2016 Thrones Weekender – Manchester and Stockton Store Championships

I survived the 2016 Thrones Weekender and all I got was this lousy opening line.

It was way back at the Stahleck when Ben (Manchester TO) messaged me to find out when Beanie were doing their Store Championship so we could double it up again. That kind of tournament date/admin business is way above my pay grade, but from what I can gather, Fanboy hardballed for the Saturday and Beanie reluctantly accepted the (Mothering) Sunday date rather than have no Weekender at all.

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I think we’re all grateful to Beanie for that, mainly so this picture could happen.

Manchester – The Fall

Most people arrived on the Friday night, and it would be remiss of me not to list some of the shenanigans that went down that night.

  • There was a long discussion of the history of inbreeding between the Stockton meta, this was mostly displayed in graphical terms on the back of Dominoes pizza boxes.
  • This discussion also gave the The Artist Formerly Known as TBP a new nickname in Sternly, because he had to gall to use that word three times in one sentence.
  • We played a Pokemon game based on throwing magnets onto a scoreboard. I got the lowest possible score, and not in the golf sense.
  • We went to Fab Cafe, because that’s basically what I do every Friday. This time it was even better because of the sheer number of people and different friendship groups colliding together. It was pretty much all my closest friends in my favourite bar, and I had a great time.
  • The Stockton lads had bought everyone who was coming to stay at the house a mini bottle of Jagermeister, which was most kind of them.
  • We packed our bags, obviously.

The Deck – Live at the Witch Trials – Targaryen – Lords of the Crossing

I was initially thinking about playing the classical Baratheon Fealty for the first event of the popcorn double feature and even built a deck to test out at Wednesday Night Thrones (Port Street Beer House every Wednesday from 7pm). However, due to an administrative error the deck was only 57 cards. This is obviously not ideal or even legal testing conditions.

Another deck I was thinking about playing was Night’s Watch Lords of the Crossing, which Big Mike had battered me with at Stoke a week earlier. The problem with this though, is that Mike had gone 5-0 with that deck, I knew he was coming to the Manchester tournament and I didn’t want to look like hack by playing “his” deck.

So, on Friday night just before people started arriving and shenanigans went on, I decided to put a Targaryen Lords of the Crossing. In my head, the logic was sound, Daenerys Targaryen flanked by Hatchlings can particpate in multiple challenges. Khal Drogo makes the agenda easier to trigger by opening up a fourth challenge and a bit more versatility. And if all else fails, you can just Dracarys! on any problem characters.

In execution though, I fucked it. I don’t have the deck still built, so I can’t post the list. But it’s really not worth typing out anyway.

Round 1 – Sweeney – Greyjoy – Banner of the Sun

This is the deck I really wanted to play. It’s the only deck I ever really want to play. You’d think my familiarity with this deck would have given me a chance in the matchup. It did not.

Sweeney and I were both grateful to be playing someone who was feeling equally rough from the previous night’s shenanigans. Anyway, I think I got some lads on the board early on, but Sweeney got some better lads on the board, like Balon Greyjoy.

I think Sweeney went first, and I let him get some challenges through unopposed with the hope of hitting my own challenges back. Without any burn or kill effects though these challenges were fairly low impact.

Turn two, Sweeney went hard with Rise of the Kraken, with Balon on the table, that made for some pretty rapid power gain that I just couldn’t do anything about. By turn three the game was over and I got to go to Tesco and buy some much needed Lucozade.

Round 2 – Big Mike – Lannister – Banner of the Rose

After a fairly terrible opening round I got paired against Mike who I think was at his seventh Store Championship in as many weeks. At the start of turn 2, he had just Jaime and Tyrion on the board, so I Marched to the Wall to leave, just one of them (Jaime) left standing. I also had a dragon and Daenarys out, and two Dracarys! in hand.

Mike played Margaery and at the start of the challenges phase goaded me by saying something along the lines of “I’ll boost Jaime with Marge now, and put him safe from any burn”. He then did a military challenge with Jaime. I went a little bit Fiery Jack and dropped both burn events.

Getting rid of Jaime proved to be somewhat of a turning point in the game, and I managed push out the win before Mike could really recover any board position.

Round 3 – Rheece – Martell – Banner of the Watch

I can’t really remember what happened in this game. But I do know one thing for certain, Rheece battered me. I’m fairly sure he got The Wall going, and I did not have the stealth, the icon spread or the burn to deal with it. Grotesque. This was a quick game, and we had plenty of time afterwards to go to the pub, which was a nice break in proceedings.

I think at one point in this game, the plot Game of Thrones really did me over, stopping me from doing my three challenges, and giving Rheece power from The Wall.

Round 4 – Booch – Martell – Lords of the Crossing

In this game there was a ghost in my deck. In the early goings things were looking strong, I had dragons for days and weenies to kill for claim. But I didn’t see Dany at all, my Summons missed and as she was the only draw in the deck (Protip: Don’t build a deck with only one source of draw in it), I just couldn’t get a hold on the board.

Life was made even more difficult when all I kept picking up for regular draw were reducer chuds. Booch is too good a player (and an innovative deck builder) to get away with bad draws and he won this game without me really putting up a fight at all.

Round 5 – Bryan – Lannister – Banner of the Rose

I love Bryan. I’ve also never lost a competitive game to Bryan. These two statements may be related. I closed out 1st Edition playing Bryan last at Stahleck, and with the way my day was going I thought the unutterable might happen and my streak would not continue into 2.0

Sometimes though, you just see the cards you need. I knocked off Bryan’s Cersei early on with a Crown of Gold, which took the pressure off my hand a little. From here I rode my luck out, got the Daenerys machine up and running and took home the win.

Still a 2-3 final record is nothing to write home about and I was pretty disappointed with how things had gone for me.

Shenanigans

After the Swiss, Secondary Dave, drove a few of us other losers back to mine to rest up, have a shower and get ready for town. It was much needed. By popular request, I put on my “Golf Shirt”, because it’s a really strong shirt.

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I just love golf.
We went for some food, and then we went to Bar 21, which used to be one of the absolute worst bars in town, but recently got revamped into a slightly nicer Fab Cafe but with quiz machine. It again, was great fun.

Because I’m a good boy, I stopped drinking at 12 on Saturday (after trying and failing to get people to play The Resistance with me when everyone else wanted to go to sleep), ready and fresh to hit the north east the next day.

Interlude

In an episode of  his Comedy Vehicle,  Stewart Lee said: “Sometimes you just have to put a joke in that’s just for you.”

In that spirit of self indulgence, instead of writing jokes for the previous half of the tournament report I put 8 references to songs or albums by The Fall. How many did YOU spot?

Stockton – Redemption Sun

The Deck – Lannister Banner of the Sun

I wanted to do well on the Sunday after doing generally wank in Manchester. So I went back to my Lannister Martell deck from Stoke. Expecting a lot of Lords of the Crossing again though, I switched out Here to Serve for Game of Thrones, given how easily it did my Crossing deck over the day before. This meant I also went back up to two copies of each Maester, and dropped the dupes on Cersei’s Wheelhouse and Sunspear, neither of which I saw for the rest of the day.

Round 1 – Sweeney – Greyjoy – Banner of the Sun

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Somehow I managed to get drawn against Sweeney in round one for the second day on the trot. This was probably my favourite game of the entire weekender though. It was a surprisingly close for a game where Sweeney setup a triple duped Balon Greyjoy.

In the early exchanges, I was mainly focused on trying to shut Balon down with consecutive Tears of Lys, and bringing my own board position up to scratch. I timed my Game of Thrones turn with Sweeney’s Rise of the Kraken, which seemed crucial to top the game from running away from me.

After this round, I think Sweeney had Balon and Nymeria on the board. I had Jaime, Tywin, both Maesters and crucially Casterly Rock. Sweeney 14 power, me 11.  Whoever went first in the next round was probably going to win the game. We both flipped Calling the Banners, and I won the initiative by having less power on the tie.

In my hand I have a Treachery, which I’m saving for the Nymeria trigger, but Sweeney attempts to draw it out from me by playing Littlefinger. I risk giving him the cards. I think I marshall Tyrion at this point. At the start of the challenges phase, Sweeney says he has an action, and then proceeds to do the maths in his head to see if I can win the match. I sit back, confident that I’m going to stop Nymeria not matter what he settles on doing.

Once Sweeney had settled on a plan, I Treachery on Nymeria and Sweeney has only bloody drawn into a Hand’s Judgement, bollocks. Tywin loses a power icon (I think) Caleotte eats a Confinement, that really was a killer Littlefinger draw.

I go for my first intrigue challenge with Pycelle, and Sweeney has to block with Littlefinger. I swing military with Tywin and Jaime, opposed by Balon, getting up to 13. With the second unopposed intrigue from Jaime and Tyrion winning the power, I won the game.

HOWEVER, it may not have played out like that. Something isn’t sitting right in my memory there and I can’t work out what it was. There’s no way if Tyrion was on the board, Caleotte would have been Confined. Anyway, it was so close but I came out on top.

Round 2 – Wedge – Lannister – Banner of the Rose

At the tail end of last year, Wedge and I seemed to get paired up in most tournaments. This is an issue on a couple of levels:

  1. We’ve played together a lot, especially at the end of 1st Edition, as we were the only two players mad enough to keep playing the dead game.
  2. He’s a much better player than me.

After taking a free jazz, jokey Greyjoy Lions deck to the to Top 4 yesterday (and very nearly the final), he played his “proper” deck at Stockton to get some practice in for Madrid. I expected a tough game.

And then I saw my opening hand. I got Jaime, a reducer and a limited location on setup. Holding back in my hand 2x Treachery, 2x Put to the Sword and 1x Tears of Lys.

Wedge opened on A Noble Cause against my Calm Over Westeros, I made him go first and protected my hand from intrigue claim. Wedge then played out Tywin and an Arbor Knight riding a Mare in Heat.

I held three gold back, but played out The Hound to guarantee I’d get my win by 5 strength. A Treachery on the Mare, and Tywin was Put to the Sword. In the next round Wedge’s Syrio got hit with a Tears of Lys, while I supplemented my board with Tyrion Lannister.

In the final round of the game, Wedge marshalled Jaime, and I again used Treachery to cancel the Mare and Put to the Sword on Jaime. At this point Wedge conceded and we went to KFC for lunch with a good 45 minutes left in the round.

Round 3 – Kat – Targaryen – Banner of the Sun

I first met Kat when we travelled to Leiden last year for the Dutch tournament. Which I’m hoping to get to again this year, but that’s mainly a case of funding. In the game, we both had fairly strong starts, with us both getting our big characters out in Dany and Tywin. I also had a Put to the Sword in hand though, and managed to see Dany off before she could start wrecking my face. My Nymeria ate a Dracarys! though, which made me a little sad.

In the next round, I threw Gregor out there to get Nymeria‘d, knowing I was going to off her with Tears of Lys. Then on Kat’s intrigue challenge, Gregor got Lys‘d. Top bants all round.

I threw some more dupes down onto Tywin, because he’d become Attainted, and was looking very vulnerable to that Tears of Lys event. Luckily though, I was getting my own intrigue challenges off, and kept managing to pull it for claim. Very fortunate.

With Jaime and Tywin doing their renown business, and Kat being too economy starved to play the Khal Drogo or the Dany (who had been Fire and Blood + Rebuilding back to life) in her hand, I managed to see out the game.

Round 4 – Kostas – Baratheon – Banner of the Rose

So I was 3-0 and feeling pretty good about myself. Then I got drawn against Kostas, who I’d been forewarned by Tony (Cockbongo) that he was on a mission, taking down Store Championships all over Scotland.

Robert Baratheon, absolutely dominated me in the early rounds of this game. I had one moment of banter when I ambushed the Widow’s Wail onto a duped Maester Caleotte, to surprise win a power challenge. As a character who generally wants to lose challenges, he was quite effective with higher strength as it did mean I got win challenges with him or kneel a much better character out of contention. Well that would have been true if he wasn’t continually kept knelt by Melisandre.

I sensed the opportunity to change things around with Game of Thrones, as Kostas only had Melisandre on the board for an intrigue icon. Unfortunately, Kostas had been drawing from The Red Keep pretty consistently, and to my absolute horror he had Selyse Baratheon in hand. Another intrigue icon as well as a kneel from Melisandre.

This well and truly did me over. I now could neither win an intrigue challenge of my own, or defend one coming back at me. After that, there was no chance of recovering the game and Kostas rushed to a victory via Lady Sansa’s Rose the following round.,

Round 5 – James – Tyrell – Lords of the Crossing

I found myself in odd situation in this game against my charming podcast co-host, James (WARNING: It’s a podcast about wrestling not Thrones because the world doesn’t need more of them.). It wasn’t quite a win and in, as even if he lost Wamma most likely had the SOS to make the cut. If I lost, I had to hope that my SOS was enough to sneak in.

James has also written our match up here, doing a much better job of it than I will do. So read that, get a good sense of the game and then come back for some self deprecating jokes.

No, seriously, I’ll wait.

Right, so as you know because you’ve just read Wamma’s report, he battered me.

Top 8 – Kostas – Baratheon – Banner of the Rose

Somehow though, I made the cut at 8th place. It probably helped that the only people I lost to came 1st and 3rd in the swiss, but still it was shaky. Unfortunately, coming 8th did mean I had to play Kostas again.

In a very similar fashion to the first game, Robert Baratheon did a number on me. I won an intrigue challenge early on, but didn’t have the Tears of Lys to put him away. As the game wore on, I had TywinJaime, and Cersei all on the board, but couldn’t manage to stop Robert with a Seal of the Hand on him.

So I was out in the Top 8 again. but generally pleased with my performance for the day. There’s an extra step up that I haven’t quite managed yet to get into the top echelon of players. In the high pressure games my decision making is often slightly lacking, and my outright refusal to do complicated challenge maths may have something to do with it…

Meager Contributions

I really cannot say enough how much fun I had this weekend. The Thrones community is so great, even if it is full of 1st edition elitist snobs. I’d like to give thanks out to the following people:

  • Anybody who came up for both nights out in Manchester, you were all incredible.
  • Sam and Lauren for allowing me to fill the house with nerds for the weekend.
  • Sweeney for giving me 5p when I was short at the bar on Saturday afternoon.
  • Sternly for bringing the weird Pokemon magnet game,.
  • Secondary Dave for doing a good portion of the driving, and for his order in Byron on the Saturday which is one of the funniest things I’ve ever witnessed.
  • Sam Wilson for being my constant sober Thrones companion.
  • No thanks to Wedge for the deck advice which I regularly ignore, and for his car failing it’s MOT meaning I had to drive on Sunday.
  • Keb for shouting “Keb!” in the style of Steve Holt everytime her name was mentioned by a TO
  • Ben for TO’ing in Manchester.
  • Josh and Wex for the Dominos Pizza Boro Incest Diagrams
  • Dave Bamford for leaving the Spice Girls in our living room.

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    Truly modern art.
  • Vince for the excellent company in the car on Sunday morning, and for haranguing him about free Playstation games on Saturday night.
  • Bryan for being the only Thrones player I’ve never lost to.
  • Kostas for the time he found me in Leiden, and two lessons in big boy Thrones.
  • Wamma, for being a gentleman and paying my entry on Sunday morning.
  • Rheece for always appearing more drunk than me.
  • Craven, for being the only member of the Banter channel who couldn’t make the weekender, who was sorely missed.
  • All my opponents.
  • Apologies to the various others who I have missed out.
  • And, you, The Reader, thank you.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this report and thought “I wonder if he can do this sort of thing with a 140 character limit, why not find out by following me on Twitter. Also, if you enjoyed reading this report and thought “I wonder if he can do this sort of thing verbally, but talking about wrestling rather than Thrones, you can listen to my Wrestling podcast The “K” Word.

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