Bobby Flay: A GenCon Tale

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captainslow 1198

Gates of the Moon is fetched for every House
And Alester aligns with March
Then kneel will guide the Stormlands
And Bob will rule the Starks
This is the dawning of the Age of Baratheon
Age of Baratheon
Baratheon
Baraaaatheooooooooooon…

Guten Tag, volks of Thrones!

The world is a cesspool of duplicity, nausea, and aggression.

Still, in the midst of the sludge, hope flickers. Songs and stories eek out, reminding every ear they touch that there is an indomitable good, and today their refrain is: “GENCON. THRONES. GENCON. THRONES.”

I. THE PILE

Summer stock theatre season has been as insane as ever. 14+ hour workdays, no rest, etc. This summer, it was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Curious Incident of the Dog, Hair, Billy Elliot, and Peter and the Starcatcher, wherein I portray a Scottish nanny and a very wise and beautiful mermaid.

All the while, GenCon was sneaking ever closer. I had a few simple goals for building a deck: it had to be fun and flexible and it had to use new cards. After my miserable showing for Team Baratheon in April, I was keen to bring a little glory back to the Stags. I hadn’t played with Chef Bob at all, and he looked like pure cajun spice. Thus, this list is what I cooked up.

  • Bobby Flay is the centerpiece. The only locations that kneel are the Fifedomes and Bathwater Baby, which is perfectly functional as a 3-gold-draw-four-one-time-use card (NB: this is also a solid meta call with City Beseiged everywhere). The character base is split 17/17 between characters 3-gold and under and 4-gold and higher. The icon spread is similarly neat for Bara (23 mil/15int/28 power icons total). This helps with coverage on small/knelt boards. I wanted to be absolutely sure Bob’s Menu hurt my opponents more than me.
  • Ryan Jones is an incredible card here. There is always an impact card to use it on: Salad-door, All-Star Florent, Stink-eye Baratheon, etc. It removes attachments, smooths economy, lets you refill a Begging Bro or re-trigger a Lancer. Dick Rocks are similar in function.
  • Varys’s Riddle was a late swap in for At the Gates because I can usually get the same functionality out of it and also determine initiative on the first turn. This is particularly significant given Red Priest, Selyse, Mel, Begging Bro (for Euron), etc.
  • I didn’t have any experience playing against Kingdom of Shadows, hence 2x Barring. Jumpers and shadows dodge a lot of kneel, so it aids on that front. I also expected it to help in the Stark matchup (particularly shutting down the Skagos/Meera looping and Winterfell).

All in all, the deck’s performance was...well, you’ll just have to keep reading!

II. THE TRAVEL

I moved out of my apartment (with its meowing-human-roommates-who-blast-metal-at-2am-every-night) on Wednesday morning, cramming my belongings into The Longship Iron Victory (my car). Stress level: high.

The drive to Logan Airport was difficult, as every road in Revere was covered in slippery clam chowdah.

At the airport, they took some nudes of me to make sure I didn’t have a bomb in my grundle. Then they severed both of my legs so that I could fit in the plane. Stress level: increasing.

Every road to Indianapolis was closed, the result of a bureaucratic obstruction masterminded by a highschool basketball star turned city councilor who had always been picked on by nerds and is now exacting his slow, traffic-riddled revenge. Probably, anyway.

At the hotel just outside of Indianapolis, I had two (2) (deux) (|-2|) Tequila Sunrises FOR FREE. Thanks, Embassy Suites! Stress level: decreasing rapidly.

III. THE TOURNAMENT

Now for some meat and potatoes. Welcome to everybody who skipped to this section to avoid all of that bullshit up there^^^^^^^^.

I spent some time greeting all of the lovely, conscientious, fun, and generally tremendous people I’ve come to know from years playing this game. Then the tournament got started.

Game 1 vs. Christopher Thompson (Tyrell/Dragon)

As I sat down across from Christopher, I said, “Christopher.” Then he asked if I was his mom! Strange thing for him to not know, if you ask me.

He revealed his house and agenda and I lost my cool. Combo. First game of the tournament against combo? Coincidentally, Colt Humbert, Progenitor of Chicanery, was seated next to Christopher. Colt had crushed me with a very similar Combo at the aforementioned April team event. I couldn’t help myself, and screamed, “This is all your fault, Colt! Your fault! You feckless monster! I hate you!” I dove at him (difficult without my now-severed legs), but he nimbly dodged, scooped me up, and body-slammed me right through the FFG-sanctioned table.

Colt also agreed to sell me his Heirs of Numenor cycle from the LOTR LCG. He’s a swell guy.

I knew I needed to close as quickly as possible, so Bob with renown was doing some nice early work. Christopher was drawing lots of cards; I was gaining lots of power. Ultimately, the biggest play came when I correctly played Return to the Fields against VM. This let me repopulate efficiently. King Plot, Barring, and Red Priest on a Pleasure Barge were enough to stall the combo and let me hit 15.

Christopher had to play against three of the six Bara decks in the field. He lost each of those games, and won every other game.

W, 1-0

Game 2 vs. Chase “Builder Buddy” Stalsberg (NW Wars)

I knew Chase by reputation as an excellent Builders player, so this would be a tough match.

The game was defined by one specific interaction: Chef Bob and Milk. Bob hit that sauce three times throughout the game, but each time a Jones or a Dick was able to bring him back sober. He ordered locations off the menu and kept the Wall knocked down for three or four rounds, which undoubtedly won me the game. I also made good use of bouncing Vanguard Lancers to keep his power total low. Chase played perfectly and made a great late charge with Winter Festival, but I edged out a win at time.

W, 2-0

Game 3 vs. Richard “Bow-Down” Bowers (NW Summer)

Builders again, yay, I was so excited, I love playing against builders, it’s just so much funnnnnnnnughhhhhhhhhkillmeghhhhhhhhh.

Richard set up a Maester Aemon, which tipped me off to Valar M in his deck. I had Bob in my hand after set up in this game, but couldn’t safely play him, as I couldn’t find a dupe or a Dick. Richard found the Wall around T3, and got up to a little lead. My own kneel poked some holes and slowed him down. By the time I could play Bob, Richard had a narrow lead, 7-5 or so. I couldn’t make up the margin before time was called. Richard’s last plot was indeed Valar M, which would have wiped most of his board and left me with Bob, Stannis, and plenty of gas in my hand. Too bad we couldn’t finish it out, but it was very well played by Richard.

L, 2-1

Game 4 vs. Erick “Rogue Five” Leong (Greyjoy Crossing)

I had the dream setup of duped Bob, reducer, Roseroad, which made this my easiest game of the tournament. Erick set up an Alannys and drew a ton of cards, but Bob ordering the biggest things on the menu for three turns suppressed him. I also served 30-50 Feral Hogs to Euron, a neat and thematic answer. This ended 15-0 in about 15 minutes. By his own admission, Erick was just warming up for his main game, L5R.

W, 3-1

LUNCH BREAK
My buddy BP and I ventured forth into the sweltering Indianapolis heat where, shimmering like a mirage, there was an entire island made of noodles. The line to get there was four miles long. It took eight years and three months before we ate. It was worth every second. On the island, oiled pirate men hacked at peppers and shouted, “Chicken! No Chicken! Chicken!” I showed them a picture of their overlord, Chef Robert, and they nodded grimly, in perfect unison, then burped, also in perfect unison. A stirring tribute.

Game 5 vs. Matt “Roger Roger” Clemens (Free Folk)

I have Matt’s autograph from back when he used to pitch for the Red Sox. He’s so multi-talented, and it’s nice to see him off of the ‘roids.

Jess Thompson, the Red Woman herself, was sitting next to us. I asked her for a sacrifice to the Red God in my favor and she obliged.

Matt set up Ygritte, which is pretty much impossible for my deck to handle first-turn. Indeed, I knew all aggro would be difficult to handle. I didn’t have saves or Selyse or any other decent out. The only chance I could see to keep a board was to guarantee initiative (against Vanquished), use Red Priest, hope he didn’t have a good icon spread, take Last of the Giants or the character with the most relevant icons, and pray to the Red God. I opened First March even though he had no military icons, revealed a beautiful spread of characters with Red Priest, and knew I was toast. I sort of went through the motions here, and held back showing cards like Party at Storm’s End, in case I hit one of the other Long Lances later in the tournament. In retrospect, it may be that opening Late Summer Feast and flooding would have been a better call, but I didn’t have enough experience with my deck. A real 100 mph fastball from the Rocket.

L, 3-2

Game 6 vs. Bernardo “Mercutio” Romo (Lanni KoS) Bernardo was playing Nicolo’s tricksy shadow pile. I don’t know if I can lose this matchup given my plot deck.

The first two turns were pretty cute. Like, Bernardo played some cards, then I played some cards. It was a jolly good time. He took some cards from my hand with Ser Much and More!. Bob lost a dupe when he ate some money. I got a bunch of power.

Then T3 I played Barring the Gates and kneeled his board out, shooting up to 8 or 9 power. I flipped Barring again T4 and Bernardo conceded.

W, 4-2

Game 7 vs. Jess “The Red Woman” Thompson (Greyjoy Crossing)

Jess was clearly following the Victarion strategy of worshipping the Drowned God and the Red God.

I myself employed the patented anti-GJ strategy of playing an early duplicated Chef Bob. This meant that Asha never made a challenge. My Red Priests forced two Vinces out of Jess’s hand, which kept Bob’s griddle burning hot. I was drawing plenty of cards with BB, so by the time Victarion hit the table, I had a kneel and a Hunting Accident ready for him. Jess never really found a footing in this one. If her early Asha had been Victarion, things might have been different.

As it were, Jess lit her deck on fire and then threw it in the Indianapolis Ocean, a sacrifice to two gods.

W, 5-2

After a long day of Thrones, I soaked my weary muscles in a bath while downing yet another tequila sunrise and reading an Annie Proulx novel about the Texas Panhandle and its storied inhabitants. You’re all invited next year.

TOP 16 vs. Robert “Straight No” Mixer (GJ Crossing)

Remember all of that good fortune I had in my two previous matches against GJ Crossing? I guess I used it all up.

I mulliganed into a two-card setup of Bob and a Dick Rock. I still had no economy in my hand after drawing back up. I had two Seen in Flames and 2 Ryan Jones. Not ideal. T1 I Riddled At the Gates for a Great Hall, and that would be the last economy location I saw for the rest of the game. I only triggered that Great Hall once thanks to a pesky Lordsport Shipwright. First turn, Ryan Jones brought Bob back to hand so that I could distribute that 7 gold across two characters (including a Begging Bro) and avoid losing my chef for the whole game. Unfortunately, I drew no 2- or 1-cost characters either, which meant that Mr. Mixer was able to rather easily aggro my board down every turn. Two first-turn Eager Deckhands hurt. Two Red Priest triggers revealed bomb characters, but I had to take 2 We Do Not Sows to protect my single location. Parley and King Plot kept me around, but ultimately I didn’t see the cards I needed to go toe-to-toe with the Victarion, Euron, and Balon that eventually showed up. I always needed one more gold to play Selyse or Bob or an extra 3-cost character.

L, Final result 13th, a few SoS points off of top Baratheon besides Noj who was playing FF so whatever

I’m proud of the deck and the run, all things considered.

I may continue playing the deck, as Chef Bob is a ton of fun. There is tuning to be done, for sure.

MVPs:
-Chef Bobby Flay
-All-Star Florent
-Lightbringer
-King Plot
-Ryan Jones

The next day, I played melee, winning just enough to secure a mat for the fourth year in a row and losing just quickly enough to make it to my Lord of the Rings LCG event. (Thanks, Melucci and SoS!) My deck was basically 3x Robert, 3x Stannis, 3x Hizdahr, 3x Stormlands, and 3x Queensguard. Nothing too scientific.

We flew back very early Sunday, just in time for me to point stage lights at a minor miner who just wants to dance named Billy Elliot for twelve hours.

PROPS
-All of my opponents, who are conventioneers of the highest caliber
-The Thrones community at large for its resilience and charity
-FFG for cranking that prize support to 11. Yowza!
-Chris Vac for long and romantic talks in the vendor hall about sweet nothings and matters of great importance
-Chris Lavin, Talia, Jimmy, Devin, and Owen for screening the deck for me
-BP for being a fantastic travel buddy and taking down top-8 NW ;)
-YOU

SLOPS
-Me
-Me
-Do
-Re
-Me
-Pain and suffering

10 comments

SonOfBattles1 205

Love the write up!

teamjimby 1757

Well done and great write up! You made a lot of interesting Bara choices that I hadn't often considered. You are a true gentleman and scholar.

OKTarg 27

This is the Lord of the Rings: LCG crossover content I crave!

badass_bard 10

Thanks for the very fun write up! I was surprised by the omission of "Public Execution". May I ask, what was the reason behind that?

captainslow 1198

Thanks for the kind words all!

@badass_bard I thought it would be redundant and expensive and further clog my setups, but I think it's definitely worth testing, especially for the Stark matchup. I only played two test games with this the night before the event, so the list is not super tight yet.

RBD 1

I will say that was probably the funnest game I had playing at GenCon, thanks for putting up with my Builders ;)

captainslow 1198

@RBD It was a very fun, interactive game, despite the matchup! ;)

Palpa 1

Don't know what I like better: the write up or the deck! What changes would you propose after the Tourney?

captainslow 1198

@Palpa Glad you liked it!

I'm currently trying -1 Dale for +1 Dragonstone Faithful, -2 Fifedomes for 1x Shireen and 1x Cortney Penrose, 1x TIBWHID for 1x Ours is the Fury.

Palpa 1

I'm not an experienced Bara player, but shireen and Penrose seem too good to not include them, was my first thought on the deck. Thanks for the Insights