Martell Fools - Stahleck 2022 - Top 16

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melle 47

A wonderful weekend among friends is slowly coming to an end. Stahleck 2022 was once again an outstanding event full of great experiences. For all those who have not yet had the pleasure to experience Stahleck live, I can only recommend to join the Event next year. Stahleck 2023 will be held from 16. to 19. of November 2023.

After missing Stahleck 2019 due to illness, I took a long break from the only game that matters. Due to the pandemic, other things came to the fore and I'm just not a fan of playing online. But the closer Stahleck came the more it tingled again and the anticipation grew more and more. Originally, I planned to play a updated version of the Drowned God Sun deck that won me the Dockside Tournament in the Netherlands in 2019.

However, I felt I was too dependent on Nagga's Ribs. In my test games, I kept running into Assault Armies or Free Companies and Qohor decks that Seized my location. I don't even want to talk about Crow┬┤s Eye and We Do Not Sow

So I decided to give the Martell Fool deck of my friend Lemming a try, which I adapted a bit to my needs. In retrospect, this turned out to be a good decision. Both Lemming and I made the cut. While I reached the 13th place with a score of 7-3, my buddy even made it to the semi-finals where he unfortunately had to admit defeat to the later winner and finished the tournament in 3rd place with a score of 8-2.

I originally intended to write a tournament report, but to be honest my memory is not up to it right now. Therefore, I will only briefly say a few words about the deck itself. In case, anyone is interested, my matchups can be viewed here: Jousting Pavillion

That A Mummer's Farce is a strong agenda can be quickly seen by looking at this year's top 3 where two Fools decks can be found. The Draw through the Agenda is crazy. There were times i had access to more than 20 cards of my Deck. Thanks to the Re-Restriction from Martells Money Event you can not only spend a lot of money on all your cards but also play constantly Plotcancceling which really helps this deck out.

Following some thoughts about Card choices:

Plots

Plots that worked well and i would not change are:

  • At Prince Doran's Behest - Good starting plot to increase the number of used plots and with the option to see if going into Summer Harvest is worthwhile as second plot or if it is better to switch to Counting Coppers

  • Valar Dohaeris- Your fools are cheap and even they get stronger every standing phase its good to have a smaller board and send opponents Big Dudes back to the bottom of their deck. Also, you can play Doharis as a counter for an enemy Valar Morghulis, in case you haven't found your plotcancel yet to save unique Fools but also Ricasso. We play with a very small number of characters, so it is important to protect them with all means.

  • The Annals of Castle Black (R) - One of the most important plots in the deck. It allows you to use Unbridled Generosity again to distribute gold to all Characters and Seized, but also to access events already played or discarded by Intrigue Claim that may be important for your Win. It is important to note that only 2 events can be played per phase, so it is worthwhile to start playing Unbridled in the Plot Phase (especially when Seizeds on opponent locations are no longer bestowed) or in Marshalling Phase.

  • Calling the Banners - usually provides you with the necessary gold if you want to cancel an enemy plot. Due to the higher initiative preferred compared to Trade Routes (R) to definitely have the possibility to be the starting player in the opponent's Valar Turn even with The Maiden in opponents used plot pile.

Flex Plot Spots:

  • Summer Harvest - Usually offers good stats and enough gold (most of the time I hit an enemy Maiden with it and had 8 gold available), but it can also go wrong, so if you want to be on the safe side, choose an alternative that suits you best

  • Counting Coppers - Helps to find Fools as well as important events, but unfortunately offers only 2 gold. Eco Loactions are a bit scarce in this deck, but Doran's name on the other Hand offers a lot of gold. There were moments when I would have preferred a different plot with more gold, but there were also games where I found missing parts and was happy about Counting Coppers

  • The Smith - I had only decided on this plot at short notice. Until the night before, I had The Pointy End as the 7th plot in the deck. With my 3 Seized I already have some Location Control in the deck. During my testing phase there were some games where I was very happy about Pointy End. Against both Drowned God decks and Voltron decks, the plot always came out well. Due to the higher gold value and the fear of a lot of Nope Throne and other annoying Locations, I finally decided to go with The Smith. Still in very big competition with The Pointy End. Reserve 4 hurts a little Bit.

Characters:

  • Fool-Package: Without thinking you can put in 3x Shagwell, 3x Patchface and 3x Penny Shagwell as will be mentioned later one of the most important character and Patchface a good allrounder. I would also recommend playing Penny three times. Usually it is enough to have penny with a dupe outside. If you draw a third copy, you can marshal it in the shadows to get the stealth keyword. Also i would play 3x Highgarden Jester the more fools are out the better also they give your other fools insight while they have gold on it. Be careful with your choice of card, that is placed on top of your deck while playing against Pillage ! Ser Dontos Hollard is on the one hand another fool that you can play on the other hand he gives you the important Keyword: no attachment except weapons! In case your Shagwell is milked he is the key to get him free! Jinglebells destiny is to die to find another Fool (usually Shagwell or Patchface) which is why I only play him once. But it makes also sense to play him several times. On the one hand he is the cheapest Fool and therefore improves the set up. On the other hand he doesn't have to be killed if Shagwell is already there and can continuously collect attachments (handadvantage!) and become stronger. Furthermore he saves our other important fools from the Bolton Flayer at least for one turn.

  • Tool-cards: Speaking from Bolton Flayer ... one card you really have to play in this Deck is Begging Brother! He really helps with the stark matchup otherwise your Fools would get massacred by the bolton flayer. Also it helps against Meera Reed (R) which loves to blank your Ricasso or Shagwell. Out of stark there are also so much annoying Character that get handled well by the Begging Brother (looking at you Drogon) so i would really recommend to play them 3 times! it takes a while until the Fool are strong enough to defend military attacks well. Also, the deck quickly runs into problems against aggro decks that attack with 2 Claim Challenges so i recommend to play at least 2x Desert Raider for your military claim. Even they have prize 1 its important for the first turns to save your fools and Ricasso. Ser Cletus Yronwood is a really important card against Grejyoy to win the initiative. Would love to play him at least 2 times! Maybe i will cut 1 The Tattered Prince for him.

  • other cards: Areo Hotah: i really like him and with a well bestowed Ricasso he is also well affordable early on. In my 7th game at Stahleck I actually managed to ambush Areo Hotah for free on turn 1, but this was a very lucky combination of Behest, Gulltown, 2 Gold bestowed Ricasso and 2 Unbridled. The only disadvantage is that Areo can only be ambushed by hand. If he should lie as an attachment under a Fool he must first be marshaled and the surprise is gone. He is for sure a flex Spot and could also be an Shadow City Bastard or an Quentyn Martell. The Tattered Prince: you can bestow him when he comes out of shadow to give him (and your fools) renown. He has good Stats (STR 4 / Tricon) and the forced reaction helps to get him back into shadow so Penny gets her shadow keyword and intrigue icon also he cant be bypassed by stealth while he is chilling in shadow. Sometimes opponent isnt thinking of him and you can surprise with renown for your fools while defending. He belongs to this deck but i am not sure if 1 or 2 times.

Attachments

  • Seized by the Guard - Important card to keep enemy location under control. With Unbridled also in the later course bestowable. Nope Throne and Pyke are really troublemaker for this deck so its good to have answers for it. I would at least play 2 Seized, better 3!

  • A Pinch of Powder - Last minute choice ... i think i put it in the Deck 5 min before deck submitting ... never used it in the tournament not sure if i would play it again ... could handle problematic Chars for sure because winning by 5 isnt hard with The Princess Plan. Most of the Player are frightend of Dorans Game and neglect defending the Power Challenge because they focus on intrigue so you could paky an surprising Pinch ... but in Torunament ive seen it only one time and there i didnt need it bcs i was winning anyway

  • Venomous Blade - As Mentioned in the Commentary Section that would also an reasonable Card to play. Helps a lot against Fools Mirror and against NW where you have a lot of Targets for your poison token.

Locations

  • Dorne - what is better than drawing tons of cards over the agenda? Drawing even more cards with Dorne! This deck proved to me once again how valuable hand advantage is. With every card you draw, the likelihood of drawing important answers and getting closer to your goal increases.

  • Dornish Fiefdom / Gates of the Moon / The Roseroad / The Water Gardens - You need some Money to get this Deck working in the first rounds ... as soon as Ricasso is out and you find your Dorans Name you dont have eco problems anymore but for the Beginning i recommend at least those Eco Locations

  • Summer Sea Port - I actively decided against Summer Sea Port, even though I think the card is basically a good one. Because it is not limited it can be played multiple times and can be set up together with a limited Location. On the other hand, location hate is currently being played more often again and experience has shown that limited locations have a bit more protection here. If your feeling this deck is to short on eco you can consider to put them in.

  • Gulltown - Even more important than the +1 Gold is the +1 Plot in your used pile term. Really helps with your winning strategie.

  • Starfall - Thats a Flex Spot. In my Stahleck games against NW, Starfall has served me very well in keeping the Great Ranging and Grenn in check.

Events

  • Burning on the Sand - helps especially at the beginning of the game, when the fools are not yet so strong to avoid claim of any kind. Can be played again in the Annals turn

  • Doran's Game - One of the winning Strategies - win your Intrigue by 5 for 5 PWR and repeat in Annals Turn. Even if you didn't draw it, it's an unspoken threat that the opponent must be aware of.

  • In Doran's Name - as mentioned before its a good think to play it in Taxation phase so you have money for your cancel Event in Plot Phase. Helps also to bring a lot of Stuff out or play more than one Princess Plan in Challenge Phase. I recommend to play 3!

  • Nightmares - it is never wrong to play nightmares. Be it to blank problematic characters or to take out the opponent's eco in the marshalling phase. Its a flex spot you could play other events or more character but i really like the nightmares in this built

  • Someone Always Tells - Plot Cancelling is just so over the top strong and easily playable with this deck. First Snow in particular causes so many problems for this deck and having the ability to cancel that is powerful. But also events can be canceled (expensive) with it if necessary for me the card definitely belongs 3 times in the deck

  • The Prince's Plan - I realize how strong and important this card is every time an opponent announces my Princess Plan with his Nope-Throne at the beginning of the Challenge Phase. That's when I actually get really sad. The Str-Buff is important to win your challenges. Its nice to get them back by loosing a challenge so i often startet a "pseudo challenge" just to loose it and get my event back.

  • Unbridled Generosity - Important to get Gold on all your Fools, Ricasso and Seized. You can play it on your own chars or on opponent Chars to get their Keywords. Repeat it in Annals Turn to get the most out of it!

How to play

  • Set-up: I try to get at least 2 Fools out in Set Up so my draw machine is working early on. Also its good to have some sort of Eco ... bets would be Gulltown in Set Up and Roseroad for marshalling T1. Which fools to play depends on the Matchup. You really dont want to loose Shagwell in the early game so play him when you know he survives the first Turn! Same for Ricasso. I often hold him back till i have enough money to bestow him at least for 1 and dupe him or have enough other Chars for mil Claim and ... important ... if i expect an opponent reset i have Someone Always Tells to cancel the opponent plot.

  • Plots: Most of the Time i am starting with At Prince Doran's Behest into Summer Harvest. Against Stark you can think about saving your Summer Harvest for opponent Winter Festival plot. If Opponents Starting Plot has only a low Gold value just go for Counting Coppers to draw more cards. Hold back your doharis as long as possible. The Annals Turn is often the Turn i end my games.

  • Matchups: Against Stark i am always looking for Begging Brother to avoid an Bolton Massacre. Also an early The smith helps to kneel their Standing Locations (Beware of your bad Reserve value!). Against Grejyoy i am looking for Ser Cletus Yronwood which helps to win the Reserve. Also Seized is a really important card if you expect to see Pyke . If you are counting on the Silence Crew, you should be sparing with gold on Fools. Unlike Ser Dontos Hollard, who only has the keyword: No attachments except weapons, the Silence Crew has the keyword No Attachments. So if your Shagwell is out and you have several Fools equipped with gold, all attachments fall off as soon as gold lands on the crew! This is nothing you want! Same Problem with The Many-Faced God who often play no attachment-Armys so you would also loose all your Cards. Also be aware with your Desert Raider in Games against Free Companies. They could give all your fools the prize 1 - Keyword

  • Winning Strategie: Doran's Game can certainly be mentioned as one of the winning strategies. At Prince Doran's Behest, Gulltown and Ricasso which is pumped with Unbridled Generosity help that early Doran's Game can be played for 5 Power. If our Fools incl. Attachments are not strong enough, the The Prince's Plan can be used to add the missing strength. But even without Doran's Game we have good possibilities to dominate the game by equipping our Fools with Renown, Insight, Stealth or other usefull Stuff. The most important card therefore is Shagwell which gives all our fools those keywords that have any character with gold on it. The The Tattered Prince for example could give all your fools with Gold Renown while bestowed. Important to know here, that the whole thing also works crosstable and you can for example also equip an enemy with gold to get for example an stealth or Intimitade. You can also win qhile defending. An good timed Unbridled on your fools, The Tattered Prince bestowed out of the shadows ... and you can get 3-5 PWR through renown while defending ... depending on the numbers of fools you have.

  • Plot cancelling: Important is to play In Doran's Name in the Taxation Phase so you start the Plot phase with enough money for your Someone Always Tells. In case you cant find your Money Event there is also Calling the Banners which gives you often the 2 Gold you need to cancel Plots like Valar Morghulis, The Stranger, The First Snow of Winter or other annoying Stuff you dont want to handle with. Just be sure you are Firstplayer and choose your Plot first!

if you have any question to the Deck feel free to ask

4 comments

FranciscoG 64

Love it. What would you take to try to include a venomous blade or two? i hate the card so it probably warrant a slot for my style.

melle 47

@FranciscoG In an earlier version of the deck I actually had a Blade in it and liked it a lot. Especially in Fools Mirror a very useful card but also very useful against Nightswatch or to keep Meera Reed (R) in check.

One problem I often had was that, with the exception of Ricasso, I usually prefer to play Fools, of which we unfortunately have none with Martell affiliation. In an earlier version I played more Martell character (Shadow City Bastard & Quentyn Martell (SoD) ) and so i had more targets for the Blade. At all its worth to think about Venomous Blade for sure!!

Lemming 32

I disagree on Venomous Blade in this deck. Because you only have 4 good targets to bounce the blade back to hand. I love that card but i think its not the best choice.

Comm 15

Thank you @melle for posting you deck and for all the comments about it. It is very interesting.

And now I see the amount of events you're playing, I understand why you were constantly checking face-down cards under your fools during our game (this was the last Swiss round).

I'm glad you reached Top 16! Congrats!

I hope we will have many live tournaments in 2023 and I look forward to seeing you at one of them. And surely at Stahleck 2023 !