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|Ninguno. Éste es un mazo hecho de cero.|
warning - I had a long flight home so this got really long-winded - feel free to ignore if the summary below doesn’t speak to you
- Returning player with questionable skill did well at a big tournament with a staple deck
- Makes the case that it could be a good “first deck” for new players
- Match reports with mistakes made described
This was my deck for the joust tournament at Stahleck that went 5-3. I had an incredible experience and I would highly recommend going - the event, venue and European Thrones community were just delightful.
I want to preface the rest of this with the following - I do not consider myself a good player. I started playing sometime around when the Tyrell box was released, sometime in 2017 or 2018 maybe? The Mrs and I picked up a core box at her suggestion. We had a blast flipping wildfire on each other. Then I discovered this site and my local meta in the Chicago area and showed up one night. I was handed a Bara deck where I marshalled Selyse Baratheon (FotOG) and knelt the entire board. I was hooked.
I took a long break after the FFG era ended and got distracted by other things. Then a few months ago, Jim Hansen reached out to me directly and asked if I was interested in playing at nationals, which he was hosting in the Chicago area. I said sure, what the hell, it was a 15-minute drive there and it would be good to see old friends. I had to basically re-learn how to play, the new cards…I started playing more online and getting hooked again…and then, after seeing how cheap flights were to Frankfurt, decided at the last minute to register for Stahleck. As for US nats, I took my crusty old Stark Fealty deck there and took my lumps but I had a great time.
When I was out with the other players having drinks that night, I asked them - if you could hand a new player one deck to help teach the game, what would you hand them? The answer I got was pretty overwhelming in favor of Lanni/Rains. The reasons are pretty simple - it’s a great midrange deck, with not that many triggers (but enough to teach the importance of paying attention to that) with a lot of gold, effective big characters and good answers to a lot of things.
I decided to try it out with a good friend of mine who is very new to card games (and for whom the deck is named after), and he loved both the game and the deck. He did very well with it and it clicked for him immediately. There was also talk in our discord about it possibly being good for a Stahleck meta. It then occurred to me that I never played Lannister competitively, maybe I could give it a go! That ended up being a good decision!
As for the deck - it’s Lanni Rains, nothing too exciting I don’t think. Standard stuff, do lots of intrigue challenges, don’t overextend (especially when going first), use Cersei Lannister (LoCR)’s power gain to build up in the opening rounds, and close with your renown characters and Heads on Spikes. Use Treachery, The Red Keep (R) and Alchemists' Guildhall to cancel all of your opponent’s stuff.
All of this is to say - I think the deck is still competitive and I’d definitely recommend it to players newer to Thrones - plenty of fun things going on but not too high of a cognitive load to play. It’s also pretty consistent with a lot of 3x so with a few plays you get to know the deck and the kinds of things you want to draw for (with your Gold Mines and Grand Maester Pycelle (Core)'s insight). I actually felt reasonably fresh even after playing it for 8 rounds. Not too many bad matchups either (and I think historically has always been reasonably competitive).
Plots were pretty solid - maybe I would take Counting Coppers over Exchange of Information. The Spider's Web, Filthy Accusations and Power Behind the Throne plot were money all day for the scheme plots (never used the others). I loved having 2x Heads on Spikes.
As for the other cards and changes I might make - Sweetsleep was meh. I packed it to protect against negative attachments, but I didn’t see that many (or at least, the ones I did see weren’t all that impactful). Cersei got cravened in game one and Lancel in game four and I didn’t see them. It did (along with Treachery) protect Ser Gregor Clegane (TKP) from pinch in another. They got gold mined mostly. Maybe would cut for more Ser Pounce (who was awesome when I saw him). I was very surprised at the lack of blanking tech (Milk of the Poppy, Nightmares). Tyrion's Chain or Tears of Lys would be interesting to try out. Pyromancer's Cache could be good to turn a location off and make sure your opponent always has cards to trigger Cersei but I worry a bit about giving your opponent a way to turn Myrcella Baratheon (SoD) off in a clutch (who was a VERY good card all day). Finding room for a 1x The Hound (TtB) would be good, especially since Tyrion makes you the $$ you need to ambush him.
Here is what I can remember about each match:
Round 1 - vs Nights Watch/ Aloof (W)
Had a good start, early Cersei, but she was craven’d, he had a lot of intrigue icons though, so no Rains for the first couple of rounds but I was able to eek out green challenges despite that (even with Cersei unable to attack). Got off to a good lead early, he reset with VM on a heads on spikes turn, the four power I had on Cersei were quickly recovered with a spikes hit and challenge wins. Tywin, Jaime and Gregor’s renown (who also hit his 7-cost Jon Snow on a pillage) was too much at that point and he conceded.
Round 2 - vs Martell/Qohor (L)
His deck was wild, going first with an intimidating 6-coster with seal of the hand and he knelt out my board. His Qohor triggers then disabled my bigs and the rout was on. Maybe should have VMd early but i chose to try and recover naturally and I just couldnt win challenges. Pretty short game, not close, he got a great start and just snowballed for the win.
Round 3 - vs Stark/Red Door (Wolf’s Den) (W)
Having played Stark a ton, I knew what was coming here - big Cat, Wylla, Rickon, Wyman, Smallfolk Mob, Meera, etc. I knew Cat was her wincon, I wasn’t really worried about her draw because I controlled green challenges. Cat was pinched and then discarded for claim, I was reliably getting Rains off, got a five-card spiders web turn with Casterly Rock out, Cersei was running wild and I got a big lead. She did eventually play frozen solid on Casterly Rock and did a great job dumping her hand onto the board at the end to defend. I had 2x spikes to secure the win - but miraculously she avoided the first one with 2/3 characters in hand and with me on 13 power, which led to a super tense last round where I couldn’t push through her endless wall of starks with sacrifice tricks, so I decided to play it safe and stay on 13 power winning dominance. With an empty hand, she decided to trigger Wyman, which ended up being her downfall, as it put a character in hand, that was hit by the second spikes for the win. This was an extremely fun and memorable game, where I was never really in danger, but was stonewalled by a very persistent opponent who was not going to let me get the win easily and I had to do a lot of problem-solving. I wonder if I could have closed more reliably with First Snow to put everything back into her hand and then get a bunch of unopposed challenges off, but I had some tunnel vision because I had Myrcella and Gunthor both out and they were doing a lot of work.
Round 4 - vs Greyjoy/Red Door (Nagga’s Ribs) (L)
This was a wild drowned god deck, with core Euron and Asha that got to 9 power very quickly and I just didn’t react quickly enough. I had a Tywin/Lancel start with one other character and Lancel got milked, leading to a hot start for him. He canceled a lot of my stuff with Vince and once Tarle hit the board, his engine just took off and I just couldn’t get my act together. Never saw Cersei this game, nor did I see much of my cancel tech (and what I did have I used to cancel Asha, which in hindsight was a mistake), just couldn’t keep up with the power race, and he took the game pretty easily. It also didn’t help that I didn’t know the drowned god cards well. I just wasn’t prepared, got bad draws and lost, it happens.
Round 5 - vs Lannister/Free Companies (L)
Ran into a very good player here with a very strong 5-cost Casterly Rock deck that ran a mix of the traditional intrigue package (big Cersei, Tyrion) and goodstuff Bestow (Vargo Hoat, Begging Bro, 2-cost Bronn, seized). I didn’t see my Cersei early and he put a lot of pressure on me in the early rounds, duping all of his key pieces which would have negated VM. There was a fun moment that was memorable here, where he brought out a pinch of powder and attached it to Gregor, and then I used two Treacheries to cancel its effect, and then next turn found a sweetsleep to blank it (which was really the only time that card was useful for me). I eventually found my pieces, and got close but it was a struggle - he blanked Casterly rock with seized which also slowed down my comeback and he kept his lead. I could have first snowed away his Bronn, but for some reason, I didn’t want to trade my Pycelle for his Bronn - that was a mistake. His start was better, he played better, he deserved the win.
Round 6 - Baratheon/Red Door (Iron Throne) (W)
His agenda and starting location telegraphed the strategy - I still had ask a million questions to understand things because i didn’t remember most of it. Really nice player here that spoke good English which helped me a lot. I started missing triggers (in particular I could have cancelled his first Melisandre trigger which hurt), showing some signs of fatigue. He got a decent start with his passive power plots but his heads on spikes whiffed which was very lucky for me, and I started taking away his dominance tech with Lannister tricks and big characters. Once I got set up, i pinched Mel and claimed her, and then played first snow. That wiped his board, which enabled three unopposed challenges with renown and a spikes trigger and I raced out to the win.
Round 7 - Baratheon/Summer (W)
Very nice player here, who was running a lot of kneel and denial tech (Delina, pick-a-bad-thing Robert), and was helpfully reminding me to keep an extra card for kings of summer. He was playing power-challenge Red keep here which I started canceling the draw reliably in the later rounds with Guildhall recursion and my red keep. I saw all of my cancels early which helped A LOT in this game - still missed a couple of things order-wise that my opponent thankfully allowed me to redo…I was definitely getting tired at this point. My spikes hits were MONEY this game - one of which I think was 7-cost Stannis and that was HUGE. His focus on blue made my green good (although - I had a very embarrassing moment when i chose the stand plot for a rains trigger while Delina was on the board…facepalm). First snow and a better board took the win.
Round 8 - Martell/Many-Faced God (W)
This was a very slow and difficult game where advantages were hard to come by. I made it MUCH harder by allowing an unopposed, 5 strength military challenge when he was on 3 gold (thinking he was saving it for his icon removal tech) and he put Cersei to the sword! I wasn’t even mad about that, very clever play by my opponent, who was very determined throughout. Later, after a first snow turn, where his board was empty and I had Gregor and Jaime out, he flipped DUEL! Unbelievable! I actually chose to keep Jaime, because I thought having a bicon with the extra challenge would prove useful, and that turned out to be the right call. In the end, my cancels started denying his icon removal, and then HERO MYRCELLA with two non-kneeling intrigue challenges and a power challenge on my swing-back challenge phase and a dominance win took the game after time was called - final score: 13-12. I was VERY happy it went to time at that point, as my last plot was VM, which I really did not want to play. Again - extremely memorable game where I had to do a lot of calculations and problem-solving to eek out the win, against a very determined opponent who had a lot of good plays and answers against my deck - this ended the day on a very high note for me.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading! And if you’re new (or thinking about introducing the game to someone new) and this helped you - or maybe you have some other ideas about how to hook new players - I’d love to hear about that! In order to continue to keep the game alive and thriving, we really need to think intentionally about the new player experience and how we can make that great - that's something I'm going to be pondering more over the holidays.
You can find me here, or on the various Thrones discords or Iron Throne as hurr_lee or kphurley.
Hear Me Roar!