“The Others take your mild snows,” Robert swore. “What will this place be like in winter? I shudder to think.”
–George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
This past weekend, dozens and dozens of brave souls trekked north through the sleet and snow, making their way to Roseville, MN and the FFG Event Center where they participated in Days of Ice and Fire 2013.
Though the weather outside was unpleasant, the weekend’s events were festive and well attended. Participants enjoyed pick-up games of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, sampled the new A Feast for Crows expansion for A Game of Thrones: The Board Game Second Edition, learned to play Battles of Westeros, and tested their wits during our trivia contest (won by House Blackfyre).
Teams wracking their brains during the trivia contest and winners, House Blackfyre.
Still, the weekend’s biggest draws were its two tournaments – our Days of Ice and Fire tournament for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, and our first-ever tournament for A Game of Thrones: The Board Game Second Edition.
A Game of Thrones: The Card Game
Forty players competed in Friday evening’s Melee tournament. All of the Great Houses were well represented, though the most popular were Greyjoy, Stark, and Targaryen. In fact, a number of Targaryen Dragon decks got off to fantastic starts, flying through their opposition in the early rounds, but the later rounds all went to House Greyjoy, as six of the top eight players supported the Krakens, including three of the tournament’s top four and eventual Melee and Overall Champion, David Bergstrom.
Participants in the Days of Ice and Fire 2013 Melee tournament.
Top 8 - Melee
1) David Bergstrom: Greyjoy – No Agenda (Aeron Damphair) – Superior Claim
2) Gerald Crane: Greyjoy – No Agenda (Aeron Damphair) – No Restricted Card
3) Tim Collins: Greyjoy – House of Dreams – No Restricted Card
4) Bradley Ring: Stark – The Siege of Winterfell – No Restricted Card
5) Anthony Christie: Martell – No Agenda (Quentyn Martell) – The Red Viper
6) John Pauly: Greyjoy – No Agenda (Aeron Damphair) – Make an Example
7) Dan Seefeldt: Greyjoy – Kings of Winter – Fear of Winter
8) Daniel Richards: Greyjoy – Black Sails – Make an Example
David shared his thoughts about the Melee:
“In Melee, speed is everything. I chose to play a Greyjoy deck focused on unopposed challenges because I had played it before with success and I knew it could amass a large amount of power in a single challenge phase. The combination of Support of Harlaw (Kings of the Sea, 21) and Iron Fleet Captain (Chasing Dragons, 49) coupled with power claim events such as Assault of the Kraken (Kings of the Sea, 17) and Superior Claim (Kings of the Storm, 47) proved to be extremely explosive.”
In fact, the explosive combination of those four cards propelled David to victory at the final table:
“After the first round, the final table of melee was extremely tense. I had managed to procure a measly one power thanks to a Captain of the Iron Fleet (The Grand Melee, 30), and we had all lost an Epic Battle created by War of the Five Kings (Refugees of War, 99). We shuffled up the plots and selected them at random. My opponents revealed two Fury plots and a River plot. I was lucky enough to reveal my Take Them by Surprise (Lords of Winter, 52) and win the initiative. At this point, the Stark player had amassed nine power and was threatening to run away with the game, so I chose to make him the last player, which made me the third player. My draw was extremely good, resulting in a bunch of weenies and two Iron Fleet Captains and two copies of Support of Harlaw! After a good round of discussion, the three Greyjoy players decided to take some power from the Stark and hopefully survive to the next round. However, during my challenges, I won an unopposed power challenge with the Iron Fleet Captains, stood them, played Superior Claim, played Assault of the Kraken, won an unopposed power challenge with the Iron Fleet captains, stood them, and played another Superior Claim! This was followed up by an unopposed military challenge for a total of thirteen power! That put me at fourteen power with about twenty strength worth of weenies standing ready to claim dominance and the game for the Iron Islands!”
Melee Top 4 from left to right: David Bergstrom, Bradley Ring, Tim Collins, and Gerald Crane
David carried his success in the Melee forward into the Joust, where he competed with fifty-two other players. Again, the tournament featured all the Houses and a wide variety of deck types, including several successful decks built around the new agenda, The Long Voyage (The Pirates of Lys, 60).
Participants in the Days of Ice and Fire 2013 Joust tournament.
Top 8 - Joust
1) Chad Baumgardt: Martell – The Long Voyage – The Viper’s Bannermen
2) David Bergstrom: Stark – No Agenda– Meera Reed
3) Myron Mychal: Stark – The Long Voyage – Meera Reed
4) Gerald Crane: Lannister – City of Shadows – Venomous Blade
5) Mark MacLennan: Lannister – City of Shadows – Castellan of the Rock
6) Jeremiah Duggan: Stark – The Maester’s Path – The Maester’s Path
7) Anthony Christie: Martell – No Agenda (Quentyn Martell) – The Viper’s Bannermen
8) John Pauly: Baratheon – The Long Voyage – Search and Detain
Joust Champion Chad Baumgardt explains how he arrived at the decision to utilize The Long Voyage:
“After competing in Worlds, I hadn’t really played too many games before Days of Ice and Fire. With the update to the restricted list, I felt that you could build at least one top-tier deck from every House. I followed the European tournament results and talked with the usual suspects – Erick Butzlaff, Dan Seefeldt, and Corey Faherty – to see what they felt were the best decks. We had a modified version of our Stark Winter deck from Worlds that was still performing well that I was going to play until two days prior to the tournament when Miguel Tarin posted a deck that ran The Long Voyage out of House Martell. Nobody likes drawing cards more than me, and Miguel’s Martell deck drew a lot of cards. After Erick played a few games and told me the deck wasn’t any good, I decided to prove him wrong and played the deck with about five cards changed from Miguel’s list.”
The extra draws that Chad gained from his agenda helped him sail through the Swiss rounds, including a very close and interesting game in the first round when he played against a Targaryen deck that loaded Viserys (Kings of the Sea, 36) with attachments. After the first round, his opponent had managed to play ten attachments and gain one power, putting her just four power away from victory. However, with The Songs of Bael the Bard (A King in the North, 100), Chad was able to give Viserys the Ally trait and then discard him with Ser Arys Oakheart (Princes of the Sun, 9).
After making the cut to the Top 16, Chad played against a Lannister deck running The Power Behind the Throne (Lions of the Rock, 48), a Lannister deck running City of Shadows (City of Secrets, 20), and a Stark deck running The Long Voyage. That semi-final match pitted Chad not only against the Starks but against fellow Wisconsin meta-mate, Myron Mychal. Not only had the two traveled to the tournament together, they had played against each other in the fourth round of Swiss pairings, so they headed into the match fully aware of each other’s decks and strategies.
Chad Baumgardt considers a play against Myron Mychal in the Joust semifinals.
Chad explained how his strong early hand forced Myron to play aggressively and walk into his Valar Morghulis (Core Set, 201):
“I had two Maester of the Sun (A Song of Summer, 14), Samwell Tarly (The Raven’s Song, 66), and a Black Raven (A Song of Summer, 2), and I had put The Viper’s Bannermen (Princes of the Sun, 16) into play via Manning the City Walls (Chasing Dragons, 60). Forced to match my board presence, Myron played all but three cards in his hand. On the next round, I aggressively played my Valar Morghulis, and Myron played Outwit (The Isle of Ravens, 80). Had I not known his list, I would’ve been in rough shape. However, I knew Myron was running Outwit, so I made sure I was able to use He Calls It Thinking (Princes of the Sun, 21) to cancel the response.”
Chad’s victory carried him to the championship match, where he was scheduled to face David Bergstrom. However, David had already won the Melee and the Overall titles, and in a moment of good sportsmanship, he conceded the final to Chad, who was then able to drive home before the worst of the snow began to fall.
Days of Ice and Fire 2013 Melee and Overall Champion David Bergstrom
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game Second Edition
Saturday afternoon saw the launch of our first-ever tournament for A Game of Thrones: The Board Game Second Edition. Despite the adversity provided by rain, sleet, and slippery roads, twenty-eight players arrived to vie for the Iron Throne. Players used the scenario and components from the game’s new A Feast for Crows Print on Demand expansion, and after three rounds of Swiss play, the tournament’s top four players met to crown a new king.
In the final match, House Arryn, played by Chris Willett, took an aggressive stance from the start, winning an early lead, but his attempt to wrest King’s Landing from Dan Bullock’s House Baratheon cost him a siege force. Then, after Chris had played his strongest cards in earlier battles, Kyal Brandt’s Starks pounced upon an opportunity to destroy Chris’s ships and remove his naval presence for the remainder of the game.
Kyal said, “I was a little bit surprised when Arryn took White Harbor, but it gave me an opening to strike his fleet and was a big turning point in the game. After that, it was just a matter of holding off the attacks that I knew would come, and I spread out to several regions in order to ensure the tie-breaker would be in my favor. I knew that could be important since a couple of the earlier games I played went to the tie-breaker.” In fact, Kyal’s anticipation of the tie-breaker was crucial. Even though his strike against Chris’s fleet gave him command of the game, Kyal still needed the tie-breaker to overcome Chris, who managed to overcome his losses and reach seven points by the game's end.
With his victory, Kyal clinched the championship, and Chris moved up to third place, losing second to Taylor Kutchen, who had a higher strength of schedule.
Kyal Brandt pushes House Stark to victory in the A Feast for Crows tournament
Top 4 (House during finals)
1) Kyal Brandt (Stark)
2) Taylor Kutchen (Lannister)
3) Chris Willett (Arryn)
4) Dan Bullock (Baratheon)
A few of the finalists shared their thoughts about the tournament and the A Feast for Crows expansion, in general.
Dan confirmed that the event was worth his journey, even in the cold and wet weather. “The event was really fun. I trekked to the tournament from Milwaukee, so I wasn’t able to stick around much on Sunday given the weather. But I met lots of folks from all over. The new expansion was excellent. The tournament system worked pretty well. Every game requires a different strategy to complement the House and the other players at the table.”
Taylor said, “I really enjoyed the new expansion; it brings a completely new feel to the game. Your goals in the game are now more determined by objectives rather than just castles, so the play style is a little different. Objectives are a big change, and I thought they were really well designed and very balanced for all the houses. Overall, I think it’s a great edition to the core game.” He also added that one of the highlights of the tournament was having the chance to share his thoughts about the games with the other players. “Every game had highlights, and one of the greatest parts of playing A Game of Thrones: The Board Game is standing around the table after and discussing with the other players what happened, what went wrong, what mistakes were made, and what you would do next time.”
Kyal said that he was looking forward to the next event, whenever it takes place. “I would definitely play in a future tournament. Just tell me when and where to sign up! I really enjoyed playing against the quality competition.”
Finally, Chris noted how he was pleasantly surprised by the overall tenor of the tournament, and the friendliness of everyone involved. “I didn’t understand how the scoring and such would work when I started playing, but I didn't care either. I was just there to have fun. Once I won the first game, I started to care about the format, but not too much. My favorite part of the tournament was not knowing whatever was planned for the winners. It was a carefree thing. Fun was the most important thing at the tournament, and that's what mattered to me.”
Thanks, guys! We’re glad you enjoyed the event, and we hope to see you back in the future.
From left to right: Taylor Kutchen, Chris Willett, Dan Bullock, and Kyal Brandt
We want to thank everyone who attended Days of Ice and Fire 2013 for adding some warmth to our cold and wet spring weekend, and we hope to see all of you next year. In the meantime, scratch your gaming itch by joining us in a couple weeks for our three-day celebration of Star Wars–themed gaming, the Star Wars Game Experience. Or free your calendar for the weekend of November 7th – 10th to join us at the FFG World Championship Weekend for top-level, international tournaments for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game and other games. We’ll see you soon!