Diplomatic Disaster (26 out of 310, Stahleck 2018)

Card draw simulator
Odds: 0% – 0% – 0% more
Derived from
None. Self-made deck here.
Inspiration for
"The Shadow Garden" - 5th 3-1 (17p) 3 4 0 1.0

jcwamma 2795

This is the deck that I took to a 7-3 record at Stahleck a couple of weekends ago, and that Chris Schoenthal took to the top 8 of Red Saturday last weekend. Apologies for the delayed posting, it was under embargo for a week (though not for Chris funnily).

The usual thanks to the Ukuleles for helping with the build, as well as some extra input from the Long Lances.

I knew the moment we had confirmation that Daggers in the Dark would be legal for Stahleck that I wanted to build around Assault from the Shadows. I don't think the agenda is super-strong (although it isn't weak either by any means), but it's very me. The ability to use the shadows mechanic for hidden tricks, for screwing with game mechanics, as a basic econ saving or simply to protect cards from intrigue claim is right up my alley. Of course my first try was going to be with Tyrell, both because of my own vague semi-loyalty to the faction (we have what I think is called an Open Relationship) and because the shadows version of The Queen of Thorns that released this cycle is ridiculously good with the agenda. I can use Assault to put Renly Baratheon into shadows, then bring him out for free? As a wise man once said, "sign me the *@!$ up, sailor!"

As for the economic downside of the agenda? Well, between the tricks you can play with limited locations (i.e. use the agenda to get 2 out in one round; or put a Roseroad in shadows during the opponent's marshaling then bring it out before you count your gold so you have one gold extra to play with; or store a Roseroad in shadows until after the Political Disaster), the sheer supreme economy Tyrell has, and the Queen of Thorns triggers, it's really not a problem. In 10 games I felt econ-choked zero times.

This was almost a substantially different deck. It originally had in it Jaqen H'ghar, Ser Mark Mullendore and much more. The restricted was 7g Mace at 1 copy. Ultimately though I wasn't thrilled about how top-heavy the deck was. Even with Tyrell's economy and the potential cheating in of bigs with Margaery, Mark and Olenna, I just found myself consistently having to pitch cards to reserve. It also felt like I was leaving some of the strongest cards on the table - or rather, in the binder. In the aggro-heavy meta we remain, and as long as we do Flea Bottom is just a phenomenal card. The low base of "claimsoak" is enough to justify the location as the restricted of choice, even when you're running Political Disaster - and never mind all the other tricks past that. To that end I wanted to put in other cards to accommodate Flea Bottom - Close Call in the plot deck; Left and Right; Oldtown Informers; up to 3 Shrewd Diplomats. This resulted in me cutting a lot of the more fun, interesting cards in order to make space. After that with my eye-in for making changes I cut the 4-costers in their entirety - bye Mark, bye Garlan, bye (HoT) The Knight of Flowers. The reason for this was simple, Ward. Between my Worlds deck and Lennart's, I was sure this would be everywhere at Stahleck and I wanted to make sure it wouldn't be good value against me. It leaves the deck slightly weak to First Snow, but that's mostly out of the meta, and between the agenda, shadows/ambush and Flea Bottom, I wasn't too concerned. These changes did have the knock-on effect of making Margaery worse, so I reduced her to 2 copies. And with those 17 cards changed the morning of the tournament, I was ready to roll.

Last thing those changes did was vastly improve the setups - there's a few bigs (Brienne, Marge, Randyll, Renly, KoF, Arbor), but other than those 11 cards and 5 non-setup cards, out of the other 46 cards in this deck 45 of them can be setup for 2 gold or less (the 46th being Garth the Gross).

With those changes implemented, I suppose the ethos of the deck is "relatively boring GoodStuff"? Probably none of the cards in the list are surprising choices, or if they are then they're relatively straightforward ones. To that end, let's go with a quick run down of the plots, then onto the modular breakdown of the deck.

Close Call - Contrary to rumours that it's a bad plot, I will run this in pretty much any deck that has both good 3x uniques and Flea Bottom. It almost always draws you a card in the current meta, but you're only usually flipping it when you're getting something out of the deadpile-moving anyway.

Exchange of Information - Cards are good. Exchange over Counting Coppers for two main reasons - firstly, I want to get A Pinch of Powder as soon as possible, and I'll very often be handed it this way; secondly, there's a relatively even split of cards and I will usually get at least 3 cards from this plot, making it equal to Coppers but with more gold and initiative (something I value higher than the secrecy Coppers provides, especially the gold in an Assault deck). Even the downside this plot often has of resulting in you getting an unwanted location dupe is somewhat mitigated by the next plot.

Political Disaster - The closest thing the deck has to secret sauce. Tyrell remains the faction best-poised to play locations and still run this plot, since its key economy cards are on unique (and therefore dupe-able) locations with big gold boosts, rather than spread across multiple locations like other factions. Defensively I can usually keep 3, 4 or even 5 locations, and it also allows me to not care about not having Confiscation - using this plot to get rid of Frozen Solid on your Flea Bottom then just play another (or even more fun, bring it out of shadows) is a sweet play. Another thing you can do using this, Roseroads and the agenda is keep one or two Roseroads in shadows, play PD, then before the marshalling phase bring those Roseroads out of shadows to immediately rebuild your econ.

So that's all the ways the deck can mitigate running PD despite having 18 locations. But why's it in the deck? Well, as meta-calls go it felt like a good one. The Martell Wolf that won Worlds has a lot of locations (boy would I have loved PD when I lost to it in the top four!), as do the Stark Fealty decks I had a feeling would be everywhere (and they're likely to chuck their unique location dupes to the Umber Loyalist rather than use them to dupe), and Greyjoy was sure to be in the upswing. Targ often needs a healthy backboard, particularly those not HRD Meereen, and at that point this plot was good against like 90% of the field.

Pulling the Strings - Fun journey this plot went on. Originally, I had Valar Morghulis in this slot. But I wrote the list on my phone, sent it to someone else (hi Joel!) to build on ThronesDB, and they accidentally selected Varys's Riddle in that slot instead. We didn't notice at first until I was playing games and finding myself lacking for a reset, but by that point I'd already fallen in love with Riddle. Then it was pointed out to me that Pulling the Strings is Tyrell's better version of Varys's Riddle so I made the swap. Getting to copy Trade Routes, Exchange of Information, Counting Coppers, Forced March and more was consistently excellent. It was never really a dead plot (other than round one or two obviously), which is all you can ask for really!

DAKINGINDANORF - Bad against Targ most of the time, but still great everywhere else - particularly Stark and Martell. Obviously the ideal scenario is I have Crown or Renly out and the opponent has no King, but with Shadows, Left/Right and the economy all not caring about triggered effects, it's not the end of the world if I don't have one and have to flip it. The way it shuts down opponents is that strong.

Time of Plenty - Yeah it's the best opener in the game you're wrong if you disagree stop bothering me. Amazingly for a plot I include in seemingly every deck, this is one of the changes I made the morning of the event!

Valar Dohaeris - I was on the fence with which reset to run. Certainly unlike Euros, A reset was mandatory. The shadows agenda sometimes means you start slowly, and Stark, Greyjoy and Targaryen (as well as other Tyrell decks) can vomit their hands out more effectively than this can. Ultimately I went D over M for my flavour of Valar because it's more consistent in how much it reduces the board, and with Left and Right it's just really easy to maintain a better boardstate than the opponent. I swear that roughly half the cardpool that's come out in this game has been designed to make me more and more wrong about their 1 out of 5 core set ratings... I do still miss Valar M as the first deck I've gone without it in for a few months, but I think this was the right call.

And with those out of the way, onto the modules!

Econ Module

Card Advantage/Draw Module

Using the agenda for economy Module

  • All the shadows cards except Scheming Septon
  • All the limiteds but particularly The Roseroad
  • The Queen of Thorns (I know she's also a shadows card but she's good enough to make this category twice)

Attrition/Character Control Module

Flea Bottom Module

  • Close Call
  • Flea Bottom
  • All 3 gold (or cheaper) characters, particularly:
  • Left
  • Oldtown Informer
  • Right
  • Scheming Septon
  • Shrewd Diplomat

Winning challenges is good Module

Nightmares and Hand's Judgement are great cards and belong in every deck (and "I don't have space" isn't a good enough excuse) Module

There may still be questions on the deck - if so, please put them below and I'll do my best to answer them. In the meantime, a brief TR:

  1. Round One - Juande - Night's Watch Greensight - Win

A really close game. He took my Queen of Thorns at the start of the game and never let go. However, I was mostly able to stop The Wall from taking much of substance, successfully putting crap in my discard to get taken instead and keeping some big characters on the table. A Garden Caretaker did impeccable work by remaining standing for basically the whole game to soak Hardhome. King in the North and Political Disaster also slowed him down with his plots. I was ahead in power when time was called, and think I could've gone on to win in a round or two but luckily didn't have to prove it.

  1. Round Two - Keb - Baratheon Faith Militant - Win

Not an ideal matchup, to say the least. I was behind for a long time in this game but came back into it through superior draw (Undercity getting round The High Sparrow was important) and Keb drawing rubbish.

  1. Round Three - Antonis - Stark Fealty - Win

Very similar to my Worlds deck (and served Antonis well as I was his only loss of the swiss). The game was tight for a while but he did not see Political Disaster coming at all and it shut him down pretty hard, giving me control of the game from there.

  1. Round Four - Wedge - Lanni Wars - Loss

A really tight game with both of us utilising Pinch of Powder as best we could. The deciding play was me being a complete moron - I meant to play Queen of Thorns but inexplicably played Garth the Gross instead (including paying 3 instead of 5 and outright saying "I marshal Garth" even though I'd completely intended to play QoT), and it prevented me from having enough STR to stop Pinch from wrecking my board. Wedge won next turn, having just enough to reach 15 before I could valar away 4+ power and seize board position.

  1. Round Five - Helmut - Greyjoy Crossing - Win

I was pretty comfortably in control from the start here. I had Left and Right round one and they slowed Helmut down a lot, and prevented him from ever being able to win by 5 on an intrigue or power challenge to get Raider/Pinch shenanigans going. Another game where Political Disaster was really important, too.

  1. Round Six - Stepan - Tyrell Rains - Win

My memory of this game is non-existent, for some reason. Something tells me it was a 15-0 drubbing, but I could be completely wrong about that. Sorry Stepan, please fill in the blanks if you see this!

  1. Round Seven - Antti - Targ HRD Meereen - Loss

Round one I over-extended slightly, having Left and a Highgarden Courtier in play and choosingto bring Right out of shadows as well in dominance when I didn't need to. Antti hit me with a very aggressive Valar round two, then I somehow drew zero chuds for the rest of the game while he proceeded to Targ me. Round three he had out Hizdahr, Drogo, Drogon, Second Sons and Plaza of Pride on 2 claim, and I couldn't maintain...well, anything. He closed round four.

  1. Round Eight - Liborhood - Targ Rains - Win

Breaking my "different faction and agenda every round" streak that had somehow stretched to 7, Liborhood gave me possibly the closest game of the entire tournament. In the last round the power totals were very even, but I knew if I were to have any chance I needed to bounce his Daenerys Targaryen with my Pinch. To that end, I brought Pinch out, pitching a chud to Oldtown Informer to make him burn his Meereenese Market trigger on it, and went in with the Informer and Renly on intrigue for 6 STR with 4 gold remaining. His hand then exploded as he vomited out Qotho and used a Hizdahr trigger to also bring out Quaithe of the Shadow for free, ejecting Oldtown Informer from the challenge. He then opposed with Qotho and Ser Jorah Mormont, confident that would be enough to stop my win by 5. I then got to bring Shrewd Diplomat out of shadows, stand and remove Qotho, trigger the Informer to discard another Shrewd Diplomat from hand, Flea Bottom that Diplomat into play to stand and remove Jorah, giving me a 5-0 unopposed win to trigger Pinch and bounce the loaded-up Dany back to hand. Phew! This put me ahead on board just enough to hold him off and I won on time something like 7-5 on power count.

  1. Top 64 - Martozar - Stark Fealty - Win

This was another really tight game that went to time. Martozar explains it very well in his own write-up. My recollection agrees with his - a really close, fun game in which I consistently got lucky with intrigue draws, both what I pulled from his hand and what he pulled from my hand. I sat comfortably-enough ahead on power with time called, but the game was up in the air and definitely still could have gone either way if we'd had infinity time. Still, that's the rules of timed games right? I'm sure this attitude won't come back to bite me in the top 32!

  1. Top 32 - Jakob - Stark Fealty - Loss

Yet another really close, competitive and enjoyable game. Jakob is a pretty good player for those unaware, and playing him is always a pleasure. Off my mulligan I lacked economy a tiny bit (a Roseroad on setup but that's really not enough), so I opened Exchange to try to play a more rope-a-dope style since if I just spent Time of Plenty with no econ put down then I'd be in trouble for the rest of the game. Jakob gave me a Roseroad, and in my 2 cards I drew that round I got an Arbor. With me having put Jakob in first, this allowed me to do one of my favourite plays - during his marshalling I triggered my agenda to put the Roseroad in shadows, then also during his marshalling I brought it out for free. This meant I had 4 gold instead of 3 (the other Roseroad making up for the deficit from the agenda), and when it got to my marshalling I got to play the Arbor as my card, setting me up on economy for the rest of the game. This did allow Jakob to build up a better board, and by the end of round two(?) through his superior play in the challenges phase he was up 7-0 on power. I was able to recover slightly and by the end of round three had out a duped Queen of Thorns, Brienne, Loras and a couple of chuds. Jakob then Valar D'd. At that point I knew the deck obviously would be running Ramsay Snow, but figured it was worth making him play it and giving myself the upside if he didn't have it, so kept QoT and Loras. He plays Ramsay, of course, sacrifices some chud, and triggers the Wyman he'd kept through the VD. After a few moments' thinking, he then marshals Skagos, allowing him to cycle Ramsay back into play and wipe my board. At the time I thought to myself "crap, how did I forget about that trick, he's obviously saved that to wipe my board post-VD with!". After the game I found out he'd top-decked Skagos off his Wyman trigger. D'oh! Still poor play from me to not suspect it though, I should've kept the chuds and Olenna from the VD, but oh well, lesson's learned. Despite this I was able to come back with Randyll and Arbor Marketplaces working a treat, but in what was an enthralling game to the finish, I ultimately ran out of time. I'd clawed that 7-0 lead back to 9-7, but Jakob was up on power with time called. It was far from a foregone conclusion that I would have come back to win it or anything, as Jakob had a bigger hand and better board by the end, but I'm still regretful that I'll never get to find out how that game would have finished. Alas!

Thus concludes the epoch-stretchingly long decklist write-up. Any questions or comments please post below and I'll do my best to answer them until I forget that answering them's a thing!


SergSel 48

great write up, such a pleasure to read

LGB 171

Poison Coin and Pinch if Power ...

I wonder how many times you played one thinking it was the otherr?

Loras Tyrell 316

I was so waiting for this. Now I'll start reading

Loras Tyrell 316

Now that I have gone through it, thanks for sharing this and always contributing so much to the game (for so many years :D ). I love how you always come up with "outsite of the box decks", I was really curious to know about this.

That said, I have a couple of questions:

  • How do you feel about draw in this deck? Is it enough? I guess you compensate a lot with the generale card advantage module
  • How do you fare against aggro decks? reading you description of the Targ Mereen match it seems like that kind of situation might occur kinda often with days against that house (for any deck)
  • How do you fare against control decks such as Martell Wars going for the long game and hitting with Doran's Game? Is HJ there for that specific reason? Would you typically try to rush the game before they can go for it?

Congrats again!

Loras Tyrell 316

Final question: no attachment control seems really brave with the risk of QOT / Renly getting milked, or Oldtown Undercity /FB frozen solid'd. Is it a meta call or you just don't care? Did you miss it? I have made the same choice in similar decks but always feel like discarding a key character or location with my own VD or PD is not always enough and that shuts me down quite a lot


Deilan 1

"Nightmares and Hand's Judgement are great cards and belong in every deck (and "I don't have space" isn't a good enough excuse) Module."

But where are your nightmares ? :D

wisey105 1

Any thoughts of having Oldtown in this deck? With Scheming Septom and Oldtown Undercity, you have plenty of tutor to know exactly what you top card is for extra draw and passive power gain.

Majestic 1

It looked like fun. So I gave it a go with the boys in my (very) reduced meta (3) and despite losing both games to time, I loved the feel of it. Great deck from a great deckbuilder. Congrats :)

higf 119

Congrats! I waited this deck. It’s your second deck without attachment’s control. Did you not have problem with it?

jcwamma 2795

@LGB - not as many times as you'd think

@Loras Tyrell 1) I've never had a problem with draw. There's a relatively nice mix of cards that dig into your deck, cards that draw you and your opponents cards, and then just straight card advantage. Usually (not always, but usually) if you need something you'll find it. 2) I think if Targ gets the perfect draw it's tough for pretty much any deck to handle it. I think Left and Right give a very viable way for this deck to cope, but unfortunately for me Antti, being a good player, recognised that and Valared them away. I think it's a potential weak matchup, but definitely winnable still. 3) I think HJ gives me good protection against Doran's Game, especially since obviously I can put it in the Shadows until I need it so it doesn't get taken for intrigue claim. Otherwise, as you suggest you need to go quickly. If you can find your renown bodies and stand for them the deck can generally go quick enough to rush out in my experience. 4) Attachment control is something I hate including in decks, as a general rule, because there are so many matchups where you just don't care about attachments at all and they're dead draws so I'd prefer to just eat the downside in matchups where it's more of a problem. For my Euros deck, the attachment control was Political Disaster and Breaking Ties; for my Worlds deck, it was Skagos; here it's again Disaster and VD. I tried to at least make the deck not too badly effected by attachments - Frozen Solid will always be annoying, but at least the Undercity can go through Shadows to give me a round of triggers before it's blanked; and I made sure the deck was relatively Ward-proof as described in the write-up. Milk I've never been hugely fussed by, as the characters worth Milking are mostly still pretty reasonable even blank and can act as bodies to maintain board presence before any reset. Definitely a proper attachment-heavy deck can make for a very poor matchup though.

@Deilan - the question makes me sad. Probably the Coins should be Nightmares, but I wanted to play with the new shiny more than I wanted the deck to be optimised.

@wisey105 - Oldtown was always on the cusp of going in, but I was wary of putting more locations in with Political Disaster in the plot deck. If you pivoted away from PD it would be the first card I'd add; while PD is in there it's still a great card, just slots are really tough. If someone showed me a version where they'd found room for it (or even just made it card 61 or whatever) I'd completely understand, let's put it that way!

To everyone else (and some of the above), thank you for the kind words!

Toma 1

@jcwamma I've played your Euro deck with lots of pleasure. I loved it. Now, I've tested this Deck and it makes at least as much fun. Thanks for sharing and writing such a detailed description once again! Being a good player is one thing and being a good deck builder at the same time is outstanding!

mwolfe 13

@jcwamma What do you think about this but with the poisoned coins swapped out for 2x shadows varys, and some other substitutions to get a few copies of Starry Sept? You can cheat varys in with olenna, you can pick your target with the Sept, and he's a Lord for Marge to boot. The Sept might also make the lack of nightmares feel less acute.