Orphanage aka Cancer Lancer NA Champ/Gencon Winner

Card draw simulator
Odds: 0% – 0% – 0% more
Derived from
None. Self-made deck here.
Inspiration for
Bara dom 3º of Swiss Regional of Moria. 4 3 3 1.0

dockellis 687

Varys’ Orphanage for Wayward Lancers

To start I’d like to say thanks to all the players in the AGOT community that make this game worth playing, you are awesome. My teammates that played the deck, Zack Decoto, Kevin Austin, Jessica and Chris Thompson, well done, this win is for all of us. Even you KD, though you’re busy being a father and couldn’t attend. Shout out to Kyle and John, my netrunner buddies who kept me sane all weekend. And those that I convinced to play the deck last minute cough Nate, Aaron, Jon cough I hope it was worth it.

Martell Stag has been a faction/agenda that Zack Decoto and I have had our eyes on for nearing a year, since the announcement of Valar Morghulis in P4 C2. The basics are pretty simple; Chamber/Throne and the Boneway provide you with passive ways to win the game while you control the board state with resets a la Varys/Valar/Marched to the Wall. Older versions of the deck were heavily focused on having a plus matchup with Lannister, and thus played cards like Unexpected Delay/Ghaston in triplicate, even the Eyrie to protect Mel. We had a strong feeling the deck would have plus matchups against most high cost-curve character decks, and we put close to 200 games in preparation for SC/regional/nationals season.

In December/January when the Thrones W.A.R. draft took place, I had the pleasure of being drafted by John Wright, who I now consider to be a good friend, and who had drafted team Martell. It was a perfect opportunity to showcase the deck and after a few playtesting sessions over Skype with team Martell it seemed I had convinced John and a few others that the deck was a viable option. Though I personally didn’t do well at Thrones W.A.R. with a 3-4 record, 2 other members of the team played virtually the exact list, both making the cut.

The deck was a niche call for a strange Meta that was Thrones W.A.R., one that was fairly diverse and where you could reasonably assume you would only play against a bad matchup once. The old deck had a terrible matchup against NW, nigh unwinnable without the Boneway on turn 1.

Fast forward to Nationals; the Meta with NW Defense, Targ, Tyrell Rush, and Lanni was not a great opportunity for the deck to flourish as two of those matchups were poor without the addition of Orphan/Schemes/Fiefdom. So we played Targ. Which at the time was a solid Meta call against everything but the DC deck.

Current Iteration, Orphanage (aka Cancer Lancer):

With the addition of Schemes and Fiefdom, the deck became wildly more consistent, rarely running out of resources and having the economy to support a high initiative plot line that would allow for playing Varys on most turns. But the real game changer came in the form of Orphan of the Greenblood. This card is the MVP for multiple reasons. It gives you added value for all of your characters with enters play reactions, i.e. Trader, Lancer, Mel, Hotah, etc, but it also allows you to eek extra value by returning a few characters to hand before wiping the board with Varys or Valar, or protecting your Varys/Jaqen from Nightmares on a LotG turn. Here I will delineate the usefulness of some of the card choices we made:

  • Orphan of the Greenblood/Vanguard Lancer in conjunction with Chamber means they often need north of 25-30 power to win a single game, and it buys you the time you need to create a stranglehold on your opponent.
  • Duel was a late inclusion, there is obviously a lot of value in the plot, but I was worried about it’s efficacy with Tyrell Rains and Tinder Marge being a big up and comer in the Meta. After some testing we concluded that it was at its worst a Filthy Accusations that often removed a few renown power from your opponent, and at its best it was a time walk, a huge tempo swing.
  • Burning on the Sand was a card that we toyed around with once LotG was added to the deck and which gained value with the addition of the orphan/lancer combo. It was imperative that Varys/LotG turns went smoothly when you absolutely needed them to, and so the card is often used to protect your hand from early INT claim.
  • Jaqen H'ghar’s impact on games cannot be understated. The value of surprising your opponent with LotG/Jaqen and killing a key character or dupe before a Valar won me multiple games in testing, and while he was only used a handful of times throughout the tournament, the opportunity cost of including one Jaqen was very low, and I would consider including Jaqen in any deck running LotG.
  • In Doran's Name is your 10th econ card. It’s ostensibly a Kingsroad t3 onward and gets much stronger in the late game when you are chaining Lancer/Orphan to drain your opponent out of the game. Faction kneel is limiting with Schemes often being as or more important than extra gold, but with a deck that consistently reaches the late game there is room for both.
  • Pyromancers were also a late addition, but served a very narrow yet important function. Destroy your opponents Iron Throne. It was another body to jump in with LotG, and it solved a lot of problems of singleton or 2 of copies of The Iron Throne from opponents.
  • Fallen from Favor is an ideal follow up to Varys on a turn where you don’t need to March. High gold, initiative, and reserve make it ideal in the mid to late game.
  • Blood Orange Grove/Ocean Road split was an interesting decision. It came down to a bit of math on what was more necessary, and ultimately the math sided with one more blood orange than ocean road. We were never going to play 3 of one without the other, it was just a matter of which was going to be a 2 of.
  • The Stag Cards; Melisandre (Core) is a high value body on small board states post reset, Asshai Priestess has similar value, Edric Storm gives you another Iron Throne against opponents who leave big characters back for dom, Shireen Baratheon is added tempo value during challenges and with Valar on dupe heavy boards, Maester Cressen is useful for removing Bodyguards and random Frozen Solids, and Ser Davos Seaworth (Core) is infinite mil claim. The deck probably wouldn’t play 12 stag cards if the agenda didn’t require it, but these were the best options all things considered. The older iteration was heavy on the Stag cards, playing a more all in Mel/kneel package, but this version is more lightweight and less reliant on keeping Mel alive. Losing Seen in Flames was rough, but learning to live with just HVE was achievable.

The deck sized up fairly well against the Meta going into GenCon.

Lanni Rains was a 55/45 matchup with plenty of ways to lose, but we were fine taking that against arguably the most consistent deck in thrones atm.

Targ Fealty was another close but very winnable matchup, probably somewhere shy of 60/40. Nightmares is their only answer to Varys, so combat quick starts involving Drogo and Plaza and you’re golden.

NW Defense was now a heavily favored matchup for us as Orphan/Lancer with no reasonable interaction from their side and both Pyromancers and Varys contribute to the matchup being slow but highly winnable.

Tyrell Rains never once beat the deck in testing, their game plan too disparate and not fast enough, even with Political Disaster.

Martell Fealty is a very strong matchup as they often don’t have ways to rush you out of the game, and fold to Orphan/Lancer and Boneway.

Greyjoy and Bara Dom are negative matchups generally speaking and we hoped to fade as many of them as possible. I believe our team only played ~4 games against Grejoy/Bara combined out of 50 games at GenCon.

Summary of Games:

Round 1 Tyrell Wolf - ??? - Win

Sorry I can’t remember your name, ser. My first opponent was playing a slower and more aggro Tyrell Wolf, unlike the ladies deck. He had an awkward mulligan, though my setup was not optimal. He was playing Roose and Renly’s Ride, which made it tricky to get a Varys down. But, once I Valared the Roose, I was in the clear and let the locations take control of the game.

Round 2 Stark Fealty – Gulliaume - Win

My second round opponent was from France. He opened Here to Serve for Luwin, and I knew pretty immediately that he was playing Maester tech similar to the list that LaPlante had told me about a few months ago. The game was close, he played around Chamber for most of the game until he had a Frozen Solid for my Iron Throne, but once I HVE’d and got rid of Maester save, and saw that there was no Nightmares, I Varys/Valared to wipe the board and drew Cressen off of Schemes the to clear the Frozen Solid.

Round 3 Targ Fealty - Tom Melucci - Loss

Was not excited to play close friend, the Luch, who I knew was playing a list very close to my Targ list from Nats, adding Greyworm and Astapor. I knew each plot in his deck and he knew each in mine, as I had tried to convince him to switch over to Martell Stag the day before the tourney. The game was very close, with Tom playing around Chamber most of the game, but I didn’t see Varys until turn 6 and I underestimated Tom’s ability to rush me down with a marshaled Drogo and Plaza for 7 pow in one turn. I definitely could have stalled the game out longer if I had anticipated the Drogo and the extra pow it created, as I would LotG/Varys that turn, but I neglected to play characters as I was hoping to have them as a follow up. I lost.

Round 4 Lanni Rains - Seth Low - Win

A real murderers row in r3, and r4, I knew that this likely could be my entire tournament as it wasn’t clear how many x-2’s would make the graduated cut, if any(turns out zero was the answer). Zack Decoto had lost to Seth the previous round, so if there was a positive to come out of that it was that I knew everything about Seth’s deck: 2x Late Summer Feast, Calling the Banners, Summons, Copper, Ghosts of Harrenhal, Confiscation. The lack of Valar was significant and meant the matchup was better for him than the average Lanni Rains deck. We usually leverage our opponents March and Valar against them.

Seth clearly had a very concise game plan, and it was to only make intrigue challenges to protect his hand from HVE, preventing me from getting a Varys off, while winning dom with his massive characters. While it did prevent me from using Varys early, it slowed the game down tremendously and allowed me to sculpt a hand that I could use to try and claw my way back into the game. Seth was up nearly the whole game, but the turning point came when he decided to attack with one of his 7 drops, Cersei I believe. I used ghaston on her, trying to bait treachery. Seth treacheried it and then made other challenges which allowed me to HVE and see that the coast was clear for Varys the following turn. I dueled and killed his Cersei, which though he Ghosted back into play, left his Tywin knelt. I Varys/Valared leaving the board clear, and I began to Orphan/Lancer his pow total down from ~8 to ~2. We went to time, and Seth was stuck with the Boneway on 5 tokens, He couldn’t challenge without triggering the Boneway, and he couldn’t block all the same. I LotG in a Jaqen and presented him with a scenario he couldn't win from, block the Jaqen and lose dom, or don't block, Jaqen kills the hound and lose dom. So I eeked out a very close game 5-4 or something like that. Seth’s only mistake may have been wavering from his gameplan, and Treachery-ing my ghaston trigger, but it was a costly one.

Round 5 Martell Crossing - Joe - Win

Joe mulliganed into a start without econ, and the game wasn’t particularly close. I don’t remember much of this game other than I was in control the entire time.

Round 6 Night’s Watch Wolf - Simon - Win

This was an interesting deck. Simon was playing NW with queenscrown shenanigans and wolf banner for Harrenhal/Ward/Bran and some other goodies. I legitimately almost ran out of characters in my deck in this game, but he had no way to interact with Chamber or Boneway and though his deck was a card advantage machine, the locations just eventually wore him down.

Round 7 Greyjoy Rains - Ben Wesolowski - Win

Ben was a mathematical lock for the top16, so he scooped to me. He wasn’t looking to play a grindy game to end the day and neither was I. He was on GJ Rains, so I was happy to have avoided playing against what is certainly my worst matchup.

Top 16 Night’s Watch King’s of Summer - Chase – Win

Builders is a tougher matchup than Reg NW Defense because it has recursion and lot’s of draw, so it is difficult to out card advantage them. However they still don’t have a solid way of dealing with Orphan/Lancer, so that was my game plan. Chase played pretty well, only making one egregious mistake which led to me winning a pow challenge and kneeling his Wall on a crucial turn. The game was much closer than I anticipated it would be, but I won 6-4 or so, on time.

Top 8 Targ Fealty - Tom Melucci – Win

The rematch. This time I had the nuts, Chamber/Throne/Boneway on t1, and Varys to wipe the board after I knew he didn’t have nightmares. Orphan/Lancer did their thing to keep Tom as far away from lethal as possible, and I eventually closed it out.

Semifinal Lanni Rains – Shaun Bohan - Win

Another phenomenal player from the Wausau Meta. Shaun was playing a clansmen variant of Lanni Rains, and my team and I were worried about Timmet and how aggro Shaun could be on the board. However he took a conservative line, like Seth and only made INT challenges for the first few turns of the game. So while he was gaining 1-2 pow a turn, I was using Orphan to replay Trader and Lancer, until I found edric which allowed me to start winning dom. Shaun predicted my Duel which was nice for him, but I was starting to take control of the game, and he eventually was forced to make a pow chal, in which I HVE’d three times taking his remaining threats after ghastoning one of his larger characters as well. Varys/Valar followed and the game started to slip away for Shaun at that point. He played well, but his conservative line gave me too much time to find a way to win.

Final Martell Fealty - AJ Valle - Win

AJ had beat teammate Chris Thompson in the Semi’s which was unfortunate as we were very close to a 67 card mirror in the final. I knew AJ was playing 2x pyromancer and Iron Throne of his own, as well as playing Battle of Blackwater, without Political Disaster. I won’t go into the details of the game too much, as the wonderful Rob St. John recorded the game and it will be going up on his channel soon. https://www.youtube.com/user/robstjohn/videos

Needless to say, I won!

The team went 37-16 on the weekend, and put two players into the semis, go Chris Thomspon go, and managed to take down the whole thing in the final. It was a huge success for us, and truly a testament to the work we put in making this deck the monster that it is. It is very possible that we are approaching an era in 2.0 thrones where “Big Dumb Guy Decks” are no longer the norm, and I welcome that era.

34 comments

Vipes 37

You have a lot of really neat info there, but I'm a bit confused by what you're doing. I see that you have a lot of ways to gain power, but you are missing the red viper. Because the red viper has 7 strength and a power icon he's really good at getting power. I'm confused as to why you would make a deck that wanted to win games without including the red viper in it. especially at a big tournament like gencon. But, maybe your opponent also wasn't running the red viper so the field was leveled? I think that with the next iteration of the deck that you should probably replace the orphans with the red viper because there is 2 more icons and 5 more strength on the red viper. Plus, the red viper only costs 2 more gold when you use the bestow mechanic. Other than that, I think that you really have a nice deck, but that lotc would be better because it boosts the red viper up a lot.

Bluebird503 218

No shout out, no likes. 0/5

dockellis 687

lol @Vipes we'll get em next time.

Hybrid92 51

Amazing deck and thanks for the write up

Do you see yourself using Flea Bottom or Iron Bank Will Have Its Due for this deck with the new pack out?

dockellis 687

@Hybrid92The short answer is yes, where exactly those pieces fit into the puzzle remains to be seen.

dockellis 687

Tom I spelled your name wrong and I can't change it. Sorry bro.

Saan 1

No shoutouts to Kyle, +1 like. Get rekd.

Also, grats again =)

-Brian

Maximus 50

@Vipes pretty sure you don't want to run viper. This deck seems to try to play into the late game, and viper does nothing to stall. Also he's really bad early game in a build like this.

Congrats Alex, I'm really happy that you were able to win with a unique deck, and more importantly with Martell. Hope you can make it to Kublacon at some point.

dockellis 687

Me too @Maximus thanks.

Vipes 37

@Maximus Going into the late game makes sense if you can't win fast, but maybe if he had the red viper in his decks he wouldn't have had so many games end without getting to 15 power. His win with 6-4 is really almost a third of a win only, so the deck record is more like 36 1/3 - 16. The red viper plus orphan is 9 strength so you only need one more character to claim 2 power when the red viper attacks.

iaan 17

Don't feed the trolls!

Maximus 50

@iaan you're right, I should have just ignored him. A deck that wins an event like gencon doesn't need defending.

Kakita_Shiro 1

Surprised by only 2 Boneway

Scratchy 1

What does It mean " he scooped to me ?"

Maximus 50

@Scratchyit means forfeit

dockellis 687

@Kakita_Shiro Boneway is essential in some matchups but unnecessary in many others. Definitely the least important piece.

Salin 2

@dockellis nice Deck tried it in three game until now and work great. Easy wins. Question what do you think about more R`hllor Units and seen in flames ? I think it could prevent from Nightmare and HoJ or take more big guys from oppentens hand.

at.keranov 193

Played a couple of games where the opponent had The Iron Throne early and a better economy - I failed miserably. What can you do when this happens?

Banjo 97

Congratz Alex on the big win you deserved it! Sorry we didn't stay to watch the final I'm sure it was a great game. Ever since I saw early versions of this deck I thought it was a great idea. After seeing how orphan and vanguard interacted I knew you found something special to add to the way the game was played. Thanks for letting me play your awesome deck and test with some really awesome players. Its too bad if more us didn't make the top cut but I'm glad you and Chris did. It was a great first time Gen Con experience and I look forward to playing with you guys in the future.

Jon Neale.

Turkis 9

Salin, the R'hllor package is really heavy in terms of cost and card count and requires your board state to be stable/existant to be used. Seen in the flames is amazing, but you do require a massive investment in the deck to have enough characters to trigger this reliably. And, only the asshai priestess and mel have come into play effects.

dockellis 687

@Banjo Jonny! It was awesome having you in our group, and going 3-2 is an accomplishment with as little reps you had with the deck. Good luck at Can Nats and hopefully we can convince you to go to worlds. Lol.

dockellis 687

@at.keranov games in which your opp is a dedicated dom deck are difficult. However you can slow the game down with resets, orphan/lancer until you find a pyromancers and kill their throne. You aren't going to win a majority of your games against those decks but you can beat them. Hope this helped.

Bluebird503 218

ok i reluctantly left some likes now

_phoenix_ 1

Can you please say what you would change to put flea bottom and bank in the deck...how many eould you play og any of this card ?! What will you replace ?! Tnx a lot, good job

dockellis 687

@Bluebird503 <3

dockellis 687

@_phoenix_ I would play 2 of each, and I would cut 1 hotah, 1 Dorans name, the other 2 cuts are difficult, I couldn't say without some additional testing.

_phoenix_ 1

What do you think about 1 schemes and 1 burning on the sand less to include the other 2 ?! Or 61 card ?!

_phoenix_ 1

What's about vengeance for elia over burning sand ?!

dockellis 687

@_phoenix_ we tested vengeance extensively and found that burning was better because of the cost.

Nothing wrong with playing the deck at 61 cards during testing. But I often like to slim down to 60 before an event.

Radix 7

@dockelliswhat do you think of the Iron Bank now that it is released? Seems like another way to get more uses out of cards, as well as surprise Giant Varys.

Or the addition of Flea Bottom to get characters after a reset/claim discards them?

dockellis 687

@Radixsee above, but yeah, I like the addition of both.

YEEZUS 47

Congrats. A true masterpiece for the Gencon meta

Bronson 117

Congrats Alex! Great deck and way to use cards I thought were unusable!

dockellis 687

Thanks @YEEZUS and @Bronson