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|SevenFiveCards (2nd, Stahleck Joust 2019)||22||15||10||1.0|
OK, so it's 75 cards, but all sequels are meant to just be one number higher than the last one, right?
For the general ethos on why this deck is good, I strongly recommend looking at my previous decklist and report, which is listed in the "Derived From" section. I chose to persist with the deck because I believe it's still amazing. It's debatable whether it's the best deck in the meta - the swiss and 1 of the top 4 would suggest it's in strong contention, at least - but I definitely think it's the most versatile of the top decks, and one I greatly enjoy playing. Here I'll just look to go over changes I made to the prior list, followed by a good ol' fashioned tourney report.
Three main factors drove changes in this deck: the Targaryen box entering the meta, both in a "new cards!" way and in a "well this sure might need teching against" way; the updated restricted list adding two cards that had been in the deck; and general tweaks based on what worked and what didn't previously.
The restricted list gave me a choice between Breaking Ties, Yoren and Bound for the Wall. As anyone who's read my previous report will probably be unsurprised to learn, there was only ever going to be one winner - Breaking Ties was missed but it helped free up space in the plots anyhow, and I actively wanted to cut Bound even without the updated FAQ. Meanwhile, Yoren wins games, simple-as.
With Breaking Ties gone from the plots, it gave me the perfect opportunity to slot in my new "well this card's a bit good isn't it" plot, The Prince Who Came Too Late. In a tournament with a relatively-predictable field, by far my biggest surprise of the entire event was that I didn't see anyone else use this plot all day. It's not for every deck, but it's amazing in a lot of them, and particularly great in NW VS, for a few reasons:
- Fetching a character based on what you need is more valuable in a 75 card deck than a 60 card one;
- The agenda gives you extra gold round one, allowing you to open with the plot without falling as far behind as you'd expect;
- The curve is low, and while there aren't too many limiteds, the 5x 1g reducers, plus the 3x Old Forest Hunter, plus the 3x Clydas, plus the Cage of Ravens and Miner's Pick, all allow you to get a lot more bang for your buck than you'd think;
- One weakness of the plot is that once you fetch your amazing character, you can't really protect them before your opponent Valars - but the deck runs 2x Return to the Fields in the plots, and depending on the situation you can fetch Yoren, immediately giving you a huge swing of tempo; Jon Snow (or Qhorin Halfhand if Jon is named by Iron Throne), giving you an immediate powerful body on the board; or Craster (if the opponent's been greedy and set you up to just Valar them instead). The flexibility is huge, and something other factions really struggle to match.
I opened with Prince every game of the swiss, and while I'm not going to pretend it went off without a hitch in every game (see report for details), I don't regret it at all and would 100% run the plot as my opener again.
The other change in the plot deck was Political Disaster out for Barring. Sucks to lose PD, but I took the chance that location-heavy decks would broadly be absent from the meta, with the exception of Lanni Kingdom, which is hurt by Barring somewhat anyway. Meanwhile, between Heir to the Iron Throne and Dothraki Jumpers, Barring had the potential to be an important card.
In the character base, I cut Benjen (unimportant, never wanted to fetch with Recruits), a Builder at the Wall (slots), a Castle Black Mason (a bit too expensive, and being loyal less important without Ties), a Janos (slots), both Messenger Ravens (there's enough draw, and without BT they were tough to justify), and 2 Shadow Tower Masons (slots). Instead, in went 3x Clydas (...duh), a second Craster (he was a card I was always happy to see in Stahleck, but weirdly did next to nothing all tourney at Worlds, go figure), and 3x Steward at the Wall (needed to lower the curve to help with maximising Prince and Return, and wanted extra Stewards who could hold an attachment I added). This is all fairly self-explanatory, but feel free to ask any questions on it and I'll answer as best I can.
I added two new attachments, Cage of Ravens and Water Dancer's Sword, both of which are great for VS in a fairly obvious way, and otherwise kept them the same. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? I also kept the locations identical.
Finally for the events, I gleefully cut the Bounds, and put in a 3rd Hand's Judgment. This was for three main reasons - Sea of Blood, Kingdom of Shadows, and Bribery. Sea isn't what you'd think - I mostly don't mind the Puts, and Overwhelming Numbers can be a bit tougher to cancel - but Gifts for the Widow allows them to flip King in the North, and getting to trigger unchecked while I can't is otherwise pretty devastating in the matchup. Kingdom has 3x TIBWHID and (if Lanni) 3x Clever Feint, and sometimes a couple of Poisoned Coins too. All-in-all, a lot of value. And Bribery on a Craster or Jon Snow can be super-duper painful. Throw in other high-value cancels like Passing the Black Gate and I Am No One, and the event's power is particularly high right now.
12 changes overall - still a fundamentally similar deck played in the same style, but enough to allow for a bit of surprise.
So with the changes out of the way, on to the report.
BYE - Hoorah for winning a Grands.
Yotam - Lanni Kingdom. This one was streamed on FFG's twitch, available here from 1:37:58 onwards. I don't believe FFG keep their old videos long, so if you want to watch it, get in while the going's good! It was a very tense game. I set up Clydas, but Yotam recognised the threat and immediately dropped Valar M to deal with him. Yotam had The Red Keep out round one, preventing me from taking Yoren off Prince, and he also smartly kept Iron Throne stood until the standing phase reaction window to stop me grabbing Jon Snow. This left me taking Qhorin, who he kept knelt with Shadow Priestess two rounds in a row, before he got bounced by Pinch. A lot of opposed challenges plus not too many being declared meant power-gain was slow here. It was also a crunchy game requiring a lot of though, so we only went 5 plots. On the final round, Yotam made an error, forgetting to trigger the Throne for Jon in marshalling. This allowed me to play Fresh Recruits to grab him and Spare Boot, then drop Jon with a dupe, and the Booty Man ready to soak any Pinch trigger. This, coupled with my own Pinch, allowed me to get 1 power ahead by the end of the round to win 7-6 on time.
Andy - Tyrell Stag. Andy's deck was great, using Table + Chair to push the win while keeping the opponent at bay with all sorts of tricks - Sorrows + HFK, stand/remove tech + Jousting Pavilion, and the delightful combination of Delena (who he didn't see in this game) + stand/remove tech to make it just... remove tech. At least when it wasn't on Jon Snow anyway, bastard that he is. I was behind in this game for a long time, and thought Andy was going to be able to get over the line before I could stop him, but I was able to get enough pressure on the board that he had to Valar me before he could get his economy down, called the Valar with Return, and then reflooded, dropping The Wall. This allowed me to stop him making challenges; to win my challenges unopposed; to trigger The Wall; and to win dominance. I did that a couple of rounds and it was enough to overhaul him for the win, after I'd been down I believe 13-1 at one point.
Chris - NW Kraken. This was choke, simply put. It was also recorded for The White Walkers, so I'm not going to go into details. All I'll say is this, in the most click-baity way possible - after round 2 plots, you will be staggered that I was able to come back and win it. At least I was!
Lennart - Martell Kingdom. Well this was a funny opener. I opened Prince like always, but my setup had on this occasion been exclusively cheap characters and attachments. Lennart opened First Snow, I couldn't afford anything other than a Roseroad, and discarded 7 cards to reserve. However, Lennart made a mistake - he didn't foresee me grabbing Yoren, and brought Hagen's Daughter out of shadows to grab a power on my empty board. This meant that I was able to take her with Yoren and still end up with two bodies on the board after round one. From there I could fetch Gates of the Moon, and from there the churn of economy and draw helped pull me back into the game despite the early mishap. Arianne (PoS) gave Lennart a powerful turn, but next round Barring was able to stop her repeating the trick, and I built up just enough momentum to get over the line before he got the lock in, helped immensely by Seized on Starfall.
CT - Targ SoB. My second recorded game for the White Walkers channel, so I'll be brief, but I will say that I'm looking forward to watching this back to see how exactly I was able to win this! I think the timing of the reset helped a lot, along with the deck's natural resilience in the face of claim, but we shall see.
Six wins on the bounce and that king of swiss for me and into the top 64 on Sunday.
BYE/DK - Stark Fealty. So this one was weird and unfortunate. DK, friend and fellow UK WAR Regent this April, had made the cut, but sadly had a decklist error - he had put Winterfell Castle instead of Winterfell, and was summarily DQ'd. After some confusion over who would get the bye, it eventually fell to me. So technically, I had a bye here. Later on in the day, we unofficially played out the game, and... honestly, it was brutal, the only game I played all weekend in which I never felt remotely close to losing. I think I'm right in saying DK only won a single challenge on attack the entire game, and I won 15-0 on round 4.
Eric - NW VS. We get to my one loss of the event, and... oh boy. Firstly, this was an absolutely amazing game. Eric is a delight to play against, and made no mistakes throughout. I will flatter myself to say that I outplayed him on the plot game - he had two Barring the Gates, but I still managed to time my Prince plot to miss them, and also managed to catch his Valar D with one of my Returns. Eric saw Yoren on round one to take my Hobb, which was sad, but it is what it is when it comes to the mirror. On round two I was able to drop Jon Snow with Lord Commander, and because great though both Hobb and Yoren are they don't necessarily encourage a superior board presence, I was able to get 3x LC triggers (prompting Rationing on round three, which is where I landed Prince). On round four, Eric found Coldhands to bounce Jon and the power accumulated, which was very sad. I was able to stop him controlling the game too much with Halder, but he found a second Yoren to take him too. I, meanwhile, found my first Yoren, and with Coldhands and Janos in hand, devised a plan - take something with Yoren, sacrifice them with Janos, bounce Yoren and a juicy target with Coldhands, then Valar the board so that we'd be left with just Yoren and a target for him to steal, while I got Jon back from Eric's own Coldhands dying. Unfortunately we were on the clock, and time constraints meant I had to change the gameplan, instead Marching my Yoren then using Coldhands to bounce Eric's Yoren, returning Halder to me. Eric was 4-3 up, counted stuff up and realised he couldn't win a power challenge, and that winning anything else would just open him up for me to win, so he passed challenges. I did the sums and it was simple - thanks to a few Halder triggers, I had enough STR to win a power challenge, and get a Lord Commander trigger, pushing to a 5-3 lead. Eric then wins dominance, but at the end of the round I win 5-4 on time. So I declared power with everyone. Eric's almost ready to shake my hand in defeat, when he suddenly notices something I'd missed - of the 7 attachments his Seasoned Woodsman has, 1 of them is Catapult at the Wall. One trigger later and Halder is dead, and so is my tournament. If I'd triggered him 4 times before the challenge (twice on himself, twice on Coldhands), then I win the game. Que sera.
I'm not going to pretend I'm not a touch pensive about that conclusion; that said, when I look back on the run, I'm not sad at all. At the risk of being not-humble, and with that obvious final exception, I think I played absolutely fantastically across the entire tournament. I'm also super-stoked that I've managed to king the swiss at back-to-back World Championships. So I'm not going to beat myself up for one silly error, no matter how costly it was. And Eric did me proud, making it all the way to the top four before finally falling. A great tournament with a bittersweet finale for me.
Any questions about anything to do with the deck or the games, or any comments generally, just post them below and I'll do my best to respond to'em!