Week 2 – Joust Tournament Wrap-up

Alright, as promised, a report from last night’s joust tournament. We met for the second of the weekly joust events at Good Games Blackburn – a little light on the turnout this week, sadly – only 7 players. With 7 players, we had: 1 Martell, 2 Targaryen, 2 Stark, 1 Greyjoy, 1 Baratheon. No Lannisters […]

Profile photo of Justin Shearer By Justin Shearer On April 14, 2012 Posted In Game of Thrones LCG

Alright, as promised, a report from last night’s joust tournament. We met for the second of the weekly joust events at Good Games Blackburn – a little light on the turnout this week, sadly – only 7 players. With 7 players, we had: 1 Martell, 2 Targaryen, 2 Stark, 1 Greyjoy, 1 Baratheon. No Lannisters this week, but a pretty even spread otherwise. In terms of agendas we had: 2 Kings of Winter, 1 Kings of Summer, 1 Siege of Winterfell, 2 Maester’s Path and one deck (the other Targ) wasn’t running an Agenda at all.

Had quite a few already confirm for next week, so hopefully we will crack 10 for the third event.

I opted for my Targaryen Burn deck. I’ll save the decklist until the end, but I have played a lot of different versions of this build – some with Hollow Hill, some with Summer and finally, I have settled on Maester’s Path. I’ll discuss the reasoning behind the list at the very end.

This week, since we were shy of 8 players, it would be two rounds and a final. My first round opponent was Dave – a very new player playing a Tully deck. It was, essentially, the starter list with a few minor modifications. I had a pretty awful setup, but At the Gates got me my Advisor to the Crown and I was able to burn his characters off the board. I got my chains off my house pretty quickly and wrapped the game up quickly. The Siege Agenda snagged him a good 6 power before the end, but he just couldn’t keep characters on the board.

My second round opponent was from my normal playgroup. Jason was playing his (much feared) “Hyper-Viper” deck. The aim of which is to play the Red Viper (PotS), tool him up and swing repeatedly until you win. It isn’t exactly subtle, but it has worked really well. We’ve been arguing over just how dangerous this deck was – I was pretty sure that both Choke and Burn would be builds that could handle his deck well… but given that his first round opponent was a Greyjoy Choke that he beat… well, I was thinking I might be in trouble.

My setup was again fairly poor – 4 cards, all dudes. I did, however, draw into a couple locations which helped considerably. He played summoning season into my at the gates – I got my Advisor and put Jorah into my hand. It allowed me to 2-for-1 him on the first turn with Jorah, giving me an early edge. He made it Summer but he never got the bonus gold from it – I was able to get some challenges across the line and Copper/Tin Link onto my Advisor who blew up his bird. I kept burning down characters and winning challenges and by the time Viper hit the board I was firmly in control of the game and had all my chains onto the table. With no reset button, it was all mine.

The final I met the only other undefeated player, Chris and his Stark Winter Shadows deck (with a little direwolf flavour). I had another rough setup – only three cards. He started quite strong, making it Winter on the first turn. This was to be my downfall. I could never quite get enough gold – and I completely fumbled my attempt to reset the board and get back in… I attempted to Hatchling’s Feast a Robb Stark… who had a Grey Wind attached. A sad, sad story. I was also one gold away from the Dragon Skull which would have bailed me out of that sad situation. The result was I had to go Threat one turn then Valar the next, further compounding my gold troubles. Also of note – no attachments on the Direwolves made it quite difficult to burn them… on the final turn, expecting a Meera or Arya in Shadows to end the game for him, I had the Flame Kissed… but it was a shadows wolf and that’s all it took. A brutal 15-0 loss. I don’t think I even got a challenge off… he just had the goods and I responded poorly to being on the back foot. A mistake or two and that’s all she wrote – two different Stark decks have taken home the prizes and the glory two weeks running ;).

Although I was a little sad to lose so badly (we did play a friendly afterwards in which I performed *much* better and won handily… although no where near as brutal as the game that counted :P), I’m glad that I was able to test my Targ Burn in a more competitive environment. Here’s the list; I’ll note some thoughts below…

House Targaryen
The Maester’s Path

Search and Detain
Retaliation
At the Gates
Threat from the North
Loyalty Money Can Buy
Regroup
Valar Morghulis

2x Jhogo
Ser Barristan Selmy
Khal Drogo (fetch Dothraki version)
Lyanna Stark
Daenerys Targaryen (+1 str version)
2x Dragon Thief
2x Horseback Archers
2x Shadow Parasite
2x Street Waif
3x Refugee of the Plains
Maester Aemon
2x Advisor to the Crown
Green Hatchling
The Titan’s Bastard
Pyat Pree
Daario Naharis
Viserys Targaryen
Ser Jorah Mormont
Black Hatchling
Brown Ben Plumm

2x Meereen Tourney Grounds
2x Meraxes
Lady Daenerys’s Chambers
Meereenese Brothel
2x Rhaenys’s Hill
Street of Steel
Street of Silk
The Red Keep
Khal Drogo’s Tent
3x Eastern Fiefdoms
3x Summer Sea

2x Forever Burning
3x The Hatchling’s Feast
3x Narrow Escape

3x Flame Kissed
1x Dragon Skull

Copper Link
Tin Link
Bronze Link
Lead Link
Valyrian Steel Link

So, overall, I’m pretty happy with the build. I need to do more to ensure smoother setups – in every game I played in the tournament my setups were poor and this really hurt my ability to play the deck as I wanted. I never really had an issue with influence – between 8 locations and At the Gates I always have what I need in that regard. This helped ensure I got access to my toolbox of chains. Also, I was always happy with my options for chains and I my 3:5 Maester:Chain ratio was never an issue.

With regard to my chains, I think my selections were spot on. I opted for a copy of Bronze link over a 2nd Dany’s chambers because, although the risk of running too many chains is there, it is far more reliable and thins the deck. The Tin/Copper links are fantastic – Tin is great on its own, but Copper gives me an answer to seasons without resorting to running birds (which would crimp Threat from the North’s style). Additionally, Copper has a cute interaction with Jorah and Daario. Lead Link is probably my only dubious include – but it does, importantly, give me another way of kneeling maesters out of the challenges phase and it does add a reliable source of some burn if need be. If I were to cut one, it’d be Lead Link.

My Maester:Chain ratio was a concern before the game – I only have 3 maesters in the deck, although one can save himself. The thing is, there’s a good amount of card draw in the deck and Narrow Escape protects them very well. Maesters are pretty resilient to opposing burn effects (since they will usually have attachments) and I have a lot of tricks to make sure I win the right challenges.

So, if I’m happy with the resources curve, the amount of burn, the agenda… but the deck didn’t perform anywhere near as expected… well, where’s the problem? Well, as mentioned, I suffered a string of bad setups. In my view, I’m getting hammered because I’m just not reaching critical mass fast enough. Looking at this deck, just over a third of the deck isn’t really suitable for a setup – compared to my current Stark build where I have just over half that number. I’m including anything of 4 cost, anything with a sweet CIP effect, events, non-shadows attachments and counting duplicate copies of things as half a card. I think there’s some serious scope for some trimming: I want to reliably hit 5 card setups.

I can also help matters by switching up my plots. 3 2-gold plots is painful, no doubt. This serves to complicate poor starts by giving me fewer early game options. That needs to change.

Any thoughts? I really feel like this has exposed a design flaw in the deck – I need to sweep a razor over the build…!

  1. Well, there are probably a few cards that I would switch out for something a little more effective/cost efficient…

    1) Shadow Parasite and Street Waif both go by by to your own TFtN. Something you have a problem with when it comes to Carrion Birds, but not these characters for some reason? I think there are more effective characters that could be put in their place. The parasite does nothing for you except improve setups. I know that is what you are going for, but they really are a lackluster character. Street waif is really only good on the 2nd and 3rd turn if you see him early, any later and the discard pile is usually full of cards that your opponent may not have a problem giving you(such as locations or cheap fodder characters like refugees. How much use did you really get out of them during the tournament?

    2) You seem to be running multiple copies of a couple high cost locations. Rhaeny’s HIll and Meraxes I would drop down to 1x(especially with the Regroup) and VS Link for card draw. In place here I would go with maybe Street of Steel and Shadowblack Lane for added income.

    3) Narrow Escape is a very interesting choice for a restricted card. Why not just go with 3x Linked Advisor instead to help with setup(since you can’t setup events) and to help ensure that you have a Maester in play more often/consistently?

    4) For the plots I would probably drop Regroup. Two claim is nice but there are better 2 claim plots out there. Winds of Winter is good vs winter decks and has an extra gold. Twist of Fate(if times on an opponent’s Valar turn can be amazing. With Targ one can usually feel the Valar really well because the opponent will typically have no characters on the board to your 3-4 characters. 5 Gold is also stellar.

    The deck does look fairly solid. Just a few tweaks to improve that setup and you look to have a winner on your hands. Copper Link + Daario & Jorah is just amazing.

    1. Some really good advice; cheers Nathan.

      1 – I’m running 2 copies of each for this reason. Birds is a little worse, since, in addition to *another* 3 characters being vulnerable, you also have Gilly and Sam that can die to it. It isn’t so much that *any* characters that die to it is unacceptable, but the ratio of them. I could definitely switch Waifs out, although they have carried a lot of water for me in some games. That said, Bronze Link largely does their thing, so perhaps they can move on. I’ll keep the parasites though – they setup nicely, but they’re also a remarkably dangerous card. It is easy for opponents to overcommit to blocking them, or just letting them go, especially if you have some burn options in-play, like the tourney grounds.

      2 – I think I agree here. I’ll definitely drop 1 Hill, but I might keep the second Meraxes. I see your point about VSLink, but, on the other hand, it does put a lot of eggs in that basket. Since I’m not exactly spoiled for choice with regard to card-draw, I’m probably happy keeping it in.

      3 – Escapes are better than the Linked Advisors, I’m pretty sure. I’m not necessarily sold on that for a restricted card, but as-is, I’m not worried about the maester angle. I’d be more inclined to run the really cheap neutral maesters if I were looking for more.

      4 – Twist will go in – that’s a good call. Do you think I need both Valar and Threat?

      Some really good starting advice anyhow. Cheers mate – I agree it is a good initial build, but there are some issues to correct. Even though I like him a lot, I think I’ll switch Khal Drogo to the jumpin’ Khal… thoughts?

      1. Twist took regroup’s place. I switched out the two Waifs and a Rhaenys’s Hill for a White Hatchling and two reducer locations. No other changes at this stage, but already I feel a little better about the deck.

        Could easily drop Lead Link for something and any of my 4-cost drops could shuffle around… thoughts?

  2. Good lord man, NO! Lead Link is a must keep. Amazing card.

    Maybe drop Red Keep as it is a little redundant and you don’t seem to have the need for tons of influence.

    Also, consider sropping 1 copy of Jhogo(dead draws are bad, and you aren’t running that many dothraki), and the Titans Bastard. 3 cost 2 str i have never been a fan of unless it’s an amazing effect. He isn’t.

    This is 3 more slots…1 more dragon skull, Kl vary, and syrio? Or 2x Dragon Knights? Both seem to be great choices.

    Honestly, I don’t see much more need for changes. Good looking build.

    1. Thanks for more comments –

      Red Keep: there’s quite a few things that are putting pressure onto my influence resources. RK being able to pay for a Hatchling’s Feast on its own is hard to pass up.

      Jhogo: I agree about the dead draws, but, on the other hand, he is a particularly useful dude. Most of my characters are basically just Random Chump X, but Jhogo’s ability is very useful. Being able to drop in Archers for the extra card draw for 1 influence is also very nice.

      Titan’s Bastard: Sure, he’s not great. I like the Forever Burning trick to drop him in… but mainly, he’s there because he’s a unique chump for Tourney Grounds. Could easily drop in Varys or Syrio instead. Can’t use the copper link for Varys, which is a shame, but he’s still pretty solid. Hmmm… I might try a few others in this slot and see how we go. Syrio is also really cool for the Stark matchup during the Epic Phases…

      As to Brothel… no, it doesn’t supplant the link. The biggest draw of the link (aside from the reliability) is that it can take out Black/White Ravens with the Copper Link. That saves me running birds.

      And Lead Link – yeah, you’re probably right. It also helps with Viper and other dudes that are hard to burn down. Another Dragon Skull might even be an option…

  3. I don’t quite like the maester-to-link ratio. Any link that you don’t consider literally essential to winning is one I’d say to drop — “handy” isn’t really important unless the card’s absence loses games. Even a full-on maester deck really should be careful how many links it is putting on the agenda card. I suppose you don’t really need to DROP any. Maybe just consider leaving a couple shuffled into the deck depending on what deck you are facing.

    I agree on Regroup. Lackluster plot because you only control so well what your top discard card will be, and even when you get exactly what you want with it you only have 2 gold that turn. Twist of Fate was a good switch.

    Plots win games, since you never know what cards you’ll be drawing. It looks like you have a pretty good assortment now to take on whatever you see come at you,

  4. @Nathan: Aye, brothel could switch out. Nonetheless, having lots of item removal options supports burn given that the overwhelming majority of my burn effects are no-attachments.

    @Theorist: From what I understand you get to make the decision to shuffle chains into the deck after you know what house/agenda your opponent is playing. If I thought I’d struggle to get 5 chains off my house in a given matchup, I could absolutely shuffle some back into the deck.