Worlds 2017 Top 8: Breaking Chains, Bringing Rains

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Derived from
None. Self-made deck here.
Inspiration for
Stahleck top 16: Breaking Chains, Making Rains 22 14 7 1.0

RedSquadronK 101

This is a decklist and tournament report for the Targaryen "The Rains of Castamere" deck that made Top 8 at the FFG World Championship 2017. The deck went 7-3 in the tournament, including the games in the Top 16 cut. Feel free to ask any questions and enjoy!

First, I want to give credit to my friend and meta-mate Stephen Ebrey who designed this deck and shared it with me. I only tweaked and optimized the deck, he had already figured out the fun and unique choices that make the deck tick. He also played the deck at Worlds and went 3-3, just missing Day 2.

The general idea for the deck is that Rains of Castamere is a very strong agenda that can allow you to play high-impact plots, then flip into Schemes to avoid reserve issues. Plus Targ has some great ways to trigger the agenda: namely big INT characters and Breaker of Chains.

So let's talk about Breaker of Chains for a moment. This inclusion is primarily about the STR buff it provides. Targ can already play a pretty swarm-y game with all our cheap, efficient characters like Hatchlings, Jorah, etc. Breaker makes it so these small fries can now threaten to trigger Rains, even if you haven't seen your 6+ cost characters. The reaction can also be helpful to build a board if you haven't seen economy or to recover from The First Snow of Winter.

Running 3 copies of a 2-cost positive attachment was really a meta call that payed off. We got the feeling that people would be playing much more location control to deal with things like Table-Chain dominance decks and therefore leave a lot of their attachment hate at home. I think I maybe only saw 1 Confiscation the whole tournament, so it turned worked out.

The 6+ cost characters are all fantastic for triggering (or at least threatening) Rains.

-- Daenerys Targaryen Has the 5STR, can gain Stealth, and with multiple ways to stand her mid-challenge can use her blanket -1STR to help the math. If you get Breaker of Chains on her she can be very hard to stop.

-- Mirri Maz Duur also has the natural 5STR for INT and can go on rampages if left unchecked. While she's less likely to actually trigger Rains because her own interrupt is so threatening, she adds another threat vector for your opponent to deal with. She's probably the ideal target for Breaker so that she can snipe off your opponent's key characters with her interrupt.

-- Grey Worm is maybe the best at naturally triggering Rains, since his action keeps pesky chump blockers from putting you below the win-by-5 threshold.

So all of those are great ways to help your trigger "The Rains of Castamere", but why do you need to?

We tried to include strong plots like Late Summer Feast, Retaliation, and Political Disaster that can be huge boons, but have strong downsides. Most of these downsides (especially reserve) can be solved by switching to a different plot with Rains. Plus there are some potentially great uses of Rains on it's own: Varys's Riddle their Counting Coppers, Power Behind the Throne to get Mirri to kill more characters, or Wheels Within Wheels to grab a Dracarys! and put the fear of fire in them!

The final things to mention are Plaza of Pride and Flea Bottom. Both of these cards are stellar on their own. Together they become a really potent combination. In one game I used Plaza to discard a dragon to stand a character, then used Flea Bottom to bring the dragon into play, then used the dragon to Drac! their attacker. With all the small, efficient characters your already wide board just becomes impossible to deal with when they can stand or jump out of your discard. And Plaza gets special mention of being great with Mirri, making her incredibly potent.



Round 1

vs Jake playing Martell Rose (Hyper Viper)

It was immediately obvious this was a Hyper Viper combo deck, so I spread the board wide and had some dupes. I spent the first two turns just building my board and collecting what power I could, knowing the The Annals of Castle Black would drop turn 3. I play Marched to the Wall into Annals to win initiative and go first. He has 3x Burning on the Sand in his discard, so I can't MIL. Instead I go INT, trigger rains for Filthy Accusations to keep the Viper to one challenge from his Seal of the Hand. He does do a challenge with the Viper, but between only using one You Murdered Her Children and me having 2 Dracarys! I hold off the combo and win the next turn with the Viper dead to his event.


Round 2

vs Gabriel playing Baratheon Alliance Dragon Kraken

While I'm able to kill Melisandre (Core) early on, he quickly gets out Stannis Baratheon (Core) with a dupe and Bodyguard. My swarm-y deck full of small characters can't really deal with Core Stannis, especially when I don't see Plaza of Pride. He just keeps building a huge board and there's little I can do, pretty one sided.


Round 3

vs Matt playing Stark Rains

This was just a case of my opponent having a pretty bad setup (even after mulligan) and seeing maybe one econ location the entire game. On the other side I see 1-2 dupes for all my characters and get Breaker of Chains on Doreah to make her a real pain. While Winterfell slows me down, I just keep up the pressure and never let him recover from the weak opening.


Round 4

vs Stephen playing Targ Rains

This made me so sad. Through the luck of pairings I ended up playing my friend Stephen, creator of this deck, in an exact mirror match. While we were both disappointed one of us would have to beat the other, we pulled no punches and this game was a slugfest. He quickly had a duped Mirri while I think I was using Grey Worm. There was a lot of jostling to get and prevent Rains triggers. I was able to hit his Counting Coppers with my Varys's Riddle while preventing him from doing the same. Those 3 extra cards helped me get through the attrition of characters dying and find my Flea Bottom. I'm pretty sure seeing my Flea Bottom 2-3 turns before the end and Stephen never finding his is what won this close match for me.


Round 5

vs Kevin playing Martell Wolf

This was a super grind-y match. Even with a deck that likes to go wide, it can be tough against all the trickery of Ward and especially Venomous Blade (which Breaker doesn't protect against since it targets printed STR). We both saw our Flea Bottom early, but Kevin played Frozen Solid on mine after Viserys Targaryen (Core) had gotten Marched to the Wall to remove an Attainted from Mirri (which Kevin promptly just played a new copy of). The real key moment was that I drew into my second copy of Viserys to remove the Frozen Solid and had discarded his other Frozen Solid to claim. With Flea Bottom I was able to turn the tables and collect the power I needed just before time got called.


Round 6

vs Chris playing Lannister Rains of Castamere

I went wide while Chris went tall. He did run The First Snow of Winter, but I survived that turn then re-flooded the board and used a combination of Grey Worm and Ser Jorah Mormont with Breaker to get Rains triggers and bully his board. His two rounds in a row of Supporting the Faith were annoying, but it meant that when I finally did have gold in challenges I double-Drac'ed his Tywin, at which point he conceded.


That was the end of Day 1A! I finished 5th on that day of Swiss rounds and was going to be competing in Day 2!


Round 7

vs Sam Braatz playing Stark Rains

This was easily the closest match of the entire tournament for me. Sam is a fantastic player and had knocked me out of the cut 4 years ago on his way to winning the first 2nd Ed championship, so I was eager to try to beat him and terrified he'd wipe the floor with me again.

Sam was playing a really cool Direwolves deck and went wide early, getting out a Roaming Wolfpack, Grey Wind, and Robb Stark (Core) plus chuds. I drew a bunch of dupes, so I played them knowing there would be a lot of military pressure coming my way. Doreah with Breaker of Chains and a dupe was a huge help this game as she allowed me to threaten/stop Rains triggers and was too big for Grey Wind to eat. Around plot 3 I Valar'd the board, leaving Sam with only Arya and me with Doreah+Breaker and Grey Worm (I think). Sam had a good power lead and time was running short, but he had to try and use tricks with Bran Stark (OR) while I was able to play Dany with a dupe. On the final turn before time I used Fire and Blood to get Drogon and give Dany renown so I could get to 6 power to his 5.


Round 8

vs Andy playing Greyjoy Stag

This was another extremely close match, but felt much less tense as we were both pretty sure we were guaranteed Top 16 cut at this point. I killed Melisandre (Core) early, but fought for board position while he gained 6 or 7 power in the first 2 rounds. A big Political Disaster by me discarded some economy, Iron Mines, and Chamber of the Painted Table. The real sticking point was the damn Lordsport Shipwright stopping my Flea Bottom all game. We both pulled crazy things to try to kill/keep that little jerk alive. He marched a 4-cost character instead of it. He used up his last Iron Mines to save it. I finally used Drac! on Maester Wendamyr just to force him to claim it for military. Then he drew another one, so it didn't really matter. The final round I was at 13 power, but we were in plot 9 and he played The First Snow of Winter for a second time which was just too much for my deck.


I ended up seeded 7th in the Top 16 cut, technically making me the highest ranked Targ player after Swiss (if FFG had kept SoS from Day 1 though, I believe I would've only been 2nd highest Targ).

TOP 16

vs Sam Braatz playing Stark Rains

This game was on the official FFG featured stream, so you can go check it out yourself! (starts at 04:32:09)

The only thing I'll add is that getting to see your opponent's decklist beforehand really helped me here as I no longer needed to worry about Frozen Solid or Valar Morghulis, both cards I didn't think he was running but now knew for sure I could ignore. Having played the matchup twice, I think my deck just happened to be naturally good against Sam's and I drew fairly well both games.



vs James Booker playing Lanni Rose (Wonder Woman)

This was recorded by the amazing Rob's Gaming Table and will eventually be up on that channel. I was worried about combo decks, as I don't think this deck is super well positioned to handle them. I only saw 1 Dracarys! the entire game and just couldn't do much to stop the combo other than build a large board for defending. It nearly worked and Booker only exactly hit 15 power on the combo turn after time was called. I look forward to reviewing the game and seeing if I could've done something better, but I think sometimes combo is gonna combo.



In closing, I want to shout out to all the amazing people in and around this game that makes it worth all the time and money and anxiety to travel to and compete in big tournaments:

--Thanks again to Stephen for designing the deck, letting me play it, testing with me, and just being a good friend at the tournament!

--Thanks to all the SoCal Thrones community. It's always a pleasure to play and hang out with you all and I couldn't ask for a better meta. This includes people who made it to Worlds and all those who supported from afar!

--Thanks to all my opponents, everyone was very friendly and pleasant and I didn't have a single match the entire tournament that was nasty or upsetting.

--Thanks to FFG for actually doing a pretty decent job of running a big Thrones tournament! While we can debate whether the separate Day 1's and Day 2 and not carrying SoS was the correct DESIGN choice for the tournament, this was by far the smoothest run FFG event I've been to, with no major mixups or delays that I was aware of.

--Thanks to my wife for letting me play card games on a regular basis and abandon her for the cold of Minnesota for nearly a whole week.

--And thanks to the entire Thrones community. The game itself is great, but the community really makes it the best game out there. I always come away from big events like Worlds with more friends than I went in with, and what more can you ask for.


treyalsup 7

Congrats Neil. Way to represent SoCal.

zack 3

Just wanted to thank you for posting this. Targ/Rains is a combination I'm playing a lot these days and I was looking forward to your version, but I totally wasn't expecting a Targ/Rains/Breaker of Chains combination ;-), very interesting!

As a random comment: I noticed your deck runs a very high amount of Ally/Companion characters. Dropping in a 1x Street of Silk might be an interesting experiment, to double-duty your faction card on turns where you won't use Rains. But yes, it would reduce the threat, so it has to be playtested to see if it's worth. I'm curious about your thoughts on this.

Ebrey 93

@zack I had not noticed the Street of Silk synergy, that is cool. If I was to add in one faction card kneel effect, I would probably add in Iron Bank, because the World Champ Iron Banked a Viserys against me to burn my Dany from 0 gold. That trick is just dirty!

zack 3

Thanks for your feedback @Ebrey!

Unrelated questions: now that House of Thorns is out, what are your thoughts on Freedmen and Qotho in this deck? Tentatively, I'd try to swap 1 Grey Worm for Qotho and 2 Handmaiden for 2 Freedmen, but there are drawbacks in both swaps… (less kill resistance and harder time to stand Daenerys Targaryen respectively).

RedSquadronK 101

@zack The deck definitely wants 1-2 Qotho. Losing 1 copy of Grey Worm is certainly valid, could also look to drop something lower cost.

I have never tried Freedmen, but doubt their value. They have no way to naturally discard themselves and I imagine I would often kill them for claim soak, so their ability doesn't seem like it would be super relevant. Plus the only challenge you're really trying to win by 5 is INT, then they come in after you've already put in the work and can only help in other challenges. All that being said, everything is worth testing out and maybe they are really good!

Ebrey 93

@zack I think as long as both breaker and flea bottom are in the deck, you can cheat in characters that are better than freed men easily. The deck is quite susceptible to Nothing Burns like the Cold though, so it might be smart to remove Breaker (even though I love it) and add freed men. Qotho is a definite include too, taking some of the grey worm slots and maybe other chars.

Gerion Lannister 235

@RedSquadronKCongratz Neil "The Real Deal"! I really miss The Summer is Comming podcast, it was always briliant to hear your opinions. It seems that you are even stronger player and builder than before, great idea and deck!

tonythetiger891 39

I got to watch the end of that first Sam Braatz game. It was a pretty intense ending. Good job on the deck and your placement!

Stormborn 205

Great write up! I played this deck with my mates last night and I was really happy with how the games went.

What changes would you make for the Valar Dohaeris meta?

RedSquadronK 101

@StormbornThanks! Glad you're enjoying the deck!

As for Valar Dohaeris, I'm still wrapping my head around exactly what that will do to the meta. I don't think this style of deck is too terrible against it (though probably wouldn't run it), as you can keep a large board of small things or one large character and refill your board using Breaker. Honestly, I just need to play with the new reset before I can have a real opinion.