“Lord Rodrik was seldom seen without a book in hand, be it in the privy, on the deck of his Sea Song, or whilst holding audience.”
–George R.R. Martin, A Feast for Crows
The brief peace that the Seven Kingdoms once enjoyed has long since been shattered. In the wake of the War of Five Kings, the Krakens of House Greyjoy sail the seas and launch raids against foreign shores. In King’s Landing, Aurane Waters, the Master of Ships, seeks to rebuild the royal fleet. Dorne sails across the Narrow Sea after overhearing rumors that dragons have returned to the world, and even the Night’s Watch finds itself in need of a fleet.
Now, as we await the arrival of The Great Fleet, and the deeper flavor it adds to each House’s naval presence, 2011 European Joust Champion Martí Foz Hernandez offers us a preview of one of the Chapter Pack’s most compelling characters, The Reader (The Great Fleet, 25).
Martí Foz Hernandez on The Reader
Back in November of 2011, I won the European Joust Championship for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, and that allowed me to work with the design team to design a card, which turned out to be a very interesting activity.
Getting started, I had a quite clear idea of what I wanted. First, I wanted to design a unique character from the book which still didn’t had a card, and, second, I wanted a House Greyjoy character. Why house Greyjoy? It’s my favorite House, and the Krakens really helped me to seize the throne at Stahleck. I also like them because they remind me of the Vikings, one of the most interesting of ancient civilizations.
The Reader came to mind because he is a strange character in the books, very different from the other Ironborn. Also, I like the fact that he really likes to read as I do, and I hope that he still has an important role to play in the Isles. I thought also that, as a character in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, he would be the ideal candidate to support House Greyjoy through two of their greater challenges: card draw and Intrigue struggles.
The final version of the card addresses all these ideas nicely, allowing Greyjoy to gain card draw in some occasions or to discard cards from your opponent’s deck. The Reader’s discard ability exists because I also wanted to add some good characters to the mill strategy. I always enjoyed the mill, but in my opinion the strategy has never been competitive. However, the discard effect is not easy to trigger and is limited to once per round, and that helps balance the card.
Reading More Closely
Let’s have a look at The Reader’s learned crest; it allows us to play Outwit (The Isle of Ravens, 80) and has absolutely great synergy with one of the best Greyjoy characters Maester Wendamyr (Kings of the Sea, 7). The Reader also has two traits. His Ironborn trait offers synergy with a good number of other Greyjoy cards. As for the House Harlaw trait, well, we’ll see…
When we think about The Reader’s icons, power, and the always-needed intrigue in Greyjoy, we have to consider the fact that The Reader is most often locked in his tower and not a great warrior. However, he is smart and well-known throughout the Isles. His strength of three means he is not easily burnt, and the naval enhancement on his Intrigue icon adds a lot of possibilities in the challenges phase. In combination with Longship Iron Victory (Kings of the Sea, 28) and Naval Escort (A Sword in the Darkness, 48), he can also be an amazing defender in Intrigue challenges.
In conclusion, The Reader was designed to be a well-rounded character that I hope each Kraken will consider adding to their decks and that can cover some of the House’s standard weak points.
The Reader reminds us that it’s not just the size of your fleet, but how you use it. A Game of Thrones: The Card Game is a game of strategy and tactics, not just of raw strength. Accordingly, fans of House Greyjoy will do well to consider adding this learned head of House Harlaw to their decks when The Great Fleet arrives. Until then, keep your eyes to the seas. The naval challenge enhancement is shaking up the current metagame, and you don’t want to be caught unprepared for the Krakens and their longships!