Growth Spurt

I don’t think it’s really a stretch to say Tyrell are the best faction right now. At worst, they’re very close to the top. As I write this, the top 16 of Batalla por el Muro is going on, and Tyrell are dominating, with 8 Tyrell decks in the top 16 and all 4 of the top 4 (no Greyjoy, Martell or Stark, and a singleton Targaryen in the top 16). It’s worth noting this tournament was being run WITHOUT the pack All Men Are Fools being legal for play, and so these decks didn’t even include Tinder Marge, a tremendously powerful new option. How did it come to this, for the faction derided as one of the weakest from the core set?

In the days of Kings and Queens I was a jester…

A big part of the early lack of favour shown to the Tyrell faction can be laid at the feet of Left and Right, and Olenna. In the cramped environment of the Core set, having one of the weaker 7-costers, and 2 of 19 of your limited cardpool being taken up by unique combo-oriented chuds in an environment where the main reset was Wildfire Assault, ensured that the faction did not get off to the most auspicious of starts. Still, in a foreshadowing of what was to come, Tyrell-Watch decks with cheeky Left and Right protecting the wall saw some play, and the Rose banner was frequently utilised as a ‘renown banner’ giving access to excellent power sink options in Randyll Tarly, his stand package, and The Knight of Flowers:

Red Saturday Lanny Rose

House Lannister
Banner of the Rose
Packs: Core Set (3)

Plots
1x A Noble Cause (Core Set)
1x Calling the Banners (Core Set)
1x Calm Over Westeros (Core Set)
1x Confiscation (Core Set)
1x Counting Coppers (Core Set)
1x Marched to the Wall (Core Set)
1x Summons (Core Set)

Characters
2x Varys (Core Set)
1x Rattleshirt’s Raiders (Core Set)
1x Cersei Lannister (Core Set)
1x Grand Maester Pycelle (Core Set)
2x Ser Jaime Lannister (Core Set)
1x The Tickler (Core Set)
3x Tyrion Lannister (Core Set)
3x Tywin Lannister (Core Set)
2x Burned Men (Core Set)
3x Lannisport Merchant (Core Set)
2x The Queen’s Assassin (Core Set)
1x Left (Core Set)
3x Margaery Tyrell (Core Set)
2x Randyll Tarly (Core Set)
1x Right (Core Set)
3x Garden Caretaker (Core Set)
3x Arbor Knight (Taking the Black)
2x The Hound (Taking the Black)

Locations
3x The Kingsroad (Core Set)
3x The Roseroad (Core Set)
2x Lannisport (Core Set)
2x Western Fiefdom (Core Set)
1x Cersei’s Wheelhouse (Taking the Black)

Attachments
2x Seal of the Hand (Core Set)
2x Milk of the Poppy (Core Set)
2x Widow’s Wail (Core Set)

Events
3x Put to the Sword (Core Set)
2x Tears of Lys (Core Set)
3x Treachery (Core Set)

Nothing much subtle about this deck, save perhaps the two copies of Varys providing further reset options. The plot deck is a bland and utilitarian as they come (though undoubtedly effective), and it’s a ‘Good Stuff’ deck to the core. Looking down this list, it’s kind of a ‘who’s who’ of just raw effectiveness from the Core Set and early First Cycle: Tywin, Tyrion, and Treachery providing the beating heart of early ‘Good Red Card’ dominance,  Randyll and Jaime providing further power gain and non-kneel/stand effects giving this deck game against the Bara-Fealty decks  which were also strong out of the Core environment. The massive economic advantage generated by playing Lannister is expressed by this deck being able to afford to play Seal, providing further stand redundancy. It has the usual high-impact gold sinks of Tears, PTTS and The Hound, whilst also benefiting from the utility of the bannered in Arbor Knight. Finally, Margaery and Widow’s Wail allow for some effective challenge maths shenanigans. Overall, this deck felt very much like a forerunner at the time, considering it’s decent tech for matchups with the other competing top decks present at this point, Targaryen-Fealty (in the form of strength pump/naturally strong characters) and Baratheon-Fealty (stand effects).

As the First Cycle developed, the game saw the release of the Lord of the Crossing agenda. I believe this to be one of the earliest critical moments in the lifespan of 2nd Edition so far for a few reasons: It provided the first option for mono-faction decks other than Fealty, and thus provided a genuine choice. It provided a completely different way to have to approach the challenges phase, analogous in some ways to Wall defence decks. Finally, it provided a critical piece for the concept of rush decks, allowing for the relatively reliable generation of additional power every turn. To this day, it remains an excellent choice across a suite of decks for combating the repressive clock decks (Wall, Table and Chair) that, as of mid 2017, currently squat malevolently near the top of the metagame. The cards acquired in this time frame by Tyrell made them a prime candidate to leverage this agenda:

Taking the White: Tyrell Crossing

House Tyrell
Lord of the Crossing
Packs: From Core Set (3) to The King’s Peace

Plots
1x A Clash of Kings (Core Set)
1x A Noble Cause (Core Set)
1x Calling the Banners (Core Set)
1x Calm Over Westeros (Core Set)
1x Confiscation (Core Set)
1x Summons (Core Set)
1x A Tourney for the King (The King’s Peace)

Characters
3x Margaery Tyrell (Core Set)
3x Paxter Redwyne (Core Set)
3x Randyll Tarly (Core Set)
3x The Knight of Flowers (Core Set)
2x The Queen of Thorns (Core Set)
2x Courtesan of the Rose (Core Set)
3x Garden Caretaker (Core Set)
3x Wardens of the Reach (Core Set)
3x Arbor Knight (Taking the Black)
1x Syrio Forel (The Road to Winterfell)
2x Ser Hobber Redwyne (The King’s Peace)
3x Hedge Knight (The King’s Peace)

Locations
3x The Kingsroad (Core Set)
3x The Roseroad (Core Set)
2x The Mander (Core Set)
3x Rose Garden (Core Set)
2x Pleasure Barge (Taking the Black)
1x Street of the Sisters (Taking the Black)

Attachments
2x Seal of the Hand (Core Set)
1x Little Bird (Core Set)
1x Heartsbane (Core Set)
2x Mare in Heat (The King’s Peace)

Events
2x Put to the Sword (Core Set)
2x The Hand’s Judgment (Core Set)
2x Support of the People (Taking the Black)
3x Lady Sansa’s Rose (The Road to Winterfell)

A number of cards had been released (principally for Tyrell) that developed and strengthened the rush archetype, and gave it teeth:

It cannot be understated how important the release of Arbor Knight was for these decks. In the majority of cases, you want to ‘cross’ with the power challenge, and this Military/Intrigue bicon provided a character which could be used to chump the less important first challenge with the -1 Str. Not only this, but it placed a burden of decision on your opponent provided by the Challenges Action, since you could alter the strength to potentially win the challenge anyway. Other cards like the new Mare in Heat (which the Arbor Knight provided a fantastic target for) and Margaery exacerbated this problem. Pleasure Barge (discussed in depth later) provides the burst draw which helps support these kinds of faster decks, and really shines here where the downside isn’t relevant since the game was likely to be over relatively quickly. The fulcrum of the deck, however, is still Randyll Tarly. With the ability to potentially be involved in multiple challenges a turn, he can generate very rapid power gain, and happens to synergise exceptionally well with the Crossing agenda. The Crossing challenge strength pump stands Randyll, allowing you to use him on defence if going first, or to potentially win dominance if going second. The strength generated on the third challenge by the Crossing, as well as Margaery’s ability, allow you to push through a number of effects relying on challenge strength differential, in this deck PTTS, The Mander and Street of the Sisters, which plays into the rush archetype very well, providing additional power generation whilst utilising a neglected resource in the deck, the faction kneel. Finally, closing power was provided by the Tourney for the King, and Lady Sansa’s Rose. This card is difficult to set up to get the three power, but can be pushed through effectively using Loras‘ in built joust ability (or a Knight with Mare in Heat) for a massive payoff. Of course, the Arbor Knight does work here again, capable of being involved in both these effects.

For a fleeting moment between pack 3 and pack 4 of cycle one, Tyrell decks eagerly bloomed like some desperate flower in a desert, only to sadly wither seemingly overnight due to the release of The First Snow of Winter. More recently, the release of Valar Morghulis has further rendered this particular variant even more unviable.

While a little winter chill put paid to the initial cavorting of the Knights of Summer, the Tyrell-Crossing rush archetype has been reestablished, providing 2 of the Top-4 finishers at Batalla.  Let’s look at these two decks (Joe’s deck provided the foundation for the deck Ryan Wood took into the Top 4, with minimal changes):

 

1) Winner deck “Batalla por el muro 2017” Daniel Correas López

House Tyrell
The Lord of the Crossing
Packs: From Core Set (3) to Tyrion’s Chain

Plots
1x A Clash of Kings (Core Set)
1x Confiscation (Core Set)
1x Filthy Accusations (Core Set)
1x Trading with the Pentoshi (The Road to Winterfell)
1x Varys’s Riddle (Across the Seven Kingdoms)
1x Winter Festival (Called to Arms)
1x Ghosts of Harrenhal (Ghosts of Harrenhal)

Characters
1x Littlefinger (Core Set)
3x Margaery Tyrell (Core Set)
1x Paxter Redwyne (Core Set)
3x Randyll Tarly (Core Set)
3x The Knight of Flowers (Core Set)
3x Courtesan of the Rose (Core Set)
3x Garden Caretaker (Core Set)
3x Arbor Knight (Taking the Black)
2x Lady-in-Waiting (The Road to Winterfell)
1x Ser Horas Redwyne (No Middle Ground)
2x Wildling Scout (No Middle Ground)
1x Ser Colen of Greenpools (Across the Seven Kingdoms)
3x Renly Baratheon (For Family Honor)
2x Brienne of Tarth (Ghosts of Harrenhal)
1x Alerie Tyrell (Lions of Casterly Rock)

Locations
2x The Iron Throne (Core Set)
3x The Kingsroad (Core Set)
3x The Roseroad (Core Set)
3x Rose Garden (Core Set)
3x Pleasure Barge (Taking the Black)
1x Renly’s Pavilion (Tyrion’s Chain)

Attachments
1x Seal of the Hand (Core Set)
3x Bodyguard (Core Set)
1x Heartsbane (Core Set)
1x Mare in Heat (The King’s Peace)
1x Crown of Golden Roses (For Family Honor)

Events
3x Superior Claim (Core Set)
2x Growing Strong (Core Set)
2x Nightmares (Calm over Westeros)

 

2) Tyrell Crossing (4-2, Top 8 Brighton Charity Joust, Joe Zimmer) EDIT: Joe has since informed me this was his version of a deck Ryan Wood built.

House Tyrell
The Lord of the Crossing
Packs: From Core Set (3) to True Steel

Plots
1x A Clash of Kings (Core Set)
1x Confiscation (Core Set)
1x A Tourney for the King (The King’s Peace)
1x Close Call (True Steel)
1x A Song of Summer (Wolves of the North)
2x Time of Plenty (Lions of Casterly Rock)

Characters
3x Margaery Tyrell (Core Set)
3x Randyll Tarly (Core Set)
3x The Knight of Flowers (Core Set)
3x Garden Caretaker (Core Set)
3x Arbor Knight (Taking the Black)
2x Lady-in-Waiting (The Road to Winterfell)
2x Hedge Knight (The King’s Peace)
1x Wildling Scout (No Middle Ground)
1x Butterbumps (True Steel)
1x Ser Colen of Greenpools (Across the Seven Kingdoms)
2x Knight of Summer (Called to Arms)
3x Renly Baratheon (For Family Honor)
3x Brienne of Tarth (Ghosts of Harrenhal)
3x Ser Robar Royce (Tyrion’s Chain)
1x Alerie Tyrell (Lions of Casterly Rock)

Locations
2x The Kingsroad (Core Set)
3x The Roseroad (Core Set)
3x Rose Garden (Core Set)
3x Pleasure Barge (Taking the Black)
1x Street of the Sisters (Taking the Black)
2x Renly’s Pavilion (Tyrion’s Chain)

Attachments
2x Bodyguard (Core Set)
2x Crown of Golden Roses (For Family Honor)

Events
3x Superior Claim (Core Set)
1x Lady Sansa’s Rose (The Road to Winterfell)
3x Nightmares (Calm over Westeros)
1x Relentless Assault (Tyrion’s Chain)

Both of these decks are pretty similar, are not dissimilar to the previous Crossing deck discussed above, and many of the principles are the same. They still utilise Randyll as the key power sink, with many of the changes reflecting the much-improved support pieces available, such as Crown of Golden Roses and Renly’s Pavilion. In both decks Randyll is supported by the new Renly/Brienne module and the additional draw and renown they provide.  Rather than the vulnerable inconsistent power gain from Lady Sansa’s Rose, both these decks have elected instead to utilise three copies of Superior Claim to generate additional power. It has a lower ceiling, but a higher floor, crucially is easier to play, and keeps the power safer on the House card. Further additional power generation is a difference between the decks, with Joe’s looking to go all in with the Crossing with Street of the Sisters, whilst Daniel’s deck prefers the more conservative and metagame significant Iron Throne. The clearest difference is the plot deck. Joe’s deck is used to support a ‘Summer Module’ of power gain from Robar Royce and Knights of Summer, whilst Daniel has perhaps a more traditional plot deck, with some a utility Filthy Accusations and some passive power gain from Winter Festival.

These decks were built to outpace clock decks, do it well, and a variant should be in your testing gauntlet for Regionals season.

Mandertory inclusions

As may have become clear to players over the last year or so, Tyrell currently has close to a monopoly on consistency cards:

As someone who has primarily been a Netrunner player, I value these kinds of cards exceptionally highly. In Netrunner, the ability to electively generate economy and draw cards on demand is built into the fundamental game architecture. As such, when playing Thrones, I often feel constrained and limited by the structure of the game and the scarcity of resources.

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At least part of this is my own fault. The relative abundance of draw in Netrunner (as well as Conquest and Arkham), combined with the high levels of recursion (and cards as hit points) means it is hard to break the ingrained habit of being totally blasé about cards in my hand. Even if you aren’t a card-wasting scrub like me, there is much to gain from the consistency cards that the bounty of Highgarden provides.

The cards fall into two main categories, economic and card advantage. The economic cards are are a mixture of very straightforward, and more awkward. Queen of Thorns and Bitterbridge Encampment (known throughout the community as Banterbridge) are the less conventional economy sources. While a potentially strong effect, Olenna hasn’t seen much play, and I think the majority of that is probably due to the lack of Renown. In the early days of the game, when the only reset was Wildfire, Renown was extremely important. Not having it, a relatively inefficient body and no other supplementary effects like insight to aid the printed ability has meant she hasn’t left the binder much, particularly since Tyrell aren’t struggling for standard economy in the slightest. She does however provide a way to rebuild very quickly from resets, which have reduced the value of Renown somewhat, and perhaps with the dawn of the Ladies theme she may yet see some play. Banterbridge on the other hand, has powered some truly cutting edge jank, and Tyrell have an abundance of big bodies to drop with it.  Paxter is an average body with two combined economic abilities, a +1 gold modifier and a cost reduction on the first event you play each turn. Paxter is a solid enough card, but not one you’re likely to build a deck around, unless a Tyrell event-heavy deck shape appears in future. The event cost reduction is a bit hard to evaluate. Realistically most decks are playing 3 copies of Nightmares at the moment, and rains decks like playing  some impact events, and particularly  Growing Strong, so you may get some work out of him there. However, other decks are using limited event space for fast power gain in order to combat clock decks, such as Superior Claim and now All Men are Fools. At times, you’re going to have to claim someone, and Paxter’s body often isn’t enough to justify keeping around after Wildfire Assault for example. The Arbor on the other hand, what is there really to say about this card? Currently the best single-card economy option at +3 gold, though it is a large tempo hit to drop outside of setup. If you can set it up however, it’s a total game changer. The tempo hit to marshal the Arbor or set it up is probably too much for rush decks, but all other Tyrell decks benefit very highly from it (which decks wouldn’t?!). In decks containing the Arbor, your opinion on what is a passable opening hand is very different to other decks. As long as it contains the Arbor, a two card set up is totally viable, and you don’t really care much if they March the only character you deploy, since your economic advantage allows you to recover rapidly, and drawing out the Marched is beneficial anyway. My favourite Arbor related setup is probably Arbor-HighgardenGarden Caretaker. The economic advantage provided by this card is compounded the longer the game goes, creating an incentive to run multiple resets. Not only is the overall raw economy advantageous, but it is extra effective when it comes to recovering from a reset more quickly than your opponent. The Arbor can have a very large impact on deck building. If this location is key to your plans (for example in a heavy reset deck), then you want to see it as soon as possible. I feel this location really provides some active pressure on the slots in your plot deck. You may wish to run Building Orders in order to find it if you cannot set it up (or any of Tyrell’s other strong locations if you do). Conversely, if you do, you would be wise to strongly consider playing the plot Calm Over Westeros. This plot mitigates the normally character-weak set ups containing the Arbor. The third plot to consider is a very high-income one, typically Trading With the Pentoshi (though Late Summer Feast has also been released recently). This allows you to drop the Arbor mid-game without having an unacceptably weak turn of marshalling. Yes, it would be ideal to put all three of these in your plot deck, but plot decks slots are, as ever, tight. In terms of your draw deck, the Arbor is probably going to replace a set of 3 of your economy cards, since running this card (which is also limited) strengthens your economy.  Which economy cards you replace is probably down to personal taste, and what your deck is trying to do. If you are running a monofaction deck, you want to remove some combination of Roseroads or Kingsroads. Conversely in a Banner deck, you may well gain from dropping the Rose Gardens. The Arbor creates an incentive to play a lot of more costly characters (encouraging you to keep the Kingsroads), but you need to be very careful. These high cost-curve decks set up poorly, and become extremely reliant upon seeing the Arbor early. It’s definitely worth thinking about keeping a reasonable character cost curve in your deck, but also about what else you can use the additional gold for to be impactful, for example strong events like PTTS or the good old Olenna’s Informant. Overall, the Arbor is perhaps the single biggest reason Tyrell have become so strong; it’s the grease to pretty much all the wheels of their machinations.

But how could you possibly leverage this economic strength? Well I suppose you could start with the extreme raw card advantage and card quality advantage that is abundant within the faction. The draw effects fall roughly into three main categories:

  • Card Quantity
  • Card Quality
  • Search (or ‘tutoring’) effects

While all three of these categories are valuable, there is a rough hierarchy of effectiveness, which is Search > Quantity > Quality.

Obviously in a vacuum, searching for and drawing/putting into your hand a specific card you want is better than drawing a random card (and keeping it), which, in turn, is generally better than reordering the top of your deck to filter your draw, or drawing then discarding (termed here ‘card quality’), since drawing cards gives you options (and at least pads your hand vs intrigue claim) or gets you closer to drawing your options.

In terms of search, Tyrell have the closest thing to pure tutoring in the game in the form of Olenna’s Cunning. They also have some more specific tutoring effects in the form of the Reaction on Tinder Marge and Slobber, who both search for characters based on their traits. The faction also contains Alerie, A Gift of Arbor Red and A Rose of Gold, which functionally search the top X cards of your deck for a card, in the case of Alerie, with restrictions on targets. Olenna’s Cunning hasn’t seen a huge amount of play, at least partly due to its cost. 2 gold is a lot to save after marshalling for factions that don’t contain Tyrion (what a broken card), even for Tyrell, who have one of the strongest economies in the game. The card is really quite awkward. It allows your opponent to decide what you CANNOT search for, which means that in the majority of cases you will not get the highest impact card. What this card does do is reward having a bit of a toolbox in your deck across the different card types. To get the strongest effect out of this card, you want to put your opponent in a fork, where they lose out significantly whatever card type they name. This requires high impact effects in at least two different card types. Events will typically provide one of the two, for example Tears or PTTS, and indeed, you can search for Tears with this card and play it if the challenge you won was intrigue. For this reason, in the majority of scenarios your opponent is best off naming Event as the card type you cannot have (though if they don’t you have to reveal the card and so they can prepare for it). In this case, for Cunning to have any impact, you need to have an ambush attachment or character to search for and play. Best case scenario here is probably something like a copy of Olenna’s Informant, which is an exceptional challenges phase effect attached to a character. Unfortunately this would require you to have saved 6 gold, or another way to get the Informant into play, like Arianne. There are some pretty nice (slightly cheaper) plays that can be made assuming you have a copy of Last of the Giants in hand, with Varys and Jaqen however. In the majority of cases however, if they name event, you’re probably just selecting a card to build your board position on the subsequent turn. If you have a strong economy, you can profit from the card draw provided by Pleasure Barge for example, or if you’re running a reset-based strategy, duplicates or a Bodyguard to protect your board from Valar Morghulis, or even tutoring for your own Varys if necessary can be strong. Whilst Cunning hasn’t seen a lot of play, I expect Tinder Marge decks to be heavily represented come Regionals this year. The Reaction provides an extremely strong combination of tutoring and economy, and will be discussed in greater length later. Slobber on the other hand, will potentially be a role player in the form of redundancy to find Margaery in the first place. Alerie is just a decent First Snow resistant character with a solid secondary effect in the form of search. She is good for aggressively rebuilding the board after a reset, can search out Olenna’s Informant in the late game, and can dig for Ladies in Waiting to dupe herself, or protect more of a centrepiece such as Tinder Marge or Brienne. She looks like an excellent one-of in the Ladies decks which are being pushed as a Tyrell theme at the moment, especially with a Wolf Banner with further lady support. In comparison, Gift and Rose of Gold are consistency cards likely to be played in multiples. I was initially skeptical about Gift, since it gives your opponent a card as well, but in practice it’s turned out to be exactly what First Ed. veterans suggested, giving you a card you want and something usually pretty irrelevant for your opponent. Sometimes it’ll give them a card you can just remove with an Intrigue challenge anyway. Generally a pretty solid choice of consistency card if you can spare the deck slots and aren’t using the faction kneel for anything critical, and non-loyal to boot. I really couldn’t care less about Melee (I’d rather play a heavy Euro), but it seems worth mentioning this is a pretty hilarious bargaining tool. Rose of Gold provides a slightly different twist on this for an additional gold, but doesn’t provide your opponent a card. This card was last seen as an enabler in Deergarden, which will be discussed later. Critically it’s a Song, which means it can go in that Song deck I know you’re building Wamma… (one day mate, one day!). Both of these cards excel in decks digging for specific pieces, rather than just looking for raw card advantage.

If you want raw card advantage though, Tyrell absolutely have you covered there too. Raw draw was available from Core in the form of The Mander. This was a card that has probably been under utilised. One of the better draw options in the core set, it was overshadowed by the far easier trigger condition and passive benefits of The Red Keep, which had the added benefit of being in one of the strongest factions at the time. I feel the effectiveness of this card has slowly but surely increased, and the release of the Crossing agenda has provided a straightforward option for massive strength boost to reliably trigger this card. A more reset-heavy game can provide opportunities to trigger this card, particularly if you can leverage the reset more effectively than your opponent. Indeed, triggering The Mander and getting a renown can be one of the stronger results you can achieve on a 0 claim turn after you’ve flipped Valar Morghulis. Similarly, this card can have a place in the matchups with Clock decks, where you may well only care about pushing through the power challenge, and the effect of The Mander can provide additional pay off for heavy commitment. Perhaps what has hurt The Mander the most are the other notable draw options the faction has received. In many ways, while it serves the same overall purpose as The Mander, Pleasure Barge is its antithesis. The Mander has an expensive up front cost, provides repeatable draw in reaction to a non-trivial condition, and draws cards in the challenge phase. In contrast, the Barge costs a whole heap of nothing, provides 3 cards instantly, in the marshalling phase, which is likely the most impactful time to have them. It provides no initial tempo hit, but instead provides a constant sapping drain to your economy. It’s worth discussing how much of an impact the -1 gold modifier actually is. Pleasure Barge provides the effect of Counting Coppers on a turn where you may well have stronger economy and some sort of other plot effect to really leverage it. Assuming a plot baseline of 4-5 gold, the three cards from Coppers are costing you 2-3 gold (and a weak turn to boot). From a raw economy perspective, Barge may well cost you more than that, it honestly depends how long the game goes on. The quicker you are able to leverage the cards you used Barge to draw to win, the better it is for you, as you are not haemorrhaging economy, which is one side of why it is so good in rush decks. Alternatively you can go the other way, which is to have so robust an economy, you can afford the hit and don’t really care. Luckily, Tyrell have access to the Arbor, and in many games the downside of this card is negligible, in addition to the fact that you may well draw into economy cards to offset the effect of the Barge when marshalling it. Either way, it’s one of the best late game top-decks you could ask for. This card is the closest thing to Diesel I’m likely to get, and in the decks where I’m playing it (basically any Tyrell deck I’m playing) I personally can’t see a reason to play fewer than 3 with the 60 card minimum (sorry Wamma).

Not-so-secret green crushes ❤

The only times I’ve regretted playing a Pleasure Barge were when I gambled on using the draw to try and fix a weak economic start. With the current economy options, the only piece you can draw for to provide a long term economic positive AFTER playing a Barge is The Arbor, since Roseroads will just leave you breaking even. Chasing The Arbor has almost never worked out for me, regularly leaving me with too little economy to actually play it, or a really awkward plot decision. If you miss, it is likely an irreparable position, but the games you find no economy are often heavily skewed in your opponent’s favour anyway. This card is great, play it and weep with the joy that +3 cards for nothing gives you. Further draw options acquired by Tyrell in the first two cycles are rounded out with Butterbumps and King Renly. There’s not necessarily a huge amount to say here. Tacking draw onto efficient character bodies is excellent. The insight on Butterbumps is pretty potent, as intrigue seems to be an icon a lot of factions frequently lack, especially on cheap characters. I’ve found Bumpy to be highly effective in early game scenarios, as well as post reset. He helps you set up, or rebuild and is a prime target for some of Tyrell’s pump effects, allowing him to break through with minimal support. I’ve seen multiple well-respected UK players (I’ll avoid names) jump for joy and do his little dance when getting work out of him, which probably says it all. Renly on the other hand, is basically all you could ask for from a 7-cost character. All three icons, renown and insight, high strength, and a nice potential little bonus draw if your deck build allows for it. The downside of being unable to be saved if an opponent controls a King is annoying, but has hardly proved a deal breaker so far. The most likely occurrences of kings are Bob, opposing Renlys (who are equally disadvantaged) and the occasional Balon. Of higher relevance is the Targaryen attachment Beggar King, which is a highly playable card, and the Targaryen resurgence has begun with the release of Slaver’s Bay Port. Similarly, Crown of Golden Roses is ubiquitous in Tyrell decks due to the synergy with Randyll Tarly, and is worth discussing itself as a really useful outlet for all the card advantage Tyrell can generate. Even with these in the metagame, Renly is a character you would never wish to pass up, and the smoothing out of your draw as well as the power sink is just fantastic.

Finally, Tyrell have access to deck manipulation options in the form of The Bear and the Maiden Fair (BAMF) and Caswell’s Keep. BAMF is a good utility card that often sits on the borderline between inclusion and cutting, especially with all the other options Tyrell have received. Rarely a bad effect, BAMF is probably at its best in reset-based decks, where it can be used to ensure you recover from the reset by drawing characters to spend all the gold on, or to choke your opponent out of their own characters, and the game. It’s also a common event in pillage-based decks. While Euron-targeting is a decent option for Greyjoy, it’s yet another case of another faction doing it better, with the Lannister pillage payoff card selection deeper, and often equally or more impactful. Using BAMF to supplement Tywin, and help line up massive swings with Gregor, as well as stand Gregor’s Marauders is top jank. Perhaps even a cheeky Polliver might make the cut in future for further fun!  It’s also a useful effect that can be used post-taxation in order to tigger Tower of the Sun and any further similar cards that may be released in the future (don’t play Tower of the Sun). Caswell’s Keep generates a similar effect. It has primarily seen use in Rains decks to achieve extra utility in the challenges phase from the agenda reaction. Realistically, these cards are effective, but the primary issue is finding space for them in a deck.

The Tyrell faction has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to consistency cards. If you get irrationally excited about consistency cards like me, it’s a lot of fun when deck building to have genuine choices to make at all levels, rather than having only one card that provides draw which then becomes an auto-include. You can sculpt every aspect of the deck to your taste, to get every last scrap of effectiveness out of it.

Now a city full of pain pills and tattoos defend me

While a lot of Tyrell’s cards are obvious in their raw efficiency and impact, the faction is perfectly capable of playing more tricksy games. A card that was frequently overlooked in the core set (partially due to the poor perception of Tyrell as a faction) provides one of the best challenge manipulation tricks in the game. Highgarden exerts a subtle but creeping influence over your opponent’s challenge phase, and has fast become one of my favourite cards. It provides a dominant controlling option over small boards, can protect your own board from win-by-5 effects, enable defensive wins on your side for cards like Superior Claim, and allows for your own shenanigans standing your own characters. You can commit heavily to a challenge, only for your opponent to chump it, but remove a character for use pressing another one through. It provides a core of a nascent challenge participation manipulation theme for Tyrell, along with Mare in Heat. Let’s take a look at a manipulative Tyrell deck made by Tyrell’s number one fan, Wamma:

Sungarden (2nd place, Manchester and Reading regionals)

House Tyrell
Banner of the Sun
Packs: From Core Set (3) to True Steel

Plots
1x Marched to the Wall (Core Set)
1x Summons (Core Set)
1x Trading with the Pentoshi (The Road to Winterfell)
1x The First Snow of Winter (No Middle Ground)
1x Pulling the Strings (Calm over Westeros)
1x The Long Winter (Wolves of the North)
1x A Song of Summer (Wolves of the North)

Characters
1x Littlefinger (Core Set)
3x Varys (Core Set)
2x Rattleshirt’s Raiders (Core Set)
1x Wildling Horde (Core Set)
2x Arianne Martell (Core Set)
2x House Dayne Knight (Core Set)
2x Palace Spearman (Core Set)
1x Margaery Tyrell (Core Set)
2x The Knight of Flowers (Core Set)
3x Olenna’s Informant (Core Set)
3x Bastard Daughter (Taking the Black)
3x Nymeria Sand (The Road to Winterfell)
1x Syrio Forel (The Road to Winterfell)
2x Knights of the Sun (Calm over Westeros)
1x Butterbumps (True Steel)
3x House Florent Knight (Wolves of the North)

Locations
2x The Kingsroad (Core Set)
3x The Roseroad (Core Set)
1x Blood Orange Grove (Core Set)
2x Highgarden (Core Set)
2x Pleasure Barge (Taking the Black)
3x The Arbor (No Middle Ground)

Attachments
3x Milk of the Poppy (Core Set)
3x Imprisoned (True Steel)

Events
1x The Hand’s Judgment (Core Set)
3x “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” (Core Set)
3x A Gift of Arbor Red (True Steel)
3x His Viper Eyes (Wolves of the North)

This is a reset and attrition deck to its core, leaning on the Arbor. Developed by Wamma before the release of Valar Morghulis, it played as many resets as it could reasonably pack to leverage the economic advantage and draw the House had available. Few decks are good at surviving multiple resets, and this one had 4 to call upon (more modern variants also pack Valar). This deck is all about leveraging small boards, containing Nymeria and Imprisoned to present a strong military threat. The icon removal tech was also critical as a way to control Gregor, who was running rampant around the metagame at this time. Gregor presented a very serious threat to a deck built to take advantage of Arianne, meaning it had lots of characters at the same cost slots. Arianne has been discussed at length on this blog before, but in this deck presents a few very strong options. Putting into play a House Florent Knight at an inopportune time functionally provides additional military claim, potentially claiming a more valuable character and/or enabling a critical Marched (Incidentally, HFK has only got better with the release of Renly’s Pavilion). Alternatively, Olenna’s Informant can generate further surprise military claim, particularly on the First Snow turn or on the 2-claim turn of The Long Winter. The Informant can also generate massive power swings on the 2-claim turn to help a relatively slow deck close. Highgarden provides a strong backbone for this deck, minimising your own risk on the First Snow turn, and along with Nym, really letting you dictate to your opponent which challenges they can perform. The Trading in the plot deck serves as a good way to afford to marshal the expensive locations and afford the ambush cost of the Informant, as well as encouraging the opponent to overcommit into a reset. The utility of Summons is also high here, locating Varys if necessary and finding Arianne targets. The deck has some further decent closing options to dig for in Knights of the Sun and Loras. Wamma makes fun decks. You heard it here last.

Solid Soil

From the Core Set, it was clear that Tyrell would have plenty of efficient renown characters. The faction is currently blessed in that it has some of the best economy, draw and power generation in the game. Realistically, it lacks for very little.

The five(!) high-quality renown power sinks within the faction run the gamut of icons, with more recent releases Renly and Margaery filling in the intrigue icon gap of Randyll, Loras and Brienne. Tyrell can confidently generate power from any challenge type, and that’s without the excellent suite of abilities strapped to these characters. I’ve discussed Renly previously and will deal with new Margaery later. Brienne is a cost-effective power sink with an excellent ability if you’re running Renly, Crown of Golden Roses or she’s in a banner package with a king or Catelyn Stark. Non-kneeling is obviously non-trivial, giving her the ability to participate in multiple challenges in a turn, and generate multiple power. This theme continues with Randyll Tarly. Randyll’s in-built stand effect is simply one of the best character abilities in the game. It provides the ability to participate in multiple challenges in a turn, can let you win a challenges offensively and then defensively, or vice versa. Tyrell has a suite of cards suited to triggering the ability in the form of events, locations and characters. It is critical to note that the ability is limited to twice a phase, rather than a round. This means that if you flip a plot that bumps strength for example, like Song of Summer, Randyll will stand, and your further opportunities to stand him will not be curtailed later in the turn, an excellent effect against Stannis-lock. Randyll is a powerhouse of a card, and one of the few characters (perhaps the only) that is worth throwing multiple attachments on. Crown of Golden Roses has largely eclipsed Heartsbane as a more efficient option, as it can stand him more than once. It is not limited to Tyrell characters, and the granted King trait can be relevant. The crown also synergises with the attachments that grant intrigue icons (Little Bird and Appointed) that allow Randyll to participate in all three challenges. Randyll is the centrepiece character of the faction in the majority of cases, despite being non-loyal. Loras, on the other hand, has been relegated to being more of a role-player, mostly just due to the plethora of other options. As the card pool continues to expand, this is likely to be the case for more and more unique characters, simply due to the dead pile mechanic. Another ultra-efficient body with renown, the ability is suited well to closing out games after a reset on smaller boards. He sits at an awkward strength point for many characters to defend against individually, though there has been some strength inflation in high end characters since the release of the core set.

Further fast power generation and renown can be found at lower costs as well:

The House’s power generation is fleshed out with conditional renown on the Knight of Summer and Jon Fossoway, and the reaction of Robar Royce. These cards (though Fossoway to a much lesser extent) require building around in your plot deck. The natural synergy of Fossoway with Song of Summer ensures he can fit in this archetype as well though. Fossoway and Knight of Summer are unaffected by First Snow of Winter, though it’s certainly something to be concerned about with Robar Royce. Royce however provides extremely efficient power generation tied to your plot deck, though can be double-edged if your opponent is running Winter plots. Ward is something else to be worried about if Stark is prevalent in the metagame. The Honeywine presents another option that plays well with Tyrell’s strengths, and is obviously good in Crossing decks. It does keep the power on itself though, presenting a juicy target for location discard effects. It presents a higher risk-higher reward option to run instead of, or alongside, Street of Sisters. While very new at the time of writing, it can generate multiple power a turn, and that’s certainly something to keep a very close eye on as the metagame shifts and changes. All Men are Fools (AMAF) and Lady Sansa’s Rose present a similar choice in options. Both are somewhat combo oriented. Overall, AMAF is easier to trigger, and has a potentially very high ceiling in decks built to use it. There are multiple playable ladies within Tyrell and good banner options available (particularly Stark), and I believe it’ll see plenty of play going forward, much more so than Sansa’s Rose.

Crossing decks have been discussed in depth already, but here’s a pretty cool example of a different style of rush deck:

The Green Avalanche – Harrenhal IV Winner (6-1)

House Tyrell
Banner of the Wolf
Packs: From Core Set (3) to Tyrion’s Chain

Plots
1x Confiscation (Core Set)
1x Trading with the Pentoshi (The Road to Winterfell)
2x Winter Festival (Called to Arms)
1x Valar Morghulis (There Is My Claim)
1x Ghosts of Harrenhal (Ghosts of Harrenhal)
1x Time of Plenty (Lions of Casterly Rock)

Characters
3x Arya Stark (Core Set)
1x Bran Stark (Core Set)
1x Sansa Stark (Core Set)
2x Tumblestone Knight (Core Set)
2x Winterfell Steward (Core Set)
3x Margaery Tyrell (Core Set)
3x Randyll Tarly (Core Set)
1x The Knight of Flowers (Core Set)
3x Garden Caretaker (Core Set)
3x Arbor Knight (Taking the Black)
1x Ser Hobber Redwyne (The King’s Peace)
3x Eddard Stark (Wolves of the North)
1x Ser Colen of Greenpools (Across the Seven Kingdoms)
1x Donella Hornwood (Called to Arms)
3x Renly Baratheon (For Family Honor)
3x Brienne of Tarth (Ghosts of Harrenhal)
1x Jeyne Westerling (Lions of Casterly Rock)
1x Alerie Tyrell (Lions of Casterly Rock)

Locations
3x The Kingsroad (Core Set)
3x Rose Garden (Core Set)
3x Pleasure Barge (Taking the Black)
1x Renly’s Pavilion (Tyrion’s Chain)
1x Ocean Road (Lions of Casterly Rock)

Attachments
1x Seal of the Hand (Core Set)
1x Crown of Golden Roses (For Family Honor)

Events
3x Superior Claim (Core Set)
3x Nightmares (Calm over Westeros)
2x Relentless Assault (Tyrion’s Chain)
3x All Men Are Fools (All Men Are Fools)

This deck is a blunt instrument with no fat at all. Double Winter Festival presents a good source of power from the plot deck, and everything in the draw deck is driven towards power generation, down to the suite of 6 power-gain events. Extremely fast, there’s no space for The Arbor here, but there is the potential for extremely early blowouts instead with mass renown, Eddard, a few mechanisms to stand Eddard in the Seal and Jayne Westerling and lots of ladies for AMAF. Eddard encourages committing heavily to challenges, and AMAF and Superior Claim provide strong payoffs for doing so. This deck feels like it might have run the Honeywine had it been released at the time.

Smart went crazy

Tyrell possess a number of cards that manipulate the strength of characters in both positive and negative ways. Cards such as Renly’s Pavilion and Crown of Golden Roses, as well as Core Set staples such as Margaery, Growing Strong and Heartsbane all provide options to change up the board state mid challenge.

One of the strongest benefits of the character strength manipulation theme present in Tyrell is the way it messes with challenge maths, and this places a great burden upon your opponent’s decisions and order of operations in the challenges phase. With the release of the Rains of Castamere agenda, there was an additional high-impact payoff for winning challenges by 5:

The Green Manalishi (with the Golden Rose Crown)

House Tyrell
“The Rains of Castamere”
Packs: From Core Set (3) to True Steel

Plots
1x A Game of Thrones (Core Set)
1x Calling the Banners (Core Set)
1x Confiscation (Core Set)
1x Filthy Accusations (Core Set)
1x Power Behind the Throne (Core Set)
1x Summons (Core Set)
1x Wildfire Assault (Core Set)
1x Trading with the Pentoshi (The Road to Winterfell)
1x Pulling the Strings (Calm over Westeros)
1x Close Call (True Steel)
1x A Song of Summer (Wolves of the North)
1x Unexpected Delay (Lions of Casterly Rock)

Characters
1x Littlefinger (Core Set)
2x Varys (Core Set)
2x Rattleshirt’s Raiders (Core Set)
3x Margaery Tyrell (Core Set)
1x Paxter Redwyne (Core Set)
3x Randyll Tarly (Core Set)
1x The Knight of Flowers (Core Set)
2x Courtesan of the Rose (Core Set)
3x Garden Caretaker (Core Set)
2x Olenna’s Informant (Core Set)
1x Wardens of the Reach (Core Set)
3x Arbor Knight (Taking the Black)
1x Syrio Forel (The Road to Winterfell)
2x Butterbumps (True Steel)
1x Ser Colen of Greenpools (Across the Seven Kingdoms)
3x Renly Baratheon (For Family Honor)
1x Alerie Tyrell (Lions of Casterly Rock)

Locations
3x The Kingsroad (Core Set)
1x The Roseroad (Core Set)
2x Highgarden (Core Set)
3x Rose Garden (Core Set)
2x Pleasure Barge (Taking the Black)
3x The Arbor (No Middle Ground)

Attachments
1x Bodyguard (Core Set)
2x Little Bird (Core Set)
3x Milk of the Poppy (Core Set)
1x Heartsbane (Core Set)
2x Crown of Golden Roses (For Family Honor)

Events
2x Put to the Sword (Core Set)
1x Tears of Lys (Core Set)
3x Growing Strong (Core Set)

Wamma’s deck presents a series of these threatening options to increase challenge strength, as well as payoff in the form of PTTS and the Agenda itself. In this deck, even a simple challenge with Bumpy can present a really rough choice for the opponent, let alone the problems the opponent can run into making their own challenges with the threat of Highgarden to win and trigger the agenda defensively. I don’t think there’s much to say about this deck that isn’t already stated in Wamma’s description on thronesDB, but the deck updated very well with the release of Valar, as well as cards such as Renly’s Pavilion. What I will say is that when I played it, this was probably the most fun I had with a deck that wasn’t Martell in the entirety of Second Edition so far.

Wallflower, and other false banner decks…

The high number and quality of Tyrell consistency cards (particularly the economy generated by the Arbor) has led to an expansion of Tyrell decks where the main impact of the faction is the inclusion of these cards:

Wallgreens: Baltimore SC winner

House Tyrell
Banner of the Watch
Packs: From Core Set (3) to True Steel

Plots
1x Building Orders (Core Set)
1x Filthy Accusations (Core Set)
1x Here to Serve (Taking the Black)
1x Pulling the Strings (Calm over Westeros)
1x Fallen from Favor (Wolves of the North)
1x Winter Festival (Called to Arms)
1x Valar Morghulis (There Is My Claim)

Characters
3x Benjen Stark (Core Set)
2x Maester Aemon (Core Set)
3x Ranging Party (Core Set)
3x Steward at the Wall (Core Set)
1x Maester Lomys (Core Set)
3x Margaery Tyrell (Core Set)
1x Randyll Tarly (Core Set)
1x Ser Alliser Thorne (The King’s Peace)
3x Halder (No Middle Ground)
1x Butterbumps (True Steel)
2x Dolorous Edd (Called to Arms)
1x Renly Baratheon (For Family Honor)
1x Thoren Smallwood (For Family Honor)
3x Shadow Tower Mason (There Is My Claim)
3x Qhorin Halfhand (Tyrion’s Chain)

Locations
3x The Roseroad (Core Set)
2x Castle Black (Core Set)
3x The Wall (Core Set)
2x Highgarden (Core Set)
2x Pleasure Barge (Taking the Black)
3x The Arbor (No Middle Ground)
3x The Haunted Forest (There Is My Claim)
1x Renly’s Pavilion (Tyrion’s Chain)
1x Bridge of Skulls (Lions of Casterly Rock)
3x Ocean Road (Lions of Casterly Rock)

Attachments
2x Milk of the Poppy (Core Set)
2x Practice Blade (The King’s Peace)
3x Craven (Called to Arms)

This is a Wall deck, only with a robust economy due to The Arbor and Margaery to improve the already efficient Night’s Watch chuds. It replaces the Watch’s loyal draw with the loyal draw of Tyrell and has a few extra nasty annoyances for the attacking player to get through. Lomys is merely extremely irritating for the player that is attempting to break through, but it is Highgarden that is the most painful addition. In combination with the Haunted Forest and Castle Black, Highgarden is a real problem, allowing the defensive player even more control over the challenges phase, making it even more difficult to get an unopposed challenge through. The deck also has enough money to afford to play some renown batteries in Randyll and Qhorin, giving it some potential tools to win some challenges offensively, as well as more speed to close. Taking the deck out of Night’s Watch as a main faction also improves the economy by making all the Watch cards reducible by Ocean Road.

Ryan Wood’s version of ‘Deergarden’ is more reset focussed:

Deergarden – 1st @ 32p and 26p SC’s

House Tyrell
Banner of the Stag
Packs: From Core Set (3) to True Steel

Plots
1x A Feast for Crows (Core Set)
1x Calm Over Westeros (Core Set)
1x Heads on Spikes (Core Set)
1x Trading with the Pentoshi (The Road to Winterfell)
1x Close Call (True Steel)
1x Winter Festival (Called to Arms)
1x Valar Morghulis (There Is My Claim)

Characters
3x Varys (Core Set)
2x Maester Cressen (Core Set)
3x Melisandre (Core Set)
1x Ser Davos Seaworth (Core Set)
1x Shireen Baratheon (Core Set)
3x Fiery Followers (Core Set)
3x Vanguard Lancer (Core Set)
1x Paxter Redwyne (Core Set)
1x The Knight of Flowers (Core Set)
2x Lady-in-Waiting (The Road to Winterfell)
1x Ser Hobber Redwyne (The King’s Peace)
1x Butterbumps (True Steel)
1x Renly Baratheon (For Family Honor)
3x Asshai Priestess (For Family Honor)
1x Brienne of Tarth (Ghosts of Harrenhal)
1x Edric Storm (Lions of Casterly Rock)

Locations
2x The Iron Throne (Core Set)
3x The Roseroad (Core Set)
2x Chamber of the Painted Table (Core Set)
2x Highgarden (Core Set)
3x Pleasure Barge (Taking the Black)
3x The Arbor (No Middle Ground)
1x Caswell’s Keep (There Is My Claim)
2x Ocean Road (Lions of Casterly Rock)

Attachment

Events
3x Seen In Flames (Core Set)
3x “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” (Core Set)
3x Nightmares (Calm over Westeros)
3x A Gift of Arbor Red (True Steel)
3x “A Rose of Gold” (Lions of Casterly Rock)

This deck is an excellent example of a false banner deck. The Arbor allows the deck to ride out the multiple resets it plays and rebuild. The resets are in the deck to keep the board small, increasing the impact of the Baratheon kneel package, but also since the core of the deck, Table and Chair, is even more efficient after a reset since the locations are unaffected. The resets make it very difficult to challenge the Deergarden player on dominance, as well as to win through accumulating renown quickly. Highgarden, unsurprisingly, makes another appearance here, preventing the opponent from winning power challenges to prevent themselves from being ground down. Tyrell characters such as the Knight of Flowers, Brienne and Renly provide some closing options. All the Tyrell draw and filtering is included in this deck in order to put the location combination together as quickly as possible, it helps keep drawing R’hllor cards to keep the opponent locked down, and the filtering can choke them out after a reset by removing characters. I had the misfortune of playing against this deck in the final of the Aldershot Store Championship this year, and it was a truly miserable experience.

False-banner Tyrell looks to be a strong choice if you are putting together a combo deck with non-loyal pieces, and that seems unlikely to change until rotation, which is a VERY long way away.

Sting like a first divorce

tindermargejoel

Looking at this card can only suggest that we are seeing arguably the most game-changing card (and almost certainly the most powerful character) printed since the core set, with Tyrion and Tywin. There have been a few other draw deck cards that have had huge impacts on the game since their release (though some very significant plots, e.g. The First Snow of Winter and Valar Morghulis), such as The Arbor and Winterfell. However, the only characters I believe have been as impactful upon release as I expect this card to be are Nymeria Sand, and maybe Mirri Maz Duur. An efficient body with renown at a very reasonable cost, the reaction is truly something else.

I’m not sure what FFG has against the military challenge (perhaps a red icon bullied Danny Schaefer when he was young), but Tinder Marge turns probably the weakest challenge type in the game into a total liability with only a minor amount of setup (a Lord or King) and deck building effort. The efficiency of the reaction is shocking. It finds the character, and installs it, standing, costing you nothing. It’s a total headache for your opponent, approaching the  levels of cards such as Ghaston Grey, only repeatable, strapped to a strength 5 bicon with renown, and can be triggered by the player’s own Wildfire Assault. It can also be triggered on Valar Morghulis, assuming the Tyrell player can save Marge. Luckily, with access to up to numerous saves with Lady-in-Waiting in addition to Bodyguard, this isn’t an outrageous proposition. Being able to reset and come out with a free 6 or 7 coster warps the part of the idea of resets in general. While making your own resets favourable, it can also let you ride out your opponent’s, letting you keep big renown characters hitting the board, and outpacing your opponent to the finish. Margaery’s existence alone makes decks that favour aggressive military strategies weaker in the metagame, for example Stark, Greyjoy and Lannister, though Lannister (as ever) have one of the best mitigation tools in the form of Treachery. She also heavily punishes Lord of the Crossing decks, which typically HAVE to make a military challenge in order to trigger their own benefit and progress their own win condition.

In order to make the most of the reaction, you need lords, particularly ones of low cost that Margaery can upgrade. Tyrell have some excellent targets to play out with the reaction in Randyll, Renly and Loras, unfortunately, the number of low cost Lords they provide to kill for the reaction is basically nonexistent. Luckily, the Wolf and Lion Banners provide some excellent fodder. Bran, Rickon, and Hoster are were born to be dumped by Marge (Hoster feeling particularly thematic). Bran is generally an excellent card, and the Wolf Banner provides further benefits in the form of Eddard as a target, and Arya and Sansa, which play into the Ladies theme that has become developed in Tyrell with All Men are Fools. On the other side, the Lion Banner provides more top end targets with Tyrion, Gregor and Jaime (who wouldn’t want to tutor for Tyrion?) but perhaps some slightly weaker options at the low end in Joffrey, Lancel and Tommen. If you can keep Joffrey on the board while other lords are dying and being upgraded you can certainly profit greatly. I happen to favour the Wolf Banner, one of the main reasons because Bran is a great character to run in multiples due to the effect. This gives you more of a chance to see him early to upgrade him, and this is aided by the introduction of Ghosts of Harrenhal and Close Call, allowing you to repeat the interaction while making further use of the multiple copies. I also like Sansa, Eddard and All Men are Fools for rapid power gain. Either way, I think you can’t really go wrong, and the Treachery you can run in the Lannister version gives you a strong advantage in the Marge mirror. In fact, why not both? I jest of course, don’t play Alliance, it’s rubbish. Here’s an early attempt of my own:

Oh Rickon, you just weren’t man enough

House Tyrell
Banner of the Wolf
Packs: From Core Set (3) to True Steel

Plots
1x A Noble Cause (Core Set)
1x Summons (Core Set)
1x Wildfire Assault (Core Set)
1x Close Call (True Steel)
1x Valar Morghulis (There Is My Claim)
1x Ghosts of Harrenhal (Ghosts of Harrenhal)
1x Time of Plenty (Lions of Casterly Rock)

Characters
1x Varys (Core Set)
3x Arya Stark (Core Set)
3x Bran Stark (Core Set)
3x Sansa Stark (Core Set)
2x Randyll Tarly (Core Set)
1x The Knight of Flowers (Core Set)
2x Garden Caretaker (Core Set)
3x Lady-in-Waiting (The Road to Winterfell)
1x Eddard Stark (Wolves of the North)
1x Rickon Stark (Wolves of the North)
3x Renly Baratheon (For Family Honor)
1x Roose Bolton (Ghosts of Harrenhal)
3x Brienne of Tarth (Ghosts of Harrenhal)
1x Hoster Tully (All Men Are Fools)
3x Margaery Tyrell (All Men Are Fools)

Locations
3x The Kingsroad (Core Set)
3x The Roseroad (Core Set)
2x Highgarden (Core Set)
1x Rose Garden (Core Set)
3x Pleasure Barge (Taking the Black)
1x Renly’s Pavilion (Tyrion’s Chain)
1x Ocean Road (Lions of Casterly Rock)

Attachments
1x Seal of the Hand (Core Set)
3x Bodyguard (Core Set)
2x Frozen Solid (Wolves of the North)
1x Crown of Golden Roses (For Family Honor)

Events
3x Superior Claim (Core Set)
3x Nightmares (Calm over Westeros)
2x All Men Are Fools (All Men Are Fools)

This deck is a bit rough around the edges, but gets the point across I think. Very fast power generation, control over challenges with Marge and Highgarden, the low cost part of the character curve supported by the excellent quality of the Stark children, with some good old fashioned Tyrell beef. The Wolf Banner also provides some location control in Frozen Solid.

I guarantee you will see some (and probably a lot) of these decks come Regional season. So, how can you best deal with Margaery and her rotating cast of ephemeral paramores? A straightforward start would be to play a deck that doesn’t care much about military challenges. If you ARE going to persist in playing military strategies, you should look at targeted kill to punish Margaery, perhaps allowing you to hit her with Valar Morghulis, and lots of 2-claim to try to overwhelm the reaction, boosted with Marched to the Wall to get her off the board. Stark have some options here with Ice and Winter is Coming. You really have to keep the pressure on with military, because if you let up, and they get set up, you’ll be in a very poor position. Alternatively (or additionally), you can also try to control her and her reaction through other methods, typically Milk and Nightmares. Unfortunately I feel one of the biggest issues at the moment is that decks are stretched thin, many want to play Milk to negate the variety of strong characters around, yet it is almost completely dead in the common Night’s Watch matchup. Barring the Gates helps you for one turn (whilst having decent gold, and some utility in Lannister and Night’s Watch match ups). Lannister and Banner Lion players, of course, have access to the perennially effective Treachery. There are further plot deck solutions available in Fortified Position and The First Snow of Winter, which removes the low cost Lords they are trying to upgrade during challenges, potentially opening up Marge to be Marched. One of the best solutions is Varys; like FSOW, a reset that won’t trigger the reaction. A different sort of option is claim replacement and similar effects. If you can target who you kill with the Seastone Chair or Spearmaiden for example, or prevent the claiming of their cheap lord with the Eyrie, you don’t need to worry about the reaction.

Margaery presents a particular issue for Crossing decks, which are otherwise well-positioned to out pace Clock decks. If you’re still interested in playing one of these, you have a few different options, you can hold tight and hope you dodge the matchup, but this seems pretty weak. The next thing you can do is alter your draw deck to make sure you have some strength 1 military icons to chump the first challenge and make it fizzle with no claim. In the case of Tyrell, the Arbor Knight fits the bill nicely. For Martell, the best bet is Bastard Daughter. On the other hand, if you can configure your deck so you can make multiple challenges of a different type to avoid making a military challenge at all, you will be in a good position. Currently this is only really feasible out of Lannister, where Casterly Rock provides this option.

I hope there are two things demonstrated by this article, that Tyrell decks have grown and changed significantly over the short life of Second Edition, and that the faction is incredibly diverse in terms of viable deck shapes. If you are considering playing Tyrell at regionals (and you should) you have a plethora of choices when deciding what sort of deck to design. If your opponent plops a Tyrell deck down across from you, hopefully I’ve armed you with some information as to what you might be expecting. As I conclude writing this, Dockside Brothel Days is almost complete, and the dominance of Tyrell from Batalla has not been repeated, though Tyrell provided a lot of the middle of the pack. This suggests the metagame is wide open, a thrilling thought for the future!

Sorry this article has been a little delayed, but life is a pain. I’ll probably also pause these review articles until after Regionals season is complete, as in the UK, it’s going to be a busy affair for a few months, along with the European Championships at UKGE. Best of luck in Regionals! Play fair, play hard, play Greyjoy if you want (but don’t say I didn’t warn you), play the only game that matters apart from L5R, Netrunner and heavy euros!

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