Profile photo of Justin Shearer By Justin Shearer On April 28, 2012 Posted In Game of Thrones LCG

Week 4 – Joust Tournament Wrapup (Also, what’s the deal with Lannister?)

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April 28, 2012

Ok, so last night we had the fourth in a series of Joust tournaments at Good Games Blackburn. Sadly, was a smaller turnout than usual: we had 7 players all up so we would only play 3 rounds of joust. Some really odd things were happening last night: Starks, which had been both popular and dominant were entirely absent, and the much-maligned Knights of the Hollow Hill were seriously overrepresented.

Of the seven players, we had 2 Greyjoy (No Agenda, Kings of Winter), 2 Targaryen (KOTHH, Maester’s Path), Lannister (PBtT), Martell (KOTHH) and Baratheon (KOTHH).

I played my Targaryen KOTHH deck. It is a pretty standard burn deck with a focus on the First Snow-RBD-Valar/Threat plot chain. Lots of ambush to support a low-board presence strategy. Overall it worked well. The first match was the Targ mirror against the eventual winner, Jason. It was a brutal slug-fest – it ended on the 12-13th plot, 15-14. I weathered 3 back to back turns of Rhaenys’s Hill (each on 2 claim). As I kept such a low board profile throughout the match, I only had a couple characters in the bin; but the second hill put another two there and I wasn’t able to wear it. Was incredibly close throughout – had I not goofed the turn I played the Mad Mouse, I might well have taken the game and avoided 3 rounds of the Hill. Hard to be upset losing a game like that – I was quite impressed with my build’s overall strat, as I would have said that Maester’s have quite an edge. Having some larger, jumpy characters really made it hard for him to burn them down – playing it again, I’d be much more mindful to keep my board even smaller at times to make it harder for him to Hatchling’s Feast.

The second round was against Matt’s KOTHH deck. He had a terror run – he played Areo on the first turn and held the rest of his hand back as I led with First Snow (I was hoping to bait Flea Bottom for a 2nd turn RBD – no such luck). He took the cheeky unopposed against my empty board – and I dropped in an ambusher and stabbed Areo. He got some board up, but not for long. A third turn Threat wrapped the game up. The most heartbreaking moment was when he wanted to play FBS on the fourth turn – but he had 1 power on his house… I had opted not to do a power challenge the turn prior in order to win dominance and keep my refugee.

The third round was against Chris’ Lannister PBtT deck. Poor bloke had just played the other burn deck and had come off a bad loss. This wasn’t to be much different – he started well, but lead Game of Thrones into Loyalty Money Can Buy. His setup was a Castellan, a Brothel Guard and some locations. Going into the second turn he had Jaime (duped), Castellan, Brothel Guard, and two chumps (he had taken 3 unopposed power from me as well). He went with Breaking and Entering and I went with Threat from the North. He played Cersei anyway… and I burned down everything. From that point he was pretty much out of gas.

With only 3 rounds, this would put me in third. Pretty happy with that really.

Final standings were:

1 – Targaryen Maester’s Path
2 – Greyjoy Winter Choke (piloted by a friend who is pretty new to the game; 2-1 was fantastic for him, and the final was really hard fought).
3 – Targaryen Knights of the Hollow Hill
4 – Greyjoy No Agenda
5 – Lannister PBtT
6 – Baratheon KOTHH
7 – Martell KOTHH

Hopefully next week we’ll have more along – 3 rounds isn’t really quite enough, IMO.

My deck this week:

House Targaryen
Knights of the Hollow Hill

First Snow of Winter
Rule by Decree
Valar Morghulis
Loyalty Money Can Buy
Threat from the North
Twist of Fate

1x Thundering Calvary
Daenerys Targaryen
Khal Drogo
The Mad Mouse
Lyanna Stark
Ser Barristan Selmy
Daario Naharis
Ser Jorah Mormont
Pyat Pree
The Titan’s Bastard
2x Jhogo
Viserys Targaryen
Brown Ben Plumm
Black Hatchling
3x Refugee of the Plains
2x Shadow Parasite
3x Dragon Thief
2x Horseback Archers

3x Bay of Ice
3x Summer Sea
3x Eastern Fiefdom
2x Meereen Tourney Grounds
2x Meraxes
Aegon’s Hill
Meereenese Brothel
Rhaenys’s Hill
Lady Daenerys’s Chambers (I’ll be dropping this; 1 card in the entire deck for recursion just isn’t worthwhile)
2x The Red Keep
Street of Steel
Street of Sisters

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

3x Flame Kissed
2x Unburnt
1x Dragon Skull

Again, very happy with the build. I’ll spend some time thinking about the character set; Dany’s Chambers will go. There’s no other cards dedicated to that – no functional equivalence. I think I either need to run more, or cut it. Since I draw a good amount of cards – I don’t feel the need to recur things. Β It also kinda runs counter to my low-presence strat.

One other thing I wanted to discuss… Lannister. What’s the deal with Lannister?

Except, unlike the early Two Guys podcast, I want to know… why are they so terrible?

It seems to me that Lannister doesn’t work very well. But I’m not sure why. We’ve been trying to make the PBtT work – and I can see the rush thing being ok, but not really a Tier 1 build. It feels to me that, compared to Martell, Targ Burn, Stark Murder or Greyjoy Choke, Lannister just doesn’t do its trick well enough.

So, what’s wrong? I’m I just a terrible Lannister player? Is our meta missing something about Lannister? They draw cards, they get an extra challenge a turn, Cersei is a house, they have the economy…?

It feels to me that the problem is deep. First, whereas the Siege agenda looks weak on paper but performs incredibly well, Power Behind the Throne looks strong but man does that drawback suck. This is compounded by the fact that Lannister just don’t have the Intrigue game locked down. Martell seem to have a better set of INT characters and many other strats have plenty of tricks. Winning INT against Targ is difficult – it is hard for Cersei to push challenges while she is on fire.

Aside from lacking INT dominance – at least to the extent that Stark dominates MIL – the agenda also basically forces you to make 2 INT a turn. If you can’t do that reliably, the agenda is all downside – but it seems hard to actually achieve in normal games. This is compounded by the fact that you actually lose some flexibility in your challenges – you can’t make a piddly 1 strength INT to kneel out bigger characters. Once you lose an INT or two, that agenda of yours is losing you the game.

The character set also just seems weak. Lots of allies, lots of low strength characters – the icon spread is similarly poor. Perhaps the new character goes some way to addressing that, but we haven’t played a lot with him yet. Since you are relying on a couple key characters to push the key challenges, Lannister also seems vulnerable to strategies like Burn or Kill (both very popular) which can just brutalise it.

Also, kneel as a control strat seems good, but not stellar. It isn’t as flexible or as devastating as burn and some decks aren’t really effected by it – choke and Stark, in particular, don’t seem to care if a couple dudes are knelt. Hell, kneel the whole board – it doesn’t seem to matter that much. In particular, Stark need just one challenge across the line to keep up in the power-stakes… just seems like a Sisyphean task playing Lannisters against Siege.

Maybe the way is to play outside of PBtT – maybe we’re doing it wrong and other people are having a lot of success with it. All I’m seeing is Lannister consistently performing poorly in casual games and in tournaments – when they even turn up at all. I’m beginning to think that Lannister are worse than post-TLS Baratheon… and I know someone will always be the worst, but it feels like the gap is huge. Lannister, on-paper, have the goods: does neutral access to card draw and economy really cancel out Lannister’s natural advantages? And if so, should Lannister start to get more aggressively costed chuds to round out their lacklustre character package? Am I just missing some solid Lanni strats? Help us! πŸ˜›

  1. Nice deck! I’m actually running one right now that is very similar. Lots of ambush and burn. I think I’m actually running 3x Thundering Calvary with 2x Bay of Ice, 3x Kingstoad Fiefdoms, and Ambush from the Plains to drop them in post Hatchlings Feast mid challenge phase. Very fun to say the least.

    There are a couple interesting choices you have their…

    The Mad Mouse is one that isn’t used often. Easy to trigger out of Targ and maybe Stark as well. Sounds like he didn’t work out like you had hoped. How have your other experiences with him gone?

    Aegon’s Hill is one of my favorites, I just found that in KotHH it’s not as good since there is a small chance that you will draw it early when it is most effective. Late game it is not really worth the 3 gold you need to play it.

    Do you ever find that having both Daario and Jorah(i’m guessing those are the discard versions?) is a hinderance as you have decks that they will just sit in your hand against(sometimes Stark, definitely Greyjoy)?

    To touch on Lanny… It’s a combination of things that make them weak right now. 1) low str characters 2) terrible icon distribution 3) kneel is annoying, but ultimately does nothing for card advantage. Technically, it’s card DISadvantage as you are playing a card(distraction, YKtWD) that merely kneels a characte, but your opponent still has that character. 4) No agendas mesh well with Lanny right now. Even PBtT can hamstring your deck with having to commit to essentially 3 INT challenges /turn, meaning you have to drop a lot of presence in other icons to accomodate the agenda.

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    1. I think I will have to mix things around to include Ambush from the Plains. Seems like a great card. Aegon’s Hill, Dany’s Chambers – easy removes. Won’t be too difficult to shuffle things around a little more.

      Mad Mouse is… well… when he works, he’s fantastic. Grab 3 power during the Marshalling phase by cooking a weenie.

      Discard Jorah/Daario – aye, they aren’t as good here as in Maester’s. In Maester’s Burn they are always live cards – here… not so much. Not sure if they should stay or go: the other version of Jorah is also excellent, so I might switch it.

  2. Funny about Lannister…’s pretty strong at the Covenant store. I wrecked with a Power Behind the Throne the other day, and I’d never even ran it before.

    Sure, there are probably bad matchups for it, but some of those plot chains seem really strong….Breaking and Entering will just empty your opponents hand on the first turn, Frey Hospitality on round 2 clears their board, and all the while Cersei is just grabbing power.

    First Snow and Burn are probably good counters, but when it’s on song, I think it’s good. Or maybe I just need a wider perspective. Who knows.

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  3. I’m not really sure why Lannister and the Lannister-only agenda “The Power Behind the Throne” are being treated like a mandatory package deal. It’s not necessarily that Lannister sucks, it’s just the agenda has a huge drawback (when you face enemy intrigue) for not much gain unless you have a very healthy board (vs choke, siege, burn, and Martel’s intrigue/revenge schtick…lol…maybe you beat the stag oh wait The Laughing Storm) where you can even make 2 intrigue challenges a turn.

    Kneel is very powerful when combined with the military challenge and Valar. The fewer enemy characters there are, the better it becomes. Use kneel to cripple and win military/intrigue, don’t try for double intrigues so hard, and then win double/triple intrigues on the Frey Hospitality turn to make their turn 8+ Valar option worthless.

    The agenda is really only good with Frey Hospitality and the one version of Cersai. Not much else in Lannister (or in neutral cards) synergizes all that well with it. Nobody can empty an opponent’s FULL hand in a single turn, except Lannister on this agenda running a claim-2 plot…and that’s what makes them dangerous IMO.

    Operate like a military power. Then hose them with intrigue. Call it kicking them while they are down.

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    1. Aye; I agree with you. The PBtT agenda is not mandatory – but if you don’t go that road (and I think it is currently a bad road to go), I’m not sure what you do. Maester’s Path I guess…? Or Shadows?

      Maybe the 2 Champs guys have the right of it – play it as a rush deck for the extra opportunity to power grab and kneel is a tempo play… not a bad option, by any means, but it just doesn’t feel top tier to me.

      1. I honestly think Lannister is best with no agenda. Maesters Path works well for them too, but I would rather just run them straight up HyperKneel. Anything less and they just don’t shine like they did 2 years ago when Lanny won World’s

      2. Lannister isn’t lacking in the gimmick-win department, even outside of kneel-to-win…which (I must correct the TC guys here) is not a tempo weapon. Kneel absolutely should be letting you crush them militarily and shut their counterattacks down, or it isn’t doing its job. If kneel effects don’t translate into 1-2 dead enemy characters and some opponent discards (and Lannister not being hurt in these ways), Lannister isn’t playing full capacity.

        Lannister can run a choke deck. Lannister can run a murder deck. Lannister can run a rush deck. Maybe none of them are of the caliber that you’d see out of other houses, but you can build 2 or 3 of them into the same deck in Lannister. I believe that First Snow of Winter is more effective in Lannister than anywhere else, because they DO beat Martel in the intrigue department (offensively anyway). The decks for Lannister to dominate definitely can be built within the current card pool. I certainly can’t think of a house more able to shrug off Greyjoy choke — that’s an easy foot in the door to make themselves a spot in the top tier ranks.

      3. Kneel is a tempo play – card disadvantage for temporary board advantage. However, in this game, it is a little murkier because you can directly attack your opponent’s board and hand. That is to say, that in AGOT, there is a way to convert tempo plays.

        I think I probably need to see more Lannister lists. I cram a lot of kneel effects into my own Lanni decks, but it still doesn’t really allow my rather poor MIL characters to push past things like Hungry Mob.

      4. Maybe we were just splitting hairs here, Justin — we actually seem to be on the same page. You MUST convert kneel into challenges you either don’t eat or extra challenges you can safely make. Otherwise kneel isn’t doing anything at all. It’s having ZERO effect on the game if it doesn’t do that. And since you are also dropping cards to do all this kneeling, “zero effect” is basically intrigue-challenging and gold-choking yourself.

        It’s really really good though. Just think “Icy Manipulator” and not “Twiddle”, and Lannister kneel makes sense.

      5. So weird to read some of these comments…

        Lannister PBTT is insane. First turn breaking for 6 cards out of hand courtesy of Myrcella, tons of +gold weenies that also intrigue challenge, Frey Hospitality, Shadows & Spiders, Misinformation, Terminal Schemes…

        In fact the only way I was able to BEAT Lannister was to add First Snow of Winter to counter them.

      6. And kneeling to cancel powerful abilities on characters – the control there is incredible. Kneeling is fantastic. Castellan…crazy. You get a great character, and for the rest of the game if they don’t have an answer, they lose a threat when you play a character. No disadvantage at all.

      7. Of course kneel is good, or otherwise Lannister would not have have been the best house in the game for the first 2-3 years of LCG. That being said, with many of the other houses getting better at what they do best(Stark kill, Greyjoy choke, Targ Burn), and getting better cheap characters it is making it much harder for Lanny to consistently beat those decks by just kneeling 2-3 charactesr/turn.

        PBtT is a good agenda, if you have the card draw to sustain it. You need to be drawing at least 3 maybe 4 cards/turn by turn 3 to ensure that the damage you did with your B&E and Frey Hospitality turns is something that your opponent can’t just Valar and come back from. Lanny has to play a lot of cards to be able to ensure that they win those first two rounds of INT challenges and can cripple their opponent. It’s when your opponent can valar and get themselves back in the game that things get dicy(like what happened with Larry and his match against PBtT Lannister)

        Lannister’s main problem, like Targ, is that many of their characters do NOTHING to actually help you win challenges. Sure, you have cheap dudes that give you additional gold, or have a situational come into play ability, but that doesn’t do anything for board position. If it’s a kneel effect, sure, that helps. But if you aren’t kneeling enough characters to ensure that you win all your challenges then you just aren’t being effective enough. Lanny has a real lack of Stealth and Renown, meaning that you aren’t going to get much in the way of unopposed power and Renown is rare so games are going to drag out to 5+ plots and become harder and harder to win if you can’t close them out early.

        This is what makes Lanny so weak right now. Most decks out there are resilient enough to come back after losing half their hand and a few characters.

      8. @Steven – I guess when you play as many dupes of unique characters in decks as you do Steven, one little kneel effect can really cripple you. For those of us that don’t, it really doesn’t hurt that bad. πŸ˜›

      9. I don’t think I’ve had a dupe out in months :)

        I’ve had Ice Fisherman knelt, Wintertime Marauders knelt, Alannys knelt, etc. With Castellan it’s crazy. It doesn’t “shut you down” in the sense that there are still characters up…but it doesn’t have to.

        The idea that a player is going to lose nearly their entire hand (or *actually* their entire hand) and then come back and Valar the next turn is crazy. You’re in a position with 0-2 cards in hand, and you drop a 0 claim, 2 gold plot…against LANNISTER who should have plenty of +gold locations. After that turn you’re going to have 0 cards in hand for the rest of the game.

        I think most Lannister decks fail from poor plot choices. Full intrigue has the tools to win. Fights No Sword Can Win, Wars are Won With Quills…it’s totally there.

  4. Lannister is oft mis-played as far as I can tell. My Pbtt deck has a little trouble doing what it wants to do against a variety of decks. Choke and burn seem to be the only real threats.

    It ultimately hinges on what plots you run and when.

    Aside, yes, tls should never have come off the restricted list.

    1. Agreed, we playtesters kept telling them it was a rediculious card, way too powerful with Val, and in general just something that Bara didn’t need and it didn’t fit with their overall themes. Did they listen? lol! If he were to see errata that made him only work for claim of INT challenges then he would be a fair card. As is, he should go back to being restricted. My opinion, of course.

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      1. TLS isn’t really broken, but it does seriously increase the variance in Bara. I’d rather the power level was spread out across a number of cards rather than focused in one ability (and one ability that may or may not be useful).

      2. The TLS un-restrict was pretty silly. Game designers need to learn that making cards that break all of their rules is not a way to create fun.

      3. Well, it wasn’t designed by FFG so they have little fault here. Those cards do go through all the regular playtest duties and are probably scrutinized more than other cards. That being said, It is a champion card and FFG has said that they want those cards to be very powerful so that people will actually play them. I think with the case of TLS they may have went too far in that direction though.

        Is TLS the most powerful card in the game? No. Is it top 5? I think so, but that’s debatable. Would I have such a hard time accepting it if it had a cost of 4? Nope, I would be OK with it then because it would be correctly valued.

      4. There are certainly a lot of draw combos with him. It’s also pretty gross that so long as your opponent has no way to be rid of him, they can’t really run intrigue at all. If he were not a unique character, I’d call him flatly broken. Ban-hammer him, I say. Imagine if Eddard Stark just needed to be standing to shut off your guys being killable.

      5. That would actually be a fairly Nedly card…

        Eddard Stark

        Cost: 4
        Strength: 3


        While Eddard Stark is standing, Noble characters you control cannot be killed.

        Noble Crest

        Me likey!

  5. Hi guys, here’s the Lannister deck Justin was talking about. No idea how to stop the burn…

    House Lannister
    Power Behind the Throne

    Search and Detain
    Breaking and Entering
    Shadows and Spiders
    Frey Hospitality
    Game of Thrones
    The Breaking of Oaths
    Valar Morghulis

    Brothel Guard x3
    Cersei Lannister x3 (LotR)
    Enemy Informer x2
    Cersei’s Attendant x3
    King Joffrey’s Guard x2
    Ser Jaime Lannister x3 (Core)
    Joffrey Baratheon x1 (Kings of the Sea)
    Tommen Baratheon x1
    Castellan of the Rock x3
    Lannisport Moneylender x3
    Bronn’s Hireling x2
    Bronn x3
    Myrcella Lannister x1 (LotR)

    Hall of Heroes x2
    Lannisport Brothel x2
    Shadowblack Lane x1
    The Iron Throne x2 (LotR)
    The Goldroad x3
    Sunset Sea x2
    Golden Tooth Mines x2

    Flogged and Chained x3
    Increased Levy x3
    Slander and Lies x2

    A Lannister Pays His Debts x2
    Distraction x2
    To Be a Lion x1
    You’ve Killed the Wrong Dwarf! x2
    Condemned by the Council x1

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