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All Things Shagga - Stonewall Martell

Boy do these every other Wednesdays roll around awfully often! It seems like just yesterday that I was writing about how to abuse King Viserys….. ah, those were the good old days! In previous weeks, I’ve done mainly hypothetical builds with some varying levels of neat to powerful combos or synergies, but this week I have the honor of bringing you a tournament tested brew of mine- and another deck that I think I’ve managed to nail a name on that might stick. So, without further ado, I bring you- Stonewall Martell!

Riverrun is just one of those cards that really wows a Shagga player the first time that they see it. Once you read this ability, you instantly start calculating the absurd amounts of power that it’s possible to gain if you have several characters out- all while essentially doing nothing! Of course, as it begins to sink deeper in, most players hit a certain level of despair when they realize how few quality intrigue icons House Tully characters provide. While they have a very strong presence in military and intrigue, it becomes rather difficult to make certain that your opponent can’t win any challenge against you when you have a gaping hole in one particular front.

This was a problem that I pondered for some time. While Stark has a plethora of handy military based events like Feigned Retreat or Lethal Counterattack, I just kept finding myself wishing that Feigned Retreat didn’t stop a challenge that Stark is already so strong in. If only it played more like Burning on the Sand instead! And then it clicked. What if I did just play Burning on the Sand (RotO) instead? I grabbed my cards and quickly flipped through until I found Riverrun (LoW). Perfect! It’s not House Stark Only! In fact, after a search here on CGDB, I discovered the only particularly potent pieces of the Tully arsenal that are indeed House Stark Only are The Blackfish and jumper Catelyn Stark. My head began to spin with the possibilities. Burning on the Sand is not Martell’s only piece of premium challenge control. They have several others that would be beautiful fits to shore up the glaring weakness I had. As well, Martell draw and card advantage would give me a superb way to make sure I could pump out as many Tullies as possible before and after a reset in order to keep up the pressure. I was hooked.

So, with the exciting realization made that this deck would start with the Martell house card and then add the Alliance agenda for all those juicy House Tully characters, let’s take a look at the handful of Martell cards that will help make the cut.

In the challenge control category, Burning on the Sand is of course the most potent option. While it does also take up my restricted card slot, it brings to the table the ability to end any challenge that I’m about to lose- not just the feared intrigue challenge. The amount of flexibility here is kind of astounding for this type of deck. As well, Orphan of the Greenblood (PotS) has always had the strength of essentially being an event that can be played on Setup, and here it shines by helping dig faster deeper into the deck with great Setups as well as taking out any key characters that an opponent might be able to push a challenge through with for an entire turn. Likewise, The Prince's Wrath (PotS) can be used to knock out a single key character with only a minimal investment in influence for the whole deck. Finally, A Game of Cyvasse (ACoS) shares many of the strengths of Burning on the Sands by often immediately ending any challenge when your opponent attacks with a single character. The Scourge was a late addition for repeatable control, but it’s worth noting that if it’s needed to push through a challenge, your opponent will always keep the icon that you most fear, so be careful.

Using Martell also brings some powerful card advantage to the table. While I only played 5 of them, the Martell cards I chose pull double duty as draw/reveal and intrigue icon bearing bodies to help further shore up that gap. Flea Bottom Scavenger (AToT) is phenomenal on the first turn by immediately pushing you to the draw cap, and since this deck is rarely making challenges and claiming power on the house card, there’s a good chance that you can find a way to dodge Dominance as well in order to play another on the second turn. Doubling up on these cards is just fantastic. I felt like I needed just a touch more to keep this swarm deck running, however, so in went two copies of House Messenger (PotS) to help with my card selection and to sidestep the draw cap.

From the Stark side of things, a multitude of useful cards were still available to me. For challenge control, my key picks were Catelyn Stark (Core), Ser Edmure Tully (LoW), and Lethal Counterattack (Core). Core Set Catelyn might not be the surprise that her bouncing double is, but her ability to make any attacker just not count while she defends is another excellent way to shore up the intrigue challenge, and the ability to do so in power challenges if needed is gravy. Edmure, I have to admit, isn’t always useful, but there is the capability to stop chump attacks from small characters. The really bomb card that’s still playable is Lethal Counterattack. While this deck is still extremely strong in military challenges, you shouldn’t discount the sheer terrifying power of killing all of your opponent’s attackers while sporting a Martell House Card. People forget this can be played out of house, and once you’ve done it- they live in fear.

On the card advantage front, Stark does bring some solid pieces to the table as well. Family, Duty, Honor (LoW) is a phenomenal way to restock your hand after a reset. In a deck like this, I’d say my average netted is probably 3 cards. When added to the cards drawn from the draw phase, it’s pretty to keep dropping a sizable force on the table each round. Ser Brynden's Guile (HtS) acts as a miniature version of Family, Duty, Honor while also giving just enough of a strength boost to survive an incoming attack. Though we can’t utilize The Blackfish, Guard at Riverrun (LoW) is still a near guaranteed draw each turn based on our high level of defense.

The rest of the draw deck rounds itself out with most all of the Tully characters available to play with. Special attention though, is given toward keeping the cost curve low so that we can field as many characters as possible to claim power with Riverrun. Key cards to note are the House Tully Septon (LoW), which can be a huge boon against Power Behind the Throne if you’re able to keep them from being knelt out by card effects. As well, Riverrun Messenger is important to keeping that intrigue gap closed. Edmure’s Host is just an all around magnificent beatstick. It’s not at all uncommon to be playing this for 2 or less gold, and if you can get a couple to stick on the board, it’s going to be very tough for an opponent to push through military or power challenges. As well, the Hosts are key cards against Targaryen Burn matches as they are both Immune to Events and No Attachments, which keeps them safely out of the realm of most Targaryen Burn effects.

The plot deck, then rounds out the deck even further. Since this deck generally only takes a couple rounds to win when it works, you can utilize your plots to really maximize your impact, while still keeping a couple back as oops buttons. First and foremost, is Building Season, which gives you the option to search for Riverrun if you don’t manage to get it on Setup or after a mulligan. Next come Muster the Realm! (QoD) and Lineage and Legacy (KotStorm), both of which work to force your opponent out of the possibility of making certain challenges, which ups your odds of successfully defending. More often than not, I’d say that Muster the Realm is the plot to start with. Family, Duty, Honor was already mentioned as the best way to keep up moment after a reset. That leaves us with three plots to work with. Search and Detain (HtS) is a plot with solid gold and initiative, as well as an ability that might help put your opponent off tempo long enough for you to seize the game. More often than not for this deck, it’s a move to just throw your opponent slightly off kilter, rather than the backbreaking bounce that it is to many other decks, but oftentimes, that’s all this deck needs to sweep to victory in a single round. Winter Festival shares stats with Search and Detain, but allows you to possibly snipe a victory if you’re just short, particularly if you’re afraid of Valar or the like coming that would reset your power total. Finally, for the Moonboy Classic, I went with Fleeing to the Wall (Core). As my sole nod to location control in the deck, I had hoped to catch some opponents unawares if we went to a longer game. Though it’s been very valuable to me in the past, I feel now that it wasn’t the right fit for the deck, so I might possibly swap this out for a character reset. As well, it may be worth swapping Winter Festival for something more universally applicable like another plot that would more directly mess with an opponent’s challenges or tempo.

Playing the Deck:
For decks that I have direct experience playing, I’d like to kick off a new portion of the column with a little advice on playing the deck.

For Stonewall Martell, I must caution you- Don’t. Do. Anything. Ok, I’m oversimplifying here, but in a lot of ways, this deck plays like a perverse Draw-Go style of deck. For those curious, uber control MtG builds were often called Draw-Go because those players would generally only do two things on their turn- Draw their card, then tell the other player to go. This allowed them to save all their resources to react to what their opponent tried to play and then stop it. While something like Lannister Hyperkneel plays a similar sort of reactive style during the Marshalling phase, Stonewall does this during Challenges. If you are first player you are almost never going to make a challenge and not often will you do so as second player either. Remember this. You never know when your opponent might have a strength bump, an instant win like Feigned Retreat, or any other wily tricks that could result in you losing the challenge. Not making any of your three challenges instantly halves the number that you have to win, which is a huge increase in your odds on triggering Riverrun and claiming massive amounts of power. This also gives you the maximum amount of your own resources (characters, events, etc) to devote toward stopping the opponent’s incoming challenges. My best advice on the deck then, is to remember that you aren’t playing the same game of give and take that other decks are playing anymore (generally the hallmark of a combo deck). While you do have to pay attention to threats, your means of advancing your game are wildly different in play than the average deck. Make sure you remember that and use it to maximum effect to keep your opponent off balance.

Stonewall Martell

House (1)
House Martell (Core) x1

Agenda (1)
Alliance (QoD) x1

Plot (7)
Building Season (Core) x1
Lineage and Legacy (KotStorm) x1
Muster the Realm! (QoD) x1
Winter Festival (WotN) x1
Fleeing to the Wall (Core) x1
Family, Duty, Honor (LoW) x1
Search and Detain (HtS) x1

Character (35)
Riverrun Messenger (LoW) x3
Guard at Riverrun (LoW) x3
Catelyn Stark (Core) x1
Edmure's Host (LoW) x3
Hoster Tully (LoW) x1
House Tully Recruiter (Core) x2
Knight of the Tumblestone (Core) x3
Riders of the Red Fork (FtC) x3
Ser Edmure Tully (LoW) x1
Flea Bottom Scavenger (AToT) x3
House Messenger (PotS) x2
Orphan of the Greenblood (PotS) x3
Maester Vyman (TWoW) x1
House Tully Septon (LoW) x3
Knight of the Red Fork (LoW) x3

Location (14)
Riverrun (LoW) x3
Lord Doran's Chambers (PotS) x1
Street of Sisters (Core) x1
Street of Steel (Core) x1
Shadowblack Lane (Core) x1
Lord Eddard's Chambers (Core) x1
River Row (QoD) x1
Northern Fiefdoms (Core) x1
The Scourge (ODG) x1
Narrow Sea (Core) x3

Event (13)
A Game of Cyvasse (ACoS) x3
Burning on the Sand (RotO) x3
The Prince's Wrath (PotS) x3
Ser Brynden's Guile (HtS) x2
Lethal Counterattack (Core) x2

Attachment (0)

Join me in two weeks for a look at The Laughing Storm!


Great article, I think that definatly has a chance to be awesome, but it seems like a frozen solid could ruin your day fairly quickly. Also why did you choose alliance over treaty? It seems like if you are not going to let them win challenges so less power wouldn't matter as much as increased card draw/gold.

In the beginning of your article you used the wrong challenge name a few times. You said Tully is strong in military and intrigue instead of military and power, and you said stark has a few good ways to deal with intrigue, instead of a few good ways to deal with military.
The Tullies actually have a surprising amount of Intrigue. They have Catelyn, House Tully Messenger, House Tully Septon. I don't know I'd call that STRONG, but certainly the strongest Stark has for Intrigue.

Also, Frozen Solid doesn't do anything to the deck, imo.
Ok, ,intrigue that should have been military typo is corrected.

Frozen Solid, however, won't stop this deck at all since Riverrun is No Attachments.
That's a good point on Treaty, as well. They Treaty agendas left such a bad taste in my mouth when they first came out, that I'd largely forgotten about them, but for a deck like this, there's a good chance that it's perfect. I'll do a little testing with the other agenda and let you know how it goes.
    • Deroche likes this
I like the deck idea. Since you plan on winning all challenges, have you considered A Champion Arises (TGM)? If so, what event would you cut for it?
Now that I read the card again, it's only 1 power in joust. That's why you didn't put it in there. It was on my mind from building a Targ Tully deck.
Frozen Solid could be used on the Scourge to limit icon removal, but yeah, it wouldn't do too much to the deck. I'd be a lot more worried about
Newly Made Lord (TftH).
I completely forgot that Riverrun was no attachments, my mistake! Though a Meera or Nightmare +frozen solid would work. Though that requires a good deal of luck.
Wouldn't HCIT be better then Cyvasse as you could counter Nightmares ?
He Calls It Thinking doesn't stop Nightmares. The event slots are pretty small in this build as is and I think he needs as much challenge denial as possible.
Agreed on both points, Staton. In general, Michaelius, He Calls it Thinking doesn't stop any of the cards that worry me as ways to stop Riverrun in this deck. The challenge based removal is generally a non-entity because so much of my deck is devoted to making certain that the opponent does not win a challenge to play it. Attachment based control is out thanks to Riverrun itself. That leaves Nightmares, Meera Reed, and Newly Made Lord as the main suspects to watch out for, but sadly He Calls it Thinking stops none of them.

As well, Staton is right that my event slots should be pretty limited. It could be argued that 13 is a little high because so much of the deck is focused on getting permanents (to borrow an MTG term again) into play and keeping them there to gain power. Going to high on events lowers my Tully draws and setups, but so many of them are so good at stopping challenges, that it was hard to resist. Sadly, HCiT won't stop any challenges.
What if You Murdered Her Children was reprinted, would you run that?
In this deck? Nah, it's still predicated off of me losing a challenge. I'd much rather run cards that keep that from happening. That said, I'd surely run it in other Martell builds since it was a phenomenal card.
Oh yeah. Good point there. Forgot you had to actually lose the challenge. That card just rubbed me the wrong way. You should NEVER be able to just look at someone's deck.
Nah, it that part never really bothered me.
Really?! I hated that part of it. Being able to look through someone's deck really took a lot of the decisions out of the game. Oh I know they have Westeros Bleeds, so I'll make sure to keep characters in hand after they Valar.
Eh, maybe it's just cause I play the same people so often, but I'm used to having a good idea what they are, or aren't playing anyway. Confirmation is nice, but I don't think it's the end of the world unless you're delaying the game to study their deck in depth. I don't think the ability to that is particularly worse than looking at their hand through Confession. Now, removing all copies of that character and putting them into the discard pile.... wow. I always thought that was pretty bonkers for 2 influence. Bonkers in an "OMG I have to run this card NOW!" kind of way.
Well yeah, the effect was definitely way undercosted, but hey, it was no Prince's Loyalist. lol
On another aside, why can't we ever stay on topic in comments? :P

More on topic, is there anything major that I'm missing as far as challenge control options? Or is the Treaty agenda the only major suggestion so far? I'd like to try out another round with the deck a bit this weekend.
I'd probably remove Brynden's Guile for The Only Game that Matters (LotR). I also like changing it to treaty with the North.
I thought about The Only Game that Matters, but with the majority of my characters being intrigue-less, it hits mine just as hard as my opponent, without really shoring up a weakness (ie. it's not going to stop incoming intrigues). You may be right about removing Brynden's Guile though. It's been useful, but not amazing so far, and dropping it would put me at exactly 60, rather than the 62 that I currently have.
I say changing the agenda for treaty and dropping the 2 events to bring you down to 60 cards is a good way to go. How useful did you find
The Prince's Wrath (PotS)? Maybe use Dissension (QoD) instead because it removes characters?

I think plots could use switching either Winter Festival (WotN) or Fleeing to the Wall (Core) for Shadows and Spiders (LotR) for more challenge control.
Did you consider Frozen Outpost? Seems like it would be a good pump to help you keep winning those defended challenges? Especially paired with core set catelyn
Blargh, I meant to test more last night with it, but forgot the box with that deck at home, so I wound up doing more Laughing Storm testing instead.

@Hoyalawya, I've thought pretty hard about Shadows and Spiders based on it's ability to completely deny my opponent all three challenges if I can keep them from winning the intrigue. The three gold has turned me off, but it's probably worth checking out again. I can potentially just hold on to it until the turn that I have a Burning on the Sands in hand.

@Orclrob, Hmmm.... not a bad thought on Frozen Outpost, as potential strength bumps can be handy on defense as well. At the moment, I'm not sure what I would cut to make room though.
Kennon, Would you mind explaining your reasoning behind Flea Bottom Scavenger (AToT)? They are just straight 3 dead cards in your deck if you have a single power on your house. You can't guarantee you dont win dominance randomly. It also doesn't seem like you want to savage yourself by not attacking in a guaranteed unopposed win just to make Scavenger better... Please explain why this card is good here?