Tyrion Lannister: He Who Controls the Cards Controls the Game

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In the world of Westeros, giants roam freely in the far North, direwolves follow their masters into battles, and dragons are very, very real. However, amongst all the dangers of ASOIAF TMG, it is Tyrion – Halfman, who instills the most fear into a general’s heart, regardless of the other warriors and beasts who flock to their banners. How does one half-man manage to overcome the greatest commanders in Westeros? Playing him is not as easy as it may seem and it takes practice, a good deal of risk calculation and an excellent poker face!

Lannister Tyrion Lannister Halfman Front

Tyrion’s commander version is a field attachment with arguably one of the best orders in the game: Superior Tactician. I know what you’re thinking “But Brett, his order only triggers on a 5+, and you have to discard a card to try again…”.

Yes, both statements are accurate, BUT there is no limit to the range so he can trigger his order no matter where he is. He can also make due without many of the cards in the Lannister deck. Each general will play him differently but I’ll throw out the following cards to repeat his order: A Lannister Pays his Debts, Fealty to the Crown, Paid Mutiny, and situationally – both Intrigue and Subterfuge and Hear Me Roar. If you’re facing Walder Frey, a nasty Styr build, or any other troublesome NCU, you might need to cycle (see Adaptive Tactics below) Intrigue and Subterfuge to mitigate their impact. Lannister cards are great, but I can live without them and it is likely worth it to stop an amazing card your opponent is playing. Remember that the Lannister deck also has counterplot so if you have one in your hand, you have a chance to stop 2 or more cards in one round and that can be HUGE.

Tyrion – Lord of Activations

Tyrion’s order is one of the best, and I’ll argue his cards might actually be the best in the game. Let’s have a look.

Adaptive Tactics

Get ready to answer the question, ‘How many times have you played that card?’

Adaptive Tactics is a unique card and a gut punch to your opponent if you own the tactics zone. Not only do you get to return a card to your hand from the discard pile, but if you control the tactics zone, your opponent must discard a card at random. It’s a double whammy as far as Tyrion control goes. It hurts your opponent because you haven’t even used your order and there’s a good chance you fished out a counterplot card. Another take on this is the potential complete mitigation of an expensive NCU. Jaqen H’ghar – Follower of the Red God would absolutely love to assassinate Tyrion and put a stop to his order, but your ability to cycle Intrigue and Subterfuge over and over again might mean he does not even get the chance to try an assassination the entire game. The same can be said for Walder Frey – Lord of the Crossing and Lord Varys – the Spider. These are all expensive NCU’s and it is likely your opponent’s plans hinge on them performing their job. The “Easter egg” to this card is that it goes to THE BOTTOM OF YOUR DECK and not the discard pile. If you manage to play through all your cards; you will have nothing but Adaptive Tactics left and it’s an endless cycle of grabbing the card you need every time you play it. It’s a nightmare situation for your opponent but it doesn’t happen too often. When it does, your opponent is in a terrible spot because he might discard two cards in the first turns of a late round when he really needs to close out the game. Not great, Bob.

Cunning Ploy

lannister-cunning_ploy_tyrion_lannnister_halfman

Cunning Ploy is Tyrion’s next dirty trick. You DO have to give up one unit’s entire activation to give an already activated unit another ACTION (not an activation – no free maneuver for cavalry). It takes some planning ahead to pull off, but it can be devastating. It is because of this card in particular (and the ability to recycle it with Adaptive Tactics) that most Tyrion led lists will have a dummy activation or “battery.”

It’s important to note that a battery unit still activates, which means that in Fire and Blood a Tyrion battery still gets to place a VP, and Poor Fellows would still get their healing. Two units come to mind as batteries, Lannister Guardsmen and Bolton Blackguard. 

Battery: A unit whose primary role is to forfeit their activation to give another unit a free action.

These two units in particular have a high defense save and a less than optimal attack profile. They can also inflict damage defensively through panic so they still have a chance to damage a unit when engaged. The rest of the list is generally filled with “hammers” who will want lots of actions. You can, for example, maneuver and march knights into position and then use Cunning Ploy to charge with them that same round. Alternatively, you could have already wiped out a unit with their activation and maneuvered to striking range of another enemy. Cunning Ploy could allow a second charge. Knights are only one example of a hammer unit but Pyromancers, House Clegane Mountain’s Men, House Bolton Flayed Men, House Bolton Bastard’s Girls, and even House Bolton Cutthroats also come to mind. The combinations are limitless and entirely up to the taste of the general. Cunning Ploy makes playing against Tyrion a NIGHTMARE, as opponent’s always need to assume you have the card available. To give one example of a poker face situation, my opponents generally assumed that the Lannister Guardsmen with Tyrion would be my battery. I would purposely activate them (thus seemingly passing on the opportunity to use Cunning Ploy) and let my opponent relax before using my Knight of Casterly Rock’s activation to give another unit (usually Pyromancers) their second action. It is worth noting that while you control the tactics zone, opponents may not play cards after you play Cunning Play. Whenever possible, you want to kill a unit with this card while playing Starks, Baratheons, and Night’s Watch in particular. Why, you ask? You will prevent the following cards from being played and add TONS of frustration to an opponent: Ours is the Fury, Countercharge, Last Stand, The North Remembers, It Shall not End Until My Death, Watcher on the Wall, and Now his Watch is Ended. That is a HUGE swing.

Delay Orders

The last commander card for Tyrion is equally potent and equally troublesome for your opponent. Delay Orders gives the Tyrion player control over their opponent’s turn by forcing them to activate another unit, and while controlling the tactics zone, you literally get to choose what unit they activate. Not only does this put a unit in a vulnerable position, but you can force them to activate a unit effectively out of the game for that moment and ensure that they’ll have a tough time getting any use out of them. Armies that prefer to out-activate their opponent to set up combos and charges later in the round will absolutely HATE this. This card also allows you to activate first and grab the Tactics zone without worrying about being charged by a unit in position. Ensuring you have control of the tactics zone will ensure that you choose the unit they activate.

Tyrion’s Toolbox of Control

Maximum Frey, maximum control
Maximum Frey, maximum control

As you can see, Tyrion’s cards become EXPONENTIALLY more powerful when you control the tactics zone. As a player, you have to prioritize the tactics zone on the board. You will need to individually assess if it’s worth the risk of giving up the other zones, but it usually is. A large percentage of the time; I claim the tactics zone first. This will leave the combat zone open and the wealth zone open, but it is generally worth the sacrifice. 

The secondary effects of all of his cards will outweigh the consequences of leaving the zone open. With the increased point cost and loss of his ability to stop zone replacement cards; Varys is no longer mandatory. You can save Tyrion’s Order and Counter plot for preventing big plays like Sudden Charge and we can substitute Walder Frey for maximum control. With the change to panic, Cersei Lannister – Queen Regent also becomes an option for Tyrion lists because you can attack a unit influenced by her numerous times with your hammer and bring them down. Whenever possible, you want to grab the letter and remove the opportunity for your opponent to take it away. This is an excellent role for Petyr Baelish – Littlefinger to fill. He can occupy the Crown or Wealth zone and make a free attack, forcing your opponent to either take the letter and get attacked again with the combat zone or take the combat zone and leave the letter open, which is often a fatal error when playing against Tyrion.

Getting to Greener Fields

Tyrion lists live and die by cards. They’re not only for feeding his order, but dictating the flow of the game through Lannister manipulation and perpetually keeping your opponent off-balance and guessing. Ultimately; the goal is to run out of cards and go into that endless Tyrion loop using Adaptive Tactics. How do we expedite this process? Preston Greenfield – Kingsguard, Lannister’s friendly neighborhood card draw engine.

lannister-preston_greenfield_k-front

When you control the Crown zone, any time his unit makes an action, you draw a card. That’s with every ACTION and not every ACTIVATION.

JoffreyBaratheonLord of the seven kingdoms back

Here’s a cool scenario to paint a picture of how awesome this can be. Petyr Baelish takes the crown and targets Preston’s unit with a free maneuver. You draw a card. They then activate and charge. You draw a card. If they wipe out the enemy and surge forth, guess what? You draw a card. Same situation can be true by claiming the crown and using the combat zone effect. What a nightmare situation this could be. 

Does your opponent take away the free attack, the crown, or the letter? Forcing your opponent to choose between three bad results is a win for you as a player. That is the definition of control. My young lions, we have only scratched the surface. We have 2 ncu’s who offer a similar ability. Our king, Joffrey Baratheon always counts as controlling the crown. That means Preston can always be at his best. Remember the above chat concerning Tyrion’s cards? Cunning ploy comes to mind. Make it a game. How many cards can you draw in one round? I can honestly say that with the combination of Petyr Baelish, Preston in Pyromancers, Cunning Ploy, and Adaptive Tactics; I have drawn 6 cards with Preston. It feels so dirty and unfair, but we are Lannisters. What’s important is the win, not the fairness of achieving it. 

Tyrionspiration

I have made some sample Tyrion lists below. They are all tournament legal and they all have a place in the updated 1.5 rules for contested objectives. The NCU’s can always be swapped to accommodate your taste. I REALLY like Tywin Lannister – The Great Lion or Walder Frey – the Lord of the Crossing with Tyrion because their ability to shut down a unit can change games. Tywin is able to call the Rains of Castamere at the start of ANY turn (even your opponent’s) adding another layer of forgiveness and control for Tyrion. He can now effectively laugh at those scary Great Axes and Giants as they attempt to threaten his men without any abilities!

Select the appropriate tab below to view the list

GUARD GUARD KNIGHT KNIGHT, TYRION’S GONNA MAKE YOU HATE YOUR LIFE

Faction: House Lannister
Commander: Tyrion Lannister – Halfman
Points: 32 (6 Neutral)

• Lannister Guardsmen (5)
with Tyrion Lannister – Halfman (0)
• Lannister Guardsmen (5)
• House Bolton Blackguard (6)
• Knights of Casterly Rock (8)
• Knights of Casterly Rock (8)

Non-Combat Units:
• Your 4 Point NCU Pair of Choice
Or
• Lord Varys – The Spider (5)/Walder Frey – Lord Of The Crossing(5)
• Pycelle – Grand Maester(3)

I DRINK AND BURN THINGS

Faction: House Lannister
Commander: Tyrion Lannister – Halfman
Points: 40 (11 Neutral)

Combat Units:
• Lannister Guardsmen (5)
with Tyrion Lannister – Halfman (0)
• Lannister Guardsmen (5)
with Guard Captain (1)
• House Bolton Blackguard (6)
• Knights of Casterly Rock (8)
• Pyromancers (7)

Non-Combat Units:
• Your 4 Point NCU Pair of Choice
Or
• Lord Varys – The Spider (5)/Walder Frey – Lord Of The Crossing(5)
• Pycelle – Grand Maester(3)

I DRINK WHILE JAIME BURNS THINGS

Faction: House Lannister
Commander: Tyrion Lannister – Halfman
Points: 32 (0 Neutral)

Combat Units:
• Lannister Guardsmen (5)
with Tyrion Lannister – Halfman (0)
• Lannister Guardsmen (5)
• Lannister Guardsmen (5)
• Pyromancers (7)
with Jaime Lannister – The Young Lion (2)
• Knights of Casterly Rock (8)

Non-Combat Units:
• Your 4 Point NCU Pair of Choice
Or
• Lord Varys – The Spider (5)/Walder Frey – Lord Of The Crossing(5)
• Pycelle – Grand Maester(3)

My Gencon list is still legal because Varys went up a point and Flayed Men dropped a point:

BRETT AND TYRION – BFFs

Faction: House Lannister
Commander: None
Points: 40 (14 Neutral)

Combat Units:
• Lannister Guardsmen (5)
• House Clegane Mountain Men (6)
with Gregor Clegane – Lord Tywin’s Mad Dog (3)
• The Flayed Men (9)
• Knights of Casterly Rock (8)

Non-Combat Units:
• Tywin Lannister – The Great Lion (4)
• Lord Varys – The Spider (5)

Made with ASOIAFBuilder.com

Our OTTG editor, Kolin Kliossis, another Tyrion enthusiast, also adds his take on using Tyrion to get the most out of Poor Fellows and the Bastard’s Girls.

Our OTTG editor, Kolin Kliossis, another Tyrion enthusiast, also adds his take on using Tyrion to get the most out of Poor Fellows and the Bastard’s Girls.

But Wait, There’s More!

Kolin Kliossis, Editor at onthetablegaming.com

Like Brett, I’m a big fan of Tyrion. Now, he won the Grand Tournament at Gencon with his Tyrion list while I most certainly did not, but I did pilot a version of this list to placing first and second in two of the preliminary tournaments at that convention. My take on Tyrion relies heavily on the card draw mechanic and using Adaptive Tactics to cycle Cunning Ploy and Delay Orders. But, it can also be very high risk, and relies on a few very, very fragile units. The key combination here is placing Preston Greenfield – Kingsguard in the House Bolton Bastard’s Girls to take advantage of their order and drawing an extra card when they charge, and using them as aggressively as possible to take advantage of that in the early rounds. Typically they’re wiped by round three, but if I’ve used them to heavily cycle my deck in the process it makes them worth the investment. Meanwhile, I’ve got Tyrion bunkered in the Poor Fellows, who protect him from crown-bombs. Assault Vet Pyromancers and Mountain’s Men are my primary damage dealers, using Cunning Ploy to amp their damage and take advantage of the Assault Veteran’s order, while using Delay Orders to keep the Pyro’s alive. 

MY GIRLS BRING ALL THE CARDS TO THE YARD

Faction: House Lannister
Commander: Tyrion Lannister – Halfman
Points: 40 (11 Neutral)

Combat Units:
• Poor Fellows (5)
with Tyrion Lannister – Halfman (0)
• Lannister Guardsmen (5)
• The Bastard’s Girls (7)
with Preston Greenfield – Kingsguard (1)
• Pyromancers (7)
with Assault Veteran (1)
• House Clegane Mountain Men (6)
with Assault Veteran (1)

Non-Combat Units:
• Petyr Baelish – Littlefinger (4)
• Pycelle – Grand Maester (3)

Made with ASOIAFBuilder.com

2 COMMENTS

  1. That Tyrion Tactics article by Brett Lanpher was excellent. Prob the best one for ASOIAF TMG that I can remember reading. Chase & OTT, that’s the exact kind of in-depth article that I like to see & read. Makes a Lannister hater want to don the Lion and start paying some debts. -Tony

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