A Game of Thrones the Card Game Guarding the Realm Chapter pack unboxing and review

After the latest Deluxe set we are back into our regular chapter packs advancing the story in a game of
thrones, and here we have the Latest one... Guarding the Realm.  As Always we get 3 copies of each card and all the factions get some love too.

“The Second Sons are an old company, and not without valor, but under Mero they've turned near as bad as the Brave Companions.”
–Ser Jorah Mormont, A Storm of Swords

 As the Great Houses of Westeros scheme and plot their enemies’ demise, the last scion of House Targaryen slowly travels west across the continent of Essos. Daenerys’s path leads her towards the Iron Throne and King’s Landing, but many obstacles remain before her—starting with the garish, opulent cities of Slaver’s Bay. Astapor, Yunkai, Meereen: these are cities that have stood since the days of Old Valyria, growing fat off their foul trade in human lives. But everything is about to change for the Ghiscari, and lead your faction on a new path with Guarding the Realm.

Guarding the Realm, the second Chapter Pack in the Blood and Gold cycle for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, is now available at your local United States retailer and online through our webstore! Like the other packs of this cycle, Guarding the Realm follow the events of A Storm of Swords, bringing key characters like Melisandre and Wex Pyke of House Botley to the foreground. If you’re going to protect the realm, there’s always a price to pay… and with new economical options and the bestow keyword, it’s up to you whether you’ll pay in blood or in gold.

so lets pop it open, and take a look at the cards inside.....

Firstly lets talk about the new keyword...
With the onset of the Blood and Gold cycle, a new keyword—the first since the Core Set—enters the game. This keyword is “bestow,” and it gives you a new level of control over your card’s power level. 
For example, one of the first cards to feature the bestow keyword is the blind seneschal of House Martell, Ricasso (All Men Are Fools, 15). Ricasso costs three gold to play, but he also bears bestow (2), which means that when Ricasso enters play, you may move up to two gold from your gold pool to Ricasso. You’re never forced to move this gold, but once the gold is placed on a character, you cannot spend it and you’ll lose the gold if the character leaves play. Still, as we’ll see in a moment, bestowing gold on the right characters is always beneficial.
Placing gold on a card with bestow has no inherent effect, but the purpose of the gold is defined by the rest of the card’s text. In this case, Ricasso’s ability reads, “You are considered to have X additional plot cards in your used pile. X is the number of gold Ricasso has.” Obviously, bestowing gold on Ricasso has powerful implications for cards like Doran Martell (Core Set, 105), Doran's Game (Core Set, 119), and Starfall Cavalry (Called to Arms, 35), but it’s up to you to decide exactly how much you want to invest in Ricasso.

The Starks get the Bear Island Host.  4 cost, 4 strength, military and power icons with bestow 3.  For an action you can discard a  gold to choose a house Mormont character who then doesn't kneel when declared as a n attacker in the military challenge.

Marriage pact is a 3 cost attachment that is pretty good, as the attached character cannot participate in any challenges against you, so great for locking down big heroes, though of course, the downside is when the attached character leaves play you must sacrifice one of your own characters too.
The Tyrells get Knight of the reach 3 cost and strength with military and intrigue icons.  Also he gives you the reaction after you win a challenge in which he is alone, you can choose a lady character who gains a power  Great as power wins games.

Lord Renly`s Ride is a 1 cost event that as an action lets you pick a character who gains X strength and intimidate where X is the printed strength of the top character in your dead pile.  When played at the right time can prove brutal to power damage through or using intimidate take out a high power target from the challenge phase.
The Nights Watch get the 2 cost event, Guarding the Realm.  As a marshaling Action you can choose a character with cost 3 or less in the opponents discard pile and put it into play under your control.  It also has a handy reaction after you win a challenge where you can pay a gold to return it to your hand from the discard pile.

Gily is a 2 cost character with 1 strength, intrigue and power icons, and bestow 3.  As an action you can spend a gold from her to choose a steward character you control to gain stealth.

House Lannsiter get Polliver, 3 cost and strength with military and intrigue icons, as well as pillage.  As a reaction if he discards a character with pillage you can return 2 gold from the losing opponents gold pool to the treasury.  You don't get it, but it stops them using it.

The Hands Solar is a 2 cost location that has the actin kneel it to choose a character to gain an intrigue icon.
Baratheon get a new version of Melisandre, who comes in at a pricey 7, with 6 strength intrigue and power.  She also has insight.  Her reation though... brutal... After you win dominance, which is somethign you want to be doing with Baratheon, look at an opponents hand, choose and discard a card, if its a character it goes into the dead pile.... not the discard... the dead.... brutal.

Light of the Lord is a 2 cost attachment for Baratheon or R`hllor characters only and it lets you stand the character and gain a gold after the dominance phase begins, which works great with Melisandre adding her huge strength to dominance, and the hideous results that follow
Martell gets the Orphan of the Greenblood which is strength and cost 2, with power icon and bestow 3.  For her Action you can discard a gold to returna nother character you control to its owners hand.

Scorching Deserts is a 1 cost location that as a reaction after a character with less then 2 challenge icons is declared as an attacker or defender, you can kneel and sacrifice the desert to remove the character from the challenge, potentially letting you slip through and win the challenge.
Targaryens get the Second sons, they cost 3, with a strength of 6 military and power icons... seems a good deal right? well... until you see the interrupt.   When the challenbges phase ends, sacrifce the second sons, unless you discard a gold from it, so keeping it around for 3 rounds costs tou the original 3, and 3 more.. not really worth it i think, unless its a one use hit.

A dragon is no Slave is a 2 cost event, that has a challenge action.. choose a character with no attachments and they get -2 strength until the end of the phase, and then if you win a challenge with a dragon character, or Daenerys involved pay 1 gold to return it to your hand. Nice
House Greyjoy get the Iron islands market, a 2 cost location that can be knelt to gain a gold, 2 if there more then 8 cards in your opponents discard pile, so it will pay for itself pretty quickly.

Wex Pyke is a 2 cost and strength character with military and intrigue icons and bestow 8.  While he is attacking each character with a printed cost of X cant be declared as a defender, where X is the number of gold Wes has.  You can also move a gold to him in the dominance phase.  He looks to be good at shutting down big characters.
For Neutral cards we get the Great Hall, a 1 cost location that can be knelt to reduce the cost of unique character by 1, or 2 if they cost 6 or more.  Black Walder is a 4 cost 3 strength character with military and intrigue icons and bestow 3.  During your third challenge he gains renown and 2 more strength for each gold he has.

Lastly we have the Dornishmans Wife a 1 cost event that has the action that lets you choose an opponent.  If they have a higher power then you, gain 2 gold, if they have more cards in hand, gain 1 power, and if they have more characters draw a card.  Played at the right time this can pay for itself, and give you plenty more too.

One new plot appears in the pack.  The Annals of Castle Black its a 4 income and initiative 1 claim 7 reserve legacy card.  It lets each player play event cards from their discard pile as if they where in hand, but at the cost of removing them from the game.

This is another solid pack, some highlights are the new version of Melisandre, shes a beast! and the new type of cards letting you play them from the discard pile as well.  These kind of cards mean you will have to manage your money tighter to ensure you can, but if you have multiple targets for your gold, they can really confuse and surprise your opponent.

To learn more about A Game of Thrones the card game second edition take a look here
and check out our articles on Factions and plots to give you an idea of how they play, and take a look at some of the upcoming chapter packs that add more to your game.

Come and join us in all sorts of gaming chat in our Facebook group here, and come follow us on Twitter @rollyoursix join the chat, and tell us about your games!

Head on over to your local game store to pick this up with an RRP of £14.99 it will add plenty more to your game and make you once more take a look at the cards in your deck and tweak again.


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