|The Triumph of House Martell
A Report by the Days of Ice and Fire 2012 Joust Champion
|A Game of Thrones LCG | Published 25 May 2012|
Martell brings some formidable companions, it would seem. Not one of the houses Pod had named was small or insignificant. Nine of the greatest lords of Dorne were coming up the kingsroad, them or their heirs, and somehow Tyrion did not think they had come all this way just to see the dancing bear. There was a message here.
–George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords
Last Saturday, fifty-one players convened for the Days of Ice and Fire 2012 A Game of Thrones: The Card Game Regional Championship joust tournament. They turned in their deck lists and met on the field of battle. Five rounds of Swiss play led to elimination play between the top eight contestants, and once all the knights, lords, and ladies had lain down their arms, one player stood victorious. Jeremiah Duggan, who prospered from the counsel of his Martell Maesters.
Joust Champion Jeremiah Duggan on Days of Ice and Fire 2012:
Before this tournament I spent a lot of time working on decks that I felt addressed the metagame in different ways. I know my style, and I generally play decks designed to beat the environment rather than those that just look good in a vacuum. Also, at the urging of others, I decided to deviate from my norm and release my inner Walder for this tournament. This meant letting go of my house loyalties to join the winning House, no matter who they might be. To that end, I decided to play a deck that I had originally seen piloted by two-time Warhammer: Invasion The Card Game World Champion Tim Lyons and designed by Jerod Leupold. John Bruno helped me update the deck, and with a braintrust like this team behind me, I didn’t feel like I could lose.
The deck basically strives to mix the disruption and utility of Maesters with the speed of a rush powered by To the Spears! (Princes of the Sun, 60). In a standard game, this deck leads with The Art of Seduction (Lions of the Rock, 52) first turn, To the Spears! second turn, and finishes with Outwit (The Isle of Ravens, 80) on turn three. This plot sequence is incredibly powerful, and when you have characters with multiple icons and Renown, you will often win the game before turn four. Essentially, it is this interaction that sets this Martell deck apart from previous iterations. While it can be very controlling, the deck is at its heart a rush deck.
The Art of Seduction
Search and Detain
Schemes of the Scholar
To the Spears!
Valyrian Steel Link
Black Iron Link
3x Refugee of the Citadel
3x Orphan of the Greenblood
3x Oldtown Scholar
1x Maester of the Sun
2x Maester of War
3x House Messenger
2x Informed Acolyte
1x Harmen Uller
1x Arianne Martell
1x Ser Arys Oakheart
2x Darkstar (Princes of the Sun, 4)
1x Archmaester Marwyn
1x Archmaester Ebrose
1x Beric Dondarrion
2x The Conclave
2x The Red Viper (Princes of the Sun, 1)
3x A Game of Cyvasse
3x Citadel Politics
2x He Calls It Thinking
2x Burning in the Sand
Round One vs. Martell The Maester’s Path
This game was a pretty solid grind. My opponent played a very early The Scourge (On Dangerous Grounds, 55) with Arianne Martell (Princes of the Sun, 2) and really began to deplete my hand of cards. I ended up having to hold locations in my hand just to have cards to discard to his Scourge. At length, I got a chained Maester of the Sun (A Song of Summer, 14) in play and finally started controlling his Arianne with the Black Iron link (Mask of the Archmaester, 99), and when I drew a Lost Oasis (A Time of Trials, 36) to begin kneeling his characters, I was able to swing the game and close it out very quickly.
Round Two vs Targaryen Heir to the Iron Throne
Jesse ultimately found his way to the finals also. He and I are pretty good friends, and I know his deck fairly well. I helped him tweak it quite a bit before Gen Con Indy 2011 where he slaughtered me with it. However, our game ended up playing heavily into my favor. His setup was pretty bad, and I had him trapped under The Art of Seduction while he had The Power of Arms (Core Set, 200) revealed. I used A Game of Cyvasse (A Change of Seasons, 57) and Search and Detain (Here to Serve, 120) to return his more expensive characters to his hand and won on turn two.
Round Three vs Targaryen Knights of the Hollow Hill
Ben is another guy from my meta and I’ve played with him fairly regularly. When you’re playing The Art of Seduction against a Targaryen deck and you suspect burn, you never want to reveal it first turn. If you accidentally pin your opponent’s Threat from the North (Princes of the Sun, 56), you will most likely lose the game. So I played Retaliation! (A Song of Silence, 80) on the first turn, and sure enough, Ben played a turn one Threat. This left me open to play The Art of Seduction on the second turn and win before he could hit critical mass.
Round Four vs Martell The Maester’s Path
This was my only loss on the day. Chad and I had an epic game that went to time. He was playing the control version of Maesters, and he had Lead Link (Called by the Conclave, 59) on his agenda. In one of the key plays of in the game, I got caught by A Game of Cyvasse when my Maester had his Intrigue icon removed. That was an oversight on my part that cost me four links, including my Valyrian Steel Link (Here to Serve, 117). In the other key play, Chad used his Lead Link pre-plot to lower the strength of my The Red Viper to zero and killed him with City of Soldiers (The Battle of Blackwater Bay, 120). After that, Chad jumped out ahead pretty quickly, but I was able to use my Arianne to good effect, making Power challenges with increased claim and stayed in the game longer than I would have otherwise, but still picked up the loss, while Chad earned a modified win.
Round Five vs Lannister The Power Behind the Throne
This was the match I was hoping not to play. I was facing off against Anthony Christie, the Melee Champion and eventual Overall Champion. Both of us knew we’d qualify for the Top 8 if we won, and über-kneel is a very tough matchup for the Maester deck. Luckily for me, Anthony didn't draw any kneel, and I am honestly not sure if he was running any. He started off very strong with a duped Cersei Lannister (Lions of the Rock, 6) and some small characters that could serve as claim soak. However, I had three Citadel Politics (Here to Serve, 116) in hand, along with The Scourge, and Orphan of the Greenblood (Princes of the Sun, 15). After I was able to get the Black Iron Link on a Maester, I was essentially able turn off Cersei and expose the downside of his agenda, gaining four power off of it to win on turn three or four.
After five rounds of Swiss pairings, Jeremiah earned the second seed behind Chad Baumgardt. The other finalists included Jesse Schingen, Bradley Ring, Nick Agranoff, Ben Terpstra, John Pauly, and Jeremiah’s quarterfinals opponent, Joshua Staton.
Quarterfinals vs Baratheon
When this pairing was announced, I gave a little fist pump. Josh and I are good friends, and our games are generally entertaining. Also, since we speak fairly often, victories against Josh come with a lot of bragging rights. Meanwhile, Baratheon is another House against which you often don't want to play The Art of Seduction on your first turn. Most of the time, their restricted card is Val (Return of the Others, 117), but if it happens to the Fury of the Stag (Ancient Enemies, 27), you really don't want to face it two turns in a row.
Josh started the game with the cost-reduction Renly Baratheon (Kings of the Storm, 2), some locations, and a Refugee. My setup consisted of only two cards, The Conclave (Called by the Conclave, 57) and a zero-cost location. I played a first-turn Search and Detain, hoping he wouldn’t drop the Fury. I wanted to bounce Renly, but it was not to be. I ended up bouncing my own location instead. Since Josh made me the first player, I decided to play my Lost Oasis along with a House Messenger (Princes of the Sun, 10) and some cheaper maesters. During the challenge phase, I knelt his Renly with the Oasis and played A Game of Cyvasse to return his Royal Entourage (The Tower of the Hand, 47) back to his hand since Renly was protected by two dupes and a Bodyguard (Core Set, 150). My Intrigue challenge hit his Royal Entourage, leaving him without reinforcements, and he never really recovered.
In the other quarterfinals, Nick Agranoff defeated Chad Baumgardt, Jesse Schingen fought his way past John Pauly, and Bradley Ring’s Greyjoy choke defeated Ben Terpstra.
Semifinals vs Greyjoy Kings of Winter
This was the matchup I had been dreading all day. I ended up sitting next to Brad for most of the tournament, and I knew what his deck could do. He started off the game with a Search and Detain to bounce the lone copy of The Conclave I was forced to play during the setup. He also choked me with The Sparr (A Poisoned Spear, 107). Turn two, I played my Search, and in a flurry of changed decisions about who would go first what would get bounced, we made the mistake of returning a location which had an attachment on it. This mistake seems to be have been covered in length on both the forums and social media, so I won't go into too much detail, except to say that seven rounds into a tournament, players make mistakes regarding game state. Neither one of us realized it until later that night, and as far as I know there were no hard feelings. The game basically came down to the turn I was able to activate a Gold Link (The Isle of Ravens, 79) just once, pre-plot for three gold. That allowed me to play The Red Viper and take the game as Brad had spent his Valar Morghulis (Core Set, 201) and had no hand.
In the other semifinal, Jesse Schingen forced his way past Nick Agranoff’s Targaryen burn to qualify for the championship table. Thus, the championship game ended up a rematch of the two competitors’ second round, except this time, the winner would claim the title of Joust Champion.
Finals vs Targaryen Heir to the Iron Throne
Jesse's deck is one that relies on seizing the momentum on one big turn, then never letting you recover. It is not out of the ordinary to see him kill four characters and destroy two locations in a single Military challenge. The key to beating a deck like his is to play patiently, recognize when you're in danger of losing a big challenge, and push your Intrigue challenges through as hard as possible to cut short any challenge phase surprises. At least that was the game plan I hoped to employ against Jesse, and it worked out pretty well. Again, I took a mulligan that led into a poor setup, but I had Burning on the Sand (Return of the Others, 112) and A Game of Cyvasse in my opening hand. Over the course of the game, I ended up drawing all three Games of Cyvasse, and they were too much for Jesse to overcome. I felt extremely fortunate to have drawn so well because I felt like I could have been blown out nearly every turn of the game.
In conclusion, I would like to thank Fantasy Flight Games for hosting the event. The Event Center, as always, was a great location with a great gaming community. A huge thanks also goes out to Mr. Bruno who puts the “trust” in “braintrust,” and I would also like to congratulate my meta, the Knights of the Corn, for qualifying five people into the top eight of Days of Ice and Fire. Thanks to them, too. Without those guys, A Game of Thrones wouldn't be part of my life.
The 2012 A Game of Thrones: The Card Game Regional Championship season is shaping up to be one of the most dynamic ever. The Great Houses all find themselves on nearly equal footing, and they have each risen to glory in different locations across the world. The Regional Championship season is still running, and you can find your way to one of these by heading to the event calendar on our Organized Play website.
Based on George R.R. Martin's bestselling fantasy epic A Song of Ice and Fire, A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, playable by 2-4 players, brings the beloved heroes, villains, locations, and events of the world of Westeros to life through innovative game mechanics and the highly strategic game play. The Living Card Game format allows players to customize their gaming experience with monthly Chapter Pack expansions to the core game.