by Lauren Fitch
Hi everyone, and welcome to another installment of The White Harbor Times! This week I’ll be discussing my experience at the New Hampshire regional, where I played Dave Bamford’s Martell Banter of the Wolf deck (with some minor changes): https://thronesdb.com/decklist/view/4991/martell-banter-of-the-wolf-first-place-stoke-on-trent-regi-1.0
You might know from reading some of my articles that I frequently play Baratheon. Although they were in a great spot during my first regional in April, I feel they’ve fallen off a bit lately. According to the Annals, their qualification ratio has dropped off significantly from the start of the cycle, from 1.5 during the Taking the Black meta, to 1.0 for True Steel; it actually went under 1.0 briefly during the Calm Over Westeros meta. I believe the reasons for this are Mirri Maz Duur and Tyene Sand. Both characters can be devastating to an intrigue-light faction (as Baratheon currently can be). Once either character hits the board, it has to be controlled every turn or it will start picking off key characters. Martell and Banner of the Dragon are both very popular currently, so those two were a big concern. Another concern was the popularity of Stark Fealty, which is another difficult match-up for Baratheon, as its on-demand stand and beefy power icons are strong answers to Baratheon’s strategy. For these reasons, and because I was getting a bit bored with Baratheon in all its various forms, I decided to run something else.
But what? I assembled and disassembled several decks in the weeks before the tournament. I played a Martell-Dragon deck to 2-2 in our local tournament and found that targeted kill is nice, but everyone’s on to it at this point. Triggering Mirri can be hard sometimes (Tyene is easier). I then put together Sean Emberley’s Greyjoy-Dragon deck, which used Raiding Longships to facilitate Mirri’s solo win, plus the Seastone Chair to amp up the targeted kill. Interestingly enough, in testing games, I again had trouble triggering Mirri. People really change their strategy to stop her at all costs, which made me wonder how valuable the Dragon banner really was in the match-up, since most of the targeted kill I got was from the Chair. So I was a little soft on the GJ-Dragon deck when my buddy Chris Lavin brought over Dave’s Martell-Woof deck. We played about 4 or 5 games a couple nights before the tournament and couldn’t beat it in testing, so I decided to play that at the regional. Chris did too.
I made a couple of changes to the draw deck, leaving the plot deck as it was. I added a Rattleshirt’s Raiders for more attachment control and removed a Winterfell Steward (I generally like 2x in my banner faction). I took out Rickon and added a Tourney Grounds. I removed His Viper Eyes and went to 2x Nightmares, since Winterfell can be a problem for Tyene or Tears. I added a Sunspear, and cut a Put to the Sword for a total of 2x. I had some concerns with the plot deck being so low-income but it never was an issue during testing, and any changes to the plot deck would have upset its high-pressure board clearing, so I let it be.
On the day of the tournament, I drove up to the store — about an hour away and in the next state. With me were my husband Britt (The Fitch Who Drinks), Steve Cantrell, and his wife, Amy. Steve was playing his own version of Martell-Wolf and Britt was playing Stark Fealty, with which he had won our local GNK 3 weeks before.
The tournament ended up with 33 players, so we played 5 rounds, with a cut to top 8.
Round 1: Bretton Reis, Greyjoy Fealty
At the start of the tournament Brett and I were informed we were playing at the sexy table. All right! Brett is a fun guy and I’m always happy to see him at tournaments. He writes hilarious tournament reports (you can read his version of the day’s events here: https://thronesdb.com/decklist/view/5130/murdock-loves-tentacle-porn-1.0). Brett mulliganed into a setup of Balon and an Iron Fleet Scout, while I set up a duped Fast Eddie, reducer chud, and a Kingsroad. Balon got Marched, but Brett played another one first turn with A Noble Cause. Turn 2 I played Tyene, but Brett saved Balon with an Iron Mines. Turn 3 I finally got him. The next turn I powered with Eddie and Arianne, then used Arianne’s ability to put Syrio into play. With Syrio and a now-forgotten character I was able to stealth past Euron and put him to the sword, killing a knelt Drowned Men for claim and wiping Brett’s board again. On the final turn Brett played Theon, who promptly got Warded.
Round 2: Sean Miller, Targaryen Banner of the Sun
I set up Nymeria, 2 chuds, and a Roseroad to his Sunspear, Roseroad, Unsullied, and Viserion. I wasn’t happy about that Sunspear but the high initiative on my plots meant he went first every turn. On my First Snow turn he had Danaerys and the Unsullied, which I was able to kill with Tyene, Marching his duped Dany the next turn. After that I used Tyene to kill Khal Drogo, wiping his board a second time. He played out a Crone of Vaes Dothrak and a Dornish Paramour, which I Warded. He conceded after my marshaling.
Round 3: Steve Cantrell, Martell Banner of the Wolf
Ugh, I didn’t want to play this mirror match, especially against Steve ,who I assume had been practicing more than me. I set up Bran, Maester Caleotte, Sunspear, and a Roseroad, while he set up Blood Orange Grove, Maester Caleotte, Arya, and a Greenblood Trader. The advantage seemed mine at first, and Steve seemed really perplexed by the Sunspear, which hadn’t been in Dave’s original deck list. I think he was wondering what other changes I had made that he didn’t know about. I started off great, switching Arianne for Edric on the First Snow turn to stealth past his Eddard for a military, killing Bran, and then using Tyene on Eddard to clear his board. However, I made a huge mistake on a following turn. Steve was recovering his board after the First Snow wipe when I played Ward on his Maester Caleotte. During challenges, he attacked with Rattleshirt’s Raiders; I let it go unopposed when I could have triggered Arianne to jump in Areo Hotah to remove the Raiders from the challenge. In my head I was thinking I didn’t care about losing a character from my board, and I wanted to save him for a different challenge, but forgot entirely about the Raiders’ ability. Oops! That rattled me pretty bad and Steve clawed his way back to a mod win. I was happy that I managed to prevent him from reaching 15 and got my 1 point.
Mod Loss, 2-1.
Lunch! My game against Steve was the last to finish, and we barely had time to drive to McDonald’s and back before round 4 started. I crammed part of a cheeseburger in my face and had to start playing right away.
Round 4: Marc Berenbach, Stark Fealty
I didn’t really want to play this matchup either, Winterfell and Catelyn ruin a lot of my effects, and Marc is an excellent player who rarely makes mistakes. I forgot to note our setups in this game. He played Arya turn 1 and I had the choice of Warding her or playing my own and taking Sansa. I chose the latter, which may have been wrong, and Marched Sansa the following turn. This did have the nice side-effect of Marc having to March Septa Mordane. I was concerned about Arya’s intrigue icon giving me trouble. Marc had Blackfish and Fast Eddie early, but I was able to bluff Tears on an intrigue challenge, which subsequently exhausted his Winterfell trigger, which then enabled me to use Fast Eddie and Arya for a military challenge and play Put to the Sword on a 5-power Blackfish. Yikes! Not a moment too soon. I played my second Ward on Catelyn, which was Confiscated the next turn, but unfortunately for him, I drew my third Ward and was able to snatch her again. It was a fun, difficult game, but I ended up with the win.
Round 5: Fred Janney, Stark Fealty
At this point I was in third place out of 33, and I really didn’t want to play this stupid matchup again, so Fred and I ID’d. I’m against IDs in general but since they’re still part of the rules I’m going to use them if I feel like it. We played a quick fun game and his new Cat got power like nobody’s business and I lost. He also Warded my Arya! Good thing that didn’t count (although as it turns out I still would have made the cut with 16 points, but I would have had to play Steve again in the top 8).
I finished in 6th place, good enough to keep playing!
Top 8: Morgan, Lannister Lord of the Crossing
Sadly there wasn’t much to write about here. I set up Maester Caleotte, two Bastard Daughters, and a Tourney Grounds. He set up Tyrion and some other stuff. Turn 1 he gets out a duped Tywin and by the end of turn 4 he also had Jaime and Gregor, so I couldn’t play First Snow because he had a huge character advantage. I saw Tyene, which was useless against his board, but no Nymeria, Ghaston Grey, nor econ. I was extremely frustrated because I felt like I didn’t get a chance to actually play a game; there was no skill involved in what was happening.
Loss, final standing: top 8.
My last game led to me going on a long rant about Lannister. I managed not to change my article topic into that, thankfully. I do think there are still some fundamental issues in the game right now regarding economy and variance, which I will talk about in my next article.
The meta-call of the day was made by Jeremiah Snader, who brought Targaryen Fealty. There were very few Lannister decks. Our meta as a whole tends to be more independent and less driven by Facebook and ThronesDB trends. People tend to play what they like, and many folks are getting sick of Lannister. Jeremiah was able to roast many of the Stark and Martell decks in the field and played through to top 4.
The tournament was won by my friend Marc Berenbach, who beat Stark Fealty, Targaryen Fealty, and Lannister Lord of the Crossing to take the title. Way to go Marc! Stark is in a really good place right now. With their stand, power rush, and discard shenanigans, they remind me of 1.0 Baratheon.