First tournament since the Battle of the Trident in November is a draft tournament, but that’s okay because 1) draft is a blast and 2) I’m not that excited about heading face first into a spread of Baratheon dominance and Lannister Harrenhal nonsense. Twenty-three people make it out to the Fantasy Flight Event Center, including a crew from Wausau and a handful of people I didn’t recognize. Cool. Draft pods were seven and eight people, but the tournament was four-round Swiss with cut. Feeling good.
The drafting It was an inauspicious opening. My very first draft was Bodyguard. It’s fine. Saves remain good, but the card lacks excitement. It was an omen of the rounds to come. The most exciting card I take in the first round is The Red Keep, but enough Baratheon filler comes around that I feel good about having at least one house. Tyrells start to roll in with the second pack. Still no bombs, no removal, but I ought, at least, to have an efficient deck. Third pack opens on Eddard Stark, Wolves of the North style. I have no Starks thus far, being disappointed to pass on Wardens of the North earlier, but there’s no question. Drafted. Catelyn Stark, Wolves of the North flavor, and Ser Edmure Tully appear in the next pass, and the brother is taken. It’s late, but they’re worth it. I grab a Ser Rodrick Cassel, too, a hand or two later. I’ve got my bombs now, but for the life of me, I can’t find the Stark filler to round them out. Baratheon continues its steady trickle of filler, and Tyrell begins to offer the big bodies in Blackcrown Knights, Randyll Tarly, Brienne of Tarth and Margaery Tyrell.
I have a decision to make. Tyrell, Power of Wealth to Baratheon, lacking the cards to make it Stark, or a Tyrell, Treaty to Baratheon and Stark. I opt for Wealth. The best cards are in Stark, but they’re expensive and awkward against The Pale Mare. The low end of Baratheon is fine, the top end of Tyrell is good and the mid is solid for both. It’s a hard decision, but the right one, I think. Deck is easy enough to make, cutting Knights of Summer late when I realize that Feast or Famine negates them by itself, and the deck is ready.
Interesting, my draft pack has two too many cards. Two extra commons are at the bottom of the pack. Terrified for a moment that I somehow screwed the earlier rounds up despite no one coming up short, but that is thankfully not the case. R randomly pulls two to keep the draft going.
Against S, Greyjoy, Wealth to Tyrell
Feel great at getting a six card setup. Feel less great when Euron Crow’s Eye comes down first turn and grabs a King’s Road on the pillage. It gets better though, as Filthy Accusations and a Pulling the Strings into Filthy Accusations keeps him neutered for the rest of the game. The Pale Mare wins it for me as S overextends on awkward cost slots and loses The Knight of Flowers and Alerie Tyrell to my King’s Hunting Party. None of my biggest bodies drop, but that’s fine. Euron can’t get up, and power challenges lead me to the win.
Against J, Night’s Watch, Protectors of the Realm
Feels a lot like the first game. J gets a fat board early by popping two King’s Roads and has a Ranging Party, Lyn Corbray, duped Jaime Lannister and chump while my board looks much thinner. Two military claim is taken on Feast or Famine in that first round by means of a stealthy Roseroad Patrol enabled by a King’s Hunting Party and critically takes the dupe off Jaime. Slow play into the Pale Mare on the third plot to kill a new Ranging Party and Jaime against no losses on my side. It’s the beginning of the end. Shireen Baratheon and Even-Handed Justice keep the Ranging Party down, a lack of economy slows any possible comeback and power challenges win me the game.
Against C, Baratheon, Treaty to Stark and Greyjoy
Fourth? tournament game against C. Fourth loss. That’s fine. He’s really good. Another six-card setup but an otherwise slow start. I set up Tobho Mott’s Armory, and he drops Chamber of the Painted Table. He has Fiery Followers, I have Edric Storm. We play around The Pale Mare, and most dominance ends in a push. C has an early edge in Sansa Stark, core flavor, and a bigger edge in The Seastone Chair, forcing me to protect all military challenges, even kneeling King’s Hunting Party to chump challenges. My only edge after Edric dies to The Pale Mare is The Red Keep to protect me on power challenges and keep me in the draw. Power is piling on his card, but I’ve dropped Blackcrown Knights.
We’ve gone around the horn on plots, and C goes for it. Gendry sans power and Victarion are on the board with a pile of small bodies, and A Feast for Crows is his plot. If I can survive the turn and get back to The Pale Mare, I have a shot, small as it may be. I blow it. C overcommits on intrigue to force a kneel on a Royal Entourage, but Nightmares sets him straight. Pro play. Entourage remains standing to defend the military. Then I forget Seastone is there and let it go unopposed. I scoop when Seastone targets my Blackcrown Knights.
It wasn’t much of a chance, but reconsidering the phase, I could have won dominance and kept the game going to The Pale Mare, but C would have been on 14, and Victarion likely would have remained on the board. Like I said, not much of a chance but a lot better than what I gave up. Lesson learned.
Against T, Targaryen, Treaty to Lannister and Martell
Win this one, and I’m pretty confident of being in the cut at 3 and 1. No problem. The third six-card set-up of the day. T is playing high control. He drew a second Filthy Accusations for his plot deck and found at least two copies of His Viper Eyes (one of which pulled Randyll Tarly), which are pretty useful when you’re playing to Valar Morghulis. It’s not too devastating, as I was playing to my own Pale Mare, but that Ser Ilyn Payne that survives is a problem and keeps me from repopulating with Margaery Tyrell and Courtesan of the Rose. Blackcrown Knights and King’s Hunting Party force the early Valar on the plot reset, and I’m actually feeling a little good. Power levels are pretty similar, but I actually have a military icon on my board and am whittling T down. Then he plays House of the Undying. I drop Nightmares for a one-turn reprieve. A one-turn reprieve is not enough. Khal Drogo shows up on the next turn, and a popped House of the Undying nets him Blackcrown Knights and Brienne along with all the bodies he could possibly need. Three unopposed challenges, the power challenge, renown and Blackcrown grab him eight power in a single phase, winning him the match.
Not proud to say I hit the table at that, a first time for Thrones, but that was that. I was out. Considering it later, if I had counted everything, it would have been better for me to let him pop the House earlier. He wouldn’t have had quite enough power without the good Khal’s second military and renown, and if he had found the means, the Nightmares would have been better served on the Blackcrown Knights.
Oh well. Cut and tournament win next time, whenever, whatever that may be.
Thanks to R for hosting another fun tournament and for his final fan alts and generally great prize support. Thanks to all my opponents. Thanks to my wife for watching the kid today. Thanks to everyone who asked where the kid was.
Don’t forget about The Seastone Chair.
Control can work in draft.
Nightmares is still good.
Royal Entourage still isn’t good, especially when your intrigue game is light, but they are great targets for Little Bird.
Roseroad Patrol is a lot better in a format where you don’t have to worry about strength getting much higher than six, and they’re backed by King’s Hunting Party. And uncommon Muster the Realm.
Pulling the Strings was a second Filthy all tournament, and that’s just fine.