to the decision?
It was clear to us that the community was eager for an update to the Restricted List. This was evident in the number of events creating their own Restricted Lists, as well as the posts and private messages the Conclave received. As such, it was a top priority for us. We discussed several options, but in the end we decided to keep it short and simple in order to release it as expediently as possible. We focused on hampering the top decks in the meta (Targaryen Sea of Blood, Lannister Kingdom of Shadows, Bara Qohor, Night’s Watch Valyrian Steel, and Stark Crossing/Fealty). Due to not having the resources of a full playtest team, as well as our desire to get it to the community as quickly as possible, we decided to hold off on removing cards from the Restricted List or creating a Ban List at this time. We are still considering the merits of a more comprehensive list, as well as different formatting such as a pod system. However, we want to see how the community feels about various options through the Player Survey. If you have not filled it out, please do! We want to hear from you: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdzhziEqLTXmakMGTIwTDV_9gv9CSZ52-SD-yXPSsySak7xtQ/viewform?fbclid=IwAR3kO3-d2N1zqsDQoozutm_Q8dDJ_7rHAptzjG3u0uoBhfiBIIxIuBYWNgc
What was the reasoning for the selected cards?
Return to the Fields: This is an obvious choice: Almost every faction can make good use of Return. It counters both Valars too well, rush decks can spam the board with impunity, Steel decks can replay their attachments, Stark players can use sacrifice effects without tempo loss (and even sometimes benefits!), Night’s Watch can sacrifice stolen characters….it’s simply too efficient.
Kingdom of Shadows & Nighttime Marauders: I felt we have to speak about these cards together. These two cards made Shadows deck very oppressive when paired. The blowout potential of hitting the opponent with one or multiple Marauders before marshaling is huge, and very easily done. Not restricting Bowels of Casterly Rock should leave Lannister some shadows options to explore with House with the Red Door, Assault from the Shadows and Banner agendas. Restricting two good counters to Shadows in King in the North and Return to the Fields should also help to keep shadows alive. The King in the North: This card was a major part of the success of many rush or aggressive decks. With little commitment to deckbuilding, a player could nullify any hope that the opponent had of disrupting their plan for a full turn, which was usually all they needed to create sufficient tempo to finish the game. These types of decks are more likely to lose the longer a game goes on, so restricting King in the North will not only hurt these types of deck, but improve the counters that already exist. We didn’t remove any cards this time, but this addition to the Restricted List should make Martell (and also Night’s Watch) players rejoice.
Bribery: This decision may be considered proactive, but we deemed the combination of this card and Mercenary Contract is too powerful at its low cost. When paired with Trading with the Qohor, that two-card combo is far too reliable given its impact on the game. While the card was not the result of any single winning deck, it is still a negative play experience, and not one we were keen to promote.
Selyse Baratheon (Fury of the Storm): Selyse is a key part to the Bara Qohor decks that were very popular in the world’s meta. She grants the deck the economy needed to get started fast. This is the same reason Great Hall was the preferred restricted card previous to this: the deck needs money to get going. Selyse more than pays for herself, granting the ability to play attachments like Azor Ahai Reborn, Red God’s Blessing and Lightbringer at no cost. The expectation is that this deck will most likely pick Selyse as its restricted, causing it to lose access to Great Hall and King in the North.
The Red Keep (Dragons of the East): This card is undeniably powerful. It single-handedly has the potential to shut down most decks, whether cancelling a win condition or even the effect of many cards found on many Restricted cards. It’s strong enough to cancel many of the other strongest cards in the game, while still providing gold, and was a major factor in bringing Lannister Kingdom of Shadows to oppressive levels.
Clydas: His once per phase limit is simply not restrictive enough. Aside from taking a gold in marshaling, he seriously hampers an opponent’s chances to ambush a card, bring a card out of shadows, or even just playing an event in the Challenges phase. He also nullified many gold-generating plots like Trade Routes and turned the drawback of Trading with the Pentoshi into an advantage.
Three-Finger Hobb: Hobb’s restriction is all about making choices matter. His draw allowed players to dump numerous cards from their hand without worrying about losing tempo in later turns. This removed the importance of choosing which cards to marshal and which to hold. Additionally, there is a real choice that players will face when deciding which restricted card to use in Night’s Watch. Previously, Yoren was the decision more times than not.
Qotho: This has been a long time coming. At the time of his release, discarding 2 Targaryen cards was a reasonably high cost. However, as the card pool grew, card draw became much more prevalent in general. When a player is not starved for cards, Qotho’s drawback no longer becomes a cost. Additionally, his 5 strength makes triggering Sea of Blood too easy. Separating those two cards is very important.
Overwhelming Numbers: Similar to Qotho above, this card was extremely powerful in Targ Sea of Blood. It created a snowball effect of triggering the agenda further reducing its cost, refilling your hand when low on cards, and recycling cards that may have been discarded to fuel effects. By removing Gifts for the Widow and Numbers from SoB decks, the opponent doesn’t have to fear those events as surprises after a military challenge is declared.
Gifts for the Widow: Gifts for the Widow is an efficient card, it gives you flexibility and running 3 copies essentially means you’re running up to x6 of your best attachment. It’s a full deck tutor at cost. But it isn’t really a problematic card by itself, so why restrict it?
Although positive attachments have been in dire need of support for most of the game’s life, that has changed a bit with Trading with Qohor and more so with Valyrian Steel. We believe that Targaryen Valyrian Steel is a Tier 1 deck crowded out by the obvious best Targ deck running Sea of Blood. Targ Steel and maybe also Targ Qohor are a concern and aren’t really affected by Qotho and Numbers added to the list. We could have restricted Valyrian Steel itself, but that might make the agenda disappear, if not the best Steel decks out of Night’s Watch and Targ, then out of the other factions that wouldn’t choose Steel as their restricted card.
Gifts is the most logical choice if we want to hit specifically Targ Steel. It removed that agenda’s inconsistency of having to only run x1 of each attachment. Gifts made it too easy to put essential attachments like Tokar or Queensguard into play. Although its restriction will regrettably impair some fun Banner of the Dragon decks, it will still be a viable choice for Targ Steel players.
Why not X card?
We have received the community’s feedback that this list may not have been robust as some would like. We would like to assure the community that we considered further cards as well, and while they are not restricted at this time, we are closely watching several other cards. such as Womb of the World, Khal Drogo (Core), Seasoned Woodsman, Valyrian Steel, Robert Baratheon (LMHR), I Am No One, Bowels of the Red Keep and others.
The next step for the Conclave in terms of game balance will be collecting and analyzing the results of the survey. This will allow us to more accurately assess the community’s feedback regarding more intricate methods of updating the card pool, such as banning and pods. It also may open up new options for content, depending on the community’s view toward The Things We Do For Love. We are also building out our teams, and once we have a fully fleshed out playtesting group, we’ll be able to utilize that resource to provide further tweaks and updates to the card pool as necessary.
Thank you for all your feedback, and we are excited to continue moving forward!