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The New Player Thread: Everything You Need to Know to Start Playing The AGoT LCG

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Welcome to the comprehensive new-player thread. The Game of Thrones card game started as a CCG (collectible card game) in 2002 designed by Fantasy Flight Games and based on the novels written by George R.R. Martin. In 2008 the game was rebooted as an LCG (living card game)(that's why some LCG cards have the old black border instead of white). Cards are now released in monthly chapter packs ($10-15) with a fixed distribution of 3 copies each of 20 different cards. The game can by played 1v1 ("joust" - usually more competitive) or with 3-6 players ("melee" - usually more casual, almost board-game style).

In the game players use customized decks to assume leadership of one of the great houses of Westeros vying for control of King's Landing and the Iron Throne. To achieve their goals, players launch military attacks against their opponents, undermine their opponents’ plans with intrigues of their own, and make brazen power plays to win the support of the realm.

Official Resources
FFG's Support Page
Video Tutorial
Basic Rules
The FAQ (includes the restricted list and eratta for tournament play, and the shadows and naval enhancement rules)
Participating In A Tournament

Which House Is For You?
The links in this section were penned in 2012, so they're one year old but still contain valuable information. The articles lay out the strengths and weaknesses, generally speaking, of each House.
For example, Baratheon is associated with rush because they can win power challenges and earn renown easily. However, Baratheon also has some control elements from its shadows and Asshai-themed cards, and recently Bara cards have focused on recursion from the discard pile.
Greyjoy and Stark excel at military challenges, but both are relatively poor at intrigue. Greyjoy can save its characters from being killed, discard cards from an opponent’s deck, cancel opponent’s effects, and create unopposed challenges. Greyjoy also features Raider characters and Warship locations. Stark, on the other hand, can search (“tutor”) for cards, defend challenges successfully, and benefits from winning military challenges.
Martell is known for their card advantage through “reveal” effects, for taking away challenge icons on opposing characters, and for dishing out punishment when you win a challenge against them.
Targaryen’s biggest theme is undeniably “burn”, which means reducing the strength of opposing characters and using effects that kill zero-strength characters. Targ also has Dragons and Dothraki. They’re probably the third best House for military might, and they have the best keyword in the game, ambush, to take advantage of influence-providing cards.
Lannister is all about draw, gold, kneel, and intrigue challenges. They boast top-notch card advantage and economy, they can control opponent’s characters primarily by kneeling them, and they can strip cards from the opponent’s hand. However, Lannister lacks renown and military and power icons, so they’re usually slow to win. You can’t have it all.

What To Buy First
The answer depends on a lot of variables. If you’re buying for yourself, and you want to a build competitive Joust deck quickly, then target packs with the most efficient (highest rated) cards. If you’re providing cards for an entire group that plays Melee, then focus on maintaining balance between each House.
If you’re unsure where you fit in that spectrum, it’s a good idea to play online first and get a feel for the game’s mechanics before committing to one House, theme, or archetype. You can also browse winning decklists, many of which are posted online, to get a feel for what works.
Whether you play Joust or Melee, it's a good idea to start with two Core Sets and each of the Deluxe Expansions, or at least the expansions for Houses that you want to represent. Then branch out to the chapter packs, and generally start with the newer packs over the older packs (due to slight power creep the newer cards are often, but not always, better).

The current card pool sits around 1300 cards, and 240 additional cards are added each year. There is no set rotation, but the LCG model means makes Thrones a relatively cheap investment. For $800-1,000 you can own 3 copies of every card in the game, which is much cheaper than comparable CCGs. Many players do not feel the need to purchase every chapter pack. Instead they borrow cards for tournaments and use proxies during casual play to fill gaps in their collection.

Browse The Cards
On Cardgamedb
On Agotcards

Browse Submitted Decks
On Cardgamedb
On Agotcards

Build Decks
On Cardgamedb
On Agotcards

Rules Questions & Answers
Quills & Tankards Articles
Rules Questions Forum
Valar Morghulis
Timing Structure

Playing Online
Online organized play is growing rapidly. There are currently bi-annual tournaments, a league, and an invitation-only tournament, all run by dcdennis.
OCTGN Thread with Downloads
OCTGN Installation Walkthrough
OCTGN Shortcuts
(No subscription necessary to play)
(Hold down shift to place cards facedown during setup or into shadows)

Strategy & Fan Sites
Deckbuilding 101
Card Advantage
Deck Archetypes
Article Archive
The Deck Threads
Casterly Rock
Wildfire Gaming

Podcasts
2 Champs 1 Chump Podcast (Every Friday)
Beyond the Wall (Every Monday)
Team Covenant

Watch Games With Commentary
JCWamma (his games are usually archived - look under 'Past Broadcasts')
dcdennis
Team Covenant

Find Players In Your Area
Meta Contacts

For a list of some of the best cards in the game, take a look at the restricted list found in the FAQ. Here are some of the top non-restricted cards to give you a feel for what each House can do.

Stark: Maester Luwin (FtC), Brienne of Tarth (PotS), Northern Cavalry Flank (SA), Harrenhal (ODG), To Be a Wolf (SB)
Lannister: Cersei Lannister (LotR), Tommen Baratheon (SA), Enslaved (THoBaW), A House Divided (WLL), Cersei's Scheme (TPoL)
Baratheon: Stannis Baratheon (VM), Dale Seaworth (AToTT), The Laughing Storm (GotC), Melisandre's Scheme (RotK)
Martell: Quentyn Martell (VD), Arianne Martell (PotS), The Red Viper (PotS), Ghaston Grey (FtC), Lost Oasis (AToT), Choosing the Spear (AJE)
Targaryen: Jhogo (OSaS), Young Griff (VD), Magister Illyrio (VM), Khal Drogo (Core), Meereen Tourney Grounds (ODG), Flame-Kissed (Core), Incinerate (VM)
Greyjoy: Victarion Greyjoy (RotK), Alannys Greyjoy (ODG), Wintertime Marauders (ACoS), Longship Iron Victory (KotS), To Be a Kraken (SB), Rise of the Kraken (KotS)
Neutral: Carrion Bird (TWoW), Syrio Forel (TftRK), Varys (SaS), Milk of the Poppy (Core), Nightmares (LoW), Desperate Measures (TCC), Condemned by the Council (AToT), Seductive Promise (Core)
Agendas: The Power Behind the Throne (LotR), The Siege of Winterfell (LoW), Knights of the Hollow Hill (MotM), Black Sails (RotK), The Maester's Path (GotC), House of Dreams (ARotD)

Understanding Player Actions and Responses:
In Thrones, there are no interrupts or "stacks" of effects that are resolved "last in, first out". Once an effect is initiated in this game, it resolves before almost anything else can be triggered (the exceptions are effects that specifically use the words "save" or "cancel").
Also, don't forget that abilities preceded by "Any Phase:", "Challenges:", "Marshalling:", "Response, " etc. are optional, but you do have a responsibility to remember to trigger those response abilities!

Draft Packs:
As of November 2013, FFG introduced special draft packs which allow players to hold draft tournaments. The LCG distribution model previously made drafting impossible. To draft, each player will need a reusable starter pack ($5) and a randomized draft pack ($15). I'm working on adding rules and additional information here, but in the meantime check out this thread.

Helpful Hints:
On Choosing Economy Locations

FFG's Timing:
We don't know exactly when the next chapter pack will be released. It's roughly every five weeks, but that's only a guideline. Sometimes there are delays for various reasons.  Same goes for the FAQ - there's usually an update about 3 times each year, but sometimes they're 7 months apart, sometimes only 2 or 3 months.

Previous FAQs were released on 14 October 2013, 23 July 2013, 27 February 2013, 11 October 201203 August 2012, 20 March 2012, 19 January 2012, 22 September 2011.

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