UK National – The Absolute Middle

Funko Pop Jaime Lannister

At the UK national this weekend I finished 25th out of 51 with an even record of 3-3. During the six rounds of swiss I played both the eventual overall winner, the unfortunate recipient of the Sansa prize, as well as three others who all made the top 16.

As probably everyone knows by now (if anyone is aware of me at all) I was playing City of Shadows. The deck had a few small changes since the one that did reasonably well at the Stoke regional, so I won’t do a big long thing on it. Basically Preston, Tywin, Arys out, Pentoshi, Syrio and Longship Grey Ghost go in.

Job’s a good’un, have a few pints on Friday night. Roll up Saturday morning, get a soft draw to start off with, then with confidence raised take a scalp or two on my way into Sunday’s Top 16. Or something like that…

Game 1 – JCWamma – Bara KotHH – Red Queen’s Faithful

A soft draw, indeed. We were a little slow starting this game, because of some bye related confusion, I only mention this as it meant our game went on for longer than most and people kept dropping by to scout on what Wamma was playing.

I started out okay in this game, or was allowed to think I was doing okay. Around the 4th or 5th round, I came up with the excellent plan, pop Mandon Moore out of shadows, flip Valar and kill  the duped up Event Bob and the Red Queen’s Faithful. Which is great as long as you actually pop Mandon Moore in the dominance phase.  Which I did not do. Bob and the RQF we’re both saved from my valar and in the same round I got hit with a Favourable Ground. Game over.

Game 2 – Josh ??? – Targ TMP

This game was a fun one. Josh dropped Balerion T1, I grinned with the Arianne bomb ticking away in shadows, annoyingly, he also dropped Strong Belwas to use a save. So I flip into Valar, everyone but the dragon dies, Josh wins a challenge but has no Maester  to put a chain on. This became a recurring theme. I stalled for a fair few turns, keeping Maester’s off the board or Nightmaring their traits away. Josh hit eventually hit 17 power, but had loads of chains left.

We were getting close to the end of the round, Eddie and Steve had both come round saying there’s only a few minutes left. I confirmed that at time it would be a modified win for me if my opponent still had chains on. But as soon as Josh’s Valar was out of the way, I popped the Queen of Thorn’s out of shadows and rushed home a win.

Game 3 – Rob Hayes – Targ No Agenda (summer) – Street Waif

It’s always enjoyable playing against Rob Hayes, he’s got a very dry sense of humour and it tends to be a very sarcastic and self deprecating game. He’d also played two Lanni decks before mine and there was a Lanni mirror match going on either side of our. That made me chuckle. Early on my Moneylender and Weaponsmith got hit with Dissension which took some economy, but Rob was having resource trouble of his own. In fact, the only influence he saw in the entire game was Missandei, who he tutored for with Summoned by the Conclave.

This meant my guys went mostly unburnt, which was ace. My deck went about it’s business, Tyrion nearly got hit by a Dragon Knight/Flame Kissed combo, but the Iron Throne did what Oberyn (more on him later) couldn’t do and saved Tyrion’s life. Without influence Rob couldn’t slow me down. It’s fair to say that I got fairly lucky here, and the game could easily have gone the other way.

Game 4 – Tom – Greyjoy Old Way – Longship’s Maiden Bane

I hate the Old Way. I hate Newly Made Lord. I hate River Blockade. I hate Naval Escort.

That aside, this deck was ace, just not for great for me. Tom’s a nice guy, and we had a decent chat about the merits/flaws of our decks. And then he went on to win the entire tournament, so congratulations to him! I hope he smashes everyone at World’s as well.

Game 5 – ???? – Targ ???? -????

I’d had a couple of beers by this point, and I really can’t remember much about this game at all. I know I won it, but that’s about it. Sorry reader and the guy who I played against.

Game 6 – Dave Bamford – Martell No Agenda (Quentyn) – The Viper’s Bannerman

By this point I knew that 4-2 would send me through, and 3-3 definitely wouldn’t, and the situation would be exactly the same for whoever I was playing against. Dave smashed me back at Winter is Coming  (He insists, playing Marte-ratheon before it was cool) when I didn’t know how to play, but was nice enough to explain the rules and exactly why I was getting beaten. But here, just a few months later, we were on a more even footing. Or so I thought.

Early on I held off making Mil challenges so as not to kill Quentyn, then the situation got slightly too hopeless and dropped Valar anyway. Then of course out came The Red Viper, annoyingly boosted with a He Calls it Thinking to make him un-City-of-Soldiers-able, quickly followed by a Taste for Blood, which pretty much stopped me making challenges at all. Very annoying.

I managed to stall the game for awhile, including hitting Ghaston with a Nightmares in the Challenges phase before Dave had to Valar his own Viper and Arianne. The Viper had a dupe on him, which I didn’t cancel with the Iron Throne. And that was that really. He got more guys out, and despite giving it a good go, I couldn’t keep everyone knelt all the time. Dave made the cut (then went on to beat Wamma) and I didn’t.

Drinking ??? ??? ??? ??? Empty Wallet

How expensive was the Hilton bar? Very. How much fun is Balderdash? Quite fun. How good is Cards Against Humanity? Jaw droppingly hilarious.

It was quite late when plans were hatched to do a Guerilla draft  tournament on Sunday, but the night wasn’t over yet. Back at the Ramada bar I played (or was present for) a game with Andy Lai. It’s safe to say I wasn’t as sharp as I could’ve been and his Greyjoy deck made very short work of my precious shadows based baby.


By virtue of the fact that I was sat with some draft packs in front of me, people kept coming up and asking me if they could play in the draft tournament I was running. Which is amusing because I am in no way qualified to run a draft tournament nor would I turn anyone away from a game. So after some desperate dashes round the expo, ten of us gathered to draft!

I drafted the Knight of Flowers in my first pack, so I decided to play Baratheon. Then it was all fairly easy choices, I got some nasty plots (First snow of Winter, Marched to the Wall and Search and Detain), Grumpy Stan, Mel, Watcher’s of the Nightfire. Play fast, bounce their guys, win with renown was the general plan. Which worked in my first game, didn’t in the second, and did in the third. 2-1, not a bad draft deck.
EDIT: Because I’m awful, I neglected to mention here that Andy did all the hard work in the draft. I literally just stood in the same place holding drafts packs for a bit.

What have we learned?

  1. Nationals are awesome.
  2. The aGoT community is awesome.
  3. The Hilton bar is very expensive.
  4. City of Shadows will be retired, in favour of a new deck. Dark Wings, Dark Words looks to be hilarious.
  5. All the houses other than Lannister are annoying, and anyone playing Lannister other than me is also annoying.
  6. You should always wear your Tiger Woods “I Feel Invincible” Red Polo shirt on the day you’ll play the most games. Not save it for the cut.
  7. Chris Barrie looks really sad when sat at a signing table with no one queuing at it.
  8. The Kooks are back apparently, which isn’t really relevant to AGOT, but terrible news all round.
  9. Rob killed Tina.
  10. Why are you still reading this?
  11. Seriously?
  12. I’ve run out of steam, and have reverted to using cheap self aware gags.
  13. ….
  14. The whole report used cheap self aware gags really.
  15. 1417 words, I wonder if I can keep rambling up to a nice round 1500 words?
  16. Seventy more to go.
  17. Shout out to Sam, who went 3-3, which is the best he’s ever done at a tournament.
  18. And he put up with me the entire weekend.
  19. Shout out to Steve and Eddie, that was very well run tournament.
  20. Shout out to Ben, for all the decktesting and for lending me Nightmares.
  21. Shout of to Mike for nearly punching Eddie. That was quite funny.
  22. As above, shout out to Andy for doing all the real work with the draft, whom I selfishly failed to mention on first writing.
  23. Argh, fuck it. 1500.

Photo by guzzphoto