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Greek Nationals 2014 - Runner up report

Game of Thrones

As some of you may already know, I played a HoD / Dragonpit deck, a choice that proved right in practice, since I made it to the final where I lost to… another Dragonpit. The whole tournament was an almost 12-hour marathon of a highly competitive level. Needless to say, it was a blast and kudos to each participant and, most of all, to the guys in Fantasy Shop who hosted this magnificent event. Now, on a more personal level…

The deck choice
Ever since I started playing this game, three and a half years ago, Targ is my main House. I also play GJ and Martell, but those two I just like. The Targ is the House I love, the one I ‘m happy to see winning events and the one whose cards I rush to see at every spoiler on the web. What can I say, I ‘m a sucker for dragons and platinum blondes.
With the above under consideration, there was no doubt I ‘d be playing Targ in a tournament of such caliber. There was a breach in my loyalty some three weeks before the event, where I considered the krakens, but the crisis passed within a few hours, thank God.
Which brought me to the inevitable question: what build? Dragons was out of the question of course, since no matter how strong they are in melee (and they are STRONG), they lose much steam in joust. The HttIT Rush, which seems to be the latest trend, ever since Philippe won the Canadian Nationals with it (gratz man!), does not appeal to me much at the moment. The Dothraki was a serious contender, especially after the arrival of the Harrenhal, and, ever since I ‘ve made up my mind at mid August to attend the event, for most of the time till the Nationals, they were my build of choice.
And then, there’s Burn. The much loved or much reviled (depending on whether someone plays Targ or not) mechanic that defines the House and remains its iconic build. Sure, it’s a control thing and, supposedly, ever since Harrenhal entered the scene, control is at a somehow weak place next to aggro, BUT if there’s one control build which is less affected by Harrenhal, this one is the Targ Burn. The reason? Burn revels in death and this is exactly what Harrenhal does: kills. Sure, the killing may not be the optimal one, but it’s still killing. Besides, Burn is a continuous killing machine and Harrenhal does not last forever. And… there-is-one-particular-build-which-doubles-both-as-control-AND-aggro in case all the control tools keep getting cancelled and just wins by dominating at challenges. A build which normally utilizes cities as well to get rid of annoying locations. Guess which Posted Image
The Dragonpit is the best Targ build a.t.m., especially in the Greek scene where Choke is abundant. With the Pit lowering the already meager str of the GJ weenies to nothingness and Threat clearing the GJ player’s board, Choke is, in fact, a favorable matchup. Targ KotHH, especially Vaapad’s version, is i.m.o. the strongest build ever, at least ever since I started playing this game, but it was hit hard both by the FAQs and the presence of Harrenhal and it wouldn’t be my deck of choice this time. It will come back on top again I believe (the Aftermath cries out “Targ KotHH” and the Mad King is affordable in that build), but in the form of John Bruno’s build, the one that won Worlds in 2012. And any devious Lanni player who wishes to do the Wheels plot thing at the beginning of the game, should reconsider when facing Targ HH: 3 Flame-Kissed, 2 ready influence and Waste their Time will make sure that he will just… waste his time. As for Targ Maesters, it’s strong but it needs too much tweaking and, like I ‘ve said before, the Dragonpit is the better choice, at least in the Greek meta. I never considered the Targ Summer Burn, which I do not like and never liked either; whenever I started making such a deck, I always ended up changing it to something else. The draw is abundant there, but HoD, KotHH and TMP provide better builds for Burn.
There was one last thing that tipped the scales in favor of the Pit: I didn’t expect to see any Tunnels build in the tournament (Burn’s archenemy) and turned out I was correct; no Tunnels were present. Why did I assume this? Two reasons: firstly, the sheer amount of Choke hits hard all Shadow builds (mine was a Shadow one too, but already wrote why I do not fear Choke), even though, curiously, a Tunnels build won the Greek Regional in summer. The second one was the presence of Wheels. I assumed all Lanni players would want to try out their new toy and the Tunnels just isn’t the build for it. Not only that, but I expected most of them to use the PbtT Agenda which gets the most mileage out of the event and PbtT builds are, under normal circumstances, easy pickings for the Pit. Turns out I was correct in that aspect too, since all Lanni players in the tournament played PbtT. One more thing: the Tunnels may prey on Burn (but its victories are far from guaranteed, I tell you), but gets demolished by Stark murder, a build highly popular and highly competitive at the same time and suffers vs all those decks that continuously clear the board. If I was a Lanni player and I wanted to enter a tournament to win it and not just to go after Burn, I’d opt for either NA or PbtT. Those two are their best builds atm. It’s a matter of personal opinion.
With all the above in mind, my choice was set: HoD / Dragonpit. I didn’t play a single match to test it before the tournament, but there was no need; I ‘ve played so many games with that build that I know exactly how it behaves. Time proved me right.

The Tournament
Hosted in a vast hotel room along with the Netrunner Nationals, there were around 80+ people there most of the time. It was crazy, but it was fun too. There is a word we Greeks use for geeks: “burnt”. How fitting for my situation Posted Image 41 of us contended for the Thrones prizes (a local record) and the whole event was about to last almost 12 hours for me. Not that I complain... Off to the games now:


Round 1 vs Eliza and her Targaryen HttIT (W)
Eliza is a girl I ‘ve faced before in a local tournament and impressed me with her gracious manners. One of the same here. She played a deck similar to Philippe’s she was pretty successful with, in her words. Sadly for her, I kept control of the table in the entire game, burning all of her heavy hitters and letting the Pit taking care of her weenies. Two To Be kept her in game for some time, but they ultimately proved inadequate. I discarded with my City her Harrenhal at the third turn and, by the time she played another one, it was too late for her. All I needed was to reach 13 power and then, my Brothel took care of her Khal for the final two power. She later told me that she didn’t draw her most important cards.
Round 2 vs Dimitris Filippatos and his Stark NA (W)
A good player, a good guy and a good deck. The three components that provide a good game. His deck was a classic Stark NA deck with all the usual tools. I got rid of Meera the moment she made her appearance and my Birds proved huge in preventing him from keeping it Winter for long. A middle game Aegon’s Hill on my behalf (the only time I used it in that day) forced him to overcommit, my Valar cleared the board and, from then on, he couldn’t come back. He was unlucky, because, even though Stark NA is one of the best builds in the current environment, it suffers vs the Pit (one more reason I opted for the Pit: I expected most Stark players to go the NA path – I was right in that aspect too, though I expected more Stark).

Round 3 vs Sevan and his Martell NA (W)
Kill me now. I ‘ve played vs this guy before in a Store Championship and he had a Bloodthirst build back then in its heyday. I played a Targ KotHH and I had a modified win in time. I didn’t want to be in that same position again, because the games that go into time are a gamble. What could I do though? It was obvious that this game would take long. And it did.
His deck was excellent with lots of draw and abundant gold, since he added Summer to his shenanigans. To my surprise, he used the Bannermen as his restricted of choice, which paid off nicely. I had a Flame-Kissed (we all know what we want it to do vs Martell) and Illyrio in my starting hand and I wanted to protect them at all costs, so I did my best to not let him win any INT challenge against me. He didn’t. Dany did what she was meant to do vs the Bannermen, Viserys is KING, burnt out his heavy hitters and let the Pit slowly roasting his weenies, I was lucky to discard two of his Vipers as claim and killed the one he managed to play (with a Skull, so the FK stayed in my hand after all :-p) and got that game, as well. But it took long and my next one started right after. That is never good. I felt a little dizzy…

Round 4 vs Michalis Kallinikos and his GJ KoW (W)
My first Choke in the event right after an exhausting play vs Martell. O, the bliss… Michalis was a tough opponent. He placed the new Theon in his setup while I had Pyat Pree and a Parasite out. When seeing Theon out, I decided to start with Threat even though Threat is a mega-tool better saved for later. But I really wanted to get rid of that critter, even if it meant discarding my Parasite. Besides, I considered it possible that he would open with At the Gates to fetch either Wendy or Murenmure, both of which wouldn’t last long with a Threat out (for the record, he fetched Wendy who got immediately discarded). There I made my most serious mistake in the whole event. I had initiative and, by habit, I opted to go first. I was a fool, since that meant that I would have to kill Pyat due to Theon’s effect on my turn (remember, my Parasite got discarded when I revealed the Threat). If I let him go first, Theon would kill himself and Pyat would remain at the table. Remember what I said about dizziness? Anyway, I killed the Pyat, he killed Theon, we marshaled. At the second turn he started pressing me really hard. He revealed Fear of Winter while I revealed City of Lies, so I had to put only one card in Shadows and nothing else, when he had a 2-claim plot out. Things were tough. He had a Drowned out with a gained green icon as he had more locations than me on the table. Oh, and a Kingsroad as well. And it was Winter. And I had no way of getting rid of the weenie. Ergo, minus three cards by the turn’s end. For the whole game, he didn’t use his Agenda, since he always had more cards in hand than me. Eventually got to eleven power, but Dragonpit is huge. Slowly but securely, I started to control the board. By the time my beloved CS Drogo joined the fray, I knew that victory was mine. Yup. 4-0 and made it to the next round. The last two games would be more relaxing.

Round 5 vs Konstantinos Goumas and his GJ KoW (L)
My only loss to the Swiss round and one of my overall two. I was starting to tire, since I played non-stop while Konstantinos had two byes (he had won the Thessaloniki Regional amongst other things) and a modified draw before, so had only one game under his belt. His mind was clearer, his Choke is how Choke should be played i.m.o. (that is, using Cities) and he outplayed me, even though I managed to get rid of his Balon before he had the chance to make it Winter. I made a couple of mistakes too, and that worsened things. I reached 14 power, but didn’t manage to close the game and he defeated me nice and clearly.

Round 6 vs Panagiotis Ntemiris vs his GJ KoW (W)
Hmmm, another Choke matchup. Luckily, Panagiotis is a nice guy with an excellent sense of humor, so the games vs him are always mirthful despite him playing one of the most atrocious builds in the format. Not much to say here, it was a typical Pit vs Choke match: he couldn’t pass through challenges, I kept burning the ones who made it and that’s it. He had a problem with his draw too, since he didn’t draw enough locations and I ended up choking him (lol), by getting rid of those he managed to play.

End of the Swiss, I came second out of the top 16 with a 5-1 record. Very good. Time for the elimination games:

Top-16 vs Michalis Kallinikos and his GJ KoW (W)
Yes, the same guy I faced in my fourth match and my fourth consecutive play vs Choke. Did I mention that Choke is everywhere in the Greek meta? Anyway, even though he opened with Fear this time against my CoL, which, for a second time, allowed me to put only one card in Shadows and that’s all, this game was in my favor right from the start. I never lost the lead, the Birds were, once again, huge vs his Winter, I discarded for claim one of his Marauders, killed the other and two consecutive Pyrophobias bounced his Sparr back to his hand. He was unlucky not to draw any characters for 1-2 turns to stop my unopposed challenges and was forced to concede shortly before I ‘d reach 15 power. Dragonpit proved its mettle once more and I congratulated myself for my pick.

Top-8 vs Aggelos Gerolymatos and his Lanni PbtT (W)
Good. Now was the time to see if I was right to consider this matchup favorable for my deck. Previous games vs this Agenda led me to the conclusion that, if things go as expected, the Pit will overcome. And it did.
Aggelos played PbtT exactly how it should be played, that is with an emphasis to control instead of rush. I was a little surprised to see Cities, but he knows better. He knelt my characters without mercy with Cities, the Castellan (once, before he got crisped), two Harry, one You Killed, stole a Warlock with Tyrion’s ability and kept hitting my hand. He got to around 10 power, but from then on, I locked the board. Threat removed all of his characters, Burn took care of any annoying high str characters (not that PbtT sports many), the Pit neutralized his weenies and I got that match as well. A special mention here to Varys who discarded his Craster early on and my second copy of the Pit, which came as a duplicate guaranteeing that the Pit would stay on the table one more round at worse, even if he played Cities. Fellow Targ, I cannot stress enough the importance of including a second Pit in our decks.

Top-4 vs Kostas Stefanidis and his Martell NA (W)
That was the match that would take either me or Kostas to the final and a free ticket to Stahleck. No need then to stress its importance. Since I had a Martell deck across the table, I was ready for a long game. And it proved to be one. I should mention here that Kostas right before defeated K.Goumas who was the only one to defeat me till then, so I should have been extra cautious if I was to defeat him.
I started strongly and kept control till the moment I won an INT challenge and allowed him to put Darkstar into play. That tipped the scales in his favor for some time, but eventually I overcame, since my burning came from everywhere: the Pit, my other locations (what a great card the Training Grounds is!), my hand, my Shadows. He couldn’t keep up, since he eventually ran out of characters. He had a duplicated GG out, but didn’t use it a single time. Later on our judge commented on that choice, considering it a mistake, but Kostas was right not to use it. If he did, the game would end sooner, because I had a flood of characters out (he was forced to Valar early) and I’d grab tons on unopposed power. Not to mention my INT challenges which would simply discard his Ghaston-ed characters. Around mid game, Kostas had no cards in hand during challenges.

Final vs Jim Alexandrou and his HoD / Pit deck (L)
That proved to be my second defeat and first rape in the entire tournament. It wasn’t a match at all. Later on, Reclusive would wisely say that, in one out of ten matches, your deck will spit at you and he was right. Luckily, it was at the final, so I managed to grab all the goodies -short of the first place trophy that is- and affirmed to myself that the Pit was the top choice in the whole tournament. I lost to another Pit, after all!
Concerning the game per se, there isn’t much to tell. My setup hand was 7 Shadow cards. I mulliganed not to draw one. I placed several cards during setup (4 if memory serves), so I ‘d draw 5 more cards to start the game with. For ****’s sake, I ‘d grab at least one Shadow card. Noooooope. I was forced to start with Threat (I hate this) just to get rid of the Harpy’s Scourge he had on his Dragon Thief, to discard one of his weenies (a Parasite I believe) and take care of the Thief later on in the round. I drew praying silently for at least one Shadow card. Nope. I knew the game was over by then. He could use his Pit, while I couldn’t. I ‘d have to follow with a CoL (he had no 0-cost characters or locations to use another city) without having a single Shadow card in hand and I was already behind on the City plots race. I grabbed my first Shadow card during the third turn, again if memory doesn’t fail me. Having two Incinerates in hand and just neutral characters on the table and a Kingdom of Shadows which repeatedly stood his Jaime didn’t help either :-p He played conservatively knowing full well that everything was under his control and won the first place. Gratz Jim, you are a terrific player to go that far and you 100% deserved the prize.

Phew, that was it. I started with the intention of saying just a few words and I kept writing and writing. Many thanks go to:
FFG for its excellent game.
Fantasy Shop for hosting the event and giving me the chance to attend Stahleck and meeting with many of you guys personally.
The guys at Fantasy Shop who worked their ass off for everything to go smoothly.
The judges who kept everything under control.
All the participants who contributed in making this tournament particularly competitive and many more thanks to my nine opponents whose strong decks and relentless play style kept me on my toes the whole tournament, thus enabling me to become a better player.
My meta mates, especially Reclusive and John (you abandoned me in the final, you Judas :-p) for their spiritual and material support throughout the whole event (that late afternoon burger was a lifesaver :-p), as well as for our fertile conversations on the meta who led me to the choice I made.

The link to my deck is here: http://www.agotcards.org/deck/v/62296

That’s all folks. Thanks for reading and hopefully, I’ll see many of you at Stahleck.
  • VengefulViper, Kennit, scwont and 1 other like this


wasn't this just a post somewhere before and now it hits the  cardgameDB front page two weeks after tournament? :)


somebody forgot to do some text editing here, add some bold, list etc.


This report  had some quality (was readable)


Yeah, I gave the report a couple of weeks ago, but had to be edited etc. The guys who run the place are busy, can't blaim them. Lots of work to do.

sure you can blame them, that's their job :)

I do not blame anybody. I'm just explaining the delay.

i really enjoyed read this report! great job! i agree with you about targ scene a t m. 

    • Serazu likes this

cool, somebody put more effort into it and used bold :) looks much better now