by Luke Wortley (eldub)
So since I’m the resident representative of the Indy meta here on The White Book, I feel it best if I give the tournament report, especially since I had a decent showing at the 58-player tournament held at Family Time Games on the North side of Indianapolis.
First of all, congratulations to Tyler Hockman on his win. I got to hang out with a few members of the Columbus meta at various points throughout the day — really awesome folks and seems to be a really competitive meta. Keep an eye out for them at the bigger events later on this year.
Second, our hosts were gracious. Donuts and coffee were provided beginning at 10am for registration and check-in, and lunch was served after the third round of Swiss. If you have some time, go browse the store’s website; it’s a really wonderful space. We could have easily had 100+ participants and still been accommodated comfortably.
Let’s talk for a moment, though. 58 players! 58!
That attendance shatters the record for events in the region and is a great start for us hosting our first regional (though, to be fair, the TO was the store owner, not one of us from the regular play group). We’re excited to set that precedent for other tournaments this season, and despite a few hiccups (which I’ll discuss later), I hope that those who traveled from Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, and other parts of Indiana felt that the experience was worth their while. The field was ultra competitive and produced some very memorable moments all around.
Without further ado, I’ll launch into my experience, which landed me a respectable, albeit disappointing, 12th place finish. I’ll talk about each round briefly in terms of gameplay, offer some highlights (or lowlights, depending on the perspective), and offer what I learned from each match. Lastly, I’ll offer some discussion about Intentional Draws and sportsmanship.
So, I played the Lanni Jumper deck, in case yall were wondering. Also known as BAMF, Leaping Lions, and all other manner of ridiculousness, it’s a deck pioneered by Lucas Sydlaske and tweaked mildly through a good amount of playtesting. My decklist is at the end of the article, after my rant about Intentional Draws.
Round 1: Bye
Highlights: Getting to chill with a couple other folks I hadn’t met before and catch up with a couple I’d seen around from tournaments in years past.
What I Learned: Winning a Store Championship is a good thing.
Round 2: Greyjoy-Banner of the Sun
Highlights: Flop here was pretty good. Hound, Cersei, Chud, Roseroad. However, I look across the table at a Seastone Chair, Rattleshirts Raiders, and a little income. Though I’ve got character advantage, I’m really worried about that Chair, especially since I don’t pick up a Treachery or an attachment upon re-draw. Eventually I get what I need, though, by playing carefully around the unopposed until I draw a Widow’s Wail (play of the day: jumping in characters and ambushing Widow’s Wail to declare defenders) and a couple dupes to protect folks on the board. He also made a mistake by playing Attainted on Tywin, which gave me free protection until I saw his duplicate. I didn’t lose an unopposed challenge all game, which only went half-way through plot 4. Crossing sped me to victory with renown on a duped Tywin and Jaime.
What I Learned: Greyjoy can be a nightmare, but if you’re careful with Ambush and manage to control the power challenge, you’re generally in decent shape.
Round 3: Stark-Fealty
Highlights: I saw everything early. Tywin, Gregor, Cersei. I’m hitting his hand and peeling characters off the top of the deck, but I’m having almost no effect on his board state. Even after a First Snow and an early Treachery to get rid of Ice, I stall out when I miss on both Counting Coppers and draw a bunch of dupes with no kill events or even really any useful characters. When I finally draw a Jaime off Lannisport, I think I’ve sealed the deal. He’s slowly gained power through winning dominance and triggering Sansa, but I’m close in power total and ready to really accelerate. Then, he catches me off-guard with a well-timed Heads on Spikes. Pulls my Jaime. Dead. He gets 2 more. Now I’m really playing from behind, even despite Tywin and Gregor from the outset. On his side, he gets a sorely needed Eddard and Lady with a Kennel Master and Cat on board. He flips Wardens of the North and I’m left to play defense. I manage to pull within striking distance (13 power) with Crossing the next turn, but I look over and realize that he’s got just a wall of stuff that will win him the game. I’m frantically calculating my three challenges, but I can’t push through. He ends up closing in the Nedliest way possible: he moves Sansa to Lady for the 15th. Worth noting he made Top 4.
What I Learned: I think that it’s tempting to blame variance and lack of mid-game draws. However, I honestly think that I may not have applied enough pressure when I needed to in order to get that extra power. I’m a pretty careful player for the most part, so I value defense, and in this matchup, I may have let the challenge-math headache and threat of activation do me in.
Round 4: Baratheon-Banner of the Sun
Highlights: Bara and Greyjoy are my least favorite matchups as a Lannister player. He gets an early Melisandre and a duped Nymeria on the board and lets my Hound take a nap. I draw back a Tywin after an OK setup but decide to play wide, as I have 2 PttS and a Tears in hand. Didn’t draw much kill in the first game, but I’m swimming in it this match. I get a Tyrion marshaled and use him to boost the econ in the challenge phase. My opponent had stolen Cersei’s int icon, but I BAMF’ed a Tywin, put Mel to the sword, and tears’ed a Cressen. So, here’s where it gets interesting. My removal makes me way ahead in board state, and I’ve got a Tywin coming down…until he reveals Heads on Spikes and plucks him out of my hand. So I’ve got a dead Tywin and I’m pissed. Two games in a row! I’m so far ahead in board position, though, and he makes a mistake by playing a Littlefinger to get some draw; I assume he thought that he had the tempo controlled with Twyin gone and no Gregor showing up (he didn’t all game). I’m licking my chops with another PttS and a freshly drawn Tears. I Treachery Nymeria’s int steal, wreck his hand with Cersei, gain the gold, put Littlefinger to the sword, and tears his reducer. He looks at me a little strange, but next round I reveal First Snow of Winter, which prevents him from marshaling anything (I’d decimated his hand with the 2-claim intrigue), kill a Nym dupe, and then follow it up with Winds of Winter. Game.
What I Learned: Although I already knew it, I’ll include it here for the sake of being thorough. Lannister has a lot of different ways to play, and each game requires serious choices early; you have to be prepared for a game without Tywin to lean on. Sometimes playing unconventionally to be as aggressive as possible can seal the deal in the early game. Playing Tears of Lys on a reducer is one of those plays.
Round 5: Baratheon-Banner of the Lion
Highlights: It’s important to know that we had to re-pair several times because of logistical issues and mis-entered / mis-reported information, so we’re all already on edge, especially those of us at 3-1, who know we can’t afford to drop this one if we want any shot at the cut.
When we’re finally paired up, I’m thinking, “Two Bara decks in a row! Seriously?” Also playing against a good friend, which is always tough at a high level event in a high-stakes round. She gets out an early Mel in this one as well with a Red Keep and some other stuff, but I put Mel to the sword again. Next turn I’m roaring the Mountain in and peeling a Mel off the top of the deck with a Tyrion on her side…yeah. Another game without Tywin and another wiped board. Game.
What I Learned: If you can keep enough standing, Baratheon doesn’t like heavy, heavy aggro.
Round 6: Lannister-Lord of the Crossing
Highlights: Ah, the dreaded mirror match. And, we had more trouble with pairings. Not to mention we’re playing a win-and-in scenario. Honestly, this game was a heartbreaker. He was just one card and a little more power ahead of me the whole match. He got the tempo on me early and was able to get his Crossing benefit twice, as I was playing from behind and had to defend. I skillfully maneuvered myself back into position down 6-0 by leveraging my only advantage: Cersei. I was able to wipe his hand and get my own Tywin, Mountain, and Tyrion. However, by the time I finally got around to mounting my comeback, I was still playing around the fact he was at 12 power to my 8. I was able to poke a few challenges through, defend, and gain renown, but I stalled out at 14. I saw no kill and had all my jumping events sitting in my hand as dead cards, considering everyone was on the table at that point. It’s also important to note that he had Shadowblack Lane on setup, which helped him filter his deck several turns in a row. He got the jump on me and, credit to him, was able to hold the advantage all game long despite my late surge. Honestly didn’t make any mistakes. Just couldn’t quite catch him. Props to him for making the cut.
What I Learned: Coming to a high level competitive event and falling just short can really bother you, but ultimately if you come in and your deck performs and you lose honorably to good players, that’s a good turnout. Also, Cersei is definitely underrated. She’s amazing.
So, here’s the part where I get a little salty about the new Tournament Rules. Heading into Round 6, I was the 6-seed, which mathematically gave me chance, depending on my SoS (which was decent, seeing as both my losses would have been to Top 8 players), to make the cut even at 4-2. Standard Swiss with 58 players and cut to Top 8 (with no draws) guarantees at least 1 player at 4-2 to make the cut (1.667 players, to be precise, and considering you can’t have 2/3 of a player, we’ll round down). On the other hand, I may have a similar issue if I take a draw, because I’m not totally safe only earning only 2 points as the 6-seed when it was unclear how many others would be drawing or winning; I’d need a few things to fall my way, and we’re not even mentioning the fact that neither I nor my opponent had brought up the issue verbally. Ultimately I think I made the right decision to take control of my own fate in terms of making the cut. Things just didn’t fall my way; them’s the breaks.
In theory I’m not opposed to IDs for top table. Kings of Swiss is fine. But, as it happened in Indy, in addition to those two at the top table, four other 4-1 players took draws…FOUR! I have several issues with what happened:
I find IDs in any other situation than top table in the final round of Swiss to be in violation of the integrity of the event. Let me be clear: I’m not complaining because the IDs manipulated standings and pushed out me and potentially one other player (our scores were essentially equal) out of mathematical contention. I’m complaining because the folks that took draws finished 7, 8, 9, and 10. Let’s take a look at those situations, because both of them are distinctly different.
- The player who finished 10th took a draw with the person who finished 8th. Something’s wrong with that picture. I tend to think one player didn’t know exactly what the risk was or hadn’t done the math to accurately calculate his score, leading to a complete gamble.
- The player who finished 9th took a draw with the player who finished 7th. I talked to that player, and he took a draw because he ‘hadn’t tested against the matchup.’ What!? You’ve got to be kidding me. So you’re willing to just not even play because you don’t know how to play against Stark-Fealty? Seriously?
Both of these situations underline a certain, innate distaste I have for IDs. PLAYERS SHOULD HAVE FAITH IN THEIR DECK AND IN THEMSELVES. It’s a card game. Don’t play scared.
More importantly, however, just do your math when considering a draw. Don’t let someone else try and talk you into it if you don’t know how scoring and cuts work. Win and in, as far as I’m concerned; lose, take your tokens, and get a mat next time. You were right there and are good enough to get there again. No shame in trying to win. Moreover, now you’ve created a situation in which the final standings aren’t accurate reflections of a great day of Thrones — if you don’t play the damn games then I think you always leave the door open to question.
Granted, I’m not one to ruffle feathers, and I’m more than willing to accept criticism and even change my viewpoint. However, one thing is certain, if you’re going to take a draw, DO YOUR MATH.
Yall take care now,
Here’s the decklist I played with:
Agenda: The Lord of the Crossing
1x A Noble Cause (Core Set)
1x Confiscation (Core Set)
2x Counting Coppers (Core Set)
1x The Winds of Winter (Core Set)
1x Trading with the Pentoshi (The Road to Winterfell)
1x The First Snow of Winter (No Middle Ground)
I played 2 money plots, which is uncommon for BAMF, but I was extremely happy with the choice, as I’m generally loathe to give my opponent money if I don’t have to. Noble Cause was a nice alternative with Trading as a backup / game-ruiner if I could drop 2-3 big characters.
3x Cersei Lannister (Core Set)
3x Grand Maester Pycelle (Core Set)
3x Ser Jaime Lannister (Core Set)
1x The Tickler (Core Set)
3x Tyrion Lannister (Core Set)
3x Tywin Lannister (Core Set)
3x Burned Men (Core Set)
2x Gold Cloaks (Core Set)
3x Lannisport Merchant (Core Set)
3x The Hound (Taking the Black)
1x Brothel Madame (The Road to Winterfell)
3x Ser Gregor Clegane (The King’s Peace)
Lately I’ve only been playing 1 Brothel Madame. She can be clutch, but many good players know when to just sit and wait on a military challenge against this deck. Dropped Joff for several reasons: 1) he’s an asshole, 2) First Snow of Winter makes him distinctly less useful, and 3) I cut Wildfire from the deck, which is usually a huge boost for him. Gold Cloaks were huge all day. The Ambush power icon is enormous — would consider a third copy.
2x The Kingsroad (Core Set)
3x The Roseroad (Core Set)
2x Lannisport (Core Set)
3x Western Fiefdom (Core Set)
2x Shadowblack Lane (The Road to Winterfell)
Lannisport and Shadowblack make this deck go. They’re the carburetors of the deck; if you miss them, you’re hurting.
2x Bodyguard (Core Set)
1x Widow’s Wail (Core Set)
Pretty self-explanatory here. Might go back up to 2x Widow’s Wail, seeing as it literally won me a game. And 61st card, you know, for the banter.
3x Put to the Sword (Core Set)
2x Tears of Lys (Core Set)
3x Hear Me Roar! (Core Set)
3x Treachery (Core Set)
3x I Never Bet Against My Family (The King’s Peace)
Originally had taken out a copy of INBAMF, but I had missed it a few times in testing. Might go back down to 2 and make room for the second Wail, which would still keep me at 60.
Anyway, that’s the deck.