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|None. Self-made deck here.|
|Martell - Lord of the Crossing||0||0||0||1.0|
I traveled for 13 hours with my good friends Michael, James, and Sean from New Jersey on a tire-riddled highway full of terrors to attend my first Gencon. We barely slept for four days, we bitched about everything and deliriously laughed about it, and we almost died about four times. Somewhere during that time, our little group of four from southern NJ managed to make two top 16 melee appearances, and I sneaked myself into the top 16 for the joust tournament.
Before I talk about the deck that we made and how proud of it I am, I have to talk about the experience overall. Feel free to scroll down to the image if you don't want to hear me blabber on.
Being from New Jersey, I've attended a couple store championships, a few Red Saturday events, and 2016's NJ regional event. I haven't really been around as much as I'd like in the competitive scene. The Regional first-round bye card is still taunting me in my wallet. The idea of attending Gencon and playing in a nearly 200 person tournament made me nervous as hell. I've met a bunch of really awesome people at these past events like Red Saturday and The storming of Starpike, and I've heard nothing but great things about the Game of Thrones community as a whole. I was definitely expecting a great atmosphere at Gencon, the biggest event I've attended for any card/tabletop game, but I couldn't believe just how awesome every person I met was. It's a really unique experience to see people from all over the country come together with a common interest and just have fun. I don't want to sit here and name everyone I met, but thank you to everyone that attended and made it a blast for me. Bonus thanks to everyone that showed up at the bar Saturday night, ya'll can really party.
Michael and James made the top 16 cut for the melee tournament on Friday and it was an absolute blast to watch their table. I was so pumped for them and had already considered our trip a success at this point. Our group loves melee, even if we have neglected it. We're a bunch of bullshitters and manipulators. If anyone's played a melee game with Michael, you'll see the Littlefinger gleam in his eye while he tries to orchestra chaos. Chaos is a ladder, and these jerks climbed it to the top. Well, nearly to the top. They both lost at the same table to Jesse Carpenter who would win the Melee tournament. Jesse was one of the awesome people I met along the way, so congrats to him.
The reason I bring up the melee tournament isn't just to brag about my friends. I want to express just how great I think the format is for the community. I believe the A Game of Thrones card game is a social card game, and melee is proof of that. If you looked around at the top melee tables, everyone was laughing and yelling over each other. It built relationships and made the game fun. Maybe it's not as balanced and competitive as we would all like it to be, but that format is Thrones to me. It's the only format I played for the first 3-4 months of learning the 1.0 variant of the game. We don't have very many melee events in North America and that needs to change. Watching the Final 4 melee game of Roy Rogers, Sandy Barnabas, Jesse Carpenter, and Chris Thompson was the most entertaining moment of my Thrones life.
Now about the deck, which we're calling Lorde of the Crossing
When I committed to attending Gencon, I promised myself I'd bring a deck that I found fun. I wasn't driving 13 hours to flip cardboard with a boring deck. Because I'm a spiteful bastard, that deck was absolutely going to be Martell, and Mike and James agreed. So we got to work designing a Martell deck.
We tried a bunch of different agendas. Mike and James tested a Martell-Rose for awhile, abusing the additional challenges granted by Olenna's Informant. We played classic Martell Fealty. We played Martell summer. All of these decks had two things largely in common. Southron Messenger, and Arianne (Lorde) Martell. We loved Southron and it become the focal point of our deck. And Arianne is the crutch of the ambush style Martell deck.
The Crossing agenda ended up being our favorite so we poured a lot of testing into it. It was fun. It functioned like a sneaky fealty deck while also giving you this weird way to push your favorite challenge. The deck is reactionary. If your opponent plays aggressively, your classic Martell tricks will make them pay. If they play defensively, you can punish them with crossing. Arianne is Lorde because she makes your crossing agenda totally viable even when your board consists of 3 characters. Losing your first challenge is often a bonus with cards like Elia and Prince's Plan. And the best part, Southron Messenger is such a good tool on both offense and defense. It was also just really satisfying to see people anxiously waiting for the Viper to hit the board, and we got to sport the NJ Regional LoTC Artwork.
Mike and James ended up with a combined 5-5 record in Swiss, but both had some unfortunate losses where the game went to time just as it was turning in their favor. I was a little more fortunate in swiss. Before the graduated cut, I played and defeated a Lanni Summer, Tyrell Rains, Targ Kraken, and a Lanni Rains. Southron Messenger was unbelievably good in the Tyrell Rains and Lanni matchups. The Battle of Blackwater is the biggest reason why I won the Targ matchup- timing it on his valar turn when he had a double duped theon, duped Vic, and duped Asha. My only loss was to the Night's Watch builders deck piloted by Chase, who also made top 16. We knew going in that the builder's match-up would be one of our toughest, but we hoped our agenda could help us keep pace with the Wall. I was just pumped to make the graduated cut since it meant that I got to keep playing Thrones.
My first match-up in the graduated cut was against Roy Rogers. We were bummed to be playing against each other since we're meta "neighbors." Roy is one of the nicest people I've ever met. He was playing the New York Night's Watch Rains deck, which was one of the only decks we did not test again. I lucked out big time in this match-up as Roy did not see the Wall all game long. It was a really interesting game that he played extremely well. I was able to get an early lead with the crossing agenda and he just couldn't catch up without the Wall.
My second match-up was against Matthew Ley running Lanni Kraken. This was the 3rd game I had played against Lannister and I felt really comfortable about it. From the beginning I was able to establish a better board and keep his options limited. Condemned let me strip his only power icon most turns. Because of the crossing agenda, I was able to wrap the game up in plot 4 after bringing in Nymeria off an Arianne (Lorde) trigger to strip the only power icon and swing for unopposed. Matt was great to play against and I hated seeing what happened to him in regards to the top 16 (I'm not getting into that here).
At this point, I was 6-1 and ranked #9 overall. I couldn't believe it. Mike, James, and Sean were more pumped for me than I was. I was just in shock mostly, not really sure what was happening and just trying to play game by game. It was really great that everyone I talked to afterwards and at the bar was so supportive of me and happy that I made the top 16. I even got some confidence coaching from a few people, hah. Thanks for that.
I came back Sunday morning after sleeping terribly at our hotel room and feeling awful because of my sinuses. No excuse though, and I feel like I played fine.
I got paired against Aj Valle and his Martell Fealty deck that he brought all the way to the final table. He played great. Both my initial setup draw and my mulligan draw contained no economy and primarily characters. It set me back for awhile. I knew he would outpace me if the game went past 6-7 plots, since he had such a jump start on econ. This became especially true once he got the Iron Throne out. Because of this start, I believed my only chance was to try to use my agenda trigger to close the game out before he could turn it in his favor. I assumed he was running the Last of the Giants- Varys combo reset, so I knew that I just really couldn't expect to compete late game.
It almost worked. I was able to get to 11 power at one point, even timing Battle of the Blackwater on his valar turn to burn through his Nymeria dupe. Unfortunately, a couple of well timed Vengeance plays and some real crafty use of The Last of the Giants kept Aj in control. This game was about 2 cards/plays away from going my way, but it's tough when your opponent just doesn't make mistakes.
After the initial disappointment of losing subsided (and after I took a long nap right in the gaming hall during finals) I reflected on just how awesome the weekend had been and on our deck. I really am proud of the deck. It beat the Martell Stag (James) and Night's Watch rains, which were two of the best decks there. Anyway, sorry for the long report. Hope you enjoy the deck.