Home Articles Redesigns: Pack Review Part 2

Redesigns: Pack Review Part 2

by Richard Walker
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Hello again! We’re back with the second block of reviews on our redesigned cards, reviewing cards from Martell, Night’s Watch and Stark. Thanks again for all three of you who read Part 1 of the reviews (Redesigns: Pack Review Part 1 – AGOT.CARDS); our efforts are completely insignificant unless you notice them and tell us how wrong we are! So without further ado, let’s see what we thought about the next batch…

Desert Raider (3.7 Average)

Hagen – 2.5 out of 5

I started having a bad feeling about this card when I realized I was actually happy when my opponent played him… not a good sign. The old Raider was bonkers and immediately became auto include in every deck, replacing the 2-cost Bastard Martell players was carrying since Core Set. Now all I can see is a strong effect with an expensive cost I don’t want to pay repeatable times as the card is supposed to do. I’m just back to the Bastard Daughters.

Johannes – 4 out of 5

The original Desert Raider’s disadvantage was barely a disadvantage. It was mostly used in decks wiping opponent’s board anyway. Now days the Prized actually limits using Desert Raider’s ability. Then again, attrition might actually want to get power on opponent’s house card to steal it.

hagarrr – 3.5 out of 5

Istvan is now a much more reasonable card with more legitimate downsides. He can still bounce in and out of play frequently, but now putting him into play is a cost, so you will not lose an icon if he cannot enter play. The Prized 1 is the biggest nerf though. Giving the opponent safe power on their faction card instead of vulnerable power on a character to be killed/reset reduces the incentive to trigger this a lot, and reduces its score from 5/5.

Von Wibble – 5 out of 5

Yes, the prized power is not nothing, but removing an icon and getting a free bicon into play is so good, and all for just 2 gold plus the oh so difficult matter of losing a challenge. Just don’t forget to trigger him!

Xelcor – 3.5 out of 5

Strong card, Redesign nerfed it so you have to consider having 3 in your deck.

Dorne (4.9 Average)

Hagen – 5 out of 5

There’s not much to say about this. Old Dorne was one of the best draw engines in the game. New Dorne is still one of the best draw engines in the game.

Johannes – 4.5 out of 5

Another originally bonkers 4-cost location. It’s still really good but at least you are allowed to win intrigue challenges without being punished from them.

hagarrr – 5 out of 5

Gaining cards for losing challenges in a faction that can trigger effects from losing challenges will always be great. I don’t think the redesign hurt the playability of this card significantly, and I would be surprised if this isn’t at least a consideration for most Martell decks until the end of time.

Von Wibble – 5 out of 5

Draw equals win, and a choice of draw from 2 is even better than that. Martell probably aren’t losing intrigue on attack unless they want to, so its only really the intrigue defence that matters when comparing this to its previous iteration. Chances are you will still be getting a couple of triggers in a round, unless your opponent is having a slow or bad round themselves.

Xelcor – 5 out of 5

Same as Red keep, I can’t really imagine any Martell deck not running it. Maybe fast lord decks are an exception. The redesign gave it some counter play.

Doran’s Game (4.6 Average)

Hagen – 5 out of 5

The main Martell win condition is still a nightmare for the opponent who forget about its existence. Before redesign you rarely got more than 5 powers anyway, but the fix was absolutely needed considering the birth of new ways to increase used plots quickly. Even if you don’t run it, a wise opponent still has to play around it, and this makes it one of the most iconic cards for the faction.

Johannes – 4 out of 5

Still a key win condition for many Martell decks. The nerf isn’t that big but only prevents from stalling and winning from just few powers. Solid but predictable.

hagarrr – 5 out of 5

The defining Martell event that embodies everything the faction stands for; disgusting, degenerate, and annoying. Anything less than a 5 out of 5 for this overpowered card would be a travesty. For the trivial matter of winning an intrigue by 5, you gain powers depending on how many rounds you’ve tortured your opponent for. Great. At least the power gain got capped, because Ricasso and chums allowed some sick human beings to play decks where you could try and get 15 power in one round. Vomit.

Von Wibble – 5 out of 5

PALOI (Put A Limit On It) strikes again and really it should have been printed like this. 5 power is plenty, and this card remains the win condition for a lot of Martell decks, and the cause of much saltiness amongst their opponents.

Xelcor – 4 out of 5

Limiting it to max 5 power seems good. You always have to be scared about it but I don’t see it as often. Good card, but you have to think a bit about including it in your deck.

A Mission to Essos (2.9 Average)

Hagen – 2 out of 5

I was really surprised by the original because it made no sense to design something like that, especially for Martell. Even if there were some fun ways to make it useful outside of combo, it still felt like a wrong card. I really enjoy the freshness of the new design, but event slots are tight for Martell and today even shadow decks struggle to play this.

Johannes – 3.5 out of 5

I like the redesign on this card. It’s a very Martell ability and usable outside niche decks. I guess the reason we don’t see it as much is the cost. Deck slots are tight in Martell.

hagarrr – 3 out of 5

The old Mission in Essos was a terrible card which made literally zero sense with Martell themes. This one returns a character to hand to recur an effect you may want to reuse, and puts another character into play from your deck, standing, and maybe triggering its effect. A nice card then, but does cost 2 gold and a card to do it, so you must surely have a specific plan. This will scale upward with every card that comes out in future with relevant traits for your deck.

Von Wibble – 3.5 out of 5

There are a lot of nice tricks that can be pulled with this, and it should be noted the entering character does not have to be Martell – plenty of Bastards, Lords, Ladies, and Knights in other factions! At worst you get to replace a knelt card, maybe blanked or with nasty attachments on it, with a standing character ready to be put into a challenge. At best you may well get a “leaves play” and/or “enters play” effect – looking at you Dorea Sand! Any card that lets you search your deck is good, but it is balanced by the lower cost restriction, the cost of 2, and the need to build around it to an extent.

Xelcor – 2.5 out of 5

I don’t see it often but with more and more Martell shadow support I could see that you always want 1 at least (I don’t know what the old version did to earn a redesign).

Yoren (3.3 Average)

Hagen – 3.5 out of 5

The release of The Blackwater chapter (with Yoren and Bound together) was like giving water to a dying man in the desert, but with time the water became wine and then champagne. Those nonsense cards were everywhere, and even I was deceived in playing crows just to try them. The redesign did a great job here, as the card is still strong in the deck where he’s supposed to belong, but on the other end is not something that can disrupt a game anymore. It also helped bringing back old Yoren too, which is always healthy for the game.

Johannes – 4 out of 5

Yoren got from being part of every NW deck to only been used in attrition / steal stuff decks. It’s still really good card with really good ability when used properly. I guess abundance of resets makes it slightly worse in current meta.

hagarrr – 4 out of 5

Yoren still gives me PTSD from the olden days. Thankfully he’s not as easy to trigger now, being nerfed to take control of a standing character only. This is in fact a massive nerf, usable only in attrition strategies that remove your chuds, or some spicy combinations with the likes of Coldhands. Even just marshaling him and taking control of a 2 cost chud for claim soak and to weaken the opponent’s board presence is good value. It’s just a little bit expensive if you’re not in a position to take advantage of it.

Von Wibble – 2 out of 5

Too many hoops to jump through, especially considering Core set Yoren exists. To get anything juicy you have to have done a fair bit of damage to your opponent’s board. If you can cheat him in in challenges when the less desirable choices are knelt out then his power level increases, but given he costs 6 that isn’t so easy to do. And all of this assumes they haven’t chosen a character curve with a lot of 2 and 6 cost characters.

Xelcor – 3 out of 5

This is a card that I cant even imagine how frustrating it had to be to play against it. Now you have to work to get the high cost chars. I hate NW stealy decks but they also need a place somewhere and he looks good for that.

Clydas (2.4 Average)

Hagen – 1 out of 5

The poor old man was hit too hard. He was an great boost for choke decks which never worked well in 2nd edition, and an interesting addiction in Conclave too. He probably suffered from being released in a moment where Night’s Watch were already on top, becoming a must in their good stuff decks. Putting a limit per round seems fair, but kneeling a 4 coster just to steal a gold is not really worth it. In the battle against Greyjoy to become THE choke faction, this redesign definitely helped the opponent.

Johannes – 3.5 out of 5

Choke in NW isn’t strongest at the moment. There are loads of good economy plots around to play around it. Clydas is still a good centrepiece for the deck alongside with The White Tree.  There are couple of playable Ravens to make it stronger.

hagarrr – 3 out of 5

Poor old Clydas, reading his scroll in disbelief at how he has been nerfed. Now he enables choke only if you have specific cards in play to kneel, which makes him much more situational and inconsistent, relying on those Messenger Ravens to remain relevant. However, we all know that most Thrones players are greedy, and very often the slightest little bit of choke can kill the best of decks, so I wouldn’t write off Clydas just yet.

Von Wibble – 3 out of 5

The requirement to kneel is mitigated to some extent by the fact you can use a Messenger Raven. Granted, that card sees play a lot, but it isn’t as common as in the days of BTFH (before Three-Finger Hobb) so that does help to curb the power level and ensure he isn’t an automatic 1 -of in every deck. A contender for the most hated card for me to see on the other end of the board.

Xelcor – 1.5 out of 5

I don’t see him a lot, maybe if there is more Ravens you can make a deck around it? Right now I think it is just bad.

Halder (3.7 Average)

Hagen – 2.5 out of 5

This is exactly what was needed. No limits on original Halder probably caused me more headaches than trying to build a Prince Balerion deck. Now he feels pretty balanced and requires you to think about the triggering timings, which is always good. As builder are struggling he doesn’t see much play anymore, but it’s still a solid choice for this annoying archetype and voltron Jon decks.

Johannes – 4 out of 5

Not sure the current Halder is much worse than the original one. Biggest change is the meta we are playing in. Not many games are decided by big power challenges of tens of strength. And Builders deck is not great in current meta either. I applaud the redesign simply because the card is way less time consuming in current form.

hagarrr – 4 out of 5

His efficiency has been limited now with that twice a phase action, which is much easier to play with now that you don’t have to trigger it 400 times to reach the desired strength for your challenge. I imagine he’s still pretty good in Builders decks and is a challenge maths headache for the opponent to solve. Maybe one day he will learn how to hold a sword though.

Von Wibble – 3.5 out of 5

The soft limit (PASLOI?) on his action makes it harder to use him as optimally, but he still has the feel of being Core Margaery on crack. Clearly a staple in Builders but also has potential in Valyrian Steel.

Xelcor – 4.5 out of 5

 “ohh you buff your character, I’ll just buff mine 1 higher” redesign reduced the amount of actions but I don’t think the overall use of him changed at all (yes you can cancel now at least). In the decks with attachments you want him for sure.

Three Finger Hobb (4.4 Average)

Hagen – 4.5 out of 5

This card depicting John Petrucci cooking his meal before a show was insane, providing the best draw in the game. At the time of its release he was immediately included in every Night’s Watch decks. I still see no reasons not to play him at least 1 copy in every deck, even if the redesign did a great job in limiting him.

Johannes – 4 out of 5

The most insane draw card at its time. Two-cost chud that kept your hand full. It’s still really good and since there’s not loads of burn in the meta, you don’t really have to worry about him getting killed either. On top of that, Stewards is one of the strongest decks at the moment. I guess we don’t hear complaints about Hobb because Stewards already have so much draw that Three-Finger Hobb doesn’t get to trigger that often.

hagarrr – 4.5 out of 5

A 2 cost chud that can draw you a card every round is great. Hobb is especially good because you can still use him in challenges and Night’s Watch have plenty of reserve boosting tech to make the reaction consistent, and potentially increase the odds of drawing 2 cards. Not to mention that timing of the draw is perfect, giving you vital information right before you select your plot.

Von Wibble – 4 out of 5

Drawing 2 cards from Hobb is far harder to do without significantly building for reserve, but even ignoring that part you still have a cheap body that will usually draw you a card a turn, which is a decent enough stew in itself.

Xelcor – 5 out of 5

Not 2 free cards but a little bit of limitation. I see him in most of NW decks, just a solid and good card.

Abandoned Stronghold (2.9 Average)

Hagen – 2.5 out of 5

It took me a while to understand what the change was about, I think my brain just wanted to forget the hard times when this thing was non-unique. I don’t think I’ve seen it played again since redesign, but on paper it’s still strong and auto-include for the builders archetype (which is, thank God, hopefully dead?). Minimum effort, maximum output on this one.

Johannes – 3 out of 5

It could be rated higher for the sheer ability but since there’s fewer Builders decks around and games are rarely decided by strength it doesn’t see that much play. Still a solid piece of that deck.

hagarrr – 3 out of 5

I’m so glad this is unique now, as kneeling all 3 non-unique versions of this for Halder alone to defend your 22 STR power challenge with 38 STR was a dark, dark time for the game. To be fair to FFG, I think they expected Builders to be crap, with the entire community laughing at Brandon’s Gift upon release, only for them to accidentally make it good by releasing more Builders and ways to give them icons. Oops.

Von Wibble – 3 out of 5

Same effect as before, but being unique you don’t get to apply multiple buffs in 1 challenge phase. A simple but effective redesign, combined with the change to Halder above helps to ensure Builders isn’t too excessive a trope, and therefore I can’t rate this card too highly.

Xelcor – 3 out of 5

You still want it in builders but being unique reduced the power a lot.

Bound for the Wall (1.9 Average)

Hagen – 2.5 out of 5

Let’s take a moment to remember all the Tywins and Ser Gregors stolen this way…
From being the card that won the popular award “event with the strongest effect and easiest trigger in the game” it’s now a decent card. The effect is still good for the deck it’s supposed to be in, but it sees less play than it should. Apparently Night’s Watch player don’t like this anymore even for their recruiting decks, but I think this card still breathes some fire in it.

Johannes – 2 out of 5

I like the idea of steal stuff decks actually relying on winning challenges. For that Bound for the Wall would suite nicely. However, there are more effective ways to steal opponent’s characters. I’ve used this to spice up some NW decks but there are just better cards for NW today.

hagarrr – 1.5 out of 5

On paper this looks okay, but the double nerf of reducing the scope of targets and giving the losing opponent the choice of character was probably just too much. Maybe sometimes you get lucky with something good, but who wants to take the risk of playing an event that could see you reveal two copies of Vaes Tolorro and you get nothing?

Von Wibble – 2 out of 5

Still has the potential for pot luck, especially early game where your opponent might not have any characters in their discard pile. Do you pull 2 locations and get nothing, or pull their Tywin? Clearly you can’t just throw this into a deck, but even with planning you may end up getting very little out of this. Personally I’m not a fan of 2 cost events being this swingy but the high potential of this card means I can’t go lower on the score.

Xelcor – 1.5 out of 5

Never saw it played, high gamble card.

Wyman Manderly (4.1 Average)

Hagen – 4 out of 5

When he came out it was such a huge boost for Stark players desperately needing for draw. I always thought he was the real star of good stuff decks because of his easy triggering and great flexibility. If you blink his role and concept it’s similar to Big Vic, except this guy is too fat to win games alone. Now he feels thematic and balanced as he should have been from the start.

Johannes – 3 out of 5

Comparing to the original Wyman the new one is quite clunky to use. Took me a long time to use him effectively. Reaction is also quite limited now. Still ok in the right deck.

hagarrr – 4.5 out of 5

Wyman is a good Stark card, helping to fix their lack of intrigue presence and being a stable source of draw for decks that possess some sacrifice effects. The action makes it a harder decision for Stark to abuse him as a Robb/Fat Cat trigger; losing the ability to declare the killed character in a challenge and having them end up in the dead pile can backfire after all. These consequences reduce Wyman’s efficiency overall and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. He’s still really good, although not at OP Victarion levels.

Von Wibble – 5 out of 5

The standing requirement means you can no longer kneel your entire board out then use Robb Stark to stand everything, but other than that you still have most of the utility of the old version.

Xelcor – 4 out of 5

Strong card, has good synergies in Stark but you cant just put him in for free. If he does his thing, he does it good, and a very solid Robb trigger.

Meera Reed (4.5 Average)

Hagen – 4.5 out of 5

Champ card, so I get she was supposed to be strong. But really, Shadow 1? Same cost as 1.0? Redesign did a great job here, also bringing back the Winter theme. Despite everything, she’s still a strong and safe choice for Starks as she provides unexpected stealth and the lacking green icon. Iconic card, even if I hate her.

Johannes – 3.5 out of 5

Meera has still the very strong and repeatable effect but basically only once per round. Winter plotline has more support now and that makes Meera a decent card. The 2 cost is actually something you need to think about especially when playing with Winter plots.

hagarrr – 5 out of 5

Somehow Meera got nerfed and is still one of the best cards in the game. She might cost more, and you cannot use her multiple times in one challenge phase, but the intrigue icon and stealth are amazing and the auto-recur effect from a Winter plot is a good boost for the Stark Winter theme. You know she’s good when everyone else hates her.

Von Wibble – 5 out of 5

It’s a rare Stark deck that doesn’t run at least 1 copy even now, which says everything you need to know. Yes, she can be very pricy but there are always good targets to blank and the stealth on an intrigue icon is a nice bonus.

Xelcor – 4.5 out of 5

I do like the redesign, walking Milk of the poppy with stealth. You have to build your deck a bit around her for 3 copies.

Bear Island Scout (3.4 Average)

Hagen – 3.5 out of 5

She looked so harmless at first, but then you start thinking that whole deck searches are not good, especially with an artificial triggering condition. Even after redesign it’s still a strong draw effect for a pretty cheap cost in a thematic character. Not a game changer, but I like it.

Johannes – 3 out of 5

Full deck tutor used to be very effective with this card. Now you need to build around it to make it effective. Also redesigning Breaking Ties made this loyal chud bit less effective than before.

hagarrr – 4 out of 5

A bit like Hobb as a 2 cost chud that draws you a card. The comparative upside is that you can choose from 10 cards instead of just drawing 1. The downside is that there simply aren’t enough decent House Mormont cards worth playing and so you can often just miss. The fact that they are non-unique and bicons more than make up for this though, and makes them perfect fodder for Wyman and Robb.

Von Wibble – 2 out of 5

Chances are your House Mormont cards will be this, maybe Alysane (though Mordane seems to be winning that particular pod war) and maybe Maege. Your chances of hitting with just those in your deck are not high, so you have to build for this, and weaken your deck as a result.

Xelcor – 4.5 out of 5

100 % include in the decks you want it in, but it can now miss sometimes. Restriction makes the decks a bit less strong but you want this 100%.

Skagos (3.5 Average)

Hagen – 3 out of 5

Huge nerf for a card that was underestimated a lot in the beginning. Only after a while people realized it was probably too much versatility for a relatively cheap cost. Also it made no sense to play the card from shadow instead of simply marshalling it, so I’m glad of the rewording.

Johannes – 4 out of 5

Skagos used to be super effective but in current form it doesn’t provide action economy. However, it is still very strong and versatile card for sacrifice-based decks providing easy trigger for multiple times in a round.

hagarrr – 3 out of 5

Skagos is a weird card. By itself it doesn’t seem all that powerful, and is actively inefficient as you lose a standing card in return for a knelt one. In a pinch, it is great as negative attachment removal, and the fact you can use it multiple times a round now can be fuel for Tower of the Hand and for your sacrifice effects. However the fact it is podded with Robb Stark means it will rarely see play, despite there being plenty of other sacrifice triggers for him available in-faction. It’s still fun to swap Direwolves with their attachments, but alas, I don’t think this will ever be a reliable deck.

Von Wibble – 4 out of 5

So, you kneel the character who enters play, which weakens your board and makes it harder to repeat the effect in the same round. You also return Skagos to shadows, which could be a good thing if you want a cheap shadows trigger every round, but generally makes things more expensive. A bit like Wyman, you still get the synergies but lose out a bit more on challenge presence overall to compensate.

Xelcor – 3.5 out of 5

This is one of the few cards where I think the redesign can make shadow work better because you have a 1 gold out of shadow trigger. I don’t see it played much but it came off the restricted list with 1.8 so… Stark shadow incoming?

Ward (2.4 Average)

Hagen – 1.5 out of 5

Enslaved was one of my favourite cards in 1.0, so I was a bit disappointed when it was given to Stark as I knew it would have been strong. Maybe too strong when followed by a Marched and paired with I-get-benefits-from-sacrificing-your-own-character effects. The card deserved to be nerfed, but now the cost is huge and nobody is willing to pay it. Even a small chud costs you 4 gold and 1 power. And if you don’t sacrifice the character (which goes against the faction strategy), on today’s boards stealing is not impactful as before. Failed redesign here.

Johannes – 3 out of 5

Ward was a card I hated the most. It wasn’t an issue in attrition decks since you can prepare for it but random Stark decks winning the game with 1 or 2 copies in the deck was very annoying. In current form it still fits the attrition decks that doesn’t necessarily care about the Prized keyword. I haven’t seen it played a lot though, so the power level definitely isn’t what it used to be.

hagarrr – 3 out of 5

Ward is a hard card to rate. In its heyday, it was the bane of the competitive game, swinging board states and defining games. Now with multiple nerfs, it often just sadly sits in the hand waiting for a unique character to steal, before being binned off to reserve. The prized restriction is another kick in the teeth, and the fact the character no longer gets the Stark affiliation makes your Old Gates and Alysane bad. Despite all this negativity, I still play it as a 1x at times and it still wins games!

Von Wibble – 2.5 out of 5

I certainly wouldn’t want this slapped on my Voltron Jhogo from Targ VS! Even taking a reducer chud can be impactful when combined with Stark claim raising. That said, I have had this in hand with no good targets in some games, and 2 power from prized is a lot.

Xelcor – 2 out of 5

I don’t see it played often, rare to see it being worth playing, maybe you can use it to get a key piece from your opponent and kill it for claim and you are a power dominant deck to get the priced back.

I Am No One (3.0 Average)

Hagen – 2.5 out of 5

Tough one to rate. It was a non-sense event with a combo feeling and basically no restrictions, which laughed in the face of cards like Quiet As A Shadow and Crow Killers. The joke was complete when preceded by a No Surprises. That said, it’s unexpected to me that it sees almost no play just because of those small fixes. Yet I don’t see Starks tearing their hair out to choose which event pack in their deck, so I’d say this could still be a decent choice. Situational, but probably not bad as it looks.

Johannes – 4.5 out of 5

I think it’s very cool that you can now use the card with 4 and 5 cost Arya. Especially the 5 cost version turns into a draw machine even though the stand effect goes to waste. Other than that, it’s a great card for Crossing decks to do multiple challenges and getting you hand filled with cards.

hagarrr – 4 out of 5

A 1 cost event that turns your bicon unique into a non-kneeling attacker with insight? Sign me up! Attacking in two challenges and remaining standing for a third on defence, potentially drawing multiple cards is amazing value for 1 gold. Especially when you consider that Stark have Arya, Jojen, Meera, and Alysane with stealth to make winning easier, not to mention super Sansa with renown as a possibility. Probably a staple card in Stark Crossing for a long time.

Von Wibble – 2.5 out of 5

The unique stipulation restricts its use but isn’t too painful, and Stark have plenty of good candidates for this. A solid event for sure but with so much competition for slots its going to have a hard time making the cut unless you are playing Dark Wings Dark Words or Conclave, neither of which is ripping apart the tournament scene.

Xelcor – 1.5 out of 5

Never saw it played, I tried it in 6 different decks, it is fun but not really good.

Card Averages

4.9 Dorne

4.6 Doran’s Game

4.5 Meera Reed

4.4 Three Finger Hobb

4.1 Wyman Manderly

3.7 Desert Raider

3.7 Halder

3.5 Skagos

3.4 Bear Island Scout

3.3 Yoren

3.0 I Am No One

2.9 Abandoned Stronghold

2.9 Mission in Essos

2.4 Clydas

2.4 Ward

1.9 Bound for the Wall

We will be back again later this month with our extremely accurate and totally correct albeit differing opinions of the Targaryen and Tyrell redesigns. Thank you for reading! <3

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