News for April 2011
The Direwolf Banner over the City of Shadows: Part One 13
The Chosen Few Tourney Report for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game
A Game of Thrones LCG | Published 21 April 2011

This week we present a special recap of our Chosen Few Proxy Tournament written by A Game of Thrones' lead developer and winner of our staff tournament, Nate French.

Today, we’ll be posting his comments on the first half of the tournament. Tomorrow, we will post the exciting conclusion. Without any further ado, take it away, Nate!

For this tournament, I chose to play Alberto Garcia’s Stark City of Shadows deck. It was a unique and unconventional approach to the House, and it had some serious long term control potential. I also liked the flexibility of the City plot deck, especially with Bran Stark in the mix. Finally, the deck had some crafty card interactions, using the Abandoned Forge to pull Venomous Blades and Seafarer’s Bows, and some nice targets for the bows as well, with both Littlefinger and the Peasant Defenders.

I spent a lot of time in the week we had leading up to the tournament preparing, studying the rest of the field, and playing practice games; I played at least 2 games against each other deck in the field, and at least 4 games against the decks that seemed problematic. There is no substitute for preparation in this game, and when both players have strong decklists and a competent level of talent and play experience, the more prepared player will prevail more often than not.

Prelims, Round 1 (vs. Lukas Litzsinger, playing Gilles Oth’s Neutral House with Summer Agenda)

Going into the tournament, my general feeling from the practice games I played in the week leading up to the event was “I hope I don’t have to play against the Neutral Summer deck, and someone else is able to knock it out.” So it comes as no surprise that I draw this matchup in the very first round. Such is competition.

The biggest threat this deck offers us is the abundance of “take control” effects it has in its arsenal. Men With No King is the ace against our deck, as many key cards in the City of Shadows are run as neutrals or out of House, the most important ones being King’s Landing, Alchemist’s Guildhall, and The Black Cells. The Destitute Horde is also problematic, in that they like to steal our Weapon attachments. Finally, Seductive Promise seems threatening on first glance, but my juiciest non-unique targets are the Silent Sisters and the Peasant Defenders, both of which have a printed STR of 2 or less, so I can punish the traitors with a Venomous Blade.

A key upside in this matchup is I know that sooner or later my opponent is going to make it Summer, so I don’t need to be quite as concerned about my long term gold production as I do in other games. This is extremely helpful in that it helps me play around Fleeing to the Wall.

So the game really is about limiting the potential of the Men With No King, and doing everything I can to attack his hand (pulling or threatening to pull Reinforcements events), and also using City of Spies to attack his deck and hopefully discard more of these painful event cards. In the early game, I try to play as much as possible with my Stark affiliated cards (Littlefinger, Catelyn, Arya, Jorah, and the Peasant Defenders do the bulk of the heavy lifting), and I only use the “lesser” non-Stark things like the Silent Sisters, the Pyromancer’s Apprentice, Abandoned Forge, and Syrio. If I can tempt him into stealing one of these targets, that’s one less Reinforcements card to worry about. My key cards such as King’s Landing, the Alchemist’s Guildhall, The Black Cells, Tyrion, and the Queen of Thorns will wait in Shadows until the ranks of Reinforcements have been cleared a bit, his hand size has shrunk, and the Men With No King have fallen.

The most interesting moment in this game came several rounds in, during the plot phase. Bran Stark had been on the board for a few turns, and he was driving my City plots to cause all kinds of mischief. I was looking at my plots, trying to decide on the best course of action, when Lukas said, “I can’t believe I’m halfway through my deck and I still haven’t seen a single Milk of the Poppy.” With no attachment control in my deck, Milk of the Poppy is a death sentence for Bran, and his comment gave me a sense it was time to roll the dice. His board was basically knelt out, so I played City of Spiders to copy City of Spies, looking at the top 3 cards of his deck. Sure enough, Milk of the Poppy was in the batch, and discarding it gave Bran a couple more rounds of action, during which I was able to win the game.

Prelims, Round 2 (vs. Damon Stone, playing Dan Strouhal’s Lannister Deck)

This is a tough deck, but one against which we matchup fairly well. The Lannisters are running both King’s Landing trait locations and Shadows cards with Alchemist’s Guildhall, and the game plays out with both of these fronts as a double-edged sword. My goal in the game is to take advantage of both situations (play King’s Landing trait locations early and often, and get the Guildhall’s King’s Landing, and Black Cells out ASAP so that I have the edge every time either of us brings a card out of Shadows), and use the kill potential of the City plots and/or Milk of the Poppy to neutralize Joffrey, who is Damon’s best chance at claiming power against our deck, as he cannot be controlled by kneeling or the triggered effects of my locations.

Another advantage I have in this matchup is that the Lannister deck is running both Valar and Wildfire, which means with 3 resets (counting my own Wildfire) there will almost never be a lot of characters in play at once. This makes my repeatable control effects (Black Cells, Alchemist’s Guildhall, Venomous Blade, and the City plot deck) more and more effective as the game goes on, especially after his one-shot control (Enemy Informer, A Lannister Pays His Debts, Aerys Oakheart, Death by Payne) has been spent. Taking this one step further, I almost always choose Shadow characters to live and kill off non-Shadow characters for Wildfire Assaults and military claim, as a board of only Shadow characters neutralizes his best repeatable control effect (Alchemist’s Guildhall), which cannot target Shadow cards.

In the game, Damon got off to a good start with a well-protected Joffrey, who also had multiple icons through attachments, and he was gathering some early power on him that I couldn’t really prevent. I was able to break through with the claim 2 on City of Soldiers on the round Damon played Valar (Bran, Brienne, and Littlefinger were starting to hurt), knocking the protection off Joffrey and putting him in a position where he needed at least 2 additional characters on board to protect Joff. I brought Syrio out of Shadows in the draw phase, and with only 4 gold Damon played a Cersei’s attendant and placed a card in Shadows. I marshaled second, dropped a few characters, then he brought his own Syrio out of Shadows at the beginning of the challenges phase. I was able to counter with a Venomous Blade, killing Syrio, winning the claim 2 mil, and then he was left with no Joff, no characters on board, and an already spent Valar, so the game was effectively over.

Thanks, Nate! Check back tomorrow to finish reading about the exciting events that occurred during the Chosen Few Proxy Tournament!

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.

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Comments (13)

Published: 10/27/2011 11:49:51 AM

sabrefox - the City of Shadows Agenda lets you ignore that deckbuilding restriction for Shadows cards.

Published: 8/11/2011 5:25:48 AM

 Would really love to see more write-ups about deck-building strategies and developer design diaries. Really adds to the depth of the game community, and would keep us continually interested! Good joB!

Published: 7/22/2011 11:01:52 AM

I'm just starting to get into the game with a friend of mine and I'm reviewing all the info out there about this game.  I liked reading this article to get more insight into deck-building, but based on what I've read so far, something seems incorrect about the City of Shadows deck.  If it is a Stark house deck, why is The Black Cells card allowed to be in it, since it clearly states "House Baratheon only".  If anyone can enlighten me, I'd certainly appreciate it.

Published: 4/25/2011 7:46:29 PM

 Great summary Nate - best writeup/strategy analysis I've seen yet on the boards.  Very helpful stuff in there for new players and veterans alike

Published: 4/22/2011 10:17:41 AM

Very interesting! 

Published: 4/22/2011 5:36:26 AM

Great article. Insightful and exciting.

Published: 4/22/2011 3:13:08 AM

I don't think this is a reaction to the community's dismay at the lack of developer articles. They had a special tourney; naturally they have a write-up on it. I highly doubt this is indicative of any change of policy with regards to developer articles.


Published: 4/21/2011 11:18:04 PM

 Great article...looking forward to more like this one in the future!

Mathias Fricot
Published: 4/21/2011 9:54:40 PM

Exactly what we were talking about seeing more of. If there is one thing I like about FFG, its that you actually respond to rather than ignore the community's issues. Plus, I just really wanted to see how the tournament went.

Uncle Joker
Published: 4/21/2011 8:19:29 PM

 Well prepared.

Nice article.

Waiting for the part 2.

Published: 4/21/2011 7:48:41 PM

Totally awesome to see an article like this. Thanks FFG.

Published: 4/21/2011 6:19:57 PM

Very fun read. I'm loving the combination of Bran and City plots. Looking forward to tomorrow for the continuation.

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