My first GenCon was a sweet experience. I had no idea what to expect, but when I first walked into the exhibit hall I was filled with excitement--so many games, so little time. The guy in the teenage mutant ninja turtle costume was quite impressive. It was entirely made of balloons.
Before discussing the Agot results and my thoughts on the game, I have to thank Corey and Erick who taught me how to play this game competitively before worlds last year. Getting beaten repeatedly for months by them is the best Gencon prep anyone could ask for. Also, I would like to thank Corey for building decks with me all summer; we built 3 or 4 decks that we thought could be competitive from every house--only to find out we were wrong almost every time. Because I am hyper-competitive, I can't discuss the exact decks I played (card for card), but I will say that it isn't just a Martell Quentyn Joust Deck--it is THE Martell Quentyn Joust deck, and all other Quentyn decks are sub-par. I know this because I playtested extensively all summer; probably more than anyone in the world.
This next part is slightly emo--I move across country to San Francisco this Thursday. So this gencon victory was bittersweet, and felt like an end to an entire year of hanging out with friends in the DC meta and working on thrones over and over and over. I have a lot of friends in DC and they are kind of separated into three groups--thrones friends and former work friends and my girlfriends' friends (to a lesser extent). Even though I have only known the thrones friends for less than 1 year now, I feel like they are some of my closest friends in this city. That is a testament to the game and the bonds that it helps form. Ok. I'll stop being emo now.
Melee -- Stark Siege -- 1st place
Most people would say melee is a joke (like Sandy did when he belittled my melee title at the bar even after I bought him a Jameson) and I would tend to agree. I won because of luck and a coinflip by Jim at the final table. Jim (and Danigral) was in a king making position between me and my friend Chad J. I won the coin flip and won the overall. This is the luck part of melee. The skill part comes in deckbuilding. You can make a deck that will Top 16 in melee every time. Which is what my deck was designed to do--make Top 16. From there, anything can happen.
The funniest part of melee was my first table with Darknoj. I had never met him before but it was a pleasure. It was a three person table that he won, but it was me, him and a girl whose name I can't remember, who I am not sure how old she was. Anyways, these melee tables were double-wide, too wide, and Darknoj and I were sitting on one side and she was sitting on the other side and the game only lasted 1 plot. He and I spent the entire first plot just trying to tell this girl who to help win--I felt kind of bad, but it is funny in retrospect. I ended up losing because he is more convincing than I am, and his dragons benefited from epic battles perfectly.
Joust -- 2nd place -- Martell No Agenda
The Swiss rounds involved a bunch of games that were about 10 minutes long. I had a notable mirror matches versus Dusty (swhiteboy) and Rick which were a bit longer but I won. I was 5 and 0 heading into game 6 where I played against Tim who eventually beat me at the final table.
Game 6: Me (5-0) v Tim (5-0) (Martell v Martell) - We were playing card for card the same deck (I think). The night before we all knew that our biggest competition would be martell quentyn so we all added secret tech to the deck to tech each other. He just seemed to have all the answers, and he calls it thinking's for days. Loss. (5-1)
Top 16 - Me v Benton (Martell v Targ KOTHH) - Benton was playing a version of targ kothh that Corey and I had kind of built in playtesting. It had golden tooth mines and meraxses for draw and even a crone or two. Unfortunately for him, I invoked my anti targ strategy right from the start--molest their hand. I pummeled him with intrigue challenges and limited his options. Also, I ensured to kneel out every turn so he would win dominance to keep my power rush going.
Top 8 - Me v Sorry I forget your name (Martell v Martell) - This wasn't a mirror match as he was playing more knights and more house dayne stuff--and muster--which is a bad card. Turn 1 I had double bannerman and by the middle of turn 3 he shook hands with me. He never really got off to a good start. So I spent the next 40 minutes seeing who would win between Erick and Tim in the martell mirror match to make the top 4 (it was obviously tim).
Top 4 - Me v Chris (playing greyjoy winter choke no agenda) - This was the closest match that I won all day. Chris is a gamer--through and through. He knows what he is doing more than any other opponent I played and I could tell. I think if he would have beaten me he would have taken the whole tournament down--which is no offense to Tim who won it all, but Tim basically won it all with no practice, while I practiced extensively (50 plus games) against all the greyjoy builds we could think of this summer. Chris understands the subtler points of the game--which is lost on most inexperienced players, and only gained from playing against top players and asking them why they do what they do.
Anyways, Chris was dominant and came out fast, but with no wintertime marauders. That is the key card to the deck to apply pressure and without those it becomes significantly harder. If you watch the video when they post it, you will see a critical turn where I attack power with the bannerman and he blocks with his character agenda. I then bounce it with arianne mid challenge. He briefly, very briefly, puts the card in his hand and then puts it back on the table and tries to cancel with kerwin. I don't let him take it back. This may be seen as a **** move. But it is a top 4 table in a big tournament, and I just needed that play to happen or I may have lost the whole thing.
I made a few other mistakes this game too, because both boards were filled with characters and no one was valaring. Had he stopped me from getting to 15 on the 5th plot, he would have been able to valar plot 6 and draw 3 cards from his agenda and he would have been right back in it. In the end, it was my most difficult non-mirror match.
One of the keys to the game is winning initiative against a time for ravens on turn 1. For you newer players, my advice to you is to not let a choke player marshall first--it is just bad business for you.
Final Game - Me v Tim rematch of the top 2 seeds.
I had experience over him and I thought I had the edge in this matchup. But anything can happen in a mirror match, and I clearly didn't have what it takes to win melee, joust and overall all in one tournament. There will be a video of this match so I don't need to go into detail. Congrats to Tim for taking it down after we just handed him the deck the night before. Very impressive.
So my two losses of the day were to my own deck. Fair enough. That is the drawback of playing the same deck as your friends--you might not get the glory for yourself. I tried to come up with a secret better deck than the Martell before gencon, but it wasn't to be. That house of dreams drawback is too steep.
Thoughts on the game - I got the card design and the overall trophy, so that is pretty awesome. I would like to make a card that makes control more viable. I think it is bad for the game that a first turn high claim intrigue with a decent board position all but wins you the game. If anyone watched my matches all day you would have seen what I mean. If control becomes more consistent, player skill will be more important. It won't be a game of simply getting a fast start and keeping your lead. I think the cards at your command mechanic coming out will also help fix this issue that I have with the game. I love the game, and I think it is improving and moving in the right direction.
props - To the DC meta. You guys are awesome, and sometimes we get a bad rap which is probably deserved. It sucks that you guys are losing your best player in me. I can't wait to move to San Francisco and build a new meta, the right way.
Francisco G. - Making that flight--that shows dedication to the game. I hope to see you again some day.
Darknoj - You had me fooled on the morning of the joust. You said you were playing the crouching tiger, hidden weapon deck. I quickly ran to a dark corner of the convention hall to look up the list and figure out what I would do against it. When I heard you were playing greyjoy I chuckled to myself--you got me bro. Also, props to countering siege decks with the dragons. Well done all around.
Dusty - You and the NC guys are awesome. Hopefully, I'll be able to visit you guys next year for your regional, but it is a longgg way from San Fran.
Jim - Playing candy crush at the final melee table--Like a Boss. Thanks for helping me win; Collusion.
slops - to gotlove for trying to tear down a great community, pre-gencon.
Chad J. - You are just a rounder who forgot the cardinal ******* rule, always leave yourself an out bro.
Chad B./Kid - For not showing up.
Contrary to popular belief, we play a lot of "fun" decks in DC. We just don't play them anywhere near a tournament setting.
See you all at worlds -- I'll give you a hint to what I am bringing: The best decks.