Thursday, 21 April 2016

A Game of Thrones LCG Wolves of the North deluxe expansion unboxing and review

Today we are looking at the first of the Deluxe expansions for A Game of Thrones the LCG.  Wolves of the North.  We have had chapter packs previously in clam shell packaging, but this is the first in a nice box, and contains a lot more then the chapter packs.



“When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.”
  
–George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones


Those who dwell in northern Westeros can be as harsh and cold as winter itself, but words like honor and trust still have meaning there. Fearsome in battle and uncompromising in negotiation, the men of the North are hardy and well equipped to survive winters that can last for years. Though they may scorn the laws that come from King’s Landing, these warriors are fiercely loyal to the lords of House Stark, and some believe the time has come for the North to rise once more and become a true kingdom of winter.
 
Journey northwards and take your place among the knights, lords, and ladies of House Stark with Wolves of the North, the first deluxe expansion to be released for the second edition of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game. In this expansion, House Stark takes the spotlight as they gain new cards to guide your Stark decks in new and unexpected directions. You may use Direwolves to cow and overpower your foes, rush to victory with the aid of House Tully, or draw strength from the Winter itself. Throughout the box, you’ll find new versions of iconic characters like Eddard Stark, Catelyn Stark, Jon Snow, and Arya Stark, alongside characters entering the game for the first time, including The Blackfish, Shaggydog, and Rickon Stark. 
 
Though the focus of this deluxe expansion rests firmly on House Stark, every other faction receives two new non-loyal cards to push your deck exploration forward. An assortment of neutral cards, including six new neutral plots, change the options available to every deck, and you’ll be able to call on dangerous new allies like Mance Rayder, Quentyn Martell, and Aggo. 
 
So take a look at what you get, and what cards you can field.
 


firstly, the box art, its beautiful, and a bigger box then we are used to for  expansions, but this will happen with the deluxe expansions. You get 3 sealed packs of cards each of 52 cards.  Each of the packs is the same, as you get 3 copies of each card.  a little Fantasy Flight Games catalogue, and a nice sheet telling you about the pack.
It tells you some background on the front, and a list of how many cards you get.
 On the other side it gives you some example decks that can be created from this set and the core box, which is a really nice touch to provide some other options to try and play.  Now lets look at some cards, as you may have guessed this box is very heavily themed around house Stark, though everyone else still also gets 2 cards.
 First up we have King Robbs Host.  For 8 cost you get an 8 strength army character with military and power icons.  It also has the reaction after you win a military challenge that King Robbs host was involved in you can move a power from the losing factions card to an attacking character, 2 if a war plot is active.  This is a great powerful unit for the Starks, and timed right can get you extra power as well as being a solid attacker and defender.

Catelyn Stark arrives with a new version. At cost 7 strength 5 she is pricey.  She has intrigue wich is much needed for Stark, and power icons.  She also gets +1 strength for each power token she has, and she gains those when a stark character you control is killed or sacrificed, though at a limit of 2 per round.  This can make her very dangerous, as you can put out weak blockers in challenges, and when they lose in a military one she gets more power which helps you win the game, and becomes stronger.  A very good card for your deck.
 Next we see another version to compliment the core set of Eddard Stark.  Cost 6 with strength 6 military and power icons with Renown make him quite the beast.  His reaction helps that after gaining power using renown you may choose another participating character and give them a power, so its a good way to boost up Catelyn.  The Blackfish may be one of my favourite cards in this pack.  He costs 6, with strength 4, military and power icons and renown as well.  When he has 4 or more power on him, each house Tully character does not kneel when declared as an attacker.  This can really give you the edge letting them attack first and be available for defence, and he has the reaction that after you win a military challenge you can draw a card.  The combination of him and Eddard attacking together will be hard to stop, both gaining power potentially, and Eddard can give the Blackfish more power to get him up to that 4 quicker.
 Arya Stark is cost 4, strength 3 with the much needed intrigue icon and power.  Her reaction is after a Stark character you control is killed you can sacrifice her to kill a character of strength 3 or less.  Can be useful to clear the board, and of course Catelyn gains power from killed characters.  Jory Cassel is cost 4 strength 3 with military and power, and his reaction works well with Arya, he has an interrupt that when a unique Stark character is about to be killed sacrifice Jory to save it.  If a winter plot is out that character also gains a power.  Really useful if you need one more power to win, play the winter plot, and go for it! Hes a great character for saving others and keeping Catelyn in the game as well, or the Blackfish.
 Its the second time we have seen Jon Snow, but the first as a Stark, with a cost 5 and strength of 4 with only the military icon he has his uses.  His action lets you sacrifice a Stark character to stand a unique Stark character, which can be handy when you need that defence, and of course Catelyn gets a power for it too.  Wolves of the north is a cost 5 strength 3 card with the military icon and stealth.  Stealth is great, it lets you pick a character without stealth that can not block you.  With Wolves of the north the character you picked gets minus x strength where x is the number of Direwolf cards you control, so with enough cars you can cripple enemies into ineffectiveness, or even kill them this way.
 Riverrun Minstrel is a cost 4 strength 3 card with intrigue and power icons.  Her reaction happens after she enters play, where you choose a house Tully character that gains 1 power.  Very very useful for Blackfish and Catelyn, and as she is not unique you can have several out all having boosted your characters.  Old Nan is a 3 cost 2 strength card with only the intrigue icon.  Her main use comes with her interrupt, which when a plot card is revealed lets you kneel her to have that card gain the summer or winter trait until the end of the round.  When a lot of Stark cards work with Winter trait she is incredibly useful.

 Osha is cost 3, strength 2 with military and intrigue icons.  She has a challenge action that lets you remove her from the challenge and stand her.  This gives you some nice flexibility in options.  Bear Island Loyalist is cost 3 strength 2 with military and power icons, and whilst in a challenge all other participating Stark cards become immune to opponents events.
 Sansa gets my favourite art of the pack award, and at cost 2 strength 4 she is cheap.  She also has the intrigue and power icons.  She gets a minus one strength for each stark character in your dead pile, and when her strength goes to 0 she gains insight.  House Tully Septon is cost 2, strength 2 with only the power icon.  His marshalling action though is discard 1 power from a character you control to reduce the next house Tully or the Seven character you play.  Its useful if you need one gold more to ge that card out, but otherwise I would want to keep it for the win.
 Rickon is a strength 1, cost 1 card witht he interrupt when an ability with the word "Search" in it would initiate sacrifice Rickon to cancel it.  This could be the opponent searching his deck for something for example.  Shaggydog is a 2 cost 3 strength card and boosts up Rickon, by giving him an extra 2 strength and the military icon.
 Winterfell is a 4 cost unique location that gives each Stark character + strength making this very powerful, and you can also kneel it as reaction after a challenge is initiated, which forces each player with a non winter plot revealed to be unable to trigger abilities until the end of the challenge.  ITs really useful with Old Nan who can of course make your plot into a winter one.

Winterfell Heart Tree is a 1 cost unique location with the reaction after a phase you can sacrifice it to stand a Stark card you control that then becomes immune to opponents plot effects.
 Nymeria is a 2 cost attachment that can go on a unique Stark character only.  It then grants that character intimidate.  There is also a very useful action that lets you pay a gold to move her to a different character once per phase so she can always be where she is needed. 

Needle is a 1 cost attachment that can go on stark chaarcters only, and gives them +2 strength.  IT also has an interrupt that when the attached character is sacrificed, sacrifice Needle to return he character to your hand instead.  This can be a game changer on some of your big characters like Eddard, BlackFish or Catelyn.

 Frozen solid is a  cost attachment that s a condition.  It can be used on non limited locations that cost 3 or less, and when attached you treat the locations text box as if it where blank.  This is great for shutting down their things, money making or any locations that may have been troubling you.

As hard as winter is a 1 cost event  that can only be used if their is a winter plot in your use pile.  As a reaction after a Stark character is killed you may put  another character with equal or lower printed cost from your hand into play.  This works well with the deck as a killed character gives Catelyn power, and this way you can replenish for free.
 The pack survives is a 0 cost event that is an interrupt when the effects of an opponents event would initiate you can sacrifice a direwolf, or kneel 2 starks to cancel the effects.

Aryas gift is a 0 cost event that as an action lets you move an attachment from one character to another, very useful to move needle to where it needs to be, or even moving a negative attachment from one of your powerful characters to a weaker one.
 House Baratheon gets 2 cards in this pack....  Motley is a 1 cost attachment for an opponents character only, which gives them the trait Fool, and the reaction that after the attached character is declared as an attacker or defender discard 1 card at random from its controllers hand.

Even handed justice is a 2 cost event that as an actin lets you choose a standing character controlled by each player and kneel them both.
 House Greyjoy get Fishwhiskers, a cost 5, strength 3 card with military and power icons on.  When he is attacking is there are more winter then summer plot cards revealed each defending character does not add its strength to that challenge.

Ahead of the tide is a 0 cost event that is an interrupt.  When you compare initiative on your plot card, your one gets +3 to that score, and if you win initiative draw a card.
 Nights watch get Stonesnake, a 5 cost strength 4 ranger with military icon and stealth.  His reaction is after he bypasses a character using stealth choose on that characters keywords, and gain it until the end of phase.  The Shadow Tower is a 1 cost location that has a reaction: after you win a challenge as the defending player, kneel it choose a character on the opponents side that can not be declared as an attacker this phase.
 House Martell gains Quentyn Martell,  who is cost 6, strength 4 with military and power icons.  When you are not the first player he also gains an extra strength and stealth too.  His interrupt is when he is killed, choose and kill a character with lower strength then him.

His Viper eyes is a 0 cost event that can be played when you lose a military or power challenge.  You look at the opponents hand and choose and discard 1 card which is very powerful.
 House Lannister (my favourite house) get the crossroads Sellsword which is cost 3 strength 2 with military and intrigue icons.  He has the interrupt when he is killed gain 2 gold, which can then be used to power all sorts of Lannister tricks.

Tower of the hand is a 3 cost location that gives the reaction after you win an intrigue challenge; kneel it to return a lannister character that participated in the challenge to your hand, and choose a character with lower cost controlled by your opponent to be returned to their hand as well.
 House Targaryen get Agoo, a Dothraki bloodrider that is cost 5, strength 4 with military and intrigue icons. He has the action if a summer plot card is revealed choose and stand a bloodrider character.

Dragon Sight is a 1 cost event that as can action each participating non dragon character in a challenge gets -1 strength until the end of challenge.
 House Tyrell gets an excellent piece of art in the House Florent Knight, who is cost 5, strength 3 with military and intrigue icons.  When he enters play choose a character with the lowest strength in play and discard them.  Be careful as this could well be your own character!

To the Rose Banner is a 0 cost event with a marshalling action that lets you choose a Tyrell character you control, and you gain X gold where X is that characters strength. Then you sacrifice that character.
For Neutrals we get Mance Rayder, cost 7 strength 5 with all 3 icons and Renown.  He lets each wilding card in your hand ambush for that cards cost, and if a winter plot is revealed you can reduce the ambush cost by 1.  This is a great card to see, as it will work leading a wildling theme deck.  Young spearwife is a cost 3 strength 2 character with military icons.  If you have less power then your opposition she gains stealth.
Tithe is a 0 cost event that as an action lets you kneel a neutral character to gain 2 gold.  This can be very good to get those extra gold to spend for something else vital you may need.
House Maester is a 2 cost 2 strength card with intrigue and power icons.  A nice cheap way to insert a Maester in your deck.  Tourney grounds is a 1 cost location that can be knelt as an action to reduce the cost of the next event by 1.
 Healing expertise works very well with the House Maester, by being a 0 cost event as an interrupt when an non army character would be killed kneel a Maester to save it.

Green dreams is a 0 cost attachment that has the reaction; after attached character is knelt look at the top card of the deck, you may then decide to place that card on the bottom of the deck.  Its great if you find the top card is useless you can get rid of it for now, or if its very good, you know what's coming and can plan for it.

You get 7 new plots in the pack, again 3 copies of each as the other cards.

A Time for wolves is a 3 income, 1 initiative 1 claim plot with a reserve of 6, and the very handy Winter keyword.  It is also House Stark only.  When its revealed search your deck for a direwolf, and if it costs 3 or less put it straight into play.

Fallen from Favor is a 7 cost 7 initiative 1 claim card with a reserve of 7, you get gold and high initiative but at the cost of having to sacrifice a character.
Snowed under is a 5 income, 0 initiative 1 claim 6 reserve winter plot, it also treats all other revealed plots initiative as 0 so handy to level the playing field.

The long winter is a 4 income 2 initiative 2 claim 4 reserve winter plot that when revealed any player without a summer plot revealed must discard one power from a card they control.
A song of Summer is a 5 income 3 initiative 1 claim card with a reserve of 6.  Its a summer plot, and when there are no winter plots revealed each character you control gets +1 strength.

Weapons at the door is a 3 income 9 initiative 1 claim plot with a reserve of 6.  This has the forced reaction when the challenges phase begins return each attachment card to its owners hand.
 Rangers Cache is a 3 income, 0 initiative 1 claim reserve 6 winter plot that provides you with an interrupt after the taxation phase of either gaining 3 gold or drawing 2 cards


All in all this is an excellent set and a must have for any House Stark fan, though you are getting some excellent neutrals and plot cards as well, so I think its really a must have for any A Game of Thrones LCG fan.  Having some deck lists to try in it is a great idea I hope to see more of, but this pack really lets you build a single faction Stark deck into a powerful beast, and by drawing in cards from the other expansions you can really tailor it to your style, so long as its not intrigue... Starks don't do that too well.

You can pick up your own pack to expand your choices with an RRP of £24.99 from your local game store
 
To learn more about A Game of Thrones the card game second edition take a look here
and check out our other articles with more to follow.


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