Considering The Queen of Thorns

queen-of-thorns

I’ve been dabbling with Tyrell for some time.  I like them, they’re fun, but they still hold mysteries to me, woman mysteries.  Specifically, is The Queen of Thorns good?  I’ve put The Queen in decks, I’ve taken her out of decks, but I don’t think I yet know the answer to that question.  So let’s talk about The Queen of Thorns.  Is she good?

Yes.  The art is solid.  Diego Gisbert Llorens doesn’t get the same attention as Magali Villeneuve or Tomasz Jedruszek or Michael Komarck, perhaps because Warhammer, 40K and otherwise, has attracted more of his attention, but the work he has done in the world of Thrones is very solid.  Of those big three, Llorens perhaps most resembles Jedruszek in style with their thicker brush strokes, but Llorens uses a greater palette and his colors pop more than Jedruszek whose pieces sometimes turn out muddier.  Since Games Workshop took their license back, maybe, hopefully Llorens will take on more Thrones work, but it looks like he has a history with Legend of the 5 Rings, too.  We’ll see.  Also, I love the triptych that emerges as Right and Left come down.  Don’t mind me.  Just let me organize my cards in the appropriate order over here.

But what about The Queen’s gameplay?  Honestly, it’s not that great.  Win an intrigue challenge with The Queen of Thorns, on offense or defense, and put a Tyrell character of cost 6 or fewer into play.  First of all, the ability is kind of redundant in the faction with the best marshalling phase economy.   It’d be huge in, say, Martell or Greyjoy but doesn’t have that same pop when Tyrell has The Arbor, Paxter Redwyne and To the Rose Banner!  How many characters do you really need to play at once?  Even if you were in favor of dropping four characters on a turn, that has lost a bit of luster since the release of Valar Morghulis.  Why play every character in your hand, if they just going to die next turn?  It certainly has given me pause when I’ve had the chance to activate her.

Speaking of activating her, it’s really hard.  The Queen of Thorns has to be in the intrigue challenge, and she has to win it.  While Tyrell has a pretty solid spread of icons, most of its intrigue icons are, unfortunately, on the lower end of the curve with lower strength.  Tyrell has plenty of strength pumps, but it’s not always enough or too much of a commitment.  The Queen doesn’t help that much herself.  While 5 strength isn’t unusual for 7 drops, it is disappointing when Tyrell has two 5 drops with 5 strength.

She’s also fairly easy for the opponent to plan around.  When Tyrell is defending, the opponent can bypass her with stealth.  When Tyrell is attacking, it has to commit to her victory.  The opponent can just let them swing in and save their icons for what is to come.  That’s not to mention faction-specific counters like Winterfell, Catelyn Stark, Attainted and Baratheon kneel.

What is she good for then?  There are House Florent Knights and Olenna’s Informant.  They have nice ‘enters play’ effects that kind of need The Queen of Thorns to be their best.  Or Arianne Martell, who is better at it, which just emphasizes how weak The Queen’s ability is.  She’s also a Lady, a trait with a fair amount of synergy in Tyrell (Lady Sansa’s Rose, Sers Horas and Hobber Redwyne, Lady-in-Waiting).

Those are all nice, but ironically, in spite of my earlier complaints about her usefulness post-Valar, I think The Queen can be huge in that environment, if she survives.  On a short board, she is easier to activate, and once the reset drops, extra bodies are safer.  Right now I run her in my reset heavy Tyrell, Summer deck.  I don’t always play her, but she has a place.  For now.  Further testing should reveal further woman secrets.

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