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A Game of Thrones Tourney Report - Vancouver Store Championship

The Vancouver Store Championship took place on March 15th and I was a little jumpy going in. This was now my third competitive play experience with Thrones since starting the game back in March 2012, and with two regional wins from last year in the bag (in Vancouver and Bellevue respectively), I felt I had some sort of standard to live up to. Coupled with the fact that I didn't feel as confident in my deck this year as I did last year and that my meta mates were each bringing killer decks of their own, my nerves were beginning to get the best of me by the time I walked in the door.

The Shout-outs

First of all, I wouldn't even be able to write this report if wasn't for three key things. First, for The Connection Games in Vancouver, BC for hosting the event (and, as fate would have it, for conveniently rescheduling it at a time that my entire meta was able to go). Secondly, for Team Covenant's very own Steven Wooley for providing insight onto the build I took to the tournament, and for crafting a similar one of his own he felt confident enough to take to the SC in Tulsa. Lastly, to the three members of my meta who I had the distinct pleasure/displeasure of pummelling throughout the day, and for constantly being up to testing and tweaking the build these past few weeks. Lukas, Liam, and Daniel have been around since the beginning, and are the reason playing the game is as fun as it is.

The Deck

I'll be honest... I'm a little bit of a sadist (at least when it comes to the game).

I've been a Greyjoy purist almost for the entire time I've been playing AGOT, and something about representing one of the most horrific and irredeemable Houses in the series just puts a smile on my face. If it doesn't have a Kraken on it, chances are I probably want nothing to do with it.

In spite of the meta being what it is (KotHH, Bloodthirst, other such nonsense) I chose to stick to my guns and run a Greyjoy deck. I ran a staple of the House's arsenal (winter, duh) but used it without an agenda to get the benefits of Summoned by the Conclave and Alleras, and to shut down any opponent's abilities that require one to work (here's looking at you, Northern Cavalry Flank). The deck was equal parts hand and board control focused, utilizing Alannys and the Inn of the Kneeling Man, Game of Thrones, and The Kingsroad to put on the hurt up top, while Wintertime Marauders, Price of War, and 2-claims took care of business down below. Overall, I was really happy with how the deck performed and I'm surprised that winter has seemingly fallen out of favour within the Greyjoy spectrum, having only read about The Old Way, Black Sails, and Charagenda decks floating around the tournament scene.

Total Cards: (61)

House Greyjoy

Agenda: (0)

Plot: (7)
1x Valar Morghulis (Core)
1x The Winds of Winter (TWoW)
1x Game of Thrones (LotR)
1x Search and Detain (HtS)
1x Men of Pride (THoBaW)
1x A Time for Ravens (ACoS)
1x Summoned by the Conclave (AHA)

Character: (30)
1x Baelor Blacktyde (TIoR)
2x Samwell Tarly (TRS)
1x The Reader (TGF)
1x Mance Rayder (TWoW)
1x Wex Pyke (KotS)
1x Qarl the Maid (AJE)
1x Alannys Greyjoy (RoW)
1x Dagmer Cleftjaw (KotS)
2x Distinguished Boatswain (TftRK)
1x King Balon's Host (TWot5K)
3x Wintertime Marauders (ACoS)
1x Randyl Tarly (KotS)
1x Asha Greyjoy (KotS)
2x Carrion Bird (ASoS)
2x Maester Murenmure (CbtC)
1x Victarion Greyjoy (RotK)
1x Ghost of High Heart (WLL)
1x Maester Wendamyr (KotS)
2x Hammerhorn Raiders (THtW)
1x Gran Goodbrother (AHA)
1x Alleras (AHA)
1x Balon Greyjoy (FaI)
1x Greydon Goodbrother (TK)

Attachment: (3)
1x Bastard (LotR)
2x White Raven (TWoW)

Event: (8)
2x Nightmares (LoW)
2x The Price of War (KotS)
2x Seasick (KotS)
2x Risen from the Sea (KotS)

Location: (20)
3x Sunset Sea (KotS)
1x Street of Sisters (Core)
1x The Iron Cliffs (HtS)
3x The Iron Mines (KotS)
3x Gatehouse (KotS)
1x River Blockade (RoR)
2x Longship Iron Victory (KotS)
1x The Inn of the Kneeling Man (FtC)
1x River Row (QoD)
1x Street of Steel (LoW)
3x The Kingsroad 23 (FaI)

The Main Attraction

Game 1: vs. Liam
House Stark - Siege of Winterfell - Negotiations at the Great Sept

Quite literally the one person Liam did not want to get paired up with first round was me, and I can't say I blame him. Winter chokes his gold supply down, and my lack of an agenda makes Flank, Damon Dance-for-Me, and a bunch of his other staples pretty much just cardboard on the table.

He flopped into two Northland Keeps, an Osha, and a Direwolf Pup, while I threw down Murenmure, Alannys, and some 0-cost locations. He Marched to the Wall, wiping the Maester and the wee puppy dog off the board, as my Time for Ravens fetched that beautiful white bird that brings on the cold. I begrudgingly did not have anything to cancel the Epic Battle he flopped before draw, so I knew it was going to be a long round.

Between Syrio popping in and out of shadows for him and a 2-claim military challenge on a Dry Season turn (no Iron Mines for me), I was hurting pretty hard by turn two. Luckily, Alannys and my intrigue challenges cherry picked his hand and kept his options limited round by round. Eventually, after stealing one of his Northland Keeps due to a Battle for the Shield Islands and getting a Wintertime Marauders on the board, things started to swing my way. I had the board flooded with locations and was able to prevent any of his serious challenges to go through while leaving him with no hand. His own Valar sealed his fate as I saved or bounced most of my characters (thank-you, Search and Detain), and went in for the kill.


Game 2: vs. Daniel

House Baratheon - Black Sails - Narrow Escape

I was surprised to have to go up against two of the guys from my meta back to back, but that was the way things turned out to be. I knew the ins and outs of Daniel's Sails deck really well—I built the thing. Based off of Simoni's Worlds deck, it was heavy on recursion and controlling the board via Black Cells.

He took a mulligan from a bad hand into another bad hand, only flopping King Stannis and a Blackwater Bay. My Mance Rayder shut off Stannis immediately (kudos to Steven for the idea of splashing him in), while Ghost of High Heart and some econ locations took care of the rest of my setup. I drew back up and lucked out into getting Sam, a Carrion Bird, and a White Riven. I hit draw cap and started to put on the pressure. He got two Black Cells out pretty quickly but couldn't manage to draw into any Naval icons; strange considering we'd never had any problem with that before in play testing. Ultimately, even with preventing Mance from kneeling or standing for most of the game and tossing a Motley on Ghost of High Heart, Dan's deck proved to be too expensive to deal with winter and he couldn't get into his hold at any point during the game. Wintertime Marauders + a Price of War got rid of both Black Cells and the Blackwater Bay, sufficiently tearing up his board presence and launching me into the space I needed to get the win.


Game 3: vs. Lukas

House Martell - Bloodthirst - Burning on the Sands

Ah yes, and there it was. A quick look at the standings had me realize I would be guaranteed to go up against Lukas (the other member of our meta that came to the championship) and his nasty lose-to-win Bloodthirst shenanigans. I'd only ever played the deck once before, but I knew it liked summer and tossing Taste for Bloods on Maester Aemon, which made me sufficiently nervous going into the game.

He tossed down a summer Kingsroad and two Shores of the Summer Sea as well as an Oberyn's Shield Bearer and at least one more character on his setup. I got a solid starting hand with a 4-card flop that netted me some decent econ and board presence. We opened up first turn with our respective search plots (his, At the Gates for Aemon; mine, A Time for Ravens for the White Raven) and started things along quick. I was hardly able to get any challenges through between his Taste for Bloods on Aemon (who also acted as repeatable claim soak), and his multiple cancels that denied me my offense and ripped apart my responses. He had to be at least at 6 or 8 power by turn two, with me sitting at maybe only 3.

Thanks to Longship Iron Victory netting me an extra card a turn, I finally started to draw into what I needed and began a slow comeback. Balon hitting the board made a huge difference, boosting all of my characters by +2 and making Alannys and my winter Kingsroads all the more useful. Two copies of Wintertime Marauders made it so that I could get rid of both of the Taste for Bloods on Aemon and then bounce him the next turn with Search and Detain, forcing Lukas to discard all of the power that had amassed on him over the course of several rounds.

Despite whittling away at his hand turn after turn, he was still able to use The Only Game that Matters and a pivotal The Viper's Rage on round six when I thought I had the game locked down. I was forced to Valar as my seventh plot with only one Iron Mines on the board to save Balon, and I realized all too late that I had definitely overextended. I picked up the pieces as best I could, unloading characters and reducers as fast as possible to prevent Lukas from grabbing the victory he was so close to (at this point, he was still in the lead with us sitting at around 12-10). He dropped a Red Wedding at the same time I played Search and Detain, and I bounced his Ellaria to his hand in order to save Balon from imminent demise. Not long after, my ability to reflood the board and his lack of cancels and lose-to-win cards gave me the extra edge I needed to push to 15, just edging out him by a few power at most.


Game 4: vs. Lukas (again)

House Martell - Bloodthirst - Burning on the Sands

This was probably the last thing either of us expected or wanted to have happen after the exhausting game we had just played before. I'm still not sure how it came to be (I would have been sitting at 15 points to his 9, if I did the math properly), but sure enough we were matched up again.

This game went by a lot quicker, due in part to both of us being so tired after a long day of cards, and also his missing some key opportunities. I opened with Murenmure and a Boatswain and he laid down a Carrion Bird and Ellaria. I had no reason to get a White Raven first turn, especially with the Carrion Bird staring me down, so I opted to wait and see what would happen. Sure enough, he played a Black Raven in his opening marshalling phase, locking me down with Ellaria's ability to gain power if it's summer and an opponent with more characters plays another one. I was forced to only use three characters on the first turn (as he At the Gates'd Aemon again and tossed Taste for Bloods on him) and defend as best I could.

My Time for Ravens on round 2 got rid of summer and began my winter shenanigans, and I lucked out into drawing a copy of Bastard which shut down most of Aemon's utility, and a key component to Lukas' deck. The deal was more or less sealed from there on out, with Alannys and intrigue challenges controlling his hand, and LIV and The Reader getting me extra draw to keep my board position aloft.


The Aftermath

Overall, it was a great tournament and really cool to see some Thrones players from the city that I hadn't met before (even if I never did get to play them). The deck performed as good as or better than it ever has, without hardly any hiccups, and I'll include a link to it for those who are interested.

The big stars of the show...
  • Wintertime Marauders—Absolutely money all day long and pivotal to getting the board presence I needed in almost every game.
  • Alannys Greyjoy—When this lady goes to work, she goes to work. Her hand control is insane, and absolutely dominated some games.
  • Search and Detain—Definitely a hard inclusion for me as a restricted choice, but ultimately I was happy with it. Its versatility is unmatched, saving key cards on my side of the board and bouncing what my opponent thought was safe from leaving play.
  • Balon Greyjoy—Between the strength boost and renown, Balon is a true hero of this deck. He can swing games just by hitting the board and turns average characters into monsters.
And the poor choices...
  • Seasick—Never got to use its ability once all day. I was planning for more KotHH and less influence just idling about on the boards. This card was a saving grace last regionals season, but it was dead weight at the championship for me.
Again, a huge thanks to Steven Wooley for helping me craft this thing, to the guys for putting up with such a gnarly deck, and to all of you for reading this.

"What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger."
  • Alex and kuvnynto like this


Hey I was one of those players you met but never got to play :P Cool report, hope to see you at the Regional! :D