Tournament Report: Montclair, CA Regional from James S

by James S

Saturday’s AGoT Regional at Montclair was AWESOME! For the quick rundown and all you really need to read: I played Lanni/Kraken and went 8-0-1 on the day. No big surprises… I put in the “good cards,” hoped for the matchups I wanted and planned for, and let the deck do its thing. Big highlights were meeting so many new faces, competing in another strong field, and successfully defending the SoCal title from those persistent NorCalers!

Pre-Tourney Preparations

Decklist here:

Glazer’s gonna smack me, but Memorial Day weekend was the first time I built and sleeved a main-house Lannister deck. Why? It stems back to Thrones W.A.R. where I was King Stark and Stark Lion was spoken for by other members of my team, so I didn’t devote much focus to those red cards. Then, with the booming popularity of Lanni, my rebelliousness prevented me from joining the bandwagon. So a day before the big KublaCon tournament in the Bay Area I built a Lanni Kraken deck to pilot for a few games to “get the feel” for their play, so I’d know how best to beat ‘em. Naturally—I can see you all nodding out there—I had great success in testing, and after some gentle encouragement from Ryan Jones, I decided to put my pride aside and go with the beat-stick deck instead of Targ Crossing or my hyper-control Bara-Sun deck. I ended up 3-3 on the day after failing to break Margo’s Bara Fealty kneelfest and losing to Martell twice, as Lucas Sydlaske and Joel Rodriguez both used Varys to turn the tide after I pulled ahead early. Lessons learned!

Fast forward to the morning of the regional…at 6:45am Ryan Jones called me to say that he’s en route and that the event posting indicated that PRINTED decklists were REQUIRED. Whoa—that’s a first! And a problem because I don’t own a printer! So, after picking up David K and John Kraus, our merry band booked it north. I entered my decklist to ThronesDB via phone while navigating us to a unique destination…the Montclair public library! After a couple dimes and a pleasant tour of my new San Bernadino County library card privileges (complete with full-color brochure), I had a printed list and was ready to get some food in my belly before the tourney. Costco hot dog for breakfast? Why not!

Round 1 – Tony from Las Vegas – Stark Fealty
Tony and I chatted a bit before the game and we both agreed that Las Vegas would be a SPECTACULAR site for a Regional (amirite?!)! Here’s hoping FFG can make it happen next year! It was his first tournament, and unfortunately he mull’d into a poor setup with a duped Robb and a Roseroad. I opened with Marched to his Trading with Pentoshi, which gave me enough money to play Tywin; Tony marshalled Winterfell, which proved to be yet another tempo hit, and I was able to quickly overcome him with Big T’s massive strength and economy. Tyrion let me do really dirty Lannister tricks too, generating enough gold for a Put to the Sword after ambushing Widow’s Wail. Gross!

1 – 0

Round 2 – THE Justin Smith from LA – Tyrell Kraken
Okay, time to get serious. Justin’s been a consistent contender in many SoCal tournies and took down the Arizona regional in mid-May with Lanni-Wolf. But wait, Tyrell Kraken? Uh oh, better be on my toes with this left-field madness! He opened with Heads on Spikes, and I had 2 Tywins in my hand…greeeaat! Luckily he pulled Cersei… phew! Throughout the game I ended up getting higher quality characters; although Highgarden stalled out my kill events for a couple turns, First Snow sealed it for me. It was tough to sit on 5 gold in the marshalling phase (I’m very much an aggressive “go gittum!” player) but it was the right call with Hound, Treachery, and Put to the Sword in hand. Special props to Justin for going with something outside the box instead of the easy-button Lannister deck!

2 – 0

Round 3 – Player from LA – Lanni Crossing
This match definitely stands out for me because everything clicked so well that my opponent on turn 2 frustratingly said, “Do you just have ALL the cards?!” to which I laughed and jokingly said, “Yes, absolutely! I’m amazing!” (which in and of itself is hilarious for those that know me!). Turn 3 he conceded. A neighboring player and friend turned to me afterward, patted me on the back, and said “I’m so glad it was you that played that game. You handled it very well, and way better than I would have.” Haha.

3 – 0

Round 4 – Corey Briggs from San Diego – Bara Fealty
Ohboy. Corey and I have battled before and he’s probably one of – if not the – top Bara players in SoCal. I had to mulligan and was terrified of my only setup option: Tywin, Cersei’s Wheelhouse, and Roseroad. Thank the Seven that he didn’t have Marched! I was able to go first most of the game so Cersei’s Wheelhouse continued to perform well. I weathered 2 stinking drunks and his kneeling plots, leveraging his lack of economy on my First Snow turn where all he could do was play a red keep. Mel was soon put to the sword and I Marched Gendry to the Wall the next turn, preventing any possible comeback. Newly Made Lord also helped this game, eating his Red Keep. Corey is great people and is a stellar example of the awesome newer generation of 2.0 players.

4 – 0

Round 5 – Jeff K – Martell Lion
The other standout match of the day. Jeff is part of my local play-group and a member of the Wrecking Crew, and rumor has it that his efforts introduced John Wright to our LCG. I had his number early in his thrones career, but he finally turned the tide against me in the Kingdom Con 2015 top 4 match, when he went on to win the day and grow into his own.

We both had poor setups, although mine included Rattleshirt’s Raiders, which would prove to be pivotal. I drew back up to find a Tywin in hand and little did I know, that first Noble Cause turn would be the only time I would have the option to marshal him the entire game. Instead I opted for better board presence and some control with Tyrion, milk on his Tyene, an iron mines, and the Hound. I couldn’t believe my eyes with his next moves… He proceeded to Milk my Tyrion, marshal his own Rattleshirt’s AND Hound! What is this, a mirror match? And so began one of the most fun, and completely unique 2.0 matches I’ve ever played! I don’t remember specific decision points early, but the cat-and-mouse game of choosing who to attack and defend with was pivotal, because once the other player got their character back online the game would slip away. Burned Men were important for me early here as well because I didn’t have any resource locations until mid-late game, so their strength was a boon to the Rattleshirts battle. Turn 3 or 4 was pivotal, when he played Naval to my Calling the Banners. That was the round I expected to finally get Tywin out, but he saw it coming, and although he wasn’t pleased to see me get gold, it was a still an important hit. My 3g let me stay in the game with another round of the Hound.

His First snow on turn 6 and my First Snow—when time was called on turn 7—really hurt me without any money to spend. Down 10 power to 9 in the final challenges phase with him clearly winning dominance I needed to somehow scrape out 2 power for a tie with only Tyrion to do it. My only out was an intrigue challenge stealthing by Tyene and playing Tears of Lys on his Knight of the Sun, which had 1 power from Renown. That one power from unopposed and removing his character with power let me secure a true draw at 10 power each. What a game! And Jeff played expertly—had that gone one more round he would have likely won.

4 – 0 – 1

Round 6 – Shaun M from San Diego – Martell Lion Part I
At this point I was near the top of the standings because the top table in round 5 also went to time, although they ended up with a mod win/mod loss. Here I was given the opportunity to intentional draw and refused. Much to my surprise, to the room that no I.D. would be taken at the top table, that we came to play, and play we would. And, believe it or not, this announcement was met with applause.

I started with another poor setup of Gregor, Iron Mines, and economy location. He set up Tyene, a reducing chud, and Kingsroad. Predictably, Gregor was Marched, and he let me go first since I revealed First Snow. My own Kingsroad let me marshal Jaime, who promptly had both icons taken away with Attainted and Imprisoned! Luckily he didn’t have enough resources for a character, so I let Jaime die in challenges phase and Marched Tyene next turn. I’ll never forget Shaun’s reaction… I saw him edge his seat forward, muster his remaining chakra (this was proving to be a LONG day), buckle in, and prepare for battle… all represented in a tight-lipped, frown-grimace that I would later dub his “Warrior Face”! Game on!

Over the next few turns I managed to draw and afford better quality characters, including trusty Tyrion who fueled 2 critical kill events and other dirty Lannister tricks help me lock in top seed going into the cut.

Shaun, the defending Kingdom Con champion, was a great sport about playing the game out—and good on him because we would later meet in the finals!

5 – 0 – 1

Quarterfinals – Kelsey from San Francisco – Bara Fealty
Kelsey was super pleasant to chat with before the game, rockin’ mint green card sleeves and matching headband! Definitely going to color-coordinate with my decks in the future! But the tone shifted when the game started since we now suddenly had an audience and the room was much quieter. I kept my subpar setup because I had Tywin and Seal of the Hand, which I knew would be important. Throughout much of this game she focused the kneel effects on Tywin, but the Seal helped me win at least one challenge with him each turn. Greyjoy cards really shined for me here, with Asha and Raiding Longship partnering nicely and Newly Made Lord blowing up Chamber of Painted Table. Late in the game, I triggered Lordsport Shipwright on her Kingsroad, which I believe kept Stannis off the board, likely securing the win. Kelsey represents a burgeoning Bay Area Thrones community so I’m looking forward to seeing her and others from up north again in the future. Best of luck to her at Gencon!

Semifinals – David from Santa Barbara – Greyjoy Targ
After another photoshoot for top 4, David and I were paired. He and his comrade Phil were both super fun, and I wish them both lots of success in developing a regular play-group! But I had my guard up, as he had bested Tiny Grimes, an old Regional nemesis of mine, in the quarterfinals. We both mulliganed, and I had a reducing chud and Theon with a Seal of the Hand. Ugh. Luckily his setup was poor as well, flipping a duped Mirri and Kingsroad. He took a calculated risk and went for the double Marched, and it paid off. While he won the plots battle turn 1, I came out on top turn 2 as he played Naval and I went with Calm Over Westeros, gaining the full gold and lowering military claim. That foothold proved to be enough as I set up for the First Snow turn. Cersei was an important part of this win, capitalizing on a typically weak intrigue house and going through unopposed to hit his hand hard. When he finally ran out of cards I played First Snow and came in for yet another 2 claim intrigue, effectively taking Jorah and a reducer (?) out of the game. Later he was able to marshal Balon, but I had enough econ andboard  presence by then to Tears my way to the finals.

SoCal Regional Finale – Shaun M from San Diego – Martell Lion Part II
First off, I’d like to congratulate Shaun on a hard-fought journey to the finals. He was the 7th seed going in after our non-I.D. and had to claw through tough competition in his side of the cut. By now we were eclipsing 12 hours of Thrones and running on fumes, but with the regional title and #mamtap on the line we battled on! The setup and plots were more traditional compared to our first game, but I was again able to stifle an early Tyene with milk. Tyrion was huge on my end, helping fuel The Hound, who I used mostly via ambush so he didn’t get Imprisoned. A key Tears on Areo helped me keep his military presence low and the First Snow to Marched turn kept me ahead in quality characters. By the final round I had Tywin, Asha and a put to the sword with enough gold to force it through. He put up a great fight, but the Lannister card quality, supplemented with Greyjoy stealth, locked in my first regional victory!

–To the event attendance…we drew 52 players despite many consistent tournament “regulars” being unable to attend. Special props to perennial contenders Chris Schoenthal, Alex Esposito, and John Bruno for their lack of attendance, which likely played a big role in my victory! Also slops to them for missing out. J

–Costco food court, which fed me 2 of 3 meals on tourney day for a bargain!

–Kevin at Gameology for providing custom playmats and significant store credit to supplement the prize support.

–Montclair Public Library. They’ll ship in any book from any other San Bernadino branch at no charge!

–Optional Intention Draws. Although I’m not a veteran tourney director, I still say the option for ID’s sucks—they should be either automatic or not an option at all. Players are either vilified for ID’ing or vilified for not ID’ing, depending on where you stand. Moot now, I know.

–Tywin and Tyrion. People have pegged Greyjoy as the “easy button” house, but in my opinion it’s Lannister, bar none. Sure there may be a few more moving parts and secret hand knowledge, but the character and event quality make it really hard to make a wrong move. Direct kill is still king, and no one has the cash to do it like Lanni.

–Excessive Deck Checking and manual pairings. I appreciate keeping everyone honest by deck checking and even going to the extent to ensure that cards aren’t marked, but it can be taken too far. Some players in the top 8, myself included, had to get new sleeves for barely perceptible blemishes. And although the tournament director got the job done, time in between rounds was much longer than at Kublacon the week before—likely due to the manual tracking. Meant for a long day!

After midnight, the merry band of companions headed back south to San Diego with the regional trophy in tow! A welcome relief to get the “always a bridesmaid” monkey off my back since I have a least four 2nd place finishes at regional events under my belt, and even more finals appearances at non-regional events. It’s still setting in as I write this! Thanks for the read, from someone who somehow did it right!

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