A short tournament report from Stahleck:
Once again I played Targaryen Knights of the Hollow Hill as I did last year. My deck runs quite a lot of different cards than John Bruno's deck, but I liked his plots and decided to run those. In the end, I almost made top 8 of my group (“The Eyrie”, 1st group on the list published earlier) with a 4-2 (1 modified win) in Swiss, finishing in the 11th place of the group after all.
Although there were some complaints by other players about matches being decided early on, I really enjoyed most of my games. Two of those were epic grinding matches with 9+ plots being played.
Round one against Stark (can't remember agenda) guy from Portugal. I was quite nervous and made a lot of mistakes. However, after he was ahead for quite some time, the Targ KotHH attrition machine finally took him down. Aegon's Hill was just brutal in this match. The decisive moment I believe was when the Hill killed a Meera in his hand while he had another one in the shadows. When time was called (after 13 plots!) I thought I could reach 15 power in the last round, but had not considered his Burning Bridges, which meant I could not discard Frozen Solid on Meraxes with my Dragon Thief and win dominance in addition to several unopposed challenges. Modified win with 14-something power.
Second round against a player from Germany with Lannister Maester's Path. I had a very curious opening hand with 3 Much and More, allowing me to “custom built” my starting hand from top 12 cards of my deck, filling my opponent's hand with useless cards and then discarding 6 cards from his hand with Rule by decree. I killed his smaller Maesters with Flame Kissed and luckily he never drew a Conclave. This game was decided early on, I guess as I won after 3 or 4 plots with 15-0.
Third round I faced one tough Spanish Stark Kings of Winter player. He had a good start and stayed ahead the entire game, but I resisted for 8 plots. My first turn First Snow was outfoxed by his Forgotten Plans. Thus I had to Valar early, which allowed him to flood the table afterwards. He also played Nymeria on one of his Riders of the Red Fork, which also is immune to events and thus was nigh unkillable for me. He became uneasy when the game dragged on and Aegon's Hill decimated his hand. However, in the end my 2nd Valar could not kill his Rider with Nymeria, which was even joined by another top-deck Northern Cavalry Flank, resulting in a solid 15-6 victory for him.
In game four my Italian opponent, who called himself a “crazy player” ran a Martell house card with no agenda. Fearing a first turn Manning the City Walls with Viper's Bannermen, I revealed Waste their Time, hoping to discard the alleged Bannermen. What I found was a hand full of Sandsnakes and No use for Grief ! After that, I played very carefully around his combo, discarded his (non-immune) Red Viper with a pre-plot Hatchling's Feast followed by Threat from the North. In the end, the game ended 15-0. He told me afterwards that a round earlier, a Targ player went right into the trap by killing the Red Viper as soon as it hit the table.
Game five was the match of the day for me against the Spanish winner of the Battle at the Wall 2012, Metamagos with a Stark Maester deck. As Threat from the North is restricted now, fortunately he could not play his “discard all but 1 card combo” anymore. Actually, a pre-plot Much and More from my side allowed me to discard four cards from HIS hand. I had an early Aegon's Hill and killed the maesters on his hands as well as those on the table, but he was still able to claim 15 power and remove 7 of his 8 chains over the course of the next five or six plots, however. My Aegon's Hill was discarded by A City Besieged, but luckily I drew another one. And my opponent still had that one chain on his agenda, not having any more maesters in his hand or in play. He was frantically searching for a maester with Harrenhal when I began to take over the game with two dragons and the Golden Company. But he had a Northern Cavalry Flank in play, joined by Shadow Arya who would just soak my claim. Due to the deadly of the Flanks, I could not reasonably block them. But then the Golden Company won an intrigue challenge, claimed renown and returned an Incinerate at random from my discard pile to my hand. Arya was incinerated and forced back into shadows. Then Drogon stealthed the Flank and killed it next. I now was at 8 power + 2 on the Company. When I drew Rhaegal, my opponent congratulated me and this 50 minute match was decided in my favour with a 15-14 or something victory. So the Maester's Path does have a drawback after all, does it not ?
After feeling high after game five, in game six I suddenly felt very tired. My Spanish opponent (r480 from this board) with Greyjoy Maester's Path just wiped the floor with me. Fellow Austrian player Gerhard Lanzinger had already told me of his horrible defeat by a Greyjoy deck that “cancels everything”. And this was my experience, too. I had to Valar early to take out some Maesters and Hightower, but then over the course of the next three plots, he put two Conclaves, Alannys “Cancel” Grejoy, Asha Greyjoy and Maester Murenmure with Horn of Dragons and Euron Crows Eye into play. They were protected by Iron Mines, Finger Games and I have never felt so helpless with my Targaryen deck ever before. It was over soon with a 15-3 victory for him.
As I have to attend family business today, I decided to leave after not qualifying for TOP 32. Stahleck 2012 was a blast again for me and I look forward to return next year!