The Global Operations Team Design Committee is happy to provide the first official updates to the existing A Game of Thrones metagame since the formation of the Global Operations Team. To preface our updates, though, we have an additional announcement to kick off with – The codification of the Standard and Valyarian formats!
So far, the AGOT 2ED metagame has had one unified card pool, split only by the unique Restricted Lists for the joust and melee play formats. However, the transition to a player led era of the game has opened up consideration of additional card pool formats as well. Thus, we are debuting the Standard format, which will continue much as players are used to currently utilizing the Redesign cards and will apply to both Joust and Melee play formats while each still retains their own Restricted List.
The Valyrian format is the name we are giving to the format that uses the original FFG versions of the redesigned cards. We know that some players prefer those cards to the redesigns, and we want to provide ongoing structure and support for them as well. This format uses all original FFG-released cards as well as the new packs that have been released by the Design Team. The only new cards it does not use are the redesign cards that hare helpfully denoted by an (R) next to their name on ThronesDB and TheIronThrone.net.
Without further ado, here are our two updates: one for the Valyrian format and the other for Melee.
The updates to this list are minimal, but I wanted to take the opportunity to explain our thought process. The first thing you’ll notice (and the thing that likely makes so many of you happy) is that IDP Drogon is now restricted. We felt this was kind of a long time coming. He’s been a problem in all powerful Targaryen decks since his release, and he was one of the only cards that hadn’t been restricted at the time that the Design Team thought warranted a redesign all those months ago. At the same time Drogon is entering the restricted list, however, you’ll note that we also removed Crown of Gold because the restriction of a limit 1x per deck card was a functional ban, and we no longer thought that was necessary.
Bowels of Casterly Rock is also a new addition to the list. The reasoning for this is simply the econ and card advantage it was giving to any Lannister deck that used a healthy amount of the shadows mechanic (especially Lanni/Kraken). The addition of this card to the list was to make its choice cost these decks something and to make sure it couldn’t be used alongside Nighttime Marauder.
Three-Finger Hobb and the Drowned Disciple both made the list for similar reasons. Both have had an on-again off-again relationship with the restricted list, and our consultants familiar with the current state of the Valyrian metagame where it is being played felt that Hobb was supercharging draw in too many different Night’s Watch decks too consistently and that the ability to once again play Drowned Disciple alongside Desert Raider had proven too potent. So, we are putting them both back on the list for now.
Given that both of these characters have proven so difficult to balance in terms of their situation on the restricted list, however, we are keeping a close eye on how the decks in which they feature perform in their stead and may consider pods for them instead of outright restrictions in future updates to this list.
Speaking of pods, you’ll notice that the biggest changes on the list are the doubling of the pods from four to eight. Pods are generally preferred to restrictions because they allow for the separation of cards that have particularly unhealthy interactions while not limiting the play of those cards outside of said abusive instance. This is the case with the first new pod, which contains Cersei Lannister (DitD) and Nightflyer. Both of these cards were podded because of their roles in the Lanni/Kraken deck. Together, they allow for the control of an opponent’s economy and their hand. Whittling both away at once allows the Lanni/Kraken player to functionally remove their opponent’s ability to play the game or respond in any meaningful way. Podding them (in conjunction with the restriction of both Nighttime Marauder and Bowels of Casterly Rock) forces the Lanni/Kraken player to make harder choices regarding the specific ways their deck is equipped to cripple their opponent.
The next pod is a little more obvious. The whole point of Valyrian Steel forcing a player to build a 75-card deck is to reduce consistency. Both Daenerys Targaryen (DotE) and Gifts for the Widow subvert this drawback by allowing players to tutor their deck and find the exact attachments they want. This combination was proving too potent and providing too little room for counterplay.
The third pod was made for a similar reason. Seasoned Woodsman is basically Valyrian Steel on a character, which was allowing Night’s Watch/Valyrian Steel players to sift through their decks to find the cards they wanted too consistently while also providing them the gold to pay for it all. Craster is included because his immunity to traditional resets made him particularly problematic since the Night’s Watch player could stack power on him through Longclaw Renown or Lord Commander without fear of his removal in most matchups. Collectively, these cards were making Night’s Watch/Valyrian Steel decks too consistent, too fast, and too resilient and therefore needed to be separated.
The eighth and final pod was made to release an otherwise fair card (Bribery) from the restricted list because its only problematic interaction was with Mercenary Contract. Now, with the implementation of this pod, people are free to play Bribery in all the fun, zany ways they wish without having to face off against this abusive combo as a price for their fun.
The melee update was done primarily to bring the main melee card pool into alignment with the main joust cardpool. This means that the standard melee format has been updated to include the Redesign (R) cards and exclude (via ban) all of the original versions of these cards that have been redesigned.
This means that many cards that were restricted in their previous iterations are now completely legal in melee play in their redesigned forms. Such cards include The Annals of Castle Black, Flea Bottom, The Dornishman’s Wife, Bribery, and I Am No One.
The Design Committee and our consultants identified a few key guidelines to direct our decisions regarding which cards to restrict. These include effects that provide excessive, cheap, and/or reliable stand or non-kneeling effects (for example, Queensguard, Plaza of Pride, Robb Stark (Core), and Cersei Lannister (LoCR)); effects that provide excessive rush (for example, Corpse Lake, Superior Claim, All Men Are Fools (R), and Doran’s Game (R)); econ cheating (no current examples on the list, but cards like Qotho and Flea Bottom prior to redesigns are the kinds of interactions that fall into this category).
Given these guidelines, we thought it was necessary to add Azor Ahai Reborn to the restricted list due to the excessive rush it provided when paired with Robert Baratheon (LMHR), who was already on the list, and rightly so. We considered podding them, but we ultimately decided that both provide enough rush power on their own to constitute restrictions in this format.
There are a few examples of redesigned cards that we still consider too strong to remove from the melee list, and these included Drowned Disciple (R), All Men Are Fools (R), Doran’s Game (R), and Mace Tyrell (R). Even though these cards are better balanced now for joust play, we think they still provide too much rush power in the melee format to allow them to go unrestricted.
For this same reason, all versions of Randyll Tarly (Core and JS) are restricted since both provide both excessive stand and rush capabilities. While we were very hesitant to restrict any new cards before they could actually see real melee play, Randyll Tarly (JS) checked too many abuse boxes to leave alone.
We added Victarion Greyjoy (R) and King of Salt and Rock to the list as well. Victarion was added because he, like every version of Randyll Tarly, has both excessive stand and rush potential, and King of Salt and Rock was added because we determined that its ease of play alongside Corpse Lake provided too much rush since between them they were able to claim power for almost every card type.
The Design Committee tried to go with a relatively light touch for our first updates to the restricted lists for two primary reasons: First, there has been significantly less play over the course of the last year than is normal, which means there has been less data on which to base decisions. Second, we plan on being more agile and involved than was previously the case. We plan to closely monitor organized play events and respond if and when any overpowered or abusive cards or combinations make themselves known. While we did not provide an update to the standard joust restricted list at this time, we are paying particular attention to newly released cards and will respond quickly if at any time it seems as though any of them are found to be disruptively powerful or are skewing the meta in harmful ways. Our goal is to maintain a healthy, fun, and diverse meta that provides a wealth of effective, competitive options, and we welcome your feedback both now and in the future.
No updates to this list. The rereleased Restricted List is done merely to match formatting and branding with other Global Operations documents.