|Card draw simulator|
Odds: 0% – 0% – 0% more
|None. Self-made deck here.|
Hello Thrones Fam!
I don't write many of these, but as this is the first major event I've participated in since the final FFG Worlds, I thought it was important to document it as a form of interacting with the community I love so much.
As soon as the tournament organizers for Dance with Dragons V announced a new tournament-specific restricted list, I was super jazzed.
I take the majority of my fulfillment from this game is experimenting and discovering new deck types. I've always been a fan of the theory of aggressive restriction, as I view it as a new puzzle to grapple with.
I also love building with new cards, especially agendas.
I had been hearing about Dark Wings, Dark Words since the early days of my experience with 2.0; my friend Brett who introduced me to the game played 1.0, as well as a lot of the folks I played with pretty regularly in Boston, and when they told me about an agenda that pushed under-played events, I was all for it.
Events have always been my favorite card type; cards like Vengeance for Elia and Dracarys! are able to really capture the essence of their respective factions in moments of real excitement or tension.
One of my biggest challenges with deckbuilding has been my reluctance to "kill my darlings" and cut out cute but inefficient cards that dilute a deck's effectiveness.
This dovetails rather nicely with perhaps my largest challenge with piloting, which is my preoccupation with "doing a cool thing" that does not help me win the game. (Looking at you Doran Martell (SoD))
So the concept of an agenda that can turn situational, edge-case events into more efficient cards and also eliminate the head game of "2x or 3x? ...or 1x?" results in a match made in heaven.
Unfortunately, Martell had been near the bottom of the meta in the Final FFG Worlds meta.
But the prospect of playing an under-performing faction didn't bother me since MArtell has always been my favorite faction; I've been a part of three Team Martells (WAR 2018, 2019 and Thronestoberfest 2019) and I've never bored of my orange cards.
My excitement over this new Restricted List wore off in less than a week when I realized that my 3 year anniversary with my girlfriend was the Monday after the tournament; it was clear to me I wouldn't be able to swing a NYC trip that weekend, and I was sad.
Fast-forward 8 weeks and the COVID-19 pandemic is in full swing, and I'm suddenly realizing I may be able to play in the tournament after all, since it had moved to an online format.
A quick discussion with my girlfriend, and I had made plans to visit her on the Sunday after the event and I was signed up to play after all!
I didn't have much time or interest in testing this deck aggressively; I didn't really have the resources or even an inkling of what the meta would look like beyond a vague apprehension of Drowned God rising from the sea.
So my approach would be to focus on play patterns I like, IE: punishing decks that over-extend on the board, and not focus so much on trying to predict the meta.
This is very evident in my plot choices: First Snow gives me an answer to weenie rush decks; Valar D to punish big bombs and the addition of Return to the Fields to the restricted list meant Valar Morghulis had teeth again.
This plot provided me with the perfect tool to set up a single, splashy turn where I do a bunch of crazy stuff while laughing maniacally.
The challenge phase on my Annals turn was insane.
Ultimately, my plot deck ended up biting me in the butt. I did not expect a Shadows presence at all, with key pieces of Lannister Kingdom of Shadows getting hit, and Martell Kingdom and Tyrell Kingdom all but completely absent from the World's meta (the notable exception I can think of was Lennart's great showing with Martell Kingdom, but I think a lot of that success people attributed to Lennart's undeniable skill as a player and less of the objective strength of the deck).
Alas; color me surprised when Kingdom of Shadows was the most represented agenda on the day.
I knew I would be in for a struggle, but at least I picked a deck I knew would be fun to pilot!
Round 1: Ben - Tyrell Kingdom of Shadows
Ben is from the UK and was a delightful opponent to play and chat with.
As soon as I saw his faction/agenda combo, I had a feeling I was in trouble.
I knew my deck was slow, and my experience against Tyrell Kingdom back before Unexpected Guile was restricted was that the deck was capable of consistent passive power gain/steal through cards like Oldtown and Sparrows.
I did end up getting some decent utility out of Friends at Court, which I had honestly only included as an efficient power icon to round out my curve.
Unfortunately, an early Arbor meant Ben was able to absorb the tempo loss of returning cards to hand via Friends at Court without too much trouble.
I never really felt I had a chance in this matchup, and Ben had his engine assembled in short order, with Oldtown Undercity filtering through his deck.
Ben was a great sport about it, and while we did agree it was a rough matchup for my deck, he piloted the deck expertly.
Round 2: Mike Arroyo - Greyjoy Banner of the Sun
I know Mike pretty well from our times chatting and playing at the various NECT events. He's also the reigning 2019 US National Champion, which he won with this exact faction agenda combo.
I had teched for this matchup slightly; 3x Milk of the Poppy specifically, and Burning the Dead. 4 cards in a 76 card deck is hardly what I would call "reliable" but the deck did draw cards in bunches, so I felt like I had a puncher's chance of stalling long enough to draw some of them.
After set-up I had Milk and Burning the Dead in hand and I was feeling very safe.
This deck is capable of those incredibly swingy plays; I acknowledge a lot of luck is involved in drawing those cards at the right times out of a 76 card deck.
I was able to set up a Long Plan into Annals where I canceled Counting Coppers with SAT out of my discard followed by a Burning the Dead in Draw Phase.
Mike conceded at that point; I wish this game could have been a little less swingy and more interesting for both of us, though again, Mike is a consummate gentleman and handled a rage-worthy situation with grace and poise, as befitting our National Champ.
Round 3: Peter Shuck - Baratheon Banner of the Wolf
Peter dropped 2 Red Priest turn 1, which had me pretty worried, though I had enough threats in hand that I was still able to salvage Turn 1 challenges ok.
Peter didn't have much luck finding economy this game, and my resets were able to punish and stall enough to set up an explosive Annals turn and put it away.
Round 4: Martin Naze - Lannister Kingdom of Shadows
Martin is a skilled player who I played before back in the NECT 2019 event in CT (Feast for Crows); I remember we had an extremely tense game (myself on Martell Hollow Hill, while he was on Greyjoy Sea of Blood) with Martin edging me out for the win. I hoped this time I might be able to get a win, but my hopes weren’t high as Martin was playing Lannister Kingdom of Shadows.
Martin set up The Iron Throne (LMHR) which is always rough to see, especially for a tricksy heavy faction like Martell. Martin had just come off a tough loss to Martell Wars To Come, so he was quick to comment that he planned to name Dorne with The Iron Throne (LMHR) every Marshaling phase.
Draw didn’t turn out to be that big of an issue for me this game, but my deck’s weakness to Shadows became quickly evident. A lot of my cards deal with on-board threats, which was good for Martin.
Martin ground me out in short order, but we both agreed it was nice to be able to voice chat over discord and play against people we knew and liked.
Round 5: Phillip Kelly - Greyjoy The Prince Who Was Promised
I knew I was unlikely to make the cut at this point; I knew at least some X-2 would miss the cut based on SoS, and the breakdown of the field did not have me feeling too optimistic about my chances of winning out.
When Phillip announced Balon Greyjoy (Core) as his Prince, I was immediately worried; Greyjoy has always been a tough faction for me to play against; I struggle with it's rush potential and have lingering PTSD of having my Dorne stolen.
I was able to keep pressure up on the hand early and hit some key characters, and Phillip was unable to afford much more for the rest of the game.
Luck was on my side this time and I was able to put it away. Phillip was a good sport dealing with my Martel bullshit, which I appreciated. In fact there was little to no salt from any of my opponents on the day. This community rocks :)
Round 6: Harrison Anderson - Greyjoy The Prince Who Was Promised
Another Greyjoy Prince! Though it became apparent quickly that this game would be much different when Harrison announced Prince Tarle.
My reaction was mixed at this point; Drowned Disciple had only one target to dump it's power on, which was good for my slow deck, but Tarle would be all but impossible to keep dead due to the dead pile tutor from Prince.
This game was an absolute blast, though a bit one-sided, and unfortunately, not in my favor like Round 2 against Mike.
Harrison had Aeron Damphair (KotI) out early, and I was unable to milk him so he was able to draw quite a few cards via his ability and insight. This is a huge problem for me; I needed to keep his hand empty and his combo separated.
I was able to finally draw into a Burning the Dead, but it was too little too late. Harrison was able to creep slowly towards 15 by winning dom and a power challenge every round. In fact, the game ended 15-0 with no power on any characters; an accomplishment for a Drowned God deck in my book.
Harrison was a terrific opponent, and his deck was a super interesting take on the archetype. He went on to have a deep run into the cut with it too after bubbling in as the 16 seed, so I felt absolutely no shame in losing my win-and-in to such an opponent.
This deck is an absolute blast to play. The Annals turn always feels incredible, and it really mitigates the "feel bad" of losing an event to intrigue claim in the early going.
Had I known how heavy the shadow presence would be, I would have opted for Expose Duplicity in place of one of my resets (probably Valar D), which would have shored up that match immensely.
Apart from the abundance of Kingdom of Shadows, the meta seemed diverse and interesting; nothing else was too over-represented. I saw a lot of creativity, and we did end up with a non-KoS final between two super interesting decks.
I count this RL a successful experiment, though I do think it highlights some need for either errata or restriction of Kingdom of Shadows. Personally I'd like to see a faction kneel added, as well as a limit on the out of faction cards included, similar to Banner agendas.
I look forward to the official Restricted List update from our Conclave so I can play some form of this deck legally again soon!
Thanks for reading, I know I rambled quite a bit. I'm looking forward to the post-FFG future of this great game :)