No Red Keep, No Win - Lanni KoSw - Zaragoza Finalist

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Benji 753

Hi all,

Since I reached final at Zaragoza by miracle, I guess I have to explain deckbuild choices and make a report.

First, I would like to thanks Spanish organizers for all aspects of the organization. It was perfect to the details.

Second, I would like to thanks Spanish players for the level of the tournament. I did not expect to have such level of play at 1W-1L or 2W-2L.

--------------------------------- Where does Lanni KoSw stand ?----------------------------------


The point of a Restricted List is to normalize power level, in order to more or less have open matchups.

Kingdom of Shadows is not an economic bonuses : it compensates the cost in tempo to install limited locations providing pure gold. It is not an improvement in card quality : it provides the necessary cards to play a Shadow decks, since in-House choices are subperformant.

This agenda has nothing to do on a Restricted List, since he is equalizing the power level of this archetype.

Especially because you cannot play The Red Keep (DotE) as the restricted card, i.e the card opening your lost matchups in competitive play... except for Greyjoy and Euron CS.

Trade Routes was not an heavy loss for the archetype. People commonly believe that the synergy with Bowels is stellar, but it is not the case. Moreover, Troutes is badly metagamed by PDisaster. If LoanIB was available before I would not have played TRoutes x2 , but TRoutes + LoanIB in order to have a plot with large fixed income against PDisaster.

The real loss is to have Economic plot with drawback or 0-initiative. LSFeast, Trading and Loan are all dragging you down with their drawback that becomes detrimental at the competitive level of a developed game.

In my opinion, the Lannister plot Lions of the Rock should fulfill the role of the ideal economic provider... A large fixed part (6 gold), a "When revealed" part (+3 gold / +1 gold per limited locations under your control), Initiative-4 to counter a bit PDisaster and more generally have some discussion over first player choice, but not too much.

Forgotten Plans should also be updated to 5-6-1, like Varys's Riddle... When this plot fails, he is detrimental to have been played... At least winning initiative and having normal income would make him acceptable to play it as a standard plot, instead of making a choice for something else.

Rookery in the basic rules of the game would be a nice (and needed ?) addition... Shadow is an archetype scattered all over the places in terms of what your cards are doing... If you could put the specialized ones inside the additional 15-cards of the rookery and play them in the pertinent matchup, it should help.

Nighttime Marauders on the RList is something I did not understood. I was not playing it in Lanni KoSw before the RList, it is only useful for metagaming low-cost decks (Builders, Stark LotC, DGod without Nagga's Ribbs or Tarle). The place of this card in this archetype is the rookery. I would even ask for making an errata at Shadow 2, and make a form of +1-gold when you make a very beneficial discard with them.

----------------------------------- Tournament Preparation ----------------------------------------

I am quite busy, therefore I did little preparation for the tournament. I thought I had reached enough understanding... But the Conclave RList changed the metagame a bit.. Something I realized when making the few planned testing 3/4 days before the tournament. Martell ? + Dorne - Red Keep, making the matchup unfavorable again. And other decks were the same thing than before in different, so I was not sure anymore of which archetype to expect, while Lanni KoSw was underperforming for good...

Compared to the post-FAQ version of the list, I remove Alchemists' Guildhall because without Bowels it's not performing enough. Then I cut to Gates of the Moon x1 because resisting PDisaster and having good economy became less important than playing real cards... And accepting the associated variance in the gold curve.

Underhanded Methods and Tunnels of the Red Keep are the focus of this deck... Since the best way to counter anti-Shadow plots and metagame heavy-cost characters is to accept the combat in challenge phase with them.

A Pinch of Powder and Poisoned Coin are the needed cards to deal with Greyjoy.

I stopped playing Shadow several month ago, so I lost the automatisms... My brain was not rather anymore to make the calculations, and the changes I made were subtly changing the behavior of the deck, with cards I was not rather to play since a long time... So I was unable to "feel" the deck, multiplying unusual errors during testing, having lost automatisms to macro-planify the game, having more difficulties to make the micro-management and therefore being unable to find confidence, with this habit continuing during the tournament. I was not at my best level with the archetype, and performed thanks to luck.

------------------------------------------- The Tournament ------------------------------------------

--------------------------- Game 1 - Enermin - Greyjoy Sea of Blood --------------------------

Greyjoy is a bad matchup, Sea of Blood is a bad matchup, I guess the interaction of them is a bad matchup.

Setup : Keep a weird first hand for Goldroad - Shadow Priestess x2, which should allow me to tempo enough versus the heavy cost of Greyjoy (I do not put him on playing attachments).

T1 : At the Gates - Lion Gate to avoid giving him economy in SoB... Then I will not see an economic location until Turn 5 and 33 cards in the deck. In these conditions, I will hold him 4 turns.

T2 : Countering Barring with Nefarious from hand, then OBB to counter his agenda. It allows me install Bowels and breathe on economy.

T3 : LSF vs Nothing Burn Like the Cold on Bowels. I Block Military with Robert + UM for 1 STR.

T4 : LoanIBank vs Vanquish, I lock him with OBB + Tunnels + UMethods and win the challenge for 1 STR, then I make 2 challenges to lead 8-3.

Since I am left with FPlans, Valar M and FSoW, he simply push forward with YWoYD and I concede.

------------------------------ Game 2 - Kaikou - Targaryen Qohor -----------------------------

Tower decks are also a very bad matchup. This is basically the reason why I run this version of Lannister Shadow, trying to pop fast on table with lot of STR and having 5 removals (3 Pinch, 2 Poisoned Coin), which allow to potentially block challenge.

Setup : Weird, but I keep. Poisoned Coin, Pinch, Bolton Flayer, Tunnels are all needed cards, even though I cannot play them without characters... And I do not really redraw characters.... So another compromised game coming.

T1 : No Mil icons for him = Poisoned Coin on Dany. He already has one Bguard in play on Viserys and do not trigger Qohor to go search for a Bguard and save Dany..

T2 : Khal Drogo duped take the tower = Pinch of Powder on him in Intrigue to remove the dupe, he prevent losing Pow by +5 and choose to not trigger Viserys on my Pinch when he leaves for Mil claim (I had a second Pinch in hand).

T3 : KoF is released on board, without dupes, without cards in hand, which is a big risk because in case of Valar M next turn, he can rebuild a tower on anything and I would have lost mine. I estimated that with Valar M, I am fine because he would need to draw characters from the deck (post-Valar he only has a 2-gold duped and 3 attachments in hand). He plays Valar D, so I win.

Lucky win, since a tower powerush is a terrible matchup.

--------------------------------- Game 3 - Badrach - Stark LotC -----------------------------------

Yessssssssss... I played the matchup with Meilhen an Tamas at the start of Shadow and I was basically trampled 15-0 Hello-Thanks-Goodbye... It was more or less balanced by the end of Shadow cycle and the arrival of Red Keep, yet knowing how to play the matchup, choosing to play Exposed Duplicity or some Shadow-meta was making the pairing horribly complicate.

T1 : No mil icon for him, only one dangerous Sansa WotN with Septa Mordane giving her renown. One economic location with Northern Armory. Ok, then Shadow Priestess on Sansa -> Northern Armory on Sansa -> OtGull + IANO on Sansa.

Well, we are here for that after all. 8-0 with full hand.

T2 : Forced to crack my First Snow of Winter immediately, which means too early in this game -> Catelyn Stark duped, Arya Stark CS. BFlayer still gets rid of Arya at the end of the phase, only for...

T3 : Passing the Black Gate + Double She-bear. I am vaguely certain he has two Return to the Fields waiting.

T4 : Palace of Sorrows so that I cannot trigger my STR bonuses -> Ok-buddy-hello-thank-you-nice-for-coming-gg-wp-gl-cu -> Concede.

Well, the metagame became even more unfavorable than I thought.

---------------------------- Game 4 - Dogleesi - Stark Valyrian Steel ---------------------------

It is not really rush, it is not the same attachment than Targaryen, it is not controlling location, so with this version I should have the time to install and lock her.

T1 : She install Dacey duped, but has no attachments to put on her, so she does not trigger the virtuous cycle of Valyrian Steel.

T2 : She starts putting attachments on Dacey, but on the meanwhile I installed myself and now I am already locking the board with Tunnels.

In these conditions, I grind until T6 with Pinch managing reset, Catelyn CS cancel and some attachments. Easier to write than to to do, she did not concede any ground.

----------------------------------- Game 5 - Ariadna - Stark LotC ---------------------------------

Summary : "Robb CS + Bguard + Skaagos vs Pinch of Powder".

Very interesting game where the tough decision was what to do with Robb Stark, since removing the Pinch I put on him with Skaagos was also removing Bguard and powers from Renown.

A lot of rivalry between card in this game : Nefarious Acolyte vs Barring, UMethods + KoF vs Alysane, Umble (Intimidate) vs Tunnels (+ STR), Starfall Spy vs White Harbor Watchman.

The key point of the game was her absence of Intrigue icons. So she could not trigger LotC. Since her build was oriented toward table-building, I understood I had to follow a MinMax strategy (minimizing the losses each turn), until I was installed enough to send the ValarM and lock the table with KoF + UMethods + Umethods + Tunnels.

She lacked that extra-pressure to really put me in difficulty, but played a superb game that was explicit on her level. It was more a "Top 64" game than a 2-2 game to me. It was a really good one !

----------------------------------- Game 6 - Jordi - Greyjoy Winter --------------------------------

Greyjoy is unfavorable, Choke is unfavorable, I guess the interaction of the two is unfavorable.

And he probably plays double Barring. Misère...

T1 : At the Gates vs Barring. Well, normally people opens on Winter Reserves, so it means he is on Barring T2 Anti-Shadow T3.

T2 : Forgotten Plans vs Barring, I release the Nefarious Acolyte to block the T3 plot.

T3 : LSFeast vs Rationing. No Pinch, no Poisoned Coin, no Starfall Spy... Except if I pay the quite consequent cost of Nefarious Acolyte...

His board : Asha + Euron (duped, 1 pow)+ Grey Ghost + Scouting Vessel + Iron Fleet Scout and some low-cost stuff.

I block that as best as I can, since I need two character per challenge and Tunnels. He is very careful of not giving me room for Pinch and Poisoned Coin waiting to be played, since I could play them with Nefarious Acolyte if he gives me the opportunity to. So I am intelligently locked on the corner.

T4 : Winds of Winter vs Loan

Since he played slowly to consider his decisions (the game was pretty technical) and he suffered four small connection fails, we enter T4 with 10 minutes of time and 3-8 for him on score. I do not expect to make T5, meaning that :

  • I must hold an installed Greyjoy board with Stealth + GGhost + SVessel.
  • Compensate a 5 points differential.
  • Trigger Pinch on Euron.
  • Bonus : In case of T5 I have to play FSoW on my 3-gold table, so I need to bring Cersei & Tyrion into play with SSpy.

He makes an Int chall with Winter Refugee, I block "for free" with SSpy & NefAco, because : SSPy on Tyrion, Tyrion on NefAco, NefAco triggers Bowels (+2gold).

Then I release Tunnels and the table is pretty clear that he has two choices : First, he does Military with Euron for Claim 2, one Pow, one Gold Mine and he keep cards to oppose my challenges and prevent Poisoned Coin. Second, he fully commit to claim 2 Pow and it's open board for me, except with the block of Fanatic from dead pile. +2 Pow for him, +1 Asha tutor, +1 Gold Mine, -2 for me, then +2 for me with uo, +2 Pinch on Euron, +2 PCoin on Asha.

He chooses option one, because it is the rational one. Especially when SSPy comes back and bring into play Cersei to hit his risen. If he had chose option two, PCoin would have triggered her two additional times.

So things are played correctly, then KoF does his madness in attack, Pinch is triggered twice on Euron, I win 8-7 in Dominance because Time Limit has been reached.

So yes... With option two he could have stall to reach time limit, have no board but more pow, then claim that there was no time left and therefore refused to play an additional turn. Fortunately, he was a very fair-play guy, since he would have accepted another turn if I was still behind and reported a full victory for me. We were both qualified 15th/16th regardless of the outcome of the game if I won, so...

If the previous game was a "Top 64", this one was a "Top 32".

---------------------------------- Top 16 - Hanno - Tyrell LotC --------------------------------------

Seems like for the first time, I have some success in the pairing. Anything purely powerush is by definition manageable, and Hanno will later tell me he is not successful in passing this pairing. However, I started the game without having played against his decklist in my life, so not knowing the tempo of it and being vaguely lost on what I had to do, outside of Tom Sevenstream holding the deck.

Setup : The Normal law of luck brutally regress to the mean in this tournament, since I have a perfect setup with Roseroad - Priestess - Robert (- Nefarious - Pinch).

T1 : LSFeast vs AtGates, he names me first player. He has Arbor duped and Sevenstream alone.

Sevenstream. No dupe. No attachments.

SPriess on Sstream -> TIBWID on SPriess -> RStrong on Sstream.

I really want to apologize, except that he TLoTGiant on Syrio and remove Robert at mil claim. Seems legitimate.

T2 : FSoW to deal with Begging Brother, but he unleashes Randyll + OOG + LRRide without protection , so FSoW is not enough to stop that...

I made a stupid mistake in Marshalling, I was calculating how to minimize the losses I will suffer, noticed that with two CFeint I could play SPess in Marshalling, triggers Bowels, bring her back in Shadow with CFeint, play the second CFeint in Standing after Cersei hit in hand and the potential HJ for the crucial move... And forgot the BBrother cancelling SPess who was the reason I played FSoW. I went too far in my reasoning and lost track of the basic...

So I block and prepare the ValarM with SPEss and Cersei. I am quite unlucky because he hits the Gold Mine I was keeping for post-PDisaster... But I still have one Roseroad for that in hand. I don't know how, but CFeint in Standing is not countered by HJ.

I made another mistake there : I forgot to trigger Lion gate while expecting PDisaster because I had Bowels + GRoad x2 + GMoon + LionG and he threshold for triggering LionG in case of PDisaster is above 4 locations. That was a big error, even if it does not look like it... I had only 2 cards in hand at that time and enough economy... I had one card in Shadow during challenge phase, but three after CFeint. But I was already thinking the next step and became aware of it 5 seconds later in Standing phase... I was also a bit disturbed by the error in Marshalling and losing 0-10 to a rush deck I was not rather to, so it (probably) affected my lucidity a bit... Especially because if the dupe of Bowels I will draw next turn would have been obtained there with LionG, I could have kept 2 Goldroads on a potential Pdisaster next turn and be safe.

T3 : ValarM vs AnnalsCB

No PDisaster ? I am very lucky to get away with my previous mistake... Especially because I have my dupe of Bowels and my economy will not be a problem anymore. I am forced to move forward with my eco location anyway. In Hanno's defense, the human brain is not wired to make sense of economic flux... The previous reasoning I explained is because I trained my deck a lot and therefore get rather to the associated abstract macro-thinking.

KoF takes the lead, protected by a second BBrother (2 gold). This time, I am installed and I hold him a bit at bay. And I trigger the Lion Gate.

One very interesting point noted by the commentators :

I could have used his Annals to trigger a CFeint in Standing on my two Priestess. From my side, I would never have bring back the two since it is economically risky to bring them back. If for whatever reason I hit a charged BBrother, I lose economy. Add PDisaster in the equation... It becomes a choke point while you want to lock the table with Tunnels...

The question was more whether I would have bring back one. I had a TIBWID that seemed more important in hand, and that I did not expected to pass this time. All this reasoning applies if... I would have think that Annals allowed me to play my events. Since on previous turn I did : CFeint (Standing) + Valar M, my House card was knelt and I did not considered playing an event for the turn, meaning I did not wake to the possibility of it in Standing.

T4 : Economy vs PDisaster.

I am enough installed now, but a third BBrother (3-gold) compromises my acquired victory. I release my KoF in Marshalling, dupe him, then when he launch a challenge with his KoF + LRRide, I block him KoF + UM + UM. I did not have Tunnels, so I am quite happy to see the backup plan working.

From there, I hold the table better and better. I should not have won this game with PDisaster T3, though... I am very lucky. But I win it because I made the correct building choice in this archetype, and therefore deserve it.

----------------------------------- Top 8 - Axel - Greyjoy Winter ------------------------------------

Greyjoy is unfavorable matchup. Choke is unfavorable matchup. I guess the interaction of the two is a bad matchup.

And now it is against nothing less than Axel Gomez, European Champion.

So, I need to have Gold Mine on setup, then Bowels, and a Limited every turn. And I have Roseroad + Gold Mine + SPess + Pinch (+NAco ?) on setup... And I redraw Bowels + 2 limited (GMoon, GRoad).

T1 : At the gates (Lion gate) vs Winter Reserve.

Ok, this is NOW to stop him.

Bowels -> SPess on Goodbrother in marshall (+2 gold) -> SPess marshalled in Shadow -> Pinch on GBrother in Challenges (Bowels +2-gold) -> SPess on Euron.

He is left with an Acolyte and 1-gold. Two possibilities : Either I win Int in attack and Defense, either I trigger Pinch and he win Int unoposed (WDnSow).

He has little Economy, if I keep GBrother in play with Scouting Vessel and Euron, I will not be able to hold him in Military next turn, and it can rapidily degenerate.

So I go agressive and triggers Pinch... And indeed he has WDnSow, but he triggers it on Gold Mine and remove Bowels with NBLtCold T2.

He take the initiative and marshall two Botley Crew. So -2 Eco and I guess that he knows I cannot defend so much Military so early in the game. Euron + Scouting Vessel give him Bowels, GMine and Tunnels.

I gambled, I lost. This is really the moment where you see that I am not comfortable with Pinch and this version of the deck.

It seems over... But he has no draw motor and he will not draw anything for the rest of the game... I will claim the Balon box he was keeping in hand for post Valar-D at intrigue... When he will toppillage a BFlayer, I will immediately remove the possibility to play it with OBBone... Since he has no Warship giving unoposed or +STR I can manage to block his board with KoF... Pinch passively pressure Euron... When ValarM would save him, he has no card in hand anymore...

A miracle happened... I can take the car and make the 30 minutes to Lourdes tomorrow and light a candle... Like he said, he has 100% win rate in this matchup. And I am at something like 100% defeat vs Harren on teki... But the quality of our draw was exactly reversed.

----------------------- Top 4 - Beludo - Targaryen Assault from Shadows ------------------

I guess that after the students come the Master. Very happy to have this matchup now : I cannot lose vs burn and Targaryen is the matchup I perfectly know how to manage.

I had a streak of four semifinals lost in V1 due to bad pairings / luck... Glad it ends today.

But on the other side of the board, very bad news : I needed Free Folk to eliminate GJ Prince, he did not. Second very bad news : I needed Lanni SoB to eliminate Targ Steel, he did not. I hope that GJ Prince will eliminate Targ Steel or this final will be lost...

I have an excellent start, he does not. T2 / T3 I have installed everything : KoF (duped), BFlayer next to him, Tunnels, UMethods, Cards in Shadows and third KoF in hand in case of out-of-nowhere kills + Marched.

I just have to bring a character, trigger Tunnels and march forward with KoF.

Fuck, no.

I am here by pure luck, I am on stream, I have 100% winrate in this matchup without KoF because I learnt how to technically manage Targaryen by successive removal of uniques, or forcing him to mill himself with Meereen.

So I will show people why I am here. At least I will have deserved to progress to the final that way, and I will have to hold my nerves.

So KoF gets Incinerated. Then it's SPress + Strong on Dany, Flayer on 2-golds, Cersei sticking to the board and preventing him to keep cards in hand outside of marshalling phase, Tunnels and UMethods to grind power by power with uo and claim.

I win by regular victory condition (15 points), with a margin on the alternative victory conditions that are Time Limit win and Mill win.

This way is deserving and how I like it.

---------------------------------- Final - Albert - Targaryen Steel ----------------------------------

The only matchup I did not want from the other part of the board... It is automatically lost without Red Keep... And Red Keep would only gave me a chance to win it by cancelling Dany ability and the only non-conditional stand, Seal of the Hand... To be on good terms I would need Varys and a way to give myself a power to Dany... (Starry Sept, Desert Raider (one reason to play Martell Shadow))

I lose 15-0 without being able to do much, making two slight mistake : playing Pinch T1 by fear of EDuplicity while next turn I was going to FSoW Viserys... He had two cards in Shadow anyway so I expected Shadow of the East... The second was to not trigger Lion Gate pre-ValarM because I was at 4 locations in play, while I perfectly knew this deck will play PDisaster... So I had to. It would not have changed anything, I was too far behind in tempo.

----------------------------------------- Conclusion --------------------------------------------

The most important thing to me is being the first to bring Lanni KoSw in final of an important and competitive tournament in a mature metagame for Shadow, since Nimer performance at the beginning of the archetype was in a metagame where Shadow was new, so less known and metagamed. I did my performance in a metagame where KoSw was normalized and metagamed, with extremely unfavorable matchups that I am not able to pass and should prevent me from reaching such step of a tournament.

I was lucky, but you cannot obtain this result with a non-dominant deck without being lucky. The rest is work, testing the different Shadow cards and learning their pertinency, studying different matchups by House and Agenda, knowing the current metagame and which decks to expect, therefore making the good deckbuild choices when settling the deck. This result is purely Lauda-esque: logically proceeding the environment and emerging from it.

Training a lot the deck is necessary to practice the different "standard" sequences as an automatism, allowing to play correctly 90% of the actions without thinking and focusing on the contextual decisions of the game. It also allows to understand how to counter people countering you, and it refines your understanding of non-intuitive deckbuild choices, such as playing 18 economic locations, less than 30 characters or why cycling cards with Gold Mine is so important.

I do not fully deserve this result... I did not played well enough or hesitated sometimes, and overall far from my level on TIT when I was trained with the deck... Which is the necessary condition for performing with it. So I hope having another chance with a more capable version of the list in a tournament. I take this result as a reward for excellent analytical comprehension of the archetype, not for my playing during the tournament.


Nightswatchisnotthatbad 1

Hey all, I am new here. Generally what is the best way to counter a shadow deck?

Thanks for answer. :)

Benji 753

Greyjoy Anti-Location (We do not Sow) + Euron CS.

You can add Newly Made Lord, Political Disaster, Dagmer Cleftjaw if your purpose is to counter Shadow heavily.

In the plotline, by most efficient to least :

1 King in the North : Can be countered only by Forgotten Plans, one-sided turn where you can literally do nothing.

2 Exposed Duplicity : Game-maker T2 if you play it in a deck able to maintain pace during the game. Extremely underestimated because people are unable to understand that even if the Shadow player adapted his style to play against, it is still a pace-breaker.

3 Political Disaster : Can be countered only with a duped location, meaning you would need to play two unique locations, something you can only do with Bowels and Red Keep. Auto-play when the Shadow player has 4 non-duped locations.

4 Barring the Gates : You need to play two of them, T2 and T3, in a deck able to put pressure, in order to break the pace of the Shadow player by forcing him in under-economy with Forgotten Plans or Nefarious Acolyte.

Benji 753

Outside of KitN, most advices I give are generally poorly understood because it would require having made XXX+ games to understand the Shadow deck, instead of declaring sophism.

Nightswatchisnotthatbad 1

Thank you very much :) Appreciate it alot!