When I picked up Thrones with the release of the Second Edition core set, the refrain that I kept hearing from the many, many (many, many) podcast hosts at the time was an old 1.0 adage that “draw equals win”.
2.0 is a different game to 1.0, however, and that phrase has largely fallen out of use as players have adapted to the new world. But while draw might not be the key to victory these days, it’s still undeniable that draw at least equals good. It’s for that reason that I found the lukewarm reaction to Fever Dreams a little strange.
Released in the Fall of Astapor chapter pack, Fever Dreams offers a pretty tempting proposition: when opponents’ characters kneel (which they typically do on a regular basis), you draw cards.
So what’s the problem? It looks like there are two. The first is that a lot of successful Lannister decks are already not running draw cards like Lannisport and they don’t exactly have space for a similar effect in attachment form; the second is that Bestow has so far been something of a dud as keywords go.
If you’ve read the previous instalment of this column, then you’ll already know that my answer to the former is ‘then put it in a deck that isn’t an existing successful Lannister deck’. My answer to the second is to wonder if we can make Fever Dreams as exciting as Astapor, the only other bestow card to really take off so far.
There won’t be much suspense about which faction/agenda combo we’ll be trying in this article to make best use of Fever Dreams: it has to be Lannister/Banner of the Stag. We’re building around a card that profits from kneeling characters, and a Baratheon banner offers both the methods to do that kneeling and some redundancy of profits.
When building a deck based around one key card that I want to exploit, I ask myself these questions to draft the list:
- Which other cards are the keys to making my chosen card perform to its potential?
- Which other cards do I want to include as cheeky one-ofs that might get a chance to shine within that framework?
- When all of the above cards are included, what is the deck missing? Which cards would plug the gaps in the list?
After finishing question 3, I check my numbers. If I’m under 60 cards, I can potentially add more cards that fit question 2. If I’m over 60 cards, I’m probably going to have to cut from 2s before I start cutting from 3s; as long as our desired combo is working, we want the deck to actually function so the gap-plugging is more important than bonus pieces.
So let’s answer question 1. What are the key cards to getting the most out of Fever Dreams?
2x Filthy Accusations. Seems simple enough. Put attachment on key character. Forcibly kneel them for cards in the plot phase. Take the decision out of your opponent’s hands. Even if you don’t see the Dreams, Filthy is a decent effect with decent gold and initiative.
3x Tywin Lannister (Core). Well, we do have to pay for the attachment and its bestow cost and a board of our own. Just because we’re playing jank doesn’t mean that we’re turning down one of the most impactful characters available to us.
3x Marya Seaworth. One of the main reasons for us to take a Stag banner. As long as we attach Fever Dreams to someone who doesn’t have stealth, Marya allows us to once again force the Dreamed people to kneel even if our opponent doesn’t want to give us the cards. Now we just have to add a method of both gaining gold and bypassing people with stealth…
3x Tyrion Lannister (Core). That’ll do it.
2x Paid Off. I’m not going to run this at 3x or we’ll end up with too many attachments but this is another way to trigger Fever Dreams for relatively low effort.
2x Even-Handed Justice. Kneel for days! You get the picture at this point.
Question 2 involves adding cards that flesh out those key pieces without being vital – i.e. extra kneel like 1x Shireen, 1x Janos, 1x King Robert’s Warhammer; extra triggers for Marya like 2x Davos, 1x Syrio and a flexible 1x Varys; plus 1x Kevan to potentially recur a Fever Dreams or Paid Off as well as more generically useful Kingsroads and Bodyguards. I’ve also gone for 1x Melisandre (Core) – I don’t have space for a full R’hllor package to go with her but she’s a decent body who can trigger once off herself and might draw a Milk, Nightmares or target kill away from my most crucial cards.
At this point, we add in the generically useful cards that smooth out the cost curve and get things done – and the list ends up looking like this:
The plot deck is rounded out in sensible enough style. Noble Cause guarantees the ability to marshal Tywin if I need it, and will often be my opener. Counting Coppers is great with Tywin but can also be an opener if I haven’t found enough of my pieces. Valar Morghulis because duh. Confiscation because duh.
Varys’s Riddle takes the last slot as I’m a little short of plots with good initiative and it also has excellent reserve – which should matter, as the whole point is to draw plenty of cards. However, if it turns out after testing that I need to make room for another big economy plot (most likely Trading with the Pentoshi), this would be the card that has to go.
What we’ve ended up is a list with which I’m pretty happy, and it’s ready for some testing. Crucially, almost none of the cards that we’ve included are obviously bad cards that are necessary for a stupid combo – they’re all solid cards that should get even better when put together. It might not be the standard Lannister deck or even the standard Lanni/Stag, but I expect this to perform pretty well. If it doesn’t… well, we can always blame the pilot and move on.