Old deck, new tricks. :) Bara Assault from 8 Regents

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Odrl 1143

Hi folks. :)

Here is another Baratheon deck from the 8 Regents tournament for you. I've actually played this deck a lot since Bran the Builder was released, mainly due to my participation in that tournament. We felt like we needed to take an additional copy of this agenda, since it's traditionally been such a strong one for Baratheon, but its stats in the more recent times were worryingly poor. That's why a lot of testing was needed. In the end, our worries were unfounded. I think Dennis played Bara Assault in one of the Friendly Open events and went 3-1 with it, and I played a deck much like this one to win Season 6 Event 3. I do have a recording of the deciding game from that event, but in the end I never published it, simply because we didn't want to make it too easy for our 8 Regents opponents to prepare for us. :)

To be honest, I'd never had much success with Assault from the Shadows in Baratheon before. I love any deck with a strong control element, but the best versions of this deck played a bit more constructively, with cards like Fickle Bannerman, The Starry Sept, and others. Hanno famously even played Royal Entourage at one point, and I think Andrew McCauley had a lot of success with a deck that included Blackwater Rush. I've always loved the focus on challenges, with tricks like Traitor to the Crown from shadows, but it's really Storm's End (BtB) that has allowed me to play this agenda "my way". In fact, the deck went undefeated for the first 10 games in testing, so in the end it was a really close call for me whether to play it in the World Championship instead of Bara Summer.

No regrets about my choice in the end, but it did mean I was especially looking forward to revisiting this deck in the 8 Regents, even if I had to wait until the penultimate day of the tournament to finally get the chance to play it. :) The game was streamed on The White Walkers channel, and I think it's actually a pretty textbook example of how the deck works:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kattjqNtp_g

Ultimately, the game plan is similar to a lot of my other decks, but the tools to achieve it are slightly different. Control of the challenge is the key part, and it means games are often very close and might go to time. Much like Bara Summer, that's actually where the deck shines the most. :) Let's discuss some of the key cards.

  • The Black Cells - An excellent card to stop important characters from participating in challenges, and to stop the game getting out of hand. If the boards are small enough, you can even block certain challenges altogether and maybe clear up the way for some unopposed. And the best part is that Assault doesn't really require you to put too much focus on cards with the printed shadow keyword, so Black Cells should be able to trigger in every round, even if you just put the card you topdeck into shadows with the agenda.
  • Traitor to the Crown - A staple in this type of deck for a long time now. It is already a great card even if you just marshal it, but being able to bring it into play once characters are already participating in a challenge is very nice. And it's not terminal, so you get it back after resets.
  • Storm's End - One of the best late-game cards in the game, in my opinion. There is definitely some tempo hit to get into play initially, but the ability itself can sometimes help to mitigate that a little. Where it shines though is turning strong challenges into weaker ones for the opponent, and turning weak challenges into stronger ones for you. Works very nicely with all the effects and modifiers that apply specifically during challenges, and the potential to get additional claim is really important in any close game.
  • Ser Eldon Estermont - Finally a deck that has more than one key location that really benefits from a double use. You could potentially get two Black Cells triggers, or three challenges with Storm's End. Although, to be honest, a lot of the time I've used him just to stand Northern Encampment and get an extra 2 gold. If you've watched the game linked above, you've seen how useful that can be, especially in games where the opponent is able to deny you dominance and keep Northern Encampment knelt.
  • Melisandre - The control in the challenges phase can't do all the work, obviously, so the trusty core Melisandre is here again with her R'hllor package for some additional kneel. It goes without saying that 3x Shadow Priestess fits perfectly here. Missing the big Selyse, unfortunately, but any card that kneels the faction card would conflict with the agenda too much. Core Selyse is okay as part of the R'hllor package though, and her ability does occasionally prove useful.
  • Shireen Baratheon - Using the 3-cost version here as yet another tool to lock down challenges. Great synergy with The Red Keep as well, even if the location is a lot more difficult to protect here than it is in Bara Summer. Shireen is also one of the few characters with the printed shadow keyword, and you do need at least a few of those if you genuinely want to trigger Black Cells multiple times with Eldon.

I've also found space for Throne and Chamber here. With the synergy between Eldon and Northern Encampment, it seemed silly not to. Delena Florent can help you find Edric if the opponent fights you for dominance, or she can grab The Bastard of Nightsong for the power swing instead. Only one copy of Delena on this occasion, especially since the specific 8 Regents game was against Martell, but we definitely talked about including 3x Delena if we were playing the deck against Stark or Greyjoy. I guess it depends on how much stand in the challenges phase you are expecting.

Ser Imry Florent probably deserves a quick mention as well. I basically play a copy of him in every Bara deck nowadays, but I really like him in combination with this agenda. You don't really want him in play until you plan to actually use him, and putting him into shadows is a really nice way of protecting him from getting killed or discarded. And of course there is more of a surprise element as well. Similar story with Devan Seaworth. It's often tricky to bestow 2 on him and expect to win dominance to grab the Throne, because the opponent will see it and try to stop it. But Devan from shadows often has a better chance of pulling it off. Finally, there was also a late call to include a copy of Shadow of the Throne in the latest version, partly because we were thinking the opponent might play HRD Starfall. If you've watched the video, you saw that it ended up doing great work, kneeling all the reducer locations before they could be used in most rounds. Might have won me the game. :) Good chance of getting it back to hand as well with so many Kingdoms in the plot deck. That got me up to 61 cards, but Dennis said it was fine, no need to cut any. ;)

Just a few words about the plot deck... Since the agenda has a gold penalty, it's no surprise that most of the plot deck revolves around economy. There has been a lot of Summer Harvest trying to hit Late Summer Feast or The Maiden recently, so I've decided to use Peace and Prosperity as a counter to that. When it hits, it can really slow the opponent down. It's basically an 8-gold plot, but there is a slight chance that you miss out on a 2-cost location. With 12 of them in the deck though, you are alright most of the time. Attachments can also miss, especially if you really want to put Traitor in shadows rather than marshaling it directly. My beloved Exchange of Information doesn't quite work here, because the spread of cardtypes isn't balanced enough, but that opens room for Loan from the Iron Bank as the restricted card instead. LSF and Trade Routes are also here for the gold. I've actually had a second Trade Routes in most of the games, but we decided to replace one with A Clash of Kings in the end. It's yet another tool that can swing close games in your favour. It's theoretically possible to do three challenges in a round, although I am happy enough with just two most of the time. It's also possible to trigger it on defence, which means the opponent has a tough job playing around Storm's End and any tricks you might be hiding in shadows. Valar Dohaeris is the reset of choice, as most of the characters are fairly cheap. As usual, I try to delay it for as long as possible. Finally, Siege Preparations is here for the draw. That was the unrevealed plot in the game on stream. There was never a good time to reveal it on that occasion, but it was strong in testing, so I am happy to keep it.

I actually really dislike it when my opponent outdraws me, especially when playing a control deck such as this one. Giving all those cards away for LSF and Dorne was tough, and I guess I can count myself quite lucky that my opponent didn't find a Doran's Game in time. On the other hand, it's quite impressive that the deck still works without any consistent source of draw. The Red Keep is somewhat unreliable, and Siege Preparations is delayed draw that gives you something like 5 cards in the late game. But I think the way the agenda works means you usually get a bit more from your topdecked cards, especially if those key locations are also in play.

All in all, I've had lots of fun with this deck, winning 14 games and losing 4. But it's definitely not the only way the play Assault in Baratheon. The deck we used in the other game was a little bit different, and we had some other ideas beyond that as well. There are just too many fun cards to include them all. :)

Thanks for reading. As always, happy to hear your comments and suggestions. :)

1 comment

SonOfBattles1 293

Great deck Miha. I too initially doubted the Peace and Prosperity inclusion, but it's a brilliant opener. I will still die on the hill preferring Red Keep Gaoler to Vanguard Lancer - but then again you won your Regents match with this deck, while I lost with my version. So you may have that argument won.