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Have a Nice Trip, See You Next Fall - NYC Regionals, April 28th, 2012

Written by Kyle Szklenski, on April 29th, 2012. Tournament report from April 28th, 2012, New York City regionals.

Author’s note: As you all know, I like to talk. I also like to write. A lot. I will include a tl;dr summary near the end for those short of attention span. For both of the rest of you, read on for some insight into my thinking about this regionals season.

Imagine it’s a week before your first regionals event for the year, and you still have no idea what you’re going to play. Sound pretty common? My thoughts going in were: Do I attack the meta directly or do I join it? Do I go with the unexpected, or do I pick a very common but good deck archetype? Who the hell is going to help pay for the $650 room I got?

Now imagine it’s the night before you leave for regionals, and you still have no answer to any of those questions, though you have some idea of the last one. What do you do? First, you panic and send a nasty email to a mailing list, and then realize you were unfair and kind of an idiot. Then you apologize and the person you were a jerk to ends up being a great guy in person, answering the last of those questions for good. The others were game-day decisions, and here’s how I went about deciding what to play, in case this is useful to any nublets out there.

I’m going to work backward through the other two questions. This season, I had a major change of heart about the time that John Bruno won KingdomCon. I decided then that I would go with something that isn’t as typical as the normal decks I build, but is way, way more typical of the decks others build. What I mean is: I wasn’t going to play something completely wacky. Oh sure, I’ll play something risky, but not something that has a lot of unexpected garbage in it. For those of you who know me pretty well, you know I usually play with a lot of random, untested junk, and often finish somewhere right around the middle of the pack. This year is finally my time to go the eff to sleep, or grow up and play solidly, and hope for more.

With that in mind, I made more or less four decks that I was considering, all of which I had some good experience with, and all of which were fairly consistent. By consistent here, I don’t mean they consistently win, but they do consistently achieve their goals, which is often important for winning. Out of them, however, by far the most consistent and simple deck was standard Martell Summer, with 3x Ill Tidings. I was expecting Greyjoy winter ad nauseum, and felt that with the help of Ill Tidings, I could easily walk or even run over those decks without much to worry about, because with Viper’s Bannermen and other draw effects, I could ensure that either a) the one card that they discard is going to be largely irrelevant, or b ) I always have a Black Raven on the table, or finally c) they don’t have a White Raven out. The other three decks were, in no particular order: Bara Wildlings, Stark Siege, and Lanni Maesters. The reasons that I felt Martell was more consistent were:
  • Bara Wildlings – Wildlings are quite a decent deck these days; however, if they get choked early, their game can grind to a standstill. This SUCKS. While Val + Laughing Storm is a decent combo, it’s not that hard to get around, and if you ask Staglord (or anyone else in the history of the game), he’d say it was quite cheesy as well.
  • Stark Siege – Again, choke can be tough to deal with. Stark certainly has ways around it, but in reality, basically every Martell event hurts Stark in some way, and that is not cool.
  • Lanni Maesters – This is the other deck I was most seriously considering, because I had a cool little build made up. However, it was seriously weak to location hate, and at the same time it didn’t have any staying power whatsoever vs Stark. I was expecting a good amount of Stark and GJ, combined with a decent amount of Martell, which makes this deck less likely to win a lot of games.
So, to reiterate, I chose the deck that I knew to be most consistent and which has a solid chance against everything. It had the most efficient cards in the game, combined with some ridiculously powerful effects, which is how you win, I think.

This leads me to the internal-nee-external monologue I had with the first question: Do I actually go with Summer to attack what I think is the metagame directly (i.e. Winter), or do I go with Winter myself and join the ranks of the autoerotic asphyxiators (I have always hated not being able to play crap because I was choking myself)? In general, I think I would normally pick the latter, but is that enough to overrule the consistency I was getting from Martell Summer? As it turns out, I didn’t think it was. GJ Winter is quite a solid deck, but it’s not the be-all-end-regional that I think it often feels like after it wins a big tournament. Not only that, but my Martell deck was better than 50% against the GJ Winter decks I tested against in the run up to the event.

Okay, the first two questions were now finally answered sufficiently for me to go with Martell Summer. That decision was made just after midnight of the night before the tournament. Great job, mang, great job. Also, something to note, I’m not going to post my decklist because it’s that stupidly common that you can find it anywhere on the internetz, and add in 3x Ill Tidings if it’s not there.

I slept amazingly well that night, and more importantly, I made sure to grab two bananas before leaving the incontinental breakfast that morning, which would ensure that I don’t lose every single game that day. These are important things to remember: I get hungry easily, and when I do, if I don’t get some sort of sugar in me quickly, I start to feel really, really awful; not getting enough sleep before the tournament day is the death knell of many a tournament player, experienced or not; and finally, eat breakfast even if you’re not hungry that day, or even if you feel like you’re too nervous, and try to keep up your reserves so as to not run out of energy half-way through the tournament.

I will finally start discussing my games, and then have a summary, then a wrap-up on the current meta.

Game 1: Jim Martell KoTHH vs Kyle Martell Summer 0-0

Oh great. This is the only match-up I really was not sure about. I had what I thought was an okay flop, and was winning for a good portion of the game. However, I could not find anything to actually prevent him from consistently gaining power, and I could not find my Ghaston Grey for the life of me. At one point, he pulled The Prince's Plans out of his butt and got back all his cancels into hand, and I ended up losing about 15-7 or so. Jim is one of the solidest players I know, though, and quite a good guy to boot. I had a great time playing against him all day (later we played in the cube draft, and that was a ridiculous game), and with no shame whatsover, I lost every game to him yesterday.

Game 2: Erick Martell KotHH vs Kyle Martell Summer 0-1

Damnit. What the crap, yo? McSeriously!? So this was a lot more one-sided in Erick’s favor than the game with Jim was. Erick’s deck was fairly different, though, and there’s really not too much to say. I couldn’t find Ghaston Grey to save my life (literally), and he consistently found the cards he needed to counter my every move. He played it like the champ he is. I would then go on to be his only win this deck. SCRUB! I <3 Erick. (He actually said he had to ensure that he beat me so that I would cube draft with him later, instead of me potentially making the top 8 and having to play in those games. I couldn’t have been happier to have lost!)

Game 3: Nikki Stark Wildlings vs Kyle Martell Summer 0-2

I really wasn’t sure what to expect here. While I tested Bara and Greyjoy Wildlings a crap-ton, I didn’t even think to try Stark Wildlings out. With Bara, you get the Massey’s Hook trick, along with a few others, and with Greyjoy, you get the unopposed challenges fairly consistently and can trigger effects off of that. But Stark, what do they have? Mostly bollocks, I thought. However, this would prove to be my funnest tournament-game of the day, and quite a lot of the credit for that goes to my opponent, who had a rough tournament, but never-the-less played quite well in this game.

I had a seven card flop, ouch. I found Ghaston Grey first or second turn, and had it double-duped by third turn. I was able to consistently get out Edric Dayne and/or Myrcella and/or Doran Martell and was causing quite some havoc all game with them. That said, her deck was just a damn beast this game. I could not consistently win power challenges on the offensive, so I took to winning them on the defensive and then winning intrigue challenges. She often had jumping Catelyn all up in my grill though, which she actually won two or three challenges with, because, you know, I’m a dolt. That said, eventually, with Doran and Edric cycling most turns, and with one or two resets down not hitting me as hard due to Maester of the Sun, I was able to squeeze out a timed win. When time was called, it was 8-6. Granted, she had to go to 21, but still, a timed win is a win, except in AGOT and hand-grenades.

At this point, despite my first “win” of the tournament, I was kind of despondent, for obvious reasons. None of the first three decks were decks I was really expecting to see (especially not Martell KotHH from Erick – that just surprised me quite badly).
I also forget the order in which the games occurred after that, but there were only two, so it’s not a big deal. I’ll list Greyjoy Chris’ game first.

Game 4: Chris Greyjoy-Winter-without-the-Winter vs Kyle Martell Summer 1-2 (kind of)

Chris was playing a really interesting deck, but what was cooler was meeting him for the first time. He and I had never talked directly back when I think we both played more consistently, but he was always somewhere near my metas, and I always felt bad about that. Chris is quite a great guy, and I really enjoyed our game, even if I’m afraid he probably didn’t.

I got out to an early lead with a second seven card flop. This would be the third time in my entire Thrones career with any deck that I get a seven card flop, which is kinda annoying, actually. In any case, it was extremely similar to the previous game, except Chris was discarding cards from my deck a lot. I was in control most of the game though, with Ghaston Grey chewing him up, and consistently out-drawing him. With a flood of characters hitting the board for me every turn, and several of his characters going back to hand, it was difficult to keep up with me, and I eventually won by a wide margin. Chris played his deck quite well; I think it just crapped out on him, and that Summer was a bad match-up for him (he apparently didn’t play too many actual winter cards, and my Ravens out all game were painful). Another annoying thing to mention is that Corpse Lake was gathering him power, but he couldn't keep enough characters out to keep that power, so it ended up just going to me during power challenges.

Game 5: Kevin (kpmccoy) Bara Rush vs Kyle Martell Summer 2-2

This game was bizarre. I thought that the entire game he was crushing me, and then I just won. The key to saving the game for me was a clutch Game of Cyvasse returning a 5-6 power extra-challenge-King-Bob on the very turn that he would have won, also removing his Bannerman attachment. Game of Cyvasse is one of the sickest cards in this game, I must say, and you have to always expect it if sitting across from a Martell player.

That said, after I got rid of Bob and then did a hard reset, I was able to start getting out more and more characters, and he seemed to dry up a bit. He’d get characters out, but they were not usually the renown guys, and the one guy who had renown, I kept stealing his power with Ellaria. I had out two Viper’s Bannermen this game (usually I just get the one), and my deck just went into hyperactive mode and when he realized he couldn’t win it, he started doing things to give me power. Thanks Kevin – for helping me reach better-than-fifty-percent.

Results Summary (tl;dr):

Round 1: Loss vs Jim playing Martell KotHH with recursion, I think Viper’s Bannermen was his restricted card, though I’m not sure

Round 2: Loss vs Erick playing John Bruno’s KotHH deck, with some hefty modifications, again, pretty sure it was Viper’s Bannermen as restricted

Round 3: Timed win vs Nikki playing Stark Wildlings, the funnest game of my tournament, and ended up gathering some spectators, which is always fun, and Narrow Escape was the restricted, but it never saw play

Round 4: Win vs Chris playing Greyjot-kinda-sorta-Winter, no clue what his restricted was

Round 5: Win vs Kevin playing pure Bara Rush, no clue what his restricted was either

Overall Summary:

All in all, I had quite a good time at this tournament, as I always do at these tournaments. I think that despite two losses and a timed win, my deck actually performed pretty well. I ended up deciding I was relatively happy with my reasoning and my decisions, as the finals were Stark Winter vs GJ Winter, decks I felt like I could have beaten nine times out of ten if I could have made it that far.

I would first like to really, really thank the person who drove me down. She won’t in a bazillion years read this, but I really appreciated it, Jenn. I also wanted to say thanks again to DCDennis and DCRobb for joining me in my hotel room these nights, helping defray the cost of the room, and not giving me slack for my insane ramblings about AGOT. I’d further like to thank Matt and Rich for an excellently well-run tournament. How-many-times-can-I-say-thanks-thanks to everyone who showed up and made my tournament so fun, even if not the height I wanted to reach. Thanks also goes to the word thanks. Finally, to Erick, Corey, and everyone who did the cube draft. That game is so much fun that it’s kind of ridiculous. I’m not going to do props/slops this time; just gonna say good night! See you next time after Days of Ice and Fire (and then again after D.C., and hopefully others!).



nice article, you didn't mention who won the tournament though or did I miss it?
Great TR. It was fun to finally meet and play against you. My restricted card was Val.
Fatmouse won it (Greyjoy Winter)

Also the cube draft was about the most fun I've ever had playing Game of Thrones, though it may be because I got a couple nearly unstoppable combos.
May 01 2012 11:22 PM
I did not comment on the winners and finals nor on some of the dramedy that happened during the tournament because I really wasn't anywhere near the action, and didn't feel comfortable speaking on behalf of anyone. Fatmouse did win it though, with DCDennis coming in second, and then I don't even know who took the spots after that.
Pavel and Duck rounded out Top4
Do you know if Fatmouse released his deck list or if it is posted somewhere?
May 03 2012 11:14 AM
To my knowledge, he has not, and probably will not, and I will not give away his deck, not that I have it memorized. It was very interesting though, as his decks always are.