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|"Shadow of the Guile" - TOP8 / Best Tyrell at Barna Dohaeris||3||2||0||1.0|
This is a deck I've been working on ever since Kingdom of Shadows came out, and a deck that I took to a 6-1 record at Euros. Then got DQ'd for invalid decklist. But more about that later, let's talk about the deck first.
Choosing the House
I was convinced I will be playing Kingdom of Shadows at Euros very soon after the agenda's release. Attrition is my favourite playstyle and this agenda is perfect for that. The question remained, which house to take.
I must admit, at first, I was more drawn to the idea of Martell KoS with Shadow City and Flea Bottom synergy. But while it sounded fun to play, it just relies on too many locations in Greyjoy heavy meta. Between Murenmure, Big Vic and We take Westeros, it's really hard to play Flea Bottom as your restricted card.
With Martell gone from the list, the decision lay between Lannister and Tyrell. The appeal of Tyrell was in their economy which doesn't have to kneel and can be duped and it was also in Unexpected Guile. Despite its poor 2.8 reviews, the card soon proved the sole reason for me to play Tyrell over anything else. It gives you repeated come out of shadows triggers, it gives you cards and (as if that wasn't enough) it also gives you str to win those challenges. It is because of this card that I think Tyrell is currently the strongest house for KoS (until Tyrion comes out). The Queen of Thorns and more resilient economy are just cherries on top.
My first deck had Political Disaster, Scheming Septons and Hollow Hill in it.
Scheming septons were taken out very soon as paying more than 2 for them really limits their abilities. Political Disaster soon followed. It is nice in current meta, but once you have 25 gold on your trade routes turn and think "well, I could easily use some more gold..." you take it out pretty quickly. Hollow Hill stayed in the list for a long time. But eventually came out to further the idea of denying them Victarion/City Besieged value.
The cards that weren't in the first list but eventually turned out to be the real MVPs are Poisened Coin, Hand's Judgements and Starry Sept. Well Poisoned coin was in there all the time, but not full three copies. I always thought they are too expensive and too situational. But if you have a deck full of shadow characters they become really good. Killing stuff on KitN turn is nice as well. Hand's Judgement was a late include, but I will never regret the decision to put it in. It has won me so many games. Cancelling saves, cancelling No Surprises, protecting Arbor from GJ in the early game, cancelling clever faint, privileged position,... the list goes on. It has been so crucial in so many games that I wouldn't want to play a Shadow deck without them ever again. Starry sept was the last change I made to the list. It isn't always great but it answers so many problems. Among Begging Brothers, GJ big guys, Stannis, etc. The synergy with Varys can easily shut games as well. And it helps you get power quicker (something I've been struggling with in the early games).
Jon Connington is often frowned upon, but it helps you get on board quicker and get power quicker. Both of which are the struggles of the deck. His ability to get out Varys in the early game while you don't have the gold for him is not bad as well.
Blackmarket Merchant was tested but was kicked out very soon. Unexpected Guile is the key card of the deck but this card never felt worth it. The tempo loss was too big and it also weakens your bolton flayers, which are often a key pieces to victory. Basically not having characters with cost 2 or less just boosts flayers so much.
The plot line is the real power of the deck. And something I've been really comfortable with and I dare say there is nothing there that I would change. I was on 1xForgotten Plans at the beginning but after losing many games against regular GJ just when they marshalled 3 big guys out and have enough saves for them, I just had to take it out for Valar D. You can only start looking for outs to their answers once you feel comfortable that your regular gameplan needs answers from them.
I love playing this deck because it feels you play very different based on the cards you get. It can switch between heavy attrition with Bolton Flayers, Mandon, Marauders and Robert strong and between spamming the board with Queen of Thorns, Jon and Loras.
I've found that early attrition gives me the best results against most houses, especially GJ. I often opened with First Snow or occasionaly with Valar M whenever it seemed appealing. Of course there are games where none of these options look good so I go for At the Gates, but then you give your opponent time to setup their board advantage and then if they flip Barring or King Plot or just marshall loaded Begging Brother you can get into a lot of trouble. If they use Barring turn 2 just so they give themselves some breathing room to develop their board, it's usually fine. If they use Barring on fully developed board it can often go south very quickly.
I will not go into details of my games, mostly because I don't remember enough of them. But I took this deck to euros, lost in the first round to the future winner of the whole thing and then managed to be lucky enough to win all the other games I played.
I saw a lot of begging brothers, some Barring the gates, lot of PD's, No surprises, even White Harbor Watchman. It seemed to me people were prepared for shadows decks, so I felt very lucky to go 6-1 with it. Admitedly, I played GJ only once and he wasn't on Barring the Gates, so my way to the cut didn't represent the current meta very well. From my testing though, games against GJ can go either way.
I felt really happy to make the day two, but my happiness didn't last for long. After submitting my deck for a deckcheck after the swiss, the judges called me and told me my decklist doesn't match my deck. I submitted a list with Forgotten Plans instead of Valar D in it. That was a change I made like 2 weeks ago and somehow I didn't update it on Thronesdb and didn't notice when I was printing the decklist. The judges said that because it was plot that was different, they have no choice but to disqualify me. And that was the end of otherwise such a great tournament for me.
It was blast to play all of you, and I will be looking forward to Stahleck, where I'll hopefully bring a correct decklist with me this time.