We were somewhere around the middle of March when it became clear what had to be done. A combination of poor organisation, communication and pure luck meant that the two most Northern regionals for Game of Thrones fell on the same weekend.
Knowing that Stockton had a larger player base, far better facilities for hosting a tournament and much more passion for Thrones from store itself, getting people to come to Manchester was always going to be a tough sell. If our Store Championship attendance was anything to go by, you could probably just have turned up at the Regional and be guaranteed a playmat.
When Wedge joined the Manchester meta, a plan started to come together. With two potential houses for Thrones players to stay at, the possibility that we could make a long weekend of Thrones out the two tournaments really fell into place.
With a minibus coming down from Edinburgh, a car full from London and a few other Thrones stragglers from all directions, the Thrones Weekender was born.
This was honestly one of the most fun weekends of my life, which probably says more about my other weekends than anything else. I’m going to try and get as much of the shenanigans as possible into this report, but inevitably, something will be missed. Before we go any further, I’ll leave you with this:
Don’t trust your narrator, he was drunk. And Withnail along while you read, if you dare.
It was fat Friday in the office, which meant a lengthy pub lunch (the Bull’s Head in Handforth) and a pint (Stella). Start as you mean to continue. And so after work, I sank a swift one (Heineken) at the Pointing Dog (Cheadle Hulme), while keeping an eye on the time for the imminent arrival of my first guest for the weekend, Dave Bamford.
Dave and I have played each other quite a lot. He smashed me in my first ever tournament joust game, and has beaten me just about about every other time since then, apart from a few weeks previously at the Stoke regional, where he forgot Jaime was ‘No Attachments” and made the pro play of Mel’s Favor’ing my Penny.
Anyway, Dave was slightly delayed, but thankfully arrived at mine just in time for us to drive to Piccadilly station to collect co-conspirator number two, Josh Chambers, who was coming over from . Little did we know at this moment, that Josh was playing the wrong Ser Arys Oakheart.
Within seconds of arriving back at mine, it was time to raid the drinks stash. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that if you throw the party, you buy the booze.
From here we began our evening of merriment, Josh told us the tale of his success in Conquest nationals, there was brief discussions about the other games that don’t matter Netrunner, Lord of Rings, Cthullu, Star Wars.
Ben and Sam rounded out the guest list for the night, partook in the drinking (several bottles of export, exponentially stronger gin & tonics, shots of apple sourz, gin & fanta, and finally a gin & banter (gin+fanta+apple sourz) and it was time for some deck testing, and lots and lots of drinking. The only game I can really remember was against Bamford when my Bara AaA rush deck went to 8 or 9 plots against his Targ 222, and then lost. Silliness.
We left it way too late to order food, but got a Godfather’s Pizza delivered by Just Eat anyway. Josh fell asleep in his kebab and disappeared. Sam also went to bed, because he wasn’t as hammered as everyone else. Dave and I talked in depth about the UK tax system, whether I actually had to pay taxes on my freelance earnings (I do), and some other nonsense.
It later transpired that Josh had snuck into my wardrobe, ready to jump out at me for maximum banter when I eventually went to sleep. The problem came when Josh fell asleep in the wardrobe. Sam sums the rest of the events quite nicely on his blog, also well worth reading that for a TR that doesn’t go to 1000 words before even mentioning anything about a tournament.
Anyway, Josh then stumbled from the wardrobe to the bed that had been reserved for Ben, as tomorrow’s TO, but I don’t think anyone can really blame him for that.
Around early AM, I decided it was time to sleep, but instead of sleeping I thought I’d have a heart to heart with my best friend (Sam) about life, careers, Thrones and everything else. He wanted to sleep. Neither of us were thrilled with the others behaviour.
I’ll be honest, when I woke up, I felt fantastic, fantastic, fantastic. So fantastic in fact, the only real option was to have a cheeky can of Carling in the garden. It was legit. After rousing the troops, we all piled into Ben’s car and made our way to Fanboy. Which was closed, obviously. So we went for breakfast at Subway. I got away with buying a footlong sub for the price of a six inch, I knew from there that
Round 1 – Josh Chambers – Lannister Aloof and Apart – Pentoshi Manor
Okay, I have no idea what happened in this game. To be honest, I’m not positive it was Josh that I played against. On the way back from Stockton I made a list of all the people at the tournament and used a process of elimination to work out who I played in the first round, and the last name on that list was Josh.
I won the game though, probably with the Knight of Flowers. That guy is legit. You know who’s not legit though? The wrong Ser Arys Oakheart. Josh was playing him and I’m absolutely sure that if he was playing the right one he would’ve won this game.
Round 2 – Vince – Greyjoy Old Way – Naval Escort
I’m not entirely sure where the Bellsprouts joke came from. But someone thought boats sounded like Bellsprout (as well the implication that anyone playing boats is a bellend), so from now until the end of time anyone playing a deck with loads of boats is a Bellsprout.
Vince however is not a bellend, but a very good Thrones player who I’ve not had the chance to play before. This game was a classic encounter of stall versus rush. I dominated in the early game, and got to about 14 power by turn three. However, I made the decision to hold one last bomb character (I think it was Robert Baratheon (fat)) back, just incase I didn’t make the win that turn, and could recover from the Valar.
This plan didn’t work, after Vince’s reset, I top decked badly and couldn’t recover or protect my lead and I died a slow death by bellsprouts. 1-1
Round 3 – Mike Clarke – Targaryen Song of Fire – Daenerys Targaryen
I was interested to see how a Song of Fire deck played, having tried it out of Lannister and decided that No Agenda was just better. Dany was the predictable choice for restricted card, but Mike got unlucky and didn’t see at all in our relatively short game.
Stannis got Flame Kissed and some other burn early doors, but that was fine as I was winning most of the Bay of Ice battles between Mike and I, keeping a steady card advantage and just throwing more characters down than Mike could possibly hope to burn. And then I was at 15 power, and it was lunch time.
Lunch – Cheeky Nandos – Piccadilly Gardens
It was lunch time, and with Wamma, Mike and Becky already in Nandos. Sam and I decided to join them. I wasn’t that hungry, but I was thirsty and upon seeing that the rest of them were drinking, I dabbled in, as a wanker might say, a cerveza and some fancy olives. Sam got a healthy salad.
Round 4 – Dave Bamford – Martell No Agenda – Venomous Blade
Continuing the theme for the day, I only got paired against people who were staying at my house that night. None of them had the decency to throw the game outright, except Josh who was playing the wrong Ser Arys Oakheart.
I wasn’t expecting an easy game against Dave, but I also wasn’t expecting the absolute battering I received. If there’s one deck that can go toe to toe in terms of speed with Baratheon Aloof and Apart, it’s Martell No Agenda. Especially not one that has Quentyn and a Flea Bottom Scavenger in hand turn one. Dave correctly predicts that I’ll open with Retaliation, sees my Bay of Ice and we have a Retaliation off, I think.
Dave also got Ellaria Sand out early on, who was really rather annoying against my Knight of Flowers, essentially negating his renown for the entirety of the time she was on the board.
Anyway, Turn 2 Dave uses Summoned by the Conclave for the right Ser Arys Oakheart, and discards my Willas Tyrell. Turn 3 he flips To the Spears, drops a card into shadows turning off my Knight of Flowers and then marshals The Red Viper. There’s no recovering from that.
Swift One – Dry Bar – Oldham Street
Mine and Dave’s game was over so quickly that we had time for a cheeky one. I think Dave was a little jealous of the fact I’d had a beer at Nandos and wanted to get back on it. I was not going to deny anyone that.
After a brief foray into Allotment, which is lovely, but not the kind of place you want quick, cheapish pint, we settled on Dry Bar, as its where Wedge and I drink after Thrones every Wednesday. We even managed to secure mine and Wedge’s booth.
While we were in the pub, I was getting some text updates from Ben about some unpleasant scenes happening off screen. Sam had been on fire all day, and here he was in round 4, utterly smashing some unknown player by the name of James “JCWamma” Waumsley.
This match was so one sided in fact, on the way back to Fanboy, Dave and I stopped in Travelling Man for Dave to get the latest Star Wars chapter pack., and we picked up a Sansa Stark badge to give to Wamma. AYOOOOOO.
Round 5 – Becky – Lannister Aloof and Apart – Something
By this point, I’d procured a plastic bottle, and started on the cans of gin and slimline tonic I have in my bag, cleverly avoiding the venues strict no alcohol policy, because I am a badass and a rebel. Becky was also drinking from a hip flask, having had a can confiscated earlier in the day.
This game is hazy, but I know I won it quite quickly. Maybe I setup a Street of Silk but perhaps I didn’t. Possibly it was a Bloody Gate, I honestly don’t know. I spammed dudes and won with renown and unopposed.
At 3-2 I was fairly sure I wouldn’t make the cut, so I thrashed through some more cans of gin. And then I filmed the links for the sexy video that appears (will appears) at the top of this post. Then when Ben announced the cut, somehow I’d snuck through in seventh place. My top 8 game was starting, and I was out of gin, but thankfully Josh was going out to the shop and very kindly bought me some more cans, just so I could properly concentrate in my highly important match against…
Sam Wilson – Lannister NA – Castellan of the Rock
One of the (numerous) unwritten rules to mine and Sam’s friendship is that when we play Thrones casually he wins. And when we play in tournaments, I win. But given that Sam had been taking scalps all day, I wasn’t too confident going into the match.
Being somewhat familiar with Lannister, I had a feeling that the longer the game went on, the more it tipped the balance in Sam’s favour. So my only real option with the deck was to rush. Which I did, quite successfully, until turn 3 when my board got Valar‘d and I hadn’t held any cards back, because that kind of thing is for squares.
Sam was also looking at an empty hand, and neither of us had any draw on the board. So the next few rounds were weird, with us both just seeing what we top decked and hoping it was good. For a few turns, it wasn’t and luckily for me, it wasn’t for Sam either.
Then I saw Stannis Baratheon and Brienne of Tarth, and I was going first, and I was going to win the game. Until Sam dropped King Joffrey’s Guard, and I saw that a 2 claim military challenge that I had no way of opposing was coming my way. Charlie, managed to capture this moment beautifully.
So that was me out of the Top 8, can you guess how I celebrated? It was more gin.
Saturday Night – Dee Dee Na Na Na
Seriously, did this video really need a HD remaster? I think we’re going bulleted here, because sentences are hard (like your dad was when he read this blog post).
- We went to Dry Bar, because its ace.
- But first I lead an expedition party back to mine to drop stuff off.
- Then we went to a pizza place, that everyone else said was well hipster, but really for a Northern Quarter restaurant barely even registered on the hipster scale.
- Back to Dry bar!
- People started getting tired, so I used my magic app to send people home in a taxi for £5.
- Unfortunately by the time I wanted to use the magic app, my phone was dead. So I had to pay full price for a taxi. Madness.
- Then we continued drinking at my house.
- And this happened, since then I have also accidentally left Shireen in my shirt pocket when it went in the wash. So now she’s been sacrificed to the Drowned Gods. What is dead may never die and all that bellsprout nonsense.
I woke up at around 7.30, quite hammered and knowing we needed to be on the road in an hour or so. I took an early shower, cracked a can, and started waking people up for another day of Thrones.
Worryingly, one of the last people to wake up was Dave, our driver for Stockton. But as Josh was also in our car, and he was TO’ing the Stockton tournament, we were pretty confident they wouldn’t be starting without us. If I can give you one bit of advice for not being late to Thrones’ tournaments, its to keep the TO your house the night before.
Due to popular demand, and my own laziness, part two STOCKTON will follow later.