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Ascending in the ranks Volume III – Fire and Gold in Madrid

Barnie25 Batalla FireandGold Tournament report

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Ascending in the ranks Volume III – Fire and Gold in Madrid

In this article I will discuss two subjects. Firstly I will talk about my experiences from Batalla 2016 with a tournament report and shortly discuss card draw vs card advantage.
Leading up to the tournament

As most of you guys will know last weekend was an important one for Thrones. Last weekend Batalla por el Muro 2016 took place, the largest tournament in agot 2.0 history to date. The registration was capped at a 150 players originally but in the end the actual number of attendees was 151.
The Friday before the tournament was a gruesome day for me. I didn’t expect that I couldn’t get free from work when I booked our plane tickets. As per result I worked from 05.00 till 08.00. The day before I had a study deadline that took longer than expected to finish, after finishing at 10 in the evening, I proceeded to get all the cards for my Joust deck and in 10 minutes build a Melee deck for the Sunday. These combined events meant that I went to Madrid having gotten up at 03.45 and having slept 5 hours. A good start for my first big Thrones tournament! Along with Dutchies Menno, Remko, Thijs and Kenny we traveled to Madrid. Our hostel was in the middle of the city center which made up for the quality. On the Friday we had the welcome dinner and I met a lot of people, lots familiar by name but not by face. The first day in Madrid was a success, instead of going out for drinks after I decided to go to bed and sleep seeing how I wanted to be somewhat fresh in the morning.

Saturday was the day of the Joust. I didn’t really have time to properly test for the tournament but by talking to people like JCWamma, Alex Kern, Bambi, Glazer and Patrick Haynes I felt that I still had quite a grasp of the meta game and in the end decided to run the same deck as Bambi, Targ Lion.

The deck

The list can be found here:

House Targaryen Banner of the Lion
Draw deck: 61 cards
Plot deck: 7 cards
Packs: Core Set (3), Taking the Black, The Road to Winterfell Plot (7)
1x A Noble Cause
1x Calling the Banners
1x Counting Coppers
1x Marched to the Wall
1x Summons
1x The Winds of Winter
1x Trading with the Pentoshi
Character (35)
1x Burned Men
3x Daenerys Targaryen
2x Drogon
3x Khal Drogo
2x Lannisport Merchant
1x Magister Illyrio
1x Rattleshirt's Raiders
3x Rhaegal
3x Ser Jaime Lannister
2x Ser Jorah Mormont
1x Syrio Forel
3x Targaryen Loyalist
2x The Hound
1x The Tickler
3x Tyrion Lannister
2x Viserion
2x Viserys Targaryen
Attachment (6)
3x Bodyguard
1x Crown of Gold
2x Widow's Wail
Location (10)
3x Illyrio's Estate
1x Plaza of Punishment
3x The Kingsroad
3x The Roseroad
Event (10)
3x Dracarys!
1x Fire and Blood
1x Put to the Sword
2x Tears of Lys
3x The Hand's Judgment

I will shortly discuss the reasons for playing this deck and some of the card choices. After seeing a lot of results come in in the weeks before the tournament it became apparent that any deck was capable of winning the tournament. Results varied with a wide array of deck and agenda’s rising to the top. The Annals however were down which didn’t allow me to test my hypothesis by comparing the data to my prediction. A few things were certain.
  • Greyjoy was going to be popular
  • Lord of the Crossing was going to be heavily played
These two things were almost a given and as such I wanted to play a deck that could handle both. I considered lots of decks. The deck I really wanted to play Bara Rose knights ended up getting 4th place overall, piloted by Kostos Adamopoulos. But I felt I wanted to run a deck that had the ability to constantly pressure my opponent and had the high density of powerful cards. Both decks fit the bill but the resilience of Targ Lion to Tears of Lys made me favor Targ Lion over Bara Rose for such a large and open tournament.

I also knew that I had to have answers to Raiding Longship and Seastone Chair. Having attachments is really important in the Greyjoy match up and as such I decided to run 3 Bodyguards and 2 Widows Wail. These attachments people usually don’t want to confiscate as they like to savor that plot for cards like Milk of the Poppy or Seal of the Hand meaning that my attachments would be save in the early game at the very least.

I didn’t run Treachery and I wouldn’t run it if I could go back and change my decklist. Even though the card is good and useful, I never felt that I really needed it in the previous times I ran the card. Aside from Varys, I never really needed the card. This allowed me to create space for cards that I did feel I needed like The Hand’s Judgement, kill events and Bodyguards. In the end

I cut Littlefinger in favor of Burned Men to improve my curve and the Greyjoy match up.
I have to admit that I wasn’t sold on the top heavy big guy style like this deck runs in the beginning. What I failed to understand in the beginning is that despite running 14 5+ characters most of them are actually dupes of 4 of them. Running loads of dupes really allows the big characters to stay on the board and be save from military claim or kill events. Add the Bodyguards and the deck is quite resilient to military claim and to Varys.

The plot line up was difficult. I wanted to have enough high gold plots to be able to afford the expensive characters, have gold for ambush and be able to play events. At the same time I had to make up for the lack of draw in the deck while playing enough plots that helped me bolster the aggressive nature of the deck. This meant that I couldn’t run Confiscation, a decision that I don’t regret. I expected to face less Seals than in previous tournaments as it has been on the decline in most decks lately and Milk I don’t really care about as long as they don’t Milk my Drogo. Milking any other character really doesn’t bother me. Trading with the Pentoshi was money all day, it allowed me to play expensive characters, have back up gold and beat out other plots like A Noble Cause and Summons.

The tournament

Instead of doing a full round by round play back I will shortly describe the most important moments about each round. I wanted to write down all the names of all my opponents but after a few rounds I got lazy and stopped.

Round 1 Martell Lion

I got out of the game strong but got my board cleared by Varys when I had all my big guys out. I killed his Tyrion, Jaime and Nymeria so I felt quite good about my chances after the Varys. I didn’t draw enough characters to sustain a good presence. The deciding moment was the bummer of the tournament. We were both at around 10 to 11 power with him having some counters on his boneway. I had Daenerys out with him having a number of 1 strength characters. When my opponent attacked with a 1 strength characters vs a standing Danny he took unopposed power where he shouldn’t have gotten any. I thought I was in a lose – lose situation where I couldn’t block and win the challenge because of the Boneway but also couldn’t let it go unopposed as it would give him power as well. To be honest I was still a bit sleepy and rusty, I have no hard feeling towards my opponent but I was kind of irritated about the whole situation for the rest of the day.


Round 2 Martell Crossing

Early in the game my opponent took Tyrion’s power icon with his Nymeria instead of his intrigue icon. I won intrigue that turn and Tearsed his Nymeria. Next turn I went Winds of Winter with Drogo in play, I played Dracarys on his Red Viper to make me win the challenge leaving him only with a single Red Viper after the second military challenge. A Marched next turn cleared his board.


Round 3 Greyjoy Fealty

I won this game on turn one or at least it felt that way. My opponent didn’t challenge with his Balon and claimed in for military claim thinking that after he would be Risen from the Sea his +1 strength would help him get passed my big characters. I he had two Risen from the Seas, I had two The Hand’s Judgement. Balon died, I cleared his board turn 2 or 3.


Round 4 Stark Fealty

This was the most interesting game of the tournament. Despite me having a lot of strong characters out Catelyn and Syrio and or Kennel Master really made life difficult for me. I couldn’t use my bodyguards or Hand’s Judgements with her in the challenge. I banked on the fact that he played Wildfire and stalled out till plot 7, he Wildfired and I killed my Milked Daenerys in favor of Tyrion. Alongside the Smash Brothers he helped me close out the game.


Round 5 Stark Fealty

This game was won on turn two. My opponent setup 4 cards, econ location, Rodrick and a duped Bran. I had an aggressive start with I believe Drogo. I opened with Marched making him choose between his 6 coster or his claim soak and Dracarys protection. He went for Rodrick and Marched Bran. Turn two I flipped Winds of Winter and went first. I Dracarys’d his Grey Wind when he opposed with Robb and Greywind vs my Drogo. He then claimed his Robb in favor of Rodrick. He never recovered.


Round 6 Greyjoy Fealty

My setup was not really interesting while my opponent got Seastone Chair, Balon and Raiding Longship turn one alongside Alannys and Wendamyr. I flipped A Noble Cause to get Drogo out but with no attachments or a way to oppose the challenge I decided to keep him in hand. Instead I played Plaza and passed. I had two gold, a standing dragon, a duped Tyrion, Viserys and Jorah on the table. He took a dupe of Tyrion for claim with the Chair in favor of a random dragon, this play lost him the game on the spot. I Dracarys’d his Alannys, Plaza’d his Wendamyr and he had to claim his Balon for claim, he saved him with Risen. I Marched turn two and his board was clear turn 2.


Round 7 Bara Sun

My opponent got a very strong turn off with Mel, Nymeria and Maester Caelotte, he knelt one character, Consolidated my Tyrion and my board was rather unimpressive but I knew that I could take advantage of the situation. I intrigued away a Nymeria and he claimed his Caleotte to claim. Then I marched his Nymeria away. The turn after I flipped Winds of Winter and played Put to the Sword on his Mel, after I did it I realized he had to claim her anyways. He found a Robert, who died to Tears. After the first turn he never sustained a board presence because of Drogo.

Top 32 match Lannister Fealty

I had a rather unimpressive mulligan and for the first time in the tournament couldn’t find either Jaime or Drogo. My opponent had Jaime and Cersei out early making me play defense. Despite winning challenges that I shouldn’t have won I didn’t draw into any sizeable character that could stay on the board. He had Tyrion, Jaime, Cersei and Tywin with a seal out in the end to my Danny, Tyrion and scrubs. The game was high pressure but I realized early that this wasn’t a game I was winning. He was a bit surprised that I conceded when he was only at 12, I explained him he could win in several ways and showed how pointing to his characters. Shook his hand and wished him luck in the top 16.

In the end I went 6-1, getting top Targ. Aside from a rough first match I didn’t make any big mistakes. I hope to be able to play at this high level in my next important tournament, the upcoming regional.

Different from other builds Jamie and me are running no Treacheries, no seals and instead run 2 or 3 Bodyguards (his list was around 3 cards different). The power of the deck is that one of your bigs can die and you still have enough punch to win on the back of the rest. To me Drogo is the most important character in the deck for his ability to pressure opponents, single military challenges per turn usually don’t really matter but two challenges back up with burn and kill makes for a lot of scary games. It makes applying pressure back really difficult. Either you apply pressure and weakening your own board or you defend and you don’t build out your own board. Both situations are profitable for us.

Card draw vs Card advantage

Card draw is king or so it was said in first edition. In 2.0 this has been challenges quite a few times and this deck is a prime example why. Drawing cards only matters if those cards help impact the game but if your draw doesn’t translate to a stronger board presence than the extra card don’t add anything. Economy and card advantage is how you win games in 2.0 or at least, it is a way to win games. If we look at this deck than we have several tools that allow for situations where we can get card advantage. Treachery quite often trades a card for a trigger, despite the fact that this can be really strong it usually means that you are trading 1 card of yours for 0 of theirs, making it in fact card disadvantage. Drogo however allows you to do an extra military challenge per turn, potentially making them lose two cards per turn and going 2 for 1 each turn. Tyrion gives economy advantage allowing the deck to run aggressive plots like Winds of Winter or Counting Coppers and still have the gold to play events or pay of ambush. Over the course of the tournament I haven’t drawn more than 4 cards with Danny for the entire game but the multiple challenges that Jaime allows you to do or Drogo allows you to make really is what won me games. If card draw doesn’t translate into board presence then it doesn’t help you win. Plots like Marched to the Wall and Winds of Winter allow you to pressure your opponent and generate card advantage in return. As a longtime Magiccer this is something that is very logical for me but in Thrones this hasn’t been as widely accepted. Listen to people like Greg Atkinson talk about 2.0 and how they approach the game and you will see a strong resemblance to my experiences in Madrid.

This is it for now, I hope that you guys enjoyed this report and feel free to leave a comment in the comment section. Till next time.

- Barnie25
  • scantrell24, OKTarg, istaril and 2 others like this


Card advantage, action advantage, economy advantage, and card-quality advantage are all facets of 2.0 we are coming to terms with. Usually, card quality trumps straight numerical advantage; repeatable attrition (like Plaza or Drogo) is itself card advantage that can lead to quality advantage, especially through Marched.


Targ/Lion is strong because it has the quality advantage in most matchups; it can lose when you suffer numerically and can't make those extra power characters count.


Great report; congrats on the result! Looking forward to the next one!

    • JCWamma likes this
Nice write up bud! Is there a place in the www to see the whole tournament results?
Mar 15 2016 07:49 PM
Great read and great looking deck, mate. Well done!

Thanks for the report. I agree with you on the draw issue: draw per se does not equal win - but then again, substitute "card advantage" for "draw", and there you go.


Would you consider to cut 1 Hand´s judgment to get down to 60?

Given that time he double-Judged a double-Risen Balon, I think that might be a hard call :P

    • Barnie25 likes this

Good Job Ruben, well done! See you at Leiden! and thx for sharing the ribs ;)

    • Barnie25 likes this