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|"Sweeney's Deck", Regional Winner, Stanton, UK||14||11||4||1.0|
Quite a few people have asked for for this list and some explanations behind the changes from the original Regional winning list I posted here; https://thronesdb.com/decklist/view/11519/sweeney-s-deck-regional-winner-stanton-uk-1.0. It seems a lot easier to just put it up and explain the thoughts behind the changes just the one time only.
As always, thoughts were shared within the Roaming Wolfpack (YES WE NAMED OURSELVES WE ARE NERDS), consisting of myself, Chris Meeuwsen, and Chris Sweeney.
So, the theory was to run 3x Gates of the Moon which could then be duplicated and saved against your own Political Disaster. More often than not, you'd draw this wishing it was just something else. Therefore two copies got cut and replaced by a Northern Armory, which is non-limited economy, nice for setups, and the stand function means it's never bad to draw as long as you have a board. This also allowed us to drop down to 60 cards in the draw deck.
This change doesn't really need explaining, but I will anyway. The North Remembers had a primary function of sacrificing a character from the board to trigger Robb Stark (Core), and a secondary function to pressure the opponents front and back board post-Political Disaster. It seemed like having sacrifice on demand, more intrigue icons for Rains, with card draw and a stand ability up to three times a round, is worth pushing the curve up for.
Maester Luwin was always a 'nice to have' card, but never really seemed to be available with either Bran Stark (OR) or Robb Stark (Core) on the board. He often just got killed for claim which was fine but we wanted more. The second copy of Donella was also chopped just to streamline the deck for more impactful cards. Winter is Coming was then added 2x to really push the advantage, with the flexibility of playing it in military challenges early game, or in power challenges in the late game.
With 3x Wyman added to the deck, the need for Ramsay was lessened, and so he got cut instead for a second copy of Rickon. The theory was that Trading With Qohor may be reasonably popular given its recent successes, and we certainly expected a large number of people playing Targaryen LotC; having an extra opportunity to draw Rickon to cancel Aegon Targaryen would be huge in that match to slow down their tempo advantage.
So, the third copy of Nymeria is great. It ensures that we're always likely to see this card at some point in the game, and Nymeria is so important in allowing us to make challenges without overcommitting unnecessarily. There were the odd few games where Nymeria would die and drawing another copy was bad, or other games when you'd draw her and you'd prefer a different Wolf for the situation at hand. The second Wolf Dreams is the answer here. In some games, you simply cannot make your Rains trigger, or you may simply not want to trigger it and waste an impactful plot. This is where you use Wolf Dreams in the dominance phase, so you can keep the threat of Rains in challenges, but still have your faction card ready for the next round. More often than not, I'd find Grey Wind with this, and save A Time For Wolves for the Summer (Core) trigger later on.
That made the deck complete at 60 cards. Wonderful. I'm ready.
UK Nationals - Friday
Rebecca and I got there early because apparently Callum wanted a Stark spot gloss and there were only 5 available. So we got there, paid loads of money for tickets, played loads of games, gave Callum some tickets. Job done. I even gave an emergency game to a Star Wars player called Darren in case we needed him to play to make the 50th player (flights to Worlds is only supplied to the winner if there were 50+ players and we were perilously close to failing that). Unfortunately Darren proceeded to beat me with a Drowned Gods deck and I left the gaming hall feeling somewhat down on my chances in the Joust on Saturday.
Luckily, Joe Jimmer Zimmer had proposed to Gabbi (yay!), and over half the participants for the event all joined up that evening to eat curry and drink. So my woes were forgotten, but not before an emergency chat with the Wolfpack, during which I slotted a 61st card in; the second copy of Ward.
Then we went out, ate curry, did karaoke, got smashed, ended up in PopWorld, and got back at the hotel in the early hours.
UK Nationals - Saturday
I woke up with a bad hangover, and barely able to function. I tried to shower but the water was too hot. I tried to shout for Rebecca's help but I'd lost my voice. Finally resorted to banging the walls down to get assistance. Eventually got ready like an acceptable human being and trudged off to play joust.
Round 1 - Bye - W
This was the infamous and much vaunted "Breakfast of Champions", afforded only to those who won a Regional. This basically consists of a group of people sitting around wishing they could have a full cooked breakfast, but are instead moping around whilst dying of alcohol poisoning and trying not to be sick on themselves. Somehow I won and got ready for Round 2.
Round 2 - Tom Clarke - Stark Trading with Qohor - W
This wasn't a match I really wanted in my brittle state. Every game I've had with Tom has been super close, and although I've won them all, they've all be super stressful (see https://thronesdb.com/decklist/view/10038/dagmer-the-thrice-risen-top-8-uk-nats-1.0).
I manage to muddle through the first couple of rounds playing super defensively, but finding myself in a decent position 4/5 plots in. I've got a bigger board, more power, Rickon is stalling his Qohor trigger, and Tom is playing around that Taste for Flesh in my hand. He's doing clever things with his agenda which hurt my brain a bit, and then I'm taken aback to get hit by his Valar Morghulis on turn 6.
From then it's a struggle to maintain a board in the face of his newly arriving Wyman Manderly and Robb Stark (Core) and he is grinding me down. Time is called at plot 9, and Tom is ahead on power after his challenges as first player. I manage to use Northern Armory to stand Bran Stark (OR) who then stands Wolves of the North to give them a power icon. They then stealth his only standing power icon in Wyman and Tom graciously conceded to hand me the full win.
Round 3 - Ryan Wood - Tyrell Trading with Qohor - W
I think I was 2-7 in tournament games vs Ryan going into this, so I wasn't very optimistic. Fortunately, it was a bit of a blowout. I don't recall the specifics, but Ryan saw very few characters, whereas I saw Taste For Flesh, Nymeria (FotOG), and Bolton Flayer. The game didn't last long, and I got extra recovery time as we stopped for lunch prior to round 4. The only sad thing about this victory is that I bet on Ryan to win with Rheecy Power after Ryan told me he was likely to play Tyrell Wars the night before. I guess my victory is Ryan's just desserts for stitching me up :P
Round 4 - David Kennedy - Stark Fealty - W
I had played David before at a Regional playing the same decks, and I managed to get a convincing win against him, so I felt confident going into this, and felt much better as the hangover started to wear off. I really like David's deck running Wolves and winter tech like Godswood and Northern Keep, and I hope the newly released Winter Reserves helps it further.
Unfortunately for David, this game was no exception to the first game. I managed to get more aggro tools out early, and combined with the Rains triggers, which exposed his intrigue weakness, led to a solid victory.
Round 5 - Matt Herdman - Tyrell Wars to Come - L
This game was recorded on the White Walkers YouTube channel here;
I'm paired up with Herdman, who I would totally have bet on to win the entire tournament had I known Ryan would play Tyrell Qohor. Either way, Tyrell Wars is generally a poor matchup for the deck, as no matter how much I attrition the board, the opponent is likely to keep The Hightower and The Arbor after my Political Disaster and just keep playing out characters.
Matt "The Salt King" Herdman has a certain reputation, but I've played Matt a few times and he's a lovely guy really, I don't care what they say about him, I think he's alright. Although in my previous game against him, I Rains'd into The Red Wedding and he totally lost his shit, getting out of his chair as I then proceeded to stomp his board. In the final act of defiance, he made sure to give me a Modified Win only. What fun we have.
Anyway, I proceed to trash talk Matt the whole way through the game as he constructs his board and gains the advantage. Of course, at a vital point in the game, he is the first player and kneels out all of his intrigue icons on offense.... I'm sure you can guess what happened next. Anyhow, this wasn't enough for me to secure a victory against him, but in true style, I made sure to hold out long enough so I could give him a Modified Win only :D
Round 6 - Daniel Mulchrone - Tyrell Wars - W
Oh fun, another Tyrell Wars match up, this time with a meta mate who is a great player, especially with constructive decks or control decks. I'm wondering if I can get into the cut on a 4-2 record, and I decide I can as my SoS is pretty good.
We settle down for the game and by the end of turn 1 marshalling I believe he had one bigger character and 3 characters of 2 cost, one of which was a duped Left. I had a Wolf or two but crucially, one Bolton Flayer. That Flayer spent the game flaying everything that survived military claim after I played Taste For Flesh on his bigger character. It turned out a bit one sided as I finished 3rd in the Swiss rankings behind Matt Herdman and Wamma.
Turns out 2 people didn't want to play the Top 16 that evening, and preferred instead to play on Sunday. This meant Jack Machin dropped and went home, whilst Wamma dropped to play in the melee considering he'd already won flights to Worlds. This let the 17th and 18th players in, whilst bumping me to second in Swiss, meaning I would play whoever was 15th. This would be the man who finished 17th originally; meta mate Daniel Mulchrone.
We then go out for a couple of beers, but get back to the hotel just in time to watch Match of the Day and see a rare Arsenal win. Result!
Top 16 - Daniel Mulchrone - Tyrell Wars - W
Not a Bolton Flayer in sight on setup or on re-draw. This was bad. End of turn 1 marshalling I had 3 wolves and something else, whilst Dan had Margaery Tyrell (AMAF), Randyll Tarly, duped Left and Right. I swing in with all my military of 12 STR, seeing that he had 12 STR too and 0 gold for a STR boost, attempting to use my intimidate. Dan blocked with all three military icons for 12. The Taste For Flesh on Right hurt him, but the second Taste For Flesh on Randyll rattled him hard, as he then claimed a dupe from Left for claim and forgetting his Margaery Tyrell (AMAF) trigger.
I pulled ahead quickly but some great defensive play by Dan kept him in the game, managing to claw back a board and stay in it. By turn 7, he had a sizable board complemented by a duped Mace Tyrell (HoT), but I had a monster board with all the Wolves, Bran Stark (OR) along with Wyman Manderly and Robb Stark (Core). I managed to do military and intrigue to threaten intimidate, then stand my entire board and go all in power with Winter Is Coming for the win.
Top 8 - Isian Hasmuja - Greyjoy Wars to Come - W
A top 8 vs a Drowned God deck piloted by one of the best players in the UK, bring it on. This is also on the White Walkers YouTube channel which is here;
My setup hand includes an economy location, Grey Wind and a Ward so I keep it although it's not optimal, but Ward will be important in this match to take control of Aeron when he arrives. Ideally I could take him and play Marched to the Wall before he can find and play his Nagga's Ribs, whilst I pressure his board with military claims, Taste For Flesh, Winter Is Coming, and Grey Wind triggers.
Sadly for Isian, he never really gets set up in this game and spends almost all of it on the back foot, cancelling numerous Grey Wind triggers after seeing all three Vince along with saves, and not drawing many characters of note. Both my Wards showed up which hurt him a lot, and the constant attrition from the Wolves whilst he didn't see Nagga's Ribs took him down.
Top 4 - Kostas Adamopoulos - Stark Fealty - W
The last time I played Kostas was also at UK Nationals 2017, where it ended quite well for me, and I was reasonably confident in the mirror. I spent a little time trying to consider which reset he would run, but he went wide fairly quickly and so I thought I'd follow suit. He very quickly got out Catelyn Stark (Core) and Winterfell along with a double duped Wyman Manderly along with chuds after which I knew I might as well give up on my "The Rains of Castamere" triggers unless I can intimidate Cat with military claim on my Winter plot turns. Again, I don't really recall what I set up or marshalled, I think it was maybe Bran Stark (OR) with some Wolves along with Donella Hornwood and maybe Sansa Stark (WotN).
There were two memorable plays in the game for me. The first was turn 3 where Kostas used the bulk of his marshalling to play out a Begging Brother fully bestowed, after which I promptly Warded him as second player. This was followed by my Marched to the Wall into his Confiscation, meaning he also lost a Brother's Robes on Catelyn.
The second major play (and I'm sketchy on the details) but I believe I did an intrigue with Sansa, which Kostas blocked with his Wyman (who had already shed a duplicate over the course of the game). I think I used the Winterfell Kennel Master to bring in Donella with Lady attached to win the challenge, to play double Taste for Flesh on his Wyman, killing him. With the incoming military challenge about to destroy his board, and the fact he wasn't actually running a reset, meant that Kostas conceded on the spot.
Final - Joe Zimmer - Targaryen LotC - L
In the last few months, Joe has transformed from a pathetic snivelling scrub who couldn't even make top 8 in a Regional event, into a RtS Blackwater Bay winning, top 4 Regional placing, Nationals finalist. He didn't even have a montage. As we are both members of #TeamUkulele, Joe knew my deck very well having played it himself a little, and I knew the general gist of what Joe was going to do too.
Once before when I played Joe in an attic in Ireland, he was so excited about his setup hand that he went around the room showing people, whilst I lamented my choices and opted for a mulligan. He proceeded to set up duped Drogo along with Jorah and economy and proceeded to ROFLSTOMP me to win that final. I get a feeling of deja vu when I contemplate my setup and Joe is showing all those gathered around the table his options in hand. I assume he has a great setup, and that I'll get stomped again.
This game was also covered by the White Walkers YouTube channel here;
It seemed like Joe's set up was great but the draw back up was even greater, judging by his gasp of excitement and eagerness to select plots. It wasn't long before Hizdahr zo Loraq was joined on the board by Meereen, Aegon Targaryen, Daario Naharis, further accompanied by various 2g chud.
The first round was tough, but I knew I still had a chance if I could ride out the Aegon/Daario/Qotho/Missandei tempo surge, and if he didn't see Drogo or Queensguard to supplement his board presence. I decide against using a Wolf Dreams in my hand, knowing that he's likely on 2x Heads on Spikes, and proceed to the next turn where he spikes a Ward (Damn!). He then marshals Khal Drogo. I do manage to get some characters on the board but Joe applies the pressure and gets further ahead in the power race.
Turn 3 sees another Heads on Spikes, this time hitting my Winter Is Coming. Fortunately I have another in hand along with that Wolf Dreams. I draw Wyman Manderly and play him out along with some other stuff as Joe marshals a Queensguard (cry) on Drogo. I know my only chance now is to ride out his challenges, try to trigger "The Rains of Castamere" into Wildfire Assault, hope he doesn't save the duped Missandei, so that I can Taste For Flesh Aegon Targaryen reducing him to two characters, followed by a two claim military. This would force him to kill Hizdahr and take a Drogo duplicate, allowing me to March Drogo.
Alas, although I got the Wildfire trigger, Joe saved the duped Missandei instead of Aegon, she got hit with Taste which removed a duplicate, and Joe had enough to prevent the board wipe. This is practically game, although I did March anyway, then force Joe to marshal first on his You Win Or You Die turn before conceding. Congratulations Joe, your transformation into an aGoT LCG legend continues apace. You'd better win Worlds now, otherwise I'll take back all my nice words.
P.S. Watching the video back, I see everything is in a slightly different order- doesn't matter though right?
Final Deck Thoughts
I'm pleased with how the deck played, and I like that the list is very flexible with which Rains plots fits into it. Varys's Riddle, The Spider's Web, Filthy Accusations, You Win Or You Die all fit into the deck fine, depending on how you like to play it. Going forward, if I play it again I'd seek to put in Meera Reed and probably change the plots around. If rush continues to be prevalent, then a few more aggro tools will need to be put in too.
Thanks of course to all that gave advice to the list, in particular Chris and Chris and a little bit Callum and Rebecca, and to all my opponents who played with good spirit. Thanks to Liam and Tony who ran the event smoothly and to all those that attended the evenings and made it a fun place to be.