There’s No Gamble like a Sure Gamble: How Jumping Lions became a thing…

by Syd
“There’s No Gamble like a Sure Gamble”
-Lucas S.
(TL;DR – Here’s a fun deck I made)

Hey there Thrones community. My name is Lucas and I have been playing this game longer than most of the people that play this game. I don’t say that to gloat, I’ve really no accolades worth gloating over. I say it because I think it highlights the one thing I can say about myself: I’m anonymous to the community at large. I have been to Worlds the last three years, but if you were there, we probably didn’t meet. Or, if we did, you probably don’t recall. If you play in California you know me – but only as an “old” player that shows up to tournaments to get beat regularly by the cream of the California crop.

So it was a strange feeling throughout the course of this past weekend when I received inquiries about the deck I piloted to win the Store Championship at Dice House. I’ll digress briefly to recognize the stellar bunch of players that make up SoCal Thrones. It was a very competitive field of 31.

I enjoy my relative anonymity within the community and normally wouldn’t take the time to publicly post a deck, winning or otherwise. Nevertheless, here we are. Enough people that I respect encouraged me to post it, and Will contacted me personally to ask that I post this on The White Book website. How could I refuse?

I’m just really proud of this deck. It’s the perfect deck for a player like myself: it’s under the radar. It’s with a slight sense of apprehension that I share it. Critical elements of the deck are panned by the community. It’s been called “stupid,” “crazy,” “janky,” and “bad.” That was just at the tournament on Saturday! I suppose I like it all the more for the derision. The wins certainly felt sweeter amidst the swell of incredulity.

So let’s talk about the deck, then.

The whole design started with a statement I heard around the Game of Thrones water cooler that went something like this: Lannister is OP, they have all the best cards…except Hear Me Roar, that card kinda stinks. The only Lannister card that’s worse is I Never Bet Against My Family. Total trash.

Those statements were really all the motivation I needed to get started. I took two totally unappreciated cards and worked out how to make them the cornerstone of a new deck. So,m here it is, the final product. I’ll talk about a few of the choices that I made for each section of the deck.

3x Cersei Lannister (Core Set)
3x Grand Maester Pycelle (Core Set)
2x Joffrey Baratheon (Core Set)
3x Ser Jaime Lannister (Core Set)
2x The Tickler (Core Set)
3x Tyrion Lannister (Core Set)
3x Tywin Lannister (Core Set)
3x Burned Men (Core Set)
2x Lannisport Moneylender (Core Set)
3x Lannisport Merchant (Core Set)
3x The Hound (Taking the Black)
3x Ser Gregor Clegane (The King’s Peace)
The character base had to be heavy on uniques. Really heavy. You want reliability when you play INBAMF. I settled on 25. That means roughly 42% of my deck is unique Lannister characters. I never lost a bet against those odds – not in all eight games. People who say that the deck is gambling need to look at the math. Vegas would close in a day if they gave those odds. I don’t think the characters are completely refined though. The uniques are more or less locked in, but I think there’s room to wiggle on the Moneylenders. I love Burned Men and wouldn’t touch them.  
2x The Kingsroad (Core Set)
3x The Roseroad (Core Set)
3x Western Fiefdom (Core Set)
2x Shadowblack Lane (The Road to Winterfell)
The locations are nothing to get too excited about. Economy only, with the exception of the two Shadowblacks. The Lanes are essential for two reasons: 1) They allow me to dig for my killer events and 2) They allow me to shuffle my deck if/when I’ve exhausted the unique characters on the bottom of my deck. The interplay between Shadowblack and INBAMF is elegant. 
2x Bodyguard (Core Set)
1x Widow’s Wail (Core Set)
I’d love to find room for a Seal of the Hand, and if I were playing the deck tomorrow I might drop a bodyguard for one.
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)
14 events. 9 Lannister, 5 neutral. I knew I wanted to go 3x Roar and 3x INBAMF since they were the genesis and the character base is built around them. I think Treachery! is Lannister’s best event and felt I’d never be sorry to see one. I also thought 9 would be the correct number to have Shadowblack pay off. The 3x PTTS was a critical choice. Gaining access to reliable targeted removal is critical in this game, and the deck is optimized to leverage the event. Tears of Lys out of Lannister is just a no-brainer. They win intrigue challenges. The one glaring omission is The Hand’s Judgement. I love cancel in theory, but removal was more important to this deck. I’m not too worried about my opponent’s cancels, generally; it’s like playing Sharks and Minnows, with 3 sharks trying to stop 14 minnows. The events are getting through. Once again, it’s a numbers game.
1x A Clash of Kings (Core Set)
1x A Noble Cause (Core Set)
1x Confiscation (Core Set)
2x Counting Coppers (Core Set)
1x The Winds of Winter (Core Set)
1x Wildfire Assault (Core Set)
This is the plot list I played in the Store Championship, but it might not be the list if I played it tomorrow (but it probably would be). I think there’s room to negotiate on some of these. 2x Counting Coppers is the immediate stand out. I have to tell you, I love opening with Coppers. If I have the events in hand to take control of the challenge phase turn 1, I’ll often open Coppers in order to grab what I need to establish a stabilized mid-game (econ, characters, more events). If I have certain cards in hand I’ll also often open with The Winds of Winter (even with no supplemental economy). I’ll let you work out what those cards might be. Winds is also an amazing punishing card in the mid game when my unique Lannister characters have stabilized. Confiscation is there because good attachments are everywhere right now – Seal, Mare, Bodyguard, Milk…I just want an answer in case an attachment is making my life miserable. Noble Cause is great if I see a Tywin early. It’s no secret: an early Tywin is baller. Wildfire is a must. Once opponents start to realize the threat of the Jumping Lions they will often try to get out more characters to overwhelm the board. This plays right into the deck, and right into a painful Wildfire. Finally, there’s Clash. I love Clash. It’s the best finisher in the game right now. It’s a four power grab with Tywin in this deck.
[When First Snow of Winter releases, it has an immediate place in this plot deck]
Lords of the Crossing. (The King’s Peace)
LotC is so good. Without it I don’t think the deck could run as consistently as it did. It allows you to push that key challenge through with near impunity. The power gained is just icing…icing that allows you to close the game out much sooner than your opponent would wish. 
There you have it. I don’t want to get into all the interactions/strategy of the deck. I’ll leave that to the people who are interested enough to try it. Whatever your thoughts on the deck, I hope you do give it a try. It’s not an easy deck to play well, as it relies on a very keen sense of tempo. I welcome thoughts and criticisms…but if you find yourself harshing this deck’s mellow, I really encourage you to give it a spin. I can’t guarantee you’ll win, but I can guarantee a hella good time. It’s kind of a blast to play.
Thanks for reading.
This community rocks. Keep it 100 everyone,
Baller Gucci Gold.

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