Sands of Dorne
“My father had no use for grief. Vengeance was more to his taste.”
–Nymeria Sand, A Feast for Crows
Fantasy Flight Games is proud to announce Sands of Dorne, the fifth deluxe expansion for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game!
House Martell has waited long for vengeance. Seventeen years have passed since the death of Elia Martell at the hands of Ser Gregor Clegane and the invading Lannisters during Robert’s bloody rebellion. Over those long years, their hatred has festered and grown in the shadows. The Martells have been unable to quench their thirst for justice until now… and now, only blood can sate their appetites.
Sands of Dorne is a deluxe expansion for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, bringing House Martell squarely into the sunlight, giving them the cards they need to go toe-to-toe with any other faction in the game. Here, you’ll find powerful new versions of House Martell’s most iconic and dangerous characters, all intent on bloody revenge, including Doran Martell, The Red Viper, Ellaria Sand, Quentyn Martell, Nymeria Sand, and Areo Hotah.
The power of House Martell is rising in the south, but far from the deserts of Dorne, the other Great Houses are also setting their plots into motion. Every other faction in the game receives two new non-loyal cards in this deluxe expansion—and when that’s combined with a brand-new agenda and an assortment of neutral plots, Sands of Dorne promises to shake up the game like few other expansions can.
He Calls It Thinking
For much of the history of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, House Martell has occupied an unusual spot. Though they have not been short of winning decks, their best decks often use unconventional strategies to win, such as combo decks harnessing The Red Viper (Core Set, 109) or heavy reset decks with Varys (Core Set, 29) and “The Last of the Giants” (Watchers on the Wall, 45). With the upcoming release of Sands of Dorne, however, House Martell gains a new caliber of character that can stand up to the best that other factions have to offer—while still staying true to their themes of vengeance and patience.
Few Martell players will want to pass on the new version of Doran Martell (Sands of Dorne, 1). This loyal, seven-gold version of Doran Martell has a nearly unprecedented ability to rule the game, exacting vengeance on your opponent and opening holes for you to pursue your own schemes. Doran Martell offers an incredibly versatile Reaction whenever you lose a challenge—on attack or defense. Whenever you lose a challenge, you can trigger Doran Martell to choose any character. Until the end of the phase, that character gains or loses a challenge icon of your choice.
The potential applications of this ability are nearly limitless. Stripping your opponent’s icons to control their board or punch holes in their defenses has long been a theme for House Martell, and Doran Martell is far the only new card in Sands of Dorne that plays to that theme. Even more than that, however, you can also grant icons to your own characters, helping to ensure you can win the challenges you need and making an agenda like The Lord of the Crossing (The King’s Peace, 60) much more reliable. And it goes without saying that Doran Martell will be almost indispensable if you find yourself going up against another Martell deck that’s also removing your character’s icons.
Removing and granting icons is powerful enough on its own, but Doran Martell also boasts another ability—as an Action, you can kneel your faction card to choose any participating character with one or no challenge icons and remove it from the current challenge. With the ability to push your opponent’s characters out of a challenge, you force your opponent to reconsider every attack or defense. Like many of the best Martell cards, Doran can put your opponent into an impossible situation: either they lose the challenge and suffer claim or they win the challenge and face the full wrath of House Martell.
Rewards for losing challenges, like the ones that Doran Martell offers, are nothing strange for House Martell, with cards like Ghaston Grey (Core Set, 116), His Viper Eyes (Wolves of the North, 32), and The Long Plan (Taking the Black, 16) defining Martell strategies since the beginning. In Sands of Dorne, this theme expands as they gain one of their most powerful locations yet, and an answer to a chronic Martell problem: drawing enough cards to fuel their schemes.
Dorne (Sands of Dorne, 17) is a four-gold location, but if you’re trying to keep your hand full of cards throughout the game, it’s worth every gold dragon. Dorne simply reads, “Reaction: After you lose a challenge, look at the top 2 cards of your deck. Add 1 to your hand, and place the other on the bottom of your deck.” In other words, every time you lose a challenge on attack or defense, you can do better than just drawing a card. Instead, you’ll look at two of your cards and choose the one that’s best for your current situation. And what’s more, Dorne boosts your plot’s reserve, letting you keep more cards in hand and softening the bite of low-reserve plots like Political Disaster (The Road to Winterfell, 40) and Retaliation (Watchers on the Wall, 47).
In your quest for vengeance, the plots that you choose to include in your deck are one of the most important parts of your strategy, and some factions may think there would be little use for a plot that offers zero gold, zero initiative, zero claim, and zero reserve. Still, House Martell can find a use for even the most unusual plots, and At Prince Doran’s Behest (Sands of Dorne, 46) is no different.
This plot’s abysmal stats are actually immaterial—because it won’t be sticking around very long. As its When Revealed effect, At Prince Doran’s Behest lets you choose and reveal a new plot! It’s easy to wish that you could select your plot with full knowledge of the plot that your opponent is about to reveal—and with At Prince Doran’s Behest, that wish becomes reality. Just as a single example, plots like Naval Superiority (Core Set, 17) or Forgotten Plans (True Steel, 119) are much more powerful when you can guarantee that they’ll successfully target your opponent’s plot. And that’s not even mentioning the plot-cycling effect of At Prince Doran’s Behest, since it essentially shrinks your plot deck and lets you reuse your plots even faster.
Justice for Elia
Though Martell steps fully into the sun with Sands of Dorne, every other faction also receives two new non-loyal cards, alongside an assortment of new neutral cards and plots. Characters like Missandei, Greatjon Umber, and Val enter the fray for the first time, and they may choose to take up arms against House Martell. Indeed, several of the other cards in this deluxe expansion counter some of House Martell’s most potent strategies.
Still, House Martell finds ways to benefit from the neutral cards in this expansion—and perhaps especially from a new agenda, The Wars to Come (Sands of Dorne, 45). This agenda fundamentally changes the way that you build your plot deck, while leaving the door open for limitless experimentation. It reads, “Your plot deck must be exactly 10 cards. You may include a second copy of up to 2 different cards in your plot deck.”
The Martells have long prepared for their vengeance, laying secret schemes in motion behind the scenes to prepare for any eventuality. The Wars to Come essentially lets you do the same by preparing to face any foe. It’s common to wish you had room for certain plots when building a deck, but in the end, you choose to cut these plots in order to make room for more impactful cards. The Wars to Come gives you the slots you need to add those additional plots to your deck, favoring a more “toolbox” approach to the game.
The downside to The Wars to Come is subtle—by committing to a ten-card plot deck, you’re less likely to cycle through your plot deck and use impactful plots again. In other words, your single copy of Valar Morghulis (There Is My Claim, 80) must sustain you for longer, because you won’t be able to play it again as quickly as if you had a standard, seven-card plot deck. Still, At Prince Doran’s Behest helps you to cycle through your plots more quickly, and of all the factions, House Martell has the most to gain from collecting a massive used pile of plots.
Obviously, with ten plots in your deck when using The Wars to Come, your plot used pile can grow to new heights: up to eight plots in your used pile, or ten with a fully bestowed Ricasso (All Men Are Fools, 15) in play. Correspondingly, cards like Secret Schemes (The Red Wedding, 76), The Prince’s Plan (All Men Are Fools, 16), and Doran’s Game (Core Set, 119) will grow in power, alongside new cards like Ser Cletus Yronwood (Sands of Dorne, 12).
No Use for Grief
House Martell has long languished in darkness, but Sands of Dorne is their chance to finally exact terrible vengeance on the Seven Kingdoms that have long denied their justice. You can become the sun in the eyes, the viper striking at the heel, and the spear punching through heavy armor.
Look for Sands of Dorne (GT30) in the first quarter of 2018!