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Break it Down: Black Sails


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#1 mdc273

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 04:56 AM

The Text

"When you reveal Black Sails as your agenda, shuffle your deck and cut it into 2 stacks. Then, the opponent to your left chooses one stack to be The Hold, which is out of play. The other stack is your draw deck.

Response: After you win a challenge in which you had at least 1 [Naval] attacker, choose 1 card from The Hold. At the end of the phase, add it to your hand (Limit once per phase.)"

What are the implications of this card and is it good card design?

The Negatives

At first glance, the negative is the loss of ~30 cards from your deck. This means that critical cards for your deck could be out of play and in the hold. Ultimately, what decks does this impact? It impacts any deck that could already search itself for a card. Here are the list of cards with search effects that are ultimately impacted by this negative:

  • A Time for Ravens - A card that does not necessarily fit the Black Sails archetype
  • A United Cause - A purely melee card exclusive to Stark and Bara
  • Abandoned Forge - A card that sees no play in my local meta
  • Aeron Damphair - See above
  • At the Gates - An inherently good card
  • Bound by the Light - I literally didn't know this card existed. I've never seen it.
  • Bran the Builder's Legacy - I have never seen this card played
  • Building Season - A mostly melee card
  • Campfire Lights - I've never seen this card played
  • Dance with Dragons - A fairly good card in a deck archetype that is not currently considered top tier
  • Depleted Host - I've only seen this card used to search for Riders of the Red Fork and there are simply better cards
  • Family, Duty, Honor - If you're playing enough Tully's to run this card the odds are good you will see them even with half your deck missing
  • Harried by Dragons - A decent card
  • Heralds - These generally see little play, but have been seeing test play in my meta
  • Jeyne Westerling - A good card that is significantly impacted
  • Khal Drogo - A good card that is significantly impacted
  • Muster - A card that I rarely see played
  • No Use for Grief - A gimmick card that rarely sees play
  • Red Warlock - I see this played, but am not sure how broadly applicable it is
  • Rhaegal - A good card, but in a weak archetype
  • Riders of the Red Fork - Can get stuck in the hold in non-Stark decks
  • Spending the Winter Stores - A card I rarely see played
  • Summoning Season - A mainly melee card
  • To Be a Wolf - Probably the most powerful and best search effect in the game
  • Widow's Watch - I never see this played
  • Winterfell Kennels - I occasionally see this played, but it is in a weak archetype
  • Wolf Dreams - See above
  • Yoren's Task - I didn't even know this existed

As can be seen there are about 28 cards in the entire game that are significantly affected by "The Hold". 1 of these cards is ubiquitously good, At the Gates. 1 card could be considered core to a faction, To Be a Wolf. Several cards are melee cards. Several cards are Stark and Targ cards. Ultimately, this aspect of the negative is effectively non-existent.

The next consideration is the fact that you have only a ~30 card deck. Assuming you have an average flop of 4 cards, at the end of the first turn (with no additional draw) you will have seen 13 cards. If you draw 2 cards per turn it will take 9 turns to deck yourself. 3 cards per turn will take 6 turns. 4 cards per turn will take 5 turns. This means over the course of the game you will only get to use 35 - 39 cards from your deck assuming you do not play the plot that comes with it and you have a naval card each turn to set off the agenda. I do not recall a large number of games coming down to me having 20 or less cards in my deck. You are guarantted at least 1 naval icon if you play the plot that comes in the same pack. This negative doesn't seem like it would apply in a majority of games, but this may be inaccurate and be a point for discussion.

The final consideration is that you can not run another Agenda with Black Sails

The Positives

If you have and can win a challenge with 1 attacking naval character per turn you will be able to choose 5 - 9 cards from the bottom half of your deck to add to your hand. Dependent on card distribution and a critical mass of naval support, this should ultimately pan out to mean that you can get any 5 - 9 cards in your deck guaranteed per game. Additionally, I can imagine people making Epic Battle decks focused on using the agenda multiple times a turn, though the top tier competitiveness of a deck like this will be unknown.

You guaranteed get 1 character of your choice from the bottom half of your deck if you play the associated plot. This will either be the naval character to ensure the Agenda works or a character you want (unless you are really unlucky).

The Conclusion

This cards ultimate weakness is the shortened deck and the fact that it takes your agenda slot. Is the shortened deck a true weakness? That is likely up for debate. If the ultimate intent was to make a card that guaranteed you saw a certain number of cards from your deck, the card design was a success. If there was intent to create an agenda with a significant drawback to go with a significant benefit, the drawback is minimal. The benefits could, ironically, play out as equally minimal, but only actual play of the card will be able to determine that. Additionally, this could see a rise in play of some of the Epic Battle cards as well as see larger decks enter the meta. This may be the first deck archetype that chooses to go over the 60 card limit for more reasons than simple indecision on cards to cut. That additional 10 - 20 cards could override the negative of the inherently smaller deck.

Let me know if I missed anything.

Edit: Removed Maege Mormont as she naturally conflicts with agendas. Added Riders of the Red Fork for non-Stark decks.



#2 Bomb

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 05:38 AM

One quick note. This affects mulligans as well. There is a much better chance that you will mulligan into the same cards you wanted to replace with a mulligan. I also want to point out that you should be able to look at the contents of your hold, which means you will know what your deck will consist of. You can then play plots and other cards knowing what you will be drawing into based on that information.

#3 Ire

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 06:32 AM

Actually with Damphair this isn't so bad as you can keep on killing H characters that go to the bottom of the deck so that your deck will not run dry. Atleast I see myself trying this out, too bad it doesn't go well with the selfmill Holy guy.

From my first few plays with this agenda I can see the power behind it and I'm not feeling like I am wasting an agenda slot with it. I would also imagine that it will just get better with time since now we have so little amount of Naval characters. Ultimately really good first impression on me.



#4 playgroundpsychotic

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 11:36 AM

I'm not sure what you're getting at with the impacted cards list.

For example, Maege Mormont can not be impacted by Black Sails because you will never use the two of them together due to Maege's limitation.

Khal Drogo could be limited but if a Targ Sails deck comes together its highly unlikely it'll have any Dothraki beyond the ubiquitious Jhogo and Refugees. It could be even possible that the Targ variant of this deck might be a poor military deck further limiting any Dothraki in the deck.

Even the best card, At The Gates, may not be too limited since Maesters and Naval decks may not work together properly. Admittedly some of the better Maester's (ex Luwin) work well in any deck. Further, I wouldn't be bothered by seeing a new Chain attachement that works with Naval challenges.

I think the only useful card that is genuinely boned by the Black Sails is Riders of the Red Fork. If any get stuck in the Hold, they're likely stuck there.



#5 Skowza

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 07:51 PM

playgroundpsychotic said:

I think the only useful card that is genuinely boned by the Black Sails is Riders of the Red Fork. If any get stuck in the Hold, they're likely stuck there.

Core Rhaegal won't be happy either.



#6 Skowza

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 07:52 PM

Also, no mention of Val?



#7 stormwolf27

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 12:57 AM

Bomb said:

One quick note. This affects mulligans as well. There is a much better chance that you will mulligan into the same cards you wanted to replace with a mulligan. I also want to point out that you should be able to look at the contents of your hold, which means you will know what your deck will consist of. You can then play plots and other cards knowing what you will be drawing into based on that information.

Beat me to it. Yes, from the wording on the agenda and the associated plot, I'm of the belief that you have the freedom to look at/through your "hold" at any point after the appropriate stack has been chosen by your opponent.

Affecting mulligans is true, but, knowing what is in your hold can help change your mind if you would normally throw away that 3-card setup and you see that 2/3 of your prime setup cards are in the hold.


"A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men." - Willy Wonka


#8 mdc273

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 10:49 AM

playgroundpsychotic said:

I'm not sure what you're getting at with the impacted cards list.

For example, Maege Mormont can not be impacted by Black Sails because you will never use the two of them together due to Maege's limitation.

Khal Drogo could be limited but if a Targ Sails deck comes together its highly unlikely it'll have any Dothraki beyond the ubiquitious Jhogo and Refugees. It could be even possible that the Targ variant of this deck might be a poor military deck further limiting any Dothraki in the deck.

Even the best card, At The Gates, may not be too limited since Maesters and Naval decks may not work together properly. Admittedly some of the better Maester's (ex Luwin) work well in any deck. Further, I wouldn't be bothered by seeing a new Chain attachement that works with Naval challenges.

I think the only useful card that is genuinely boned by the Black Sails is Riders of the Red Fork. If any get stuck in the Hold, they're likely stuck there.

I am getting at nothing and simply making an objective statement on what cards are impacted. Your point, however, is what I was hoping someone would make. These are not negatives, so what is the negative of this agenda other than being unable to play a different agenda?



#9 mdc273

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 11:04 AM

Skowza said:

Also, no mention of Val?

Well Val falls under draw. How are you thinking she would be directly affected other than the 8 turns if max draw?



#10 playgroundpsychotic

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 11:59 AM

mdc273 said:

I am getting at nothing and simply making an objective statement on what cards are impacted. Your point, however, is what I was hoping someone would make. These are not negatives, so what is the negative of this agenda other than being unable to play a different agenda?

I am of the opinion this agenda should've appeared no sooner than CP3 of the cycle. The downsides are obvious. First, you're vulnerable to mill. This can be addressed by recursion (a subtheme of this cycle) and power rushing. Second, you're vulnerable to challenge control. With TMP you have some ability to resist control and you're not required to win on the attack with a specific character. Black Sails requires you to win on attack with a naval character. This can be addressed by having a variety of naval characters but its too earlier to tell how good these characters are. Further, it might be possible that each House is designed with a Naval "gap" in their icon spreads. I think that's where the truly vulnerable part of Black Sails will sit.



#11 ccgtrader99

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 01:27 PM

Im happy a new agenda is out, but i highly doubt mill is an answer. That deck (mill) is terrible. I think few players would risk bad matchups 80 percent of the time to try to counter one agenda.

#12 stormwolf27

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 07:01 PM

playgroundpsychotic said:

I am of the opinion this agenda should've appeared no sooner than CP3 of the cycle. The downsides are obvious. First, you're vulnerable to mill. This can be addressed by recursion (a subtheme of this cycle) and power rushing. Second, you're vulnerable to challenge control. With TMP you have some ability to resist control and you're not required to win on the attack with a specific character. Black Sails requires you to win on attack with a naval character. This can be addressed by having a variety of naval characters but its too earlier to tell how good these characters are. Further, it might be possible that each House is designed with a Naval "gap" in their icon spreads. I think that's where the truly vulnerable part of Black Sails will sit.

I concur. This plot should have not seen the light of day till a few more supports were in the pool.

Also, to further complicate things, in order for a character to be considered a [naval] attacker or defender, they must enter the challenge through the new mechanic.

So, to make the agenda work, you have to have at least one other character with the same icon as the [naval enhancement] icon to initiate the challenge with.

In other words, if Victarion (the new one) and Aeron Damphair (take your pick) are your only two characters on the board, Victarion being declared as the initiating attacker in a MIL challenge does not qualify him to trigger the Black Sails, even if you win.


"A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men." - Willy Wonka


#13 mdc273

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 07:20 AM

playgroundpsychotic said:

mdc273 said:

I am getting at nothing and simply making an objective statement on what cards are impacted. Your point, however, is what I was hoping someone would make. These are not negatives, so what is the negative of this agenda other than being unable to play a different agenda?

 

I am of the opinion this agenda should've appeared no sooner than CP3 of the cycle. The downsides are obvious. First, you're vulnerable to mill. This can be addressed by recursion (a subtheme of this cycle) and power rushing. Second, you're vulnerable to challenge control. With TMP you have some ability to resist control and you're not required to win on the attack with a specific character. Black Sails requires you to win on attack with a naval character. This can be addressed by having a variety of naval characters but its too earlier to tell how good these characters are. Further, it might be possible that each House is designed with a Naval "gap" in their icon spreads. I think that's where the truly vulnerable part of Black Sails will sit.

I should add the mill with the caveat that it's an intentional hard counter that should have minimal chance of success in tier 1 competition.

With regards to challenge control, you are no more vulnerable to it than any other deck. You do "lose" more (which is inaccurate as you just don't gain what you wanted) when challenge control hits, but that weakness is not inherent to the agenda. The agenda does not create a feedback loop by which challenge control can unwind your deck.

Your comparison to TMP is a good one, but I was not looking to compare it to existing agendas in this straight up analysis. I intend on creating another thread that looks at the comparative power levels of agendas at some point.

A naval gap is an inconsistent weakness. You have to win a challenge with a naval icon, which is a less specific condition than "win with a P naval icon". It does present the fact that when your naval icons are a mismatch for your opponent that you may be at a further disadvantage, though. I'll add that, too.



#14 playgroundpsychotic

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 09:04 AM

mdc273 said:

With regards to challenge control, you are no more vulnerable to it than any other deck. You do "lose" more (which is inaccurate as you just don't gain what you wanted) when challenge control hits, but that weakness is not inherent to the agenda. The agenda does not create a feedback loop by which challenge control can unwind your deck.

Your comparison to TMP is a good one, but I was not looking to compare it to existing agendas in this straight up analysis. I intend on creating another thread that looks at the comparative power levels of agendas at some point.

I made the comparison to TMP because they're agenda's that derive card advantage from winning challenges. Other agenda's require challenge wins but are often power related and are easier to meet. Black Sails has the most difficult challenge requirement of all agenda's (discounting some chargenda's) requiring specific characters doing specific things. Granted the end effect is very good so I won't say its unbalanced. Its a riskier deck type than something like KotR in my opinion but its better than simple draw.

It also occurs to me the agenda is well suited to running post-challenge events. There are a few good ones available but if some interesting events are added to the game this could increase Black Sail's power since it will quickly search them out.



#15 Skowza

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 02:19 PM

mdc273 said:

Skowza said:

 

Also, no mention of Val?

 

 

Well Val falls under draw. How are you thinking she would be directly affected other than the 8 turns if max draw?

I just thought she deserved mentioning, since I think its extremely unlikely anyone will ever run her with this Agenda; she'd be almost completely useless after a few Rounds.  Assuming a 4-5 card setup (sounds pretty average to me) with a normal 60-card deck and an even split on the deck/hold, you'd only have about 16 cards left in the deck when you get to Round 1 Marshalling, and thats if you arent using any other draw mechanics.  Black Sails is the first card I can think of that immediately eliminates one of the restricted cards as a possibility when deckbuilding.



#16 Moneylender

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 01:54 AM

"I just thought she deserved mentioning, since I think its extremely unlikely anyone will ever run her with this Agenda; she'd be almost completely useless after a few Rounds.  Assuming a 4-5 card setup (sounds pretty average to me) with a normal 60-card deck and an even split on the deck/hold, you'd only have about 16 cards left in the deck when you get to Round 1 Marshalling, and thats if you arent using any other draw mechanics.  Black Sails is the first card I can think of that immediately eliminates one of the restricted cards as a possibility when deckbuilding."

 

Surprisingly when friend of mine saw the agenda and the search plot, his first thought was to play it with Val.

It even makes sense: since you´ll deck yourself if you play a long game, why not build an cheap agressive deck with afew power cards, search for Val first round and just spam the board. you just need a good plan for the following reset and such, but thats already deckbuilding.

But having a guaranteed Val in the first round sounds pretty solid to me.



#17 mdc273

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 08:19 AM

playgroundpsychotic said:

I made the comparison to TMP because they're agenda's that derive card advantage from winning challenges. Other agenda's require challenge wins but are often power related and are easier to meet. Black Sails has the most difficult challenge requirement of all agenda's (discounting some chargenda's) requiring specific characters doing specific things. Granted the end effect is very good so I won't say its unbalanced. Its a riskier deck type than something like KotR in my opinion but its better than simple draw.

It also occurs to me the agenda is well suited to running post-challenge events. There are a few good ones available but if some interesting events are added to the game this could increase Black Sail's power since it will quickly search them out.

The flip-side of a comparison to TMP is that this deck can not be absolutely prevented from winning because it can not win a challenge, whereas TMP can. Ultimately, the deck will still function as a normal deck would without winning any challenges, it will just be a smaller deck. TMP will not function as a normal deck as it literally is prevented from winning. This may be reductio ad absurdum, but it illustrates the difference.

As for post-challenge events, absolutely. I play Stark so my first thought was instant Bear Island or instant Harrenhal, though, haha. It would be pretty amusing to get a Guilty out of Stark… Interesting. Wow, that actually fixes one of the biggest weaknesses of running events in Stark…



#18 mdc273

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 08:58 AM

Copying this from another thread as it's a good piece of information for reference. I'm not gonna put it in quotes since I said it, haha.

If you want to get a naval icon, you will. It just depends on how much you want it. If you have 9 characters with a naval icon in your deck, you have a 90% chance of drawing one on the first turn (with a 4 card set-up). If you have 6 (which every deck can currently do) you have a 78.6% chance. This can be extrapolated out to say that you have a 95.4% chance of having a naval icon in the top 13 cards or bottom 13 cards. This means that if you are running Naval Reinforcements, it is extremely unlikely (<5% chance) to not have a naval icon in hand during the Marshalling phase of the first turn to take advantage of the agenda's ability.



#19 playgroundpsychotic

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 09:26 AM

mdc273 said:

As for post-challenge events, absolutely. I play Stark so my first thought was instant Bear Island or instant Harrenhal, though, haha. It would be pretty amusing to get a Guilty out of Stark… Interesting. Wow, that actually fixes one of the biggest weaknesses of running events in Stark…

Its advantageous to play epic battles with this agenda with the additional upside that you can search for them for the next round. If you draw them normally you run the risk of losing them before next turn's plot phase.

From a purely thematic perspective, a Black Sails deck that uses Kingsmoot would be cool.



#20 mdc273

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 07:25 AM

playgroundpsychotic said:

….

Its advantageous to play epic battles with this agenda with the additional upside that you can search for them for the next round. If you draw them normally you run the risk of losing them before next turn's plot phase.

From a purely thematic perspective, a Black Sails deck that uses Kingsmoot would be cool.

Hah!!! I always did want to make an Epic Battles deck and the only reason I didn't was because my Stark deck can't hold onto cards. If I drew one during the draw phase, it was effectively dead. Very interesting how this expands the playability of non-challenge cards. I wonder if it was an intended effect or just a side effect of them not wanting people to search for things like No Quarter and Terminal Schemes.






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