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|None. Self-made deck here.|
This is the deck I took to the 2019 Blackwater Bay. I went 5-1 in swiss before falling in the top 16.
The moment the Bara box came out, I knew I was going to play Florents at the first tournament I could. Way back in cycle 2's meta, shortly after Visited by Shadows was first released, I played a precursor of this deck (though the tournament is sadly lost to time as it wasn't on Jousting Pavilion). Discarding things with House Florent Knights is just the best, it really is. At that tournament in game one round one, I was able to use 2x Visited by Shadows and an HFK to discard Daenerys Targaryen (Core) and knew the deck did everything I wanted it to. With the recent Fury of the Storm giving us shiny new toys like Alester Florent and Renly Baratheon (FotS), it felt like it was time to update the deck!
Attrition is a pretty good metacall right now. With several powerful midrange tools and decks, the top GoodStuff decks are getting refined to within a razor's edge of margins as far as how much they can afford to leave themselves open to a bit of pain, and a little bit of attrition can push them over the edge. Additionally, Baratheon's still-great soft control package does best with a smaller board to have to control. Overall therefore, the deck came together as a reasonable and coherent choice - make no mistake though, I played this for Florents.
Over the course of the day I basically got through my bucket list of interactions I wanted to utilise. I won't pretend this is of the same quality as the Stark Fealty I played at the UKGE last month, but I can't speak highly enough about this deck and how fun it is to play. And as the result shows, it's at the very least not bad!
With the deck I was running a few ways to trigger the HFKs - The Iron Bank Will Have Its Due to take them back to hand and Spears of the Merling King to enable me to take them for claim, as well as the aforementioned Renly to jump them in at unusual times. As it turns out though, loads of enters play effects like these triggers. As far as ways to control the board, it doesn't get much better than having Melisandre (Core) out, playing out Alester Florent, then using TIBWHID to take him back, recouping the gold, drawing a card and kneeling two characters, while getting Alester back to hand to repeat the trick next round. The Spears also enable you to run Left and Right while eschewing Close Call, and Renly's trigger plays perfectly with Shrewd Diplomat. I also have Return to the Fields in the plot deck to get Alester out of there for an exit trigger without being dead, or to keep uniques out of the dead pile against a Valar. So the deck actually has a reasonable amount of synergy among its tricks.
You'll notice that the plot deck is very "screw locations". This was because I figured a bad matchup would be more controlly, attritiony Martell decks that rely on locations to control my small number of characters. Even with the plot deck it was still a poor matchup, but it'd at least give me a chance. It also helped a lot against Greyjoy, Stark and Builders, all seriously strong decks right now. For how it hurt me, I only have 3 attachments and 3 locations that can be hit by Nothing Burns, and they're easy enough to play around it with; and for PD, I can use my own Imry to clear locations, plus 5 of my 13 locations sacrifice for their effects in the first place.
Lastly, as far as a gameplan, it might look sort of slapdash - "am I discarding characters, am I defending, am I kneeling, what?" - and the answer is kinda "all of the above". The more you attrition the board with Valar, Marched, HFK and 2 claim, the more your kneel and challenge removal will hurt the opponent. That opens up space for you to win through unopposed and power challenges.
The deck isn't perfectly refined, and I'll offer some improvements lower down, but first let's have a tourney report.
Matt Herdman (Stark Fealty) - Win. Matt was playing, almost card-for-card, my list from the Grand Champs. Only 2x Umber Loyalist were added. As a result I obviously had a knowledge advantage in the matchup. It was close for a while, but my ability to control his board and keep his character base small was really telling - he had Wyman Manderly out from round 2, but didn't trigger him once until he badly needed to oppose a military with everything he had, at which point Wyman had to sacrifice himself for a Robb Stark (Core) trigger. With his draw controlled, Matt topdecked awfully after the second Valar, and I closed from there.
Khudzlin (Stark Crossing) - Win. Khudzlin's deck had a very clear gameplan from round one, when he flipped Late Summer Feast and played Passing the Black Gate. This was going to be "build up a large boardstate, then play Valar-counter plots until the Valar landed, then win the game". To that end, I just played out enough to keep the renown as controlled as possible and to oppose everything, and declared no challenges. Round two we saw Return to the Fields; round three You Win Or You Die. Unfortunately for me, even with my determined stalling, Khudzlin's Crossing power, his renown power and his Superior Claim power meant he was in sniffing distance of a win going into plot four, and I had to flip Valar into his second Return. Fortunately he had two Umber Loyalists in play and as a result he was reduced to 1 card in hand still, so he wasn't able to capitalise as he would have liked. From there I won the board back and was able to get on top and close in a really close, fun game.
Simon Martindale (Stark KotHH) - Win. My third Stark in a row, but all three were very different decks so I don't mind. Simon's deck was a heavy attrition list, but with very few locations. He had several Direwolves, Eddard Stark (PoS), Ward, and even stuff like The House of Black and White! I felt in pretty comfortable control for a while, but made a miscalculation and thought I could close on round 6, so held back my Valar. Instead I stalled at 13 power, had to Valar myself, and then proceeded to circle the drain. Simon started regaining power at a quick rate of knots, while I was slowly losing it myself as time drew near, despite fun stall tactics like using "Lord Renly's Ride" during marshalling to boost Simon's Winterfell Steward so that his Bran Stark (OR) would be the lowest STR on the board to discard with House Florent Knight. Fortunately I drew the best card in the entire game, Ser Imry Florent! He completely vindicated my review of him here, as I had exactly enough locations out to kneel the entirety of Simon's board. This let me win an unopposed power challenge to be ahead on power 14-11 when time was called.
Kostas Adamopoulos (Martell Wars) - Loss. This was a relatively close game, but one where Kostas was always on top. His Doran Martell (SoD) was a problem as he came down after my Valar and I only had one Visited by Shadows so couldn't quite get him into HFK range. The deck being based around challenges, this was tough to overcome. I did, rather pleasingly, manage to use a duped Ghost of High Heart to get a board of entirely STR 4 characters (except Ghost herself, who was STR 3), meaning that when I played Visited by Shadows on Kostas's Arianne Martell (JtO) she couldn't bounce anybody at all. However, Kostas was slowly pulling ahead, and I couldn't really stop it, lacking the draw to find the tools I needed. The game ended in somewhat farcical fashion, as Kostas went in with a STR 5 intrigue challenge with Doran. I knew he had a The Prince's Plan in hand and was wary, so triggered Ghost of High Heart to make sure there was no Doran's Game. Safe, I discarded his Plan so he couldn't boost Arianne to bounce anyone. I only had 1 card in hand, a Shrewd Diplomat, so figured I should bring it in to avoid losing it for claim. At that point I could trigger it to prevent unopposed but leave a big body standing on defence, or I could let it through and let Kostas get one power closer to winning. After umming and ahhing I decided to let it through unopposed... and the card he drew off my Ghost trigger was Doran's Game, which he then played for the win. Whomp whomp.
Florian Hess (Greyjoy Sun) - Win. Oh boy. So Florian was on Drowned God, and while I was able to get an early lead thanks to hitting his Nagga's Ribs with my Nothing Burns Like The Cold and then HFK away his Desert Raider, he soon built up the usual Drowned God lineup. He marshalled Tarle the Thrice-Drowned with all three Drowned Disciples, which meant that he got up to 10 power on Tarle in very short order. With an Acolyte of the Waves on the board and a Drowned God Fanatic in the dead pile, his first action in the challenges phase would obviously be to bring in the Fanatic at the cost of the Acolyte, triggering the Acolyte for a power and all 3 Disciples for the win. I got to: play two copies of Visited by Shadows on Tarle, bringing him down to 2 STR (i.e. the same amount if he brought the Fanatic in so it couldn't shield him); use "Lord Renly's Ride" to boost his Acolyte up to 5 STR; and finally, gloriously, bring in HFK to discard Tarle (and with relative security about the prospect of it being cancelled, as I'd trigger Ghost of High Heart the previous round). With 10 of his 11 power gone along with his method of recurring his characters, Florian was in trouble. Next round I cleared his board with a Valar, and won from there in short order. This play, rightfully, won me the 'bastard' prize of the tournament. I'm so, so, so happy.
Matt Slade (Targ Summer) - Win. This one was scrappy. I made a few small errors, and Matt made a couple too. His deck was built around Queensguard, Tokar, and loads of card advantage. I was able to keep his board small, but when his board consists of a tricon who can stand several times and has double-digit STR and renown, there's only so much you can do. Despite that, I was able to see all three Shrewd Diplomats and leverage them to win power challenges consistently, and we went into the final round with me on 13 power and Matt on 14. Thankfully, I won initiative and went first. I was able to put out a critical mass of power icons, and with power claim plus renown from Renly and a The Bastard of Nightsong trigger I could close, just!
The original top 16 had me up against Builders, which I'm pretty sure this deck would've mulched, and the deck that ended up winning the tournament. Sadly for my chances of victory our king of swiss had to drop because of "real life", whatever that is, shifting around the pairings and instead leading me to face...
- Martin Lewis (Martell Wars) - Loss. Yup, 5-0 against not-Martell Wars, but 0-2 against Martell Wars. Now when I say this was sad, I of course only mean for the deck's performance - playing against Martin's always a delight. With 3 Venomous Blades to chomp through my Anguy, Ghost, Left, Right, Lem and more, I was the one struggling to maintain a board. Martin didn't have one either, but he didn't really need one. Desert Raider (dead not discarded this time, sadly for me) did a number on me. The real turning point, for me, was when we both flipped 8 initiative, 2 claim plots (A City Besieged for me; You Win Or You Die for him) with the same amount of power. Martin won the initiative flip, made me go first onto the empty board (my hand at the time: Melisandre, House Florent Knight, Asshai Priestess, Alester Florent) and with my control robbed from me he was able to annihilate me with his 2 claim, when had I gone second it would've been my wrecking him. C'est la vie. The game ended on round 8 (Martin's plot 9), with him on 14 power then doing the showboat "draw 8 with Secret Schemes before triggering an 8 power Doran's Game" for the win.
More Deck Talk
So overall, I'm very happy with the deck. I built it to be fun and it ended up being that in spades, plus competitive besides. That said, there are some changes I would make. Firstly, the location control, while good, may have been a bridge too far. It's very rare that you need all 3 plots to get the job done, and it seriously limited how my plot deck could impact the game. I'd cut one (maybe ACB?) and put in A Tourney for the King or another acceleration plot.
Next, looking at the draw deck, I'd add more draw. King's Gate was lovely whenever I drew it, and I'd happily trade in either a Roseroad or a Port for a third one. It also would make a lot of sense to add Littlefinger to the character base. Another good TIBWHID target and non-loyal draw. With those changes I'd feel a lot better about the deck not running out of steam so much.
Lastly, Left and Right. I have a...storied personal relationship with them, but they don't really go with what the deck's trying to do, they're just 2g characters who can be STR 3. That's really not enough. Throw in the lack of draw and I only got them both out together once all day. It's not good enough and those slots could go to other cards - I'm thinking some combination of Jousting Knight (their downside is minimal in a deck trying to keep boards small), Hedge Knight and Knight of the Reach. At that point you maybe even look at Green-Apple Knight if room can be found, to give the deck some real bite (hence suggesting Tourney previously).
Any other questions/comments, or anything else I've missed, please let me know!