We defend the Wall alone (Valar Edition)

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We defend the Wall alone 69 46 77 4.0
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New deck: The Night's Watch 2 0 3 1.0
We defend the Wall alone SC Winner (5-1) 45 29 44 6.0
We Made the Others Pay for This 0 0 0 1.0

Joe From Cincinnati 1644

Well well well, we are back again, huh?

This time around, there are significantly fewer changes. But, with Valar Morghulis coming out, I decided to release the next version of this deck, that is built with Valar in mind.

Here we go:

No changes to the plots. the plot deck works magnificently. I did play Fortified Position in the deck during a Battle of the Trident tournament (which was held prior to Stahleck and Ryan Wood using it in his deck :P) in which I placed in the top 4 (3rd place), but that's because I was expecting a lot of Stark and Baratheon. The plot is great against those two because it slows down all the renown and kneel nonsense of those two factions, respectively. I took out Winter Festival for it. I may want to make that permanent, but didn't want to fully commit to it right this moment. But, suffice it to say, it's a great option in the right meta.

I also entertained the idea of replacing Trading with the Pentoshi with A Time of Plenty, but haven't pulled the trigger fully on that either. Requires testing. But if you want to make one or both of these replacements, I think they are very solid changes.

-1 Arry, +1 Halder

So, with Valar coming out, it is best to think about what characters you would want to have a good chance of duping, to protect them from Valar, and which characters you don't want to dupe.

Arry does not like being duped. Duping Arry is basically admitting that you're keeping her on the board. Because, as soon as you dupe her, you can only use her ability if you're willing to discard the dupe. For this reason, I'm dropping her to 1x. That means that, if I have her in play, I can attempt to predict the Valar and bring her back into my hand but, if she is killed in a Valar, it's not a big deal because I only have one copy of her.

Now Halder, on the other hand, I have added a third copy for a few reasons. 1.) He's fucking awesome. Especially against Targaryen. Being able to bump your characters up out of Dracarys range makes it a lot easier to defend all 3 challenges. And Halder's ability can increase a character's strength for the entire challenges phase, so they will survive the round if they survived the initial Dracarys. 2.) Keeping him on the board is great on First Snow of Winter turns because, often times, military challenges are only won by 1 or 2 strength on these turns. 3.) Protect him from Valar Morghulis.

+1 Maester Aemon

I already have Here to Serve. By maxing out my Maester Aemons, I maximize my chance of seeing one copy in my set up or turn 1 hand. If I can use Here to Serve to go get Aemon and then dupe him from my hand on turn 1, that's a MAJOR deterrent for Valar Morghulis. Because then, when Valar is used, I can use the dupe to save Aemon, and then I can use his ability to save any one character I see fit.

-3 Old Bear Mormont

The days of the Old Bear deck are past me, for the time being. The Counting Coppers build simply couldn't afford him. Now with Valar, it is even more critical that I do not spend 7 gold on a character that can be killed at a moment's notice. He is a great character, but just doesn't fit the environment right now.

-1 Samwell Tarly

As I said about Arry, I am going to change almost every unique character (with the notable exception of Dolorous Edd) to be either 3x or 1x. 3x allows me to ensure I can consistently dupe them to save vs Valar, and 1x characters dying to Valar isn't a big deal because they don't generate dead draws. Samwell is good, but not 3x good. So I made him 1x.

For those curious, I am keeping Edd at 2x because I love seeing him and, most of the time, he is coming back to hand anyway. So he shouldn't fall victim to too many Valars, if I can manage to continue winning those intrigue challenges that he participates in. Which Halder definitely helps with.

+3 Shadow Tower Mason

These guys are supremely efficient. 3 locations or attachments and they become a tricon. You have 3 Cravens, 2 Practice Blades, 2 Castle Black, 2 Haunted Forests, a Shadow Tower and the Wall. Getting 3 of those out is pretty easy. In testing, I've had them activated by turn 1 several times. They may fall to 2x after more testing but, for now, I think they are going to be just fine at 3x. At least until I see how easy they are to activate in practice.

+1 Sweet Donnel Hill

When equipped with a Practice Blade, this guy is just swell. Stops Jaime and Gregor's renown, Gregor's pillage, other renown on military challenges. For intrigue it stops a good amount of insight as well. Ambushing a Practice Blade on him when your opponent is committing a large military challenge with a bunch of keywords is a really great play that won me 3rd place in my Battle of the Trident (I made top 4, lost in the top 4, beat the other loser of top 4 to get 3rd). Again, he is not good enough for 3x, so 1x it is.

+1 Thoren

So, when I released the last list, Thoren had not yet been released. So, while it says +1 Thoren here, that is only in comparison to my last published list. I've been running Thoren at 2x for over a month now, so this is actually a -1 Thoren, compared to the list that I've been playing for a while. It makes me sad because, according to my 3x or 1x logic, Thoren does fall into the 1x category.

But I'm not happy about it. I may have to break my rule to make him 2x because, honestly, I don't want to run 3x of a 4 cost military monocon but I was very happy with him at 2x before Valar's release and I could see myself being happy with him at 2x after Valar as well, just keeping in mind that he is an exception to the rule. We'll see how it unfolds.

-2 Sworn Brother

These guys are great, but Shadow Tower Masons are better :). I'll miss the economy, but I won't miss the 1 strength and the fact that they can't become tricons with minor conditions met.

-1 Will

Because fuck Will. Most stressful character in the game.

+1 Veteran Builder

I may end up going with 2 Shadow Tower Mason and 2 Veteran Builder. We'll have to see. They are just so efficient. 3 cost for 4 strength and, in a jam, you can sacrifice him to get the Wall's power gain. That may prove significant in a Valar meta, if you need to repopulate the board but it takes two turns, he can get you that Wall power on that first rebuilding turn.

-1 Longclaw

2 cost attachments are just hard to use. Renown is great but, with Valar out, it's less valuable then before. And while I do have Aemon to save one character, the chances are this is on a Ranging Party, so I can't save this character with a dupe.

-2 Iron Throne

By far the hardest cut in the deck. I may even have to go to 62 just to bring in 1 Iron Throne. It's just so efficient and helps with reserve, which will be important when you're stockpiling draw in preparation for Valar. We'll have to see.

+2 The Haunted Forest

But this is why I had to cut the Iron Throne. I could go on forever about the power level of The Haunted Forest. The fact that it ensures the first challenge declared against you is guaranteed to be opposed (unless they use Nightmares on it or something) is incredible. It basically makes it so that they still need to work hard to win that first challenge in order to hopefully kneel the Wall in the 2nd or 3rd challenge but, suffice it to say, winning the first challenge in order to kneel the Haunted Forest, and then coming back and somehow getting an unopposed challenge through on the 2nd or 3rd challenge will be very difficult. Either I defend the first challenge all out and win, keeping these standing (and making the second guaranteed to not be unopposed either), or I could just not dedicate any defenders to the first challenge, meaning I have all my defenders for the next 2 challenges, but not kneel the Wall because of this location. I react to what my opponent is doing and I'll almost always come out on top. And then, there's its synergy with For the Watch! making me only care about the 3rd and final challenge in terms of kneeling the Wall. It also contributes to Shadow Tower Mason being activated and is more challenge math that your opponent may forget about. Final cherry on top is that this card fucks over Balon Greyjoy and Fishwhiskers. If there's one thing I love doing, it's pissing off Greyjoy players!

-2 The Watch Has Need

This is another cut that was tough to swallow. Especially in a Valar meta where having more cards in hand is never a bad thing. However, with me reducing Sam to 1x and removing the Iron Thrones, I don't have a very good chance of increasing my reserve above the plot's base value. So, this card loses a little steam with those changes. It's definitely a "nice to have" card, but I don't think it's necessarily a "need to have" card. We'll see once I get into some serious testing in Valar if I just miss the hell out of this card, which I very well may.

+2 Nightmares

The reason the Watch Has Need was cut. In my last decklist, I talk about how I decided to trade out Nightmares for Hand's Judgment at Daye's insistence. Well, it's back! Now I'm just running both haha. Best of both worlds man. So many cards to deactivate, so little time!

Enjoy the deck and please let me know if you have any comments on the changes made, how you are doing with it or questions on how to play it! :D


HidaHayabusa 73

What decks do you expect to see playing Valar? Personally I can see it in Tyrell/GJ or any Martell centric control. I can't see why other decks would run Valar to be honest.

How's the game with Baratheon or Stag banner? Cressen is a very bad card to face for this and random Melissandre kneels can make it really tough before you setup for a Fortified Position. Asking because I see more and more Bara control, especially after the publishing of Bara/Sun.

Guardian 14

@Joe From Cincinnati with so few 4+ cost characters and only Maester Aemon and Halder being dupable how does it fare against The First Snow of Winter since i think it will be played more often than Valar Morghulis

uBaH 98

I think going 2x of the builders is better. Veteran Builder being able to stand your Locations is a huge.

Also I think it is worth to look for a spot for Isle of Ravens. It is really setup friendly and recurring your Craven and The Watcher on the Walls is good, not to mention Nightmares & The Hand's Judgment. The Veteran Builder comes here as well.

I assume Bridge of Skulls was never considered but with running The Watcher on the Walls I think you may look into it. This also helps Halder and Thoren Smallwood, people don't want to do or just chump it and you get Thoren Smallwood and The Shadow Tower triggers.


Dydra 1483

Some interesting choices. My list would be a bit different, but first I'll be trying out our Night Gathers deck in the current meta, before switching to the more Valar-proof wall defend decks. =)

Why Pentoshi when no Old Bear Mormont for 11 gold combo? Also Wildfire Assault instead of a Valar Morghulis of your own?

If the opponent understands that you are not running Valar, he will be dropping his bombs without hesitations .... Turn 1 Tywin no Dupe ... all day any day =)

Joe From Cincinnati 1644

@HidaHayabusaI think Tyrell, Lannister, Greyjoy and any deck with a Banner of the Kraken will be the main decks running Valar. Since I don't run many lords or ladies, it was not possible to add bodyguards to the deck, as many decks are doing to "valar proof" their decks, but making Aemon a 3x and dropping many uniques to 1x makes the deck resistant to Valar. At least in the concept that their 0 claim allows you a turn to rebuild without suffering many consequences.

Bara, as always, is a weakness of NW defense decks. The good news is they only really struggle when Core Stannis is out. Maester Cressen is a huge pain in the ass though. With Valar around, I think holding your Cravens and Milks until post reset is probably prudent. We'll have to see how that match up evolves.

@GuardianWith the card draw this deck has, I really haven't had a problem with First Snow of Winter in a long time. It only has 9 4+ costers, but I've found that if you play with it in mind, it takes just horrific luck of not seeing any of them for you to actually be hurt too badly by it.

@uBaHIt could very well be the right choice to go 2x and 2x. I was leaning that way, but couldn't resist trying them at 3x for the time being. That's the best way to see how viable a card is after all :P.

I do like Isle of Ravens. The problem is I'd probably have to remove a character to add it, since the locations, events and attachments don't have very much wiggle room. So what character is least valuable? It's a tough question. Not to mention the fact that The Iron Throne is already sitting on the outside looking in. Isle is definitely worth a look, but I think it would still end up as the last card in and the first card cut with any changes.

Bridge of Skulls is a card I am waiting to bust out once Qhorin is around. Thoren and Shadow Tower are, after all, only 2 cards in the deck right now. With Qhorin in at an obvious 3x, that'll up the value of the Bridge quite a bit.

@DydraI'd be interested to hear what changes you'd make :).

That Night Gathers deck is strong haha. Dan and I played a game with it and it really puts your opponent in a corner very early on.

As for Pentoshi, it's just a safety blanket. Being able to play the Wall and a few characters is very nice, especially since your first 2 plots are likely Here to Serve and Counting Coppers. Like I said in the description, I'm considering putting Time of Plenty in its place. More card draw is never a bad thing. Especially now with Valar out, it's a lot worse to throw out characters early. The game is now all about pacing yourself.

The Wildfire vs Valar debate is one that Dan and I have been having for months now. Ultimately, it came down to the fact that this deck really is not built for the offensive Valar, so it would be used purely as an "I'm fucked, I hope this helps" play.

Which could very well be worth it. I'm going to be playing the next few weeks and comparing points in the game where I wish I had Valar vs times when I'm glad that I have Wildfire instead. In the early going, I have complete faith in my opponents to be playing bodyguards and dupes and Iron Mines and Risens like crazy, so I don't think it would be wise to pack Valar right now. Once the frenzy calms a bit, it may be the superior choice.

Also, I still think Turn 1 Valar is a mistake regardless of what your opponent sets up :P.

Kakita_Shiro 778

Really sad to see your Sworn Brother go. I think the economic advantage they provide really make a location-heavy deck work well.

dudman 7

Very good deck. I just won a local tournament. I played 2 x the wall and time of plenty. No loss and angry faces on my local greyjoys players ;P

Kvothe 1

Same here. Local event (35 players), won it yesterday 5-0 I played it with personal minor changes:

+1 calling the banners -1 Trading with the pentoshi +1 veteran builder -1 Littlefinger +1 Iron throne -1 The Haunted forest (but should be x2 Haunted because is SOOOO good! All players especially the GJ ones I faced had nightmres with this card)

Sweet Donnel Hill with a practice blade is pure gold, MVP against indimidate renown, and Euron pillage all the day. Shadow tower mason was a beast tricon all the matches. I think this deck right now is a solid Tier 1 without any doubt and fun to play and pilot!

Thanks @Joe From Cincinnati for your inspiration! For the watch :)

RoflRoy 22

@Joe From Cincinnati

Nightmares vs Watcher on the Wall I rarely triggered Watcher on the Walls because my opponents always play around it... I found out that it is very nice, if my oppoments are very careful with Mil and it really helps to trigger Thoren, Castle Black and stuff... but my cards usually were dead draws or gold from OFH. Adding Nightmares was gold though.

The Iron Throne is such a good card in this deck. I am looking forward to your experience without it. I don't think I will cut it though, because it won me so many games.

Pentoshi is a strong card for this deck, I wouldnt change it for Time of Plenty. It helps after First Snow or Valar to immediately be able to defend the Wall again. It is also good to let your opponent empty his hand and then Wildfire next turn.

After reading your posts and the report on the FFG homepage: I am still not a big fan of For the Watch!... is it such a game changer to have this effect for one challenge in one round of the entire game? I am much happier with Fortified Position though. In close games it helps to stopp stealth, renown and chars like Nymeria, Tywin, Tyrion, etc. so they do not reach 15 POW and defend the Wall for the win.

(But I have to admit that the appearance Jannis' Bara Sun deck is annoying with Fortified Position)

Joe From Cincinnati 1644

@Kakita_ShiroThey do work really nice, but I don't really find economy to be a huge problem past turn 1 or 2 with this deck. If I'm picking between the Sworn Brothers and the Shadow Tower Mason, then I'm taking the mason every time. Same goes for Halder and the Veteran Builder. So, really, you have a situation where you can't load up too heavily on power monocons and Sworn Brother just happens to be the worst of the power monocons in the faction. Also, Sworn Brother is only really good if you see him in set up or on turn 1 or maybe 2. So that means running a single copy of him is not ideal. Since I didn't have space for 2 more builders, I just decided to cut him entirely. And I haven't regretted the choice yet.

@dudmanCongratulations man :D. I've been experimenting with Time of Plenty too. It may be a keeper. I'll be testing a bit more in the next few weeks to see how my plot deck settles before a series of January SCs.

@KvotheBCNWow! That's a really big tournament. Was it a SC? I too have struggled with the removal of Iron Throne, so I understand adding it back haha. But the Haunted Forest, like you said, is just too good. It changes games. I also love Hill. He's only a 1x, so he doesn't have an impact every game, but my opponent always seems to have at least one character that he severely hampers, especially with a practice blade attached. For the Watch!

`@RoflRoy' Watcher on the Walls is a deterrent. Its existence alters the way your opponent plays. Now, it's difficult to play around it all game and, in a lot of scenarios, your opponent is forced to make the decision of whether to actually try to win a military challenge in order to gain an advantage, such as on a 2 claim or a First Snow of Winter turn, or to continue playing it safe and allow your board state to stay large and hard to control. I've caught several really good players in the situation of "Well, if you got it, you win" when it comes to that event. Especially against Lannister (with Jaime and Gregor) and Targaryen with all the Bloodriders and Drogo. You won't play it every game and you might not even necessarily need it every game. But it's a nice safety blanket. Especially in a Valar meta where even removing a few dupes may be worth it, in order to either deter them from using their own Valar or to make your own Valar hit harder (if you choose to run it.)

Iron Throne may end up being a 1x. I just need to decide what I'd cut for it haha.

I'm surprised to hear you aren't a fan of For the Watch. I consider it one of two plots that every Wall defense deck should run. If your board is set up correctly, it basically negates your opponent's challenges phase for 1 turn. And, a lot of times, 1 turn is 1/6th of the game. I find that to be pretty impactful. Now, it's true that it's only a single challenge in that phase, but that one challenge can really mess your opponent up if they don't have the characters to do a chump challenge, or if they need to use one of their good characters to not lose the first challenge and allow you to trigger Thoren or the Shadow Tower. It just creates problems for your opponent. Including the ever present possibility of them just simply forgetting about it and declaring a big challenge that is fated for failure. Especially now that the Haunted Forest is out, it basically makes it so that your opponent has one challenge that actually affects the Wall. That's very potent.

It's true that Fortified Position serves a similar purpose, but it also can hurt you really badly if they use that turn to milk Maester Aemon or kill Benjen. And, with Valar around now, a milked Aemon is more devastating than ever.

I had a tournament I placed in the top 4 where I ran both. That was pre-valar. I'm going to need to evaluate if it's still a good choice post Valar. Especially in local tournaments if your opponent knows you run the plot (from previous rounds or just general familiarity with your deck) they can hold onto their milks until that round and milk Aemon and Valar the following turn. Or, even worse, you could flip Fortified Position right into Valar, which could potentially kill both Aemon AND Benjen in one fell swoop.

It has its benefits, but it also has its dangers as well.

Kvothe 1

@Joe From CincinnatiWas an special event that was ran by the Barcelona crew in Spain (www.guardiadelanoche.com), with some great thematic prizes of House Martell. I think I'm a little bit slanted about Haunted forest because I faced 3 GJ players so it was amazing against.. I don't know if it's ok to change Iron Throne for 1 more copy of Haunted Forest but what I've experienced is that is an amazing location against all factions because of the Wall, against UO challenges and how they have to commit a lot ot STR in the first challenges so I know I have to search space for more copies of it haha, maybe Watchers that didn't have an impact in any match I've played (lot's of saves right now, valar has such a big impact in the deckbuilding).

Waiting for you testing and reports, your opinion will be much appreciated!

Keep the good work on YT too!

Guardian 14

i was thinking of cutting one copy of Benjen Stark and adding Will again the reason being with so many no attachments characters and no Confiscation he eventually gets milked and loses alla his value and with the addition of The Haunted Forest unopposed is even more difficult for your opponent. thoughts?

uBaH 98

@Joe From Cincinnati Do you know what accrued to me. Will is back in the deck. For me I think it is worth 1x worth with the addition of the The Haunted Forest.

imabunneh 361

I feel like Watcher on the Walls is pointless. Everyone's stacking up on saves and shit cos of Valar. Those are your only time you'll try and kill shit, meaning you won't kill anything. Better swap them for something else and just accept never killing anything.

Hinomura 2

Played this at the weekend and really enjoyed it. Thanks for the deck list and the comprehensive write up, Joe!

Isian.H 705

@imabunnehif your opponent just set up for valar playing that and getting rid of duped characters can screw with their plans. I think it definitely has a place in the deck.

Guardian 14

@imabunneh The Watcher on the Walls is used to kill the Rattleshirt's Raiders so your Craven stays put.

Joe From Cincinnati 1644

@imabunneh``@KvotheBCNI don't want to cut Watcher on the Walls because, as @Isian.Hand @Guardianpointed out, it still stops Rattleshirt's Raiders from removing your attachments and it removes dupes to dissuade (Or leverage) Valar.

Besides, you know as soon as you remove it, you'll play in a tournament where it would have really saved your game. It's better to just make room for it and know it exists when you need it than to bet on it never being needed. At least, in my opinion.

@Guardian``@uBaHI personally hate Will. I think he's needlessly stressful. It's true that Haunted Forest has made him better though. I'll test him at 1x and see if I still hate him when I draw him. I might, but I'll give him one last chance.

@HinomuraI'm glad I could help! :D

RoflRoy 22

@Joe From Cincinnati Thanks for your exhaustive response Joe :)

I reread all your content and I will test The Watcher on the Walls again tomorrow. I think you are especially right about Rattleshirts, that might be the most important reason to keep it.

You analysis of Fortified Position is completely right and sometimes it is really hard to play. I might keep it for my (non Valar) SC on Saturday, but with Valar out it is just too dangerous and won't make the cut for me.

I went through all plots and I wondered if you ever tried Jousting Contest? I see some potential in it, but I fear that in most cases it will not make a difference.

imabunneh 361

I know Ryan (top cut at Worlds and Stahleck Ryan) is running Fortified Position and it was doing some real work for him,

Joe From Cincinnati 1644

@imabunnehFortified Position is certainly powerful and it will win you some games. If it's in your plot deck, and you hit the correct match ups, you'll get very far with it.

My concern is all about Valar. If Valar weren't in the meta, Winter Festival would be Fortified Position in this deck list.

And Ryan did get very far and Fortified Position was a star plot for him. But that was before Valar. I'd be interested to see how he does with it post Valar.

@RoflRoyJousting Contest worked great in core set back when Greyjoy was everywhere and could out stealth your defenders. It was a good plot to make it so that they could only stealth past one character at a time, allowing you to defend better.

But I haven't played with it for almost a year now. As you fear, it didn't make much of a difference most of the time.

Now, in a 'win on defense' deck centered around Bridge of Skulls, Thoren, Qhorin, Shadow Tower and Sword in the Darkness (Maybe even Old Bear? :P) with the intent to defend the Wall and gain power from Thoren while doing it...That would be very interesting.

Probably very niche, but worth a thought.

blueeyedbanditt 1

Got rolled by Targ Crossing the other day - ability to stand and initiate 4 challenges is tough, any thoughts on a counter to Targ? I know you mentioned Halder to get out of Dracarys range.

RoflRoy 22

Mhh, usually the massive draw of this deck helps to get the tools you need against Targ: Craven, Milk, Halder, HJ... At least those are the cards that make me ein v Targ.

Joe From Cincinnati 1644

@blueeyedbanditt if Targ gets every thing they need it canow occasionally be a difficult match up. As @RoflRoysaid, you have Cravens and milks and even nightmares to deal with Khal Drogo. Hands judgments and Halder for dracarys.

Also, I've found that valar Morghulis can be used to effectively neutralize Targaryen because they do tend to like to go wide with very few saves. If you can get a duped Aemon and one other good character out like ranging party, you can really reset the pace of the game. I've even increased thoren to 3x so that I could potentially have 3 characters post valar. It has been extremely effective so far in testing.

badass_bard 20

@Joe From Cincinnati Will you update your list to show your newest changes? I would appreciate it very much! :-)

Joe From Cincinnati 1644

@badass_bardMy list has been heavily altered to match my current meta (Lots of Baratheon) so I'm not sure how much use it will be to you. If you'd like, I can send it to you with some thoughts via email. I kind of want to keep it under wraps until after my SC on Jan 22.

RoflRoy 22

@Joe From Cincinnati Well, I would certainly be interested in that. I face lots of Baras such that my win percentage dropped heavily and going back to GJ also doesn't work against Bara. :)

RoflRoy 22

I actually started to bring back the unsworns... Cost slot is bad, no ranger trait, but icon in demand helps alot. I took them out when I included FF to my plot list, but since that one is gone...

TheBrianFactor 7

@Joe From Cincinnati I saw your comment to @badass_bard and I would also be interested in what deck tweaks you've made as a comparison to my current version of the deck. Would it be a hassle for you to send that to me via E-mail as well? I, too, have an SC on Jan 22

Joe From Cincinnati 1644

@TheBrianFactorI'd be happy to. If you want to find me on Facebook or something, get me your email and I'll send it to you :).