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The John Voyage

2013 GoT Regional Report mathlete

After winning the Joust Worlds in November with my House of Pain Targaryen deck, many people played varying versions of my deck in casual play and subsequent tournaments. It was great to be considered a good player, but even cooler to be considered a decent deck architect and have people compliment a deck that I built without netdecking. I’ve always felt more confident in my actual game play than I did in my deck design, but the fun part of winning Worlds with the Targ deck was winning with cards that people forgot about, seldom use or in general, just think are terrible. I always say “It’s not the car, it’s the driver” and I like to validate that statement as often as I can. After Worlds, people (like Tiny Grimes) challenged me to do something different. I told people that I would play one of the two houses that I had played very little since my return to the game, Baratheon or Lannister. Since the general belief that Baratheon is the bottom house, and The Long Voyage sucks as an Agenda, it seemed like the perfect combination to try for my first competition of Regional season.

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Kingdom Con (KC) is an amazing little convention that has been growing in San Diego the last four years. Last year, KC tied for the largest Regional in attendance (outside of Days of Ice & Fire) and I expected a good turn out this year too. A few days before the Regional, I was asked my opinion on the mathematics of The Long Voyage Agenda and whether or not it was a good card. Even though I am a math teacher, I never look at the mathematics of a deck. I will almost always play decks over 60, even though I know it statistically dilutes my deck. I played 64 cards in deck that won Worlds in 2005 and 63 cards in a non-setup Knights of the Hollow Hill deck that won last year. There are other players (Greg Atkinson) who win with over-sized decks too. I was excited to try out The Long Voyage and see what 85 cards for a deck could do. Could I put the right percentages of resources, characters, etc. into my deck. Which unique Characters should I put a second or a third copy of in the deck? Would the deck flop well? What was the right number of Events and Attachments to add to the deck? Was the benefit of an extra card each round worth the increased deck size? And the final question, could I actually win with this deck?

The Regional was on Saturday, but Friday night was the Builders Tournament. In this event, each person brings a deck and each round you would play someone else’s deck. I had actually planned on getting early to the convention, building my Baratheon Long Voyage deck (dubbed the “The John Voyage” by James Speck) and submitting it for this event and use the other players as my guinea pigs and ask them each round how my deck fared and make changes for the big event on Saturday. I started working on my deck and thirty minutes before the Builders Tourney, I stopped working on the deck and figured I would finish the deck Friday evening before going to bed.

After the Builders Tourney, began to build my deck. I basically laid out 200 cards and cut it down to 85. I then played three test games against a local player who was using a Lannister Power Behind the Throne deck. I won all three games in 8 total rounds! WTF! How did that happen? I expected the deck to flop terribly and not play as fast as it did. I never built it as a rush deck. I just chalked it up to being lucky and a good match-up for me and went to bed.

So, I went into Saturday’s big event with three whole test games under my belt. I didn't make any changes after those test games either. I just sleeved my 85 card beast and played it. I never expected to have the success that I did. I just wanted to have fun playing something different and was looking forward to playing a tournament while I learned about my deck as I progressed each round.

There were 26 players for the Regional. We would have 5 rounds of Swiss then a cut to a Top 8. There were a lot of players in the field who I consider to be some of the best in California, if not the game.

Round #1 vs. Ryan Jones playing Lannister (No Agenda)
I had King Robert's Hammer (TBoBB) and Marya Seaworth (KotStorm) to deal with Lannister’s kneeling. I won the game in three rounds. 1-0.

Round #2 vs. Nich Prax playing Targaryen Knights of the Hollow Hill
I felt very bad about this game afterwards and I hate that this comment is going to sound like a jerk, but if you blinked, you would’ve missed the game. At the end of turn 1, Nich had 1 character on the table and no cards in hand. I had a great Round 1 with a lot of good characters then I played Negotiations at the Great Sept (TPoL), filled my hand back up, played more good characters and won on my Challenge Phase in Round 2. 2-0

Round #3 vs. Chris Schoenthal playing Stark Siege of Winterfell
In the first round, I had three unique characters (including Stannis Baratheon (VM)) in play and was also able to marshal The Red Queen's Faithful (CD). I also was able to put a Banner for the Storm (CtB) on another character and had Stannis and that character with Vigilant, so I was always going to have characters available for the Epic Phases. The first round was also pretty interesting considering Chris played the Epic Battle War of Five Kings (RoW) and we both won a challenge in the Epic Phase. We selected random Plots in Round 2. Chris played Burning Bridges (which stopped him from bringing Syrio out of Shadows (since he couldn’t go back). My Plot was a moot The Red Wedding. The game was in my control by turn 2 and there was little doubt of the outcome by Round 3 when I played that silly little Plot, The First Snow of Winter (ODG) and kept Syrio hiding again. I won in Round 4. This would be my only game that made it to Round 4 all day. 3-0

Round #4 vs. Ting Grimes playing Tagaryen Knights of the Hollow Hill
Pretty much a repeat of my game vs. Nich in my second game of the tournament. If you blinked, you missed the game. Tiny had no Influence and no characters and it was over before it started. I won in Round #2. 4-0

Round #5 vs. James Speck playing Greyjoy Winter
Again, I had a flood of characters in Round 1 and controlled the early game. I won this game in Round #2 also. 5-0

So, going into the Top 8, I was the #1 seed at 5-0. I had never won any major event when I was the #1 seed going into the Single Elimination, including a few times at Gencon (and Gencon 2012). I had played five games and only needed 13 rounds for those five games. I was worried that my deck was due to crap out on me.

Round of 8 vs. Tiny Grimes playing Targaryen Knights of the Hollow Hill
Tiny had a much better opening turn and had three locations that produced two Influence or more and a Hatchling's Feast. I still had quite a bit of characters on the first turn and Tiny had some answers but not enough and unfortunately I won this game in the Round #2 again.

Semi-Finals vs. Christian Na playing Lanninster House of Dreams
The thing that I love about Christian is that he enjoys playing unconventional decks too. He selected four different unique locations throughout the day, including Queen Cersei’s Chambers vs. Greyjoy Choke! Christian had a slow start and didn't have the all of the kneel to handle all of my re-standing. I won this game in Round 3.

Finals vs. Ram DeLeon playing Stark House of Dreams
I love playing Ram and I hate playing Ram. Ram is one of my best friends and one of the best players in this game. He has been in the top 8 at Gencon many times, including losing in the finals last year. He always challenges me and beats me a lot! No matter what, I would be happy with whomever won this game. Ram chose to marshal first and his very last character was an Ally. Yay! I had flopped Varys (SaS) into Shadows and now he was coming out Turn 1. Combined with Melisandre (RotO), they helped me win pretty quickly and I won the Regional on Round 3.

I was very surprised how well this deck played. It was very fast even though I didn't build it as a rush deck. I loved the fact that I didn't have to rely on any one character to win. Whichever character I had in my hand, was a good one to play! I won my eight games on the day in only 21 rounds total! That’s crazy! That was two rounds at Worlds last year with my Targ deck! I actually had one Plot in the deck that I love, but never played once all day, Melisandre's Scheme (RotK). I also played without Valar or Wildfire. The only semi-rest card was The First Snow of Winter.

Thank you to Ross Thompson for establishing and running Kingdom Con. Big time kudos to John Kraus for running the Builder event (in which Ram beat me in the finals). He also ran his Maester's Challenge over the two days of the Game for Thrones tournament and this event was very popular and a big success. Also thanks go to Jonathan Benton and the “once awesome but decreasingly competitive” Matt Ley for talking through some ideas, to the “ubiquitous California netdeck” community (especially here in SoCal) that I love being a part of and get to play against. You guys truly make me a better player! Also, thank you to Damon Stone, Nate French and Kevin Tomczyk for disguising your blatant act of collusion that allowed me to win with such an OP deck that ran 85 cards and did not use the Shadows versions of Robert or The Knight of Flowers!

Like I said in a few podcasts and reports after Worlds, there is NO great, unbeatable deck. Any deck can win. Any House can win. Even with terrible cards like “Cannot be Bought, Cannot Be Bribed” (which I only played once all day and my opponent played a Paper Shield). Take a deck and make it yours! That is what makes this game fun.
  • WWDrakey, Kennon, ilgoga and 20 others like this


31 Comments

Great report! I'm glad to see you're having fun in the game and showing all of us n00bs how to do it!
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scantrell24
Apr 09 2013 06:39 PM
I'm trying the same deck on OCTGN now and considering it for regionals. Having tons of fun playing something besides control. Thanks Bruno.
Yay, I got the most plots! ;) Congrats John, and great report.
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Deathjester26
Apr 09 2013 06:51 PM
TL:DR.... Can I get the deck list? lol... Sorry, I just wanted to be "that guy".

Congrats on the first of what I'm sure will be many wins this season, and for always putting fun first.
    • Tjglaser likes this
This article made me cringe. I'm toying with the idea of going to a regional and this would be my worst nightmare!! Well done on such a successful deck, I'm jealous of how little time it took you to build :P Usually my 'first attempt' decks flop...probably because my ideas are a little too outlandish...dothraki/dragon deck (what was I thinking!!!). I also like the Long Voyage agenda and use it with Martell. :)
You played Cannot be Bought, Cannot Be Bribed?

*throws all decks into a gully*
    • Danigral, FranciscoG, accountdeleted and 9 others like this
Lol! And here I am thinking of making a TLV deck for Days of Ice and Fire...now I'm gonna seem like a sheep instead of being the cool, well loved hipster that I wanted to be! ;D

Also I'm very new...so, having my idea be validated is pretty GREAT! :D

I was excited to try out The Long Voyage and see what 85 cards for a deck could do. Could I put the right percentages of resources, characters, etc. into my deck. Which unique Characters should I put a second or a third copy of in the deck? Would the deck flop well? What was the right number of Events and Attachments to add to the deck? Was the benefit of an extra card each round worth the increased deck size? And the final question, could I actually win with this deck?

As much as I'd like to just see the list and figure this out for myself, I'd love to hear more about your answers to these questions. As a up-and-coming deckbuilder, these are the sorts of things I still don't understand as well as I need.
    • agktmte likes this
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RedSquadronK
Apr 09 2013 08:58 PM
Though I'm pretty new to AGOT, I remember looking over at John Bruno's board at Kingdom Con and thinking, "Bara, that's interesting. I'll be excited to hear how that went."
Anyway, great article! Always inspiring to hear that any deck has a chance if it's well built and well played!
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asmoothcriminal
Apr 09 2013 09:21 PM
Bad news for those of us who have been blaming the house card though...
    • dormouse and slothgodfather like this
Great article. Still unsure how its done and would like to see the card type ratio in the deck... And the character costs. But seems like it can provide an answer for most deck types with a bit of search.
Great article, and congrats John!

I'm happy to hear that 3 of these games were against Targ KOHH. Maybe people will actually listen to the man and build their own decks now. :D
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darkbladecb
Apr 10 2013 12:29 AM
He gives all us Stags hope, I'd say.
I also like cannot be bribed canot be bought in this city plagued meta....i used it on january in a tourney and didn't see it at all either xP. It does seem like the force was with you though! Congrats
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reedhackman
Apr 10 2013 05:18 AM
Cannot be Bribed, Cannot be Bought was the MVP card in the deck that won the SF regional that same day. I played a shadows kneel deck versus it and is shut me down extremely hard.
Thanks for the report. One question: Did you really need the agenda? I mean you won most of games in round 2 or 3, which means the agenda gives you two or three extra cards per game. That's not nothing, but that's not too much.
    • PulseGlazer likes this
gz on the win and great article.
if bara can win any house can win :)
btw John, please try to lose the next tournament, i don't think anyone wants to see TLV and other bara cards restricted or banned...
    • doulos2k likes this
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PulseGlazer
Apr 10 2013 07:22 PM

Thanks for the report. One question: Did you really need the agenda? I mean you won most of games in round 2 or 3, which means the agenda gives you two or three extra cards per game. That's not nothing, but that's not too much.


Really good question that I hope gets answered!
I wish I could up vote Tobi's comment. I am not judging by any means but this is total crap. If you are winning on turn 2 the agenda had nothing to do with it and if anything is hurting the deck. What this says is three-fold. Rush is back (no surprise), Bruno knows how to play, and most importantly he knows the meta.

This agenda is still a complete crap card. You build your deck (and plots) for the meta, and you hope you don't draw the short straw on pairings (every deck has a vulnerability). The rest skill takes care of and sometimes you can out-skill a bad match-up.
    • Bane likes this
~My personal theory is that Mathlete is actually a pretty crappy Thrones player who has sold his soul to the devil. It's the only explanation!

Just kidding! Thanks for the report, and congratulations (yet again)!

To those who doubt the value of the Agenda due to the games being so short, I don't think I agree. Reliable, unconditional card advantage from turn one on is pretty big. In this day and age, many if not most games are decided by turn two or three, even if they've not yet ended by that time. Two more cards in the first two rounds can be pretty damn decisive.
    • WWDrakey likes this
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reedhackman
Apr 11 2013 12:46 AM

This agenda is still a complete crap card. You build your deck (and plots) for the meta, and you hope you don't draw the short straw on pairings (every deck has a vulnerability). The rest skill takes care of and sometimes you can out-skill a bad match-up.


how can you think that the agenda is "still a complete crap card"? all you have to do is build a deck that doesn't rely on any specific card, and then it doesnt matter what the probabilities of drawing it is. the fact is that you get 3 cards per draw instead of 2, which is an increase of 50%, and most houses have crap for card draw. obviously tlv doenst help a combo deck but there is no reason to say that its bad on anything else...
Building competitive decks is about knowing the meta and then maximizing your odds against that meta. This involves making sure you have the best odds of drawing the cards effective against said, "meta." This agenda fails at all those goals. Kudos to winning with it but I think this says more about House Baratheon and people not knowing (remembering how) to handle its rush than this (awful, awful) agenda.

Building competitive decks is about knowing the meta and then maximizing your odds against that meta. This involves making sure you have the best odds of drawing the cards effective against said, "meta." This agenda fails at all those goals. Kudos to winning with it but I think this says more about House Baratheon and people not knowing (remembering how) to handle its rush than this (awful, awful) agenda.



How do you handle it? Setups were typically 5 cards. Turn one is Art of Seduction. Turn two was usually Negotiations at the Great Sept. That's 10 cards he could use for marshalling the first turn, and 8 cards in the second turn.
Give that scenario to the best players in the game (some of whom were in that regional event) to play against it, and tell us all how to stop him.
Valar is out until turn 3. Hatchling's Feast doesn't really do the job without Threat from the North, a less than ideal leading plot. Westeros Bleeds might do the trick, but then you'll have to deal with Melisandre's Schemes and recursion. He's got 85 cards; no danger of being milled down and he's usually got the draw advantage.
I don't think it's quite "not knowing how to play against rush".

I would argue that the key card isn't long voyage, I think it is Negotiations at the Sept.

Bara rush now gets to vomit out their whole hand and replace it on turn 2. Long Voyage just gives the deck some draw insurance later, and an extra card turn 2.

Giving the house with the fastest wins and best reduction a potential 6 free cards (4 from the plot, 1 from Long Voyage, and 1 from Bay of Ice...I'm thinking this is best case scenario...) on turn 2 is a big deal. It's not people not understanding a matchup, it's a huge boost in strength to the house. Outside of that period people were playing with Val+TLS, (which wasn't the most reliable combo anyway) How common was it for Bara to draw 6 extra cards total before this plot? Now they can get it on turn 2 when you're stuck on your first plot, which will leave you dead in the water if it's some sort of search or city plot.

Would I say it's overpowered? No, not at all. But I would say it's definitely not a fluke.
    • WWDrakey, SirDragonBane, Alando and 3 others like this