City of Secrets – The King’s Landing Expansion, Chapter One
As David previously mentioned, the Game of Thrones LCG is not only available as a stand alone product, but you may also augment your collection with regularly released ‘chapter packs’ which tend to be built around a theme drawn from story lines inspired by the events in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. The packs are released at regular intervals in a series of six, and since the reboot of the card game, there has been one complete set released, as well as a set released using the new format before the release of the Core Set. The ‘Ravens’ block, being the first block in a post Core Set world, focused more on augmenting the qualities of the cards in the core set as well as addressing shortcomings in the lineup for each house and opposed to infusing it with a bevy of new gameplay possibilities. It also introduced a season mechanic with the use of different varieties of raven cards, but did not stray far at all from the idea of the core set, unlike the new series, based on the events and characters in King’s Landing.
The first chapter, “City of Secrets”, introduces into the game a new character crest, and with it a whole new mechanic, called the Shadows. Generally at GFG, we try to stay away from mechanics discussions, but as the Shadows are the core aspect of King’s Landing, I’ll go a bit further in depth than usual. The Shadows is an area in your play space where certain cards may be played for the cost of two gold. Cards with the Shadow crest (which looks like a curled up dragon in the shape of an eye) are played face down and are effectively out of play to all card effects (except, of course, those that refer to cards in the shadows). At the start of each phase of a game turn starting with the first player, each player may choose to bring a card out of the shadows for its ‘shadows cost.’ This is the value printed where the cost normally would be on other cards. Each of these cards has a special interaction with the Shadows to a certain extent. Arya Stark, for example, doesn’t join your dead pile when she is killed, instead returning to the shadows, to be played again as early as the next turn phase if you have the coin. Another example is Ser Barristan Selmy, who lets you lockdown a card from an opponents hand when he is revealed, preventing it from being played by anyone for the rest of the turn.
These effects at first glance might seem over powered, but consider the fact that most of the houses, except for House Lannister, in the Core Set tend to favor a fairly obvious strategy, with very little in terms of subterfuge tactics. The Shadows add a much needed boost to these straightforward decks, but they also give the sneakier houses, such as Martell and Lannister, some new toys. One card sure to find it’s way into my feared Lannister deck is Tunnels of the Red Keep, which gives +1 strength to characters for each card in the shadows. It is much easier for a Lannister to pay their debts when they can’t be resisted by those they owe their attention.
Of course, it will be interesting to see what happens with House Greyjoy, as next month they are receiving a beautiful big box expansion of their own, containing heaps of cards, a new gameplay variant, and a fancy resin house card. The combination of the two could send AGoT in a very interesting direction, especially when combined with the previously added season mechanic. If you want to learn more about the card game, we’ll be covering it in a Myriad Podcast soon, and we’d love to teach anyone in the area how to play.
We’ll also be live tweeting an AGoT Session this Friday. Details forthcoming!
Also, a reminder: the first volume of the print edition will be out in about a week! If you have anything you wish to contribute, please contact us. We’ll also be formally announcing next month’s articles, but you should expect to see things on Arkham Horror, Android, a few casual games, and possibly some old favorites from Wizards of the Coast. Maybe even a retro-review of HeroQuest. Stay tuned for more info.