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|NW KoS Builders [9-0 @ Northampton regional]||91||70||39||1.0|
This is the deck I made the top four with at the 336-player Stahleck Joust 2017. For general strategy check the details both Florian and I give in the description/comments for the deck this is derived from - here I'll just give an update on the concept of the deck overall, more or less, and a TR from Stahleck.
First of all, general meta points. When I was deciding on a list for Stahleck, there were a few things I was considering, mostly using plentiful cards from the new Tyrell box. The problem I consistently found in testing was that these decks folded to Builders. After chatting with Florian about this for a while, we came to the conclusion of "well why not just take Builders ourselves then?". I wasn't thrilled about taking a deck that we've already made a 'statement' of sorts with, but it remains a genuinely fun deck to play with (in moderation - I wouldn't want to play it every event or anything, but for the occasional tourney I enjoy it), and I think it's a strong meta call right now for the following reasons:
- Tyrell is everywhere thanks to the box and some really cool cards like Mace Tyrell, Green-Apple Knight, Highgarden Courtier, etc., and while Builders doesn't have a 100% matchup against Tyrell (a fact that the top four demonstrated...), it is a strong positive.
- Crossing Rush is a strong force out of several factions. Unless they get the most perfect of starts though, the Builders wrecks them all. Between The Shadow Tower, Craven, and most of their power only coming on one challenge (which, thanks to Abandoned Strongholds, you can usually defend), they just cannot get a foothold in the game.
- "But what about Greyjoy Rains?" It is true this is a poor matchup; however, most Greyjoy decks in the larger meta have been trending towards being big guy GoodStuff. And in any faction, even one with Sea Bitch, Newly-Made Lord, etc., that's an easy matchup for Builders.
- The most obvious counter to the rushy decks, Martell, is pretty simplistic for the Builders to handle.
- Baratheon, which can be one of the more troubling matchups, is nowhere in the current meta.
All of that combines to make the Builders good right now.
As far as updates for the new cards, we made the following changes:
OUT: 2x Old Forest Hunter (with the ability to fetch Practice Blade we felt it was more important to shore up intrigue icons than military, and his replacement covers this anyway), 1x The Haunted Forest (it's obviously great, but you never really need to see a 2nd and we needed space for new cards), 1x Eastwatch Carpenter (needed space for a new Builder and the new plot makes him less needed), 1x Time of Plenty (needed space for a new plot, it was most expendable).
IN: 2x Maester Aemon (Core) (as above, we wanted intrigue icons, and being able to keep a Builder around post-Valar is strong), 1x Flea Bottom (a phenomenal card generally, but particularly good with the next card), 1x Veteran Builder ("good with Flea Bottom" is an understatement - now you have FOUR Abandoned Strongholds!), 1x Trade Routes (Surprisingly enough, we have locations. Great plot to time against the opponent's Valar, or better still the turn after First Snow).
Florian and his testing buddy Richard also took Builders, but they made two further changes - another Carpenter out for another Veteran Builder (probably the right shout honestly), and Confiscation out for...something (I liked Confiscation in most of my games, no regrets here). I forget what. Hopefully one of them can weigh in.
With thoughts and changes going in completed, let's crack on with the tourney report:
- Robert (Lanni Wolf) - A relatively straightforward game, the Builders built. Tywin was problematic until I got a negative attachment on him; that forced Robert to add Eddard to the table, prompting a Duel. Closed with relative comfort from there.
- Nicolas (Stark Watch) - This was a false banner Wall defence deck, and was a very stressful game. We both had the Wall out round one, and I don't believe there was an unopposed challenge all game. I got to Nightmares Nicolas's Wall one round, but that was cancelled out by Benjen Stark dying to Valar before I could Milk him. Going into the final round Nicolas was up 13-12 on power, but I was able to win a power challenge on attack and defence to flip the totals to 13-12 in my favour before the Wall triggers, giving me a very close win.
- Onno (Greyjoy Crossing) - Onno had a strong opening round with Balon on setup and Euron marshaled round one, but round two they duelled and it ruined his tempo. Onno knelt Euron and killed Balon, which made sense but was a relief for me because it meant I didn't have to worry about Great Kraken giving stealth. From there it was pretty easy.
- Jef (Targ Crossing) - This was, by my estimation, a deck that was very close to the Worlds-winning deck but updated to include Qotho. Jef is a fantastic player but hasn't played much in a year, and had to read a lot of the Builder-centric cards. I didn't see many characters, but I did see 2x The Watch Has Need, and chose to hold them back until I saw both the Spikes - both of which went in the first three rounds, with me having zero characters in hand both times. After that I could safely flood, and with Jef lacking the early closing power the Targ X needs, I had it in the bag.
- Paul (Martell Crossing) - Possibly the most intense game of the tournament for me, at least until the top 4. In terms of power gain, I was comfortably ahead of Paul, but he didn't reset and instead just kept putting out strong midrange bodies. I got a warning of his gameplan on round four when he was able to win an intrigue by 5 on the third challenge, triggered Doran's Game for three power and triggered Shadowblack Lane for another Doran's Game. In round five Paul spent a while doing the maths, then used Arianne Martell to drop in Ricasso and bestow 2 power on him. With Paul at 8 power, and '6' plots in his used pile plus a potential Crossing power, he went all in on intrigue to go for the win from nowhere. Unfortunately for Paul though, I had a Practice Blade in hand and was able to limit his margin of victory to 39-35, stopping him getting the Game off. We had about 30 seconds left in the round and we'd both rather play to a proper finish, so we very quickly rushed through the rest of the round and got into plots with about two seconds left on the clock. In that round six, I won initiative and got to put Paul in first, which basically guaranteed Paul wouldn't win the intrigue by 5 because his Palace Spearman lost their intrigue icons. From there I was able to control it, although Paul was able to stop me reaching 15, and I closed something like 13-9 for a mod win (although with plots about to cycle I would've undoubtedly closed without issue next round).
- Miguel (Lanni Rains) - We played this matchup twice, meeting again in the cut, so my memory of precise details is a little shakey. I remember being caught off-guard by The Things I Do For Love, which allowed Miguel to push through an unopposed challenge, and the combo of Ser Ilyn Payne and Treachery killing Aemon. Otherwise though, this is a very strong matchup for the Builders - only Tyrion Lannister (Core) for stealth so easy to prevent unopposed; lots of bigs to stick the negative attachments on; and no bigs on my side to be the target of removal. Plus Duel is money. However, because there was a lot of maths to figure through and Miguel was able to kneel the Wall once and Treachery it once, the game sadly timed out with me at 14 power.
- Robert (Tyrell Summer) - I'm slightly fuzzy on this one, as it had been a long day by that point. Thankfully it was streamed, so it'll be available to watch at some point. Most notable thing I remember is that I Milked Margaery Tyrell (AMAF) and Robert had Randyll Tarly out as well. With Robert 6-4 up at the end of challenges, I deliberately 'forgot' the Wall and just took dominance, so that I would be on lower power going into the plot phase - the plan being to make sure I could win initiative if Robert flipped Confiscation into my Duel. As it was he flipped something else, Coppers I think, so I denied myself two power for no reason but it's all good. Robert did a good job of preserving power on his characters, meaning that even though he wasn't able to stop me triggering the Wall he still had a reasonable amount of power himself. Later Mace dropped, triggered for a power and blinked out Randyll to remove a Craven; I then immediately Milked him. This was my third game in a row to go to time, although when time was called Robert just conceded to make things easier - I think I was up something like 12-7 at that point?
- Tom (Greyjoy Rains) - As mentioned, this can be a negative matchup, and so it was here. However, the main reason for that wasn't so much the matchup as the lack of economy I found - I was triggering Castle Black Mason looking for an Underground Vault or Brandon's Gift, but couldn't find either. I found a few attachments, but Tom was able to use Weapons at the Door to bounce them all and then blow up the Wall with We Do Not Sow. From there I was out of it, and while I was able to draw it out quite a while it was a 15-0 drubbing. Still, if there's a time to slip up, "after you're already in the top 32" is a pretty good time to do it.
- Win-and-in round - BYE. The cut for the tournament was "everyone with a 6-2 or better record makes the cut; fill it out with byes to get to a power of 2". In this case, there were 49 players who made the top 64, meaning the top 15 players had byes, and as 13th after swiss (lowest of the 7-1s due to my 2 mod wins), I got to have a break.
- Top 32 - Gerion (Targ Kraken) - This could've been rough I felt, but Gerion missed on some of the more anti-NW cards. He setup Khal Drogo and added Mirri Maz Duur round one - however, I'd opened Calm Over Westeros for military to nullify Drogo, and Mirri was 1 STR short of being able to push through a challenge by herself. It stopped Gerion from being able to attrition away my board, and then Duel on round two completely killed his tempo. From there I had time to get set up. I had to overextend slightly, but dissuaded a Valar by playing The Watch Has Need and finding SIX Builders on a reserve of seven. That led to a Summer Harvest instead of a Valar, and I countered with Coppers. When Valar finally came I was able to counter with Trade Routes to empty the full hand, and that was game.
- Top 16 - Miguel (Lanni Rains) - A rematch from round six. I made two really stupid moves here: firstly, despite seeing Nothing Burns Like The Cold in our swiss game, I chose to set up The Wall as my only non-limited location even though I had Eastwatch-by-the-Sea in hand as well; and secondly, when I had a reasonably large board and Miguel only had out Tywin, Ser Jaime Lannister (Core), Tyrion and a chud, I still dropped Dolorous Edd into an intrigue challenge that I couldn't prevent Miguel winning by 5. This led to one more body dying to the inevitable Wildfire Assault, and no more intrigue jumper for me. However, sadly for Miguel this match is just too much of a positive for me, and even with these errors I was still able to just take control. At the start of round four Miguel was ahead; when time was called at the end of round six I won 14-2. This game was also streamed, so when it goes up I'll be sure to add the link in the comments.
- Top 8 - Matt (Tyrell Rains) - Matt's a good friend, so we were both bummed to face in the top 8 and excited one of us made the top 4. Matt came in with a gameplan, but unfortunately for him I had the answers to counter it. His first plan was to draw out my negative attachments and get his econ in order, then Valar them away and reflood with bigs; I held back the negative attachments I didn't need, managed the board, then played them out post-Valar. He then, going second, marshalled Varys; I'd saved a gold and Nightmares'd him, with a Milk in hand for the next turn. That was GG.
- Top 4 - Harren (Tyrell Rains). A ridiculously intense, close game from start to finish. This was also recorded, and again I'll post the link when it's up. Unfortunately I had my first truly bum setup of the entire tournament, and after a mulligan set up a Grizzled Miner and Brandon's Gift - I could've duped the Gift, but if I'd done that and he ran Nothing Burns then I was in deep trouble, so held a copy back until I had a less-important non-limited to soak the plot, at which point I duped the Gift to protect from Political Disaster - as it transpired Harren ran neither. We both accrued power quite slowly, being quite cagey with challenges - Harren would only challenge if he was confident of winning the challenge, and I basically couldn't challenge at all due to Craven on renown bodies. The big changing point, for me, was Harren's First Snow turn. Despite this being turn 3 or 4, I hadn't yet been able to find Dolorous Edd, meaning that while The Haunted Forest would prevent an unopposed, I had no way to stop the win-by-5. Harren then played "Lord Renly's Ride" to get Intimidate. I had one character on the table with Practice Blade who was going to be Intimidated, a Practice Blade in hand (with 2 gold saved), and three other power monocons on the table. If I ambushed in the Blade during the challenge Harren could turn into Filthy Accusations to kneel both my Bladed characters, so I had to hold it back and hope I didn't get particularly unlucky on the intrigue pull. ...The fact that I'm telling this story probably tells you how that went for me, as from a hand of ELEVEN cards Harren pulled the only one I needed to keep. This led to a 5 power swing as he could push through an unopposed military challenge with two renown characters and kneel my Wall. That didn't decide the game there-and-then as we kept going with very even power totals, but ultimately looking back, it cost me the game. Going into the final round (time was called), Harren led 9-8 and had a strong board. He counted up the numbers and realised that if I had a Nightmares and he went in for the kill, I would win; but if he passed then I couldn't win a challenge so would have to pass too, taking us to dominance and a 10-10 power count at which point the much-loved "cards in deck" deciding factor would come into play. I had no way around this play other than to ham it up for the spectators by asking him for the number of cards in hand, looking through his discard pile to count the number there, then literally counting every single card on the board to determine he had exactly 32 cards left in his deck. I didn't have to count to know I had maybe about 20, though I did at least get to trigger Isle of Ravens in the taxation phase to add one more card in there before I conceded.
Phew, tourney report over! This is very overly-long so I'll end now, but if anyone has any questions just add them below and I'll respond as best I can.