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|We defend the Wall alone||33||22||21||3.0|
|Defending (Slightly) Differently to Joe - 3rd Place Summer G||2||1||8||1.0|
|Defend the Wall||0||0||0||1.0|
|We defend the Wall alone (Valar Edition)||46||33||30||5.0|
|The first ranger||0||0||0||1.0|
Joe From Cincinnati 1649
While it is the same faction and the same agenda, this deck plays differently from previous versions of “We Defend the Wall Alone.” I considered publishing it as a different deck here on Thronesdb but, after testing, I found it to be superior to the previous iterations of “We Defend the Wall Alone” in just about every way.
Be warned. There is a TON written below. So if you don’t want to know the origins of the changes in play style, you can skip to the + and – section. Or you can just not read this at all. I guess. I mean…I worked hard on this but…it’s cool…
What are the major changes you ask? Well, let me first start by saying that the primary change, the one involving the plot deck, is NOT my original idea. Many of you may recognize the plot deck (except for 1 minor change) is the same as the one used by Tamás Albeck to win Varberg Morghulis. Yes, I’m copying the work of a player vastly superior to myself. The idea of running two copies of Counting Coppers is something that never even crossed my mind. But, in hindsight, it makes perfect sense. I was still a little skeptical going into testing, but I was surprised how much better the deck runs when you’re holding 6 to 10 cards each turn.
It does require a bit more skill, since you’ll be managing a lot more cards with a little less gold but it is still a Wall deck and the primary goal of getting the Wall out and defending it hasn’t changed. The dynamics of the deck have changed, but that’s only because of the aforementioned management of the cards in your hand and the decisions on what to play, what to discard to gain gold (with Old Forest Hunter) and what takes priority over what.
The other major change, (that I came up with by myself :P) , is the inclusion of the two cards that were released in the 2nd chapter pack of the cycle; Dolorous Edd and Craven. These two cards are so incredible; they basically revolutionized the way Night’s Watch is played. I am planning on writing an article about it, but I haven’t even written an outline yet, so I’m not sure if there’s a whole article there. This may even become the first draft for that article. We’ll see.
Before I get into the details of what I added/removed and why, I wanted to also note that several of the changes I made to the deck were based on nearly endless discussions and theory crafting with a gentleman known as @Action_Johnny (He goes by Daye Kaniel on Facebook…also not his real name). He is one of the hosts of the podcast Decklist and Chill, where he and a few of his mates from Ye Olde Englande discuss various deck types and go into detail about what they include and how they came to those decisions. Kind of like this description, but in podcast form. They are two episodes in and you can find those episodes here: https://www.blubrry.com/decklist_chill/
I think he goes by the name Dan on that podcast...He's an enigma when it comes to names.
He has tested the deck as much as me, if not more, and a lot of the card decisions have been based off his experiences in game as well as mine. I am no longer the island that I once was. There are finally people to talk to about the Night’s Watch! :D
Now, on to the details of what changed. There’s a lot. We’ll start with the plots.
As I mentioned above, this is probably the largest change in terms of play style. Instead of looking at the top 10 cards of the deck for the Wall, with Building Orders, you instead draw 3 additional cards. This way, you don’t end up looking at the top 10 cards of your deck, see that you would have top decked the Wall and a Craven and get annoyed that you now have to choose between the two. It also provides the benefit of more options. Building Orders nets you 1 specific card, Counting Coppers nets you 3 not as specific cards. It’s a plot that, for all intents and purposes, draws you 5 cards in that turn. This not only gives you more opportunity to see your economy, like Rose Road and King’s Road, but also gives you more opportunities to draw your Benjens, your Cravens, your Milks, your Messenger Ravens or whatever else you need to draw to win the turn. I can see an argument for 1x CC and 1x Building Orders, and it was something I was pondering a bit, but I’ve been so satisfied with the way the deck runs with 2x CC, that I decided to not even test 1 and 1. If you want to, I’m sure it’ll work out fine. I will note that 2x CC does slow down how quickly you get the Wall in some games, but that’s the trade off you pay for having access to so many more options. I’ve found it to be worth it.
I also removed Confiscation because, as you’ll see, the deck is a lot less focused on Old Bear Mormont. So if Mormont is Milked, it’s just something you have to deal with. He’s still a 6 strength bicon, so it’s not the end of the world. I’ve found in my games that you don’t need Mormont to win, so removing negative attachments isn’t a big deal. Again, if you feel like you need this, then you are more than welcome to test it. I found it to be a dead plot more often than not with this reconfiguration of the deck.
Winter Festival or Feast for Crows. You could do either. They both serve approximately the same purpose. Good economy and additional power gain. Both relatively low initiative and the requirement for the power gain is different. I chose Winter Festival over Feast for Crows because, with Kings of Winter running around, reserve has become a very important stat. Having a plot with 4 reserve hurts, nothing much else to say here. The power gain is great and having a Winter plot to combat Winterfell can really help keep your board state alive on that one turn you really need it. A lot of things to consider, though the choice depends on your meta.
The House Maester was added because, if I don’t use Here to Serve early on and already had Aemon out, I’d have a second target to go grab when I played Here to Serve late in the game.
I play Here to Serve on turn 1 or 2 pretty much every game now. The only time I ever chose to fetch House Maester was when my turn 1 hand had both copies of Maester Aemon in it (Really wish Here to Serve allowed you to play a Maester from your deck or hand). This has not happened enough times to warrant a slot, let alone a neutral slot, for an otherwise mediocre character, so I dropped him.
The Unsworn Apprentice, theoretically, was greatest for his versatility, but I found that I don’t have much use for him now as my icon distribution has become extremely even over the last 2 chapter packs (thank you Arry and Edd!).
Adding two Dolorous Edd has been great because, not only is he an unexpected trick, but he is also a 4 strength intrigue icon when the Wall is out. This makes getting unopposed on you more difficult but also makes it so that you can more easily protect the hand that you are now working so hard to build up with the Counting Coppers. Sometimes it sucks having to save your faction kneel for him, but it’s a small trade for a recurring character that can win you intrigue several turns in a row. You can bounce him back to hand after winning, giving you another opportunity to drop him out next turn, frustrating your opponent’s math or you can leave him on the field if you want, in which case you get 3 gold for the cost of a faction kneel. Not bad for the econ of the deck!
Another big change was going back up to 3x Old Forest Hunters. This goes in tandem with Counting Coppers, as well as another addition in the event section (Watcher on the Walls ). Keep in mind, there’s an action window in the plot phase, in the draw phase and in the marshaling phase. So, if you’re swimming in cards – a high probability with 2x Counting Coppers, 3x Messenger Ravens, 2x Arry, 2x Sam, 1x Will, 1x Littlefinger and 2x The Watch Has Need – throwing one of them away for a gold suddenly becomes a fantastic deal (I have an anecdote about this that I will tell in the article discussing this deck).
I removed Rattleshirt’s Raiders because, as I said, I don’t really care about attachments anymore since the deck doesn’t rely as much on Old Bear.
I removed Ser Alliser Thorne because I was just sick of seeing his stupid face sit in my hand turn after turn after turn. He’s not worth 6 gold, and saving 4 gold even with Arry in the deck is really punishing if they don’t bother testing your military challenge (which, with Maester Aemon, they may not). Plus, you now have a much better thing to do with your faction kneel in Dolorous Edd. I could see an argument for Alliser, as he is also a trick of the deck. Dropping him and then Watcher on the Walls is a wonderful little trick. But if your opponent is worth their salt, they’ll see that coming. Saving 4 gold and a faction kneel is just too much of a dead giveaway. It wasn’t happening for me often enough to be worth the slot in the deck.
These were removed because I needed to make room for a few more events, and thus became casualties of deck building. They are both good cards and may make it back into the deck at some point, but they’re a little too conditional right now.
As I said, this deck is not focusing on Old Bear Mormont. The problem with Old Bear’s Raven: It is un-fucking-believable on Old Bear. Like…legitimately a game winning card when you can get it onto The Old Bear…
…Completely garbage otherwise.
Most of your characters can’t hold it. The ones who can (Arry, Edd, Littlefinger, a few stewards and Benjen) don’t really give a shit about stealth except in very specific scenarios. It was just a dead card until you saw Old Bear. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve won many many games with Old Bear + his Raven + The Wall. It is not as hard to achieve as people make it out to be. But in those games where Old Bear didn’t show up, or in games where you just lost him somehow, this card doesn’t carry its weight. Having 9 gold invested in one character can really hurt in certain match ups, especially heavy kill and attrition decks. I tried it at 1x, but then it never lined up with Old Bear and became even worse, so I just cut it.
Craven is….game changingly good. I mean, I cannot understate how good this card is. It is probably the most impactful card the Night’s Watch has, and definitely the best card released in the entire second cycle. Possibly even the best negative attachment in the game. There are so many superlatives you can attach to this card. It has won me so many games already. Negating their best attacker is amazing. Negating their 3 best attackers is game over. What are the odds of seeing 2 to 3 in one game? Well, when you’re drawing 2 to 3 additional cards each turn, on average, you’ll see them. There’s so much draw in this deck that you’ll see them. Trust me on that. This works well with Milk of the Poppy as well, as your opponent often has to choose. Do they un-craven their best attacker? Or do they un-milk their Nymeria? It’s a win-win. And if they blow their Confiscation on something else early on, e.g. Longclaw? Good luck dealing with the rest of the attachments after that.
As the game is right now, the only two factions that have additional attachment hate are Baratheon, with Maester Cressen , and Targaryen, with Core Viserys and Waking the Dragon (and Vaes Dothrak, which may see play soon if these negative attachments keep getting released). The only other attachment hate is Confiscation and the Rattleshirt’s Raiders…and we have an answer for them ;).
Oh, and did I mention that Halder can kneel your Cravens to give your characters +1 strength? Because he can. Abuse it, it’s ridiculous!
This is a preference pick for you. I like Iron Throne because it’s basically a static power gain. It becomes imperative if you choose Feast for Crows over Winter Festival. I chose Winter Festival, but I still value the dominance. Plus, with Samwell Tarly and this card, you can get up to 12 reserve, which really helps with The Watch Has Need. And it helps combat Kings of Winter, which is really strong right now. All things considered, I decided to go with this over White Tree, but it’s your call. Both are excellent options.
The events are the final set of changes for the deck, and they are pretty drastic. Credit @Action_Johnny (Daye) for this one, because he has convinced me to put Hand’s Judgments back into this deck, instead of Nightmares. The truth is, you can go either way. Nightmares turns off their threats and there is no denying that that is extremely valuable, especially in certain match ups, such as Greyjoy. Nothing is more frustrating for a Greyjoy player than using Nightmares on Fishwhiskers when they do a single attack with him on a winter plot turn. Or Nightmares on Robert Baratheon when he has +6 strength from knelt characters. Or Nightmares on a number of other cards that change your opponent’s advantage into a disadvantage.
However, I’ve found (and Daye has convinced me), that it is more valuable to stop your opponent’s Nightmares than it is to use your own Nightmares. A Nightmares on your Wall, or on your Aemon or on your Benjen can really suck and being able to cancel that is, arguably, far more valuable than you using Nightmares on your opponent. And it doesn’t stop at Nightmares. In most games, your opponent will be relying on an event to achieve a swing in the balance of the game. Being able to completely stop that simultaneously allows you to stop their play, while benefiting your own win condition (defending the Wall). Hand’s Judgement is a reactive event and very well suited to Night’s Watch/Fealty, a reactive build.
The Sword in the Darkness is a fantastic trick and it allowed me to beat JC Wamma when we were playing a casual game at Gencon (You can read about that in this article here: https://www.wardensofthemidwest.com/joes-feelings-meta-large/), but I found the other events were carrying their weight a little more. Sword in the Darkness was most impactful on a For the Watch! turn, but other than that, your opponent doesn’t really commit to challenges that they can’t win, for the most part. Exceptions include LotC and when they need you to kneel your other characters in order to get another challenge through, but those don’t happen as much as I’d like to commit this slot. I may find a slot for this event again in the future, but for now I have removed it.
The Watch has Need is amazing with Counting Coppers. When you have Sam or the Iron Throne, or both, you can get up to 12 reserve. Real quick, run a simulation of this deck. See how many Rangers pop up when you look at 12 cards in the deck . There are 11 Rangers, 9 stewards and 4 builders in the deck. Don’t call builders. But when you play it, just count how many Rangers you’ve seen and how many stewards you’ve seen. Subtract those from 11 and 9, respectively, and call whichever number is higher. I’ve drawn 6 cards off this event before. I’ve also drawn only 1. But I have not yet whiffed when I used it on a Counting Coppers turn. It is incredible.
Daye even had an amazing play just the other day that didn’t even occur to me. He had a game where he did not have any intrigue icons on the board. His opponent declared an intrigue challenge. So Daye played this card and called Steward. He drew a few cards, one of which included Dolorous Edd. He knelt his faction card, played Dolorous Edd and kept the Wall standing, because of this event. It had never occurred to me to use this during the challenges phase for that purpose, but it can do that as well. More card draw. You can target what icon you’re missing (just don’t call Builder, please). It is a card advantage at least 90% of the time.
And finally, this last card needs a little unpacking to fully understand why it made it back into the deck. As I’ve said before, Craven is game changingly good. Once it hits the board, it becomes your opponent’s number one priority to remove it from the board. And, with how much draw you have in this deck, you’re going to see at least 1 Craven per game on average, probably 2. I’ve had multiple games where I have seen all 3. This stuff happens when you’re seeing ~30 to 40 cards in your typical 5-7 plot game.
So, your opponent’s number one priority is removing these Cravens and Milks that you have in your deck from their big, expensive characters. With the limited amount of attachment hate available in this game, their plan A is Confiscation. So, consider the first negative attachment you play an inevitable loss – your opponent is almost certainly running Confiscation and they will almost certainly play it the turn after you Craven their best attacker. But once you draw and play your second? The only other attachment hate available to most decks is Rattleshirt’s Raiders.
Well, the thing that Rattleshirt’s Raiders needs to do in order to remove an attachment is win a military challenge. Since Night’s Watch has one of the best military presences in the entire game, that means they will likely have to commit multiple very valuable characters to that military challenge. This is the perfect time to play Watcher on the Walls. It kills their Rattleshirt’s Raiders and could very likely take out 1 or 2 valuable targets as well. And, with Hand’s Judgment in the deck, you can even cancel their attempt to cancel Watcher. It’s the perfect storm. You are compelling them to do a military challenge that they need to win in order to get their best attacker back, but then making it so that if they commit too much they may lose their entire army. It’s a lose lose.
You are giving your opponent no good options. Even when you have zero gold, Fealty can play this card. Or, if you have Old Forest Hunter, you can pitch a card for a gold and then play this event. There are multiple ways of playing it and, with Dolorous Edd, your hand is safer than ever before. With the increased card draw in the deck, you have a very good chance of drawing this card. The deck works so well to counteract those big military attacks needed to remove the cravens that you put on their characters. Every card seems to work together in this…amazing symbiosis of completely fucking your opponent over.
Enjoy the deck and please let me know if you have any comments on how you are doing with it or questions on how to play it! :D