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Announcing Bran the Builder

by Kennon

Hello Thrones Community,

The Global Ops Design Team and Card Committee are excited to bring you another expansion of the GOT era!

Bran the Builder gives each faction a Stronghold befitting the Age of Heroes! With each of these new locations, we hope to embody what makes their faction great – while also offering new deck-building opportunities. In addition to these new centerpieces, Bran the Builder offers two new plots, additions to existing tribes of cards, and wholly original effects that we’re excited to see applied! With For the Realm bringing you the assault keyword and the armies to use them, we hope this pack will give them something to fear and fight against.

We hope you enjoy!

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Each of these Stronghold locations is intended to serve as an expensive, but rewarding, investment for those who play them. Whether or not you soften that investment with the previous pack’s For the Realm plot, each of these locations provides new interactions for your decks — or simply embodies everything we love about that faction. Support for Trait tribes can also be seen, as well as more humble cards intended for broad faction-wide appeal.

To begin, we have Baratheon — and Storm’s End! Its mere presence prevents any character without a Power icon from standing during the challenges phase. But beyond that, Storm’s End gives the Baratheon player the ability to change any Military or Intrigue challenge — be it initiated by you, or an opponent — into a Power challenge! While potentially a double-edged sword of one more Power challenge to lose, this ability can be used both defensively and aggressively to great effect.

In addition to House Baratheon’s ancestral home, we have Gendry and the Antler Men. The former is a Weapon-focus Brotherhood character capable of boosting his non-loyal fellows with strength and keywords; the latter, as their Merchant trait implies, acquire gold each time power moves to your faction card.

Next, we have Greyjoy and Pyke! Control and knowledge are what Pyke offers its users, with each new Greyjoy location you marshal — including Pyke itself — banishing an opponent’s card to the top of their deck. Ripe for pillaging, this can help players curate specific reactions — be it for Corpse Lake, Gorold Goodbrother, or King of Salt and Rock. In addition to rewarding you for bringing locations into play, Pyke also makes it easier: Warship locations receive ambush, and with a discount! While Silence from King of the Isles allows something similar, Pyke allows for more than one ship to be summoned at a time; thus, Silence from Jade Sea may better complement this fleet-building Stronghold.

And who better to lead that fleet than battle-hardened Erik Anvil-Smasher? With a host of appealing keywords and Traits, Erik is only let down by his difficulty standing after he’s knelt. House Harlaw may instead be interested in their own Fleet from Ten Towers; though potentially unimpressive at first, this Army excels when preying on those with a reserve value.

From iron to gold — the Lannisters of Casterly Rock can finally and truly feel like the wealthiest family in Westeros. With the ability to scatter up to three gold onto any cards you choose, Casterly Rock also allows its user to then spend that scattered as if it were in their gold pool — so long as it is on fellow Lannister cards, of course.

Ever since losing his hand — and his Military icon — Ser Jaime Lannister has had a change in identity. Though still Commander of the Kingsguard, he flouts his ambush-loving faction by forcibly discarding any character that enters play during the challenges phase! But as this also stands him, perhaps that isn’t too bad? And then, lest we forget, Lady Whiskers; a companion to Ser Pounce, promises to make young Tommen Baratheon a fearsome opponent in Power challenges.

The sands of Dorne have gold of their own, however, with Martell’s Sunspear providing its user with a steady stream of gold with each in-faction card they play. Though it prefers Lord and Lady characters, Sunspear reacts even to Martell’s own plot cards entering play. With so much gold, this princely abode makes any number of events and surprises affordable.

One such surprise may be the shadow-bearing Trystane Martell, who takes after his father’s heart by banishing characters without icons back to their owner’s hand. The Scorpion Knight has a similar dislike of icons, increasing his strength each time one is removed — now we can see that it was House Qorgyle that gave The Red Viper his love of high-strength attacks against icon-less defenders.

Swapping sand for snow, we have the Night’s Watch and their Castle Black. In accordance with the spartan minimalism of life at the Wall, Castle Black has two simple offerings: canceling and standing. The Stronghold can be knelt to cancel any opponent’s location from triggering its card ability, and then stand itself — or any Night’s Watch character you wish — when next a challenge is initiated against you.

To supervise such a powerful location is the Watch’s own First Builder. Completing the trio started with For the Realm, this Title provides the relevant Trait, a Power icon, and the ability to summon any attachment or location you might wish! Bran the Builder also provides Samwell Tarly with recognition of his knowledge — he may not have a chain, but he’s a Maester in the ways that matter!

Moving south, but remaining in the North, we have the Starks and Winterfell Castle. Since the Kings of Winter, the Starks of Winterfell have a connection with the Old Gods. And now, their bastion can reflect that by bestowing that trait — and insight — on your most expensive unique characters. From Robb to Rickon, there must always be a Stark in Winterfell — and with the ability to kneel and save Old Gods cards, Winterfell Castle ensures they will stick around.

Speaking of Old Gods, Bran Stark continues our experiment of expanding that tribe of cards by providing immunity to both being knelt via card effects and being bypassed via stealth, both distinctly evocative of other cards from the True North. Less explicitly linked with ancient powers, but certainly linked with House Stark, is Lady. As well as providing Direwolf decks with some much-desired Power icons, Lady acts as a useful save for her canine siblings and Sansa Stark herself.

With ice examined, let us turn to fire and blood. The Great Pyramid of Meereen is Daenerys Targaryen’s home during her attempt at ingratiating herself with the Meereenese. To this end, the Pyramid itself makes great use of any Meereen locations you marshal — including itself — by placing discarded cards underneath them. The Great Pyramid then allows limited access to these cards as if they were in your hand; this is of great use to Hizdahr zo Loraq, Ser Barristan Selmy, and the other characters of House Targaryen’s Meereenese court.

Looking west we have Ser Rolly Duckfield, Kingsguard of Aegon Targaryen. Another expansion of Targaryen’s Knight tribe, Rolly’s potent save ability has led him to be the first loyal Kingsguard. But should your opponent fail to save a character, the Warlock of Qarth can make great use of them; evocative of the prohibitively expensive House of the Undying, the Warlock allows you to put a recently killed opponent’s character into play under your control!

Finally, we have the Tyrells of Highgarden. As befits a faction known for both flamboyant displays and secretive withdrawal, Highgarden utilizes the revealing of characters in your hand to strengthen characters in the field. Tyrell can also return a fielded character to their hand, fueling that strength boost or recycling effects — such as Mace Tyrell, Alerie Tyrell, or Hobber Redwyne — reliant on entering play.

Accompanying this Tyrell Stronghold which reveals cards in your hand is Alla Tyrell, a Lady who enters play immediately upon being revealed. While her role in Highgarden is obvious, she also works nicely with cards ranging from Tyrell’s Oldtown to the Summer plot Exchange of Information. More focused on the Rainbow Guard trait is Brienne the Blue, which gives any character — but especially the Kingsguard of Renly, including the card’s striking namesake — a massive increase in strength should they be participating alone.

Beyond faction card cards, Bran the Builder also provides King’s Landing and the Horn of Winter. The former wrings gold and cards from King’s Landing locations, and the latter acts as a source of — and empowerment of — the assault keyword. But in addition to keeping assault-targeted locations blanked, the Horn can also discard these potent strongholds. And the Wall, of course. Alongside this and the capital we have “Florian and Jonquil”, providing smaller unique characters with the Knight and Fool trait; also, Zollo the Fat, who easily steals any gold acquired outside the marshaling phase.

Lastly, we have the pack’s two plots: the eponymous Bran the Builder and the disastrous Mad King’s Command. The first rewards victory in challenges with a search for locations, including all those details thus far. The other plot does almost the exact opposite: reminiscent of Wildfire Assault, this Edict plot begins the challenges phase by making you pick three of each card type as well as three cards in your hand or shadows. It then places any and all unchosen cards at the bottom of your deck. By neither discarding nor killing these cards, it avoids bias to certain factions; instead, it is simply a universal threat to any player that grows too powerful in a specific area.

We greatly look forward to seeing what the community does with these cards, and hope you enjoy the new possibilities these cards create!

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