"Pity the Fool" Winner: Brighton Store Championship

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Reader 137

Here is a long ass report on my build and the tournament in which the build went unbeaten for 6 games to grab me my first Store Championship title.

Thank you to Joe and Gabbi for putting on the tournament at Dice Saloon in Brighton. The extra prize support was great! Thank you to Ben Hunt and the Swedish meta, especially my Sun and Stars; Georges Chayeb. I feel the build came out of my experience of playing against these guys. Thank you to both Aldershot and Reading meta’s... these guys are my valued teachers, they have to put up with a lot of Lewising (spamming)... I am afraid this may continue. Finally, thank you to the Cross Keys meta for getting us all blind drunk the night before. I proudly completed the Maester's Path... and some!!

Why Martell banner Stag?

Due to the introduction of Valar Dohaeris, I wanted to build a deck that could take advantage of the inevitable lower curve builds. I also find that I really enjoy playing builds where the jump into play during the challenges phase. With ‘jumpers’ your opponent can never be sure what to expect. Other than Clansmen and Bloodriders, I wanted to see what else I could build in this style.

The build was born out of 3 cards: The First Snow of Winter, Martell’s Spearmaiden, and Baratheon’s Motley attachment.

First Snow seemed like a good shout to tackle low curve decks, but I needed to make sure that bouncing characters back to my own hand would hurt my opponent and work in my favour. seemed to have the most characters that would benefit from a second use. Hotah, Dornish Spy, and Southron Messenger are very impactful characters, all with ambush and the ability to re-enter play on my First Snow turn through Arianne’s triggered ability. Greenblood Trader and Vanguard Lancer also benefits from a second use.

I had been thinking about how underrated and underused Spearmaiden seemed to be. I thought she might work really well in a lower curve meta. If I can back her up with a high STR Mil icon entering play after my opponent had finished their challenges, she should be able to kill anyone. She had a good day, killing Euron and Daenery’s.

The inclusion of the Motley attachment was inspired by Aldershot’s Ben Hunt. Ben utterly destroyed my hand with the attachment in one of our casual games. I liked the idea of a build that was aggressive against the hand, limiting my opponents options, and strengthening the threat from the Spearmaiden. Motley x3 and His Viper Eyes x3 gets results. Once I had chosen to include Motley, I decided not to include any R’hllor cards. Kneeling my opponents board didn’t appeal to me. Instead, I wanted to punish them for making challenges. I also didn’t want Melisandre x3 in my build. She needs to be on the board, and once she is dead, the other R’hllor cards have a much lower impact, and I’m left with dead cards in my draw deck.

I’m only running 28 . The draw is good and you want to keep the board small anyway. There are very few dupes to draw. The builds most valuable character and focus is Arianne. She is the only unique character that runs at x3, hence Close Call. Most of the 5 cost characters enter play via Arianne’s trigger. I usually Marshall Spearmaiden, as she is reducible. I had no problem keeping Arianne in the game at the Store Championship, although there were a few close calls. Calvin managed to Nightmares her to keep her in play for the marshalling phase of the following round, at which stage he attached Milk of the Poppy to her. I used her for Military claim, then flipped Close Call to bring her back to life, before marshalling a fresh copy.

Hotah and Davos are both at x2. Hotah can be reused with First snow, Marched/Flea Bottom, and Davos never seems to die. Davos can even die during my opponent’s challenges, then reappear with Arianne when I retaliate. Both of these unique characters go out of their way to backup a Spearmaiden, as well as being strong and tricky in their own way.

In at x3, City Watch was close to mvp at the weekend. At 6 STR they really back up the Spearmaiden, helping her trigger. Never marshalled, just brought in with Arianne or using Ambush. I found City Watch a great card against . They can go toe to toe with Second Sons, and these guys stick around. Not easy to burn either.

Probably the most effective card on the day was Dornish Spy. They are particularly effective against a Crossing deck. Also a great Flea Bottom card.

Edric Dayne didn’t do anything proactive on the day, he certainly had no place on the board against Targaryen, but he was a huge distraction for Margery Tyrell... she seems to have a fondness for young boys!! Eddy is useful against Greyjoy, but will be the only card to drop from the build. He will be replaced by a Maester of Sunspear.

Greenblood Trader and Desert Scavenger are both auto includes at 3 each. However, Elia and Nymeria Sand are both single cards in the deck. Both can be extremely impactful, but I didn’t want to be drawing any dead cards. Always drawing options and tricks is key to the success of this deck. Dead cards in your hand do nothing. Southron Messenger is also a great x1. The build originally ran 2 each of Southron Messenger and Dornish Spy, but I found Dornish Spy much more effective, particularly in a heavy Crossing Meta. A single Southron Messenger can work wonders late on in a game. When an opponent has loaded up a big beefy renown char with power, use Dornish Spy or Nymeria to reduce the icons into Southron Messenger range, then adios, back to hand, ready for my intrigue challenge or Motley and His Viper Eyes.

I wanted to run a couple of Bastard Daughter’s for extra hand destruction, but needed 2 Baratheon cards to fulfil agenda conditions. So I opted for Vanguard Lancer. On the day I actually prefered running the Vanguard Lancer’s over the Bastard Daughter, as it didn’t put my opponents off Military challenges, and he would help reduce the arrears when the build inevitably went behind on power gained.


3x Motley and 1 Venomous Blade. Motley is great in a Courtier meta. It does some amazing work along with His Viper Eyes. My opponents had to work hard to protect their hand. Double Motley on one key character can remove all your opponents hidden options. Great on First Snow plot too. Venomous Blade is fantastic, I usually place it on a Spearmaiden to make her strong enough by herself. I’d run 2 if I had the space.


The usual 9 economy locations plus one copy of Water Gardens. The Iron Thrones x3 and Chamber of the Painted Table x2... these are key locations. I never ran into Stark or Wolf banner, so didn’t have to worry about Frozen solid. If I had of come up against Wolf cards, my plan was to go to work on opponents hand as aggressively as possible before marshalling these. These enable the build to pull back from quite a large power deficit. Flea Bottom is great, not needed early on, but really good once you discard after First Snow. Ghaston Grey is always a good card to have. It went in as x1 to attract any Frozen Solids. I saw it twice on the day, it was very effective both times. Still happy at x1 though.


The two key events in the build are Burning on the Sand and His Viper Eyes. Burning on the Sand allows you to soak up pressure, and use tricks, then hit back. His Viper Eyes and Motley work effectively to strip opponents hand and shrink their options. Burning on the Sand is vulnerable to a Hands Judgement. I would always use His Viper Eyes before playing Burning on the Sand. That way they use the Hands Judgement on His Viper Eyes or they lose it. Vengeance was great at x2. I used it sparingly, waiting for the moment it would be most impactful, usually opponents 2 claim plots. Surprisingly, I didn’t use Secret Schemes much, I found that I always had good options and didn’t need to go digging. To be honest, it nearly lost me the game in the Final against Joel, but we’ll get to that.


Vary’s Riddle was my opener for every game. I wasn’t trying to hit anything in particular, but it gave me the initiative in every first round, plus the gold is pretty good. If I didn’t see econ in my set up, I would mulligan... no doubt... econ was crucial.

Close Call - Arianne.

The First Snow of Winter - Most valuable plot. I’m a big fan of First Snow. Once it is in the plot deck, Marched to the Wall falls in naturally as a follow on. Arianne and Ambush allows you to bounce those impactful characters that had to return to hand. I found I could cause serious damage on the First Snow turn, and with Marched to the Wall as the follow up, you can usually send a big impactful character up the Kingsroad.

Retaliation is perfect for this build, it usually puts your opponent first and it can really put the pressure on. You tend to go behind with this build, but as soon as you have destroyed your opponent’s Hand with Motley and His Viper Eyes, and got a grip on the board state, Retaliation can make up the areas pretty quick.

This is certainly a Valar Dohaeris build. I was very comfortable running Valar Morghulis, and have never before ran a tournament build without it. I was worried that I might miss Valar Morghulis in a few of my games... I never did. Valar Dohaeris was spot on. It keeps the board small, which is a key aim of the build. My opponent rarely had more than 3 chars on the board. I’d usually be marshalling Arianne, perhaps a chud, and jumping the rest in with Arianne, Ambush or Flea Bottom.

Dice Saloon Store Championship Tournament report

Round 1 vs Calvin Green, Baratheon - Banner of the Rose ... Mod Win

Calvin’s build wants to go first, so that he can use Bob’s intimidate, forced kneel from new Margery Tyrell and Melisandre, as well as Renly’s Ride. I want to go second, but worry that I’ll have no characters left standing to retaliate with. We both Mulligan, but Calvin comes off better. I believe he set up Margery, King Bob with a bodyguard, a chud, a Courtier, and a Dragonstone Port. My mulligan handed me what turned out to be my worst set up of the day, and left me without the pieces I really needed in my hand. No sign of Arianne. At the very least, I had managed to set up some econ, along with a Dornish Spy and a Spearmaiden. I think I marshalled a Greenblood Trader and Edric Dayne. Calvin gets to work on me, kneeling my board so that I cannot make a challenge. I can’t even use Burning on the Sand as Margery is forcing me to oppose. He starts to build a strong lead. I need to shrink his board, so out come my resets. I play Valar D first, in the hopes of leaving Bob on his own. But Calvin rightly keeps Margery on the board and Bob takes his leave. Margery had done the better work, and continued to do so. She acts the fool for a while, with a Motley attachment, but First Snow allows me to get my Spearmaiden trigger off. Marched to the Wall begins to get me back in the game. It was plot 4 before I managed to gain my first , by that time Calvin had seen 8, although 2 had vanished with Bob. This is when I finally saw Arianne, then Chamber of the Painted Table and Iron Throne. With these 3 cards, I managed to get ahead just in time to take a Mod Win.

It was only the second time I had played my build with cards, and after getting bullied for the first 4 rounds, I thought I was a goner. To be able to take down a player as cool and calm as Calvin, and a board that had King Bob, Margery, Courtier and eventually Melisandre, when I had not seen any of my key pieces, gave me great confidence in my plots and the build.

Round 2 vs James Parsons, Tyrell - The Lord of the Crossing ... Win

We both had good setups: chars and econ locations. James was on Knights, STR boosts such as Jousting Pavilion and Growing Strong, plus Renly’s Ride. He took a strong lead, but I knew I could shrink his board right down and take control. He gained a bunch of on his Knights during through his Tourney plot. I allowed this to happen, as I knew that First Snow was about to clear it all away. First Snow, Marched, Dornish Spy and 2 Motley attachments gave me a grip on the game. At one point James forgot to use a reducer, which would have left him 1 gold for the only card left in his hand; Growing Strong. But the event wouldn’t have helped with as Dornish Spy was in Hand to remove any useful standing icons. I had taken the lead by this time, and the result seemed inevitable to me. I had a strong board and a hand full of tricks. James graciously conceded and we went for lunch.

Round 3 vs George Ankers, Greyjoy - The Rains of Castamere ... Win

George had a poor mulligan and only managed to set up 2 Lordsport Shipwrights. One Shipwright set up with a Littlebird attachment... double icon! allowing George to draw back up an extra card. He seemed desperate to draw cards. I had a feeling my Riddle would hit a Counting Coppers, and so it did.

After set up and marshalling, the Greyjoy board had 2 Shipwrights, an Iron Islands Fishmonger, a Sea Tower, an Iron Mines and an Acolyte of the Waves. I think my setup was a Spearmaiden, Greenblood Trader, Roseroad and Water Gardens. I Marshalled a Venomous Blade to kill the first Shipwright. I then managed to discard another Shipwright with my claim, and managed to trigger Spearmaiden to kill his 3rd Shipwright. Never before have I managed to remove all of my opponents 3 Shipwrights from the game in the first round!! This was crucial, as I was soon to marshall Chamber of the Painted Table and Ghaston Grey.

We soon see the entrance of Euron with Seal of the hand. George managed to We Do Not Sow my Table, but I managed to control Euron and keep it in my discard pile. My 5 STR Spearmaiden eventually selected him for claim. Euron attempted to defend, but in bounced Hotah to remove him from the challenge and enable the Spearmaiden trigger. George had used his Iron Mines earlier, but if Risen from the Sea had saved Euron, I would have have lost my Table and might have had a tougher time of it.

I soon managed to reduce my opponents board to a Newly Made Lord with a Littlebird attached, and 1 copy of the Reader. A Dornish Spy appeared to make sure Rains would not trigger, Ghaston Grey sent Reader back to hand, Newly made Lord died, Reader was discarded and it was soon game.

This was way easier than it should have been. I credit the way I cut George’s deck ;)

Round 4 vs Ugnius Dovidauskas, Targaryen - The Lord of the Crossing ... Win

We were both 3-0 going into the battle. I was expecting a tough game. I managed to Riddle his first Heads on Spikes and kill Khal Drogo straight away. My opponent missed with both Heads on Spikes, plucking a location and Secret Schemes. I had to play around Dracarys and Flea Bottom, but as Ugnius was running Lord of the Crossing, he came at me with all challenges. This made it easy for me to use His Viper Eyes, Burning on the Sand, Vengeance, and hit back hard. Ugnius was far ahead on , but he was struggling to keep board presence. He managed to use Nightmares on Ghaston Grey to save Daenerys, but eventually she went back to hand and never came back out. In our final round Ugnius needed 2 power to win, I had caught up and now needed 3. I let him go first. It was very tense, and Ugnius took forever to make a move. When he eventually did, I managed to jump in enough STR to defend. City Watch were particularly good in this match up. At 6 STR, they are hard to burn. I managed to stop my opponent getting Crossing by bouncing in Nymeria to remove the icon from the Second Sons came in through Flea Bottom. I would then have been able to grab an unopposed power challenge, and use table and chair to past 15. It didn’t get that far as my opponent conceded and I grabbed my first ever King of Swiss title.

Semi Final vs Calvin Green, Baratheon - Banner of the Rose ... Win

The first round against Calvin had been the toughest game for me. I had been his punch bag for 4 rounds. I was less than confident about the rematch.

Calvin apparently had King Bob in hand from the start, but didn’t want to marshall him until I had flipped Valar D. Margery had double Motley attached early on, so she was not risked in a challenge, in order to keep Calvin’s prize in hand. I had Table out early, but Calvin twice discarded Iron Throne from my hand using Queens Men, he was also looking for my His Viper Eyes, which hadn’t made an appearance yet. My resets soon got a grip on the game. Spearmaiden killed Margery, and I marched Melisandre. Bob came out duped, but he didn’t have much around him. Calvin used Renly’s Ride to kneel my board, but I was able to jump characters in, remove icons and keep control. My Retaliation plot put me in the driver seat and I was soon over the finish line, and into my first Store Championship final.

Final vs Joel Pearson, Targaryen - Fealty ... Mod Win

This was certainly the most interesting game of the day. Maybe not for anyone watching, but it was great to play in. Joel was playing his Targaryen Fealty build, which had won the Warboar Store Championship the previous day. For me, Joel is one of the top 4 or 5 players in the UK. He builds some of the most interesting and dynamic builds, and is a tough opponent. Luckily for me, he is a meta friend who I play a lot. I felt surprisingly relaxed going into the final, and I was prepared for any mind games.

It appeared that Joel had chosen an approach to our game that seemed out of sorts for an aggressive house such as Targaryen. As first player, Joel only ever probed with an challenge. He kept well clear from attacking with a Mil or Power, knowing that was where my tricks sprang from. Instead Joel chose to leave enough STR on his board to stop me from winning any challenges. I believe that Joel was biding his time, building up power slowly through his one unopposed challenge, and waiting for me to slip up so that he could roast my key characters. The first part was working. He was slowly taking a strong lead, and I couldn’t grab anything back on the rebound.

For the first time that day, my First Snow flip didn’t help me. This was due to Joel meeting it with Fortified Position, canceling my character triggers that would have hit hard against his small board. The resets were not the key to this game. His Flea Bottom was well fed, and I believe that his plots were making me think harder than my plots were making him think. Joel eventually flipped Blood of the Dragon, won a challenge with Viserion to reclaim 2x A Dragon is no Slave from his discard pile. Arianne was in clear and very present danger. I could either wait for Joel to use 1 Dragon is no Slave, then jump her back to hand, or bring her back straight away before a Nightmares could keep her on the board for roasting!! It was a very close call. I think it was the slip up Joel was waiting for, so I’m glad it was avoided. It did mean that Hotah bounced in without using his trigger, but at least Arianne would see another round.

A quick side note: Spearmaiden managed to trigger twice on Daenerys, successfully seeing her off the second time and returning 2 copies of Motley to my hand.

So... it all came down to round 6. Time was called at the very start of the round, so there was no rush. Joel flipped The Annals of Castle Black, giving him access to Nightmares, a Hands Judgment, and Fire and Blood. I had access to Burning on the Sand and a Vengeance.

We now have a key moment... at the start of my marshalling as second player, I attempt to play Secret Schemes. I don’t really want the cards; my hand seems good enough, but I want him to use his Hands Judgment so that I can use my Burning on the Sand. I need to be able to soak up some pressure and hit back, in order to have any chance of catching up. Instead of using the Hands Judgement, Joel plays Words are Wind from his hand... not what I was expecting! There is no way I want him to draw Dracarys (which I was yet to see in two Targaryen matchups) so I allow the event to be cancelled. My secret Schemes would have seen me draw 5 cards - keep this in mind ;)

After my marshalling, I believe my board consisted of Arianne, a City Watch, Davos Seaworth, Hotah, Spearmaiden with a Venomous Blade attached. I attach Motley to Jorah and his marshalled Second Sons and sit on 6 gold. Joel pushes through an challenge with Jorah, losing a card to Motley but gaining a second renown power on Jorah. I don’t want to risk Arianne, so the challenge went unopposed. I forget my Burning on the Sand (Annals), but this would have likely been cancelled with Hands Judgment anyway. Joel then goes in for a challenge with Viserion, which I also give him unopposed, as he has plenty of gold plus 2x a Dragon is No Slave in hand, a standing Second Son and one ready to come in through Flea Bottom. He will Nightmares My Davos (and does), so stealth will not help me. I need all my power icons to retaliate. I bounce Arianne back to hand as I don’t want to risk her in a challenge, bringing in a Dornish spy. I remove the icon from his standing Second Son. Joel passes challenges.

Worried that I won’t be able to push through a challenge, knowing that I’ll have to get past 2 Second Sons plus Viserion, I attempt a nervy challenge, where my Spearmaiden selects Second Sons over a knelt Jorah holding onto 2 power tokens. If I can kill the Second Son, I can surely push through the power. Through Dracarys on my Dornish Spy and an inbound Second Son, I successfully win the challenge but not with enough STR to choose my victim. Joel Kills Viserion and duly brings him back in with Fire & Blood.

I manage to squeeze through my challenge, grab Dom with Iron Throne and remove a power with Chamber of the painted Table. I have managed to pull level at the very end.

So, we go to a deck count.

I believe the judge counted my draw deck at 32 cards, and Joel’s at 28.... That Secret Schemes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Reader 137

Correction: The final was won by 2 cards in deck, 32-30

scantrell24 3245

Thanks for sharing your list! It's cool to see Spearmaiden doing work.

Reader 137

Cheers @scantrell24 She seems to work really well in the current meta. I'm still playing around with this build, and she kills big guys and gals all the time. With all the tricks, just having one out is enough.

I've dropped Secret Schemes for now, the draw seemed fine, although it will probably go back. My latest version runs an extra Water Gardens and an extra Blade. Eric has also been dropped for a Sunspear Maester.

tejastrails 1

I love the look of this deck, thank you for sharing. How does the deck handle things like Barring the Gates, Begging Brother, Nightmares, or Treachery? All of these would seem to cause problems for Arianne and the other ambush/come into play abilities.

Reader 137

Hi @tejastrails

The build can survive all of these, it is not attempting to win fast, so you can just bide your time. There are lots of things to soak up a Nightmares, and you always seem to have other tricks and options. Running 3x Arianne is key, as I've had to kill or March her due to Milk, then Close Call. She is pretty hardy.

Begging Brother is a pain for anyone, but hopefully you have removed that option from opponents hand with Motley or HVE. Even then, they can bring him in with Flea Bottom. You can First Snow a Begging Brother, and with this build the intrigue retaliation can get great results.

I'm tempted to try 2x Queens men in place of Vanguard Lancer or Secret Schemes. This would remove Nightmares or soak up Treachery. The build actually handled Nightmares fine on the day of the Store Champs. I never saw either Barring the Gates, Begging Brother, or Treachery. The biggest issue I had on the day was my opponent meeting my First Snow with Fortified Position. I was safe enough, but it stopped me from really hurting them with my triggers on the rebound.

If you get chance to run the build, let me know if you come up against any problems. I'd be interested to see how we can tackle these. But I generally find that the build has many answers and multiple options.

axCent 1

My Dornish brother <3