A Game of Thrones LCG – Ballarat Store Championship

Yesterday was Good Games Ballarat’s turn to hold their A Game of Thrones LCG Store Championship. In contrast to most of the stores running the championship, GGB chose to run the event using the newly released Draft format for A Game of Thrones. Thirteen players competed for the prize and – much to my amazement – I walked away in first place.

There’s also no doubt in my mind that the draft format is fantastic for the game. It’s extremely challenging, and a format I found far better than even Magic: the Gathering drafts. I really had to think about how I was playing my deck, and so much of the game came down to play skill and the little decisions you make. Two of the games I won from behind – the final I came back from being only 5 power to Jon’s 13 – and I’m very much looking forward to playing more games in this format. And yes, this was my first time playing AGoT in a draft format.

I was helped greatly by a general dislike of Greyjoy by the other players in the event, and my own experience playing that house. The deck I ended up drafting wasn’t all that dissimilar to ones I’ve played, so some of the tactics were very familiar to me. However, what really swung things my way were the plot cards I drafted – they proved to give that extra something I needed when things were looking bleak.

Here’s the actual deck list. Unlike normal AGoT decks, this one is 40 cards and with only 5 plot cards.

Greyjoy Draft deck

House (1) 
House Greyjoy (Core) x1

Character (24) 
Scurvy Cutthroat (KotS) x1 
Kingsmoot Hopeful (FtC) x2 
Ancient Mariner (SaS) x2 
Maester Wendamyr (KotS) x1 
Oldtown Scholar (FtC) x1 
High Septon (LotR) x1 
Knights of the Storm (KotStorm) x1 %
Newly Made Lord (TftH) x2 
Aeron Damphair (KotS) x2 
Sea Raiders (KotS) x2 
Drowned Disciple (KotS) x2 
Doubting Septa (LotR) x1 %
Balon Greyjoy (KotS) x1 
Arianne Martell (PotS) x1 %
Rhaegal (QoD) x1 %
Quentyn Martell (TGF) x1 %
Alannys Greyjoy (ODG) x1 
Damphair’s Drowned (FaI) x1

Location (10) 
Sunset Sea (Core) x1 *
The Iron Mines (KotS) x1 
The Searoad (KotStorm) x3 *
The Roseroad (KotStorm) x3 *
Naval Escort (ASitD) x1 
Longship Iron Victory (KotS) x1

Event (3) 
Risen from the Sea (KotS) x2 
Wars Are Won with Quills (PotS) x1

Attachment (3) 
Northern Steel (TBoBB) x1 %
Poisoned Knife (ASoSilence) x1 %
Milk of the Poppy (Core) x1

Plot (5) 
Wildfire Assault (Core) x1 *
Alliance (PotS) x1 *
Negotiations at the Great Sept (TPoL) x1 
Above the Sorrows (VM) x1 
The Power of Faith (KotStorm) x1

I’ve marked with asterisks the cards that came from the draft starter. The deck had ten Limited cards in it – the roads, the two Sea Raiders and the two Kingsmoot Hopefuls. These occasionally made it quite difficult to play cards quickly. I’ve also marked with %s the cards that are out-of-faction. These are the cards that I needed Alliance to play. Alliance, with its four gold, also was one of my few “good gold” agendas – the rest were three or two gold each. Getting the roads out was quite important!

I’m not going to go into the games I played in much detail, as I’m not good at remembering the individual details. A few highlights, however…

Match 1 vs Jade – This one was close. Jade was on 13 power when I won the match, and it very nearly went the other way. As a first match of the tournament, I really thought my deck wasn’t going to be able to handle any other deck after this one – the power bonus from Longship Iron Victory pulled me through.

Match 2 vs Josh–A new player to the game, he came out strongly, but Wildfire Assault plus the Longship allowed me to take control, especially once my two-claim plots (Above the Sorrows and Negotiations at the Great Sept) allowed me to hurt him more than he could hurt me! Things got particularly nasty when he played two copies of Taste for Blood and so gained two power every time I won a challenge… even if I wasn’t gaining any power from it because he’d opposed me! With a number of dangerous Martell “I can hurt you effects”, I had to be especially careful in this game; Josh had Area Hotah in play for most of the game, so if I won a challenge by 4 or more, I’d lose a character! Having Stealth characters helped, but I wasn’t afraid to lose challenges if it caused him to kneel blockers. Eventually Alannys allowed me to attack without fear. A very challenging game!

Match 3 vs Sarah – This was the only game in which I played Poisoned Knife, but it proved extremely effective as I placed it on a Drowned Disciple and then revealed The Power of Faith the next turn. For those unfamiliar with the Knife, it gives the character holding it stealth, and then causing the opponent to pay 1 gold or influence to prevent their evaded character from being discarded. The Power of Faith allowed me to attack three times with the Disciple; Sarah could stop one of her characters from being discarded, but she lost two more (and then a third to the military claim), which set her back a long way. However, she began to make her way back in… but the effects of two-claim plots was again decisive.

Match 4 vs Jon – As I mentioned before, at one point I was sitting with 5 power, Jon was on 13, and he had one character on about 8 Strength and another on 7 Strength. I thought I was done for, as did a couple of other players passing by. How did I get out of it? Once again, the two-claim plots. I had enough characters to block Jon’s attacks – he had already played Wildfire, but I had enough low-cost characters to refill the table. Negotiations and Longship Iron Victory were giving me great card advantage as well. Jon had only one two-claim plot, Feast or Famine, and that was already played. So his power gain was slow – about one or two a turn. Meanwhile, I had Arianne Martell, attacking to steal 3 power from Jon. Jon also didn’t have the characters to defend and attack, so I was slowly pegging him back whilst gaining power myself.

Even then, Jon almost got the victory; we both reached 14 power. However, Jon had no cards left in hand and no cancels. I revealed Wildfire Assault for my final plot of the game, killed my Quentyn Martell, and took the two power I needed for victory.

It was a tremendously difficult game. I ended it with 4 cards left in my draw deck. Negotiations at the Great Sept was triggered twice – both times when I had one card in hand, and the second time Jon was out of cards.

It’s worth noting that I had a few bomb cards that were out-of-faction: Rhaegal, Knights of the Storm, Quentyn Martell and especially Arianne Martell. Later in the game, I didn’t even need Alliance to play them due to the large number of gold-producing roads that would hit the table, but a first turn Alliance was often played – both by me and my opponent.

The cards I drafted but didn’t use are also notable. Here they are:

Character (4) 
Hired Swords (QoD) x1 
Guard at Riverrun (LoW) x1 
Trident Reinforcements (Core) x1 
Acolyte of the Flame (TWH) x1

Location (1) 
The Iron Throne (ASitD) x1

Event (5) 
I’m You Writ Small (Core) x1 
Heart of the Stag (KotStorm) x1 
Die by the Sword (LoW) x3

Attachment (3) 
Poisoned Wine (Core) x2 
Poisoned Knife (ASoSilence) x1

Plot (1) 
Rally Cry (TBG) x1

Yes, I drafted three Die by the Swords… which I so would have loved to play, but I had only one or two characters with Military Crests – and all out of faction. I was sad about that. For the final game against Jon, I replaced Wars are Won with Quills with one Die by the Sword, but the Knights got discarded and so I was never able to play it. And I also drafted four plot cards. Rally Cry was too problematic to play – especially as I was often the player with the most cards, thanks to Negotations and the Longship.

With only five plot cards, Wildfire was almost certain to go off, and it definitely hurt when it did. Likewise, Negotiations once was the fifth plot in a turn where it helped my opponent far more than me! You’ve got to be careful with these sorts of cards – Valar Morghulis was nowhere in sight in this tournament, but it is very, very dangerous to play with.

The top five players were all my regular sparring partners in Game of Thrones – Nash, Sarah, Jon and Jesse – with Sarah just ending up in 5th place on tiebreakers. I got a really nice playmat and an even nicer plaque for my win. We’ll see what I end up doing with it. J

Many thanks to Good Games Ballarat for running the event and to everyone who turned up. I hope you enjoyed your games.

And the day ended with a really good game of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons – I had nine players at my table! Yeah, days don’t get much better than this!

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