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NYC Regionals, May 21st, 2011

Well, it's been quite a while since I've written a tournament report, mostly because back when I played more consistently, there weren't that many high-level tournaments in my area. I wanted to write one up for this tournament though because it was an important tournament to me, determining whether or not I'd be headed to GenCon this year.

I practiced a lot in the run up to the tournament, but still hadn't settled on anything by the day of, so my theory was that if I won, I'd definitely go to GenCon; if I'd taken last or close to last, I'd definitely not go to GenCon; and if I placed somewhere in the middle, then I'd wait for reports from my generals on the ground as to whether or not I'd move in.

Forgive me if I don't forget any names - I have a nearly perfect memory for names and faces, and it's embarrassing to others. Anyway...

There were nine players here, with Jack Merridew (Ryan) coming late and taking a first round bye. I was playing Martell Brotherhood with Poisoned Knife and Alchemist's Workshop, along with all the other goodly Martell tricks. It was a very attachment heavy deck to say the least.

Round 1 - vs Rich (Not sure of his forum name), Targ Summer
Rich was a fairly new player. While I may have been a bit rusty, Martell Brotherhood is not the deck you want to play against for your first tournament game of your life. I felt pretty bad for him. I Summoning Seasoned for Beric, put him out first turn with a Flaming Sword and began the race. He had a lot of characters on the board, but I still had Valar and two Burning on the Sands, as well as a few others trickses that made life very difficult for him. In the end, I played The Prince that was Promised on the second turn, threw a Taste for Blood or two on Beric, and played To the Spears third turn, which basically decided it all. Two turns of non-kneeling Beric with double renown is just too much.

Highlights: Rich played really well, given the situation and his lack of card-base (he was so new and didn't have as many as the other players there, I think). I think it was a pretty terrible match-up for his deck, too, which ran Dothraki. I didn't see any burn or real attachment hate, so it all just piled up and hurt.
Lowlights: There really weren't any. I did feel bad for just steam-rolling him. I hope that he continues to play, because I think he has good potential and was exactly the sort of person who I love to play against - we joked around the whole time and just had a lot of fun.
Otherlights: Erick lost in the first round to Anthony (Fatmouse) in what appeared to be a really, really weird game. I was able to watch a little bit of it because my game finished so quickly. I won't reveal what was in Anthony's deck, but it was a unique build that caught Erick completely off-guard (and was just about the jankiest deck I'd ever seen, until later in the day when I saw Dan's deck :D).

Overall record: 1-0

Round 2 - vs Erick (Finitesquarewell), Martell Summer
I've known Erick since he was a little child. I'm actually not kidding. I think we've known each other the longest of all my online friends, to say the least. He and I go way back from SWCCG, when he used to beat the crap out of me on a regular basis. I knew it was going to be an uphill battle. I got Beric with Sword and Taste for Blood out very quickly. However, I got just about the worst hand you can imagine otherwise, and did not get any of my draw going, and no cancels in hand. He was able to get in a pretty large intrigue challenge with Arianne and Retaliation, getting rid of several key cards. At the same time, he had a couple Game of Cyvasse and two He Calls It Thinking, which plagued me the whole game. I couldn't initiate challenges because I couldn't find chars with an intrigue icon, so was getting bullied around and was unable to initiate with Beric. I did have a dupe on Beric, but with He Calls It Thinking in his hand (I saw him pull one with House Messenger), I knew for a fact that he'd cancel the save and Beric with 12 power or so would just be returned to my hand. In the end, it was actually a pretty close game, with him having 15 and me having 10 power. Good game kid. You're way more laid back than I assumed, given your uptight, anal retentive nature in GChat. :)

Highlights: I finally got to see a real maester in action - Erick played it really well and had the better deck, no question about that.
Lowlights: Effin' Game of Cyvasse. This card is a total buzz kill for me. In the future, I will be including Shadow of the South in *every* single Martell deck I build.
Otherlights: Jason, who lost the first round, got a bye the second round. This is what would mark his meteoric rise to second place in the tournament.

Overall record: 1-1

Round 3 - vs Jason (Bloodycelt), Martell Alliance with Baratheon
For the second game in a row, I got the crappiest draw this deck has ever seen. In all of our playtesting (Jay is a metamate), I crushed Jason repeatedly. However, if the Martell Brotherhood deck has one weakness, it is a very, very fast rush deck, and that's what Jason miraculously pulled off this round. He beat me so badly it wasn't even funny. I had Taste for Blood out early on Beric, which ended up being potentially my biggest downfall - he just kept stealing it every chance he got, and I couldn't find any draw or cancels or anything for the life of me, and he just bullied right over me. He played it well, anyway.

Highlights: Being the first in a line of Epic Wins for Jason, I guess? There really weren't any. My deck imploded on me in the last two games, and I was no longer confident in my skills at all.
Lowlights: Just about the whole game, Taste for Blood nusted me. What gives, TfB!?
Otherlights: While I wasn't super-duper tired at this point, I was getting there, and somewhat worried about it. I whipped out the awesome Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds that my wife made me take and began munching on them, which would result in me feeling mildly sick the rest of the day, but having enough energy to last.

Overall record: 1-2

Round 4 - vs Bye (ISuck), no deck
I got a bye for the fourth round. It was a fun bye, as I watched all the other games play out. Saw some really, really interesting decks. Here is a brief summary of the decks I saw that I did *not* get to play against:
1) Tom McCann (not sure of his board name) - Stark Siege, I believe with a Winter aspect, and all around a really interesting and surprising deck. He used a card that forum member Stasis has been abusing online a lot - Northern Cavalry Flank, who gets to not kneel to attack in 99% of games, and has deadly, str 5, and mil and pow icons. It's a really powerful card. I believe he also used some direwolves, but I'm not sure.
2) Jason (LetsGoRed) - Also Stark Siege, and again, I think he had a Winter aspect. I do know that at one point he used Old Nan to turn Bloodycelt's Fat Bob into a raven, and then Carrion Birded him back into Jay's deck. It was a pretty epic move, and I saw it from the table over. It was definitely a really interesting build, and I'd like to see the deck list, if he's willing to post it.
3) Dan (Twn2Dn) - Dan played a really, really, really janky Targ Summer deck, but holy crap did he play it really well. I don't think that it could have gotten nearly as far in anyone else's hands - he's just such a good player that he could have taken a deck full of locations and gone as far as he did (third, I believe).

Otherlights: Jason won again, this time over Anthony, who had heretofore been undefeated. Jason's deck was now starting to roll pretty successfully, and he's sitting comfortably at 3 wins going into the final round against Erick.

Overall record: 2-2

Round 5 - vs Ryan (Jack Merridew, from Lord of the Flies), Lannister with no agenda
This was the tensest game I had all day - it was not a walk-over for either of us, and represented (I think) the truly terrible weakness with my deck: If Beric is knelt the entire game, I can't do jack about it, pun intended. He very early on got Flogged and Chained (Huh? I had to read that one!) on Beric. I pulled a Maester of Lemonwood second turn and removed it, and then he proceeded to play his other Flogged and Chained right back on him. That was irksome, to say the least. He constantly knelt my little chars with Lannisport Brothel, and then used that as a trigger for Flogged and Chained to kneel Beric. I think Beric got in *one* challenge the entire game, and that's it. The lucky part is that I had one or two Taste for Blood on him fairly early as well, so even as Ryan kept winning challenges, so also did I keep gaining power. Later on, I wiped the board (losing Mad Huntsman, which I wanted to lose over having his Castellan of the Rock nailing me all game long) and got out The Red Viper. Then he was *also* Flogged and Chained, and I was stuck drawing for a Maester of Lemonwood again. In the long run, Taste for Blood was the only thing I was able to use to win the game.

Highlights: Winning my last game, against a deck that by all rights should have beaten me pretty badly. Taste for Blood - I love you again! Ryan played it really well too, and I think if he'd just had some lower cost cards with power icons, he'd have been able to pull it off. I was able to successfully kill off most of his power icons with Venomous Blade, so he could never outrace me in the long-run.
Lowlights: Ryan successfully turned me off from S&M this game. Flogged and Chained is a surprising card that is quite awesome, and a great find.
Otherlights: Jason lost in the last round in a very close game against Erick. That put Erick at 4-1, with Dan, Jason (Bloodycelt), Jason (LetsGoRed), and myself at 3-2. Dan and Bloodycelt made it to the top 4 on strength-of-schedule, while LetsGoRed and myself just missed it. Anthony at I think 4-1 was the first or second seed, Erick was the opposite of that, then Dan, then Jason.

Overall record: 3-2

My deck severely underperformed on me. The two games that I lost badly, it was due to having really terrible draws, and having no way to really remedy that situation. It wasn't that I lacked draw, it was just that I didn't have quite enough of it. I'll be replacing Lost Spearman with House Messenger in the future, although I sincerely doubt it's what I'll be playing at GenCon. Given my record, and having taken (officially) 6th place, I'm in that limbo area that is painful enough to not want to go, but good enough that I think if I take a deck I'm a lot more comfortable with, I'll have a real shot.

Final 4:
Since I wasn't in the final four, I got to see it go down, and here's a summary of the games. Jason was matched against Anthony again, in what would again happen to be a bad match-up for Anthony's deck. This time, however, Jason got out to a much earlier lead, while Anthony's deck didn't seem to be able to gather up any steam at all. Jason won in what was a less-close match-up than the first time they'd played.

The other game was Erick vs Dan. Dan was recurring attachments like a pro, but Erick just slowly acquired power over and over, and was able to keep enough little guys on the table long enough to just wear Dan's deck down. Finally, he used a keen tactical nuance in order to get Dan to kill off the Bastard of Godsgrace (because otherwise he probably would have challenged and won for uo) - he did *not* save the Viper when he had a chance by pumping his str with the Bastard during the plot phase, knowing full well that Dan was going to flip Threat from the North, with Viper sitting at 1 str due to Flame Kissed. He could have, before plots were revealed, pumped him, but he consciously chose not to and it was a good choice, as later on in the round, Dan had to do something about the Bastard, which left other characters open. This is the type of high-level play that I lack, and am trying to get to. I think I can build solid decks, but my play is still weak.

The final table was Jason (Bloodycelt) and Erick (Finitesquarewell). This time around, the game was much less close, and Erick just got a huge early lead with a lot of characters out, and there was very little that Jason's much worse hand could do about it. Erick won after a few turns and took the tournament. Congrats, Erick!

That's about it for now. I learned a few lessons - namely, it's okay to totally metagame for a tournament. The winter decks did just fine, and I should have listened to my instincts and gone with Greyjoy Winter as well - it's kind of a deck that I'm known for, and I didn't play it because I thought Martell was just the much stronger house. I think the main point I'm trying to make is that it's better to play decks you're really comfortable with, rather than ones that may seem superficially better due to the way the metagame is defined by specific houses. And I have one last thing to say: Once again, I was reminded just how awesome AGOT players are in general, with not a single one of them being a jerk in any of the games. Even games that were quite lop-sided were filled with humor, a regular Algonquin round-table of ribaldry and wit!

Hope you all had a fun time! I know I did. I hope to see you at GenCon this year. ;)



Thanks for the report, I love reading detailed breakdowns like this.
Excellent TR. Kyle. Glad to see how you did with Martell/Brotherhood, as that was the deck I was thinking about running. Thank You.
Nice writeup. Some good information in there and things to think about. Thanks!
May 24 2011 02:04 PM
Thanks. KP, if you want to talk strategy and/or decisions, hit me up on GTalk or whatevs - kyle.szklenski at gmail.com.
May 24 2011 07:17 PM
Wow. It just occurred to me that I won my last round game by 2 power - the exact amount of power that the one challenge with Beric with sword at the beginning was. Taste for Blood FTW.
Hey Kyle, nice post. Yes, you did steam-roll me. And yes, it was a terrible first experience. However, I loved it! It was a great day and everyone was extremely cool. It was a great opportunity for a new player to see different decks and designs. Thanks again for crushing me and making it enjoyable. I look forward to our rematch. Hopefully I score some power. Ha!
May 25 2011 01:19 PM
Rich, I guarantee that the next time we meet, you will score *more* than one power against me!
great write up!