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Melee Restricted List Update and Printer-Friendly RL Document

by Jess Thompson

Hello melee friends and foes! We have an update to the Melee Restricted List and Ban List. Below we have insight into the Melee lists from the Design Team’s House Maester of Melee, James Waumsley.


When putting the new Melee Restricted List together, we had a few central assumptions in mind:

  • The Melee metagame is pretty healthy and doesn’t need significant changes.
  • There are no cards commonly played that are outright negative for the format (and therefore no real need for ‘balance’ bans in the way that Sea of Blood and Kingdom of Shadows are banned in Joust).
  • The worst Melee games tend to be when one player goes ‘solitaire’ with a combination of several cards. This isn’t a great feeling in Joust, but in Melee you’re upsetting three people at once. As this is not exactly desirable, it has led to some of the same combo pieces being banned as have been banned in Joust.
  • From a balance perspective, Stark have been consistently too strong. The combination of tremendous rush cards, easy stand, benefiting from having a small number of plots in the used pile, and good effects for stopping the opponent from playing their game, all lead to the faction coming out on top very frequently in the format. We’ve seen this from them having won Stahleck’s final table, and having three of the final four at the World Championships final table as well (including the winner).
  • Looking past Stark, nothing feels too strong, with the exception of a few tricks we will cover below.


To that end, we have the following changes, first with the banned cards and then the restricted list itself:


  • Littlefinger’s Meddling
  • Taena Merryweather
  • A Mission to Essos
  • To the Rose Banner!

Littlefinger’s Meddling has ‘honest’ uses, but is way too efficient at enabling ‘one turn kill’ combo decks. The other three would only ever be considered in combo. As a result, all are banned. Note that The Dragon’s Tail isn’t banned because it’s such an interesting Melee card and important to help keep tables balanced.



  • Nothing

Unlike in Joust, banning these combo pieces doesn’t enable us to free other cards, because so few of them were already on the list. “The Dornishman’s Wife” was already on the list as a passive power card; All Men Are Fools belongs on the list on its own merits as an incredibly strong power-grab event; and none of the other cards on the list would be an obvious ‘combo’ card that could be removed.



  • Trading with Qohor
  • Bribery
  • Nagga’s Ribs
  • I Am No One
  • Robb Stark (Core)
  • Daario Naharis
  • Mace Tyrell (House of Thorns)


Trading with Qohor has been a consistently strong-performing Melee card. Two of the decks at the Worlds Melee final were Qohor decks, cycling back and forth between the likes of The Wolf KingSeal of the Hand and Favor of the Old Gods in order to use renown characters in several challenges. Additionally it has been powerful out of Targaryen with The Silver Steed and Mercenary Contract, out of Greyjoy for pillage, and generally for King attachments, making The King in the North very easy to leverage. We’re confident this will remain a potent agenda in the format even with its restriction, and it therefore represents a no-brainer to restrict it.


Bribery and Daario Naharis go together somewhat. We don’t want to completely shut down Mercenary Contract shenanigans, and we believe that if you use it for its triggered effect and not for granting the Mercenary trait it’s completely fair (hence the Contract itself not being restricted). But now if you want to use a trick, you have to choose which trick you want, and spend your restricted slot on it.


Nagga’s Ribs is, somewhat unsurprisingly, going on the list to reduce the prevalence and power-level of Drowned God decks. Out of the commonly-successful Melee decks, it’s the least interactive. We don’t want to take the deck out of the format, but we believe that by making the Drowned God player choose between the power-grab of the Drowned Disciple or the reliability and dominance-control of the Ribs, it will both delineate the decks and reduce their power level, to stop them stepping too easily into the “top deck” void we hope Stark will vacate.


On the subject of Stark, I Am No One and Robb Stark (Core) are added to the list. We had a few options for what could go on here. There was some discussion of Karhold, but ultimately we felt that having this location in the environment is a positive thing – it stops summer Knights builds from being able to just mindlessly steamroll tables, or at least forces them to run some sort of control for Karhold like Nightmares. Catelyn Stark (Wolves of the North) was also an option, as an easily-enabled passive power engine. However, we decided that she is slow enough at only a maximum of 2 power a turn, that it made sense to instead target the true advantage Stark have in the format – their ability to declare challenges and still have a board for defense. I Am No One allows you to lose no tempo while declaring challenges, and the stealth can be huge for winning challenges unexpectedly. Robb Stark lets you use several renown characters in a challenge and then stand your whole board, either for defense or to challenge again – as well as having renown himself. After much consideration and consultation, they were deemed the two best cards to add.


Lastly, Mace Tyrell (House of Thorns) goes on for that passive power aspect. Tyrell ‘GoodStuff’ remains a highly potent Melee deck, and, with Stark taking a knock, had potential to be the top deck of the format. To that end, we wanted to give it a small hit, and given that where Melee shines brightest is in encouraging interactivity between the players, taking the piece that can gain power without interaction seemed the most logical choice.


Overall these do not represent grand, sweeping changes. We have not implemented pods, as we do not think more than one or two cards would benefit by their implementation. Instead, we have just taken a format that’s already in a good place, and tried to freshen it up a bit, smooth out the power level of the top decks a bit, and take away or weaken some of the more aggravating strategies.


Download the Melee Restricted here: RL_Melee_July20

Download the printer-friendly Joust and Melee Restricted List here: RL_Full_July2020 Printable

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