What is Dead Marches to the Wall: How a deck was Risen

This article focuses on a Night’s Watch-Banner of the Kraken deck. The full decklist can be found here: http://www.whitebookpodcast.com/tournaments/winning-decklists-joust/nights-watch-kraken/

The Watch has Need:

Early in 2.0 there were many who thought that the Night’s Watch was one of the weakest factions. I was doing well with it on OCGTN while playing Fealty and defense. I couldn’t  understand why there was so much hate. I also understood that you don’t know who you’re playing and it was the beginning of 2.0, so there would be many new players. I then became bored with the defense deck, as it was the same old thing: get the Wall, dump a bunch of bodies on the board, and don’t lose unopposed challenges. If someone is playing Night’s Watch, that’s probably what they’re doing. I don’t like doing what everyone else is doing. One night I played a more aggressive Night’s Watch deck that was using Ghost and Jon Snow. I thought, hmmmm, I like it. I just thought Jon wasa bit too inefficient to demand such a cost, especially in the only faction to not have a location reducer. My friends were playing a lot of Greyjoy when the cards were first released. I thought to myself, what if I brought stealth and choke (Shipwright) into a faction with draw, Meager Contribution, Ghost, and Yoren. Thus the deck was born.

The Iron Price:

I had played an early version of the deck before the release of the Road to Winterfell in a Winter Game Night Kit. I finished 2nd to Lanni-Rose. I was pleased with the performance, but not satisfied with the results. This deck was my own build, and I thought the deck deserved more recognition. I knew that a second-place finish was not going to cut it. We next had a Store Championship, and I took an entirely different build, not wanting to play the same deck twice in a row. I was very annoyed with myself because I should have kept grinding with the Night’s Watch-Kraken. Luckily for me we had another Store Championship the next week.

A Meager Contribution:

I made some significant changes to the deck from the deck that finished 2nd at the Game Night Tournament and lost to Glazer and Darknoj on Beyond the Whitebook. I kept talking with Aaron Glazer and Alex Kern about wanting to break through as I had two second-place finishes in my two tournaments. I knew I could just take a deck like Lanni-Rose and have a legitimate shot of winning, but I had to do it my way, and I really want this deck to be known. Alex offered a (not so) Meager Contribution in that he suggested using Winds of Winter as one of my plots to keep the pressure on my opponents.

Salt and Iron:

6-0 and 1st place at Atomic Empire’s Store Championship

This version was 7-0 on OCTGN testing with all 7 matches being conceded. I even had a rage quit as I played Naval Superiority on a Trading with the Pentoshi turn 1…oops.

Funny quote before the tournament: As I’m talking to a fan of the Night’s Watch (he doesn’t know what I’m playing), he says, “You’d have to be crazy to be running Night’s Watch in a tournament.”

Round 1 vs. Martell-Fealty:
That same guy is sitting beside me when I flip my faction and banner. He asks, “What the hell is this?” I Navaled my opponent’s Noble turn 1. He was happy to have his Roseroad to get 1 gold, but “the watch has need” and we accept any “meager contribution”. I had the Shipwright kneeling his Ghaston all game and he just couldn’t recover. 15-4, 1-0

Round 2 vs. Baratheon-Banner of the Sun:
I Navaled his Calling the Banners turn 1, so he still got some gold. He kept putting out small characters, and I kept the pressure on with Asha and Raiding Longship. The turn that finished it was when he Summoned for Mel and then played Arianne, so I assumed he had a plan. He did, but he forgot that jumping in Mel with Arianne doesn’t trigger her ability, so no kneel. You have to make strange plays during a game. He had Dragonstone Faithful, Maester Cressen, and Stannis Baratheon. I milked his Stannis so he would have one less character standing. He chose not to discard my Milk of the Poppy with Cressen, and all my guys stood. 15-6, 2-0

Round 3 vs. Baratheon-Fealty:
I Navaled his Here to Serve, so he got a character, but no gold. He tried a couple of trick,s and I let his board build for a turn-3 Varys bomb. He just stared at the board in amazement as to why he couldn’t get/keep any characters out. 15-4, 3-0

Round 4 vs. Targaryen-Banner of the Sun:
As the tournament continued, I found more and more people watching the deck wondering if it could be possible: I can’t remember the first turn. I believe I marched as he had Khal Drogo and Ser Jorah Mormont on set-up. I knew I needed to get rid of Khal; I’m fine with Daenerys, but 2 military challenges per round is too much. He built a nice board, but then I dropped Varys turn 3. He was able to get his board back, including Daenerys, except I played Yoren and took Jorah from the discard pile. He tried to play Jorah, but he was taken to the Wall. As I mentioned before, we have need. He had to March so I marched Yoren, as I had another in my hand. Then I took Viserion. We just continued to battle back and forth, as this was by far the best/toughest game of the tournament. Unfortuantely for him, his 7th plot was Confiscation (the only attachment in play was the Milk he put on my/his Jorah), and mine was Winds of Winter. The play that cost him the game was while he was first, he did a second challenge with Daenerys, not realizing that Rhaegal is once per phase. That misplay left a wide-open 2 claim power challenge by the Ranging Party. 15-12, 4-0

First Round of the cut vs Targaryen-Banner of the Sun (different player):
My setup was: Messenger Raven, Raiding Longship, Iron Throne, and Sea Tower. He had Nymeria Sand, The Roseroad, Desert Scavenger, and Ser Jorah. Game over, right? But even with no characters in-hand, I had both Milks. This situation is what I was talking about when I mentioned “strange plays” earlier. Even with just the Raven, I Navaled turn 1 and hit his Noble, made him first. Again, I needed a Meager Contribution. So, no gold and 9 cards meant reserve time. So with my (now) 3 gold I played Milk of the Poppy on Nymeria, played The Kingsroad, sacrificed it for Maester Aemon, and played Salty Navigator. He did a military challenge with Jorah; I saved; and then I did my own mil back. Turn 2 I Marched and he Confiscated. I sent off the Navigator. I played Yoren and took Jorah. Later, I took Caleotte – at one point I had more of his characters than he did. Guy watching says “play with your own characters,” which made me laugh.  He eventually got out Rhaegal, Drogon, and Daenerys, but it was too little, too late. 15-0.

Finals vs Baratheon-Fealty (different player):
I could see people lingering, thinking, can you do it one more time? The other two Night’s Watch players were almost giddy.

He setup a duped Mel, a Shireen, and a Kingsroad. Not looking so good for me with econ on the board. I had a duped Aeron, Shipwright, Iron Throne, and a Kingsroad. I had Varys and Tears in my hand, so the plan formed. I Marched into his Calm and made him first player. He got out a duped Stannis and a Followers, kneeling Aeron. I played Varys and a Sea Tower. I intrigued to Tears Stannis’ dupe. I then popped Varys, leaving just Mel. I played my 2nd Marched to restart the board. From there, I recovered way faster, having Yoren take the Followers. Eventually I was able to stabilize with Asha, Theon, and Ghost. I had saved my Naval Superiority, and I knew lots of Bara Fealty decks ran two Summons, and he really needed characters. I Navaled his Summons. I had 2 nice plays to finish it. He finally got Bob and did a Power challenge; I almost blocked but realized he would Intimidate and I only had Asha and Theon for Power icons. I let it go UO and he put down Asha, but that left me Theon and Ghost. I did a military challenge, having Ghost stealth his Followers and Theon stealth Hunting Party – subtle, but important – as Followers was his only intrigue icon. I was able to trigger Theon’s power-gain, and the unopposed left me one power short. My only intrigue icon was his Followers that Yoren took long ago. And they sealed it. 15-4. Winner.

Dark Wings, Dark Words:

The deck was strong on the day, and I rarely had to play from behind. Yoren, Asha, Raiding Longshi,  and Messenger Raven are the standouts. The Longship was able to force my opponent to over-commit to a challenge or let it go unopposed. I usually triggered the ship with my intrigue challenge (I really didn’t care to get cards out; my philosophy was “you are not going to be able to play them anyway”), which left Asha and the ship she came in on. I was either lucky or had a good sense, as I hit Naval every game. If they had a Roseroad, I would make them first when I had Meager Contribution. The card provided a nice 2 gold swing in most of my games. The Raven allowed me to get draw that my opponent couldn’t intrigue away. Yoren bringing unique characters to the Wall is so much fun.

Sword in the Darkness:

I really enjoy this deck, but I’m a bit biased, seeing as I built it. I think that, over anything else, that fact is what brought me the most satisfaction after winning – winning with a deck that I built and had to struggle to learn how to play. I would say that this deck takes strategy and a good pilot, but I will let it speak for itself.  You must also have some courage (or Cojones) to play this deck. You can’t fear playing and missing on Naval. You have to Tears of Lys anything you can to get the board down in size. (“I’ll Tears a reducer, I don’t care”– for Chris Kizer)

If you can keep them to 2-3 characters and only playing one, maybe two a turn, you should win the game.  As I mentioned, the Raiding Longship allows you to get the challenges you want through, so be okay losing some challenges. I would purposely not use the ship on my first challenge, just to get a character down and then with stealth get the next two, which were what I wanted. 2X Marched and 3X Yoren was always the plan. Stealing unique characters is very important. With a limited card pool there are many people running multiple copies of their uniques. If you steal one and they can’t play it, it’s a dead card. Sometimes you have to March a good character of your own – get over it. 3 Tears of Lys was a great addition because it synergized with the Raiding Longship. When your opponent has only 3 characters, are they really going to use 2 to stop a 1 or 2 strength challenge? If they do, then the next two challenges are yours. Also, Ghost allows you to stealth a character with an intrigue icon, and then they can’t block. I don’t run The Hand’s Judgment because I really only care about Treachery hurting Varys, and I’m not going to run a card to face one faction. You can’t worry about characters dying, being discarded, milked, etc… You will keep reloading. Asha is great in this deck, as she is usually your opponent’s main target. She gets milked, discarded, killed –  all of which are fine by me, especially the kill. Aeron and the Iron Throne will get her back. I did not run Benjen, Jon, nor Syrio because, for this deck to run smoothly, they are too expensive. I want to be playing at least 2 characters a turn to my opponent’s 1, and they don’t allow that. Characters don’t have to have high strength to win challenges if no one is the way. That fact is also why I don’t run Put to the Sword. I rarely will have 2 gold in the Challenges Phase, or I won’t win by 5. Keep the pressure on and “stick them with the pointy end.”

I know Nothing,



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