A Gift from the Wall
Recently a deck called The Builders has come out in AGOT LCG. It topically seems degenerate, but in reality it is just a strong counter to a traditionally stagnant meta. Some people claim it is a NPE (negative player experience) deck, but perhaps that is just people being lazy in deck build. When it comes to shaking up a meta, this deck is causing a world-ending cataclysmic event. So today I want to look at how The Builders deck works and why decks like these are good for the game even if they come off as incredibly annoying.
Building a Wall, Literally
This game has a very active, smart, and clever community but for those who don’t know how the Builder deck works, I will explain.
- Get Brandon’s Gift on the board
- Play The Watch Has Need to get a ton of builders in hand.
- Chain The Gift with playing cheep builder units (Builder at the Wall, Sworn Brother, or Shadow Tower Mason) to around 3 extra gold a turn.
- Play Nights Watch locations like Abandoned Stronghold, The Haunted Forest, The Shadow Tower, and Castle Black to keep you defense strong.
- Control your opponents board with Craven and Milk of the Poppy.
- Reoccur and Tutor cards with Isle of Ravens and Castle Black Mason.
- Win on The Wall, Dominance, and random other Challenges.
The reason the deck is really brutal is that it has such a strong defensive board position it can withstand most challenges and still have enough left to win dominance. Another really huge reason it does well is that it is mostly reset proof, as in it can recover from most reset effects FAR faster than any other deck and doesn’t care about characters getting in the dead pile as most of them are not unique. You also end up getting a scary amount of gold to play most of your hand each turn making INT challenges less impactful, barring Rains and Lanny shenanigans. for this reason it can be seen as a deck that has high NPE and is terribly hard to beat. But looking at the meta more in depth, it seems like something else may be afoot.
A Clash of Kings
For the first year of its life AGOT 2nd edition suffered from a big character problem. This is not a problem with the card type character I just literally meant it was thought to get rid of high costed, high strength, unique characters. Then a wonderful card called Valar Morghulis came out. This card is an answer to swing with Fast Eddy or The Mountain and win. I understand it is not that simple, but Valar really upset a lot of the game and had people in a fit. It took a large shift in thinking to play against Valar and that is a good thing. This deck is the same but in a more ironic way, as Brandon’s Gift was pretty much universally panned when it was released. Funny to see it being the staple of such a powerful deck right now. Anyway the deck now puts Valar in a spot where it isn’t just something you can lay down and hope to win because you have more saves than you opponent. And very much unlike Valar this deck is tribal as hell. Valar can go in any deck, but it is really hard to get builder synergy to work in anything but Night’s Watch with a Fealty or KoS agenda, which in my mind makes it better.
If you can simply just slot in a card that shifts the meta in any situation you have probably designed the card wrong, especially in a game where factions do different and interesting things. A deck which is built that shifts a meta is a whole different thing, as it asks players to go outside their comfort zone to build against, which is overall good for the community. There are already really good decks coming out to battle against The Builders, and it is great to see some cards that never got play see some now!
Sledge Hammer Tactics
So how are some players combating The Builders while still maintaining their competitive edge?
- Banner Greyjoy allowing access to Sea Bitch and other location hate
- Play Targ for targeted burn and strength reduction effects and multiple military challenges
- Banner Stark for Frozen Solid, which basically makes the deck stop functioning.
- Play Tyrell and have just as much money and draw to keep up
- Play Martel and combo out the Viper for a one turn win (I will explain this in another article once I figure out how it works)
And of course you could always just play The Builders and tech against it :P.
People tend to freak out at first when a new deck comes on the scene that people are not ready for, but to be quite frank that was one of the best parts of first edition. Go to an event with a crazy new home brew that no one is expecting and win. This game is very prone to meta shake ups because of the multiple factions and strategies within it. If we start to ask for errata as soon as something unexpected happens, the game could end up in a worse place (see Star Wars LCG) by increasing barriers to entry. So next time you get beat by a randomly annoying deck ( I am looking at you no character Martell), just stop and think about how it could be beat and build your heart out! If you have any comments on other strategies to beat The Builders or any part of The Builders combo I left out, let me know in the comments. Living Card Guy out!