Targaryen Summer, Dutch National Champion 2016

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Derived from
None. Self-made deck here.
Inspiration for
Targaryen - Re dell'Estate 0 0 0 1.0

Avan 191

Winner of Dutch Nationals 2016; placed 7th after 5 Swiss rounds:

  • R1: Win vs. Stark Winter
  • R2: Win vs. Targaryen Summer
  • R3: Win vs. Stark Fealty
  • R4: Loss vs. Lannister Dragon
  • R5: Win vs. Lannister Winter
  • QF: Win vs. Lannister Dragon
  • SF: Win vs Targaryen Fealty
  • F: Win vs. Night's Watch Wolf

When preparing for the tournament I decided against a Lannister (Banner of the Dragon) deck because its strength is too (in)famous, which a) removes part of the fun and challenge of playing and winning, and b) shifts the metagame against it, making it harder to ride it to victory. I reckoned that Gregor and Mirri (and perhaps Tywin, Tyrion and Ilyn, and mayhap Nymeria) would drive players to include Milk of the Poppy and Nightmares, often at the expense of The Hand’s Judgment, which would create the perfect environment for the Targaryen events to thrive. It turned out that during the entire tournament, not a single one of my events was cancelled by The Hand’s Judgement. Furthermore, I anticipated a high prevalence of Military claim-focused decks (Lannister, Stark, Targaryen, Martel), which would vastly increase the utility of Fire and Blood. Targaryen is also a strong choice against the abundance of choice items of Stark, Martel, and Night’s Watch (and Milk of the Poppy), which have no grip on Dragons or Unsullied and can be seized by Viserys, of course.

My overall strategy was to play conservatively, only attacking militarily if it would be unopposed, yield renown power for Drogo, or could claim a significant character (none of which happened regularly). Likewise, I would only prioritize intrigue when Shadowblack Lane hit the table. As first player, I would typically hold back to oppose challenges rather than risk trading unopposed challenges. Also, unless I had Plaza of Punishment out, I favored winning dominance over winning a power challenge as attacker if the latter meant I would lose dominance. Note that the Dany/Rhaegal and Aggo/Summer plot (esp. Song) combos are great for winning dominance. Ultimately, I wanted to engage in a war of attrition, in which my Summer advantage, character combos (Dany/Dragons and Aggo/Jhogo) and Targ events would gain me the upper hand eventually. Indeed, nearly all my games were drawn out battles that were still raging when time was called.

About the deck:

Why Kings of Summer instead of Fealty? You’ve got to love the threat of a standing Targ faction card, but I believe Summer outshines Fealty in this deck, even though the deck uses less than 15 neutral cards.

  • Fealty has poor synergy with Shadowblack Lane (both require faction card kneel)
  • An extra Summer gold can be spent on anything; the cost reduction of Fealty only on certain cards.
  • When unused, a Summer gold can win dominance; a standing faction card cannot.
  • Summer plots push Aggo from underwhelming to awesome (especially when teamed up with Jhogo).

Why no Mirri?

  • I considered two 7-cost characters to be too expensive, especially against gold-choke (Winter/Night’s Watch) decks. Also, including two such non-military characters is asking for trouble with your military defense.
  • I expected a lot of Milk of the Poppy and Nightmares. These have considerably less impact on Dany, provided a Dragon is around (yet another reason to include all three 3x). Should the meta ever shift back to event-cancelling cards such as The Hand’s Judgment at the cost of character-blanking cards like Nightmares and Milk of the Poppy, then Mirri may well be worth including over Dany with a Dragons/Dracarys strategy (Dragons obviously have more synergy with Dany, but Dracarys can be more powerful when used while Mirri is attacking).
  • Occasionally, claiming intrigue or power is preferable over targeted kill (e.g., with any combination of dupes, Bodyguards or Iron Mines around). Dany is superior in such circumstances, as she helps you win Int or Pow with other characters or lets you draw a card if you win with her.

The high number of duplicates of low cost (3 or less) characters serves to protect against First Snows of Winter. Fortunately, every single character, save Doreah (i.e., the Dragons, Jorah, and Viserys) is worth playing 3x. Fire and Blood and Close Call are perfect to resurrect these characters should death befall them and turn them into dead cards. To boot, the multitude of duplicates is beneficial for setups, which are already fine thanks to the mid to low cost curve of the deck. Don't underestimate the Unsullied; their -1 stacks not only with Dany, Dracarys, and each-other, but also with Plaza of Punishment.

The locations speak for themselves: both Plaza of Punishment and Shadowblack Lane can keep your opponent on the back foot because they can trigger on defense. Moreover, they have great synergy with the events; Plaza boosts Dracarys and can help you trigger Shadowblack Lane, which helps you grab more events, which in turn help you trigger Plaza and Shadowblack.

Plot choices:

Why no Summer Harvest (and two A Song of Summer)?

  • Weak against Varys’s Riddle (would grant you either second player and two gold or first player and 7 gold)
  • Poor against low gold plots such as Counting Coppers, Calling the Banners, The Winds of Winter, The First Snows of Winter, and Famine (the latter three can finish games and A Song of Summer is by far the better choice against these plots).
  • Mediocre against many 4-gold plots that have strong abilities.
  • The strength boost of A Song of Summer helps you hold your ground with fewer characters, saving some from the inevitable Wildfire. Also, it helps save Dany, Drogo, and Aggo from Dracarys in mirror matches (or sporadically from Wolves of the North).

Another plot that is conspicuously absent is Confiscation. Viserys made me dare to exclude it, which I was happy to do because Confiscation can be rather predictable (Naval, Varys’s Riddle), can backfire if your opponent does not run (many) attachments, and provides little gold against winter decks.

Rebuilding: Essential for my strategy and the core strength of the deck; Dracarys, Fire and Blood, and Waking the Dragon, but also Milk of the Poppy, a (Close Called) Viserys or Crown of Gold—which I saw once during the entire tournament; it showed up in the final to crown Varys who had been plagued by Nightmares the round before. Rebuilding suits a ‘war of attrition’ strategy perfectly, and I found it worth its slot all games, even the one I lost.

Varys’s Riddle: Strong opener because of great reserve, solid gold, and high initiative (going second is usually particularly advantageous in the opening round). The ability is an added bonus: you love to hit common opening plots such as Summer Harvest, Calm over Westeros, Summons, Building Orders, Heads on Spikes, but also the occasional Calling the Banners, Filthy Accusations, Counting Coppers or Marched to the Wall. Later on (in longer games), hitting confiscation is great too. The biggest downside is Trading with the Pentoshi (including Wildfire mitigates this somewhat), but Trading is a risky opener due to Naval Superiority, Summer Harvest, and Wraiths in Their Midst/ Kings of Winter. I dropped Building Orders (which works great in the deck) for Varys’s Riddle just because it can be painful to have your Building Orders hit with it (this is exactly what happened to my opponent in the final).

Wildfire: Critical plot against First Snows; have your Dragons perish in flames only to revive them with Fire and Blood moments later (this was instrumental in winning my last Swiss-round against a Jumping Lions-style deck). Also very strong against Stark and banner Wolf (read: Bran, who cancels your precious events).

Close Call: Works great against decks bent on killing and lessens the pain of drawing into dead unique characters (also Aggo or Jhogo, who may die to your own Wildfire, and are superb when combined, esp. after Wildfire expands your opponent’s dead pile). Viserys is obviously a prime target too. The draw and the summer trait are sweet bonuses.

Calm Over Westeros: Sees play even in non-summer decks. Frequently encountered as an opener, but I preferred to save it for later in the game to protect against power claim or military claim if I ran out of sword fodder. Also a great plot against First Snows or 2-claim plots.

10 comments

Gabegabe 224

Plot choices are amazing. Good job and congrats.

TheTank 195

Congrats on the win! Some great meta calls indeed.

Spauricchio 1

I really appreciated the unusual plot choices. Great job. Just a question, have u consider Rakharo for intimidate?

Avan 191

@Spauricchio Thanks! No, not really to be honest. I did not want to include both Drogo and Rakharo as this would raise the cost curve too high. Given that power was my highest priority challenge and military my least, I quickly favored Drogo over Rakharo, as he’s +1 str and can gain power through power challenges (renown) as opposed to only during military challenges. I suppose Rakharo could work in the deck, but only if an aggressive military strategy would be adopted, and Dany replaced by Mirri (and Varys's Riddle by Marched to the Wall).

mattastrophic 727

Did you consider Funeral Pyre at all?

Avan 191

@mattastrophicYes, but I’ve never actually decided to use it. My guess is that it would be unreliable, because I figure you’d mainly depend on Viserys or Dracarys to trigger it. Also, I don’t like the idea of saving Dracarys for a lord or lady. In addition, I would not like to see Funeral Pyre early in the game (or whenever I’m holding cards up to reserve), because drawing 3 may push your hand over reserve, forcing you to discard and waste precious cards. I’ve found Shadowblack Lane and Dany (and the occasional Doreah) to be sufficient when playing defensively and holding on to cards until their effects are most powerful. I switched Building Orders with Varys’s Riddle the day before the tournament, and while I can’t regret the decision because I won, I would revert to Building Orders if I’d play the deck again, to increase the chances of drawing Shadowblack Lane.

Gabegabe 224

Shadowblack really is the heart of this. And waking the dragon is amazing to bounce a character from tears/ trigger dracarys, I myself am going to try and input the style of this into a lord of the crossing deck, but I imagine it will be difficult.

HidaHayabusa 73

Very solid list and really well thought out. Good meta call.

Daigelmir 1

Congrats on your win! A very solid build indeed. Would you consider incliding the new bloodrider support cards?

Avan 191

@DaigelmirThanks!

Devoted Bloodriders only bring military strength, which is rarely a focus when I play the deck, and they can’t survive First Snow, which makes them inferior to Unsullied and Dragons, and Jorah, so there’s really no room for them. I think Devoted Bloodriders are only viable in pure Dothraki decks, which also include Rakharo.

Blood of my Blood is very tempting as it synergizes with Shadowblack Lane, is extra (tutored) draw, is basically ambush for Aggo or Jhogo, increases the chance to pair them up, can be used to avoid stealth, and is particularly effective during First Snow or when followed by Wildfire (or Valar). It may very well be worth including over the single Nightmares that in my list now.