How I Almost Didn't Win Blackwater (But then I did)

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imabunneh 307

So last weekend I did barely above average over 2 regionals (with 17th in Bristol and 5th in Cardiff). Resolving to play Martell Kraken again this weekend, I immediately set about playtesting Bara Summer and Bara Kraken all week.

After 4 days of testing both, I decided instead I was just going to play Joe Mirando's Lanni Rains from Dance of Dragons with a couple of minor tweaks. So I built that, left my other cards at home, and headed off to London.

The Spicy Meat Crew AirBnB was #ladsladslads. UK National Champion Ryan Wood, Spicy Chillball Dan Kaye, the amazingly named Tupaq Castro, the great Irish Ben Fox, and the devilishly Danish Simon Hansen, all are the best travelling crew a man could want. Great company, great support, great cheeky banter.

Well we decided as a group that instead of all playing the decks we'd brought, we would chuck them all in the middle, roll dice, and randomise the decks we received. Playtesting and knowing your deck is for suckers, Ben handed me a list, and I didn't bother looking at the actual decklist, preferring instead to learn the deck's contents as the tournament went on.

So the above is what I got. And let me tell you, I played like garbage all weekend and this deck saved me, repeatedly. It was like it spent all weekend yelling at me about how stupid I was and how it was going to fix it for me. Probably credit to the italian guy who Ben net decked it from here:

I'll post my thoughts on the deck afterwards. I definitely think there's a couple of changes should be made though.

Round 1: Tupaq Castro - Martell Wolf - Win

Granted he comes from Finland and not my meta or anything, but playing one of the Spicy Meat Gang round 1 wasn't what I wanted to do! He set up Stark Harrenhal and something else. Turn 1 he navalled my Building Orders, but with the Great Hall I had and the Rose Garden I played, I was able to play a reducer and a Butterbumps without him choosing to trigger Harranhal. Turn 2 I laid siege to Harrenhal, did a little dance, and after about 8 more plots manged to close it out. 2 reset decks playing each other is a bit of a weird thing sometimes.

Round 2: Fabien Dutreux - Martell Fealty - Win

I'll be honest, a lot of the swiss games aren't going to get much description. I don't remember a lot about several of them, and this is one of them. He was a fun opponent, plots recycled, I managed to close it out turn 7 or 8 I think.

Round 3: Hadleigh Moon - Stark Watch - Win

Urgh, I played the stark Watch deck at Northampton and I sincerely apologise to everyone I played (except Wamma since he beat me with an even worse deck). This game was not amazingly fun or interesting, attachments went on and off my dudes, some resets did some things, and I pulled through in a pretty close game. Hadleigh was a lovely opponent that I've somehow never met before, and didn't do anything noticeably wrong that I'm aware of.

Round 4: Dan Kaye - Martell Kraken - Lose

A second of the Spicy Meat Gang in 4 rounds, but Dan was the only one of us who DIDN'T go into the spicy deck swap, choosing instead to play his own deck. He plays it well and I struggled to get a footing in the game after the first reset.

Round 5: Benjamin Petersen - Lanni Kraken - Win

Another lovely guy, his board very early on included Tywin with Seal of the Hand, Victarion, Jaime, multiple Iron Mines, and some other dudes. Super difficult to handle or get any challenges through. I persevered until I got them down to no dupes and no iron mines, and was able to Valar his uniques off the board. Afterwards he played very little, I think he just struggled to draw anything that wasn't dead at that point.

Round 6: Isian Hasmuja - Greyjoy Rains - Win

Again I don't remember much of the game, but it's possible his draw was a little poor and I think I got a pretty strong start. He knocked me out of the cut in Cardiff regional, so this was just revenge. He beat me in my "home" turf, so I came and beat him in his. That'll teach you Isian!

Round 7: Ryan Wood - NW Crossing - Lose

Doing the maths we knew we were both in the cut, so the result was more for bragging rights. I'd already lost a game so I didn't have to worry about swiss curse either! However it was the 3rd Spicy Meat Lad in 7 rounds I'd had to face :( Ryan's deck was fast, and I basically spent 4 turns drawing locations, events, and 1-2 cost characters. It was just awful and I lost without being able to do much about it. Also Ryan's better than me.

Top 16: Khudzlin - Stark Fealty - Win

Stark Fealty is NOT what any Rains player wants to see. However he didn't see Cat all game, and didn't see Winterfell until turn 4, at which point I'd already triggered a Wildfire, a Filthy, a Queen of Thorns, several Standy Randys and a few Oldtown Informer draw triggers. He also was screwed on economy for the first few turns, and when he finally had a half-decent economy base alongside his Winterfell.... well I'll never forget the look on his face when I flipped Political Disaster.

Top 8: Wallvor - Nights Watch Summer - Win

Christ. This was the absolutely hardest game I played all weekend. I've already told Wamma I hate him for having that builder list posted, but I stand by it and reiterate it. I got a little bit of power early on, but his turn 1 Wall kept firing, and he had more power strength than me (plus early Strongholds) meaning not only could I no longer win a challenge vs him, but he was able to win challenges against me if I even tried to attack him. After I Varys'd one big board away (the aemon was giving me fits), I looked at my remaining plots... and had to play Confiscation on an empty board against NW. Not the best plan but the only option I had really. He repopulated with Grizzled Miner, the Building Orders guy, and a couple other guys, and a pair of Practice Blades. I stuck a few guys down, won no challenges, then Valar'd. Next turn I flipped First Snow, he managed to keep 1 or 2 guys in play (duped Halder), but I was able to win some challenges, knocking the wall down etc. He finished this turn on 13 power. I followed up with Disaster... and he Riddled! He only had a dupe on the Wall, but it meant he ended up keeping only the Wall and a Haunted Forest. Although he finished the previous turn on 13 power, I was able to drag him down to 10 or so while jumping up a bunch with renown guys and 2 power challenges thanks to Olenna's Informant. We JUST about made it to turn 8 and time was called while we were deciding our plots which was a super close call on my behalf. I flipped First Snow, emptied his board, and crossed to 15. Coming back from 13-0 down against Builders is possibly the best I've ever played, but it was so painful to do. I spent large parts of that game with my head in my hands trying to think, assuming my tournament was over. Fantastically close game though and he was a lovely chap even though he was playing the bullshittest deck in the game.

Top 4: Kostas Adamopoulos - Targ Rose - Win

This game went to time. If it had been allowed to carry on, Kostas would have won. But it was a slow game which finished on something like 8 power to 7. I can't accurately remember what happened, he never had Drac and because of his 4 gold Astapor (he counterspelled my Lay Siege because I'm bad and played it when he had gold) I was constantly playing around the non-existent Drac. I played pretty bad in this game and Kostas deserved the win far more than I.

Final: Qtt - Stark Fealty - Win

This game was recorded so when The Gaming Hall gets the vids up you'll be able to watch it. I played kind of cautiously because I couldn't draw a dupe even after drawing 180000000 cards, and just had multiple 1-ofs all my Uniques. Turns out he didn't have Valar anyway, but I ended up managing to win purely through pushing big Renowns through. Had I known he didn't have Valar, I could have probably vomited out my hand earlier and won faster with more Renown, but the caution didn't lose me the game in the end.

Overall had a great time, special shout out to the TOs Dave Bamford, Vince Tee and Wamma, who are all lovely chaps who made the whole event painless and fun and generally are great people. Slops to the shop which thinks a "no outside food or drink" policy when they're charging £1.20 for a can of coke is a good idea.

Oldtown Informer is a batshit insanely good card, and even though I constantly forgot to trigger it, I still got a lot of work out of it. In one challenge I flipped Rains into Wildfire (react to plot entering play), killed Varys to Wildfire searching Renly with Marg (react to Marg entering play), then Queen of Thorns Alerie into play (react to Alerie entering play... plus search top 10 for handmaiden). In the great words of new-Craven on Banter... PUT A LIMIT ON IT.

I despised the lack of Counting Coppers in my plot deck. Ghosts of Harrenhal should really be Coppers, my Top 4 against Kostas is really the only game where Ghosts was at all relevant, every other game I was just desperate to draw more cards. I think Forgotten Plans should be Varys Riddle. Not once trigger Plans, but many times I COULD have hit a great Riddle. But it wasn't my deck so I couldn't do anything about it.

Taking questions, adulations, hate, love, whatever you want to send my way :) It's my first real big Thrones win so pretty happy with that.


action_johnny 743

Great report bro! Congratulations on the big win. The Spicey Meat Gang are truly ascedant. #competitivelyhollow

mattastrophic 631

Good job winning the thing with a sweet Tyrell Rains of Castamere deck!

sedibear 44

Woah I didnt realize that you could trigger Oldtown Informer when a plot is flipped.

NastyJack 1

Congrats! This deck looks fun as hell. I didn't think much of Oldtown Informers when they were spoiled but apparently I was dead wrong as it seems every good Tyrell player is now raving about them.

StalkerB 1

Just to put in context, Warboar is not just a shop, it's a board game cafe and since they gave up pretty much their entire store for the weekend paying cafe prices for food and drink is not unreasonable to ask. Prices are going to be a little more in London, even the outskirts; in fact Pret charge £1.99 for a can, so if anything it's cheap.

It's not like they locked you in for the duration of the event and they even suggested other places to go for lunch, you just couldn't bring it back.

I don't know how much, if any, of our entry fee went to them but unless you want it to go back to being in a warehouse then supporting the venues by purchasing from them is a must.

Lannister 58

Congrats mate! Few questions. Mainly about plots. 1) What is the point about having building orders? finding the arbor? You probably rely on a good setup as the 4 coins you get are lost if you find it that round? 2) Using pleasure barge and political disaster can limit your economy and backfire?

action_johnny 743

Political Disaster only backfires if you a) don't dupe the Arbor and b) time it correctly. Building Orders I'm guessing is to get the Arbor into play if you don't see it on setup, or finding an all important Barge/Arbor dupe when you need it.

imabunneh 307

If I don't setup arbor I used building orders to find it, but used trading the following turn to get it into play so my t1 wasn't a dead turn.

If I had arbor on setup I usually opened building orders anyway, don't wanna give my opponent 3 gold turn 1 almost ever.

If I pd and keep arbor plus 1 or 2 locations (if I duped it or not), I'm still better off than a guy with 2 non arbor locations. Plus, I know it's coming so no need to play more economy out than necessary before it.


Congrats on the win! Thoughts on appionted over little bird?, and lay siege over nightmares?

If you were playing next week would you recommend this deck and if so any changes you would make? Thanks!!

imabunneh 307

@YEEZUS Appointed and Little Bird are as good as each other here tbh. They're only ever going on a Unique character, so the Appointed gives the super niche never going to happen case that if my opponent stands all Small Council characters I can stand my Brienne/Randy.

Lay Siege vs Nightmares is a toss up to be honest. I never desperately needed to blank a character, and used it to kill a Harrenhal and attempt to kill an Astapor. Kneeling the Wall, Kingsroads, Chambers, Winterfells etc are slightly weaker or exactly the same as Nightmaresing them. I think it was included because more Targ was expected, and Targ is definitely an issue for EVERYONE when they have a 4 gold Astapor, so having that option is something I'd keep.

I'd run it again if I was going to a tournament this weekend, but swap Ghosts for Coppers and Forgotten Plans for Riddle. Maybe drop the Pavilion for a third Barge or to bump a 2 of to a 3 of somewhere.

Baronerosso 155

Hi Darren, I'm glad you enjoyed my deck. Counting Coppers was the 8th plot, I would have liked to find room for it but I had to make a though call for the meta I was expecting to face. I agree on Forgotten, but I expected to play against more combo or grabbing power plots. I don't know if you found Building Order helpful, I did.

In any case thanks for the compliments but it was the player who won, not the deck

imabunneh 307

Building Orders was definitely a good plot. I opened with it most games even after Arbor setup as mentioned. Just fetching a Bodyguard or an extra bit of economy is a fine way to spend turn 1 :)

Ghosts did help me in the Top 4, where I was protecting my Randy from his unstoppable Mirri (thanks to stupid Astapor), where I played a Varys as well, so he had to pick Varys to die, then I brought him back, so he had to pick Varys to die, then I played Marg, so he had to pick her to die (so I didn't just replace Randy). Outside of that, it didn't do much despite playing against several reset decks, so I'm not sold.

Forgotten Plans is a fair meta call that just didn't pay off. The only game I needed to flip into it I couldn't trigger Rains, and I had multiple times throughout the day I could have flipped into an amazing Riddle (for draw, or Marched, or in one case Valar) but instead ended up not triggering it at all.

The deck was fantastic outside of that though to the point I'm thinking of sticking with it for a little while! :)

hansn 53

Man. I was there, doubted the NW/summer matchup due to the pilot skill and some pro player luck he managed to pull a hands down ass kicking loss into a win.

mrdav 90

@YEEZUS& @imabunneh - Craven and I played Appointed over Little Bird in GJ Rains because you very very rarely play it on a non unique (mostly only for set up), and it is also not a condition - again, a reasonably niche point but less targets for Cressen is good and in that deck it was a pretty important attachment.

Congratulations again Darren, well deserved.

munkeykungfu 8

You are my hero D!

taijibear 213

Wanted to toss up a bit of an overview of the process that went into picking this as the deck for the Spicy Deck Mix, to help inevitable hordes of people jumping in on this ritual avoid just tossing 5 random sets of cards on a table.

I always start my deck building by getting a sense of the meta, reading through the winning lists, watching some recent streams. This led to several assumptions for this event:

I - Lannister will not be a major presence (at least with the good players (this assumption had somewhat failed at Euros, as I ended up facing 3 in a row, but their lack of result further enhanced this assumption))

II - NW and Targ will be big, with Builders the most likely dominant version with the UK pride in that deck (rather amusingly it was the French who rolled into town with the deck, with the Brits having moved off it like the flakes they are, but what do ya know)

III - Varys will be big, so some defence against that, or longevity past him is needed (here I owe particular thanks to Isian, for showcasing what it can do in the relatively unexpected setting of Greyjoy)

IV - Martell will be relatively overplayed, because the UK and Sweden are obsessed with the faction, and at least some of what will be the Viper nonsense (was well off on the last bit)

This led to the second round of reading decklists armed with this vision of the shape of the meta. The early lead went to NW Crossing - they have the endless No Attachment keyword, and can focus on protecting a single core character against burn, with relative ease. It could potentially rush the Viper deck, and has even better economy now since they topped Swiss at Euros. One thing it's missing though is cool fun things. Seth will obviously be sickened by this, but one needs fun from a deck, and NW Crossing is too busy just winning to do much interesting stuff along the way.

So with that planned, I read further. Kostas and Even are huge sources of inspiration, being both frighteningly good, and endlessly creative in their deck choices, so I read up on the Targ Rose Kostas has been terrorising Regionals season with, and found some cheap non-union knock off, which however drove home the point that repeated Lord Renly's Ride = Good, and more importantly gave one a real feel of control in the game.

Sceptical about the endless practice everyone would have against Targ I went to see if there are good Tyrell decks doing interesting things with it. Alessandro's deck jumped out. He was already on my radar from reading up on how people are handling locations from the endless praise, poured on him from the Rome Regionals winner, and the Italian meta is damned good at deck building currently, having been months ahead of the Batalla Tyrell Crossing surge, while also being less visible, as much of the old guard no longer travel outside of Italy much.

Tyrell has the advantage of being the best faction to play Political Disaster from, have Ladies in Waiting as pretty much the only added protection against Varys that we have right now, had just gained very nearly Intrigue parity with Lannister with the rise of the Informer, give the option of two intrigue challenges to get past Dolorous Edd of the builders, and let you play the beautiful alt art Arbor in a tournament that actively tried to ban alt arts. I was in love.

This took us to the final stage of deck selection, tweaking the deck. Forgotten plans jumped out, but I was scared of the Viper deck, and somewhat doubting myself, so it stayed in. Growing Strong seemed too cute (effectively just being for like times you have both Renly and Jon Fossoway), and went against my newfound affection for Lord Renly's Ride, so that was an easy switch. I tried to find space for a third Bodyguard, but honestly that deck is damned tight and wonderful, so I built it, and the Spice Mix was set to go.

On the morning I was actually damned happy that Darren got the deck: Tupaq and Ryan are still stronger players in my ranking, but, quite importantly, Darren had played against a couple of versions of Tyrell Rains, and knew it was a strong deck, and not just something that may have been tossed into the pool for banter. On the day, some mistakes were made, but I was absolutely stunned with his refusal to accept defeat in any game - playing through some seriously impossible looking boards, giving the deck a chance to power him through inclement board states, the occasional error from having gotten the deck that morning, or even the irresistible charm of QT, who remained staggeringly unflappable and infuriatingly charming through his full range of encounters with the Spicy Meat Gang.

So yeah, I agree with Darren, that Alessandro's amazing deck carried much of the day, allocating the success at 30% Darren's play, 31% Alessandro's deck, but the remainder is split between 14% fortunate meta read, and 25% unshakeable support of the team, including Darren's proclamation that if he beat the builders, he is going the distance, giving him a total of 55% credit, and a well deserved title.

Banjo 97

I agree on swapping forgotten plans for Riddle. After having playing this deck at a small tournament I think Ghosts is very good in tempo if you have Marge out. Kill a renly bring in Randyl revive renly is amaze balls. Also the amount of times I countered an opponents Valar with Ghosts was juicy. I am on the fence with coppers. Yea its awesome and I put it in all my decks but having Pulling the strings and if you put in Varys riddle you could get 2 triggers with it. I honestly think another econ plot would be better. But I don't know what to cut for it. The game is rough if you don't get the arbor on setup and don't see Varys/LSotG.

But yea 10/10 would netdeck again.

Gerion Lannister 235

@BanjoThe absence of Counting Coppers is not problem until you meet Lannister Rains deck with Cersei. Then you are unable to trigger Rains and you are out of cards.

Gerion Lannister 235

@Gerion LannisterThis Cersei Lannister (Core) of course. :)

Banjo 97

@Gerion LannisterYou're probably correct. I played against 2 Lanni Rains in the small tournament and I was more focused on stopping their rains from triggering. Because this deck runs varys I play more defensively against decks like Lanni rains which can get explosive turns out of Rains. I think this deck helps leverage your odds against lanni rains because of Varys. And the arbor+Political Disaster helps you recover better and then snowball the game with a clutch pulling the strings into counting coppers.

Azighal 13

@imabunneh``@Baronerosso playing the deck i felt i missed some direct control. Do you feel that tears would be useful

Gerion Lannister 235

@BanjoI even had Counting Coppers in my plot deck but you can look at my first game against Ben Fox from Prague regionals. Video from the other one will be released soon, but even in this game I had no cards in hand at last three plots. Cersei Lannister (Core) is just terrible for this deck.

Banjo 97

@Gerion Lannister Agreed she's a pain in the ass. I think that game was a string of bad luck for you. I'm also not saying Lanni Rains is an easy deck to play against with this deck. Just that I think it has good answers. The game I played in the final of the GNK I was down to 0 cards on plot 3 then Managed to turn it around because of Marge.

imabunneh 307

@Azighal I did find occasionally a bit of targeted kill might be good, but due to the fairly heavy "full" resets it was never a problem for TOO long.

@Gerion Lannister It's interesting you had that issue, because in my games against Lanni since the tournament (and during), they just outright could not win intrigue challenges against me if I didn't want them to.

Azighal 13

@imabunnehis Trading with the Pentoshibetter than Late Summer Feast. Sure your opponent gets one card but if you trigger rains it is gone. or is the ability to drop marge/Arbor off of it that important

imabunneh 307

@Azighal Probably could do either or based on your own preference. Problem is, I would rather give my opponent 3 gold than 1 card most of the time, and if they're able to STOP me triggering Rains, then the discrepancy is substantially worse