Eddard Stark: ” Look at me. You’re a Stark of Winterfell, you know our words. “
Arya Stark: “‘ Winter is coming’. “
Eddard Stark: ” You were born in the long summer, you’ve never known anything else. But now winter is truly coming. In the winter, we must protect ourselves, look after one another. ”
The noble House of Stark has held the North with an iron fist for many generations, without forgetting either its origins, which go back to the First Men, or its sense of loyalty and justice. Their immense territory provides them with the necessary resources and the strengths of their vassals Mallister, Mormont, Karstark, Umber and Bolton complement each other. The Starks are soldiers par excellence, renowned and feared on the battlefield, and they do not fear death. They are ready to face it to safeguard their honour, if necessary. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and cold is second nature to the Stark.
Winter is coming, they know it, and they are ready to look after each other to survive.
In Game of Thrones: The Card Game, military challenges are clearly the Starks’ main strength. Whether it’s Eddard Stark and his sons, their many vassals, their armies and of course the Werewolves, they have the arguments to win on the battlefield.
Their weakness is, of course, intrigue, as they do not pour into plots. Honour above all. Catelyn Stark and her two daughters Arya and Sansa can of course compensate a little for this shortcoming, but it will only mitigate the damage rather than giving the upper hand.
Most Stark strategies therefore rely on hitting fast and hard, to kill the opponent’s characters and thus prevent him from implementing his strategy. Moreover, Starks are tenacious, they can survive where others would give up, and are quick to exact revenge.
In the first edition, this is notably reflected in the fact that the Stalwart keyword is reserved for the Stark characters, allowing those with this keyword to return to the top of their owner’s deck when they are killed or discarded. In addition, they have many Deadly characters, another keyword unique to the first edition, to claim even more victims, even during power and plot challenges.
In the second edition, the two key words mentioned above no longer exist, but the Stark have many effects that allow them to maintain pressure on the opponent, by speeding up the raising of troops, standing them up or intervening as reinforcements in challenges. All the faction’s iconic cards, such as the famous Valyrian steel sword Ice, are still present, sometimes with some modifications.
First Edition Deck – Joust – The North Remembers
“Tell Lord Tywin Winter Is Coming For Him. Twenty Thousand Northerners Marching South To Find Out If He Really Does Sh*T Gold.” – Robb Stark
For honour and for revenge, lead the Stark ost in war with Robb Stark, the King in the North. Resolutely turned towards military challenges, this deck will allow you to crush your enemies with the many Army cards and other Deadly characters it contains, ideally played in conjunction with Gates of Winterfell.
Establishing military superiority is the key to this deck, as it will allow you to kill even more enemy characters by triggering many additional effects with Robb Stark, Ice, Routing the Charge, No Quarter and of course your many Deadly characters.
If that wasn’t enough, you’ll be able to retaliate in case of defeat with Arya Stark, ideally combined with Ice Catapult for even more victims, and drive the nail in with other effects that allow you to kill characters outside of the challenges, such as Bear Island, Kill for your King and Guilty!
Jason Mallister is another key card in this deck. By forcing your opponent to declare military challenges against you or risk having a dead man at the end of the turn, it exposes him to your military power and the aforementioned killing effects. He literally gets caught between a rock and a hard place! Placing an Icy Catapult on him is a good way of keeping Jason Mallister alive.
Finally, your victims and victories will be transformed into card draws thanks to Riders of Karhold and Harrenhal, or into extra power thanks to The House of Black and White, Rickard Karstark and The Blackfish.
When rubbing shoulders with the Starks you have to be sure of yourself, otherwise it’s extermination guaranteed!
First Edition Deck – Melee – The Treachery of the Bolton
“In my family we say: A naked man has few secrets; a flayed man, none.” – Roose Bolton
No one can forget the Purple Wedding and the betrayal of the Boltons. Fear the Boltons, for they are ruthless and untrustworthy.
This Stark deck is based on the House Bolton trait and on betrayal. Your House Bolton characters are very inexpensive, but will easily fall under the control of your opponents (The Bastard’s Elite, The Flayed Men, the Steelshank cards…) especially when you lose a challenge or hegemony, activating various fearsome effects in the process.
Terror in the Dungeons allows you to sacrifice one of them by taking a precious enemy character with him, while In Ramsay’s Name allows you to accumulate power over your characters who change sides. The Bastard of Bolton will enter the game for free.
Once your characters have accumulated power, regain control of them with Roose Bolton, drawing extra cards as you go through with The Dreadfort.
Still in the same spirit of betrayal, you can take back to your hand your characters who have passed under the control of the enemy to prevent him from using them against you, thanks to Fort Abandoned and the plots First Snow of Winter, Snowed In and Search and Repression.
Finally, Fortified Position can be used if necessary during a turn where you don’t want your characters to go back to the opponent.
This deck is quite technical, so it is complex to play but winning with it is simply enjoyable. It’s all about timing, you have to know how to betray at the right moment, like a real Bolton.
Second Edition Deck – The Wolves of Winter
“When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives,” – Sansa Stark
Winter is coming, and with it the hungry wolves that will devour the enemies of the Stark. This deck based on the keyword Winter and the Werewolf maps is specialised in the military, with a very fast recruitment capacity. Prepare for the coming winter by playing the Winter Reserves plot first, then recruit as many military cards as possible to relentlessly attack the enemy, ideally with plots with a claim value of 2.
The A Time for Wolves plot will, for example, allow you to deploy your wolves quickly, if you don’t already have them in hand or in case of a hard blow. All your plots have the keyword Winter in them, so Godswood will allow you to draw cards by winning challenges.
Bran Stark is important in this deck, allowing you to fare better in non-military challenges. If he gets killed, put Summer in play (possibly with A Time for Wolves) to get him back.
A good combination to put in place to ensure the death of the opposing characters is Wolves of the North + Grey Wind, the former diminishing the target’s strength while the latter will finish it off. You can also play Strangler on the most powerful opposing characters, leaving them paralysed by the fear of being devoured by Grey Wind.
Robb Stark is another very good card in this deck, along with the Renown keyword and of course standing all your characters if you suffer a loss. This works as well in counter-attack (if you didn’t win the initiative) as in defence, after attacking with all your might, to defend better or simply to win dominance.
In conclusion, a deck that is easy to play, that combines well, and that really hurts. Your opponents will have real difficulty implementing their strategy, especially if it relies less on speed. This deck is not the fastest, but even in the long run it is perfectly able to put constant pressure on the opponent.