Tourney report alert!
So, in the UK this weekend we had the "weekender" - two Thrones tournaments, one in Manchester on the Saturday, one in Stockton-on-Tees on the Sunday, where players from all around the country travel to Manchester Friday night/Saturday morning, sleep on the floors of members of the Manchester meta (cheers Jack and Wedge!) then after the Manchester SC travel to Stockton on Sunday morning, before going home Sunday night. This makes for strong attendances and competitive tournaments (as well as great nights out Friday/Saturday and lots of hangovers on Sunday).
Into this cauldron of fire I fearlessly strode, ready to finally win the beautiful, beautiful Tyrell mat for making top 4. For those unfamiliar, I'm a complete Tyrell fanboy and absolutely in love with that playmat, but have seen my first edition skills bizarrely fade away in second edition that has resulted in three previous failed attempts to take the mat home. I wrote a Qyburn's Dungeon article
on the first failed attempt, and then changed with pack 2 to a Tyrell Banner of the Wolf deck. The theory of this deck was "all of the ladies, all of the knights (available at the time), 3x Lady-in-Waiting, 3x Lady Sansa's Rose". It had potential, and I first took it to a 24 person store championship that was 4 rounds with a cut to top 4. I was 2-0, riding high, but then in the third game I made an exceptionally stupid decision that cost me the game, and subsequently lost the fourth. Feeling the deck should've made the cut rather than the 2-2 showing I put in with it, I took it to another SC with 16 players... and went 1-3. 4 people in a field of 16 took it, 3 went 1-3, and the other only went 2-2 because he beat me in the final round.
Following this, I petulantly gave up on the deck and instead decided to focus on a Tyrell Lord of the Crossing deck (in case you were wondering why I was posting this thing here), as the weekender would take place the week after the third pack's release. I knew that the deck had potential to be good, but didn't want to get my hopes up in such competitive fields after the last three disappointments.
This is the list I took on Saturday [EDIT: Link removed as I'm looking at re-using a re-drafted version now - hopefully you can figure out what was in it from subsequent comments!]. Possibly one of the first things you'll notice is the lack of power grab events. Honestly, I don't like them in this build. Sure, there are some tight games where you'll wish you had one, but in a game where you're losing they're horrible top-decks, and in a game where you're ahead it's very rare that you'll need the power grab to hit 15 because the deck just accumulates power so quickly. Otherwise I was very happy with the balance of the deck - crest-fallen to have to include a copy of Left and Right, but there just aren't enough cheap characters without them. The single copy of Put to the Torch is probably the strangest choice - I was at 59 cards in my build and decided having a one-of would throw people off a bit. In retrospect this could've made been more valuable as a second Highgarden/Mander/Support of the People, but at the same time there were matches I would've loved to see it but didn't, so who knows?
First up, the Manchester Store Championship. 38 players, 5 rounds and a top 8 because hell if we're doing FFG's awful, awful top 4 suggestion on a field of that size!
Round One: Vs John Q (Stark Banner of the Watch)
John was a relatively new player running a deck focused more on theme than mechanics. His intention was to be a Direwolves/Wall deck, but he saw no Direwolves and turn one I put the Wall to the torch. This was over pretty quickly.
Result: Win (1-0)
Round Two: vs Mike D (Lanni Banner of the Sun)
This game was was over as quickly as the last one, but in a less "good for me" way - I mulliganed into a 2 card setup with no economy, and just got rolled, hard. I don't remember too many details about this game, but, yeah, loss.
Result: Loss (1-1)
Round Three: vs Bryan B (Lanni Banner of the Rose)
This game was quite simple. Bryan didn't see any big characters early, I saw Randyll and Margaery and won in short order, closing on turn three.
Result: Win (2-1)
Round Four: vs Arwel G (Tyrell Crossing)
Oh boy, a mirror match! In a field of 38 there were I believe only 3 Tyrell Crossing decks, so getting to face one was going to be a fun treat. This match, incidentally, is one of the ones that confirmed my opinion that Highgarden is an important card in this deck. It's very useful and versatile outside of the mirror, but in the mirror match (and presumably not just the Tyrell Crossing mirror but any Crossing mirror) being able to remove characters from the all-important third challenge is highly, highly potent. I ran Highgarden, Arwel didn't (true story, he cut it for a third Superior Claim...). The game was quite nip and tuck, but once I got to play Highgarden I just developed complete control. It was still a very intense game - despite my disdain for the power grab events in this build, the fact that Arwel was running them meant I had to be exceptionally careful with what challenges I allowed through and how much by. This was the most stressful game I had in the swiss of either day. I won it on the second Tourney of the King round in the end, which caught him off-guard and allowed me push through with a couple of Hedge Knights and Loras for the win.
Result: Win (3-1)
Round Five: vs Savvy (Targaryen Banner of the Lion)
With three people on 4-0 I was the lucky person paired up for round five. This was a far less stressful game for Savvy, who was already in the cut, than it was for me. I had a very difficult decision to make on setup, as I had the prospect of Randyll/Heartsbane/Caretaker, but no economy or characters in my hand. I decided to mulligan, and was rewarded for my bravery with a setup of duped Randyll, Heartsbane, Garden Caretaker and a Rose Garden. Hallelujah! Turn one he had out Tyrion, who I milked. Second round he Confiscated it and got out Jaime. With a second Milk in my hand I made sure to hold off his intrigue claim, waited for him to go all in with the buddy cops and play Drogo round three, then Milked Jaime. It left his board of big characters somewhat inflexible. He had a gold and a standing dragon for large portions of the game, which made the timing of specific challenges very important - far from being a problem however, the agenda proved very helpful, letting me make intrigue challenges with a Knighted Courtesan and/or Paxter Redwyne with +2 STR to move them out of Dracarys! range. This is another game where I had out Randyll, Heartsbane and Margaery. With Heartsbane as well it meant I could trigger Maggy before Randy was in a challenge and still stand him back up, keeping him safe from Dracarys! regardless. With his offensive capabilities somewhat gimped I was able to stop Savvy from really affecting my board position and pushed to 15 without too much difficulty.
Result: Win (4-1)
This left us with the following top 8:
1) Josh (Tyrell Crossing)
2) Wedge (Greyjoy Lion)
3) Savvy (Targ Lion)
4) Caitlin (Martell Crossing)
5) Bek (Bara Fealty)
6) Matt (Bara Fealty)
7) Rheece (Martell Watch)
8) Me (Tyrell Crossing)
This gave us a clean cut, with everyone at 4-1 or above making the cut and nobody at 3-2 or below making it. Incidentally, if we'd gone with the official rules, over half of the people on 4-1 would not have made the cut, which would've been intolerably daft. People at FFG reading this, please take note!
Top 8: vs Josh (Tyrell Crossing)
So all I had to do to get a mat was win the second mirror match of the day, such fun. Josh and I had been conspiring on deck-building for some time - we had both been running the Tyrell Wolf the previous weekend, and both went 1-3 before both independently wanting to change to Crossing. We'd been sharing lists with each other, and while we had a few differences (Josh has a "Queen of Thorns, Lady-in-Waiting and more Olenna's Informants" package while eschewing Left and Right, criminally couldn't find room for Growing Strong, and has a Trading with the Pentoshi aversion for some weird reason), we arrived at a lot of the same decisions in the end, for example no power grab and yes Highgarden. The deck clearly speaks to us, because we both turned out fortunes around in a huge way this tournament!
This was an awesome game, in short. My memory of it is very hazy as it came at the end of a long day, but I remember the game being amazing. Lots of back and forth, both gaining power at roughly the same rate and alternating who was ahead in the count. Josh thought I had it early on, I think maybe I was able to put down Randyll? I had a stronger round one and had out 5-ish characters, figured he'd go with Calling the Banners and wanted to win initiative, so I played Tourney for the King. In retrospect this was a mistake and I should've saved the effect, instead Wildfiring (I lose a Garden Caretaker and a Courtesan to deny him 2 gold and keep my strong plot effect for later in the game, seems like a fair trade-off). This would cost me on round 4 - I spent the second Tourney on round 3, pushing for a win that I fell just short of (and lost initiative on with Josh dropping Clash of Kings). Slightly behind on power (I believe 14-12?) going into Round 4, if I'd had a Tourney left over to win initiative with I would've most likely won the game by going first. Instead, Josh went first and closed on the third challenge, winning it 15-14. He went on to win his top 4 game before losing to Matt 'Anti-banter' Cannon in the final. Congrats Josh, and congrats Matt!
This was a really fun tournament, and for me and Josh both a short in the arm to our morale. I was worried about my second edition skills, and Josh hadn't latched on to a second edition deck beforehand and was worried if he'd fallen out of love with the game - we both found in Tyrell Crossing a deck that we love and can perform well. But for me this still left me without the Tyrell mat I so desperately wanted. Good job we had another tournament on Sunday...
For the Stockton-on-Tees tournament, originally the plan had been for Bek and I to change decks around, with Bek moving to a Stark Fealty and me to her Bara. However, I'd had so much fun with the Crossing deck, and Bek had likewise with the Bara Fealty, that we decided to keep things as they had been on the Saturday. We gave the Stark Fealty deck to our friend Sam, and I strongly regret doing so because it wasn't until we examined the deck after round three that we realised it had only 6 intrigue icons and a single Little Bird. This is why taking a first draft (yours or someone else's) to a tournament is a terrible idea - sorry Sam!
I made one small change to the deck for this tournament - I cut one of the Tourneys for a Clash of Kings. This is because my Knights count felt a little low (7 knights that don't have renown (or 9 with), then a single copy of Knighted), and so a plot with higher numbers and a more consistent benefit was valuable to me. I definitely wanted to keep a copy of the Tourney though - the upside was just too nice.
This tournament had 29 people, and was again 5 rounds with a cut to top 8, for which we're grateful to the store Beanie Games who had originally wanted to do a cut to 4 as the rules outline, but which would've been awful for the tournament and resulted in multiple 4-1s missing the cut.
Round One: vs Bryan B (Lanni Rose)
Bryan was playing the same deck as yesterday - this is not a coincidence, as he lost the rest of his cards by leaving his entire collection except for one deck on a bus. Damnit Bryan. This game went much the same way as the previous day's - before we started, Bryan said "beat me quick so I can go to the bank", and we were the first to finish with almost 40 minutes left on the round, so Bryan you're welcome!
Result: Win (1-0)
Round Two: vs Sternly Barnaby-Pass (Night's Watch Fealty)
Sternly was playing a defensive game built around the Wall, which he had out on setup. I was able to get out Syrio Forel and an Arbor Knight with Mare in Heat, which was an absolute nightmare for him - to successfully defend the wall he needed to keep 3 intrigue icons and 3 military icons standing at all times. That, plus getting out Randyll, meant I was accrueing power far quicker than he was. The win was delayed slightly for me by A Game of Thrones, A Sword in the Darkness and Fortified Position, but not significantly and I closed on I believe round 4. Incidentally, in round three Sternly (who'd had a bye in round one) was paired up against Kostas and lost, and started worrying that his deck was awful. They ended up being two somewhat respectable losses for him, and he won his last two games to sneak into the cut 3-2 on strength of schedule, so good going Sternly!
Result: Win (2-0)
Round Three: vs Wex (Night's Watch Kraken)
This was a fun game. Wex's build was, in his words "an attempt to build a deck that plays like a First Edition deck". This included lots of efficient characters, Messenger Ravens to help keep his hand brimming, and multiple resets from Varys. The way this game turned out, I always had relative control over the situation - a Mare in Heat on Arbor Knight, plus Highgarden, meant I had a good hold over which challenges were won and lost. The game was a long one though, as Wex did a great job digging his heels in. He put out Varys, I had an opportunity to Milk him but chose not to as I felt I'd be fine surviving a reset and would rather keep the gold back for Highgarden on his claim 2 Winds of Winter round. However, when he Varys'd, then Marched my Margaery who'd been duped (second copy of the plot), made me go first, I reflooded and he dropped a second Varys, it complicated things. I was somewhat fortunate in that despite not seeing the Mander, my deck gave me a healthy supply of characters throughout and it meant I could keep some board presence after the second Varys. The game ended up going to round 8, but ended in a win for me.
Result: Win (3-0)
Round Four: vs DBUKBMNCHBBTTGANG (Greyjoy Lion)
Dave was running the deck that Wedge had played yesterday and finished second in the swiss with. The basic premise of the deck is "Euron and Gregor have fun pillaging together", but the deck has a bit more nuance than that implies, as the other synergies in the deck work well - Tyrion's stealth and gold production helping Greyjoy get unopposed and providing resources for events, the unopposed and Gregor both pushing towards Put to the Sword and Torch, the latter of which in turn synergises with Euron... it works pretty well, all-in-all, and having two of the best players in the UK in the form of Dave and Wedge playing it made sure it put in a great showing both days.
The game was a close one, but my memory of it is lacking somewhat (spoilers, we rematched later and I forget the specifics of both games as a result). Crystal clear, however, I remember the conclusion of this match - I've been doing my best to play around Gregor's effect all game, while being somewhat protected from Euron's due to the terrific counter move of "draw almost all of your locations in a row instead of characters", which I heartily recommend to anyone afraid of him. On this one round though, I had to take a chance on Gregor - by letting the challenge go through unopposed it means I will be able to win on offense with the Knight of Flowers by at least 5 STR, and put through the Put to the Sword that I've got in my hand with the gold to play, effectively winning me the game. Gregor's pillage happens...and pulls another copy of Knight of Flowers off the top of my deck, killing poor Loras and completely messing up my plans. Gregor: the banter is strong with this one. From there, with my main threat neutralised instead of his (and he'd had 3 power on him so it knocked me from 11 power to 8 and not close to winning), Dave was able to close it out next round. I'd have been saltier about it if it wasn't for, y'know, that being the entire point of Gregor.
Result: Loss (3-1)
Round Five: vs Jack (Lanni Sun)
First things first, props to Jack for letting Bek and me (as well as many others) stay round his house on Friday and Saturday. It helped make our attendance actually possible.
Jack mulliganed into a somewhat suboptimal setup. On my side I had Syrio, an Arbor Knight, a reducer and a Rose Garden, so pretty good all-round. I also had a Put to the Sword in hand, and figured the chances of Jack opening with Noble Cause to play a big character were quite high, so I made sure to have Jack go first by opening with Trading with the Pentoshi to encourage him to play a big guy out and win initiative. Jack I think actually opened with Summons, and on seeing me give him Trading gold, licked his lips and went and fetched Tywin. Result! He played Tywin, I made sure to hold back two gold, soaked a couple of challenges (unfortunately having to take a chance on 1-in-7 discard for Put, but thankfully the 6-in-7 option of "not Put" won out), then with Syrio was able to push back a 5 STR military challenge and put Tywin to the Sword. This reduced his board down significantly (I think to only one character), and let me get in a couple of free unopposed hits in on him meaning I had strong board dominance and was up 5-1 on power leaving round one. Round two I was able to drop Randyll and Heartsbane and go to town. On round three, Jack got out Tyrion and was able to use his 2 gold to first ambush in Widow's Wail to surprise win an intrigue challenge, and secondly to Tears my Randyll. I think Jack felt he was safe after that, but with Randyll's renown and Syrio's unopposed plus my agenda power, I had exactly enough power grab available to reach 15 on my third challenge before Randyll could die - this ended up being key, as I had no cards left in hand and we looked at my next 4 cards I would've drawn in the following 2 turns - 3 limited locations and a second copy of Heartsbane. Phew!
Result: Win (4-1)
This gave us the following top 8 (highest place of each ranking marked off):
1) Kostas (Bara Rose) 5-0
2) Dave (Greyjoy Lion) 4-1
3) Me (Tyrell Crossing)
4) Tom Clarke (Lanni Sun)
5) Phil Lowther (Bara Watch)
6) Rheece (Tyrell Crossing)
7) Sternly (Night's Watch Fealty) 3-2
8) Jack (Lanni Sun)
At this point it's probably worth highlighting the situation with Rheece and Josh. Rheece is a first edition player of some repute (top 4 and overall champion of Stahleck 2015), but has barely played second edition and basically came along to the weekender for reasons of banter. He wanted decks to play, and since Josh had two he wanted to play, Tyrell Crossing and Martell Banner of the Watch, they decided to play one on one day and one on the other. On Saturday, both made the cut; on Sunday, they had to play each other in round four, Josh drew like crap, and got knocked out by his own deck that he'd made the final with the day before, while talking Rheece through how to actually knock him out with it. Rheece basically didn't get a handle on the deck until round five, and yet still managed to go 4-1 and make the cut for the second day in a row - a testament both to his ability as a player and, moreso in my opinion, the power of the deck. It also meant that I had another sodding mirror match in the top 8, against the same deck that had beaten me in this exact same circumstance the day before.
Top 8: vs Rheece (Tyrell Crossing)
Both of us had fairly reasonable setups. I managed to set up all 3 Arbor Knights, plus a Courtesan and a Roseroad; Rheece had Paxter, a couple of smaller characters and a Roseroad of his own. Both sensing we needed to get a better start than the other as the game was going to be grindy, I opened with Trading with the Pentoshi and Rheece opened with Calling the Banners, which meant he had 12 gold round one and I had 11. Rheece played out a few characters, including Margaery and a Knight of Flowers with Little Bird on; I was able to get out Randyll with Heartsbane and one or two more cards. Going first I saved my military challenge for last, and was able to push through with enough STR for a Put to the Sword. Rheece started to pick up Knight of Flowers and was genuinely surprised that I chose Margaery instead - the fact that it was my third Tyrell Crossing mirror of the weekend told me, correctly as it turns out, that the two most important cards in the match-up are Margaery and Highgarden. Rheece was able to push through an intrigue challenge and Tears away Randyll, but I honestly feel like I came out ahead in that exchange and we both finished on similar power levels. Round two was a "both put out resources, characters where required then try to prioritise the power challenge" round essentially, and sadly for me he was able to push his power challenge through and get a Support of the People trigger. However, to my relief Rheece chose The Mander of Highgarden, in a case of what I'll call "first edition-itis". Defaulting to the draw equals win rather than considering Highgarden's potency in the match-up was huge in the end. Round three we both dropped Clash of Kings, I played my Highgarden out and as a result of doing so was able to win the power challenge on attack as well as prevent him from being able to win one on defence (and therefore stop him from initiating one, as he didn't want me to trigger the plot on his challenge). This left me on 10 power going into round 4, with 4 Knights on the table (3 Arbor, 1 Hedge). I played Tourney for the King, went first and played Syrio (with 1 gold left for Highgarden). I gave Paxter Stealth with Syrio, did an intrigue stealthing Olenna (the only card on the other side who could mess me up) and then Highgarden'd him back out; did a chump power challenge with Margaery; then did a military challenge with the four Knights, Syrio and Paxter for an unstoppable amount of STR to win the game with the 4 renown and 1 crossing power. If Rheece had had Highgarden out on the table, that would've been a LOT more complicated.
The mat was finally, finally mine on the 5th try! This relieved a lot of pressure from me, and anything afterwards was basically a bonus.
Top 4: vs DBUKetc. (Greyjoy Lion)
As I mentioned before, the exact circumstances of this game are a little lost on me. I remember a couple of key elements - I had a Milk of the Poppy in my hand round one, but didn't want to play it on his Euron because I knew from our round 4 game that Dave had Confiscation. Instead I played an Arbor Knight with Mare in Heat, and just made sure it was as annoying as could be. On round...three, I think, Dave finally took the bait and Confiscated the Mare, and I breathed a sigh of relief and Milked Euron, limiting his threat a lot while I built up power through the agenda and Randyll. Dave was able to get Gregor out as well the following turn, but I was able to hold him off that round. This is when Dave made a slightly criminal mistake - I ambushed in an Olenna's Informant, and he was so taken aback by it that he forgot he had a Treachery in his hand. The extra power challenge put me perilously close to winning. The following round Dave went first and had to play Gregor roulette again, as he had done in the swiss match. This time, however, he thankfully missed and I was able to close that round.
Final: vs Tom Clarke (Lanni Sun)
Tom's deck was very similar to Jack's that I'd faced in round 5, and he'd done very well with it, defeating the hitherto-undefeated Kostas in the other top 4 game. We both had middling setups, and as before with Jack I wanted to go second to see what Tom did and react to it. I had a hand full of economy so played Calling the Banners despite Tom only having two characters out to ensure initiative; he played Trading with the Pentoshi and dropped a duped Gregor, leaving 2 gold conspicuously unspent. Aware of the probable Put to the Sword in Tom's hand, I baited him with the tasty morsel of a Pleasure Barge (that I knew could deal with due to the multiple economy cards in my hand). Tom duly cancelled it with Treachery, and I breathed a sigh of relief before marshaling without fear, dropping Randyll and some chuds. I believe Tom swung in with Gregor at this point and missed on the trigger, and I hit him back for all three challenges, getting a lead in power. Second round Tom saved 2 gold again, so this time I made sure I had enough military STR to win the challenge and save the bother, and pushed back again. Round three I sensed the opportunity to close, and went with A Clash of Kings, putting Heartsbane on Randyll. To get to 15 power I had to win my third Crossing challenge, which due to the cards on the table meant I'd have to chump the military challenge. It gave Gregor a chance to swing his sword again...but thankfully he missed, killing a Wardens of the Reach but with me having no 4-gold characters out, and it meant I could go power for the win.
So, Tyrell Crossing: legit
. There are some things I'd consider changing about the build I had, but off the top of my head I'm not sure what so if anyone has any questions/suggestions then I'd love to hear them
Thanks very much to Bek for going on these crazy adventures with me (and congrats to her for taking a deck she hadn't looked at before the tournaments began and finishing 5th and 9th with it), to Jack for putting us up, to Josh and WWDrakey for being deck-building consultants with me, to Ben for being a great TO and not taking the opportunity to play himself on Saturday so he could run everything smothly, to both Fanboy3 and Beanie Games for putting on great events (and Stephen at Beanie for being a good sport regarding the cut), to Vince for talking to me a lot on the way home and helping keep me awake on the long drive, to everyone I played for making every game fun (except Dave, the ****er stole my Rose Garden with Euron then refused to let me win a meaningless military challenge by 5 or more so I could Put it to the Torch), to everyone who was out on Saturday night (and especially those who attended both days) for helping make the weekender special, and to anyone I've missed off this list but shouldn't've done so.
Edit: final thought - between me and Josh/Rheece we won 22 games and lost 6, 2 of which were in mirror matches against each other. Take out those matches and the decks went 20-4 over the two tournaments. Not bad, if I do say so myself!