|Valar Dobblerus or All Men Must Know Dobbler
A Report on the A Game of Thrones 2009 World Joust Championship
|A Game of Thrones LCG | Published 21 August 2009|
As part of our continued detailed coverage of Gen Con Indy 2009 events, we present this report on the A Game of Thrones: The Card Game 2009 World Joust Championship, brought to you by 2009 World Joust Champion (and 2004 World Champion) Greg Atkinson. Without any further ado, take it away, Greg!
Greg Atkinson's victory rested in the mighty arms of the re-awakened Kraken.
I've been accused of having a big mouth, of being unable to keep a secret. There is probably a bit of truth to that statement. But this story is mine to tell, and so I shall: for everyone who wants to know should be able to know the tales of how an ex-champion found himself in a position to be the first ever two-time joust champion, and the exciting adventure along the way.
My story begins several months ago, when it became apparent that not only was I going to be able to attend Gen Con, but my best Kevin was also going to be able to attend. Kevin had never been to Gen Con, and I knew this trip would be like no other. So we immediately began the task of preparing. At least once a week, and sometimes twice a week, we would get together and play games from 9 pm to 3 am. It became apparent during our play sessions that Lannister hyper kneel was our best deck with Targ being a close second due to its alternate card advantage techniques and direct character control through burn. As further releases came out we updated the decks, and found a third deck that could hold its own against those two, a Stark Summer deck centered around Eddard Stark from the Tower of the Hand Chapter pack that used Lion's Gate out-of-house to target Eddard and thus draw cards.
Over the course of the two month testing period, the Lannister deck had been updated with Shadows tech (Silent Sisters, Kingdom of Shadows, Gold Cloaks, and Seductive Promise due to the increased number of power icons in the deck), the Targ deck had been updated from Winter resource denial to Summer Draw and War crest tech and included some new cards like Aegon's Hill and Street Waif, and we also had the third deck that was running even with those other two, the previously mentioned Stark deck. It was pretty clear that Kevin was going to use the Lannister deck (which is good, because the Ned in me won't allow me to play Lannister for Joust championships), and I was heavily leaning towards Targ Summer.
Before we left Springfield for the trip, we also pre-built our Legacy constructed decks, and you can find my decklist here. This was a combo deck design to deck my opponent, which it successfully did in 3 of my 4 games. Unfortunately, I only won one of those games due to not building in a reset. Due to cycling through my plots fast with Bran, I didn't want a reset in the form of a plot, but at minimum I should have put in Westeros Bleeds or something similar. Enjoy discovering the combos I had built into that deck, there are a ton!
Also before leaving Springfield, we put together our decklists for the Melee tournament. I expected most people to want to play Baratheon or Greyjoy for Melee, and I like to go against the grain, so I built a Lannister Shadows Reinforcements deck trying to utilize Men with No King. The deck performed very well, going 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in my three tables. If I had to make one change, it would have been to put in 3x copies of Lion's Gate. I was not running kneel tech, so I often could not slow down an opponent’s power grab.
And now on to the Joust. I expected to see about 50% Lannister decks, 25% Targ decks, and a combination of Stark, Bara, Greyjoy making up the other 25%. So I still felt that my Targ deck was the best option for me. But for some reason I just couldn't make up my mind completely. Friday afternoon, I met up with Dan Fritz, an oldschool Thrones player who hadn't played in the past year. I asked if he wanted to play. He said he didn't have a deck, and of course I offered to give him one of mine. He said that would be fine. Since I expected to use my Targ deck, and Kevin was using my Lannister cards for his deck, I could either give Dan the Stark deck or make a new one. I felt my Stark deck was a bit gimmicky for someone who hadn't played in a year, so I decided to build him a Greyjoy deck. I figured I'd make it full of saves and use Winter to power the Wintertime Marauders and the Kings of Winter Agenda for some hand destruction.
That night I played 3 games against Justin Fox (the eventual 4th place finisher) and the deck ran very well, so I made a last-minute crazy decision. I threw out two months of playtesting with my Targ deck, and decided that I would play Greyjoy in the Joust Championships (and thus let Dan use my Targ deck). The next morning I played two more games against Justin. He rolled me like a freight train. But I wasn't doubting my decision, I decided to just go with it.
So here comes the pairings, and look at that, I get paired against another ex- World champion in the first game. Wow. My deck was going to be put to the test right off the bat.
Round 1 - Matt Ley playing Lannister
This game started off horribly for me. First turn Matt used Seductive Promise to steal my Marauders, and I was forced into a very early Valar. It was looking very bad for me as Matt raced high in power. But I got out a Longship Iron Victory turn 3, and with him not getting any card draw, I used what little I had to throw all my characters in defense to slow down his power total as much as possible. Matt got as high as 13 (could have gotten 14), but eventually I stalled him out. He had to return his Tyrion to his hand round 5 due to his Snowed Under (that or return a character to me which had been stolen), and my gold and character advantage eventually won out. It was a very odd game that I never felt in control of. Afterwards I even felt a little shell-shocked that I was walking away with a victory. But mostly I can attribute it to Matt not getting any card advantage to put me down when he had the on-table advantage. 1-0
Round 2 - Wade Freeman playing Lannister
Wade got out an early Brothel and Castellan and was using them to keep me incapacitated early in the game. Again, I was forced into Valar earlier than I would have liked on the third turn. On this turn, there was one simple play that won me the game. Wade had revealed a 2 claim plot, I had revealed Valar. He had three characters standing and was wanting to do three challenges against me. I had one character standing, and zero claim. One of my knelt characters was a Marauders with Support of Harlaw attached (and a White Raven on my house card). I was first player. So I attacked with my one standing character for an intrigue challenge. Wade let it go unopposed since there was no claim. But of course, this stood my Marauders, which I then did two more challenges with and removed two of his characters. This drastically turned the game in my favor. I don't like pointing out mistakes an opponent makes, but if not for this play, I'm not sure I would have won. And Wade is such a nice, likable guy, I know he will forgive me. After that play my deck swooped to the win. 2-0
Round 3 - Erick Butzlaff playing Lannister
Ok, so seriously, I expected to see alot of Lannister, but three times already?! Erick really dominated me in this game. First turn he Blockaded while I revealed my Fury Plot. I got behind in character count on the board, and I tried to wait on my Valar as long as possible, but actually I should have played it sooner. On turn four I revealed Valar while he revealed Wildfire. This really hurt me as I couldn't use all my saves on the board (Aemon, Salwife, Wendamyr and Iron Mines) to try and take board advantage. Erick kept his advantage and won around plot 7 in a game that he dominated throughout. 2-1
Round 4 - Corey playing Lannister
Yes, Lannister again. And I also knew that Corey was using an identical deck to my previous opponent Erick, that had just whooped me. And I also knew I had been "paired up," as Corey was undefeated on the day. On one hand, I could have been upset or nervous. On the other hand, I figured I could use my knowledge from my previous loss to my advantage. Corey flopped a Steward and a Castellan and a Gold Road. I flopped Samwell, Iron Mines, Crossroads and some other character. I knew with him sitting at +3 gold and a Castellan that he was going to Blockade. I had a dupe of Sam in my hand and a White Raven, and decided I'd just go balls-to-the-wall and reveal the plot I ALWAYS tell people to NEVER reveal first turn, Valar. I saved my Samwell with Iron Mines, and Corey had me go first. So I duped Samwell, used my one gold to play my White Raven (forgot to trigger Samwell), and played out two more zero cost cards. Corey also played out two zero cost cards, and we had a very uneventful first challenge phase. The interesting thing here was that because I had forgotten Samwell the previous turn, I had two fewer cards then Corey and I knew my Rule By Decree was going to hurt him ( I had 5 cards to his 7). I kept the pressure on him the entire game and felt completely in control which was a first in the tournament (but would be a recurring theme from here on out). 3-1
Round 5 - Alec Irwin playing Baratheon
This was my third time to play against Alec this weekend. He and I had been at the same Melee table twice. Alec is an incredibly fun guy to play with, as he is jovial, gregarious and simply has fun playing no matter what the situation. I knew that even if I lost, I would enjoy the experience due to Alec's nature. And also because I wasn't having to face Lannister! Interestingly, Alec started the game by playing some Fox's Teeth and another Army. I got out Alannys fairly quickly and put a Support of Harlaw on her. I then began winning some unopposed challenges and was able to use Alannys multiple times per turn, removing 3-4 cards per turn from Alec's hand. As I was discarding cards from his hand, I kept seeing Bodyguards and Army characters. It became obvious that Alec had mulligan-ed into a bad hand heavy on high cost Army's and unusable attachments. I soon made it Winter, got out a pair of Marauders and proceeded to clear the board. And as expected Alec was fun to play with, even using his own Distinct Mastery to stand my Asha so I could mercifully win the game a bit faster with her renown. 4-1
Whew. So I made to the final four. And so did another member of my local meta, Justin! Sweet, two members from my area had now made the final four at the Melee Championships and the Joust Championships! Definitely something for us to be proud of.
But unfortunately, there would not be two members of our meta in the championship game, as Justin and I were paired against each other, while Erick and Matt faced off in the other final four match.
Semifinals - Justin Fox playing Baratheon Summer
These two decks had already squared off 5 times in the previous 18 hours, with my deck going 2-3. We both knew it would likely be a quick game either way, depending on who was able to keep it their "season" longest. With a Samwell in hand, I decided to use my Raven search plot to make it Winter first turn. I had one influence and a Jack of all Trades on the flop and a Confession in hand, so I was going to look at Justin's hand and discard the Black Raven if he had it. Well, he didn't have the Raven, but he did have Samwell and Seductive Promise and a Carrion Bird. It was a very difficult choice, but every game I had lost to Justin was due to Seductive Promise (and stealing my Marauders) so I chose that card. Justin then dropped several cards during his Marshalling phase, including the Carrion Bird and Samwell. When I evaluated my hand, I realized I could stop his Military, and thus stop the Carrion Bird from shuffling my White Raven back to my deck. But it would take me using both of my Sunset Sea's to get both Marauders from hand into play, and using my Distinct Mastery in hand to stand my Jack of all Trades. But then I made a mistake. I discarded my Seas to get both of my Marauders in play, but forgot to kneel an influence with one of the Seas to trigger the Jack to give him a crest so I could stand him with Distinct Mastery. Oh Crap! What a horrible mistake. Justin proceeded to win a Military challenge, and thus shuffling my Raven back into my deck. Bad, bad mistake. But apparently it was my day to be blessed, because I top-decked another White Raven during the next draw phase. Justin had just played a Black Raven, so I discarded that, and my Marauders were back to being board clearing monsters. I eventually cleared the entire board except for King Robert’s Chambers, and moved onto the final game. Justin showed great sportsmanship. I know he wanted to win badly.
Final Game - Erick Butzlaff playing Lanny
So I get my rematch with Erick who had just beaten Matt Ley. It will also mean that of my seven games on the day, I will have faced Lannister five times and Baratheon twice. Crazy. I don't remember a ton of the specifics early in the game. But I do remember I got out Queen Alannys, and proceeded to use her immediately. I think it was the end of the first or second round, right after the standing phase I used Alannys again. Erick had one standing character with higher STR than Alannys that he could kneel, and I felt like his decision could possibly tell me what plot he would play. If he knelt the character, I felt he would Valar. If he discarded a card from hand, I was reasonably sure he wouldn't Valar. I had a Marauders on the board, and it was Winter, and I had a Risen from the Sea in hand, so I was really hoping he would reveal Valar. He knelt the character, I assumed he would Valar, so I revealed a 2 claim plot. He Valar'd, and at that point I felt it was my game. I had more cards in hand, more characters on the table, and a Marauders while it was Winter. That was just too much for Erick to overcome and he conceded during the next round.
Wow, so I had done what no one else had done, won the head-to-head championships twice! So very, very cool. And just like 2004, I won it with a deck I had built the night before. While the deck wasn't perfect (I would remove the Bodyguard and add two more copies of Longship Iron Victory), it definitely seems now that the Valar/Saves combo and the Winter tech worked very well against the field. It might seem like my two months of prep were useless since I used a deck I hardly tested. But there is no doubt that playing against Lanny over and over again prepared me for what I would see, and provided me with insight as to what would be necessary as I built the deck.
Below you will find a decklist. One of the cards that might seem odd to find is the Red Warlock. This card only works in Summer! Well, one of the matchups I feared the most was facing a Summer deck. If they made it Summer I needed to immediately change it back. So the idea (if I had already used my A Time for Ravens plot) was to use Summoning Seasonto get the Red Warlock, marshall it for 5, then go get the White Raven, and make it Winter right away. I never had to worry about this situation, but I definitely wouldn't change it.
Greyjoy - Kings of Winter Agenda
----- Plots (7) avg income: 3.5 -----
A Time for Ravens x1 A Change of Seasons F59
The Winds of Winter x1 The Winds of Winter F40
Summoning Season x1 Core Set B181
The Power of Arms x1 Core Set S200
Valar Morghulis x1 Core Set S201
Rule by Decree x1 Core Set T206
Fury of the Kraken x1 Ancient Enemies F28
----- Characters (28) avg cost: 1.8 -----
* Balon Greyjoy x1 Kings of the Sea F1
* Asha Greyjoy x1 Kings of the Sea F2
* Theon Greyjoy x1 Kings of the Sea F3
* Maester Wendamyr x1 Kings of the Sea F7
Sea Raiders x1 Kings of the Sea F9
* Dagmer Cleftjaw x1 Kings of the Sea F14
Scurvy Cutthroat x1 Kings of the Sea F16
Jack of All Trades x2 Kings of the Sea F46
Island Refugee x3 Refugees of War F88
* Alannys Greyjoy x1 Refugees of War F89
* Samwell Tarly x3 The Raven's Song F66
Wintertime Marauders x3 A Change of Seasons F47
* Mance Rayder x1 The Winds of Winter F33
Carrion Bird x3 The Winds of Winter F35
Red Warlock x1 A Song of Summer F12
* Benjen Stark x1 Core Set S135
* Maester Aemon x1 Core Set T151
Salt Wife x2 Ancient Enemies F36
----- Locations (16) avg cost: 0.5 -----
* Aeron's Chambers x1 Kings of the Sea F24
Sunset Sea x3 Kings of the Sea F25
The Iron Mines x3 Kings of the Sea F27
* Longship Iron Victory x1 Kings of the Sea F28
Gatehouse x3 Kings of the Sea F31
Crossroads x3 Core Set S138
Street of Steel x1 Core Set S139
Street of Sisters x1 Core Set B149
----- Attachments (7) avg cost: 1.2 -----
Support of Harlaw x3 Kings of the Sea F21
White Raven x3 The Winds of Winter F24
Bodyguard x1 Core Set T150
----- Events (11) -----
Risen from the Sea x2 Kings of the Sea F20
The Price of War x2 Kings of the Sea F38
Confession x2 Kings of the Sea F39
Distinct Mastery x3 Core Set S177
To Be a Kraken x2 Sacred Bonds F47
Congrats Greg on your impressive performance in the World Joust Championship, as well as to World Melee Champion Jonathan Benton and Overall World Champion Erick Butzlaff. With their blessing, we’ll make those stories and decklists available to you as well! Stay tuned!
Based on George R.R. Martin's bestselling fantasy epic, A Song of Ice and Fire, A Game of Thrones: The Card Game 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.
Nice report I liked how you gave the key elements of each game without things getting too long. In the semifinals, could you have used Distinct Mastery to stand the Jack of All Trades right after you knelt it for Confession, or am I missing something obvious?
Submitted too quickly, forgot to add great report and congrats.
As a new player, I have been pretty unsuccessful with my Lannister deck. I have added a couple chapter packs and plan to add more, but good to see that the Lannister house is popular among top players.
I very good write up and very smooth final game. I just want to say that for all of us in the "gallery"watching the game it was very considerate of you to hold your cards up so we could see the "action"from a player's perspective. I remember Erick kneeling your Marauders and thinking "Oh man Greg has a Distint Mastery, it's Winter and he has a Price of War in his hand the @#$ is fixing to hit the fan."This in no way reflects on Erick but after you totally decked me in our Legacy game I was glad you beat somebody worse than you beat me. Our Legacy draft game was just as bad but I believe your draft deck could have beaten most of the joust decks. "Why did we let you have so many good cards?" Sad part is I was setting to your left so I gave you 50% of them.
Kudos to an excellant champion and person.
Way to go Dobbler! Great write up as well.
Congrats to one of the nicest guys ever! Wish I could have been there.
congrats again dobs.