Hello again deer reader (oh a pun! so soon- Ed!)! This week we’re back in Westeros to have a glance at the mighty house Baratheon who have been widely claimed to be the best to build around. So what’s all the fuss about? Well the deck’s main focus is on controlling your opponent, sitting back and defending it’s dominance in the mid to late game and grinding out the win.
Seems like aggro would be the answer right? Rush in on the first few turns and gain superiority that way? Ironically that’s exactly why the Stag is so strong. Over the first couple of turns they’ll merrily concede some challenges, letting you build up a healthy lead, perhaps even losing some guys and starting to lose card advantage. Then they stabilise and when they do it’s crushing. Their strategy from this point is to stand you up and not make it worth challenging.
The reason that happens is quite simply Stannis and Robert. Roberts’ ability to be a humongous defender forces you to commit more guys than you’d like to one challenge and then they don’t get to stand at the end of the turn because of Stannis. From this point on the Baratheon player simply sits back. They have no requirement to win challenges as the Painted Table and Red Keep do all the hard work for them, drawing cards and stealing power. Should they look like they may lose their dominance they kneel one or two of your characters and hey presto it’s back in their hands.
Ah, but they haven’t got a lot of Intrigue characters! We’ll get them there I cried! Until I witnessed the power of Selyse. This seemingly unimpressive Unique at first glance looked to be just another trigger card for Melisandre but is in fact a brilliant defence against Intrigue challenges, again forcing a dangerous over committal to press home that Tears of Lys (note – only do this if your opponent has zero gold, leave nothing to chance).
Maester Cressen allows them to deal with Milk of the Poppy and they have no shortage of meat shield cards in case of the occasional Military challenge. Seen in Flames completes the absurdity by giving them access to targeted discard and vital information.
So are they furious? Hardly, they seem to be pretty calm and collected to me. Are they unbeatable? Of course not; there are a decent amount of cards that are useful against them and there are good strategies to unhinge the deck. The key target for any form of character removal has to be Stannis, his ability is key to the deck functioning and removing him early is a massive bonus. Put to the Torch is pretty good (and if you’re Greyjoy – We Do Not Sow) as long as you burn down the Painted Table as a matter of priority. Varys is a shoe in for any deck just so that he can blast the board and hopefully you’ll grab ascendancy in the aftermath.
The Baratheon deck is incredibly strong though; with access to card draw, excellent mid to late game (which is where it counts) and resilience to removal so the stag will show up at the top table of events for the near future at least! This dominance will fade away in time as the other houses gain access to cards that can allow their strengths to shine (and some like Martell aren’t that far off anyway). My advice is to try out Baratheon kneel if only to see where it’s few weaknesses are!
Well I think that’s quite enough my ramblings for one week! See you next time – Mark!