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|See the Light of the Lord - Winner Brawl 2018 (46p)||27||23||17||1.0|
Hi folks. :)
I would like to share with you the deck I played in the recent World Championship. I have to give credit to Hanno Lunser for originally introducing this concept of playing Grand Melee in combination with some control elements, way back in 2018. I've played different versions of that deck ever since, with additional focus on kneel, and I've also taken inspiration from Axel's deck that won the European Championship. It's always had alright results, but my win rate with it has increased dramatically since Storm's End was released. I actually made the decision to play some kind of Storm's End deck in the World Championship the moment I first tried it, so it was just a question of finding what worked best. In the end, it was a close call between this and Assault from the Shadows, which also had strong results in testing.
So, how does the deck work? It's actually a mix of all three main themes. It has elements of Bara Kneel, dominance with Throne and Chamber, and a heavy focus on challenges in the mid to late game. Let's split it into different parts and discuss some of the key cards...
As you can see, the list of characters is quite similar to what you would see in a standard kneel deck.
- Robert Baratheon is a key card in a lot of matchups, particularly against Greyjoy bigs, or against any deck that swarms the board with a bunch of low-cost characters. He is also the only source of renown in this deck, which can occasionally make a difference.
- Melisandre with her R'hllor package is there for some targeted kneel of the most important characters. Or, to target specific icons on small boards. I think I got the spread of icons pretty okay in the end, especially after the late inclusion of Godry.
- And we only have two copies of Selyse Baratheon on this occasion, to get us out of trouble for a round. I might have gone for a third copy if I'd known there would be so much Greyjoy, but I was reluctant to include it in a deck that cannot play my beloved Withering Cold, and I also cannot get her off the board very easily apart from Valar Dohaeris.
- Delena Florent is another key piece here, as she stops the usual suspects from standing. That would be Euron and Victarion in Greyjoy, The Knight of Flowers in Tyrell, or anyone in Stark basically. And her search can be quite important as well.
- Finally, Ser Imry Florent is an excellent card to draw in the late game, since he lets you do a huge power swing if you can kneel the board with him.
Economy and draw
This is probably the biggest change compared to my previous versions of this deck. I included King's Landing in all of my testing games, but I actually left the final decision whether to include it in the tournament deck or not until the very last moment. Absolutely the correct decision to keep it in the end, as it proved to be a fantastic card over the course of the tournament. Basically, cutting King's Landing would let me play more efficient economy like Roseroad and Dragonstone Port, and it would free up some deck space for three additional cards. However:
- With Late Summer Feast, it's fairly easy to put it into play if you see it in the opening, and then it should immediately give you 2 gold back, which basically makes it a 3-cost location for the round. It really helps this deck survive Political Disaster, especially since it can also be duped itself. And of course it becomes a source of draw as well. Any King's Landing location you draw from Round 2 onwards immediately replaces itself in the marshaling phase, which improves your topdecks significantly. I don't think I saw anyone playing King's Landing against me in the tournament, so I would say it's currently underplayed. It's especially good in Baratheon if you are already including The Iron Throne.
- Of course that means that you are forced to also play King's Gate and City Gates, but that's not so bad. Lots of Baratheon decks play King's Gate regardless. I didn't need to trigger it much though. I think I've only ever triggered it when I thought Political Disaster was inevitable, or when I needed more cards for a big Trade Routes round.
- For draw, the first key card is of course Exchange of Information, which works nicely with the +1 gold from the agenda, and it also helps you find your other sources of draw.
- Set Down Our Deeds is a fantastic card as well, letting you draw 4 or 6 cards for the price of some power that can be recovered later. With the Late Summer Feast opening, I've found that most opponents are actually quite happy to let you get some unopposed power in exchange for drawing a card or two, so you might immediately have a good chance of trading power for cards yourself.
- Delena also gets you a card whenever you marshal her, and there is also The Red Keep. But let's leave that for later. :)
As usual, dominance is a good way to get some extra power over the course of the game, but there is actually not that much support for it in this deck.
- The Iron Throne is an easy include because of King's Landing, so it makes sense to include the Chamber of the Painted Table as well.
- It's slightly annoying when the opponent fights you for dominance, but there is an excellent chance of grabbing Edric Storm with Delena. And there is also Traitor to the Crown to give you an advantage there.
- Saving the Kingdom is also an excellent event to help reduce the number of standing characters, but you kind of need to fight for dominance to make full use of it. Only one copy though, because carrying 3 gold into challenges still isn't that easy.
- Devan Seaworth was not really needed. I was never able to invest anything in him, and the draw was good enough to get the locations even without him. I would consider swapping him for another copy of a non-unique 2-coster.
I think the main reason I've had success with this deck is how strong it is in the late game. And that's mainly due to being able to win multiple challenges when it really matters.
- Grand Melee is the key plot here. The kneel effects are supposed to limit the number of characters the opponent has available, and it makes it very difficult for them to push challenges through if there have to be at least two attackers with each challenge icon. You, on the other hand, should have a decent number of chuds available to get things done. Of course you also have other tricks here...
- This is where The Red Keep becomes amazing. It contributes 2 STR to challenges even with a single attacker while Grand Melee is revealed. In combination with Shireen and Traitor to the Crown, that makes it very difficult for the opponent to defend even the weakest challenges you initiate.
- And then there is Storm's End. :) Wonderful card in this deck, and basically what The Stormlands should have been. It does some work if you see it early, mainly as a defensive tool, but where it really shines is the late game, especially with a time limit. Being able to push two challenges through is a big power swing at the business end of games. And with The Red Keep in play, you can do the same trick in and challenges as well while Grand Melee is revealed. You can also use it on defence to make any character with Traitor attached immediately contribute 0 STR to the challenge. There are times when Storm's End does let you down, but it's not often. It's just a shame I couldn't find room to include Ser Eldon in this deck as well. :)
- I will also mention The Bastard of Nightsong here. I often include a copy in my decks just to have a backup target for Delena's search, but here he is particularly useful. And the role of that backup target is played by Bastard in Hiding instead. :)
Agenda and plot deck
This one kind of builds itself.
- With Grand Melee having limited gold, Kings of Summer was the only agenda I ever considered. Having 1 extra gold in all rounds except one is great, and it lets you survive even without much additional economy.
- I settled on Late Summer Feast as the opening plot. I did consider Summer Harvest instead, trying to hit other Late Summer Feasts, or at least The Maiden, which is still good gold with better initiative and no penalty. But I figured I couldn't really afford it to miss. I think you need a way to play King's Landing safely.
- Trade Routes doesn't fit 100% perfectly, because Political Disaster still counters it pretty well. But it did save a few games for sure. It helps to have a massive round where you can put a lot of stuff into play.
- Close Call is a pretty common inclusion in Summer decks as well. To be honest, I didn't end up doing much with it, but it still helps not having to worry about an unprotected Robert or Melisandre. And, if nothing else, it usually draws you a useful extra card if you are revealing it late in the game.
- The others I've already talked about, so that just leaves the reset. I guess this deck would still work with Morghulis too, but with so much Greyjoy around, I think Valar Dohaeris was the right call. I try to leave it as late as possible though, especially if I have the game under control. And it's always nice when Alester is one of the characters that leave play.
Is there room for improvement? Probably. :) The choice of events was especially difficult in the end. Not having all three copies of Seen In Flames and Milk of the Poppy is quite rare for me, but I couldn't think of anything else to cut. And Privileged Position is such an inconsistent card, going from alright to absolutely indispensable depending on the specific game. I wish I could include all of these, but having played 22 games with the deck over a period of just over three weeks, I am no longer willing to cut King's Landing to make any additional space. And, in case you are wondering, the record is 17 wins, 5 losses. :) Nothing extraordinary, but still one of the most successful decks I've played personally.
Usually I would include a little tournament report as well, but I've actually managed to record all eight of my games in the World Championship, so I won't bother describing them in text. If you want to see the deck in action, you can check the games on my youtube channel some time in the next few weeks, after I've managed to add commentary. I'll post the link again when they are uploaded. :)
And I think that pretty much covers it. I would like to thank Team Bara and everyone else that has given me useful advice in recent weeks, and of course the Design Team for giving me Storm's End. :) Thanks also to all the players and organisers of the World Championship, it was a fantastic event.
Thanks for reading if you've made it this far, and as always, I welcome any comments or suggestions. :)