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|None. Self-made deck here.|
|Targ Rose MN Regional Champ Deck 7-1 (36 players)||13||10||8||2.0|
This is the deck I brought to the 2017 U.S. Nationals in Seattle (53 people) and took second place. I brought a slightly different version of this deck to the Portland Regional and got Top 4. There are a bunch of people I want to thank, but I'll put that at the end of the write up so we can dive into the deck.
It took approximately one game of play testing with Plaza of Pride to determine that it is insanely good. Tyrell is my favorite house, so my first thought was to banner Dragon into main house Tyrell. I liked the ability to use Margaery Tyrell multiple times, because you can send in soft challenges with the knowledge that you can add 6 STR if needed. I was also really high on Ser Barristan Selmy (LoCR) and the thoughts of pumping him to 10 STR for multiple challenges and dropping multiple Lady Sansa's Rose in a single turn. Renly Baratheon (FFH) is also an amazing target for Plaza because of his renown/insight combo and ability to join any challenge. So the original deck was a rush deck with knights, Lady Sansa's Rose, and Name Day Tourney. This iteration was decent, but Barristan was unreliable and my conclusion was that Tyrell Crossing is clearly a better rush deck.
Then "Lord Renly's Ride" came out and Targ started doing really well, so I flipped the deck to main house Targ and transitioned from pure rush to be more aggressive. This opened up a lot of fun synergies. First, Khal Drogo unlocks a third challenge for Randyll Tarly to participate in, so Randyll could potentially swing three times with high strength and intimidate. Second, Daenerys Targaryen can naturally stand and get value out of LRR. Lastly, Mirri Maz Duur is really scary when Marge and LRR can pump her into the double digits with intimidate, then stand again with Plaza. Not to mention Aggo and King Renly's Host give some more value for standing and intimidation.
Planning for the Meta:
Right now Targ is really hot and Tyrell is popular, mostly in Lords of the Crossing. I liked the Rose banner for the mirror match because the strength pump can protect against Dracarys! and intimidation can kneel out Danny or dragons as needed. I felt pretty good about the Tyrell Crossing match up because I can keep their board small and kneel out a character or two to prevent them from making three challenges. I was a little worried about Night's Watch because of Craven and the Wall, but it seemed like they were falling out of favor a bit. Stark was also one of my feared match ups because Catelyn Stark and Winterfell turn off all of my shenanigans. I felt pretty good about Bara, Greyjoy, and Martell (if anyone played them). Lanni could be tough with their 6+ STR characters and Ser Ilyn Payne. My predictions were fairly accurate as Targ and Tyrell were the top 2 factions. However, there were these guys from DC playing Stark false banner Wall decks that I wasn't expecting...
Summer Harvest: I felt like this had fallen out of play lately and people weren't expecting it as much, so it could be a solid opener. I like the relatively high initiative so I can go second on the first turn. I was also expecting a decent amount of Trading with the Pentoshi and Late Summer Feast, which Summer Harvest absolutely annihilates. Varys's Riddle is of course a concern, but people haven't been playing it as an opener very much.
Wildfire Assault: I was running Valar Morghulis originally, but decided to switch to Wildfire. I did this because 1) I didn't like having two plots with only 2 gold, 2) My opponents rarely made military challenges against me, so I often had nobody in my dead pile. I needed a way to kill my own guys to turn on "Lord Renly's Ride" or pop Viserys Targaryen when I needed to, and 3) with no Bodyguard and often using dupes to fuel Plaza of Pride, Valar sometimes hurt me as much or more than it hurt my opponent.
Retaliation: Obviously amazing with Drogo. I tried to fit in a second copy, but couldn't find room.
Close Call: I originally skipped this because Fire and Blood can perform a similar purpose, but found that plan to be too slow and unreliable. When you are running 2-3x of 9 different unique characters, this one is hard to pass up.
Counting Coppers: Seems good these days, especially if you are pitching cards to Plaza.
No Confiscation: With Targ basically running no attachments, and Tyrell Crossing running relatively few impact attachments, I decided I could cut it. Milk of the Poppy didn't worry me too much because I had so many different threats and the 5 STR bicons are still effective. When I'm desperate, Wildfire + Close Call can serve as emergency attachment removal.
- Varys's Riddle: Cutting Confiscation and Marched allowed me to fit this in, and I love it. The deck has a fairly high chance of setting up only one character, so Riddle helps protect against Marched. Also, both Valar and Counting Coppers are popular, somewhat predictable, and great targets for Riddle. Even if the effect whiffs, the stat line on Riddle is very good.
Round 1 vs Tyrell Crossing (Tess from BC): This was a close game that I was feeling pretty good about. I emptied Tess' hand and played Wildfire to leave her with Randyll, Brienne, and Marge with no dupes. I had Drogo and some strong military pressure in position to close the door. She played Time of Plenty and top decked Renly Baratheon, Heartsbane and a Bodyguard. I couldn't break through the Renly/Brienne wall that turn and she eventually won with a bunch of renown. Loss, 0-1
Round 2 vs Night's Watch Wolf (Jesse from Portland): Jesse was playing a low character deck that uses the NW events to steal characters from their opponent's discard pile. He had to Valar early, but I was able to recover with a strong military board and he never had a chance to marshal enough characters to stabilize. Win, 1-1
Round 3 vs Tyrell Crossing (Greg from BC): I don't think Greg saw an econ location until turn 4 and he wasn't running any resets, so this was pretty one-sided. He had Brienne and might have had a chance by playing Renly, but I used Nightmares on his lone Great Hall to keep Renly in hand. Win, 2-1
Round 4 vs Greyjoy Stag (Caleb from BC): A fairly tight match where Asha Greyjoy was doing some work early and Euron Crow's Eye was a looming threat. He got out Marya Seaworth who was a problem with Asha on the board. I got a nightmares on Asha to shut it down one turn, then drew a Crown of Gold to kill her the next turn. He wasn't playing Valar, but the threat of it made me play conservatively. Towards the end he got out Victarion Greyjoy and Balon Greyjoy (Core) to go with his Euron, but I was able to land a few intimidates to close the game. Win, 3-1
Round 5 vs Tyrell Crossing (Aaron from BC): I saw a lot of British Columbia players and they like their Tyrell Crossing decks. I ended up playing Aaron again in the cut and our games blurred together in my mind, so I don't remember too many details. I was keeping the military pressure on and King Renly's Host/LRR did some serious work to kneel out Brienne when Renly was on the board. He did manage to get dupes/bodyguards on 3 characters while I only had a dupe on 1 or 2, so he was primed for a good Valar. Varys's Riddle saved the day for me as both boards were wiped and I was able to re-flood the board quicker. Win, 4-1
Round 6 vs Targ Crossing (Nick from Wisconsin): Finally a Targ mirror match to see how the deck would perform. Nick was running Bloodriders though, so it was slightly different than what I was expecting. This game was really back and forth and balanced on a knife's edge. I was able to get out Mirri Maz Duur, Margaery Tyrell, and Plaza of Pride fairly early. He had an unduped Danny for most of the game, so it seemed like everything revolved around stopping Mirri on the intrigue challenge. I thought Mirri was going to break through, but he used Blood of My Blood to jump in Aggo (who had previously died and been revived with Close Call) to barely win the challenge. If I had a Dracarys! or a "Lord Renly's Ride" (which I saw none of that game), Mirri would have won that challenge and wrecked his board. Instead, he held me off and eventually won via stealth with Jhogo and Syrio Forel. Loss, 4-2
My strength of schedule was pretty good, so I got into the top 16 in 12th place. After a few beers and some sleep, I came back on Sunday for the cut.
Top 16 vs Targ Wolf (Alejandro from the SF Bay area): Alejandro set up Jhogo, Harrenhal, and an econ location to my Randyll, Plaza, and Great Hall. He could have marched, but didn't because he only had one more character in hand. Luckily, I had several low cost characters in my hand, so he had to use Harrenhal on an Unsullied. IIRC, he had to Valar early and dropped in another Harrenhal. I was able to recover with a couple Blood of the Dragons. One interesting aspect about the game was that he had 2 Slaver's Bay Ports out and I got to 4 dead characters. I used Close Call to get back to 3. He killed another character that turn, but then I used Varys's Riddle against his Close Call to get back to 3 again. I felt in control the whole game and won pretty handily. This was my first time meeting Alejandro and he was a really nice guy to play against and talk with as the day went on. Win
Top 8 vs Tyrell Crossing (Rematch with Aaron from BC): Like I said before, my two games with Aaron blurred together a bit, so I don't remember much about this. I know his Heads on Spikes opener finally missed me (I had been spiked 3 times prior that weekend, which had hit Renly at the Team Tournament, then Randyll and Drogo during Swiss). He also surprised me with an early Valar by using some sort of Jedi mind trick. I was able to recover with a Fire and Blood/Dracarys! combo to take out his Paxter Redwyne. Then Danny (with Rhaegal and Drogon) and Randyll hit the board and were able to close the game. He had the Brienne/Renly combo, so IIRC, "Lord Renly's Ride" was very useful to kneel out Brienne. Win
Preamble for playing the DC deck (Stark false banner Night's Watch) in the Top 4 and Finals: This was my first chance to play against the dreaded DC deck. By this point, I knew most of their deck just from listening to everyone else talk about it. I was pretty sure they also knew a lot of my deck. In terms of plots, the main thing I needed to do was to land my Summer Harvest on their Late Summer Feast or Trading with the Pentoshi. I knew they were running a lot of negative attachments, so I wanted to find my no attachments characters and ideally Viserys. I also knew they weren't running any resets, so I could go wide with my characters and save dupes for Plaza of Pride. The remaining games were recorded (I'd recommend watching at 2x speed), so I'm not going to give a full play-by-play. But I'll give my insights and highlight key moments.
Top 4 vs Aaron: This game was defined by the plots. I set up 3 characters, so I accurately predicted that he would open with Calling the Banners. I opened Time of Plenty and was able to trim his board to 1 character thanks to a timely Dracarys! via standing with Plaza. At that point I knew he had to go big gold, so I played Summer Harvest into his Trading with the Pentoshi. Turn 3 I went for the jugular with Retaliation, but he had the attachments he needed to stop my . Turn 4 I hit his Counting Coppers with my Varys's Riddle, which allowed me to play a Voltron Danny. The rest of the game was a slog that I eventually was able to grind out (right before I had to Wildfire myself on turn 7), but I felt like the perfectly timed Summer Harvest and Varys's Riddle were what won me the game. Win
Finals Game 1 vs Seth (Best of 3): I set up Danny, econ, and Plaza, so I knew he wouldn't open with Calling the Banners. I opened with Summer Harvest and for the second game in a row landed it onto Pentoshi. This let me drop down all three dragons and Mirri on turn 1. If he didn't have Dolorous Edd in his hand to stop Mirri, the game would have been over on turn one because the only character he would have had left was Bran. Turn 2 I kept the pressure on with Retaliation and Khal Drogo and was able to kill 4 characters leaving only two left (Craven on Mirri prevented additional slaughter). Danny and Mirri were held down by attachments, but Drogo and Randyll kept the military pressure on high. He managed to stabilize long enough to make me Wildfire myself on turn 7, but I was able to close out soon after thanks to Viserys discarding Randyll's Craven. This game was epic and one I'll remember for a long time. Win, 1-0
Finals Game 2 vs Seth: Game 2 was defined by setup and the turn 1 plot. He setup a double duped Benjen, so the military pressure I applied in game 1 was going to be hard to repeat this game. I thought he might open Building Orders or Here to Serve to prevent my Summer Harvest, but he went with Pentoshi. I opened Time of Plenty, which meant I got 6 less gold than I would have with Summer Harvest, and I had to go first. I think if I open Summer Harvest I win the game. After that, I was mostly plagued by too many events, not enough econ, and a lack of Plaza of Pride. I drew a King Renly's Host, which might have been able to swing the game as a big attachment-proof threat. But by that point most Summer plots were used and I didn't have the Plaza to get double-value out of them. Seth managed to intrigue it out of my hand after a turn or two. Wildfire against his Here to Serve (House Maester insta-death) gave me a little bit of an opening, but Ser Waymar Royce discarded my Dracarys! and I didn't have enough threats in hand to turn the game. Loss, 1-1
Finals Game 3 vs Seth: He opened Here to Serve and I correctly saved my Summer Harvest. Unfortunately my second turn Summer Harvest ran into his Calling the Banners and didn't give me the big econ I needed. The game really turned on turn 3 (Retaliation vs Late Summer Feast) when I got to go second with Mirri, Plaza, and a Danny with Marriage Pact. His only intrigue icons were Jon Snow (WotW), Cotter Pyke and Aemon. Mirri comes in intrigue and Seth blocks with Jon and Cotter, who gets killed by Dracarys, allowing me to win the challenge. At this point I possibly should have killed Hodor, but after two long days I spaced on the fact that Aemon can only save Night's Watch characters. It didn't end up mattering too much, because the end result was that a Lost Ranger died to claim instead of Hodor dying to Mirri. Next turn Mirri got hit by a Marriage Pact, so I had to move onto the next threat with Randyll and Marge. Randyll helped me get 4 power in his one turn before he inevitably got hit by Craven. The rest of the game was mostly Seth riding The Wall to victory, although I was able to finish with a respectable 8 power. Loss, 1-2
I really enjoyed our best of 3 finals, even though it arguably cost me the championship since I won game 1. All 4 of my games against the DC deck were tense struggles that both players had a chance to win. If I get bummed out that I was only able to go 2-2 against Aaron and Seth, I just need to remind myself that the rest of the field went 0-15. It was also really cool having a crowd of people watching (and correcting some of our mistakes). Despite the high pressure, I felt relatively calm during our games and had a great time.
Post-Tournament Deck Reflections:
Plaza of Pride is amazing as advertised. It offers so much flexibility and complicates the challenge math exponentially. I saw some people running only 1x or 2x, but it needs to be 3x. You can use the dupes as fuel for itself, especially if you have impactful 3-4 cost characters like Marge or dragons.
"Lord Renly's Ride" was solid. The surprise intimidate can ruin your opponent's plans in a hurry, especially with standing via Plaza, Randyll, Danny, Barristan, or Aggo. There were a few games where I didn't see it at all and I really missed them. The biggest problem I had was that I wouldn't have anyone in my dead pile, so I couldn't stand Randyll or add STR to the challenge.
Mirri Maz Duur is very scary when you can boost her STR and stand her. The game completely changes when she hits the table, even moreso than Khal Drogo. I think I only actually triggered her ability 2 or 3 times the whole weekend, but my opponent would have to commit everything to stop the intrigue and power challenge, which left military wide open.
Wildfire Assault vs Valar Morghulis: I think I made the right call by going with Wildfire. There were very few games where I wished I had a Valar. Most of the time that I used Wildfire, I had a Fire and Blood to quickly bring back a dragon. Plus, there were a few times when I just needed to kill Viserys Targaryen (Core) or get someone in my dead pile to turn on LRR.
King Renly's Host was money in the bank every time I saw it. I don't think I saw a Winter plot the whole weekend and Summer plots are everywhere, so they are an extremely efficient 8 STR bicon with intimidate and no attachments. Paired with Marge and/or Plaza, they can single-handedly take over a challenge phase. They are also my 5th 6+ cost unique character, so the Great Halls were doing work.
Nightmares/The Hand's Judgment: HJ was surprisingly ineffective all weekend. Maybe that's because I only played Targ twice and I played 4 games against a deck with no events. Meanwhile, Nightmares is useful in every game. Targets I remember were Asha, Brienne, Danny, the Wall (many times), Aemon, Jon Snow, and Harrenhall.
Varys's Riddle was very strong all weekend. I hit a Heads on Spikes, Close Call, Valar, Counting Coppers, Building Orders, Calling the Banners, and unfortunately Trading with the Pentoshi once.
Summer Harvest was consistently good. I never hit a Varys's Riddle or a plot with less than 3 gold. I did hit someone else's Summer Harvest, but that favors me because of the military advantage. The two games I hit the big gold plots against the DC deck gave me a ton of momentum to keep the pressure on.
Lack of Attachment Control: Until I ran into the DC decks, I was very pleased with my lack of Confiscation. That said, I should have had more than just 1x Viserys. I would probably swap out the Quaithe for another Viserys and swap out the Unsullied for a Rattleshirt's Raiders.
- Counting Coppers, Time of Plenty, and Card Draw in general: I was amazed by how rarely I needed to draw more cards, even with using Plaza every turn. Since my deck was so aggressive and frequently kneeling characters with intimidate, I didn't see a whole lot of intrigue challenges beyond the crossing decks sending over chumps. Maybe it would have been different if I ran into Lannister. I think there was only one game (in the finals) where my hand size got below 2. Poor Ser Barristan Selmy (LoCR).
Obviously, I was very pleased with how the deck performed since I took second place. Every game I lost could have easily been a win if I could have changed a single card that was or wasn't drawn. I think Lannister and Stark could have been tough match ups, so I wasn't too upset that I didn't see them at all.
Thanks and Shout Outs:
Patrick Day, Jacob Morris, and everyone else who helped with ETX and U.S. Nationals. Until two weeks ago I had never even played in a Regionals, let alone Nationals or bigger. I am very grateful to get a chance to play against the big names in the game right here in my back yard. The event was very smooth and I look forward to playing next year. Community feedback has been universally positive, so please consider coming next year if you are able.
Alex Black, Zack Decoto, and my many other friends in the Pacific Northwest. We have a modest, but awesome group of players up here. All of their encouragement and advice over the weekend helped me make it to the finals. Some of their tweaks to the deck were crucial.
Seth, Aaron, and the DC crew. I had never met any of these guys and all I knew about the DC meta was from podcasts. But they were really nice, great to play against, and are obviously phenominal Thrones players. It was a well deserved championship for Seth.
My other opponents and friends I met this weekend, including Nick, Dustan, Alejandro, and Chris. I hope I get to play against you all again soon, or at least next year at ETX.
Roy, Lucas, Rob, and everyone else working on the stream and commentary. I had a blast watching those after the tournament. My favorite comment from the chat was from game 1 when JoeSnow said "So far Seth is ahead in the race for who has the nicest watch."
- Robert Barnhart for coming up with the deck name on the AGOT facebook group.