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Hi everyone! This is the deck me and Valerio Catellani builded and played at Late Summer Feast: https://thejoustingpavilion.com/tournaments/6876
We both made the cut with 6-1 but lost in top 16 at time, against the two finalists. Sad cause we could potentially face each other in an hypothetical final game T_T.
Me and Valerio started working on kingdom of shadows decks really early, as soon as the agenda was available for "casual play only" on the ironthrone. We started with Lannister, continued with Tyrell and Targaryen, and switched to Lanister again before the tournament, cause we decided that we wanted to play our favourite faction.
The main thing we understood about KoS decks is that the choice of non unique characters can change the purpose of the deck completely: people tend to think that there are some "better" non-loyal cards than others and that all of them are autoinclusive, but I think that this is a huge mistake.
The perfect example is starfall spy for this particular build, but I will talk about this later.
This deck is totally focused on chocking the opponent: you need to keep hitting their hand while your attrition tools get rid of their board.
To do so, you need to play with all the action windows of all phases, which is something I really love: trade routes, golden tooth, bowels and the agenda are the cards that enable you all those tricks and it's absolutely wonderful in my opinion.
So let's start to see all the mechanics in detail.
Hand control: The most crucial card of the whole deck is probably Nightime Marauders. Having Mandon and cersei as an "enabler", and tools to use them more than once in the same phase, they allow you to stop opponents threats before they can even hit the table. Using them every turn in draw to try to get rid of the characters that would hurt you more, or simply to discard 2-3 cards to empty their hand in the challenge phase with cersei is usually the path for victory: preventing summer, desert raiders, big dudes in gj can win you the game, as well as getting rid of a no surprises, a secret schemes or a risen. The other important thing is hand knowledge: you know if your shadows cards will hit or not, which means you won't invest all your resources on a trigger that will be canceled, unless it's exactly what do you want. Marauders though are of course not very good by themselves: Cersei and Mandon Moore early game are the cards that make them so useful since the very beginning, for obvious reasons.
Attrition: First snow Valar Marched to the wall Bolton flayer Mandon moore Robert strong Poisoned coin Varys
All these cards need no further explanation: of course robert, mandon and varys are more lethal with shadows recursion, but we will see this later. Last, but not least, kings landing assassins: I think this is probably on of the choices that distinguishes the deck, and personally my favourite card.
Draw: All the draw comes from locations. Bowels, goldmine and lion gates provide resources and draw, which is awesome because you save a lot of slots. With multiple copies of key cards gold mine are fine, even without recursion from the discard pile.
Recursion: This deck has some triggers that are game winning against certain matchups, and the goal here is to focus on multiple trigger of those effects: clever feint is perfect for that, but once you have enough gold (trade routes usually) castle guard and regents guards become crucial. Multiple Hired assassins can easily win a mirror, while a turn discarding 6 cards with cersei is gamewinning against control (she resets her limit if she goes back to shadows).
Faction kneel: 3 bank and 3 clever feint may seem strange but in the end we decided we needed both. The deck needs tempo in the beginning and value in the late game: iron bank helps a lot in the aggressive turns, clever feint protects you from your own resets and help you gain that additional triggers that will allow you to hit with the final blow. Having both is amazing, and remember that you can use clever feint in standing even if you used the bank in the challenge phase.
Why not?: Starfall spy, pinch, shrewed diplomats are probably the cards you would expect to see in this list, followed by Jon Connington, penny and hagen daughter.
All of them were not enough impactful: they are of course very good cards, but we felt like they didn’t fit in the build. Pinch was hard to trigger so we preferred poison coin, even if its a one shot.
The spy has few cards on which he would cheat economy, and many of those need some specific conditions to be worth bringin out (see robert strong). We also didn’t need that extra challenge cause you either spend turn on defense or you start making uo on an empty board, so there was no time during the game where they prove to be useful. Same for connington: the extra body rarely was useful. Most of the times he was only someone to protect from dying for claim.
Warning: this deck is really complicated to play and also is tuned towards a very focused playstyle. It may not fit yours. Of course we are not claiming this is the best Lannister shadows deck possible: I think there are a lot of possible builds with a different focus and win conditions. That said, this build is absolutely awesome in doing what it is meant to do. :P
Second warning: this deck has no answers to barring the gates + king plot. We feel like it would lose too much potential to try to counter them, and that competitive decks shouldn’t play more than 1 or 2 of those plots because they would make them worse against the real top tier decks we all know. That said, you can adapt and leave more characters out of shadows if you are expecting those plots: that is absolutely the best counter and the only one viable option in our opinion.
Last but not least, I want to thank the two Francesco and Aureliano for helping in testing the deck and to be brave enough to bring the deck to the tournament despite not having enough time to test it properly. Unfortunately they did worse than us but at least they had a lot of fun and played an interesting deck.
Moreover, a special thank goes to Benji for sharing his thoughts about shadows builds with me and showing me a different point of view on some cards, and to Martin and Andras for helping a lot during the development of both this and the Tyrell deck.