Stoke Regional Top 8 (2nd in Swiss)

Just got back from another great tournament run by the Guys that Game, and congratulations to Wedge for another tournament win. Again great atmosphere at the tournament, there’s a really thriving community for AGOT in the country at the moment and it’s a pleasure to play (a small) part in that.

I didn’t really go to this tournament expecting to win anything, I’d have been happy going 3-2/2-3 finishing comfortably mid table and putting up a decent fight against one or two of the big names on the UK scene. Safe to say though, I am pretty happy with finishing in second place in the swiss.

Thanks to everyone I played against today, anyone I chatted with between games, Cannon for giving me a slice of pizza, and Ben for driving us over from Manchester.

I’d like to apologise now if I’ve misremebered anything or got anyone’s name wrong. as I was unforgivably hungover this morning.

The Deck – Ain’t No Party Like  A Preston Party

I’ve been playing this deck or a version of this deck at all the tournaments so far this year. Which some might find boring, but I don’t have all the cards yet and have only really been buying selectively to put cards in this deck. So a big thanks to everyone in the Manchester meta who have been Harry’d in the Riverlands, Alchemist Guild Hall’d and subject to the Preston party for months now.

Previous iterations have included Ashemark discard shenanigans with Jorah, high aggro two claim plots and keeping it royal with Kings, Queens and King Joffrey’s Guard.

I’d pretty much resigned myself to knowing that it probably won’t win anything competitive, but it’s fun for me to play, a deck I put together myself and a little bit different from the regular Lannister control. I tell myself that to justify using the City plots, even though their a bit hack.

FAQ 5.0 was a massive turning point for the deck. Starting with the three P’s (Preston, Pentoshi and Pyromancer’s Cache) I had a decision to make to only keep one of these. Dropping the Cache meant finding a new draw engine, but also meant I could drop a few of the surplus Kings Queens and the accompanying heavy kneel with King Joffrey’s Guard.  Losing 3x Pentoshi was a hit, but it was no way near as key to the deck Preston is/was. Also on their way out where two of the street reducers (Mil/Pow), 3x Increased Levy, Moat Cailin and probably some others I’ve forgotten.

So I had my restricted card and suddenly a lot of room in there for more fun. I figured that with the Refugees now back at my disposal, they’d be a decent pick for the deck, which would in turn make Tunnels more valuable, so I jumped that up  to x2. Following that I realised that if I liked a location enough to put it in once, it could just as well go in twice. So did that the Iron Throne, GTM and King’s Landing (which is insane for draw).

So I was fairly happy with the list but two big question marks remained over Gold Cloaks and Arya. Gold Cloaks were just surplus draw and not on the same level as Tyrion/Jaime/Arianne to justify inclusion. So they were dropped this morning in favour of a Penny as another weenie, more challenge phase control and synergy with Ser Gregor’s Dog. Arya stayed, but she’s very expensive to be running just for repeatable claim soak.

The list is here in ugly text form, and I’ll link to it on the deck section on CardGameDB as soon as it’s live.

House (1)
House Lannister (Core) x1
Agenda (1)
Enough deck construction rambling, now here’s my match report:

Game 1 – ??? – Greyjoy Old Way – Longship Maiden’s Bane

Another apology, my mind was a long way off  taking notes or even thinking about a TR at this point so I can’t remember my opponents name. He got a few warships out early on, but I hit the Preston, AGH and King’s Landing jackpot on my setup/opening hand, as well as plenty of control with a Harry the Riverlands and Secret Orders. I used the Guildhall to lock down the Maiden’s Bane, which would become A Warship Besieged on turn three. Then just pressed on with my challenges. I grabbed some extra power from knocking off the new Theon with City of Soldiers and wrapped up the game a few turns later.

We were one of the first games to finish, so played a second game where I had to work a little harder to get everything going. I got through a shaky t2-t3 where I was mostly on the back foot without letting my opponent get too far ahead power wise. Then everything fell into place and it was back to kneeling cards, then drawing more kneel.

Game 2 – Raga – Martell Conquest Lannister – ??

I’d had some fun in the first game, but thought my luck would run out here. Raga won Winter is Coming last year, which was my first tournament, where I was playing a ‘My First Lanni Deck’ that I took the Gold Cloaks out of on the train in the morning because I wasn’t entirely sure about how shadow cards work.

I got a decent start, shut down the no kneel Tywin with a Secret Orders on T1, after a general fail with Penny put Darkstar into play. I valar’d turn 2, picking up some nice prized goodness, then got the Guildhall out to shut down the Ashemark knight who had come into play and become Raga’s draw engine. The deck was apparently built around icon manipulation, but unfortnately for Raga he didn’t see any of it.

I kept his few characters knelt out, and ploughed ahead with my challenges. At one point I was two power off closing, I had won an Int challenge and held a Condemned by the Council in my hand. I forgot to use it on a Golden Tooth Mines. D’oh. I was so annoyed by this, that I forgot to return Preston pre plot and, as they say, all men must die.

I did draw into the Queen of Thorns however, and that was pretty much game.

Game 3 – Michael Clarke – Lannister No Agenda – Castellan

It took me awhile to get going in this game. I got the kneel/draw/PRESTON trifecta out early on, but Michael’s plots (Dry Season, Attack from Sea) slowed that right down. I seem to remember we both had Tommen, King of Draw out after setup, which was quite amusing. I valar’d (valared?) early in this game too, mainly to get rid of those pesky Brigands, then used the Arianne bomb to flip into City of Spiders at the start of challenges.

I’d built up a fair bit of economy and control through my locations which was enough to see the game out. After that we played another game, Michael used his GJ Black Sails (more on them soon, True Believers!), which had enough cancels and stand, and stand cancels to stop my shenanigans.

Game 4 – Mike Haynes – Greyjoy Black Sails – Fury

Mike was both surprised and impressed that I’d managed to take a City of Shadows deck to 3-0, and admittedly so was I. Winning this game would likely guarantee that I’d make the cut, but it was not to be. There was a slightly odd moment where Mike was convinced I was running A House Divided and dropped Enraged Crewman expecting him to be bounced back into his hand. I was not running A House Divided.

I did what I could to keep Mike out of the hold, but the Enraged Crewman paired with the Hammerhorn raiders just proved too big to keep down. Mike won on T4 after they both survived my valar, and he grabbed three power I’d managed to accumulate on a ridiculously high claim power challenge.

Still it was just one defeat, I had one more game to redeem myself.

Game 5 – Stefan – Lannister KOTHH – Pyromancer’s Cache

Slightly embarrassing start to this one, Eddie announced I was playing against Stef, which I heard as Steph and mistakenly assumed I was playing against the only girl attendee (who is not, as it turns out, called Steph), so I looked a little bit mental. I was intrigued by Stefan’s deck, and looking forward to a mirror match of sorts.

In turn one Stefan dropped First Snow, so I kept Lancel and a Septa in hand, dropped a second GTM and saved two gold to bring the lovely Arya Stark out of shadows in challenges. Confusingly Stefan then dropped Janos’ Conspirator (might have actually been the man himself) and another 2 cost character. Arya ended up being Harried in the Riverlands (bit of blue there, if you’ve read this far), and then Stefan tried an INT which popped his characters back. Presumably ruining his Rule by Decree play next round.

With that safely avoided, I flooded the board with weenies and pulled King’s Landing out. I had loads of draw, and enough control (AGH, Brothel, Secret Orders) to stop him doing just about anything challenge wise. I sensed a valar coming my way, and had to choose between Cersei’s Scheme or valaring myself. Not wanting to be stuck without the option to valar for 6 more turns, all men must die, twice. Except Preston and the Hound because they’d ran bravely back into shadows.

I had enough economy and draw to recover though, and was handed the win by Stefan who, wanting to end the game on his terms, played a You’ve Killed the Wrong Dwarf on my Tywin to give me the final power.

On 4-1, I thought I had a reasonably chance of making the cut, Mike had gone 5-0 so my SOS must’ve been pretty decent. When it came to reading out the names however, and mine didn’t appear in the 6th-12th region I started to get a little worried. I was pleasantly surprised and more than a little shocked to be announced in second place.

Top 8 – Nate – Targ King of Summer – Street Waif

It was clear from the outset that I was playing with the big boys now. Not making the cut for guys like Wedge or Nate is as unfamiliar to them as making it is for me. I was expecting burn in the deck, so made a decision make sure I got Tunnels out on setup. Which I did, without having to mulligan, but also at the expense of draw. Secret Orders against a Summer deck doesn’t really mean much, and I also seemed to be lacking any Riverlands to Harry (I think that’s every variation of that covered now, and somewhere there’s an electrician named Harry Riverlands, who’s website has just been pushed from the number one spot on Google Page Ranking).

I did get all my key locations duped up however, which was nice but ultimately pointless as, oddly, Nate was more bothered about killing my charactersI made a major mistake with not realising/enforcing that the Iron Thrones kneels a character after the ability is cancelled, until after a two claim INT challenge and we were picking plots for the next round. It was a mistake on my part and we’d gone too far to ahead to go back.  Not that the copy of Lashing Out or the Weaponsmith was really going to change the game anyway.

Part of the big problem in this game was having to kneel the Tourney Grounds with AGH to give my characters a chance at sticking around in a challenge. This meant that Nate had four or five characters out and I had no way of stopping them. Safe to say, the game did not last long.

What have we learned?

Firstly, it seems City of Shadows might be viable. There are still a few tweaks to be made to it, Arya’s out and Longship Grey Ghost, Ser Robert Strong and Cape Wrath out of house go in. Other, better, players might put their own spin on it and probably find a few other combos that I’m not currently using.

It was also a great experience making it to the top 8, but I probably need to work on the mental side of the game and get that closer instinct, rather than a Samwise Gamgee “I’m just happy to be here Mr Frodo,” attitude. I’d like to give the deck another run out at the other regionals (Newcastle and Sheffield) but I’m on holiday for both of those, and I’ll be so sad while I’m sat on the beach with a beer.

Which means the next tournament will probably be the national. I’ve played this deck so much now that it’s probably time to build something new, if just to keep things fresh for my meta mates. It’s possible I’ll like the new deck more, but it’s nice to know I’ve got this waiting on the bench if I don’t find something new.

If you’ve made it this far well done! And thanks for reading!

Photo by guzzphoto