Posts Categorised: Thrones Report

UK Nationals 2016 – Tournament Report

It’s tough isn’t it? Walking the line between humble self deprecation, “oh, I’d be happy just to win a single game,” into rampant egomania “I will win this tournament, for I am the greatest player in the country” despite all evidence to the contrary.

I think that it is this conflict, this paradox that I enjoy this game so much. For me at least, it’s both impossible to feel both of these things and impossible not to. Perhaps I’m attaching too high a significance to a game based in a small part on luck or the mistakes of others.

Occasionally, you get that fleeting moment of having thoroughly outplayed an opponent, and won the gameOn your terms, with the deck that you built, tested and refined for days, weeks, and sometimes months. I think you can see that progress in my old tournament reports; from the days where they actually made it out of my drafts folder. The slow evolution of the Lannister City of Shadows deck and my understanding of the game. Topped off with a glorious 2nd in the Swiss and immediate fall in the Top 8 at the Stoke regional.

And the falls, the flip side of winning. The moment in which you realise the slight mistake that has cost you dearly.That the best players don’t seem to make, or at least make fewer of. When setting up a four cost character over a three cost one puts you on the back foot for an entire game. Those moments of clarity, where the path to defeat – and your tragic footsteps down it – is so obvious.

Perhaps there’s a thematic point to be made here tied into the deck I decided to play at Nationals this year. After a fairly successful run at the Paramour Invitational, I stuck with my Martell – The Lord of the Crossing deck for the tournament. Despite it doing nothing but lose in the month prior to it. That is kind of the point of the deck though, losing early and gaining the upperhand through losing, with Ghaston Grey, The Long Plan, and The Boneway.

How often, though, does losing on purpose translate to just losing?

Quite Often

Sometimes writing a tournament report is easy. The through line to weave between games is obvious and exciting. It’s fun telling the story of what happened in the game and the jokes write themselves. Other times, more often than not, it’s hard work. Staring at a screen of H2s with the following:

Round 1 – ??? – ??? – Fealty?

Round 2 – ??? – Stark – ???

Round 3 – Keb – ??? – ???

I’ve been wearing my wank hat and getting all existential instead of actually writing the report. So who knows which way this one will go. Presumably though, it’ll be easy and fun for the first three rounds and then take a turn for the worse…

The author, getting the disdain the above wankery deserves.

The author, getting the disdain the above wankery deserves.

Round 1 – Phillip Craker – Lannister – Fealty

Big Phil, as I’m not sure anyone calls him, actually appeared in my very first tournament report, which is nice. And, I don’t want to go in two footed here, but he’s actually the “villain” in one of my all time favourite Thrones stories when once, against a friend at a Regional, he didn’t count gold one marshalling phase to avoid the passive on his own Theon:

Theon Greyjoy

Leading to Sam, the aforementioned friend, having to kill his Stannis. Nasty business, always call for a judge if you think a player ruling is dodgy.

Anyway, no hard feelings, lets have a nice game.

Phillip started with a very strong board of Cersei, PycelleTyrion and Red Cloaks. I started with one of each icon attachment and a Milk of the Poppy, and went about my business. Stopping the military challenge, the two claim intrigue challenge and Tyrion‘s gold generation was massive. Especially as it meant that Phil couldn’t ambush in any claim soak.

The following turn, I went with Heads on Spikes to Phillip’s A Noble Cause, and hit Tywin. Noice. Instead Phillip marshalled Ilyn Payne, who’s only target was a Bastard Daughter. From here I pretty much ground the game out, eventually closing with The Boneway, having worked up to the win in challenges or win in dominance scenario.

Round 2 – ??? – Targaryen – Banner of the Lion

I can’t remember my opponents name from this round because I’m terrible, but he was from Lincoln and had his copy of Syrio signed by the actor who played Syrio in the TV show. I know this because we both had Syrio on setup which was nice. Until my Syrio wore a Crown of Gold and then he marshalled Mirri Maz Durr.

In hand, however, I had Attainted, Condemned and Milk of the Poppy to shut that business right down. I turned Mirri into an expensive Iron Throne and stuck the Milk on the Syrio. I think keeping just enough back to Vengeance for Elia the military challenge. Successful first turn.

Over the following turns I hit with Heads on Spikes, and started racking up tokens with the Boneway. My Naval Superiority hits… Counting Coppers. For some reason, even though my opponent had a gold leftover and a standing dragon, I went into a challenge with Nymeria and she got burnt. Ouch.

I still had Arianne though, and wanted to make her count. But in one challenges phase, she got hit with Nightmares and I was facing down the one gold, standing dragon dilemma again. Sometimes you see a trap. And even though it is an obvious trap, and you know it’s a terrible idea. You just have to stick your hand in that trap. I intrigue challenged with Arianne. Dead Arianne.

By this point, I’m really clinging onto the game in terms of board position but I’m sat around 12 power. Condemned on Tyrion is saving my life, as it’s keeping the opponent from winning power challenges and but I am refilling The Boneway, quite nicely. In fact, it has now got 5 vengeance tokens on it.

I play First Snow of Winter to reduce the opponents board to just Syrio and Tyrion and marshal Ghaston Grey and no characters. In the challenges phase, the only play for my opponent is to pass challenges, win dominance and see what happens next turn. If he does a challenge, he’ll lose one of the characters to Ghaston and another to my Marched the following turn. Oh, and I’ll win with The Boneway.

The first time I triggered The Boneway, my opponent specially asked if it was two or three power gained. I explained it was three. This information did not stay in his head. He throws intrigue with Tyrion. Ghaston, Boneway.

SEE YA!

Round 3 – ??? – Martell – Banner of the Lion

Another name I can’t remember, sorry! And I can’t really remember a massive amount about this game.

But I did get away with setting up just Arianne and also having two Imprisoned in hand when my opponent playing The Mountain. Which is one major threat gone, even after a Confiscation. The challenges phases were a mess in this game as we both had Nymeria on the table, but going second most turns meant I got the most value of out her.

I think it was the classic, winning challenges, Lord of the Crossing bonus and Boneway to finish the game off.

Lunch

Feeling pretty good about my record I went out to find some lunch and ended up going to…

wagamamas-withpeel

It was delicious.

Round 4 – Tom Smith – Baratheon – Fealty

And here’s where things start to go wrong. I foolish throw away a setup of Harmen Uller, Bastard Daughter and Roseroad. Because, in my twisted mind, setting up a Bastard Daughter reduces the usefulness of Harmen Uller.

Fucking Idiot

As a punishment, I get a much worse three card setup and a hand with three reducer chuds and bastard two bastard Bastard Daughters, and my only “good” character, Littlefinger, has been knelt by Melisandre.

Maester Cressen is fucking up my shit with the attachments, and I have to put a Milk of the Poppy on him instead of something good. The obvious strategy here, is to play the two Bastard Daughters and then Wildfire to hit Tom’s hand and hope for the best with top decking next turn.

Tom gets Stannis, I get nothing.

The game is already running away from me, but I manage to grab Ghaston Grey, which I use on Robert Baratheon. We do the same thing next turn, I have zero power, Tom is sitting around 10 power. Even with a second Ghaston, I can’t stop Tom from closing that game.

Only one loss though, I can still make the cut by winning my next few games…

Round 5 – Even – Martell – Fealty

So I got Even’d here. Anyone who’s played an FFG card game in the UK (and beyond) will know that feeling. The man is a card game machine. In 2016, he’s won a Regional in all the games he plays. Which is all of them. Scarily good.

Even was slightly weakened, however, after going to time in his last game, but that didn’t really make that much of a difference.

I mulliganed out of fairly bad hand, and got an even worse one. Two cards, one character to chose from either Caleotte or Rattleshirt’s Raiderand Ghaston Grey. Of course now, the obvious choice is setting up both characters. But I didn’t do that, I went with Ghaston and the Rattleshirt’s, who were promptly Marched to the Wall.

Losing the only attachment hate in the deck was harsh, especially as my Nymeria quickly ate a Milk of the Poppy. Even wasn’t kind enough to even give me some challenges to lose in the first turn so rebuilding in the second turn was a little stalled.

I did what I could to put up a fight against Even’s deck, but I just couldn’t maintain board parity and my Boneway was very quickly overflowing with vengeance tokens. Sadly, it didn’t make any difference.

Round 6 – Ian Pollard – Lannister – Banner of the Kraken

I was still holding out the hope that a 4-2 finish might sneak me into the cut given strength of schedule, but even that was looking unlikely. Thankfully, I got paired against a fellow First Edition Elitist in Ian, who is always a pleasure to play against.

For some stupid reason, I forgot to trigger The Long Plan after losing a challenge. This was very costly, as it meant that I couldn’t place Attainted on Tyrion and play Arianne the following turn, after missing with Heads on Spikes.

Following that, after bringing Nymeria into play to shut down the Mountain, she got hit with a Tears of Lys. Very nasty. With Nym gone, I really, really needed to see a Milk of the Poppy and an Imprisoned to stop Tyrion and The Mountain dominating the game. I grabbed a Milk with Building Orders and begrudgingly stuck it The Mountain, with my deck being quite heavily weighted towards five cost characters.

This was only a temporary relief, as Ian played Confiscation the next turn and I didn’t punish it with Naval Superiority. I was seriously lacking in resources and could only really afford to play out Arianne each turn and keep The Mountain off with Areo Hotah. This didn’t last long though, as even with two First Snow turns, Areo fell victim to intrigue claim.

With not a lot of hope left in the game, I duped solitary Arianne, to try and get through Ian’s military challenge and claw an angle back into the game with a military challenge definitely killing one of Tyrion or The Mountain. And then Arianne was Put to the Sword, saved then killed for military claim. Well played Ian!

Final record 3-3. After a strong start, I let myself believe and then:

Fucked it

Seaham Regional 2016 – Top 8

Preamble

Regional season has started! Well it started a month ago, but they were in the South and therefore not worthy of my time. This was my first tournament where I was representing two Thrones teams, the Port Street Elite (Wedge, Arwel and myself) and Team England (Wedge, Dave Bamford and Josh Chambers).

We were ready to intentionally draw our way to the cut, talk in a cliquey manner between rounds about the merits of First Edition, and – most importantly – use our Small Council baubles to police the tone of those hawks online when they’re talking shite.

The Deck

The plan for this Regional was to play Martyrell, as they’re two houses I haven’t had much experience with so far in 2.0, and I had a list ready to take to Port Street. Then I lost faith in it on the drive home from work, kept the Banner cards and made it main house Lannister like a try hard.

The idea was Lannister and Tyrell good stuff, with a slight Knights sub theme, because really I am boring player and deck builder who’s just not very good. It did okay in testing, only losing one game against a Greyjoy Fealty deck it had already beaten twice when I was five pints in and not getting the luck of the draw.

I would type the decklist out, but really, who cares?

Round 1 – Dave Bamford – Baratheon – Banner of the Kraken

Disastrous start for Team England, as we were drawn against each other. This is also a bad start because Dave and I are supposed to play each other in 5th round “win and ins”. 2.0 has absolutely no respect for First Edition traditions. Anyway, Dave and I both go for the risky one character setup, Tywin with a Green Dreams attached and Asha Greyjoy. Neither of us March to the Wall turn one, however, I did get to use my Green Dreams earlier than I would have liked as Tywin got hit with some Filthy Accusations.

With Tywin locked down for a round, I Traded with the Pentoshi and went first to fill out the board. Dave got his kneel on the go with Melisandre on the board, which took out either The Hound or Tyrion. Then stuck a Stinking Drunk on Tywin, locking him out of next turn as well. Great start.

I did my best to recover board position in turn two, but Dave got a Lightbringer‘d Robert Baratheon out on the table and another Stinking Drunk on Tywin. With kneel at critical mass, and Bob defending challenges for fun, there was not a lot I could do.

Turn three  I draw into a kill, but Robert gets a dupe, and Stannis hits the board. Tywin has participated in precisely zero challenges, The Tickler isn’t hitting anything, and given the number of knelt characters Gregor isn’t having the best time of things either.

Before long, Bamford has convincingly won.

Round 2 – Ash Eddon – Targaryen – Banner of the Lion

After a fairly terrible start, I console myself with the fact a 4-1 can still make the cut, and if Dave plays like he did against me for the rest of the day, I’ll probably have a decent strength of schedule. Ash was all over me in the early exchanges of this game, we both had Jaime on the board, but he had far more supporting characters backing him up.

I only just survived in round two thanks to a well timed Nightmares on a Storm of Swords turn, and even with a Wildfire Assault in turn three I was still struggling for board parity, had Ash drawn into a kill event or Khal Drogo, I would have been done for.

I managed to Much and More into a Western Fiefdom for a bit of much needed economy, and then drew Tywin Lannister. Ash let slip that he had to play his own Wildfire Assault soon, so I went into lockdown mode. For the next few turns I threw everything in the way of Ash’s challenges, and trying to stop his Jaime winning too many military challenges, and build a board around getting Tywin out, and keeping him and Jaime around.

I saved my Marched to the Wall to fire turn seven at the same time as Wildfire. leaving me going first with Jaime and Tywin against Ash’s Jaime and a lesser character. I top deck Gregor Clegane and Put to the Sword. With the tide fully turned in my favour, I had ground out a win from the edge.

Round 3 – Craig – Lannister – Lord of the Crossing

This was a fun game, I setup a duped Hound and a weenie of some kind, then opened up with Trading with the Pentoshi versus A Noble Cause. I go first and use my Trading gold to marshal a duped Tywin Lannister and a Tickler. My opponent does exactly the same in his marshalling phase, neat.

Given the stalemate in board positions, we both elect not to do any challenges and go straight to Dominance. As first player, I give my Tickler a spin and hit Tywin. Ouch. It’s difficult when such a random swing happens like this, because you have to look apologetic and earnest so as not to be a complete dickhead, but inside you feel like you’ve just pushed an seven year old boy out of a window and enjoyed it.

My opponent said this was a one in a million hit. I’m no expert in statistics, but I think realistically it’s more of a two in forty three hit. Still unlikely though, and a massive swing in my favour. Craig’s Tickler hits a Red Cloak, but I don’t have any on the board, so not a major deal.

Turn two, I have Ser Ilyn Payne in hand and go for Calling the Banners to get enough gold to pay for him. However, in quite a turn up of events, my opponent drops First Snow of Winter (with no 4 costers or above on the board) and I draw into Ser Gregor Clegane, who clearly takes priority when there aren’t going to be any 3 cost characters on the board in the challenges phase anyway.

Except for my Hound, who is still duped from setup. Seems legit.

Anyway, I go first and play Gregor, Craig marshals Cersei. The First Snow of Winter goes off and leaves Cersei on her own. She doesn’t last the military challenge. I swing the intrigue with Tywin and pass, with The Hound still standing.

Craig decides to play big with a I Never Bet Against my Family, and comes out big with Tyrion and Jaime. If I had that, I would’ve been tempted to use that satisfy military claim and keep big Cers about, but each to their own. Craig picks Jaime, forces the Hound back to hand with a military challenge and gets an intrigue away for free. Then he fucks off to the discard pile.

With just Gregor and Tywin on the board the chances of one of them being Marched to the Wall seemed pretty high. However, given that Ilyn Payne was still in hand, I was pretty confident I was going to kill whatever Craig marshalled as soon as he marshalled it anyway. From here I just ground out a win with the King’s Justice and a military challenges keeping the board small, and the lovely combo of Casterly Rock and Small Council Chambers (which I think is better than people are giving it credit for, just don’t play it against Greyjoy) closing the game.

Round 4 – Sternly, no – Night’s Watch – Fealty

At 2-1 I was feeling better about my prospects of making the cut, however I wasn’t that keen on playing against a very defensive Night’s Watch deck, especially not one that manages to get three Ranging Parties out very early on. However, I drew most of my renown characters, starting with Tywin, then following up with Randyll, Gregor and the Knight of Flowers.

Sternly was doing all kinds of Night’s Watch nonsense, throwing birds around and recovering them with Chett and had a reasonable board presence, just not quite enough to stop my big guys running about. If there’s one way of getting around a defence deck, it’s gaining loads of power from winning challenges.

Round 5 – Andy Hornby – Targaryen – Banner of the Lion

This was a very close game, which a win and in really should be. We were also deck checked, which put us about 10 minutes behind the rest of the field meant that by the end of the game we had quite an audience. I seem to play worse when people are watching me, or I play just as badly, but people point out my mistakes. Which then plays on my mind and I make further mistakes. The yips.

I see both of my Tears of Lys early in this game, which I use to take out a Dragon (meh, but attrition innit) and The Hound (Fuck yeah, him and Tyrion were causing many headaches for me), but generally Andy is coming out ahead.

By the time I get Tywin on the board, I’m facing down Mirri Maz Durr and Tyrion. Luckily though, I find my anti Mirri tech in the Red Cloaks and start to power them right up with the excess Tywin gold, I also manage to get a Knight of Flowers (plus a Little Bird) out, who kindly takes the “heat” off the Red Cloaks with a Crown of Gold.

I manage to win a clutch intrigue challenge when Andy miscalculates and goes in for 7 strength, not realising, that I haven’t moved a gold onto the Red Cloaks for the Challenges phase yet, meaning I can win on defence with a weenie and keep my good guys in play for retaliation.

With Tywin neutralising the Mirri threat even with Dracarys! lowering his strength, I manage to eek out a win with the Small Council Chamber, and renown slowly closing the game out. This was the closest a game going to time that I’d played all day, and I think I was quite lucky to get away with winning it.

At 4-1, I was definitely in the cut and had successfully pulled of the submarine. I was pretty pleased with the result.

Top  8 – Tom – Baratheon – Fealty

A high pressure game against Baratheon fealty, with kneel being the only thing I’ve lost to already today. This game was pretty much decided in turn one, I open with Trading against A Noble Cause, with Tywin, 3 other intrigue characters (TyrionArbor Knight and Brothel Madame) and Tears of Lys in hand. Robert and Fiery Followers hit the board, with the already setup Melisandre taking out Tywin.

Tom was playing first, gives me a gold for the Brothel Madame, and fires intrigue with the Fiery Followers. If I block the challenge with Tyrion, Robert can intimidate the Arbor Knight and defend my intrigue challenge with Melisandre, meaning I don’t get to Tears Robert. So I have to risk letting the challenge go unopposed and hope that the one in five chance that Tom doesn’t pick Tears.

He does pick the Tears for intrigue claim and my big chance at killing Robert Baratheon early has been missed. This is most likely karma for the lucky Tywin hit earlier in the day, so can’t complain too much about not getting lucky, as I almost definitely did just chance my way into the Top 8.

From there it was just really difficult to recover board position with Melisandre and Robert wrecking my face. I put up what I could to try and stay in the game, but it was just too much trying get around Tom’s huge board and his draw engine coming from the Red Keep. Well played to Tom.

Arwel, Dave and I all went out in the Top 8, Wedge continued his winning ways all the way to final.

Six Person Melee Banter

Given that Wedge and Even had made the finals, the rest of us poor souls who travel with these annoyingly good players were sat about with nothing better to do. Add in Josh and Dave who were hanging about for the banter, we had enough for a six person melee game. I usually hate melee, as I’m not very good at it, but given that everyone involved is hilarious and we were playing our Joust decks, it could only be fun.

In this game we had:

  • Josh – Night’s Watch – Lords of the Crossing
  • Tony – Martell – Lords of the Crossing
  • Me – Lannister – Banner of the Rose
  • Andrew – Lannister – Banner of the Dragon
  • Dave – Baratheon – Banner of the Kraken
  • Helen – Stark – Fealty

We didn’t manage to finish this game, because the final finished (Wedge won, the bastard) before we got chance and really everyone wanted to go home, but that didn’t stop everyone being a dick to each other for a good hour or so.

Before we even began, I managed to incur the wrath of Helen and Josh for considering putting Weapons at the Door in my plot deck instead of Trading with the Pentoshi, apparently that was bad banter, but I don’t really see a problem with it myself.

Some other things that happened in this game:

  • Andrew playing Game of Thrones to try and stop anyone doing anything.
  • Andrew plays a Treachery on Josh’s Kingsroad, with the gold I gave him from Trading.
  • Me introducing Bronn into the fray and missing my action window to buy him back at the end of marshalling.
  • Josh firing back with A Meager Contribution when Andrew counted income.
  • Dave kneeling my Hound for no good reason.
  • Helen dropping Varys and everyone being terrified of Varys.
  • Me throwing an Intrigue challenge and Tony, and then another intrigue challenge with a banter Olenna’s Informant. Tony forgetting to use The Long Plan.
  • Me playing Much and More to try and find a Nightmares, but also to slow the game down giving everyone cards..
  • My Tickler being the one chance of stopping Varys ruining everyone’s day.
  • Tony Nightmares‘ing the Tickler to dick me over, rather than stopping Varys.
  • All looking lost (as I was going to March anybody left after Varys) until Dave Nightmares Varys.
  • Josh playing Trading to give everyone three gold.
  • Fucking Andrew using another Treachery, stopping my Kingsroad going off. This was an attempt to stop me being able to afford Jaime, when I had 7 gold left. Varys, Melisandre and Nymeria were still on the board at this point.
  • Me going first and winning as many intrigue challenges as possible to secure second place with the Small Council Chamber. Then everybody else won power challenges against me.
  • Josh baiting Andrew into doing a military challenge against him then, Josh ambushing in Allister Thorne and then Watcher on the Walls‘ing to kill all the attacking characters.
  • Everyone wanting to leave, but also finish that challenges phase.
  • Tony winning.
  • Josh getting the last action of the game kneeling Northern Rookery with Halder to give a Steward plus one strength.

Meagre Contributions

  • Thank you to Games of War, Seaham, for hosting a well run tournament. Also thank you for having all your stock severly reduced because the store is closing. That meant I could pick up Wolves of the North for bargain.
  • Thanks to all my opponents, you were lovely.
  • Team England – Josh, Wedge & Dave – 3/4 in the top cut! Who knows where our ceiling is with Thrones?
  • Port Street Elite – Arwel & Wedge – 3/3 in the top cut! Who knows where our ceiling is with Thrones?
  • Wedge for being good bants in the approx 5 hours we spent going Manchester -Seaham – Manchester in one day.
  • No thanks to Wedge for winning, meaning we were some of the last to leave.
  • Even, Tony, Helen and Andrew for bringing Scottish bantz south of the border.
  • And of course, you the reader, for enabling this nonsense. I’ll see you next week for the Stoke regional.

Just one last thing…

Mach's Thrones Book

Coming soon…

Gossip & Lies – Intentional Bores

Gossip & Lies - 14/04/16 - Intentional Bores

Welcome back to another edition of Gossip & Lies – The Thrones Weekly Dirtsheet.

Just a small bit of house keeping before we get down to the boiled piss. Obviously, last weeks edition missed it’s deadline and didn’t get published. This was entirely my fault, I let my public down and I hold my hand up to that. You deserve better from the fourth estate.

It also, was always in my mind that the first edition was going to say it was weekly, then just be a one off. A good heel is always one step ahead of the crowd, ready to piss them off in a different way as soon they start getting cheers..

But I had quite a long walk home from the pub this week and I’ve probably got enough half jokes about the mad shite people have been doing online to get a full feature out of it this week.

Intentional Bores

There’s been some more drama this week about Intentional Draws. While I was pitching hot takes to my editor, I told them I had two possible angles on it, but couldn’t decide which one. My editor said they both sound weak as piss, write them both and ironic pre-amble and you might just get away with it.

Hot Take #1

Sometimes I bring a notepad with me to the weekly Thrones meetup, and am as guilty as any one else for having a quick, mindless doodle during my opponents marshalling phase or while they’re doing challenge maths that I can’t be bothered to work out though.

In a tournament scenario however, intentionally drawing is just not on. It’s disrespectful and it affects your own game. You should be thinking a few turns ahead, not working hard on a sketch or colouring something in.

Hot Take #2

I can’t imagine ever doing an intentional draw. Mainly because I don’t think I’ve ever had an opponent who I haven’t wanted to brutally murder for the crime of being an adult who plays a card game as a hobby. Utter scum, the lot of you.

Mad Shite Yer Blathering

Fuck off with yer Magic.

Discord

The author, trapped in quandary over whether it’s ethical to create more boiled piss to write about.

Who Reviews the Reviewers – Part 32537548

Idiots have been kicking off again over review scores. And not just idiots who think film critics have an agenda against Batman v Superman (more like an agenda against wank films, amirite?).

My favourite idiot this week, bravely took a stand on CardGameDB to expose the corruption of the reviewers. They had unfairly rated the card To the Rose Banner! by being so small minded and not considering an illegal combo. Honestly, where do they get these reviewers from?

Said poster did not back down when he was called on his Mad Shite by people much cleverer than me, with the top sass came from Istaril. How was he supposed to know to check the Rules Reference Guide* for a rules question before mouthing off online?

It really was an impressive display of narrow mindedness while shouting down others for being narrow minded.

*Full disclosure, I have never read the Rules Reference Guide or the standard rulebook for 2.0 and I’m mouthing off online, which might make me a hypocrite.

Entrance Music (For a Card) – Expensive Cat

All I really want is for Thrones to be more like professional wrestling, which means cards need entrance music. So I’m taking the liberty of having my own gossip column to give every card their theme song.

Cat Stark has recently undergone a gimmick change and come back as a flashier, more expensive card. She is however, still a cat, and as such there’s no better entrance music for Expensive Cat than Shonen Knife’s I Am A Cat.

This is definitely not just an excuse to post a Shonen Knife song because I’m going to watch their gig tonight.

Obviously, writing this fucking nonsense takes a lot of work, if you’d like to support future editions of Gossip & Lies, why not give your money me on Patreon? If that, frankly ludicrous, request is too much for you, you can find me on Twitter as @JackMachin, listen to me talk about wrestling on The “K” Word podcast or check out my band Twin Visions.

Thank you for reading, I’ll (probably) see you next week.

Gossip & Lies – The Arbor Duplicate Drama

Gossip & Lies

Hello there, and welcome to the first edition of Gossip & Lies – The Thrones Weekly Dirtsheet.

I’m Mach, and much like the image above suggests I’m here to bring you this week’s boiled piss, concentrated.

We’ll be taking a snarky look back over the previous seven days of furious overreactions, wild speculation, spurious gossip and what happens when Banter goes wrong.

In person, the Thrones community is full of some of the nicest, funniest people I’ve ever met. Like everything else,  on the internet the very same community seems to be so much worse.

Arbor Duplicate Drama

The AGOT 2.0 discussion group on Facebook is a haven for “Community Discussion & Play,”  about “deck archetypes, builds, theory and more.” And more is what we’re going to talk about here.

There was some confusion on this group, as to whether or not you can set up duplicates of The Arbor. It’s hard to tell where the genuine rules questions stop and the parody posts start. Thankfully though, our beloved and benevolent Facebook group mods swept in with swift, decisive action delivering posts sweet justice like Kevin Costner. They stopped the trolls in their tracks and nothing more was said of it.

Apart from the following all happening:

  • The joke posts kept coming
  • Cries of censorship from idiots
  • There was discord in the Discord chat,
  • The  beloved and benevolent group Mods looked like tools
  • Antagonistic Private messages about being antagonistic were exchanged.
  • The parody group 2.0 group for 1st Edition Elistists roundly mocked everybody.
  • Thrones players globally were united in boiled piss.

Who Reviews the Reviewers?

Let me preface this by saying, anyone who takes the time to write any kind of legitimate Thrones related content is a saint, and their efforts should be applauded. However, the latest chapter pack review got the piss boiling like no man’s business.

And which card was it that set everyone off? The Arbor of course. Many felt that the reviews had vastly underrated the card, with no one giving it a perfect 5 out of 5 score.

Another card (The First Snow of Winter) did get a perfect score, and obviously this got people up in arms. The comments devolved into a fairly amusing discussion of how the reviewers underrating and overrating cards at the same time. Fantastic.

Monday Morning Podcast Pileup

Somehow four of the seven million Thrones podcasts (Beyond the Wall, Banter Behind the Throne and Great Beards of Westeros, Wardens of the Midwest) were published on CardgameDB on the same day. I haven’t listened to any of them, because like all good hacks, I don’t need to research what I’m writing about.

They’ve made it to this column however, because the fire brigade did have to be called in as a result  of this sick burn from Dave Bamford ,UK Boro Melee National Champion, Host of Banter Behind the Throne and Generally All-Round Nice Guy on rival podcast host Istaril.

Dobbler Don’t Like Alt Art

Going through relatively unscathed between all the Arbor drama, former World Champion Greg Atkinson has come out against using Alt Art cards in competitive play. The post was long and Facebook formatting is wank so I didn’t read it. But someone probably got cross about it.

Yeezus Returns Fashionably Late for Easter

The one shining light in the Thrones Online Community, CardGameDB poster Yeezus, made a triumphant return to his thread “how do i get good at this game?” I’ll be honest, Yeezus is so good he makes me feel sick.

I’ve written over 20,000 words in total about Thrones in the past three years and none of it comes close to this level of brilliance. To try and explain it here wouldn’t do it justice, and would ruin perfect satire with deconstructionalist, navel gazing wankery. Just read that entire thread and subscribe to Tidal.

Come back next week for another pointless waste of time covering the drama, the idiocy, and most importantly, the boiled piss.

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.