No Alarms And No Surprises Please (1st, UK Grands 2019)

Card draw simulator
Odds: 0% – 0% – 0% more
Derived from
The Skagokey-cokey (King of Swiss, 8-1 Worlds) 45 26 15 1.0
Inspiration for
Test 0 0 0 1.0
Stark test 0 0 0 2.0

jcwamma 2340

The obligatory silliness

A hand that's full up thanks to Old Gate

Attrition slowly kills you

Return to the Fields

Plot grabs a Hall Gate or Heart Tree

Bring down the variance

I Am No One draws for us

I'll take a quiet phase

A Cat, Bran, Meera or Rickon

With no events and No Surprises

No shadows and No Surprises

No triggers and No Surprises

Skagos, Skagos

This is a GoodStuff list with Wyman as restricted

I'll just play a No Surprises

Shuffle back a No Surprises

Let me draw a No Surprises please

Summer brings back Bran and Summer brings back Arya

With every hand a No Surprises

Every round a No Surprises

Every game a No Surprises please

Thanks to everyone who's sent positive messages, before during or after the tournament, they mean a lot! Thanks also to the various people who helped me make tweaks to this list, be you Key, Lance, Ukulele or Other ;). Despite the song above No Surprises wasn't that important to the deck and I generally had a blast playing it, but I decided on this gimmick before the event and I'm sticking to it damnit.

The Deck

When I say "No Surprises", I'm not (just) talking about the event, I'm talking about the list. There might be the odd surprising omission, but I don't think any one card's inclusion in here will 'wow' you. I was openly passing this list to anyone who asked for it in the week before the event, because my assumption was it wouldn't change the deck's potency at all and I would probably lose a 50-50 game to a Greyjoy if I made the cut anyway. I was half-right!

Basically this is an evolution of the deck I took to Worlds (hence me listing it as a derivation). The main differences since then are that Stark have had Wyman Manderly and Ward restricted, plus Trade Routes from the neutrals to join the already-present Flea Bottom. As a result I had to make some cuts, and Wyman was the obvious keep. He is just such an important aspect of everything the deck is trying to do, whereas the others are all nice-to-haves. Meanwhile Stark has gained some excellent new tools. The obvious biggest overhaul here is the plot deck, where 4 of the plots included weren't out last November. The Greyjoy box gave us two very powerful sacrifice tools in Heir to the Iron Throne and Return to the Fields, and At the Gates is the strongest plot in the game (#changemymind and all that). A City Besieged came in quite late, as I was fed up with playing The Withering Cold into Forced March and wanted to feel better about not finding room for Frozen Solid (which, along with Umber Loyalist, were the main casualties of "slots m8"), and the two claim is nice too.

The other biggest revelation to me was Old Gate. I was consistently not thrilled with the deck in testing right up until I made the decision to add three Old Gates, and then the entire deck came together perfectly. Being able to have econ (that you can reduce with Fealty), use it to flood the board with enough presence to be on top, then sacrifice it to preemptively fill your hand prior to a reset just cannot be understated in importance, and thanks to At the Gates you will reliably have other limiteds anyway (plus the agenda). It allows me to run 11 economy locations, meaning I consistently see 1 on setup, but I never feel flooded with econ and nothing to spend it on. The other finalist, Richard Walker, had similarly impressive results with 3x Iron Gate in his list, so these economy cards may well be the way to go for mid-range decks.

Back to plots, the other three were pretty standard attritional choices - Valar Morghulis (you can run Dohaeris if you prefer but M definitely suits my personal play pattern better), Marched to the Wall and Nothing Burns Like The Cold, a newer addition but that felt important to help keep certain decks in check. I can often sacrifice a knelt Northern Armory for it, or a Skagos when I have another copy in hand, so the downside is minimal.

As far as other specific choices, they're mostly pretty obvious I think but to avoid doubts here's my now-customary modular breakdown (and if there are any other questions feel free to ask below of course):

Economy

Card Advantage

Attrition

Disruption (this is replacing the old "Nightmares/Hand's Judgement" module as it's basically the same thing but more thorough)

Stand/Non-Kneel

Power Gain

Skagos/Sacrifice

  • Heir to the Iron Throne
  • Return to the Fields
  • Bran Stark
  • Meera Reed
  • Ramsay Snow
  • Robb Stark
  • Wyman Manderly
  • Isle of Ravens
  • Skagos

The Tournament

We had 79 players and not too bad a faction split. My expectation was to beat not-Greyjoy, with Stark maybe causing some small problems as any mirror can potentially do; beat Sea of Blood more often than not; and for other Greyjoy matchups to basically be a coinflip.

  1. Sternly - Lanni Rains - Win. This was a rough matchup for Sternly, as I blew up his Harrenhal (FFH) round one with Nothing Burns and also had duped Catelyn and Winterfell out, basically meaning he could never do anything ever. I won quite comfortably soon after.

  2. Alastair - Tyrell Crossing - Win. First time meeting Alastair, who was from the North Devon meta, a meta I had no idea existed! If they're all like him it's presumably both a strong meta and a lovely one though, as this was a nerve-wracking pleasure. I was doing OK keeping Alastair at bay, but he was making intelligent use of events to stop me doing anything and building up a high quantity of Knights on the board. I was worried he was going to flip A Tourney for the King and go for the win, so Valared even though it would kill my own Robb and Catelyn (although duped Wyman survived). From that I was fortunate in that Alastair saw no economy and I recovered strongly with my cheap loyal cards and whatnot to win out from there. Alastair ended up making the cut as top Tyrell, going 5-1.

  3. Josh - Tyrell Fealty - Win. A sign of the end of times, potentially. My record against Josh in tournament games is infamous (Jousting Pavilion only shows 2-4, but Josh has several more wins against me than that from earlier on, and before today my only win was at a regional where we decided to play Intro Decks so it wasn't exactly a true win). This was the first of many games I had at this tournament where my opponent's deck mistreated them badly though. Josh's attritional Tyrell list that likes to use the likes of Highgarden Honor Guard and House Florent Knight found itself having to pay 5 for the Guard in marshalling and play a Hedge Knight with no other Knights, such were the dire straits. I could carry it through to victory quite comfortably as a result. After we went to cards in deck at Nationals a couple of years ago, it was strangely anti-climactic.

  4. Wedge - Martell KotHH - Win. Wedge had an evil Martell control deck, with Vengeance for Elia, Ghaston Grey, Flea Bottom and the usual icon-removal suspects; however, they didn't see Flea Bottom in this game, and I had Catelyn out from round one with Skagos to give her her icons back when they were removed and Isle to keep the churn going. Eventually Wedge had to Valar, but it was easy enough to predict and Return/reflood, and the game went my way from there.

  5. Richard - Greyjoy Crossing - Loss. This was my first of five(!) recorded games for the White Walkers channel, so I'll add a link once it's live. Richard was running a location-heavy Greyjoy Crossing with 3x Alannys, 3x Iron Gate, the pillage Balon and the like, which made it slower but more reliable than the 'normal' builds. This was an excellent game, with mostly-strong play throughout (I made a few sloppy errors in places, which may or may not have added up to me losing, we're not sure). I survived Richard's aggro and got on top, but in the process I painted myself into a corner - as time neared, we reached plot 7 and I had to Valar myself. With Richard reflooding well, I had no way of preventing him from finishing ahead on power at the end of the round, so conceded as he was probably going to close the following round anyway with my Valar now-pinned.

  6. Ben - Targ Fealty - Win. This was the second recorded game, and like the previous one was a fantastic game, I was really happy both of these were filmed. Ben is infamous in the UK AGoT Community for always opening Naval Superiority, every game. To briefly go on a tangent, at a game earlier this year against Dave Bamford, when we saw Dave was paired against Ben we said "remember not to open with Late Summer Feast this time"; Dave ignored our advice and got Naval'd. Now Ben's strategy was finally working amazingly for him, with At the Gates being a common opener for many throughout the tournament. Ben went on to make the top four, making for 9 games in total, and he successfully hit someone with Naval 9 times out of 9. Yes, that does mean he hit me here - but I was fine with that, because I got to open Marched to bin off his Khal Drogo. That should've put me firmly in the driver's seat, but my lack of gold, coupled with Ben getting Drogon (IDP) out, meant he was able to go on the offensive. Next round he could Crown my duped Robb Stark and finish him off with Drogon. As a result despite my strong plot 1, Ben was right back in it. We both were picking up power quite quickly; Ben reduced my board with Valar D; I surprised him with running Valar M instead to reduce him. We both were having to just throw what we could on the board, with the power totals very even. Going into the last plot I believe power was 13-12 in my favour, and I won initiative to close.

All that got me in the cut, which was straight to top 16. I was obviously happy to be 2nd after swiss, albeit slightly wary that I'd managed to do it while not playing any Stark and losing my only Greyjoy matchup.

  1. Stefan - Lanni Dragon - Win. This was the third recorded game. It was also the second game I felt was decided my opponent's terrible mulligan, as Stefan set up Gregor with a Bodyguard as his only character. I got to March him, then got on top and stayed on top. Stefan wasn't completely toothless, with a Daario Naharis with Queensguard and Widow's Wail giving him some potency, but I was in complete control, with multiple counts of renown. With my "going to win in the next round or two" status firmly established and the Melee side event about to start, Stefan conceded early so he could go join it.

  2. Eoin - Greyjoy SoB - Win. The third game where my opponent's mulligan put me in the driver's seat - Eoin had to set up 2 Drowned God Fanatics as his only characters. I prevented Eoin from getting a single Sea of Blood trigger all game (only one military won by five, cancelled by Rickon), and rolled to victory in pretty straightforward fashion.

  3. Ben - Targ Fealty - Win. A rematch from round 6. The fourth recorded game. This time I opened Gates into Naval, reasoning that my hand was cheap enough that I would be fine even with the tempo set back and I wanted to set my econ up for the game. I had Meera in shadows to handle any Drogo/Drogon nonsense this time. Ben made a silly error round one, discarding his entire hand with Qotho to win a relatively meaningless military challenge on defence when he could have instead kept one card and played Consuming Flames to just outright kill Alysane instead. After that with no hand he was in topdeck mode and I could bully him to victory in very short order.

  4. Richard - Greyjoy Crossing - Win. A rematch from round 5. The fifth recorded game, and the fourth where my opponent's mulligan set me up for the win. After our amazing swiss game earlier, this was a major damp squib of a final, sadly. Richard mulliganed into a setup of 4 shadows cards and Iron Fleet Scout. I had Ramsay/Skagos to keep his board in check, he didn't see Drowned God Fanatic, and I was able to keep his hand/board empty and win many unopposed challenges. At no point did Richard get more than 2 power on his faction card - and that was from me letting through unopposed challenges on my 2 claim round - and what could've been a grand final to a grand championship was instead a stomping that Richard's excellent 9 game winning run up to this point really didn't deserve. But oh well, champions ole ole etc.

Any questions feel free to ask'em below and I'll answer as best I can.

11 comments

Stormborn 288

Congratulations and thanks for the great write-up!

hagarrr 564

Well played James! But how on earth will this deck cope with the new RL?! :o

Also those 3 Iron Gates didn't seem so good in my pre-mulligan hand in that final xD

mrdav 122

In my defence, I knew the risks and decided risking it was the right call. Otherwise I was opening Valar Morghulis, a c.3 gold Trade Routes or You Win Or You Die. I won anyway.

More relevantly, congrats on a well deserved final making and a less deserved final win!

Knightoftheoaktree 1

Congrats and thanks for the write up; as a newish player, really appreciate how you've broken down the choices. Looking forward to watching these and hearing about it on Listener's Q's!

Bambi 400

I'd be interested to hear a bit more on your decision to cut Frozen Solid and Umber Loyalist rather than other cards. The card draw is already good enough I would say, but it can never be too good :)

jcwamma 2340

Thanks for the kind words! @BambiFrozen Solid is a great card sometimes, but a rough draw when you need something impactful. Against Greyjoy I find it does little because they have so many targets, and against decks with fewer targets Nothing Burns can cover me. It's only really Stark where it can truly shine out of the top meta decks. I therefore ultimately decided I'd rather use A City Besieged for my soft control, as other than Winterfell (which FroSo can't touch anyway) all of the locations I'd want to blank are useless knelt. There was also a chance to catch'em on the Withering turn, as most Stark decks I've seen have been running Withering. Lastly not running FroSo allowed me to run my own Nothing Burns without concern.

For the Umber Loyalist, ultimately I was really struggling to get to a place where I was happy keeping the deck at 60 cards. Being able to move the draw to Old Gate let me include everything I wanted. Umber Loyalist also doesn't play so well with the "play now, sacrifice later" approach. If I've got 2 or more cards in hand when it leaves play (which I often do), it's not actually card advantage, it's just filter, and Stark have enough true card advantage that they're not needed. You can always blank them with Meera obviously, but I'd really rather use her on other characters most of the time, and as listed above there's enough other card advantage in the deck to cope without them. They are definitely great though, and I wouldn't object to a deck running them - but it would for sure need justification on what cards had been taken out in those spots. List is tight, yo.

Von Wibble 173

Congratulations on the win overall! I'm still regretting not going for the double Marched myself, though if I had done that I don't think I'd have afforded much of a board myself! City Besieged was a nice touch, the 2 claim and hitting my 2 Great Halls was nasty.

celric 393

Is no one else going to pump the Radiohead cover? Well done... "You're on a roll this time."

Thanks for sharing the list.

MindsDesire 1

If you were to update the deck now with the new RL what changes would you make?

jcwamma 2340

@MindsDesirethe latest restricted list didn't affect this deck, so there are no direct changes required.

What will need doing is seeing how the Bara Box changes the meta. Skagos is no longer the perfect attachment hate, because Ambushed Hunting Accidents can keep a character knelt. Additionally, an influx of Baratheon means an influx of King in the North, and at that point the deck may require 2x Wolf King to cope. If adding them, that has further knock-on effects, such as Smalljon maybe having more value, the non-kneeling non-setup spots maybe having to come from I Am No One, which in turn impacts the draw and requires Umber Loyalists over Septa and something else, that sort of thing. The entire thing will need a slight rebalancing, but I'll leave that job to someone else for now :).

MindsDesire 1

Thanks for the reply! I play legend of the five rings and am going to play my first serious joust tournament at the end of the month, so i’m learning your deck, i’ll take your suggestions and try and work with them, thanks!