Winter is Coming Tournament Report

Mach's Corner

Well that went quickly. One whole year ago I took part in my first ever aGoT tournament, GtG’s Winter is Coming event. As a completely new player to the game, I got battered in every round, and only managed to avoid the Sansa prize thanks to a power challenge in the first Melee game that I shouldn’t even have been able to do as I was supporting the player it was against. For those of you interested in that kind of thing, why not check out my first attempt at TR, to see me fresh faced and innocent at the start of the path to becoming the Jimmy McNulty/Ernest Hemingway of the aGoT LCG.

I’d like to say that in a year, I’ve become slightly better at the game. I’ve definitely thrown a lot more money into it, both in terms of card pool and travel to tournaments. But we don’t do that kind of maths around here. I’ve also made some friends, I think. We’re friends if you’ve had to suffer conversation with drunk me. We’re best friends if that’s happened more than once. That’s the rule.

Since the 2v2 up in Stockton, Thrones has had a quiet few months. Which was well timed with my quarter life crisis, giving me plenty of time to concentrate on overwhelming myself with work, getting dumped, moving out of my home, and drinking lots of gin. But enough about my pathetic personal life, you’re not here for that. You want to read about my other failures, on the battlefield.

The Deck

This deck started life as a 78 card Lannister Song of Fire deck, which had every draw mechanic I could think of in it. It was a bloated mess of Bay of Ice, shadow crests, Ravens and NW/Wildlings. The main play seemed to be using Bay of Ice to draw into another copy of Bay of Ice. Despite getting hammered, repeatedly, on OCTGN and in real life, I still thought the deck had legs.

My dream plays with the deck was using Podrick + Alannys (twice with Inn of Kneeling Man), Ser Balon Swann and the Ghost of High Heart in a single turn. This never happened. I also liked the idea of putting power on characters with Pentoshi, then taking it away with Lion’s Gate and giving the opponent’s character an amusing Trait (Vehicle, Storyteller, and Chain were all popular choices). Occasionally the trait would be useful, usually NW or Wildling for Betrayal, Janos’ Conspirator or to save Arys/Cersei with Maester Aemon.

I eventually slimmed down the deck, and had reasonable success with it at a casual tournament at Fanboy. However, this may have given me a false sense of the deck, as the rest of the Manchester meta is still fairly new to the game, and has quite a small card pool. In testing against more experienced players the deck lost pretty consistently, so I gave up on SoF, decided to go No Agenda and switched about 5 cards.

Lannister No Agenda. “No one will be expecting that from me,” I cackled into my gin on the Friday night before the tournament.

Here’s the list if anyone fancies replicating my shoddy deck, or you know, changing some of the cards and making it good.

Plots (8)
1x Betrayal at the Wall
1x Summoned by the Conclave
1x Men of Pride
1x Retaliation
1x Cersei’s Scheme
1x Fury of the Lion
1x They Lay with Lions
1x Valar Morghulis

Characters (30)
3x Mountain Refugee
2x Doubting Septa
2x Free Man
2x Carrion Bird
3x Janos Conspirator
2x Arbor Guardsman
2x House Clegane Brigands

1x Gilly
1x Penny
1x Tommen Baratheon (draw)
1x Craster
1x Alleras
1x Coldhands
1x Janos Slynt
1x Maester Aemon
1x Lancel Lannister
1x Ygritte
1x Margaery Tyrell (Melee/kneeling defenders)
1x Ser Arys Oakheart (Ally hate)
1x Cersei Lannister (LotR)
1x Tywin Lannister

Locations (20)
3x Goldroad
3x Pentoshi Manor
2x Lion’s Gate
2x Kingsroad (Summer)
2x Golden Tooth Mines
2x The Iron Throne
2x The Westerlands
1x Street of Silk
1x Lannisport Brothel
1x Queen Cersei’s Chambers
1x Harrenhal

Events (10)
3x Harry the Riverlands
2x Condemned by the Council
2x A House Divided
1x Royal Decree
1x Nightmares
1x Dissension

Round 1 – Stefan (VonWibble) – Stark Wings, Stark Words – Meera?

Stefan is one of the first players I became friends with at these tournaments, I don’t think he was at Winter is Coming, but we met when he was cutting his teeth at the Winter Crown. I also like Stefan’s commitment to DWDW, having played it at just about every tournament since it came out.

I dropped a 6 card setup in this game, which sounds impressive, but it was a bit of a weenie fest. A Doubting Septa, a Refugee, a Carrion Bird and Tommen made my board look full, but realistically it was quite under powered. I opened with Retaliation to put pressure on early, but then only managed to win a useless power challenge. I also killed a Refugee instead of a Septa for military claim. To compound these errors, turn three I dropped Men of Pride, negating the stealth on my birdy and didn’t get any challenges through as a result. I also forgot trigger Tommen here, which didn’t help matters. Not for the first time, Stefan dropped Street of Silk when he had no other locations out. Previously, I let him take it back, but  this time I was less forgiving.

By round three I was quite away behind, and decided to Summoned for Alleras to try and cut down on the number of challenges I was losing. Then I spent the rest of my gold playing the Iron Throne and a Golden Tooth Mines, setting my board up nicely for the long game. Then Riders of the Red Fork dropped, and I got hit with a Price of War on my locations. And it only gets worse from there, as with his Agenda, Stefan pulled a No Quarter (it might have been Die by the Sword), and my Alleras was no more. My plan to Cersei’s Scheme was also foiled by some Forgotten Plans, and then I couldn’t really recover from that, and lost the game not long afterwards.

0-1, a bad start, but I still had chance and the hope to “do a Nate”. I should also mention at this juncture the others in Manchester North West meta, and how they were doing. Regular conspirator Sam was playing Bara DWDW and had won his first game. Dom and Liam were attending their first tournament outside the safety of Fanboy, Dom’s had lost with his Dothraki NA deck, and Liam had taken an early scalp, that of Stoke regular, Platty the Twatty with his Martell NA deck. I can’t remember Mike Moriarty’s first round result, but he usually does well, so we’re counting him as one of ours.

Round 2 – Jason Handy – Martell  Bloodthirst – Bloodthirst

Bloodthirst! Who stills plays Bloodthirst? I thought they killed this build? Jason still plays Bloodthirst, out of some stubborn reluctance to FFG’s attempts to make the agenda they designed not be that good. I setup four characters, including an Arbor Guardsman, and I grinned as Jason setup one character, Elia Sand. Of course, what I didn’t do, is read that They Lay With Lions only kneels a non-prized character. So my Doubting Septa got knelt. A strong opener.

Despite that, I did reasonably well in the opening turns. I generally had enough kneel and characters on the board to avoid the worst of Jason’s icon manipulation, and was steadily grabbing power. Then, as Bloodthirst does, Jason swung the game back in his favour with some Southron Mercenary’s, and that was me done. 0-2, and suddenly the cut wasn’t looking at all likely, and I’d have to play a lot better to even finish on a positive record.

It was around now that I was beginning to see that my deck of small unrelated tricks (GTM + Betrayal at the Wall, Arbor Guardsman + They Lay with Lions, Pentoshi + Lion’s Gate, weenie heavy 6 card setups) might not be the cohesive unit that I thought it was. It was also lacking the rush to finish early, and the control to win in the long game.  Things were not looking good.

In meta news, I think Sam, Liam and Dom had also all just lost. Still no idea how Mike did.

Round 3 – Platty (the Twatty) – Martall NA – Not sure the deck even had one…

Platty was also 0-2 now, so having a similarly torrid time to me. His major advantage in this game however, was that if there’s one thing Lannister fears, it’s those damn Vengeful Martell Uniques standing every time you beat them and drawing a card of it. Luckily, Platty held off from getting Quents until it was way too late. He did get the Viper our early though, so most of my game was spent getting that guy knelt and keeping him there. I did this with They Lay With Lions, Cersei’s Scheme, Fury of the Lion and Lannisport Brothel. And on the turn I couldn’t kneel him, my Pentoshi’s stopped him doing too much damage (and power accumulated got lost to the Fury next turn).

I was head in power for this game, but struggled to close it, eventually doing so on turn 8, after two Valar turns where we both drew crap locations. In the end, Cersei’s Scheme won out against To the Spears. Platty was happy to finish the game with power on his house card, and I was happy to have won a game, and also a delicious cake as reward for defeating the Lord of Castle Paedo.

Mike had just lost to Sam, in the statistically improbable  game where he drew 29 cards over four turns and setup and only four of them were characters. Dark Wings, Dark Words everybody. I’d been lucky enough to win a game, unfortunately for Dom, he was 0-3, but in far better spirits than I was.

Round 4 – Raga – Heir to the Iron Throne (Mil/Pow) – ???

Last year’s champion Raga was also 1-2, and amusingly dour about it. So dour in fact that it completely disarmed me, and the game quickly descended into irony. A result of this was letting fate decide if I should mulligan a fairly average hand, based on the flip of power token. The coin decided I should keep it, so I did.

I started very strongly here, with loads of weenies, an Arbor Guardsman and Cersei out by turn 2. Then things went wrong, very badly wrong. Magister Illyrio put a burn on the Arbor Guardsman, and then he was finished off by the Meereen Tourney Grounds, a couple more of my weenies fell to military claim, and then I was just left with Cersei on the board. Then Raga flipped Red Wedding for his next plot. Bye, Cersei, bye, you make your mama sad.

I was now facing down Drogo and Jhogo with an empty board and a Free Man and Goldroad in hand, excellent. I held out for another turn, then flipped a desperation Valar. It made very little difference. I was now 1-3, definitely not making the cut, not finishing with a positive record, and only marginally doing better than last years’ poor showing.

Round 5 – Andy (the Bye) Lai – Martell DWDW – Venomous Blade

Andy Lai had just had a bye,
Our decks were both poor, we had wanted to win more,
Then the Viper on setup got me quite het-up,
But he lay with lions, and I glimpsed at triumph,
If I could only keep Oberyn sidewards.

I rolled through my kneel plots, and damnit, I knelt lots!
That damn Spy from Starfall, threatened my control,
The blade gave me problems, Lancel didn’t last long,
But Andy missed the return action, and my weenies could relax some,
I kept my board strong, and then I had the game won.

What have we learned?

  • Lannister Song of Fire, and Song of Fire in general isn’t very good. But, apparently, everyone already knew that.
  • A few cards that benefit from not having an agenda is not enough to make a not very good deck decent.
  • Especially if you’re not going to play very well either.
  • Bloodthirst is still, sort of, a thing.
  • Not doing very well is okay, because it means your name is read out last, so you get to sit where it’s nice a spacious downstairs.
  • Not turning up at a tournament with a hangover is a bad idea, but a good one if others are relying on you to drive them places.
  • You shouldn’t buy a game (Lifeboat) for 4-6 players if you haven’t got that many friends.
  • It was pointed out to me on the day by Rowan (Cobrabubbles on the boards) that ‘new’ Tommen and Val make an excellent combo in a Lanni SoF deck, so perhaps that’s an alley worth exploring. Although with the Blade currently in vogue, perhaps not.
  • really shouldn’t write poems.
  • I need a new deck idea for the tournament in Newcastle in a few weeks. Perhaps from a different house.
  • My only complaint about the whole tournament is that the draft side event didn’t happen.
  • Eddie & Steve ran a tight ship, and really put the effort in to make everybody feel part of the fun.
  • While Dom was thrilled with getting the Sansa prize, it’s only a matter of time before he’s tearing everyone a new one. Beware the Northwest meta.
  • Thanks to all my opponents, and anyone I talked with throughout the day, apart from winning (and I didn’t do much of that) that’s pretty much my favourite thing about Thrones.

In that spirit, I’m planning on doing a tournament in Manchester early next year, and I hope we can get a decent turn out for it. This is all early stages so no guarantees, but if all goes to plan we should have:

  • A bar to ourselves for the day. A bar, not a sweaty game store!
  • A camera crew filming the days shenanigans, and streaming a feature table.
  • Loads of awesome people from the UK Thrones scene.