Hey everybody! The following is my tournament report for the War of the Five Kings. I tried to be as detailed as possible without making things boring but if you would like any more details on games, cards, etc. please feel free to comment here or PM if you have some sneaky tech you’re working on. For more details tune in to Beyond the Wall Ep. 41 where I walk about some of this stuff in more detail and give my thoughts on various Greyjoy things.
If you’re a frequent reader of these boards it should come as no surprise to you that the deck I choose to pilot for the 2015 War of the Five Kings tournament was a Greyjoy Fealty build. I think that at the moment Greyjoy is one of the most versatile and powerful houses and that the economic boost of fealty can provide a consistency that is very hard to beat in the current pool.
When I first got my core sets in October, the first deck I built was Bara Fealty. I had played it in play testing and I knew that it was a strong deck. I decided to try it out and it worked (as I’m sure everyone on here knows) quite well. It was, however, a very oppressive and NPE deck and I figured I should make something a little less imposing to play against new players with. With that in mind, I built a Greyjoy Tyrell deck. I figured with all of the renown and strength pumps, the deck should be pretty solid and overall, it was. I played a few games with it and it performed as I expected. It was able to gain power at a pretty staggering rate and could really crush if it got a good start.
Unfortunately though as I started to play with my former 1st edition meta mates with good decks, the build had some trouble. Its primary issues were control style builds like Bara shutting down the best character on the table, and Aggro style decks like Stark flooding the table to the point where no one but Balon could push through unopposed challenges. At this point I thought to myself “You know, it would be a lot easier to push through all of these challenges if everyone on the table was dead,” and thus Greyjoy Fealty was born.
The biggest advantage of the deck, in my opinion, is its versatility. Despite its appearance, the deck doesn’t have to be an all out military blitz (although it can if it needs to). In fact the deck can use its overwhelming force, and double sneak attack, to push through either military challenges to thin/clear the board or, as can be seen in my top eight game, power challenges. I don’t think a lot of people fully appreciate the sheer rushing potential of this deck until they see it in action. With two cards (Balon and Great Kraken) the deck can quite easily get 5 power on a sneak attack turn.
Going into worlds, the biggest flaw with the deck was its lack of comeback potential. If a Lannister or Tyrell player caught a Sneak Attack with a Game of Thrones, or if a Stark deck pulled off a three claim military challenge, the deck had a very tough time recovering. On the night before the tournament, I played a few games with the incredibly awesome Rob St. John who proceeded to catch my sneak attack with game of thrones twice in two games and crushed my face. He suggested that I add Counting Coppers instead of Heads on Spikes and an Iron throne to ensure my ability to win dominance. I had considered the Iron Throne before, its potential with Aeron is fantastic but I didn’t feel like I really needed it. Seeing it on the table across from me however, completely changed my mind. Not having any ability to win dominance was incredibly disruptive for the deck and playing an Iron Throne seemed like a good way to avoid that. The card I ended up cutting was one copy of the Roseroad. The deck was running 9 limited cards and I decided that if I had to cut a neutral, it would have to be one of them. I decided on the Roseroad over the kingroad because of the deck’s need to rush. Without burst economy, the deck could very easily fall flat if I hit a bad set-up (a kingsroad or two would have been awesome in the final game).
Counting Coppers was an absolutely crucial add for the deck. It provided a way for me to draw cards and potentially dig for what I need to come back if things got rocky. Also, I have seven two cost characters in my deck, so even with only two gold there is a solid chance that I’ll be able to get a body on the board.
· Balon, No surprises here. This guy is absolutely amazing and will single handedly win games. Once great kraken hits the table you can basically pick and choose which challenges you want your opponent to be able to defend, not to mention the fact that his five strength is the perfect amount for a Put to the Sword.
· Lordsport Shipwright, this little chud with give your opponent endless headaches. In most matchups his purpose will be keeping kingsroads knelt to stop opponents from putting out characters while you punish their board, but in others he will stop key pieces of their deck (Red Keep, Ghaston Grey, etc.) from functioning. Looking back on things, my biggest mistake past the cut was letting the lordsport shipwright die in my game against Kidd.
· Aeron Damphair + Iron Throne, These two cards together are truly amazing, giving you on demand recursion both for your chuds and for your hard hitters. This combo is the key to winning aggro vs aggro. If you get this rolling it doesn’t matter how hard you get smashed, you can just keeping putting characters on the board. It is worth noting that because of the value of these two cards, Aeron will often be the first target for milk, tears, and “Dracarys!”. I found that it is often worth putting a little bird on him to protect him from the tears, even if it means that someone like Theon will be more vulnerable. Also, like Mel and Tyrion NEVER put him in a challenge against Targ if “Dracarys!” is a possibility.
Game 1: Lannister No Agenda, Matthew Gehman
I met Matthew earlier in the week during the first edition draft event in which he thoroughly stomped me. I was a little concerned going in to the match due to the presence of ambush in Lannister. Without seeing Balon the game can be tough to close if Lannister can send enough guys to block challenges. Luckily for me Matthew’s deck was not cooperating, he didn’t see enough economy to play Tywin and without any income he couldn’t keep up with the pressure of my deck. He held me off for a long time with excessive amount of ambush, but eventually I was able to close, bringing my record to 1-0
Game 2: Baratheon Fealty, (I’m really sorry but I completely forgot this person’s name, if you remember playing me in round two let me know and I’ll correct this)
I was very confident in this matchup. I had practiced a lot against Bara fealty and knew that if I played things right I had a solid chance of winning. After a solid set-up from both of us, Mel and the Red Keep both hit that table by the end of turn one which was slightly distressing. I had, I believe, Asha on the board (it might have been Theon) and I was able to push through a power challenge to deny him his draw. The game dragged on for quite a while, him kneeling out my strong characters and me defending his challenges to prevent power gain. I Wildfired on turn three or four and knocked out a solid portion of his board, I followed it up with Balon and a duped Seal of the Hand. He managed to play out Robert, but by this point I had Great Kraken and was able to close with Balon. 2-0
Game 3: Targaryen Banner of the Rose, Andreas Aldrin
Having just watched Andreas come incredibly close to winning the 1st edition melee the night before, I was a little worried about this game. Targ is arguably the worst matchup for Greyjoy, as a well timed “Dracarys!” can shut everything down. Andreas got the Danaerys train rolling pretty early and scared me out of some challenges by saving a gold. We traded blows pretty solidly throughout, although he gained a bit more power than me early on. As we got to the late game I managed to get out Balon with Seal of the Hand, I tempted fate blocked a power challenge sent with Viserys and was hit by the “Dracarys!”, a pump from Margaery gave him the challenge and let him burn Balon to cinders with plaza of punishment (a play which I later realized shouldn’t have worked, as Plaza of Punishment specifies a character with no attachments, however neither Andreas nor I actually noticed this so the game continued). After the loss of Balon the game turned against me pretty quick, I managed to get to 11 power but he finished the game with Dany, bringing my record to 2-1
Game 4: Targaryen banner of the Lion, Darren Johnson
Ah the classic meta-mate match-up. Darren and I had built his deck together the night before which made me acutely aware of the murder potential it contained. I started things off aggressively, opening with Sneak Attack to his Winds of Winter. Winning the two claim military challenge and stopping his virtually decided the game from turn one. He put up a great fight and had some very good plays but in the end I managed to push through the victory, taking me up to 3-1.
Game 5: Baratheon Fealty, Chris Schoenthal (sorry if I misspelled that)
Yes, another match-up with the infamous Bara Fealty. I was not surprised to see the deck again and was still feeling fairly prepared, however I had come back from the lunch break and was probably not quite as focused as I could have been. Luckily I had the game under control from the start. His setup consisted of the Chamber of the Painted Table, a Roseroad, and Stannis the Mantis himself. However, a turn one marched made short order of the would be king of Westeros and my ability to get Euron out early put me in a great position. He got Mel out and I made a few small mistakes which allowed him to keep her alive longer than I would have liked. However a well timed milk and a couple big challenges with Euron and Balon brought the game to a close. 4-1
Game 6: Targaryen Fealty, Chris Thompson
Let me start by saying that Chris is an awesome player and guy. I met him earlier this year at the Iowa regional where I played him in the last round of swiss, and even though he won that game I really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to playing him again. So far I was 1-1 against Targ on the day and I was a little worried. Luckily for me he mulliganed into a pretty sub-par set-up and I hit him hard out of the gate. I threw Theon face first into a waiting Dracarys to ensure that Balon would be safe, and then hit his board with high claim and (I think?) Put to the Sword. I’m not 100% but I think I may have put Dany to the Sword. Regardless, the game was over a lot faster than it would have been if Chris had had a decent set-up. With my second victory over Targ my record went up to 5-1.
Game 7: Targaryen Fealty, Ryan Ritter
As soon as Ryan flipped his house card I groaned audibly. I know Targ was popular at the event but really, four of them? I mentally prepared myself for another long game of back and forth between Dracarys and Put to the Sword. As soon as I looked at my post-mulligan hand however, I knew the game would be far shorter. As I flipped my Littlefinger and Lordsport Shipwright against his Drogo, Viserion, and Illyrios Estate, I had sinking feeling that would probably translate best as “Ah ****”. Turn one he dropped the Arakh on Drogo and my only play option was a few chuds. He won a military challenge by five, put Littlefinger to the sword and cleared by board. I think I scoped within two turns (I was guaranteed to be in the cut and there was no reason to suffer through the rest of that game).
Top 16: Stark Banner Greyjoy
I talked with my opponent briefly before the start of the game and we mentioned our houses and agendas and both knew that this game would be short. Despite the fact that it was basically over within 15 minutes this was one of my favorite games of the day. With both had solid starts, lots of military icons and a good board state. We both flipped sneak attack turn one and a coin flip gave him the initiative. I decided that rather than taking the hit and responding in kind I would just defend his military challenge and ensure that he could not use his PttS on my strongest character (Balon I believe). I used Milk of the Poppy on his Asha on turn one and we proceeded to go back and forth not doing much to each other. Eventually though, I drew my own PttS and ensured a challenge win with Balon and Theon to put Robb to the sword, essentially securing my victory. It was a hard fought battle of military and death but in the end, Balon was king.
Top 8: Targaryen Fealty, Ryan Ritter
Going into this match I was very nervous. Ryan had beaten my once already and I knew his deck was strong. I believe the game was filmed by Rob St. John so whenever he posts the game I will put the link in the comments. I had a slightly stronger set-up this time, but once again Drogo and his Arakh hit the table by the end of turn one. I was a little dismayed but decided to fight it out and play defensively. I hung back and gathered a bit of power on my house and on Balon, waiting until I hit that magic nine power spot where I could win the game with a single challenge. After a few very, very close calls with Put to the Sword, I reached 9 power, flipped sneak attack, and knew from Ryan’s face that unless he drew a Dracarys the game was over. During my challenge he knelt his faction card and played fire and blood just to give me a heart attack but didn’t have any way to stop the challenge, sending me into the top 4.
Top 4: Targaryen Banner of the Lion, Dan “Kidd” Seefeldt
This game was streamed by FFG and I believe there is a link in the “updates from worlds” thread on Cardgamedb as well as on Facebook. This game was very close, and I owe my victory entirely to a swell guy named Balon and his ability to constantly put people to the sword. During this game I saw three, yes all three copies of Put to the Sword, I can’t imagine what I must feel like to have three kill events played on you in one game (oh wait yes I can…). But in all seriousness, Kidd played an amazing game. I think we made one mistake each in the final two turns (me killing off the Shipwright rather than the Fishmonger, him not defending the challenge with Jorah and Widow’s Wail) however both could only be seen as mistakes if one knows what’s in the opponents hand. I wanted the Fishmonger for Euron, he wanted his gold to stand Jaime, we both had incredibly tough calls, and I was lucky enough that my deck allowed me to grab the win.
The Final: Martell Banner of the Rose, Sam Braatz
This game was also streamed by FFG, links in the same places. The final game, let me say first that I was so, incredibly ecstatic to be sitting at this table. It was a long road to get here, filled with Lannister, Baratheon, and Targ, so much freakin’ Targ. If someone had told me I was going to make it to the final I would probably not have believed them, if someone told me I would be playing Martell in the final I would have straight up laughed. The fact that so many people (myself included) were convinced that Martell main house wasn’t there yet, makes Sam’s championship even more impressive than it already was. It showed all of us that Martell has a few tricks up their sleeve, but more importantly it showed just how excellent of a player Sam Braatz really is. I hadn’t had the privilege of playing against him before, but I am definitely looking forward to our next match-up.
As anyone who watched the stream already know, the game was pretty rough for me. Looking at my opening hand I had a three-card set-up, max. I considered for a while about taking a mulligan, but figured that depending on his start, he would probably open with Marched to the Wall, if he did I would chose based on his start which character to keep (I had three of each in the deck). If he had a lot of locations, especially Ghaston, I would keep the shipwright, and if he had a lot of characters or an especially poor set up I would keep Asha. The problem was that he had an amazing set-up which included Ghaston. He opened with Marched as expected and I was faced with probably my hardest decision all day. In the end I decided to keep the lordsport shipwright as I intended to play a very defensive game, but I needed to be able to do challenges when I wanted to without living in fear of Ghaston. My draw back up and my first turn draw, like my set-up contained zero economy cards. I decided to get a few bodies on the board so I could at least try to defend/win some challenges for the first few turns. I forced him to use Margaery to win a military challenge on turn one so that he wouldn’t be able to intrigue and strip my hand, my choice to use Risen from the Sea on the Black Wind’s Crew has been questioned by some but my rationale was that if my plan to bluff the We Do Not Sow and force Sam to use Ghaston on the Salty Navigator worked, I would need at least one additional body for next turn (I planned on playing a big guy). My plan did in fact work and despite Sam’s position I actually managed to stay in things for a little while. I played my Sneak Attack on turn two, not because I wanted to hit Sam’s board or power with the two claim, but simply because I wanted to be able to play a character. The three characters in my hand were Balon, Asha, and the Salty Navigator. Had a played a different plot, I would have only been able to play out the Salty Navigator and would have not been able to make any progress, while my two beefy characters sat in my had awaiting the inevitable intrigue claim. I decided to play Balon over Asha because I felt that if I didn’t start accelerating that turn, I would not be able to keep up with Sam’s deck. I was also hoping that the one gold saved was a bluff or a confinement rather than a Tears of Lys. Unfortunately, all of my hopes and dreams crumbled around me when Sam played his Tears of Lys on Balon. That was probably the end of the game right there if I’m being honest. Drawing some economy off of counting coppers or Sam not having the second and third tears and/or Ghaston might have kept me in it a little bit longer, but really that was all she wrote. In retrospect, had I played Asha that turn and hung on to Balon, and had he not been discarded for claim, and had I been able to play him later, and had the save from the second risen, I probably could have gotten more than 0 power, but Sam had the game either way. It was incredibly well played, and I hope to see him again next year.
Brief shout-outs: Rob St. John for testing with me the night before and giving me some very sound advice, Roy Rogers for being a genuinely fantastic dude and for inviting me to join the New York Meta on an honorary level (although he may have been drinking at the time so we’ll see if that was real), All of Team Yurop for being welcoming and friendly and awesome, Brian Cloonan and Jesse Schingen for teaching me a huge amount of what I know about the game, Darren Johnson and Mitch Lattis for testing with me all the time, Sam Bender for my awesome gold tokens (whose clinking was referred to as “snazzy” by the commentators), every single one of my opponents who gave me some of the most intense and fun matches of my Thrones career, and to everyone else I met at Worlds who made it one of the best weeks of my life.
Thanks for reading everybody! If you have any other questions please feel free to post them on this thread.