Stahleck top 16: Breaking Chains, Making Rains

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Derived from
Worlds 2017 Top 8: Breaking Chains, Bringing Rains 25 15 10 1.0
Inspiration for
None yet.

Ebrey 147

Neil Kimball and I played an earlier version of this deck at Worlds, with Neil having greater success and a top 8 finish. I initially wanted to play something totally different, but with only 2 weeks to prepare and half of that being a European vacation, there wasn't really time. Jim Hansen from Seattle encouraged me to keep working on this, rather than switching to something like Lanni Rains or GJ Rains.

The new and improved Targ Rains went 8-3 at Stahleck for a top 16 version. The new MVPs were Qotho, which was unavailable to us at Worlds, and The Red Wedding, which should've been in the previous deck. Everyone thought I was crazy to cut Grey Worm completely for Qotho, but he was so good (and unlike Grey Worm, he can take attachments!) that I didn't regret it for a second.

The basic idea is to put Breaker of Chains on Dany, Mirri, Qotho, or Doreah, wipe their board with Red Wedding, PTTS, Mirri, and Dracarys, and survive Valar because of dupes and flea bottom. The deck is heavy on 3x uniques because wiping the board means very little if you have no dupes. The pressure that can be applied on all 3 challenges in the current version is immense it doesn't matter if Mirri herself has the Breaker, because someone like Doreah can win a huge INT challenge, filthy their best character, and allow Mirri to come in for power. Qotho is amazing for winning Rains on defense, and also for a cheeky Put to the Sword.

Some of the tough decisions: when to go first or second (first is often the right call to kill their board and put out chars with Breaker, but if you have Qotho in hand second can be great), when to put out characters with Breaker (don't empty your hand if you have no dupes and they could Valar), and which cards to discard for Plaza of Pride. Which character to put Breaker on can also be a tough choice, but honestly all 4 of the 3x unique humans are great (Doreah seems bad until you realize she boosts herself and she's easy to stand with Plaza of Pride, so you can always use her twice).

Political Disaster should probably have been a second Counting Coppers but otherwise there's no obvious changes I wish I had made. If you set up a big guy and you have breaker of chains in hand you should often open coppers, because you no longer need money to play characters, just cards.

Special thanks to my Worlds testing partner Neil Kimball, my Stahleck testing partner Kevin Shannon, and the rest of the SoCal meta! Everyone I played against was very nice and no disrespect is intended if I don't remember our match well. Tourney Report:

Round 1 WIN vs Marius Braun playing NW Crossing

Marius set up Qhorin and chuds vs my Mirri and chuds. He opens with the maester plot to bring out Maester Aemon, I put out another INT icon (maybe Dany?), use it to Rains into filthy on Aemon, and kill Qhorin with Mirri. Game is basically over.

Round 2 WIN vs Chewy Quah playing Targ Rose

I was using the awesome Targaryen house cards that Chewy made, and his deck included Breaker of Chains because he liked our Worlds deck, so this was a fun coincidence. Chewy was a really nice guy, but his deck used a lot of new cards and wasn't as optimized as mine, so I won. Can't remember the specifics.

Round 3 WIN vs Kai Schmidt playing Tyrell Kings of Summer

This deck has a pretty easy time against rush decks, so I probably killed some guys and it was over quickly. Hard to remember with so many games :(.

Round 4 WIN vs Kevin Shannon playing Greyjoy Rains

This one was a bummer, as Kevin is also from SoCal and we had just practiced 3 games the day before. Kevin beat me all 3 times! This is the closest game so far, with neither of us drawing any dupes or saves, and I'm trying not to put out all my good cards with Breaker because I don't really want him to valar. Eventually I think I got some dupes or flea bottom or something to be able to survive valar, and close it out.

Round 5 LOSS vs Andreas Aldrin playing Targ Crossing

Turn 1 I open coppers to his summer harvest, which was very exciting. He's still able to get a duped Mirri and duped Drogo on the board though! I'm going second, and I ambush in Qotho and trigger red wedding on defense, which allows me to use it 3 times on my turn. I kill the duped Drogo with it, then kill Viserys. This might seem like a strange choice with Breaker of Chains on the board, but I didn't want him to cycle him over and over once he gets out Flea Bottom. This game is going well for me until he plays First Snow of Winter on a turn when I have no cost 4+ chars on the board, and only Dany in hand. I can recover from FSOW easily if I have Breaker, because it allows me to reflood the board, but I never drew a second copy! He got the win with his very cool Targ deck that also included freedmen and bloodriders.

Round 6 WIN vs Marcin S playing Lanni Crossing

I played 3 Lanni Crossings on the day and unfortunately don't remember this one!

Round 7 LOSS vs Nicolo M playing Tyrell Rains

Nicolo is the Italian champ and came in 3rd at Worlds, and instead of bringing that Lanni Crossing he came up with something totally new and awesome. It had Hightower and lots of good locations, but only one Mace. The key character was Queen of Thorns to find any event he needed. I made 2 bad discards with Plaza of Pride (Crown of Gold and Hand's Judgement), which allow him to safely put out the Queen, and also mean I can't cancel the Growing Strongs he can find whenever he needs to win a challenge. He gets a well earned win here!

Round 8 WIN vs Mathew H playing Lanni Crossing

Hard to remember all these Lannis, but I think I Red Weddinged his Cersei early on and it was pretty much over.

Qualification round WIN vs Sam Nowrouzi playing Lanni Crossing

It's ironic that my game against Nicolo was sandwiched between 3 people playing essentially his deck! This game I believe I triggered Rains on turn 1 with Dany, stood her again with Rhaegal, triggered Red Wedding, stealthed past Tywin with Dany/Viserion, and killed him. He looked stunned and the game was basically over. Nice guy though - nobody was salty about any of my huge kills.

Top 32 round WIN vs Robert Chavat playing Tyrell Rains

By now it's roughly midnight, and from here on I start making a lot of mistakes. But, as Robert points out in his own tourney report, he doesn't draw enough MIL icons or enough characters to win this game. First turn he puts out Mace with a bodyguard and a bunch of chuds that I know I can remove from hand with the Qaithe in my hand. I have Mirri and Dany (one of which was duped - never put out both without a dupe on one!), Plaza, and Flea Bottom, a great combo. I could've overcommitted to the INT challenge to guarantee getting Red Wedding, then won a mil and POW challenge pretty easily, but I only attack with Mirri so I just get her one kill instead of Red Wedding's 2. I think I took a chud instead of the bodyguard on Mace, but on turn 2 I take off the bodyguard and turn 3 I valared. He never draws enough chars to get back in the game.

Top 16 round LOSS vs Henri L playing Targ Crossing

I am ecstatic to have a 6 card setup for this game, including Breaker, Plaza and Flea Bottom. However, he has a decent setup, and has a duped Dany and Drogo plus 4 more characters by the end of his first turn marshalling (using Pentoshi). I've never had to try to kill my way through such a tough board before, and I think I maybe could've done it when I was at peak performance, but it's 1 in the morning and I am brain dead. I keep making INT challenges that aren't quite enough to trigger Rains, even though I have plenty of characters that I could've added to the challenge due to the early Breaker of Chains. Eventually he wins, and goes on to make the Finals of Stahleck!

Stahleck was an incredible experience, not just because I did well, but also because it's a huge party on a castle in a beautiful town in Germany with hundreds of incredible people. I encourage everyone who can to go, and hope to be back next year! Let me know if you have any questions.


Orion727 80

Hi Stephen, really exciting deck with a cool idea using a card that sees little play. Congratulations to your showing at Stahleck and also to Neils showing at Worlds. Sorry i could not give you more of a match.

nodtrio16 1


Reim 773

Congratulations to your result. I love to see Targ kill decks doing so well at a big tournament. Do you normally get 15 Power or do your opponent's concede because you killed every useful character?

zack 126

thanks for sharing, this is a very interesting spin on a deck that I already liked in its previous version!

a few thoughts:

dukayn 2

Just a note, in your report you said Buzz was playing Tyrell when it was actually Targ :-)

Great deck and great write up, awesome work and congrats on Top 16!

Ebrey 147

@Reim I never had anyone concede, but in half of the games both my opponent and I knew it was over turn 1. Most games ended pretty quickly, and in almost all my wins my opponents had 3 or less power. They just couldn't win any challenges!

@zack - I think I want PD to become 2nd coppers. Might be worth testing if VD is better than VM though? I dunno. -Littlefinger's Meddling seems great in Rains decks with PTTS, but I've never loved it. Having to do an INT that wins by 5 and then a MIL that wins by 5 can be a bit awkward. Saving 2 gold is pretty easy when Qotho is free :). -Definitely worth trying out Slaver's Bay Port over Kingsroad, I just find Ports to be big tempo hits outside of Fealty. In Fealty you can guarantee they don't lose you a gold on the first turn you play them.

@dukayn Doh! Fixed.

Reim 773

I played some games with your deck on ironthrone. I love it.