Welcome back to another one of my silly tournament reports that people seem to enjoy. This weekend I attended a 2v2 tournament at Beanie Games in Stockton-on-Tees which, it turns out, is quite difficult to get on the train, with National Rail waiting round the corner to mess up my travel plans at every opportunity.
Josh had convinced me to attend the 2v2 all the way back at Blackwater Bay, which you can read about here if you’re so inclined, but despite this early decision making, I didn’t check for transport until a few days before the tournament, so didn’t realise until then that an overnight stay would be required for my team mate and I. And obviously the nice, safe, character-less Premier Inn was fully booked so we ended up in The Garrick Hotel – Contractors Accommodation. Post booking it was pointed out to me that the third hit on Google for The Garrick was an article with the following headline “Garrick Hotel reopens after mass brawl”. Fun.
During ‘check-in‘ we were told:
“If you go out tonight lads, there’ll be girls going up and down this street. Do not think you’re getting lucky, they are prostitutes and they will rob you.”
“We open till 4am, so don’t expect to get much sleep.”
At least it was cheap…
With these warnings in mind, Sam and I hatched the plan to get beer and pizza and be back the in room before nightfall, lock the door, play thrones and hope for the best. Which is exactly what we did. True to their word, the pub/club was open till 4am, with everybody’s favourite anthem for sexual harassment Blurred Lines being played at least four times. We played Thrones (I lost every game), watched Doctor Who (it’s still shit, Moffat much better at individual stories than he is as an arc writer, I think Tennant was the best modern Doctor, Sam thinks Ecclestone) and as it got later, did some people watching of the chaos happening right beneath us.
And once that ordeal was over and the sun rose, it was tournament time. Which is what you’re really here for…
The 2v2 format interested me from a deck building perspective, Sam and I had a few text conversations and a Skype call while deckbuilding. We decided on playing Lanni Kneel (well I refused to play anything other than Lanni Kneel) and Sam would resurrect his Dragonpit deck from the UK nationals. Sam’s abundance of shadows meant that I could run the Guildhall without committing to shadows too heavily on my side of the table, and we’d have Preston in there, because well it’s Preston.
My initial decklist also relied heavily on using the Warden attachment and prized cards for kneel. So much so, that when I counted the amount of power my prized cards could give away in a game it was exactly thirty, not good. I then swapped those guys out and started giving the deck a Brotherhood tilt, making use of the guys who trigger when an opponent has more power on the house card. Then I thought about using Podrick + Summer + Inn of the Kneeling Man + Ghost of High Heart. And with that I decided on my Winter is Coming deck, but it was a stretch too far for this tournament. So I stuck Kevan in there to be my character agenda for more kneel. I didn’t draw him all day.
Plot wise, Sam was running Cities for board control, plus Threat from the North and On My Oath should the unthinkable happen to Preston. The cities provided great board control, but they’re a little lacking in initiative (and gold), so I decided to run all high initiative plots and Bay of Ice. The draw was nice, and it helped my setups, but really we wanted to control as much of the game as possible, and choosing who went first seemed like a strong option here.
Would also like to thank Rowan Gavin for pointing out the wonder that is the Queen’s Guard on the CardgameDB thread about 2v2. A beast of a card, that really made my deck tick.
Game 1 – Screw You, Rhaegar
Tom Clarke & Andrew Albino Rowley – Stark Siege/Bara Noble Cause
I had played (and beaten) Tom’s Siege deck at the small tournament we did in Manchester last month. So I was expecting a T1 Fear of Winter, Sam however wasn’t. They’d setup a load of 1 or 2 cost weenies, and Sam’s Dragonpit was active thanks to a card in shadows from setup, Threat from the North would’ve cleared the board. I tried signalling to Sam that City of Lies wasn’t the best opening play. He looked confused, and went with it anyway. Ouch.
I had lead with the Aftermath to try and keep their board presence reasonably controllable. By the time the Prized 1 on the Aftermath kicked in, they were at 29 power thanks to some epic battles, vigilance and Syrio Forel. Turn 2, and the pairing of Threat from the North with Cersei’s Scheme changed the game. The board was pretty much wiped, and anyone left got knelt by the Scheme’s, or the Guildhall or the Queen’s Guard. I also managed to bounce an Asshai with 7 power on them with A House Divided. We’d very quickly gone from all hope being lost to having reasonable control of the board.
With the glass cannon shattered, our control decks did their jobs for the rest of this game. We had enough characters held back to weather their Valar and wrapped things up after that to finish 30-13. Quite a turnaround, that we mostly fluked.
Game 2 – Stark Naked
Graeme & Christine Percifer – Stark HoD Riverrun/ Targ NA
The pairings were done by random rather than Swiss, and power totals were being used for final standings rather than strength of schedule. Anyway we’d been drawn against a team that had just been beaten, and I don’t think they’d be that offended if I said they were still quite new to the game. As well as this, the Targ player also had phenomenally bad draw, and didn’t see any economy, so went a few marshalling phases without playing anything. I had A House Divided in hand T1 ready to bounce an annoying Tully as soon as they hit the board as well. All these factors together meant this was a bit of a wash for us (which after staying in the Garrick, we really needed). Riverrun fell to A City Besieged T3, and the Bear Island that was giving us some grief ended up being Condemned by Council. The game finish 30-3 in our favour and I think we both felt a little bit bad about it.
NOTE – This next game is possibly my favourite game of Game of Thrones I’ve ever played, and I’d like to remember it for awhile, so fair warning, the following section is quite long.
Game 3 – James Waumsley’s Ridiculous Tournament Record & Becky Frith, possibly a person
James Waumsley & Becky Frith – Greyjoy No Agenda/Lannister No Agenda
Any hubris we were feeling quickly left as in the final round we were paired with the only other team on 2-0. I think it speaks a little of how I’ve improved as a player recently that I’ve been drawn against James in the past few tournaments and he tends to be near the top of those tournaments. But it is probably more telling that I haven’t managed to beat him. And I only just sneaked a modified win against Becky at Blackwater, so this game was likely to be tough. Whereas our previous games had both been finished well before time, James & Becky had gone to time and won in both instances.
This game was very close, very tense and most importantly, really really fun. Sam and I, through sheer exhaustion and natural self deprecation had adopted ‘devil may cry’ attitude to the game, which juxtaposed nicely with the meticulous planning on show from the other team. If you’ll indulge me a little (and you’ve read this far, so you probably will) , it was a bit like the Joker fighting with Batman, with Sam as my deranged Harley Quinn and Becky making passable Robin.
I didn’t really know what to expect from Wamma’s Greyjoy deck (I should have done, it was choke), but I figured that Becky’s Lanni NA might be fairly similar to mine or similar to a version that I have played in the past. This was confirmed when Becky setup Mance Rayder and the Iron Throne. I was confident that Sam’s deck would do the business this game, and it would mostly be down to which Lannister player locked the board down first.
T1, I won initiative and chose to go last, this meant I was the only one who got hit by the White Raven this turn. I had a lot of expensive characters in hand, and no way of playing them. This happened every turn. Wamma and Becky dedicated their T1 plots to bouncing the Dragonpit back into Sam’s hand, with Snowed Under and Attack from Sea. Sam introduced a Threat from the North turn 2, which meant he didn’t have enough gold to marshal it back. Amazingly, it survived two intrigue claims, unfortunately one of the cards discarded was Dany.
Despite not starting too well, the game was neck and neck. My Bringers of Law were decent at keeping challenges from coming my way, but that just meant Sam got 6 challenges thrown at him. This was my plan all along though, because it meant only he was drawing from Meraxes. Twisted, sadistic logic, just like the Joker.
It seems worth mentioning now that our team name was “Wait, who’s running Valar?” and we spent a good amount of the game pretending that we didn’t have it, just for laughs. I played Retaliation on the turn I was ‘supposed’ to play Cersei’s Scheme, a bit like when the Joker puts bombs on the two ferries in The Dark Knight. Sam introduced his own little bit of anarchy when he dropped Aegon Targaryen , which made the Tommen in my hand utterly useless, but was also the much more effective play.
On my Aftermath turn, I also played The Mander, which almost definitely meant I’d draw into economy cards, right? Unfortunately, this was the turn Wamma and Becky pulled off the Lead by Example/Desolate Passage trick. So the challenge phase was a bit of a dud, and I forgot to trigger the Mander. D’oh!
Despite several rounds of pretending that we didn’t have Valar (the effectiveness of this psychological advantage of this cannot be over or understated), it was time to Valar. Over on James’ house card, Aeron had become an agenda, Sam played an absolute blinder by bringing Ser Mandon Moore out of shadows, a play I should’ve made against Wamma at UK Nationals, the round before. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
The fight had brought us to Crime Alley, here is where one side would triumph and live forever gloriously, the other would be forgotten. The plots read, Cersei’s Scheme, City of Soldiers, The Winds of Winter and Valar Morghulis. I hadn’t counted the power totals, because that’s the kind of thing planners do, but when time was called during the plot phase this round they were pretty much even. Unfortunately, the only thing I could do was bring a Silent Sister out of shadows. Which ‘hilariously’ was what Sam also did (negating the effects of his Dragonpit) and letting Becky kneel out our boards with Cersei’s Scheme. Wamma pulled off a 2 claim power challenge against Sam, and with my board knelt and no claim, there was nothing I could to to turn the tide. The game finished 19 -15, good had triumphed over idiots.
With that, one team was undefeated and three or four others were all 2-1, we guessed we had reasonably chance of a rematch. Unfortunately, the glass cannon that shattered against us, had fired on all cylinders in their two other games and they took second place. We were still pleased with our performance for the day, but I was bit sad for Sam, as it was the closest he’d come yet to winning a playmat (I have a vast wealth of them already HAR HAR HAR…).
Wamma and Becky won.
The Journey Home
And with that, began my journey home. Ross very kindly gave Sam and I a lift to Middlesbrough train station, as the trains from Stockton were few and far between. Engineering work between Leeds and Huddersfield meant that there was no direct train home. Instead, I would have to go through Manchester deformed cousin on the wrong side of the Pennine’s, Sheffield.
The train was pretty packed out, and my desperate need to always be charging meant I made myself comfortable sat on the floot outside the toilet in the vestibule near first class, with the comfy seats and free wifi mocking me, That was okay though, as on passing through York, two charming, young, and really rather drunk ladies came and sat down next to me, offered me a plastic Ribena cup full of wine and some Burger King chips. As is often the case with very drunk people (and I’m incredibly guilty of this, so really cannot complain), the conversation was very one sided, but still quite amusing. They had attended a friend’s wedding, I told a slight lie that I was visiting friends in Middlesbrough, rather than having to explain A Game of Thrones the Living Card Game and reveal my true nerdiness.
This was all over far too quickly however, as I arrived in Sheffield. Sheffield, pah! The train to Manchester had been cancelled. Which meant an extra forty minute wait in Sheffield. Sheffield.
What have we learned?
- 2v2 is hella fun.
- Beanie Games is by some distance the nicest game shop/tournament venue I’ve visited.
- Our national rail system is irrecoverably broken, at least until rotation in November.
- If you’re going to stay over night in Stockton, don’t stay in the Garrick.
- Thanks to Josh for TO’ing the tournament.
- Thanks to all opponents for great games.
- Thanks to Sam for being a great playing partner.
- Sorry to Sam for making us stay in the Garrick.
- Can’t wait to see you all at Winter is Coming/possibly Stahleck
One last thing…
Would anyone be interested in a small Stahleck warm up tournament in Manchester? It would probably fall on a weekend right between WIC and Stahleck, I could wrangle some space at Fanboy (or somewhere nicer if there’s enough people) and put together some reasonable prize support (again, better prize support if more people are interested). The Thrones calendar is pretty packed round that time already, but I’d really like to get a ‘big’ tournament in Manchester going, so if you’re up for that get in touch!