Saturday the 6th of August marked a very special day. Twenty-seven players gathered at Good Games Hurstville to participate for what is hoped will be the first of many player organised events. This event, entitled “The Kingsmoot”, would determine who would win a plane ticket to Thailand in order to be the Australian representative in the South East Asian champion for AGoT 2.0, and I was ready to do my utmost to have heaps of fun. I wasn’t overly interested in the ticket (Thailand isn’t on my bucket list) but I certainly was eager to take part in what would hopefully be a great event. How did it go and what did I play? Wait no longer! Let’s get straight into it.
An Intriguing Deck
As far as the source material is concerned, Jaime Lannister is far and away my favourite character (I do so love his transformation from despicable villain to anti-hero) with Tyrion being very high up there as well. Since Core Set, I’ve been a Lannister player, although I will admit that I’ve avoided them a bit due to their popularity in the meta. I tossed up between playing Greyjoy for their strong location hate (I was expecting to run into lots of Stark Fealty given their amazing success, thanks in large part to Winterfell) and Tyrell for the cool factor, but I settled upon playing Lannister of some form late last night. Initially I was going to go for everyone’s favourite brothers-in-arms, Khal Drogo and Jaime and try and run people over with a mighty military force…
But I never was one for military challenges. I’ve always preferred playing the long game, and if there’s anything that I’ve learned in all my years of gaming, it’s that having more cards than your opponent will win you the game more often than not. You can then understand why the intrigue challenge is more my cup of tea.
After rushing to Hurstville after work in the morning and making it with twenty minutes to spare, I quickly pulled apart the Targ/Lion deck from the night before and made way for Lannister/Sun, with a heavy, heavy focus on intrigue challenges. While I still ran most of the greatest hits of Lannister, I also decided to include the intrigue based locations package. For the Sun banner, I kept it as small as possible, with only Attainted making the cut out of the attachments. Here is what I ran:
House Lannister/Banner of the Sun
1 The Long Winter
1 Wardens of the West
1 Trading with the Pentoshi
1 A Noble Cause
1 A Game of Thrones
1 Wildfire Assault
1 Calling the Banners
3 The Kingsroad
3 Western Fiefdoms
2 Casterly Rock
2 Small Council Chamber
1 Widow’s Wail
2 Tears of Lys
2 Trial By Combat
3 Nymeria Sand
3 Tyrion Lannister
3 Cersei Lannister
3 Tywin Lannister
2 Jaime Lannister
2 The Hound
1 Ser Illyn Payne
1 Ser Gregor Clegane
1 Grand Maester Pycelle
1 Janos Slynt
1 Maester Caleotte
1 Edric Dayne
1 Arianne Martell
3 Lannisport Moneylender
2 Desert Scavenger
2 Red Cloaks
3 Bastard Daughter
Easily the most powerful interaction in the deck is Cersei + Trial By Combat. On a Long Winter turn, you can (and I did) easily send five of your opponent’s characters packing. Even on other turns, Cersei + Trial By Combat is a force to be reckoned with, and is incredibly difficult to play around due to lack of telegraphing thanks to both the overall wealth of Lannister and everyone’s favourite imp, Tyrion. Whilst it unfortunately doesn’t work with Tears of Lys as well, the swing can often be game winning enough on its own.
Notable exclusions include the full set of Treachery and Hand’s Judgment, as well as a third Tears, Tickler, Milk, and Martell favourites Condemned and Imprisoned. As the entire point of the deck was simply to make as many intrigue challenges as possible, I figured that Hand’s Judgment wouldn’t be cancelling too much after the first or second turn. Condemned and Imprisoned are great, but with so many slots already dedicated to locations, I couldn’t cut anything else to compensate for the rough setup. Milk made way for the temporary but far more surprising Nightmares; combat tricks are pretty amazing in Game of Thrones, where the challenge phase is so tight that one wrong move can shift the game. Being able to strip away a crucial power all of a sudden as opposed to flagging it with Milk, as well as the fact that Nightmares can hit locations (*cough* Winterfell *cough*) meant that it got the nod.
The inclusion of only Attainted was simple; all I wanted to do was win intrigue challenges and that would be that. With slots becoming tighter and tighter as the game grows, every card needs to directly assist your game plan (especially in factions with so much generic good stuff). I definitely think that not playing Condemned was the right call, although I can see an argument now for Imprisoned (for reasons which will become clearer as we explore my matches).
Some may laugh (and some did) but I really just wanted to have some fun games and play around with all the fun toys that Lannister doesn’t often get to use. With a liberating lack of interest in the big prize, I was ready to prove that in the Game of Thrones, you don’t need to win or die, and that a great day out with some friends is the middle ground.
Round 1: Nathan (Stark Fealty)
Nathan’s an old 1.0 player who I used to play with a fair bit, and an old friend (though I hadn’t seen him in ages). The game started rather strangely, with both of us having a huge amount of gold on the early turns and setting up our location base (he had Winterfell and Gates of Winterfell to match my Lannisport and Casterly Rock). Early game Rob was protected by Bran and Winterfell (to save him from Tears of Lys), meaning I had to awkwardly deal with him and Ice. Janos Slynt turned up at the right time to save me, but the game was quickly going in his favour as The Blackfish and Rob became renowned throughout all the lands. Thankful that The Long Winter, being a Winter plot, gets around Winterfell, I managed to sneakily kill off The Blackfish on three renown and, after a long game, managed to finally put the nail in the Stark Coffin. Casterly Rock was definitely the MVP of this matchup; if you’re looking for a way to play around Winterfell, Casterly Rock’s two intrigue challenge allowance goes a long way to solving a lot of the issues you may otherwise face.
Round 2: Dongxu (Lannister Fealty)
After a mirror setup of Roseroad, Tywin, and reducer chud, our paths diverged greatly as Gregor appeared for Dongxu whilst I constructed my intrigue engine. Dongxu was playing a few tricks of his own, with old FOTM favourites Hear Me Roar and I Never Bet Against My Family making appearances (to sadly limited success for him). A massive military challenge resulted in my Tywin meeting his end (twice in fact, as Gregor then pillaged one), and another would have spelled the end for Tyrion had it not been for some Treachery. However, the intrigue challenges had weighed in heavily on the Lannister Fealty deck, and as my board grew and grew due to the disparity in available cards, the Fealty deck was soon torn apart.
Round 3: Aaron H (Martell/Lion)
Aaron’s a good friend of mine; we play the FFG Star Wars RPG together (where he plays Cavar, the somewhat troubled, wall climbing Jedi Guardian). I remember Attainting his Tyene and Tyrion on the first turn, with Nymeria’s on both sides keeping everything in check. However, yet again my opponent was unable to stop most of the intrigue challenges coming through, and after battling through two Ghaston Greys (one with Treachery), my board was more than stable enough to handle anything Aaron could throw at me.
Round 4: John (Targ/Lion)
John told me he wasn’t keen to play against me before the start of the round, which I thought was pretty funny. I felt like if he set up his military engine early he could have easily overrun me. But alas, it was not meant to be. Whilst he had the good Khal Drogo with Rhaegal out on turn one, Ser Illyn chopped the dragon to bits and Nymeria stole Drogo’s military icon. On the second turn, Illyn got chopping again whilst Cersei set up a huge Trial by Combat, leaving John with just an Attainted Tyrion left. The game wrapped up not too long afterwards.
Round 5: Jay (Lannister/Dragon)
Another good friend who I hadn’t seen in ages, Jay traveled up from Melbourne to participate (props to him for that). Before the game started, he joked that he hadn’t beaten me in a tournament of anything for a long time. Whether that would continue today would be determined shortly. At this point I was already a lock for top eight, so there was little pressure…
Then I remembered the awesome best of house cards available:
Given that Jay and I were the only 4-0s at this point, the winner out of us would receive the top of house for Lannister. It was time to settle this.
The first turn of the game saw Jay set up a very imposing board; Mirri, Tyrion, and Gregor, as well as some random chuds. Thanks to Nymeria, I was able to keep The Mountain at bay, while slowly building up my board of Cersei, Tyrion, and Jaime. A few turns later, an unexpected Treachery meant that Gregor got in, and managed to destroy the Sand Snake that was holding him back, while Mirri with the help of Illyrio secured a kill on my own version of the Mountain. Wildfire Assault reset the board, with my side consisting of Cersei with two dupes, Tyrion with two dupes, and Jaime with one to Jay’s Ser Gregor, Mirri, and Tyrion. Due to the constant pressure from my intrigues (which had managed to get rid of three Put to the Swords and a Tywin), I was far more prepared for the Assault than Jay was, and after adding Lannisport to further my position, I was able to once again out card my opponent.
Jay said he took a big risk with Gregor on the first turn, wagering on my not having Nymeria in hand. It was an understandable gambit, and had I not had Nym in hand, the game would have been a much different affair.
So there I was at the top of swiss 5-0 with a deck I wasn’t expecting to do that well. After a short break to hand out prizes (and due applause for everyone who participated, as well as Adem, Jason and Good Games Hurstville for running the event) we broke into the top eight playoffs.
Quarterfinals: Adem (Baratheon/Sun)
Adem is pretty much THE GUY for AGoT in Sydney, and another good friend of mine. He’s also the main organiser behind the whole Kingsmoot thing! He introduced me to Star Wars: Rebellion (now my favourite game; he was the opponent in both my earlier reports) and I introduced him to War of the Ring (in which he has thoroughly destroyed me twice). It was gonna be a tough round, as Adem is a great player and knows his favourite faction well.
Adem’s early game Nym was able to hold the board back, and the Red Keep ensured that Adem was always gonna have four cards in his hand during Marshalling as I could not for the life of me win a power challenge. Ser Illyn was able to chop a reducer on the first turn, but then he was met by Filthy Accusations about his Stinking Drunkenness, and he spent many of the next turns knelt, unable to swing the sword. Stannis joined Adem, while my own Nymeria also found herself addicted to the Milk of the Poppy. I had solid control of intrigue challenges and wasn’t too scared of any surprise blowout cards, but I was losing the power race, slowly but surely. After three turns, my Ser Illyn was finally able to stand again, and executed a Fiery Follower. Tywin arrived but was swiftly Condemned (a fact which I forgot twice), and there was a crucial turn where I had to burn a Treachery to stop Adem’s Nymeria from potentially poisoning the Lannister Lord with Tears of Lys (which Adem didn’t actually have). Nym met her end, but both Gregor and Ser Illyn found themselves Milked as well. To make matters more dire, Mel turned up to continue to control me, and Lightbringer the turn after threatened to end the game, despite me feeling like my board position was stronger. It was clear that Stannis was making a huge impact on the board (many of my dudes were knelt) and I still couldn’t win a power challenge.
A crucial play came when Jaime turned up for me and went in for a lone military challenge, sans The Mountain. With two gold up, Adem was too scared of Put to the Sword and decided he couldn’t afford to risk losing Stannis, so he knelt his only power icon to defend, finally allowing me in for a power challenge, crucially slowing him down in both the card and power areas. On the seventh plot of the game Small Council Chamber made an appearence, and I was able to quickly close the power gap, reaching fourteen power before finally being able to close what was the tightest game of the tournament. Had Adem not defended the military challenge, who knows what would have happened? I very well might have seen my tournament end here!
Semifinals: Dongxu Rematch (Lannister Fealty)
I was feeling all right about this matchup as I had beaten Dongxu in a long game during swiss. Given that both our draws were pretty reasonable during that game, I felt that as long as I didn’t end up with a dud draw, I should be fine. Little did I know this would end up being, in stark contrast to the previous game, the quickest match of the tournament. With no intrigue icons up ready to defend, Cersei was able to set up a Trial By Combat on the second turn that ensured Tywin’s death. As it turned out, Dongxu forgot that my plot was two claim, and so he got rid of his only military icon, meaning my Bastard Daughter was able to sneak in a double claim military challenge to lock up the game then and there.
Just before my final match, I began pondering whether I would actually go if I won the ticket to Thailand. I mean, I hadn’t really considered what I would do if I actually won; I’d thought I was just playing for fun and initially had no interest in the prize. But now it was so close, I started pondering about what authentic Thai cuisine would taste like, and if Thailand would be a place I actually wanted to go to.
Finals: John Rematch (Targ/Lion)
It turns out I was getting way ahead of myself though. After a decent setup of duped Cersei, my hopes began to be crushed immediately from turn one. Cersei went in for a two claim intrigue challenge to rip apart John’s had, only to find herself on the receiving end of a card I had completely forgotten about:
And Cersei, like my hopes, went up in flames.
For the next few turns, I failed to develop a relevant board position, with the exception of Tywin. My deck had decided to hand me all my tricks and locations, while John added Jaime, then Drogo, as my board faded away. On the second last turn of the game, my Bastard Daughter was even poisoned with Tyrs of Lys. That meant one thing for Tywin next turn.
With that, it was over.
I pondered the irony of things, that I had played a deck for fun and managed to evade defeat at every turn, only to be defeated in the final round, my first loss of the day, to the very deck I had almost played in the morning, and only after I had begun to wonder “What if I won?”
Having said that, it was a wonderful event that ran incredibly smoothly and it had a very deserving champion in John. I had a heap of fun, and even a fairly anti-climactic final did nothing to sour the experience. My sincere congratulations go out to John. Many thanks go out to Jason Conlon for being his usual self and kindly offering to run the event (and an awesome custom draft side event, which he put an incredible amount of effort into), and Adem Kolar for deciding to host and promote the event, as well as Good Games Hurstville for hosting. Without the efforts of all three, the event wouldn’t have been anywhere near the success it was.
Some final observations about the deck:
-Casterly Rock is a great counter to Winterfell, and is a pretty great card overall. I was happy pretty much every time I saw it, and can’t wait ’til I can play an even more fleshed out intrigue based deck.
-Ser Illyn Payne is the most oppressive character to be facing when you’re behind. Not being able to play characters of cost three or less is basically a death sentence to a struggling player. He’s far better than his first edition counterpart.
-Wardens of the West was an absolute dud plot, at least in this intrigue heavy version of Lannister. I triggered it once all day; every other time, it was just a blank plot with reasonable stats. I would probably replace it with Counting Coppers or Summons, as sometimes I felt like I was running out of steam.
-I’d definitely consider putting in Imprisoned now. I thought I could ignore military challenges and be fine, but the finals definitely proved me wrong; shutting down some of the major renown characters in the game (namely all of the Stark guys, Jaime, Clegane and Drogo) can’t be ignored.
-Trial By Combat was great almost every time I drew it, and I was very happy to have it in my deck. It was the match defining card in more than one game.
-Nightmares felt a bit unnecessary. Perhaps swapping those out for the earlier mentioned Imprisoned might be good.
Big shout out to all who came and made the day great, especially those who came from lands far away.
Some final notes:
-I feel like the game is in a pretty good place overall. There were lots of decks I would have comfortably played on the day, and from the looks of things coming up, it’s only going to get better.
-Not having a lunch break hurts more when you’re playing a slow deck and haven’t had breakfast.
-Despite the competition being for something quite substantial (a plane ticket) the atmosphere was very chill and everyone was having a great time. The community for Thrones is great and I encourage those who are nervous about the competition not to worry and turn up to their local stores to play (I play occasionally at Good Games Burwood).
-After spending many years being a hyper competitive player for all types of games, it was refreshing to be able to play in a tournament for a big prize that still maintained the casual fun atmosphere that the community has come to be known for.
Until next time, happy gaming everyone!