The Hand’s Tournament – Paying the Iron Price

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Well, well, what have we here? My first blog post in what, 18 months? It’s time to dust off the old blog, the place where it all began. Those of you that follow me on Facebook and Twitter will probably know what has happened since October 24th 2014 but for those of you that don’t let’s just say that Conan has been and gone, as well as other projects and that if I stopped writing here it’s mainly because writing for a website is one of my primary occupations nowadays but I have more and more personal gaming stuff I want to talk about and that’s what I made this place for!

Anyways, I’m not going to blather on about that here. I may do a catch up post in the future, or not, we’ll see. In any case, work has been pretty busy since my last entry and I admit I haven’t been playing or attending as many events as I used to. As part of a new year’s resolution/promise to myself I’m starting to do more gaming events again and I’ve been fully embracing my newfound love of the Game of Thrones (second edition) card game (don’t worry, I still play miniature games!). I managed to start up quite the little community here (Oh I’m in Orleans now, no more Paris) and we’ve been attending quite a few store events which have led up to this weekend and the “Hand of the King” tourney in the capital!

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In preparation all I seem to of done this week is Eat, Sleep, Work, Play GoT, Repeat. I think I must have gotten in a good 25 or so practice games for the event, refining my deck and play style as I went. On that note, a big thank you to my boys for all their help!

It was a great event and the orgas did a great job running it. It was my first big GoT event (card game event even) and it was quite the intense experience with about 150 players from all over Europe. Seven rounds in one day are more taxing then they seem on paper! The only downside was the SNCF making the simple 1hr trip to Paris a bigger ball ache to organise then the damn moon landings but whatever, it was worth it.

In preparation all I seem to of done this week is Eat, Sleep, Work, Play GoT, Repeat. I think I must have gotten in a good 25 or so practice games for this event, refining my deck and play style as I went

If at first you don’t succeed…

So at this point I’d like to say that I had a real underdog moment, went on to get a perfect score and pull some sort of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure pose in front of the cameras. But sadly, I didn’t I actually even finish positive sadly, going 3-4. So, why write about this? Well because one of the things my career has taught me is that you can get a lot more out of the thought process when you put your ideas to paper. On top of that, if you want to get better at something you have to make mistakes and analyse them. And believe me, mistakes were made this weekend. But as they say; if you’re not making mistakes than you’re not trying hard enough!

GT01_199AI played a Greyjoy/Lord of the Crossing/First Snow of Winter deck for the event. It’s an idea that got stuck into my head whilst listening to podcasts, trying to make up for not having played for two or three weeks before the tournament. It’s quite an odd fish apparently, as far as I know I’m the only one that played GJ/LotC at the event. The principal was to have a very aggressive deck that quickly worked up a led in big characters and then put them to work. It was a lot of fun to work on and we tested it extensively so it “works”. As per usual though the weak point is always the human element; that is to say, Me.

…Try…

I made a big effort to clean up my understanding and execution of the rules this week. Whilst this worked, it wasn’t perfect and multiple times I let things slip, whether because I just got too worked up about one thing or another or failed to properly analyse my board. This cost me 2 games that would have been wins otherwise (especially the second one which would have made for the comeback of the century if I’d of pulled it off!). Clean and effective playing (and NOT forgetting to activate your own cards) is, well, a core part of any game so there’s still some work to do there.

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GoT Players will know what this means.

..Try…

My third loss came down to facing off against an opponent I had NO answers for. In this particular case it was the Queen of Thorns just choking me out with big (wait for it…..) Tyrell characters and when your opponent is about 15 gold ahead of you it’s very hard to keep up. I fought the good fight but it was lost when I couldn’t get rid of her soon enough.

Now, this highlights a weakness in the deck. That’s not a huge deal; I think I can work round it by changing up a few cards.  The issue was that, technically, I DID have an answer. I just didn’t recognize the threat soon enough. By the time I did it was far too late. Now the first thing I’d lay the blame for this loss on is the fact that I was too stubborn to see what was going to happen and change my strategy. I’m really pleased with how I built my deck and its theme/ rhythm and In all of my games, except two of those I lost, it did me proud. However, in the future, I do need to consider certain matchups and take steps to counter any particular tricks that deck may pull right from the start. Better to pull myself out of my comfort zone, confront the issue head on and then slip back into business as usual. In this case; whenever I face off with Tyrell in the future, I need to set up or draw a direct kill card first turn in order to keep my opponent from running off with the game.

Thorns

Bitch

TRY…

The second thing I attribute this loss to is simply inexperience. I played a LOT before the event and against as many different houses as I could but I just didn’t realise what was happening until my situation had reached “dear in the headlights” stage. This was especially true in my fourth and final game of the day where I was matched up with someone who clearly knew what he was doing more than I did. When I was younger, I used to do a lot of BIG L.A.N. parties. The main event for one in particular was a show match against Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel a world champion Quake player and probably one of the first big e-sport celebrities. Basically you could face him 1v1 and at the end of the day the player that had either killed him the most or died the least won a PC. Needless to say he destroyed the scrub that I was (and probably still am at that game). However, my inability to hit a Railgun shot isn’t the point here. When I played against him, it was like he was in my head. He knew where I was, where I was going and what I intended to do before even I did. It was surreal. The guy not only had a, from my perspective, total mastery of the game but also of his opponent. And that’s what this last dude was to me on Saturday. He read me like an open book, led me face first into traps and flawlessly countered every move I made, even the ones where I thought I could second guess him. That final claim could be just luck but, whatever the case, it perfectly illustrated to me that I still have a LONG way to go until I can nail down opponents like this guy did and the only cure for that particular ailment is MOAR games.

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…And Try Again.

To be honest, I’m kinda confused as to why he was against me at the end of the day, considering how good he seemed to be. But whatever, it was a lesson learned.

All this does have sense though. The HotK Tourney was a big event and it gave me some precious insight into what’s coming next this season: the regional qualifiers. As disappointed as I was to not go positive, I consider it a fair exchange for all the insight I got into the “high end” meta of the game. It’s given me some clear points to work on and, if anything, enthralled me even more with what was already an amazingly fun game to play.

So, time for a short break from the game (can’t kick back too long though, the next expansion is out in a week or so!) and then it’ll be time to start working towards my first regional next month! Joe, one of my fellow Orleanians placed 3rd in the event so I’m extremely lucky to have such a good (and nice) player around to train with. All the better, because there’s a lot of dojo time coming up. Nobody is going to give me those regionals; I’ll have to pay the Iron Price for them!

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