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This is a deck I've been working on since the latest Restricted List dropped and it seemed like the meta would be a little undefined for a while as people worked out just what impact of the new additions and changes would be.
Everyone knew Greyjoy and Stark would take a hit but what would that look like in practice. We weren't sure.
Also with the release of Expose Duplicity how prevalent would shadows decks continue to be given that unlike previous editions most shadows decks seem to be all in on the strategy given the power of the slew of shadows cards when you can repeat their enter play effects very easily.
Lacking any obvious restricted choices the power of Ranger Rush which had previously been put to good use with Lords of the Crossing seemed like a good fit for Sea of blood. The ability to search for Bound on demand is obvious to most players as the sort of play that can just win games.
So I think the basic recipe for the draw deck is mostly settled people can have their own tastes sprinkled in but especially with the addition of Forest Patrol and Naive Scout the Ranger module for NW is very very solid. I think it's fair to say that no other faction can put out as many efficient non unique bodies as they can, fitting really.
That said Rykker is crucial to the deck as it can from time to time struggle to find meaningful power icons. So mulliganing for him if you can is often worth it.
So a few choices that may surprise people. Why only 2 Yoren. He is amazing there is no doubt but there can be times when you just can't afford him or he's not that impactful. So 2 felt like the right number.
Citadel Archivist was initially put in there to guard against Mil decks in case they were out there with Queens Retinue. As it was I really didn't expect to face them. Over time though given my preference for running PD when I can these days they seemed an obvious choice over Isle of Ravens. While it's true sometimes you don't want to be shuffling back cards for your opponent too generally recycling your blood events is well worth it.
They also combo amazingly well with Old Forest Hunter. I wish I could have fitted in 3 of these core set dick heads but slots mate.
Will, why? I hear you ask. He was initially Ghost but in the meta I knew I would likely face Martell was a given and Bara Qohor that likes to go fast and first when it can. In this case the extra Icon ability to take attachments and the ranger trait was worth it. Sometimes his drawback can bite you in the ass so you just have to smart with him.
Grenn was a late inclusion just because sometimes as happens with aggro the deck can stall if you don't see Rykker or the power icons. He gives another way to gain some power.
Recruiter. I wish I could have slotted in more but space is always so tight. I love these guys. Highlight of the tournament was stealing my opponents Hobb in the final to draw some cards and then let him die to Valar.
The Power of the Fist...
So this has to be one of my new favourite cards and I think it's sorely underplayed. The meta now at least in terms of plots seems to be a little stale with not much in the way of out of the box thinking (include myself in that btw). So while in years past such a card was rightly condemned as bad in the current meta with Counting Coppers and Exchange having largely disappeared ditto TIme of Plenty it only take an Easteatch or a copy of same or Blackbird to switch the FIst on. And when it is oh boy your character base can go to to toe with just about anyone.
In the last couple of days I swapped out the second copy of this for 1 Core Wall as another options for Str boost and an alternative win condition. SHould the power gain be stalling out. It was well worth it.
The econ speaks for itself keep it lean and mean so as not give your opponent anything for free and making sure PD should you need to play it rarely bites you at all.
The events I'm pretty happy with. I originally had a copy or two of The Watch has need but ended up cutting it as I needed to keep the deck efficient and events is almost always the first thing you should cut.
I think 2x for PTTS PTTT and Bound was the right number. 1 relies too much on the recycle and 3 is just being unnecessarily greedy and hampers setup.
Misty is a worthy inclusion but as it happens on the day didn't really need it. Since the vast majority of your character base in non unique and relatively cheap I think it's a nice way to keep the flood of bodies up through the inevitable resets.
Speaking of onto plots....
Gates, PD and Return I think all speak for themselves. Gates is the opener most of the time as the econ package is tight and it helps get your board off to a good start. PD to hit all those decks that run super wide location bases.
Return can be crucial to just blowing through people's attempts at Valar and Dohaeris to try and reset the board in their favour or slow you down.
The deck originally had Expose Duplicity as an answer to shadow decks which can otherwise be a real problem. As it was I cut it for Marched because it looked like the small player base was unlikely to be playing shadows at all.
Marched was absolutely the right call and would generally be my preferred option in this slot.
Winter Festival is simply the best all around Winter Plot I could think of to give me some option should Winterfell show itself. The power gain is reasonably assured at the moment given the relative lack of summer plots being played but even if it does't fire it's not the end of the world.
Forgotten Plans, I love this plot so much as the meta seems to have taken a real twist away from When revealed to passive plots in at attempt to counter shadows etc. This serves as a counter for so many common attempts to deal with this deck. King Plot, Barring the Gates, First Snow of Winter even sometimes Blood of the Dragon and most recently in my meta some people have taken to running 2x Rationing which necessarily completely shuts down my triggers. So yeah I only wish I could run 2 copies.
Lastly The Bloody Flux, I've seen it do some work in Sea of BLood before when the agenda first came out and since sometimes in testing mass dupes and saves could present a problem this seemed like a no brainer to push PTTS as well as an alternative counter to Valar should your Return miss the mark.
Well there you have it folks play and enjoy the salty tears of your opponents. Just hope they don't run Stink Eye Selyse cause you will cry.