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Auto-includes and Predictability in Plot decks

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So I’ve been deckbuilding a lot recently and I’m starting to wonder how predictable my plot choices are becoming, and as a result I’m wondering how widespread this is. Basically, how often are you playing a game in which you can accurately guess 4+ plots the opponent is using? I think it’s safe to say that everyone uses Fury plots. Others may dispute this, but personally I think Retaliation is pretty much an auto-include with 4 gold and 2 claim. If my opponent isn’t playing a military deck, he/she is probably using Valar. That’s 3 plots already that I can expect to see in almost every deck. I don’t know how much play Threat from the East is going to get when the Targ box comes out, but I’m betting it fits nicely into a lot of decks. Additionally:
Stark (non-Siege) decks are probably using Minstrel’s Muse; Siege decks are probably using After the Mummers Ford and Storm of Swords. Both are probably using Respect of the Old Gods.
Targ burn is almost certainly using Threat from the North, and there’s a good possibility they are also running Marched to the Wall unless it is a Shadows deck.
Bara rush probably has Power of Blood, maybe 2x.
Red Viper decks probably have To the Spears! (I might be reaching a bit with this one).
Greyjoy is probably using Rise of the Kraken or Take Them by Surprise or both.
Lannister… well, they seem to be the odd House out in this post, though Shadows cards are always popular and the City plots would never be a surprise when coming out of a Lannister deck.
Summer decks run Song of Summer, and there are only so many 2-claim plots available, so if you are familiar with all of them, you can probably make a pretty good guess about which ones an opponent is using.
Is this something that is restricted to my meta or is this just my issue with unoriginal thinking? I never played the CCG, did it get to the point where everyone with a competitive deck ran the same plots all the time, and can we expect at some point that all decks will be running five of the same seven plots?
 

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I think there's a lot of general truth in what you said.  Given different deck/House archetypes I'd say on average there are three to four plots per archetype that you can consider more or less "auto-include," but I might have a different sense of what I consider an auto-include for a certain archetype than another player does; even so, that's still leave three to four plots that can be almost anything else.

It is true though that much of the game revolves around a small subset of plots, but I think that subset often gets plots shuffled in and out of it as more strong plots are released.  Before rotation, cards like Wildfire Assault, Winter Storm, Gathering Storm, etc. were all pretty popular staples, but I'm sure others can comment more on the history of CCG than I can.  If I'm not mistaken, when the game first came out, the level of predictability was high for nearly the entire plot deck.  I think this was mainly due to a rather small plot selection and being able to run up to two copies of any plot (fun fact: that's why Valar Morghulis - a reprint - says "Limit 1 per plot deck.").

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I think you are right since I'm pretty sure I have not seen a deck without a fury plot (other than heavy city-plot or neutral house ones). Currently its easy to figure out most of the plots your opponent is running. Also retaliation has become easy auto-include to many decks since the drawback isn't all that big(since most claim 2 plots are low on initiative I don't see why you wouldn't  play this one since it gives more gold than other claim 2 plots). I really hope that I will start to see even more take them by surprise played so I can use Ahead of the tide more often ;) (I love to play it in my GJ builds, goes well with herding the masses plot).

I would actually like to see more cards that interact (not much) with the plots since it gives you more plot choices to think of not just "oh this is the most efficient and I always use it", like Ahead of the tides lets you play plots with 0 iniative that you wouldn't even consider playing. Also the more powerful plots they make the more I'm fearing that there will be a point in time where when I see a house card I already know their plot pile aswell. From the new coming plots I would see the targ box plot as one of such since the effect is really good for anykind of deck and the new city plot that lets you search a maester which might be very powerful and see play in most of the decks.

I'm hoping that there will be more melee plots soon :)

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i am boring with my plot choices

i mostly play Lannister, Martell and Targaryen but i tend to play the same 4 plots for all of them, Retaliation, Valar Mougulies, Prince that was Promised and Mutual Blackmail,  then its really a mix of whatever 3 fit the deck im playing  but i almost never touch more than half my plots probably due to my own comfort with the plots i am used to using.

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jack merridew said:

i am boring with my plot choices

i mostly play Lannister, Martell and Targaryen but i tend to play the same 4 plots for all of them, Retaliation, Valar Mougulies, Prince that was Promised and Mutual Blackmail,  then its really a mix of whatever 3 fit the deck im playing  but i almost never touch more than half my plots probably due to my own comfort with the plots i am used to using.

Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if most decks play Retaliation, Fury, Valar Morghulis, and another 2-claim plot (either Mutual Blackmail or Winds of Winter). Fear of Winter is less of an auto-include, but I still see it much more frequently than Prince that was Promised...perhaps even in as many as 2/3 of the non-Bara decks I play against.

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Have to chime in with the consensus here - Valar, Fury, Retaliation all pretty much auto includes and once you see the House card, you can pretty much guess what is least two more Plots are.  

 

Yes - we have been here before in CCG days, but there is a smidgen more variety here because back then about five Plots were fixed in ever deck.

 

Unfortunatley unless there are bannings (I know, Iknow) this isn't going to change. There are never going to be better development Plots than the Furys, for soem reason the Valar crutch is a scared cow around here and yada yada yada. Why wouldn't you run these as long as they are legal?

 

Honetly though - this doesn't bother me nearly as much as Fear of winter does. Plot predicatbility for three slots is one thing - teh plot that chokes off deck design and redners swaths of cards virtually unplayable - that's another issue entirely.

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I would say Retailation, the Fury's, and FoW are the auto's that I see.  Valar is close.  I love Wildfire instead, but know many people don't. 

I used to hate FoW, but now I actually like it.  It is a huge tempo change, and actually gives decks that don't try to draw to win (and/or spit out small characters) a small disadvantage.  It also makes you think about your starts a little more. 

I have more of an issue with the Fury's.  Not a huge one, but 5/7/1 with a rock/paper/scissors ability gets old, especially since these have been auto-includes for a couple of years now.  I have won/lost games based on the flip of a 1st turn coin (Lanni vs. Stark, GJ vs. Stark, etc.), although not AS MUCH lately with the increased card stock (and a certain Martell event I have been known to play...~and Stag Lord LOVES). 

I usually ask for a 'talentless high-five' when both players flip the first turn Fury plot.  Which probably happens in 75% of my games (which reminds me, I do like Blockade...). 

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rings said:

 

I used to hate FoW, but now I actually like it.  It is a huge tempo change, and actually gives decks that don't try to draw to win (and/or spit out small characters) a small disadvantage.  It also makes you think about your starts a little more. 

 

Gotta say I disagree here, Rings. I find the most effective way to deal with the proliferation of Fear of Winter is to just build your decks as if you're going to run into it round 1. Given that you've then already teched for it, you might as well run FoW with the very real possibility of playing it round 1 much of the time yourself.

 

In other words, I think about my starts *much* less now than pre-Fear. I build incredibly fast decks with few costlier cards. Since I know the first round is going to be very static, assuming I have board advantage, I almost always flip Fear or Blockade. (I know FoW isn't always the best on round 1, but it's an easy no-brainer in many situations and plenty good if your plot deck contains 2 other 2-claim plots as well.) Moreover, when I play Martell (especially with KotHH agenda), I don't run Fear but I still play my cards as if I will run into it every round 1. Ninety-five percent of the time I would mulligan a great hand simply because it doesn't have a Burning or Red Vengeance in it, at least against everything but Bara (I haven't seen Fear as much in Bara decks around here).

I think reasonable people can disagree on whether or not Fear is "good" for the game/environment, but one thing I think it doesn't do is encourage strategic thought about your early game/starts. If anything, I think early rounds become cruise control for the person playing it, and (if the opponent prepared well) formulaic for the person playing against it.

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I don't really see it at all in the decks I make. For example, with KotHH agenda (Joust) I will turn 1 Forgotten Plans or turn 1 Bungled Orders, depending on my opponents setup. If I think they will hit me with the FoW, its FP without a doubt since FoW will tune me, if they swarm the board I use Bungled Orders and sit back on my marshall so I can flip into a Valar when I lose a challenge, and I have more characters in my hand to drop next turn. Its pretty basic, but it works out alright. If I am running Stark I will run the plot that blanks text boxes because it hurts Clansman and Raiders and Kneel and lots of other stuff while keeping my characters pretty much as they are; vanilla.

In melee, if your using KotHH and not dropping a turn 1 Forgotten Plans followed by turn 2 Marched to the Wall or Condemned by the Realm your probably doing something wrong.

Against GJ I expect a Rise of the Kraken, the same way against Bara I expect a Lineage and Legacy. But theres a lot of other things that can fill in the other holes. Sometimes I make decks around other plots, like my current favourite: Feast or Famine, and just see where it ends up. In my case it made a hilarious Stark deck that can do alright in a casual joust game but really shines in melee. At the casual level it makes it a little more exciting because youve got decks going in weird directions - like Pit Vipers/Silent Assassins with Desolate Passage (one of my favourite plots). Or the new no-intrigue agenda and Siege of Riverrun. It completely removes the drawback, and with TLS I think you might see SoR a bit more at 3-4-2.

What I am trying to say is that at a competitive level, yes. You can expect Retaliation, Fury, Valar, and maybe Regroup if its a deck thats needs the event recursion, and thats because they give you basic answers to some archetypes. The best way to handle rush consistently? Valar. Wildfire. FoW. But for a casual player like myself - when you don't really care about making the most fine tuned steamroller possible - theres still plenty of variability out there to make it interesting.

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Twn2dn said:

 

Gotta say I disagree here, Rings. 

 

 

I'm mainly with Twn2dn on this one.  I think Fear has less influence on strategic play (although I agree it can be used strategically) than it does on deck construction, and that it helps the weenie/swarm archetypes (which everyone hates so much) more than it hinders it.

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I hate to pile on here - but yeah: what twn2dn and FM siad. I don't really see hOW FoW makes you "think more aaout your starts". You jsut laod up with a ton of weenies and zero cost cards, run only the most efficient, must ahev events - and shoot for a five card flop.

You can see this is where Twin and FM are thinking Shade is sub par. They don't like cards that clog up the flop.

 

I think Fear is cutitng a lot of cards from competitive deck lists and causing much more of a predictable feel to the competitive metagame  On the tourney level, Forgotten plans is relaly an inadeqaute answer - you still lsoe intiative and Claim - and your Fear opponent has optimized his deck for the turn 1 strike. If your optimized for t as well - why not run Fear itself and maybe get your own Claim 2 off? Forgotten Plans is probably not going to yield a big edge in tun 1 challenge phase.

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FATMOUSE said:

Twn2dn said:

Gotta say I disagree here, Rings. 

 I'm mainly with Twn2dn on this one.  I think Fear has less influence on strategic play (although I agree it can be used strategically) than it does on deck construction, and that it helps the weenie/swarm archetypes (which everyone hates so much) more than it hinders it.

I can see it both way (and did at one point).  Plus, I know I haven't played competatively in too long (but, then again, I haven't in 3-4 years much but still do alright). 

True, you have to think 'how do I win a turn one Fear?'.  I don't think that equals putting in a ton of fast cards and/or weenies.  I love the 4/4/1 'you have to win a power challenge' plot.  Or Forgotten Plans (I like this less).  I think you can fight aganist the first turn plot with other plots.  I have also gotten hit hard by these type of decks first turn, only to turn it around turns 2-3 due to over-reliance by these type of decks on this strategy.  It also gets hammered by cards like what Martell has, Or Brotherhood has, or just straight better starts.  In short, I think first turn you have to think about it, but it isn't a winning strategy to base your decks around it.

Basically, I have seen most people go away from this as a 1st turn plot.  In the later turns, it can certainly punish someone for being behind but it has a lot more strategy...maybe that is what I like about it.  In later rounds when/if to play it has a ton more strategy.  I also like that if I am down to 0-3 cards and 'Mr. Draw 5 every turn deck' has to take a breath and just play one card along with me, to change the tempo. 

Just so I know - Stag, what cards is this plot stopping from being used?  Just so I can see the other side more clearly.

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You are right about plot aouto includes. But i´ve always seen it from the other angle,when there areabout  5 plots that you can expect, there are still 1-2 plot slots that can catch you off guard, or that you can use for some interesting effects.

Plots I have seen turn around a game sometimes are an unexpected Red wedding, or a fortified position (can stop you from winning this turn, and get rid of very protected characters). Sometimes even a Wildfire can do horrible things when its played as a second reset when the board seems so very safe.

So what I´m trying to say there are staple plots, but still enough efficient plots to keep this game interesting. And I´m loving it that new ones are coming so often, the last one being Relentless Persecution.

 

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I think the reprint of Loyalty Money Can Buy would be helpful in dealing with first turn Fear of Winter. And the Plot is good in general, both in Joust and Melee.

~On topic, if plot decks are so predictable, I would expect people to start splashing Dragonstone Port. But maybe that's just wishful thinking.

Plot decks always get min/maxed like everything else. Either join the lemmings or break the mold and know you will play at a disadvantage.

Something no one talks about in CCG/LCG's is "chemistry". In sports, sometimes a team is better than the sum of the parts. Likewise, I find in playing CCG's/LCG's that sometimes I play a less optimal deck better because it fits me and my playstyle better. This aspect of the game rarely if ever gets addressed. Am I the only person that experiences this?

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 Not at all. I don't believe in an optimal deck and I don't strongly believe in a strict tiering of decks. A deck that is built to optimize your play style is going to perform better, for you, than a deck that you are constantly struggling to play to its strengths. If you don't have the ability to look three steps ahead and remember multiple things at a time a deck that really depends on triggered effects and has a lot of moving parts (Targ Shadows Burn anyone?) is not something you are going to do well with, even when you face a deck that it is objectively better than.

Similarly if you are a control player aggro decks are frequently not going to work for you because you will be having to fight your own instincts during the game and that leads to making bad choices.

~except for Rush decks. Anyone can win with them since they require nothing more than being able to top deck your cards.

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Well - Fear (for me) restricts my choices in events, atathcments and characters. Basically anything that will slow up my chances of getting a four or five card flop. Obviously its generally a good diea to egt such a flop off as a rule - but in competitive play you could often start a littlw slower if you had a hand full of efefcts that could slwo your opponent down and keep from getting completely annhilated on One. Now - dropping a four cost character a weenie and and Influence land is going to almost surely leave you shredded after One.

i;'m with you rings in that I like the Plot as a mid game stabilizer - but it si the impact it has on the open and the wya it forces you to buld to accomodate it that I am concerned with. If it couldn't be played on One, if it was Claim 1....any of those things: I think would mitigate. I ahev used the 4/4/1 as a counter, i have used FP as a counetr - and enither are really optimal solutons.

Metas and all that - it has never, not once, stopped being an every deck staple around here since it has seen print and 90% of the time: we open with it. I really don't think its good for teh game, as is, and this is based on over a year of playing wth and against it.

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kpmccoy21 said:

Something no one talks about in CCG/LCG's is "chemistry". In sports, sometimes a team is better than the sum of the parts. Likewise, I find in playing CCG's/LCG's that sometimes I play a less optimal deck better because it fits me and my playstyle better. This aspect of the game rarely if ever gets addressed. Am I the only person that experiences this?

I totally agree.  I have a rule that I hate to play 3 or higher cost allies, or non-unique characters over 2 cost (and then only if they have a coming-into-play effect), or more than 3-6 income producing locations.  Kind of silly, but it has done well for me and I have won a lot of games.  I can't say it would work for everyone though. 

Stag, I think we are saying the same thing.  I just seen so many ways around a first turn Fear, and if you make your deck rely on it (either offensively or defensively) it is a subpar deck.  I haven't lost to this strategy in some time, and remember at least two games where I dismantled these decks.  Therefore it isn't a problem in my mind.  Furies are worse to me, mainly due ot the rock/paper/scissors nature to them - I HAVE lost to first turn Furies by losing the coin toss.  Being able to kill/discard/return to hand a targeted character after counting 5 gold is worse to me than my opponent getting 2 claim (maybe 4) with 2 gold and only if I don't interrupt it - but I see both sides. 

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kpmccoy21 said:

Something no one talks about in CCG/LCG's is "chemistry". In sports, sometimes a team is better than the sum of the parts. Likewise, I find in playing CCG's/LCG's that sometimes I play a less optimal deck better because it fits me and my playstyle better. This aspect of the game rarely if ever gets addressed. Am I the only person that experiences this?

 

I totally hear you (well not really since I'm actually reading this and not using a text-to-speech software gran_risa.gif)  I started playing Clansman decks since I have a tendency to overextend my decks when I play, so at least now I get some benefit for not having any cards in my hand.

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 One plot I don't hear anyone discussing that I always have problems with is The Red Wedding.  I love playing with lots of unique characters, so I usually find myself playing plenty of Lords and Ladies, and The Red Wedding seems to wreck me every time, killing my best character and often netting my opponent (or some 1 cost Lord/Lady a couple power).

Am I just shooting myself in the foot by playing Lords and Ladies?  Or should I be playing better?  Or is the plot really food?

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Stag Lord said:

I hate to pile on here - but yeah: what twn2dn and FM siad. I don't really see hOW FoW makes you "think more aaout your starts". You jsut laod up with a ton of weenies and zero cost cards, run only the most efficient, must ahev events - and shoot for a five card flop.

 

What you just described sounds exactly like thinking more about your starts....

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jmccarthy said:

 One plot I don't hear anyone discussing that I always have problems with is The Red Wedding.  I love playing with lots of unique characters, so I usually find myself playing plenty of Lords and Ladies, and The Red Wedding seems to wreck me every time, killing my best character and often netting my opponent (or some 1 cost Lord/Lady a couple power).

Am I just shooting myself in the foot by playing Lords and Ladies?  Or should I be playing better?  Or is the plot really food?

I always think of Red Wedding as an anti-Baratheon card.  Its obviously effective against a lot of other houses too, good Red Viper control, but I wouldn't consider it OP in any way.  I find that most of my decks don't run many (or any) Lords or Ladies so I've never had a problem with RW.  This may just be because I play a lot of Targ, Greyjoy and Stark - I would probably be hating on RW quite a bit if I played Bara...

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jmccarthy said:

Am I just shooting myself in the foot by playing Lords and Ladies?  Or should I be playing better?  Or is the plot really food?
The plot is not "really food;" at least not particularly so. It's solid, but not ridiculously so. And you are not shooting yourself in the foot by playing Lords and Ladies, either. Many of the best unique characters are one or the other and to drop them from play because of one plot doesn't make a lot of sense.

What you might be doing is shooting yourself in the foot by loving to play with unique characters and not planning for Red Wedding properly. Just like a rush deck has to assume it'll need to recover from a passive reset, decks that rely on some key Lords and/or Ladies have to assume they'll be vulnerable to Red Wedding. There are two primary counters to it: saves for key Lords/Ladies and glutting the field with so many characters with the traits that your most important Lord or Lady always has another to hide behind if your opponent plays the plot.

Now, I actually play the plot myself in my Lord/Lady heavy decks because I can usually catch my opponents having to choose one of their own characters or have the saves/protection for my own characters if need be.

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I love me some Red Wedding.  It has one of my best memories of GenCon as well.  I was playing the eventual champ with his silly Bara/Martell Knight of Flowers deck.  I had Cercei and Jaime and a couple of others.  He gets claim, I choose Jaime to die - he was very surprised.  Next turn I RW'd and got the KoF with two attachments and 3-4 power on him.  His only loss that day...felt good (sidenote - it was also cool since he was my only loss when I won the year before)! 

That was a great tourney, I also had someone first turn kill my Eyrie (the location that stops saving, then the Others plot that discarded a location), and I stillsomehow won.  Okay...now I am getting excited for Regionals/GenCon...

Ah, back to RW.  The problem is it rocks 15% of the time (it seems) and is basically dead the other 85%.  You really need Ladies to do it best, and there is a bit of a dearth of good ladies out there (other than Bara, maybe Martell and Stark). 

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 How weird. More often than not down here, I see it as an "I win" card. It gets flipped when you need those two power to shake hands and win the game. It's pretty rare that I see it used offensively down here.

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