Shadows of Ashemark: Top 16 Worlds

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I took this list to worlds and finished in the top 16. It plays a number of cards that I haven't seen any other shadows deck run and cuts some cards that are considered staples. I predicted the Worlds meta to be dominated by Lanni Shadows, Bara Qohor, Targ SoB, NW Steel, and Stark Crossing. I thought Bara Qohor was my worst matchup with Targ SoB as my best. I expected every deck that wasn't Shadows or Targ SoB to run double Barring the Gates and teched accordingly. The main idea is to have productive gold uses that work when Barring is flipped. That means lots of non-character shadows cards and expensive non-shadows cards. The Knight of Flowers is ridiculous with strength pumps and is the main win condition for the deck rather than committing hard to attrition with Cersie, Mandon, and Queen's Assassin, all of which don't work when Barring is up.

Notable Inclusions:

2x Ashemark: We all know this card is why you are looking at this decklist. Ashemark has never been in a remotely competitive deck until now. For most decks it is simply too expensive, but Lanni Shadows shits gold like Tywin Lannister. First Snow already wins games for this deck. A first snow your opponent doesn't know is coming until they have marshalled is devastating. This card singlehandedly makes the Stark matchup very positive and helps a lot vs any low curve deck. It is also a useful way to spend gold on a barring turn. If I see it on setup I will often open Trading to go second and then marshal Ashemark. I did this vs Derek Shoemaker in the top 32 game and basically won the game right there. This card should be in all Lani shadows decks.

2x Joffrey Baratheon (GoH): Joffrey is a king. If he is in hand you can safely flip Trade Routes into King Plot to kill an important piece and turn on your other triggers. Also is a productive way to spend your huge amounts of cash on a Barring turn and is good spot removal of problems like Clydas, Drogo, and Wyman.

2x Friends at Court: I ran 2x Friends and Hired Assassin as my anti-shadows package and never faced the mirror all day. The Friends are quite nice because they are an efficient shadows body if you don't need their effect. In testing, checking someone's shadows cards is very valuable. It lets you set of perfect strikes with your Assassins and it works against the many keystone non-character shadows cards like Shadow of the East or Tunnels. You either trigger in your marshaling going second or as first challenge action going first.

2x Put to the Sword: This was a late change. I decided to commit to early aggression with removal and strength pumps. People want shadows to go first and 4 removal cards with A Pinch of Powder punishes them for doing so. In practice, I got some nice kills and made people kneel out their boards on defense a few times, but it was often a win more card and it does not help much against Targ SoB which I was unexpectedly weak against.

1x When I Woke...: I wanted something to punish big characters that worked on a King Plot turn and WIW does that. Unfortunately, it has to survive claim and Red Priests so it isn't consistent. I was solid in testing but I only saw my 1x when I was already winning during the tournament.

Notable Exclusions:

Shadow Priestess: Most of the targets you really want to kneel have attachments because Valyrian Steel and Gifts for the Widow are so good. Friends at Court give you the same body for cheaper and reinforces and important matchup more.

Old Bill Bone: I cut this because I wasn't worried about the Targ SoB matchup. I should have been and he should be in here.

1x Cersei Lannister (DitD) and 1x Mandon Moore: I cut down Cersie because adding Joff and Ashemark made my curve a bit too high and she was always my third choice 6 cost character. Wiping people off the board with her and Mandon is brutal, but it is expensive and doesn't work through a Barring.

1x Iron Throne: I cut this to 1x because it is most useful in the Targ SoB matchup that I wasn't too worried about. Turns out, they figured out how to counter it. The other decks it is strong against run counters against it. I'm also terrible at remembering to trigger it. I also screwed up and played my own Robert Strong after naming him with Iron Throne in my top 64 game against Alex O'Shae which neither of us caught until days later. It would have won him that game.

Changes I'd make:

-2 Put to the Sword -1 Iron Throne -1 When I Woke

The PttS should be cards to reinforce the problem matchups. Iron Throne is a good card in general but a bad card for me. When I Woke just isn't reliable because of int claim.

+1 Old Bill Bone +1 Gold Mine +1 Underhanded Methods +1 Pinch of Powder

Bill should have been in from the start. Gold Mine filtering my matchup specific cards is too good, I should have kept 3x. Underhanded Methods is very strong and works on a King Plot turn hopefully win the first challenge they wanted to chain into Qohor shenanigans.

Overall comments:

I had a lot of great games with great people. Most notable plays include blowing away Chris Vac's choke and Derek Shoemaker's Stark Crossing with Ashemark going second. I lost to Alejandro's Targ SoB in swiss and feel that the matchup is not the strength I thought it was. The inclusion of Lay Siege really improves their location control and means you must contest the military challenge much earlier. My other loss was to Eric Green's NW Steel. I think this is generally a positive matchup, but he setup a duped Aemon and followed it up with Clydas and more saves for Clydas. My best answer was First Snow into a Flayer or just bullying challenges with KoF, but I started slow and didn't see either piece until it was too late. Eric played conservatively, timed his plots well, and made no mistakes that would let me back in the game. I wish I'd practiced this matchup more, but surprisingly few people are on it despite it being a tier one deck.

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