“We never knew! But we must have known once. The Night’s Watch has forgotten its true purpose, Tarly. You don’t build a wall seven hundred feet high to keep savages in skins from stealing women. The Wall was made to guard the realms of men … and not against other men, which is all the wildlings are when you come right down to it. Too many years, Tarly, too many hundreds and thousands of years. We lost sight of the true enemy. And now he’s here, but we don’t know how to fight him.” – Jeor Mormont, also called Old Bear, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watchers
The Long Night. Lost in the darkness of a past so ancient that it is evoked more like a legend than anything else, it remains in the collective imagination the closest thing to absolute evil. Stories about the worst winter ever, the darkened sun and the army of the White Walkers are told by nannies to scare children. Yet it is the men who must fear its return. And it is the crows of the Night’s Watch who watch from the top of the 300 miles of the Wall for the return of a threat that many wrongly consider a fable.
Existing for about eight thousand years, the Night’s Watch is today only a shadow of its former self. Only three of its seventeen castles are still occupied, and its strength barely reaches a thousand men. Yet, whether we like it or not, it is a crucial element in the defense of Westeros against the threat from beyond the Wall. It is clear, therefore, that it has its place in Game of Thrones: the Card Game. For many of the Sworn Brothers of the Night’s Watch’s, the enemies are the Wildlings. But the truth is far worse…
In the first edition, the Night’s Watch is not a main faction, but there are many cards with the Night’s Watch trait, allowing for interesting Night’s Watch neutral decks. These cards are rather defensive, of course, as you will see with the deck presented below. On the other hand, the Wildlings are starving for better lands to seize to the south of the wall, and are more inclined to attack and take control of enemy locations. They also have skinchanger abilities, a power long-forgotten in the south but still a reality beyond the Wall, that allows someone to take control of a beast’s mind.
In the second edition, The Night’s Watch has become the eigth main faction, alongside the seven noble houses ruling Westeros. Again, it is a rather defensive faction with many effects to strengthen mutual aid between Sworn Brothers and also other interesting triggered by winning challenges as the defender. Indeed, the purpose of the Night’s Watch has never been to attack, but to defend The Wall at all costs…
First Edition Deck – Winter is coming at the Wall
“My father taught me big men fall just as quick as little ones if you put a sword through their hearts.“ – Jon Snow
The Night’s Watch has to defend the Wall at all costs. This defensive deck embodies that vow quite well, with many ways to build a strong defense that will never break against enemy assaults. In the meantime, the arrival of Winter will weaken your opponent but you were prepared for it. You have a lot of opportunities to refill your hand and to easily defend challenges, gaining power through Renown in the process.
The three The North agendas are an insanely powerful mechanic that will make your Sworn Brothers able to defend in any type of challenge in exchange of requiring more power points to win. But what is waiting for the Night’s Watch?
To help build your defenses, you need cards, and that’s what Samwell Tarly will do for you with the many Crow cards in the deck, such as the White Raven to trigger Winter, or the Carrion Bird, to bring back used Crow cards into your deck.
Other interesting cards with the Crow trait are two plots, to be played during turns when you have no Crow card in hand. The Raven’s Song is mostly useful when your opponent has a Summer-based strategy while The Lost Message is good to discard a powerful attachment.
Now, let’s get into the more interesting stuff. Now that you have a lot of cards in play, you probably have the key locations of the deck such as Castle Black to help mustering your Night’s Watch characters, and of course The Wall, that will allow to engage surprise defenders into challenges. The Shadow Tower is also a very good bonus to your strength in sensible challenges.
If you were lucky enough early game, you probably have played cheap characters such as Ranger of the Watch and Lost Ranger. With your agendas, these are insanely efficient cards to fill the field faster than your opponent.
Then, when you feel ready, for example after having played Ghost and/or Maester Aemon, you can play Jon Snow to have Renown on either Ghost or himself. Excellent.
If that wasn’t enough, equip Longclaw to Jon Snow, and now he really has Renown, which means two power per won challenge. In addition to that, you want to add First Ranger to another unique character. This would allow you to win a first challenge with Jon Snow, then win another with that First Ranger, and stand all your other Night’s Watch characters to attack, with Jon Snow leading them, of course.
Other ways to gain power are Qhorin Halfhand, who comes with a nice ability to kill enemy characters, and the Winter Festival plot.
Other noticeable characters are Stonesnake with his super Stealth and Coldhands, simply unkillable. Why would you ask for something else?
Well, actually, you could ask for the powerful Defenders of the North and deploy the full strength of the Night’s Watch. Of course the best way to use them is with The Wall. Have a couple of them in hand? Even better, use Passing the Wall which has the same effect.
At this point, your opponent should probably be disgusted enough to abandon before you slowly grind through his deck to get your 21 power.
First Edition Deck – The Wildlings
“Here’s me being honest with you, Jon Snow, which is more than you’ve ever done for me. My people have bled enough. We’re not here to conquer, we’re here to hide behind your Wall, just like you. We need your tunnel. Now, we both know that winter is coming, and if my people aren’t south of the Wall when it comes in earnest, we’ll all end up worse than dead. You want to strike a bargain with me? Here’s the bargain: you go back, you open the gates to us, and I swear to you that no one else will die. Refuse, and we’ll kill every last man at Castle Black. ” – Mance Rayder, King Beyond the Wall
Mance Rayder has united all the Free Folk beyond the Wall to bring them south, fleeing the upcoming dreadful threat represented by the White Walkers, in the search for a new home. His powerful troops will let no one stop them as it is a matter of survival. This offensive deck has for main mechanic to submerge the enemy under unending waves of attackers while seizing or disabling the enemy locations.
The threat of your Wildling characters is easily understandable by looking at the three The North Agendas featured in the deck. With them, all your Wildling characters have +1 Strength and Stealth! Of course, such powerful effects have a drawback.
You want to cripple your opponent’s economy as soon as possible, and to achieve that you have cards such as Climbing Spikes and Over the Wall.
It is better to attack first with this deck, therefore your plots have high initiative. Among them you’ll keep Treason at the Wall for when you want to know your opponent’s plot before choosing yours. This will ensure that you can play Storm of Swords and attack first, for example.
Good cards to start the fights are Crow Killers but also Rattleshirt’s Raiders who are very cheap. If you have Orell the Eagle, that’s also excellent as your opponent will struggle even more to defend against your attacks.
To muster your Wildling troops more easily, use Craster’s Keep and The Land Beyond the Wall.
To go full strength and not care about defending, you can choose to place Beyond the Wall. If you want to be more cautious, use Wildling Mead to stand your characters and attack again. In any case, attack with at least 8 Strength to be able to play Make an Example.
Mance Rayder will allow you to capture Kingdom locations and place power on them. Use Support of the Kingdom and The Price of War to capture or destroy even more enemy locations.
Skinchanger is an excellent card to adapt your forces to your enemy’s, while Varamyr Sixskins is perfect to put in play Wolves of the North without paying the extra 2 gold due to their Stark affiliation.
Your strongest cards to win challenges are Mammoth Riders, Mance’s Men and The Wildling Horde.
Last but not least, Formal Petition will reduce the amount of power you need to win, to compensate for the effect of your agendas. Play Battle at the Ruby Ford for an extra challenge at the end of the turn, and conquer Westeros!
Second Edition Deck – We Defend The Wall Alone
“When dead men come hunting in the night, do you think it matters who sits the Iron Throne?” – Old Bear Mormont to Jon Snow
The Night’s Watch has stood on the Wall for hundreds and even thousands of years, stubbornly and courageously fulfilling their duty. And they will stand again with this defensive deck, thanks to the Wall and the cunning of their Rangers. All you have to do to win is to defend all challenges, and ideally win them. Attacking is secondary.
The Wall is the key to victory. If you manage to keep it standing, it’s 2 power per turn. Moreover, Dolorous Edd will enter into play to defend in intrigue challenges while Old Bear Mormont will allow you to play a character for free if you don’t lose any defending challenge!
You also need a strong economy to play the expensive cards above, and this whould be achieved thanks to Littlefinger, the Trading with the Pentoshi plot and the Kingsroad.
To help you winning – or at least not losing – defending challenges, you have the For the Watch plot and cards such as Castle Black or Halder to strengthen a defending character.
A nice effects to trigger when winning a defending challenge is The Shadow Tower to prevent a character from attacking you. And if you could attach Longclaw to Old Bear Mormont, he will defend and possibly gain power in all your defending challenges, and then attack again.
Other effects to use when defending are The Watcher on the Walls to completely destroy your opponent’s military characters during a huge challenge, and The Hand’s Judgment to prevent your opponent from playing too dangerous events.
To protect your Lord Commander, use Maester Aemon, and if you don’t have it early game, go fetch it with the Here to Serve plot.
You have many Ranger characters in the deck, and the best of them is of course Benjen Stark, who protects other Rangers against Stealth and can take the hits, gain you 2 power, and come after a few turns. Excellent. Ser Waymar Royce can also take the hits if need be, weakening your opponent’s hand in the process.
Last but not least, hinder your opponent’s strategy by disabling his most dangerous characters with Milk of the Poppy and Craven.
With the Wall and Old Bear Mormont you will probably have enough power to win in a few successful turns, but in case that is not enough, use Winter Festival.