“Aegon the Conqueror brought fire and blood to Westeros, but afterward he gave them peace, prosperity, and justice. But all I have brought to Slaver's Bay is death and ruin. I have been more khal than queen, smashing and plundering, then moving on.”
–Daenerys, A Storm of Swords
So far, the naval () enhancement has taken center stage in the first two Chapter Packs from A Song of the Sea. We’ve seen a wealth of new characters, as well as new locations, events, and plots that create interesting interactions with the enhancement. We’ve also seen the cycle’s first new agenda, Black Sails (Reach of the Kraken, 18), and as we see the release of more and more cards with the enhancement, we’re more likely to see fleets of pirates and smugglers sailing along the coasts of Westeros, flying the Black Sails.
However, while the next Chapter Pack to be released, The Pirates of Lys, continues to introduce a few characters and several more cards that develop the enhancement, it also follows a couple of other, new currents. The Pirates of Lys inspires House loyalty with several events designed around different House words, and it entices players to win challenges by wide margins, as a number of the Chapter Pack’s cards reward players for winning challenges “by 4 or more.”
Fire and Blood
The Targaryens relied upon the strength and mobility of their dragons to conquer Westeros, and they honor their dragons in their House words, “Fire and blood.”
The game’s most recent cycle, Beyond the Narrow Sea, was the first to explore the events of the fifth novel in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga. Now, A Song of the Sea picks up where Beyond the Narrow Sea left off. Dragons have returned to the world, and they make Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons, a threat to rewrite the Seven Kingdoms with Fire and Blood (The Pirates of Lys, 57).
Fire and Blood grants a character two additional strength during the Challenges phase and then attaches to that character as a Boon, effects which both have plenty of precedent. That doesn’t, however, make the card any less effective or interesting. First of all, being able to muster extra strength out of thin air is always good. Generally, to win A Game of Thrones, you need to win challenges. Raising your strength generally leads to more victories. But Fire and Blood doesn’t just add to a character’s strength for a single challenge; it increases that character’s strength for the entire phase, meaning the more you can include that character in challenges, the greater impact the event has.
Second, once Fire and Blood attaches to its target, it prevents that target from being discarded from play. This ability is particularly useful in House Targaryen because it relies upon the assistance of so many Ally characters. In fact, House Targaryen counts more allies than any other House, excepting House Lannister, and Allies are notoriously fickle in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game as there are a number of commonly played cards that can discard Allies when they come into play or out of shadows. Not only can Fire and Blood prevent your Ally from being discarded, but simply because it becomes an attachment, it can protect a key character from Search and Detain (Here to Serve, 120). It can even reduce the amount of power you need to win the game if you play it to boost Viserys Targaryen (Kings of the Sea, 36).
Andrik the Unsmiling
If you follow the other current appearing in The Pirates of Lys, you might come upon Andrik the Unsmiling (The Pirates of Lys, 44). One of several cards with a Response that triggers if you win a challenge by four or more strength, Andrik the Unsmiling allows you to steal the top location in your opponent’s discard pile and put it into play under your control.
Of course, this only works if your opponent has a location in his discard pile, but the Greyjoys excel at sending locations to the discard pile. They can raid their opponents’ draw decks, and they can force targeted location removal with such cards as the Newly Made Lord (Tourney for the Hand, 16). Then, Andrik can swoop in with his warships to reave and plunder.
While Andrik’s ability isn’t the first to trigger off a victory “ by 4 or more,” it gains flexibility and potency from the enhancement he has on his Military icon. For example, if you declare a Military challenge, you don’t have to declare Andrik as an attacker until after you see how your opponent chooses to defend. If you’d lose the challenge whether or not Andrik participated, you can save him for a Power challenge. If joining the challenge via his enhancement would win the challenge, but not by four or more, then you can decide whether or not you want to save him for a Power challenge or force your opponent to fulfill the Military claim.
Drawn to Sea
Fire and Blood and Andrik the Unsmiling exemplify the new currents that The Pirates of Lys adds to the A Song of the Sea cycle. While the Chapter Pack continues to develop each House’s naval identity and add depth to the enhancement, these new currents help expand the game in multiple directions, simultaneously, adding richness and variety to your deck-building options.
Keep your eyes open for the new strategies this Chapter Pack helps to strengthen. The Pirates of Lys is scheduled to arrive at retailers next week!