|Card draw simulator|
Odds: 0% – 0% – 0% more
|None. Self-made deck here.|
|Baratheon Crossing, 3-1 in Baltic League||2||1||0||1.0|
I had the pleasure of playing on Team Baratheon for Thrones W.A.R. 2018 and this is the deck I settled on. I went 6-2 while Angela and Lance on my team each went 3-4 with it, producing a total deck record of 12-10.
Prior to W.A.R., I had never brought Bara to a tournament and I had probably only played a handful of games with them ever. In my early testing with Bara, I was intrigued by the power of Queen's Men. It's like a Seen In Flames and a Fiery Followers packed into a single card. Sure, there is the downside that you can only discard non-characters and you need to kneel a non- character, but maybe we could get around that.
I've recently had success at US Nationals and Worlds by using rush/aggro decks with Targ Rose and Targ Crossing, so my natural instinct was to look for a rush deck in Bara. I'm not a big fan of pure rush decks, but I thought there might be potential for a rush/control deck out of Bara. Bara's R'hllor cards seemed like a great control package to build around with all of the kneel and hand destruction. The hand destruction tech also has nice synergy with Heads on Spikes, a staple of rush decks, because it allows you to set it up instead of just rolling the die. Now, the Queen's Men non-character restriction is not such of an issue.
However, in order to trigger Queen's Men, you need non- characters to kneel. The best rush agenda is The Lord of the Crossing, so that is where I started. Without a banner, neutral characters are the only option. Where can I find a bunch of cheap neutral characters that synergize with my rush strategy? Enter the Freys.
Frey Lordling and Frey Bastard slot perfectly into the deck. The Frey Bastards can give you power with their bestow ability even if they are knelt, and the Frey Lordlings get to a whopping 7 STR for the third challenge to help ensure you get the crossing power. They also open up a fun Bara rush card via Disputed Claim. In a crossing deck like this, the downside of Disputed Claim is almost never a factor. Even if you are down by a few power going into your 3rd challenge, it will likely be turned on by the time you get to renown after you get the power from Crossing, Superior Claim, unopposed, and/or power claim. Both the Bastards and Lordlings can take the attachment, and they can even potentially grab 2 renown in the same turn via Walder Frey. Putting power on non-uniques can be risky since they can't be saved with dupes, but the Lordlings can even use Bodyguards to make sure their power sticks around.
The deck originally had a suite of 1x locations that you could fetch via Support of the People, including The Red Keep, The Iron Throne, Chamber of the Painted Table, and The Twins. But, we found that the locations didn't contribute enough towards the rush strategy. Also, with The House With the Red Door being so new, we were expecting a lot of Frozen Solid and other location control at W.A.R. So, we ended up cutting the non-limited locations and putting in our own Political Disaster.
CENTERPIECES OF THE DECK
Melisandre (Core) is the most important character. A kneel on your opponent's Tywin, Drogo, or Euron not only slows down their game plan, but it makes it far easier to win your first two challenges and often leads to unopposed challenges that crossing decks feed on. Plus, she is also a great target for Disputed Claim to get some extra power and get her out of burn range.
Queen's Men, Seen In Flames, and 2x Heads on Spikes are what makes the deck consistent. They allow you to neutralize your opponent's options and the Heads on Spikes can be devastating after you get to set it up. Did Seen in Flames show you Tywin and a Roseroad in hand? Discard the Roseroad, then hit Tywin with Spikes the next turn! Additionally, the knowledge of whether or not your opponent has a Dracarys!, Vengeance for Elia, or "Lord Renly's Ride" is extremely valuable when you are planning to make 3 challenges every turn and leave yourself vulnerable.
- Robert Baratheon and Walder Frey are the closers. Bob is amazing because he can singlehandedly win the first challenge and kneel someone to setup later challenges, or you can save him for the third challenge, swing for 30 STR, and kneel anyone you want. Walder Frey isn't as strong by himself, but is great when you have Lordlings and Bastards on the table, especially if they have a Disputed Claim. 1x Beric Dondarrion is also a good closer, and is protected against Milk of the Poppy by 3x Maester Cressen and against Nightmares by Queen's Men and Seen in Flames. The 1x Seal of the Hand can go a long way on any of these guys.
2x Heads on Spikes are obvious. They are common in crossing decks and are pure gold when you can set them up. Note - Heads on Spikes should not be used as an opener. It's best to wait until after a Queen's Men or Seen In Flames, and even if you get the 2 power that just means your opponent can take one away from you on a power challenge.
Valar Dohaeris was an obvious reset of choice. Valar Morghulis is not good in crossing because you need lots of characters on the board. The deck has a fairly low cost curve with a limited number of big guys, so Valar Dohaeris is better than Wildfire Assault. It can also work to get rid of a Milk of the Poppy on Melisandre (Core) in a pinch.
Political Disaster was largely a Thrones W.A.R. meta call. We were expecting a lot of banner Wolf (for Frozen Solid), banner Kraken (for Newly-Made Lord), and Nothing Burns Like The Cold run out of the HRD decks. Because of that, we only ran non-limited locations. With 3 of those as The Kingsroad, it's rare that we have more than 3 locations in play. We also expected a decent amount of Trade Routes, which this destroys.
Summer Harvest is a great opener in crossing decks. You really want to go 2nd on turn 1 so that you don't need to defend the power challenge, and you can let your opponent get an unopposed power so you can steal it back. It's absolutely amazing against another common opener, Late Summer Feast, because you can empty your hand, and then use the forced reaction to either refill your hand or make your opponent give you unopposed challenges.
- Time of Plenty is another alternate opener and the lone source of card draw in the plot deck. This slot used to be Counting Coppers, but I almost never used it. Sometimes you just need the safe opener when neither Summer Harvest or Trading with the Pentoshi would be ideal. Also, letting your opponent draw an extra card can sometimes be good because your Heads on Spikes don't do any good if your opponent has no cards in hand.
Round 1 vs Ryan Jones (Lanni Crossing) - This is my first Thrones WAR and the first time I've met the legendary Ryan Jones. So, of course I get matched up against him first round and they even put it on the stream! Not going to lie, I was a bit nervous. I didn't seen any Queen's Men or Seen In Flames in this game, but Melisandre (Core) and 2x Milk of the Poppy (on Tywin and Jaime) provided the control I needed. Thankfully, Ryan didn't see any of his I Never Bet Against My Family. Despite the fact that both of my Heads on Spikes whiffed (and both of his hit), I felt pretty well in control all game. Thoros of Myr added 2 renown and Robert Baratheon closed things out. Win, 1-0 - Angela won vs Lanni Sun - Lance lost vs Lanni Rains - Team Bara went 6-7
Round 2 vs Lucas "Syd" Sydlaske (NW Crossing) - I was expecting a builders matchup, which I felt prepared for with Political Disaster and 3x Maester Cressen. But instead I ran into Syd's ranger crossing build that revolves around Haunted Forest Scout, Jon Snow (Core), and Grenn. Qhorin Halfhand was an early threat, but Syd didn't have any other power icons for a while and I had a Begging Brother, so Quorin wasn't able to kill anyone. He had 2 Messenger Ravens early, so I wasn't able to control his hand as well as I normally can. This highlight of the match was when I got up to something like 13-5 and flipped Heads on Spikes into his Valar Dohaeris. Of the 8 cards in hand, he had 7 characters and of course I hit the one non-character! I had to lose some renown power with the reset and it was a struggle from there, but I was able to hold on and close it out. Thankfully Grenn never made it to the table, because he would have slowed me down immensely. Win, 2-0 - Angela lost vs NW Rains - Lance lost vs NW Wolf - Team Bara went 5-8
Round 3 vs Corey Briggs (Stark Kraken) - He setup only two characters with no military icons, and I setup 3 characters with a nice spread of icons. We both opened Summer Harvest and neither of us were able to play any characters, which was an advantage to me. After turn 1 he was down to 1 character and I had 4 power, so it was a tough road back for him. A milk on Roose Bolton and some kneels from Melisandre (Core) helped seal the deal. Win, 3-0 - Angela lost vs Stark Watch - Lance won vs Stark Watch - Team Bara went 6-7
Round 4 vs Tom Mellucci (GJ Rains) - Rains is always a tough matchup for Crossing decks because you can't limp in the intrigue challenge without threatening Rains. The game started pretty well for me as my Summer Harvest hit his Late Summer Feast and he wasn't able to trigger Rains. I got out Robert Baratheon with a Bodyguard and Seal of the Hand and was ready to dominate. But then Tom flipped Weapons at the Door, leaving me with no saves, and pulling my one Melisandre (Core) with intrigue claim going into his Valar Morghulis turn. I was able to reflood with Beric Dondarrion and a few others, but he had Victarion Greyjoy and an 8 STR Silence's Crew that I couldn't get past. Loss, 3-1 - Angela won vs GJ Rains - Lance won vs GJ Rose - Team Bara went 8-5
Round 5 vs Chris Thompson (Martell Wolf) - I was somewhat worried about this matchup because attrition can be problem due to my poor card draw. I setup a duped Walder Frey and two reducers. He had to use Harrenhal (GoH) on my Queen's Men to protect his Ward, of which he used two. He was never quite able to get rid of Walder Frey and I was able to keep enough characters on the board to survive. If he had seen a Ramsay Snow to make me sacrifice Walder, I probably would have lost. Win, 4-1 - Angela won vs Martell Stag - Lance lost vs Martell Rose - Team Bara went 5-7
Round 6 vs Alejandro (Targ Fealty) - Targ is always a tough matchup, but I felt pretty good because my hand destruction can hit his the burn events. I knew Alejandro was running Varys's Riddle and I knew he knew I normally open Summer Harvest. So I opened with Trading with the Pentoshi and got to start with a nice 13 gold. I played Queen's Men to discard his Astapor and I saw that he would be able to play Mirri Maz Duur and Plaza of Pride. So, I marshalled accordingly to make sure my Melisandre (Core) would be safe. Alejandro wasn't running much card draw and my Seen In Flames hit his Littlefinger (one of the few times I actually chose a character with it). By turn 4 or 5 we were both top decking. He never had an opportunity to play any burn events, and I was able to close it out. This was one of the few matchups that I actually played Political Disaster, since he was forced to choose between Flea Bottom, Plaza of Pride, and his economy. Win, 5-1 - Angela lost vs Targ Crossing - Lance lost vs Targ Fealty - Team Bara went 9-4
Round 7 vs Zi Deng (Tyrell HRD) - Zi said the he normally started with Bitterbridge Encampment, but he went with Highgarden against me because he didn't want to accelerate the rush. Highgarden was somewhat annoying, but not terrible to work around. It mostly meant that I had to send Walder Frey on the 2nd challenge instead of the 3rd to make sure he got his renown. I got lucky and hit Mace Tyrell with a Heads on Spikes and was able to control the game from there. Win, 6-1 - Angela lost vs Tyrell HRD - Lance won vs Tyrell Stag - Team Bara went 9-4
- Top 32 vs Alex Esposito (NW Rains) - I mulliganed into a 2 card setup, but thankfully Alex setup Maester Aemon (Core). Here to Serve is a common NW opener and is bad for Summer Harvest, so I knew he wouldn't open that and he couldn't open Riddle. My Summer Harvest hit his Late Summer Feast and I was able to establish a board. Alex played carefully to keep me from getting too much power. He had Craster and was able to leverage a one-sided Valar Dohaeris. I reflooded the board, but he hit me with another one-sided Valar Morghulis (Craster OP!). Then he got out Jon Snow (WotW) and Satin and I was in trouble. Craster (with a Noble Lineage and Dragonglass Dagger) neutered my Valar Dohaeris and I wasn't able to stop the Wall for several turns. I had gotten up to 10 or 11 power, but ran out of steam. Loss - Team Bara went 2-3 in Top 32 and 0-2 in Top 16, finishing in 3rd place
Overall, I was very happy with how the deck performed and would not have made any changes. Political Disaster was my least used plot, but I was still glad to have it. The Thrones WAR meta is different than a normal meta because you know you are playing each faction once, so it may need some tweaks if anyone brings it to a normal tournament. The deck didn't go 0-3 or 3-0 against any faction. "The Rains of Castamere" has traditionally been of tough matchup vs The Lord of the Crossing because you can't limp in an intrigue challenge. That was the case here as we went 1-4 vs Rains while going 11-6 vs everything else. So, keep that in mind if you are expecting a Rains-heavy meta.
Team Baratheon got 3rd place, which I think exceeded everyone's expectations. For comparison, Team Stark (the other of the two factions that nobody wanted to play) ended up in last place. In addition to the three of us on Crossing, we had two people on Banner Dragon (11-6), three on Banner Kraken (11-11), three on Banner Sun (10-13), one on HRD (4-3) and one on Banner Rose (3-4). Everyone on the team was amazing and it was great to build decks with so many experienced players!
Regarding Bara in general, I think I agree with the masses that they are one of the weaker factions right now. Other than a few 1x's, the only non-Core Set Bara cards in the deck are Queen's Men and Disputed Claim. Queen's Men to me is the undeniably best Bara card since the core set. Sniper Melisandre (GtR) is probably the second best, but she has to compete with Core Mel. Not to mention that most of their playable cards are non-loyal, so there is even less motivation to play main house Bara.
Thrones W.A.R. was the best tournament I've been to. I thoroughly loved the team aspect and the community, and I enjoyed the opportunity to build decks with one of the allegedly weaker factions. Big thanks to Ryan Jones and the SoCal crew for putting it on. I hope to be back next year, as I'm sure it will be even bigger!