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Pit of Despair
Ever since The Black Cells came out I knew I had to run a deck around it. This created a terrible conundrum, the deck accepted in civilized company, Assault from the Shadows, doesn't play nice with Big Queen, whose presence is a personal deckbuilding requirement for me. Additionally, Assault still required us to actually find the cells, which I didn't feel like wasting a couple of rounds doing. Fortunately, The House With the Red Door solves both of these issues.
At its heart, this is a passive power deck. Table-Chair and the The Starry Sept-Sparrows both provide passive power siphoning, while The Black Cells provide the stall needed to get both of those engines up and running.
It's obvious how the cells are a natural engine, but in order for them to be effective, your opponent's board needs to be kept small. Therefore, aggressive use of Valar Morghulis and Valar Dohaeris is encouraged. Even if a big guy is saved, the cells will render them useless during challenges. Additionally, Varys (DitD) and A Pinch of Powder provide targeted removal of characters (especially big guys with renown) if the resets alone are not enough to calm your opponent down.
As a rule, at the end of each round, you want 2 cards in shadows. Any more, and your opponent will probably drop Expose Duplicity, any less, you run the risk of running out of cards to trigger the cells. Draw wise, The Hollow Hill allows you to draw a shadows character almost every time you trigger it, ensuring a cells trigger the following round. Recursion is also a huge deal for this deck as well, make use of The Iron Bank Will Have Its Due and Castle Guard to recur cards to hand and shadows. Selyse Baratheon (FotOG), Shadow Priestess, and Varys (DitD) are top targets here.
There are two key triggers that are Action that you need to remember if you really want to have good results with this deck. First should be obvious, The Hollow Hill. It's surprisingly difficult to remember dominance actions, but if you consistently tutor shadows characters every round, winning is going to be a lot easier. Additionally, you can pull non shadows cards like Delena Florent, Begging Brother, and Maester Cressen, based on whatever your situation requires. The second, is actually Shadow of the Throne in the standing phase (especially on turns with a Kingdom plot). This trigger can choke econ, draw, and location abilities continuously throughout the game if you save a measly gold and remember to play it during standing.
Setup and Round 1
In a starting hand you want to setup at a minimum, a gold producing location and a shadows card. Sometimes you'll get lucky with a The Roseroad or The Stone Drum and you can set up and extra location. There is almost never a scenario where you want a character setup in play, most first rounds will go without you marshalling any characters actually unless you think your opponent has some sort of location hate that you need bodies to defend against. Round 1 will be mostly about growing your location base and shadow pool for big Trade Routes turns.
Round 1 - vs Florian Stag (Drowned God): Loss
When I saw this matchup first round at 7am, I had to groan. It's just not a good matchup for this deck, it has no need to make challenges, it's a battle to win dom, and Valar Morghulis fuels the deck. Florian played it well, saw a duped Tarle the Thrice-Drowned round 1, and denied me power challenges while his wet bois just did their thing.
Round 2 - vs Aurel VS : Win
This matchup was more to my favor - it was big guys with warships and attachments. On round 1, he led with Vanquish the Unbelievers and went first, fortunately I had Selyse Baratheon (FotOG) in hand and he didn't play any ladies. I found the The Starry Sept round 2 and was able to keep his big guys he played under control the rest of the game.
Round 3 - vs George VS : Win
Admittedly, George and I had played each other with our decks on TiT earlier in the week. The first game he got out a duped Left and Right immediately and proceeded to trash me. This time however, he played an unduped Left round 1, so I played Valar Morghulis round 2. It was an intense game, but with his the rest of his characters requiring kneels to participate, my control allowed me to win the day. Shout out to Shadow of the Throne for keeping his Flea Bottom knelt most of the game.
Round 4 - vs David Fealty : Loss
David was playing what I later learned to be a Winter Wolves deck. It was a tough match where my overzealousness to play Selyse Baratheon (FotOG) came to bite me since I kind of forgot that Bran Stark (OR) was a Lord who could be stood by Jeyne Westerling. Psh, I swore he had the Creepy Child trait! Suffice to say, a Wolf stood and proceeded to murder my board, while his ladies pillaged my hand. Rough time.
Round 5 - vs Miha Summer : Win
A mirror matchup with Miha running a lot of shadows tech out of Kings of Summer. Having The Black Cells because of The House With the Red Door gave me a big edge in the control battle though - he didn't see his until round 6 I think. Additionally, Shadow of the Throne did work on keeping his Chamber of the Painted Table knelt when he was in position to win dom.
Round 6 - vs Lannister Dragon Summer : Win
I believe this is a descendent of the "Dancing Queen" Renly Queensguard deck. Round 1 he led with Trading with the Pentoshi and dropped Renly Baratheon (FFH) and a Bodyguard. This gave me enough gold to drop Lysa Arryn, drop a card in shadows, and trigger the cells during challenges. Round 2 I played Valar Morghulis and triggered Lysa to remove the saved Renly. He eventually got Randyll Tarly and Renly Baratheon (FFH) out again and waited for me to trigger cells against Randyll before bringing Queensguard out on Renly, who proceeded to run rampant. The next round, Varys (DitD) out of shadows assassinated the power laden Renly, and Delena Florent prevented any more challenge phase Queensguard triggers.
Win and In - vs Nerius Qohor : Win
This was the craziest match of the day. Nerius set up Meereen, Pentos, Meereenese Market, and a chud, and proceeded to drop duped Khal Drogo (Core) round 1 with a ton of attachments. More crucially, he played Seized by the Guard The Black Cells. I was able to stall him for two turns via Selyse Baratheon (FotOG) and the Cells round 2. I also managed to supress his draw by kneeling Meereen in the standing phase with Shadow of the Throne. However, during round 2 he used Qohor to find a new Seized for my Cells with 2 gold bestowed. Round 3, a 12 something str Khal Drogo with Queensguard, Mercenary Contract, Appointed, and other Targ steroids, managed to get 4 challenges through and advance Nerius to 13 power. Fortunately, Meereen was still being knelt and he had few cards in hand, so I played Valar Morghulis round 4, which shed Khal's dupe, and Varys (DitD) came out to finish the job. Afterwards, I was able to claw my back via Edric Storm-Chamber of the Painted Table-The Iron Throne (Core), while The Hollow Hill snagged me Delena Florent and Maester Cressen to ensure the board state remained under my control.
Top 16 - vs Florian Stag (Drowned God): Loss
Groan intensifies. Drowned God rematch. This time he didn't see Tarle immediately, but he set up Nagga's Ribs, which made my main win condition real difficult. I had to Valar when his board was super wide despite the consequences just to get myself back in the game, but unfortunately right afterwards he dropped Tarle and won in marshalling. Well played Florian.