Meta snapshot #15 - 16.05 - Season of the Viper

[16.05] Release: 9 new meta decks, new matchups & gameplan info.

Enjoy our meta review below, and feel free to join with these, or any other creative decks in our Kalkstein’s Horror Tournament Event.

On 28-30 May there will be 6 tournaments each with special rulesets: Sword of Damocles, Wheel of Fortune, The Time Warp, A little drop of…, Recipe of Transmutations, Failed Experiment. The winner of each tournament will play against pro player in Challenge the Monster. Total prize pool over 180 premium kegs and 14 400 meteorite powder.

He tried to make a Creature but something went wrong…

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Gwendies and Gwentelmen – Gwent is fun!

As diverse as never, with multiple ways to play both competitively and for fun, with no completely overpowered and broken archetypes (some cards maybe a bit, but not able to dominate fully nonetheless). And we are almost certain that with the amount of well balanced and strong cards and mechanics, we will be discovering new surprisingly strong decks until the end of current Season – and when we do, we will bring these to you immediately in an update.

Syndicate shines! The OPness of the Criminal society has been fixed without killing it, and on top of it we have 4 other Leaders fully viable in competitive gaming. Religious fanatics Firesworn congregating on all market squares, Passiflora fisstech dealers and junkies hoarding their coins, versatile Pirates roaming the shores straight from their Cove, and the broad alliance of all criminal groups of Novigrad paying Tribute to the Gods of Coins – they all allow for unique and efficient ways to achieve victory. Having 5 viable and strong Leaders out of 7 is a world record, and we keep fingers crossed that this approach extends to all other factions.

Skellige has new toys too. Eist still works, with the minor nerf making him more balanced, but still shining in his Blaze of Glory, whilst Madoc coupled with new Flurry takes the lead in SK world domination plans. And even if not present in this meta, Ursine Ritual with or without Lippy, the Fury of Arnjolf and the Battle Trance of Druids are also providing strong options to build competitive decks.

Monsters were not blessed with any major revolutions this time, but still have a few viable solutions at their disposal. Enjoying meta relatively free of Korathi and tall punish, Viy is back requiring as much fitness and strategic thinking as a game of chess, with the well known fan favourites Kelly and Arachas Swarm still being able to win some serious games. Even though they have been boosted a little bit, Vampires still need a final touch to be catapulted to meta, but in the meantime provide a strong and unique playing experience. Weather effects are not yet making an impact, but if this game aspect received further attention, it may soon become a viable strategy element.

Scoia’tael feels and plays exactly the same as before the patch. Well known Symbiosis and Elven Land are still strong, albeit a little worn off, Traps after receiving a minor buff to the Neophytes play as annoyingly well as before, and Precision Strike kill and destroy deck fits very well in current meta. Dwarves don’t appear in current meta, they are however not far behind, and the last major ST concept still not receiving enough love remains Harmony.

Northern Realms weakness has been addressed after a receiving a few good buffs to cards and abilities – not yet to the full extend of what it should be to allow it to shine with variety, but showing a very promising direction. Giving some welcome company to the Witchers in the meta, Commandos are back, going as wide and boosted as possible, in a comeback that has shifted the entire meta in the direction allowing to control it better. Pincer Manouver offers amazing flexibility, and we are sure that we haven’t yet seen the full extend of what players can come up with at these early days of meta, which means most likely we will come back with a killer in meta update.

Nilfgaard is finally dethroned. And as sad as it may be, it was the highest time – after long months of being the most diverse and arguably always in the top of viable factions, when it seemed they have been a bit over-blessed with devs creativity, the major nerf to Ball puts it temporarily in the back seat. All the multiple variants of Ball decks, albeit still playable, require now a complete deck reshuffle, and do not provide us anymore with major advantages. Buffs to Soldiers were not enough yet to put them on the radar, and spying archetype feels still a bit undercooked. All of it resulted with clog remaining the last semi-competitive deck (with the buff to TA being irrelevant part of it – you don’t win or lose with clog by 1 point). The funniest side effect of NG nerf was however without a doubt the return of hyper-mill, especially at the bottom part of the ladder – still mostly a meme deck, however now being more able to catch the right fish in the current meta decks.

Tier 1

Skellige - Fist of Flurry (Control Madoc) | Reckless Flurry | 4.5 stars

Metabreaker is here. Skellige received some substantial buffs in the latest patch, most of which line up with Madoc Skellige’s kit. Most importantly, the change to Reckless Flurry is an incredible boost to any control deck. The ability to use charges to push your removal over the top enables your bombs, which usually fall one or two points short of removing most engines in the meta. When played correctly, this deck can prevent a single enemy unit from sticking on the board for the first several turns in the round.

In addition to the buffs to Reckless Flurry, Skellige got several buffs and quality of life improvements all around, particularly in their discard package. The addition of Coral to the Skellige discard package has given it even more stopping power, as well as a removal engine that synergizes with Reckless Flurry’s empty board advantage.

Overall, the latest patch has seen Madoc Skellige get much stronger and more consistent. More consistent tempo and more oppressive removal make it a stronger threat in r1, allowing it to take control of the game. If you like control decks but hate playing Nilfgaard, this is the deck for you.

Difficulty: Standard

Gameplan:

Mulligan

Number one priority is making sure you don’t draw Madoc before you can summon him from your deck with a bomb. You’ll also want to make sure that you have at least one bomb in your hand for r1. Don’t let yourself get stuck with too many discard targets (skirmisher/Morkvarg) without a way to activate them.

Finally, make sure you have some proactive plays (Svalblod Totem, Harald Houndsnout, etc.). Proactive plays are limited in this deck, so keep an eye out.

Round 1

Keep your opponent off the board with removal. Using one or two leader charges can be acceptable depending on the situation. If you’re going second, using your discard package to full effect can place a lot of tempo pressure on your opponent, potentially resulting in a win on even cards. However, if you’re going first, all that tempo is overkill, and may leave you weak in later rounds even if you do win the first round.

Make sure to use at least one bomb to pull Madoc from your deck!

Round 2

If you want to bleed your opponent, consider using your discard package to gain a lead. Birna can generate up to fifteen points of tempo, nineteen if your Coral sticks. This can put slower opponents in an awkward position, forcing them to commit high value cards.

Or, you can use your bombs and leader charges to keep an engine prone opponent off the board, wasting turns and forcing them into a short round.

Round 3

Make sure to use what leader charges you have left early in the round, where they will have the most effect.

Matchups:

Mirror:

Make sure you have access to a Northern Wind bomb to banish your opponent’s Madoc. Try to wait until later in R1 to summon your own Madoc, as it may be awkward for your opponent to hold onto their Northern Wind.

Eist Warriors:

Reserve Northern Wind for Greatsword. The nerf to Eist’s Bloodthirst ability is likewise something to keep an eye out for. Haern Caduch can be used to lower your bloodthirst and deny Eist value. If your damaged unit is low enough, consider destroying it with Bear Witcher Quartermaster or Harald Houndsnout. Your opponent gets lots of their value from damage, so limiting your board to Madoc procs for the first few turns of a round may force them into awkward plays.

Bleed or no?

Some bleeding is advantageous. If they have Eist in hand, you may be able to force them to throw away their leader ability.

Who wins?

About even.

Blue Stripes Commando:

Use your Northern Wind to banish a commando. Make sure to remove commandos with their orders active so your opponent can’t summon spawned copies. Reserve Lambert: Swordmaster for r3.

Bleed or no?

Depends. If you are going to bleed this deck, you absolutely have to force your opponent to use the Blue Stripes Commandos they get from Pavetta. If your opponent still has those commandos in r3, your bleed will only shorten the round, giving them the advantage.

Who will win?

You are favored, as you have several different ways to disrupt their gameplan, as well as enough tempo to keep up in round 1.

Uprising Witchers:

Moon dust is great for removing Griffin Witcher Adept, and also works well for removing veil from Griffin Witcher if they boost it with Crystal Skull. If your opponent tries to get away with playing slow deck-buff cards like Vesemir: Mentor or Erland, punish them with discard tempo and win on even cards.

Bleed or no?

This match up is a lot like Commandos in the sense that if you want to bleed, you have to make sure you’re forcing them to throw away witcher trio, or else a short round just suits them better. Even though Uprising Witchers are very engine based, you should have no problem removing them in a long r3, so don’t be afraid to drypass.

Who wins?

You have a lot of counters to this deck, but don’t underestimate your opponent’s ability to generate pure value despite that. Witcher Uprising runs some engines, but that doesn’t mean it relies on them to win.

Keltullis:

Avoid using Madoc’s order if you think your opponent is going to play Keltullis. Try to save a few bombs in hand in order to chain summon Madoc to block Keltullis’s ability. Some variants run Ciri, so try to keep removal capable of dealing with her in reserve. The same goes for Cave Troll. Your opponent’s gameplan of limiting the number of units on their side of the board gives random pings from Coral and your leader even more removal potential, make sure to abuse this.

Bleed or no?

Yes, bleeding can force your opponent into awkward plays.

Who wins?

You’re favored because your game plan directly counters your opponent’s.

Viy:

After the nerf to Overwhelming Hunger, Viy has become a little less uninteractive, as it requires some consume engines to stick. Use your bombs and pings to remove as many of these engines as possible to limit how much Viy can grow.

Consider letting your opponent pull Madoc with Ihuarraquax, as this prevents it from getting more troublesome pulls like Geralt: Axii or Birna. Your leader ability ignores armor, so it’s great for removing Endrega Larva.

Bleed or no?

Dry Pass

Who Wins

This matchup is pretty even. Though removing consume engines can cause problems for your opponent, it doesn’t counter them as much as you would think. Never change, Viy.

Scoia’tael Traps:

Try not to stack the row too much with Mask of Uroboros or Bear Witcher Quartermasters until your opponent commits their crushing trap. Save Lambert: Sword Master to deal with Elven Deadeye tokens..

Bleed or no?

You should try to get your opponent to commit leader charges in r2 (or even r1), as they can be used early in r3 to blunt the removal impact of your own leader charges.

Who wins

This matchup is tricky. If they can stay off the board long enough, you may have trouble.

Schirrú:

As with any control deck matchup, your proactive plays are at a premium as you will often find yourself forced to use them. Limit your board presence to Madoc summons as long as possible.

Your deck runs units with base strengths that are pretty close to each other, so avoiding a big Schirrú can be challenging. Your best bet is forcing your opponent to commit him before r3. Last say is also important in order to answer Gord.

Bleed or no

Bleed for Schirrú if they haven’t used him already. Don’t lose last say, they will win the short round if you can’t answer Gord with Axii.

Who wins

Depends on Coin and who gets last say.

Clogger:

Keep your purifies on hand to deal with Ciri: Nova and Defender. Make sure to frontload your tempo in r1 to gain an insurmountable lead before their Mentor’s adrenaline ability becomes active. Avoid playing your quartermasters in r1 so they can’t stuff your deck full of tokens.

Bleed or no

On the one hand, you don’t want to give too short a round if they still have a lot of mentors. On the other, you have to be careful about drypassing as that gives them the opportunity to play an unanswerable Ciri. Bleed until you can purify Ciri, then pass.

Who wins

You’re favored. Before their mentor’s adrenaline becomes active, Clogger Nilfgaard has some of the worst tempo in the game. You should be able to bury them in r1, then control the pace of the game from there. Besides this, you’ll be discarding enough cards that their Kolgrim will be pretty pitiful.

Passiflora:

Reserve Northern Wind for Flying Redanian. Be cautious about summoning Madoc too early on, as Phillipa can steal him. Try to play him at an awkward time for your opponent. However, sometimes it’s just unavoidable so don’t let these concerns get in the way of the rest of your game. Remember, Passiflora is an engine deck. It’s much more important to control your opponent than it is to get Madoc value.

Bleed or no?

Bleed as aggressively as you can.

Who wins?

You’re favored here. Though they have an answer to Madoc, you should still be able to shut out most of their engine value.

Good against – Engine decks, decks with low tempo

Bad against – Decks that can exhaust your proactive plays, decks that can fill the board quickly, decks with unconditional value

Tech choices

Geralt: Axii/Lambert: Swordmaster -> Korathi Heatwave.

Both Axii and Swordmaster are relatively strong tech cards, made stronger by the witcher tag that lets Geralt: Quen pull them from your deck. However, if you’re seeing a lot of scenarios, or even a lot of high base strength units, Heatwave is an option.

Red Haze -> Squirrel/Terror Crew Axe Wielder/Dancing Star

Red Haze has a lot of potential, but can be temperamental, especially since this deck is often successful at keeping your opponent off the board completely. While Madoc made this card a lot more consistent, if you find it whiffing a lot you might want to replace it with something more proactive and/or consistent.

Syndicate - Pirates Cove Devotion | Pirates Cove | 4.5 stars

Pirate’s Cove is still absolutely nuts. Let’s be honest with ourselves here. If you told me two months ago self poison would actually become meta, I’d have said you were on fisstech! With the absolutely massive 1 provision nerf to Professor, believe it or not, the deck still rocks. We don’t add any new cards from this month’s expansion, but that’s because the deck really doesn’t need anything else. With endless high value mid-range cards, Pirate’s Cove remains at the top of the meta.

Difficulty: Standard

Gameplan:

Mulligan:
You always mulligan away Redanian and one of the Sewer Raiders. Search hard for your golds.

Round 1
You really want one of the Borsodi brothers in hand. You always mulligan away Redanian, because you want to thin it from your deck. One of the Sewer Raiders is also great for easy thinning. This deck doesn’t care about being bled most of the time, so play a couple coin generating cards, and get yourself ready for round 2..

Round 2
This deck has a fantastic long round, so a lot of the time you will want to generate some coins and go to the long round 3. However, If bled, you have lots of ways to gain a card on your opponent. Start with Tax Collector to start getting some engine value. Dropping Professor or Whoreson Jr. to kill an engine is a great way to get ahead. Then, as the round progresses, consider playing location and your poison brothers. Try your best to keep Sigi and a big finisher like Jacques or Philippa for a shortened round 3. If you decide to play aggressive and bleed, apply the same strategy and you should typically find success.

Round 3
In short R3 you could always outpoint your opponent with leader ability, Sigi and Jacques. In a long round, you start with Jacques, poison brothers, and then smash your opponent’s engines into pieces with Whoreson Jr., Professor, and steal their hopes and dreams with Philippa.

Win condition:

Whatever the matchup dictates it to be. This deck has everything. Control tools (Whoreson, Professor, Philippa, poisons), Brothers (Bleinheims and Borsodis), Pointslam (Sigi, Leader, Jacques)

Matchups:

Mirror:

Don’t overspend in round 1. You want to have first say in round 3, so ideally you lose round 1. If you win round 1 and have a great hand, consider a value bleed to disrupt your opponent’s poison combo.

Northern Realms:

Do Witchers even exist anymore? With NR’s switch to Siege this season, the matchup has become more difficult. Siege really likes a long round 3, yet can match your point slam somewhat in a short round. If you can win round 1, you should bleed out a ballista or two before passing on to a mid-to-long round 3. You have 2-0 potential vs Siege if they try not to use location, though with Pincer Maneuver, your opponent will always have the option to play their best cards.

Bleed or Not? A light bleed is usually good.

Who will win? 50/50. This is a very difficult matchup to predict, as this matchup is very response based. Siege should win if given free rein on their engines in round 3, but you have better point slam options.

Scoia’tael:

Nature’s Gift is back in the spotlight, but you have the superior deck. The added control of the non-devotion Symbiosis lists running around ladder kill your engines, but you have such good control options and point slam that you can keep up with whatever is thrown at you. Purifies can be annoying for your poisons, but using location to ensure you kill their highest power unit is a big help. The short round is a little scary vs. their tall Gord, but if you save a leader charge and Sigi you should have a good shot to win. Against Elves, you will want to win round 1, bleed very carefully, if at all, and then win with your engines in round 3.

Bleed or Not? Not against Symbiosis. Maybe a little vs Elves.

Who will win? You should win most of the time vs Symbiosis. Elves should be slightly more difficult, though you are still favored.

Monsters:

Just don’t queue into Keltullis. If you face Keltullis, you don’t really have removal options to deal with all their tall engines. This is why a lot of people put Moreelse into their deck, but we haven’t seen enough Keltullis yet to warrant this change. Win round 1, and hope you can keep your Redanian out on the board long enough to survive against the burning later on. Against Koshchey, we have enough ability to limit their best cards to win. Professor’s tribute deals with Caranthir’s Koshchey, and Whoreson Jr. deals with the actual Koshchey. She Who Knows can be poisoned, as can any other tall unit threatening you. Pass early, defend the bleed, and win the match. Arachas Swarm is a little more difficult, since they can out tempo us and we cannot effectively deny their swarming. Try not to lose on even if on blue coin. If you do, you will be bled all the harder and will be forced to play your best cards to survive into round 3. Otherwise, play just enough in round 1 to force some swarm out of your opponent, then pass and defend the bleed. Your long round should be superior. Ewald Borsari is incredible for his bleeding fee. Use him wisely.

Bleed or Not? Not against anything other than Kelltullis if you did not force enough engines out in round 1.

Who will win? You should beat Koshchey, have a 50/50 with Arachas Swarm, and lose a ton of MMR to Kelltullis.

Skellige:

Aren’t they dead? Well if you do face them, it should either be Warriors or Reckless Flurry. Against Warriors, you should be favored, though it’s not the easiest matchup. Your long round is superior, so they will likely bleed you. If that happens, keep tempo and force them to use Eist if they want their card back. Make sure not to go too tall, since Morkvarg will destroy your tallest unit’s boost. If you queue into Reckless Flurry, you might struggle, since their control options are so strong. They will destroy just about every engine you play. Typically however, they struggle to generate points, since only a couple cards have point slam potential. If you want, you can play lots of tempo and permanently get ahead in the first two rounds to win a card. Again, don’t play too tall or Geralt: Axii will ruin your day.

Bleed or Not? Light bleed on Reckless Flurry is okay, though Warriors should not be bled.

Who will win? You should be favored vs both matchups.

Nilfgaard:

Lick your lips and put your napkin in your lap. You will feast on Nilfgaard Ball. NIlfgaard players are used to having the best long round in the game, but not anymore. If they allow you to have a 10 card round 3, you should win convincingly. You may be forced to play a couple good cards in round 1 if they play their Blightmakers when you are on blue coin. This is okay though, since your deck is full of great combos. Using one early is survivable. If you want to lose this matchup, bleed. You really have no need to bleed ball out, since if you have last say, you can use leader ability and boost the heck out of your Sea Jackal. Against cloggers, save your purify for the defender and use location to insta-kill Kolgrim. Don’t allow clog to mess with your deck if you can help it. It is usually better to pass early than to allow your deck to be full of garbage. If you want, you can play for a tempo pass in round 1 with something like Sigi, leader charge, and poisons or Philippa. Though you must make sure you have all you need to kill Kolgrim in your hand already if you do this.

Bleed or Not: Only bleed if you don’t care about winning.

Who will Win? Clog is always draw dependent, but you are about 65/35 favored vs Ball.

Syndicate:

Against Jackpot, kill Sigi as soon as you can. In this matchup, last say matters a lot because your opponent may run Moreelse and ruin your day. Try to win round 1 without committing your best cards. Save location for round 3, as this is a huge card in denying your opponent’s poison attempts.

Bleed or Not? You should want to win round 1 and maintain last say. Bleeding is for chumps.

Who will Win? You got this… like 60% of the time. Your favorability depends on whether your opponent runs location, Philippa, or can get Sigi to survive so Caesar can be used on him. Philippa and location are massive in these matches.

Good against:

Nilfgaard, Viy, Koshchey, SK Warriors

Bad against:

Keltullis

Cards replacements:

Boris and Casino Bouncers for Philippa

Skellige - Eist | Blaze of glory | 4.25 stars

Some veteran players might remember when months ago Gwent forums, Reddit and other Gwent related social media were full of people complaining about the strength of Skellige Warriors. Indeed, those were justified complaints. Despite many nerfs the deck has remained a strong contender for the Tier 1 spot to this day. Now the archetype has received a new toy to play with, in the form of Eist Tuirseach. The deck excels at removing opposing threats, but also has amazing point swing potential. The deck is not perfect though. The bloodthirst 3 requirement for Eist can be really hard to satisfy. But if it works, it allows you to gain almost 40 points in 1 turn.

Difficulty: Standard

Gameplan:

Mulligan
There are not many bricks in your deck. Make sure you always have a target for Raiding Fleet, Vabjorn and Blood Eagle. Mulligan away your Jutta since this will be your main leader target. If you have a strong hand in round 1 you may consider getting rid of Skjordal since the card is weak in round 1.

Round 1
Set up your bronze engines. Then try to develop your graveyard for Harald. This is a perfect round to play Raiding Fleet if you have it in hand.

Round 2
This really depends on what deck you are up against. Some decks will beat you in a long round while some will not. This deck is vulnerable to getting bled since once you play Eist you usually want to commit leader with it.

Round 3
Hopefully, you saved Harald and Eist in this round. Your long round is pretty good in many matchups.

Matchups:

Mirror:

Try to develop your graveyard for Harald. While final say is important in this matchup, so is hand quality so try not to overcommit in round 1.

Northern Realms:

Your deck does a great job at denying your opponent’s boosts. NR witchers is an even match. You are favoured in a long round. The main challenge will be to develop bloodthirst 3, however with so many ways to damage you should be able to accomplish it. Witchers also has plenty of tall punish targets for your leader. Shieldwall has less short round potential but they often run a defender which will not be easy to get through efficiently. Their duel cards can also kill your Jutta and Greatswords. Commandos can be hard to deal with since sometimes you might not have the tools to deal with an early first round Foltest. On the other hand, this deck can take out two unused Commandos at once if you have damaging bronze units developed on board.

Bleed or Not? You should take a long round against Witchers. Getting through Shieldwall’s defender might be difficult so bleeding it in round 2 might be a good idea. Against Double Commandos, it’s better to bleed out their Commandos in round 2. But against Triple Commandos, it’s better to go to a round 3 since their huge pointslam is less impactful in a longer round.

Who will win? Both matchups are between 50/50 and slightly favoured. Commandos can swing either way depending on the starting hands.

Scoia’tael:

Dwarves is a tough matchup. Getting past the defender will prove quite challenging. The armor that dwarves receive from the leader is also a really good counter to your strategy. Elves are also going to be challenging especially if you are facing a trap variant, since they do not go tall. Symbiosis plays a lot of boosts so getting Bloodthirst 3 will be tough but they go very tall.

Bleed or Not? You should definitely bleed all the decks. Gezras is quite weak in a short round so forcing it out of movement decks in round 2 is useful. A bleed against trap decks is also advisable to make Eldain worse. Against unitless precision strike decks, taking a long round is fine since your opponent will typically not have a lot of points. You should be able to win with Eist + leader finisher since it is worth 17 points and can almost kill off Harald Gord.

Who will win? You are unfavoured against the unitless decks and dwarves. Elves and Symbiosis are a tossup and often depends on who wins round 1.

Monsters:

Likely the toughest faction you will face. Your opponent’s Keltullis will be hard to deal with. Ciri can be problematic if your opponent runs it. Viy can also be tricky since it is hard to deal with so many tall units. Set up your bronze engines in round 1 and try to remove as many consume cards as possible with damage. Arachas Swarm is easier than the other two but still a tough matchup. You have efficient ways of killing drones but on the other hand you will almost never get Bloodthirst 3.

Bleed or Not? You need to bleed Keltullis and force it out of them. You should take a long round against Viy and save up your tall punishes. You should also bleed Arachas Swarm as their short round is often underwhelming.

Who will win? You are unfavoured against monsters.

Skellige:

Madoc can easily win the first round, then bleed your Eist out round 2. You might see Lippy sometimes but you have a better short round than Lippy. Bloodthirst 3 is very easy to satisfy. You have the tools to survive a bleed against Lippy. Saving Eist for round 3 will often win you the game.

Bleed or Not? No need to bleed Lippy.

Who will win? You are unfavoured against Madoc and favoured against Lippy.

Nilfgaard:

One of your weaknesses is the fact that you have no answer to your opponent’s Masquerade Ball. Therefore, you will need to bleed Nilfgaard decks that run it. Against Kolgrim you have a decent amount of thinning. You can always answer your opponent’s Kolgrim with your leader or with Morkvarg, so if you can bleed out your opponent’s defender, Kolgrim will be defenceless.

Bleed or Not: You need to bleed assimilate and Masquerade Ball lists and force them to play their scenario in round 2. Bleeding out Kolgrim’s defender will be devastating to their strategy.

Who will win: Masquerade Ball is a tossup and depends on how well you bleed. Kolgrim is a favoured matchup.

Syndicate:

There are a lot of archetypes being played right now. Crimes is not an easy matchup but not the worst either. You have answers to their biggest threats. Winning round 1 is easier now thanks to the Safecracker nerfs. Congregate has units that go very tall and provide perfect target for your leader. Your deck is really good at removing small engines, so Passiflora usually has a hard time getting value.

Bleed or Not? Taking a long round against crimes is preferable. Congregate you should always bleed and get their important swarm cards out. Against Passiflora decks, you can try and bleed the Scenario out.

Who will Win? Crimes is still a slightly unfavoured matchup. You’re favoured against both Passi and Congregate lists.

Good against:

Kolgrim, Northern Realms

Bad against:

Monsters, Unitless

Cards replacements:

Morkvarg: Heart of Terror -> Tyrggvi, Hjalmar
Gerd, Berserker -> Frett, Greatswords

Monsters - Viy | Overwhelming hunger | 4.25 stars

Enjoying the relatively Korathi and tall punish free meta, our favourite plush toy is back in full glory, requiring this time however some drastic changes to the game strategy!

We are aware that getting used to this new strategy may take you weeks, but don’t despair, as the deck is very strong, and is well worth the effort of memorising the new cards sequence.

Attention please!!!

As of Thursday, May 6th 2021, you can no longer eat a Foglet as a break from eating a Viy. From now on you have to eat Archespore.

Thank you for your attention, you may disperse now and go home.

On a more serious note. In meta going wider than taller, we strongly recommend two Forktails to address not only Commandos, but also any other swarm (apart from shielded Witchers). Red Haze more often than not is able to find the right target and play for more than its provision, but if in your games it doesn’t, replace it with Spores.

As always, please remember to eat Viy as often as possible, and drink a lot of water. As my grandma used to say:

“Seven Viys a day keeps the bottom of the ladder away!”

Difficulty: Easy

Gameplan:

Mulligan

You don’t really have any chance to brick something important but you have to be careful with Foglets. I mean Archespores. I mean the thing you eat when you don’t eat Viy.

Round 1
You always want to contest R1 and have possibility to bleed your opponent. In this round you want Larvas, some consume and your Viy In hand.

Round 2
Bleed, bleed and bleed

Round 3
In R3 after good bleed you have your Viy at massive point level and often only Viy can get you victory.

Monsters - Keltullis | Carapace | 4.25 stars

Keltullis has proven to be a strong albeit difficult to pilot deck. Last season the deck had a bad matchup against syndicate crimes. Fortunately, crimes have been nerfed. The deck revolves around 2 main cards: Keltullis and Ciri: Dash. Keltullis will do a great job at wiping your opponent’s units while Ciri will provide you with card advantage. The deck also has plenty of other control tools along with a big Ozzrel finisher. Crystal Skull is very useful at protecting Ciri but if you do not draw her, you can protect other engines like Nithral.

Difficulty: Hard

Gameplan:

Mulligan
You want Ciri in first round to abuse red coin or change coins if you are on blue. In some matchup you also need to have a defender in R1

Round 1
Try to play Ciri Dash to get card advantage, use ability to protect her if necessary. It is nice to play Yghern if you can, so that you have access to him with Ozzrel in later rounds.

Round 2
In most cases you bleed with Kelly behind defender, spells and beast. Be careful though because sometimes Kelly can be more of a hindrance than a help.

Round 3
Use Ozzrel and charges of ability if you still have them, and you will have a really strong short round.

Matchups:

Mirror:

Mirrors are tricky and depend on draws of best engines and removals. Kelly is a two-side weapon. Because of that you can even spend her in R1 to get an advantage

Nothern Realms:

Witcher decks haven’t got answers for Ciri and Keltullis so it should be easy matchup. You can play easily Ciri and make card advantage. Witchers have many units on table so Keltullis will make big points. Shieldwall is less popular but have a better matchup against Kelly. Duels can destroy core cards pretty easily. Swarm decks also have seen a rise in popularity whether it is Draug or Commandos. This is good news for Keltullis as it makes it easier to gain value. Make sure to still deal with Foltest as quickly as possible.

Bleed or Not? You can bleed witchers, put Keltullis on table with defender and your opponent won`t be able play many of their engines, thanks to that you can win 2:0. Shieldwall is a tougher match so you need to bleed and force out some of their best engines and hopefully duels, before round 3. If you can force Draug before round 3 your opponent might not have much left for the final round.

Who will win? You are unfavoured against Shieldwall but have a better chance against the rest of the decks.

Scoiatel:

Elves, and Movement are not the easiest matchups for Keltullis. If opponent plays Ciaran and movement cards, they can put Keltullis to range row also play Heatwave into Ciri. You should try to win first round and go for short round 3. Unitless decks are almost unbeatable unless your opponent draws poorly. Symbiosis decks on the other hand lack the answers to your threats and provide you with units for your Keltullis. Dwarves have some control tools and deny points from your removals, but you are on nice position.

Bleed or Not? Bleed. Your Ozzrel in a short round is worth a lot of points.

Who Will Win? Symbiosis and Dwarves will have a hard time playing against you. This is not the case for the rest of Scoia’tael.

Monsters:

Arachas Swarm with lot of points and removals is really demanding for Kelly (Forktail improves this matchup slightly). Viy does not have control tools, so Kelly can win this matchup easily. Save your tall punishes for round 3.

Bleed or Not? You typically do not want to bleed either deck.

Who Will Win?  You are unfavoured against Arachas, but Viy matchup should be easier

Skellige:

Warriors is a very good matchup for you. You can easily win round 1 with your Ciri and then beat them in long round 3. The fact you play very little units means that your opponent’s Eist will never reach the bloodthirst 3 requirement. Skellige Witchers are better equipped against your Keltullis. They have the tools to play unitless with their bomb package, making your Keltullis worse. If you’re able to keep Ciri alive in round 1 you’ll be in a much better spot. Keep the pressure however, as Witchers have a lot of tempo in round 1 with their discards.

Bleed or Not? You prefer a long round against Warriors. You could try to bleed Witchers to bleed out some of their combos like Coral.

Who will Win? You are more likely to win against Warriors. Witchers will be a harder matchup.

Nilfgaard:

You have tall punishes to potentially deal with Kolgrim. You can choose to play specials in round 1 to make it harder for your opponent to clog you. Madoc is tougher as they can fill your side of the board with spies or play unitless, making your Keltullis worse. Playing heatwave on their Madoc will deny them a lot of points, however.

Bleed or Not: You should take a long round against both decks.

Who will Win? You are slightly favoured against Kolgrim but slightly unfavoured against Madoc.

Syndicate:

Currently many Syndicate decks opt in to play devotion. This should make it easier to protect your Keltullis and Ciri: Dash. The Flying Redanian will however be quite a problem.

Bleed or Not? You should try to bleed out threatening cards.

Who will Win? You are favoured against devotion Syndicate. Not so much against non devotion.

Good against:

Warriors, NR Witchers, Symbiosis

Bad against:

Unitless decks, Arachas Swarm

Cards replacements:

Red Haze -> Forktail

Tier 2

Syndicate - Passiflora | Hidden Cache | 4.0 stars

With the recent buffs for Syndicate and pointslammy meta, good old hidden cache passiflora has returned to life. Deck excels in playing as many engines as possible, so some of them are left unanswered. Leader ability and The Flying Redanian make bleeding or defending the bleed extremely effective. Passiflora and threatening engines like Saul and Lieutenant Von Herst guarantee solid long-round presence, while high-end golds (Jacques, Whoreson Junior, Professor) can win short-round on their own. On the other hand, the deck has only Vivaldi Bank as the tutor card, but it often requires having access to a card at the correct time, for example, having complementary poison or having the right amount of Blindeyes to proc Passiflora. Thinning with The Flying Redanian and Sewer Raiders helps with drawing correct cards, but sometimes you will miss some of your crucial ones. The other issue the deck has is the lack of instant tall removal. Your best removal tool – Whoreson Junior can answer one threat which has up to 9 power. If you already have Whoreson Junior on the board, you can answer up to 7 points threat with Professor and due to bounty, gain coins equal to his base power. If you manage coins well, your Philippa can be a powerful answer as well. In other cases, you can try to answer threats with your poison package. If you don’t see a need to having a purify, you can try playing Madame Luiza and Savolla combo instead of Jacques and Kurt. Madame is a powerful Blindeye, but this can make your deck, even more, combo dependent and you will lose on one of your high-end spenders which can make you keep an additional bronze one.

Difficulty: Standard

Gameplan:

Mulligan:
You want to find your high-end gold cards, while you also have to be aware of bricking raiders or Redanian.

Round 1
If you are on red coin, usually you can just play your bad bronze cards, estabilish some coin carryover, get Redanian out and pass. On blue coin you want to start with engines and commit enough to not lose on even.

Round 2
You want to make use of your leader, so if you won Round 1, you will make a soft bleed. If you lost it, you can defend the bleed very well and try to preserve your Passiflora for r3 or play it when it gets you ahead or the opponent is verycommitted to the bleed.

Round 3
Draw your left high-end golds and win a short round 😀 If
opponent for some reason didn’t bleed you, start with engines, with first say you have advantage, as you will always be one turn ahead.

Matchups:

Mirror:

It’s important to not overcommit in round 1 and 2. If your hand in round 2 is strong you may consider bleeding and seeing if your opponent drew well too. Usually however bleeding to get carryover for the next round is a better idea. Your Professor is the best answer for Lieutenant von Herst (remember to accept tribute). You can deal with Saul using poisons or Whoreson.

Northern Realms:

Northern Realms mainly plays Commandos and Erland Draug. Commandos will have plenty of ways to protect their commandos. You have a purify to get through defender. If you are able to kill the Foltest then do it immediately to deny your opponent a lot of points. Otherwise get as much carryover for round 2 as possible and try to defend the bleed. You have no wide punish against Draug, however your opponent will likely not have an answer for your engines either. If you are on red coin you might consider passing once your opponent plays Draug to deny carryover.

Bleed or Not? You are better taking a long round against both decks. A soft bleed to get coins for next round might not be a bad idea, however.

Who will win? You are unfavoured in these matchups. But drawing appropriate answer to your opponent’s threats might swing the game in your favour.

Skellige:

Skellige usually plays Warriors and Witchers. Warriors are not an easy matchup as they have answers to your engines. Their short round with Eist is fantastic. If you win you might consider bleeding with Passiflora in order to force out leader. If you’re defending a bleed you should try to gain card advantage as cheaply as possible. If you’re able to play Passiflora and stay ahead in round 2 you might consider doing so since Passiflora will not be good in a short round. Witchers don’t have as good of a short round but they are more efficient at shutting down your engines. Use your Phillipa to steal their Madoc.

Bleed or Not? You should bleed warriors to force out leader. You should bleed Witchers and try to overwhelm them with engines.

Who will win? You are unfavoured in both matchups.

Scoia’tael:

Many archetypes are present. You will mainly see Symbiosis, Elves, Traps and Schirru. Starting with Symbiosis they do not have enough answers to your threats. Being able to steal Gezras with Phillipa is a huge benefit for you. Your Passiflora has the ability to output a lot of engines (too many for your opponent to handle). Elves can play Vernossiel in the front row which provides a lot of points but also can kill your engines. Use Whoreson to kill the deadeyes to prevent that from happening. Trap decks might also get overwhelmed by the number of engines you play. Mulligan your special cards against Traps to deny Serpent Trap value. Schirru will also likely get overwhelmed with your engines. Passiflora will make it more difficult for your opponent to lineup Schirru. You also have plenty of methods to make sure their Saber-Tooth tiger does not play for value. Their Madoc will also likely get stolen by your Phillipa.

Bleed or Not? You can do a soft bleed against Symbiosis and Elves. Against Schirru/traps you want to bleed out Schirru and Eldain or at least shorten the round enough so that these cards will not gain much value in round 3.

Who will win? You are favoured in all the matchups.

Nilfgaard:

Nilfgaard will likely play Madoc, cloggers and Masquerade Ball. All the matchups are beatable. Phillipa can steal your opponent’s Madoc for a lot of value. If your opponent steals it back with Yennifer’s Invo they might not have another tall punish for the rest of your engines. Cloggers might struggle against your engines. Ball will be better off however.

Bleed or not? Take a long round against Madoc. With a good hand you can try to 2-0 cloggers. You want to bleed ball heavily and pass once they play out scenario. Avoid giving your opponent a good poison.

Who will win? You are favoured against Madoc. Cloggers is more of a tossup and depends on round 1. Ball is a tough match with their tall punishes.

Monsters:

Viy, Arachas Swarm and Keltullis are all very strong decks. Keltullis is the most difficult of these matchups as it is hard to answer their threats. You can purify the defender and try to poison Ciri. Your Flying Redanian will make your opponent’s Keltullis worse but it can be answered. Arachas Swarm is also a hard match especially if they run Yrden. Viy is a better matchup. Dealing with consume cards in earlier rounds will be game deciding. Don’t be scared to commit Whoreson and Phillipa to do that. Kurt can purify a slyzard with veil. You can then poison it to force your opponent to waste consumes to deny poisons.

Bleed or not? Take a long round against Viy. Bleed Arachas especially if you suspect Yrden but try not to lose card advantage. Bleed Keltullis since it will kill all your engines in a long round.

Who will win? Viy and Arachas Swarm are a tossup. Keltullis is an unfavoured matchup.

Syndicate:

Besides mirror matches you will mainly see Lined Pockets and Pirates Cove. Lined Pockets usually plays Tunnel Drill which will kill all your engines so it needs to be bled out. Pirates Cove has enough poisons to ruin your day. Your poisons will also be bad because a) they can be sent back to you using location and b) your opponent will gain coins if they play Bleinheim brothers. Be aware that Gellert Bleinheim can poison Jacques multiple times since it has veil. This is worth a lot of points.

Bleed or not? Bleed Pirates Cove softly so that your opponent’s Roland will not gain much value in round 3. Bleed Lined Pockets heavily. Their tunnel drill is too threatening.

Who will win? You are slightly unfavoured against both decks.

Win condition:

Passiflora, Saul, Whoreson Junior, Philippa

Good against:

Scoia’tael

Bad against:

Warriors, Keltullis

Cards replacements:

Jacques, Kurt → Luiza, Savolla

Northern Realms - Erland Draug | Pincer Maneuver | 4.0 stars

What makes a meme deck? Some may answer draw dependant nonsense, some may point towards hard to achieve win conditions, some may tell of prayers – “please don’t bleed me”. Well, this deck has all of it, but it just works. You play out your Poor Fucking Infantries, turn them into Revenants with Draug, make more Revenants, pull them into deck with Pavetta, then finish off with a humongous Erland. The newly buffed Pincer Maneuver makes the deck considerably consistent – you should be able to pull off the combo pretty regularly, unless you’re really unlucky. Foltest helps with further increasing your deck size, but also can serve as a powerful engine with Dun Banners if the need arises. The deck can struggle with wide punish or heavy control, but all in all it’s a really fun strategy and really satisfying when you’re able to pull it off.

Difficulty: Easy

Gameplan:

Mulligan:
Always look for your important combo pieces – Erland, Draug, Pavetta, Infantry, Adalia. Voymir is only good Round 1 or if you’re planning to use Foltest for Dun Banners. Make sure your Adalia has a target. Also be careful not to draw into a second Dun Banner.

Round 1
Play out your Infantries, make sure you have enough space for Draug. Winning Round 1 is crucial for this deck so don’t be afraid of commiting big cards if you need to.

Round 2
If you decide to play Pavetta, make sure you have your necessary combo pieces in hand or that they can be leadered out of your deck. Hopefully you won Round 1 and have a good hand to apply the bleed.

Round 3
Make sure you don’t brick your Erland by playing it as last card. In a short round you should be easily able to outpoint your opponent.

Matchups:

Mirror:

Blue coin decides this match sadly. Whoever gets to develop draug first wins the game. It not only allows you to finish off their Revenants, but it also makes sure that your 1 powered food don’t fall to the enemy. Also Voymir can be absolutely crushing in this matchup so try to have it on your opening hand.

Northern Realms:

Against Witchers, winning Round 1 is very important – and it can swing either way depending on your and your opponent’s opening hand. With round control you can make sure round 3 is short, but if you don’t possess round control your opponent is very likely to hard bleed you and get your win condition out. Commandos, most of the times, will outpoint you round 1 so it’s a tough matchup as well.

Bleed or not? You should bleed both of the decks. For Commandos, you should even try to go for a 2-0 in case they don’t respect the bleed.

Who should win? Both matchups are slightly more favourable for your opponent but depends heavily on the opening hands.

Scoia’tael:

Traps are mostly not an issue as you’re just busy with doing your own thing. But only mostly, not entirely, because a well placed Incinerating Trap can absolutely ruin your day – so make sure you play around that. No-Unit is an absolute nightmare – Schirrú, Curse of Corruption, Incinerating Trap, Serpent Trap – they gave multiple cards which would be able to take out your immune Erland. Devotion Nature’s Gift is much easier since they won’t be able to outpoint you in a short round, and their round 1 isn’t the best either. Movements is a matchup where you must pray to RNGesus and hope that random pings don’t screw you up.

Bleed or not? All of the decks, if you win the first round, you have to bleed to make sure Round 3 as short as possible.

Who would win? Traps are mostly favorable given you play around Incinerating properly. Gift is also a favorable matchup if you’re able to win round 1. Movements can swing either way depending on random pings and placement. No-Unit, unless your opponent misses all of his Erland removal, is a dead matchup.

Monsters:

Monsters mainly have two decks in the meta – Viy and Keltullis. You have to take out Viy before it grows big, meaning you must try for a 2-0. Going for a third round won’t work here since your Erland is just one late stage Viy in round 3. Kelly is sadly another dead matchup, since you have no ways to remove Ciri or Keltullis in your deck.

Bleed or not? Trying to win both rounds is the only way to win against Viy, so yes, you must bleed. Also you can try for a sneaky 2-0 in case your opponent doesn’t respect the bleed against Kelly.

Who would win? Viy is a 50/50 matchup but Kelly is kind of unwinnable.

Skellige:

Madoc Control is the worst matchup for the deck since Flurry pings can reliably take out Erland in a short round, and in a longer round it just outpoints you anyway. Warriors is a standard matchup where winning round 1 is crucial. Lippy can be hard because of their powerful round one tempo, but still winnable with a good hand. Witchers would be mostly a good matchup – but Lambert single handedly tips the scales here turning it into a really bad matchup since round one becomes unwinnable.

Bleed or not? You have to bleed all of the matchups except Lippy. Bleeding Lippy might not be necessary.

Who would win? Lippy and Warriors both are 50/50 matchups. But Control and Witchers have the tools to completely stop your combo or severely reduce its power.

Nilfgaard:

Nilfgaard currently has Madoc, Soldiers and Spy-Ball as the top decks in the meta. All of the deck, although not very similar to each other, are pretty similar matchups for this deck. You are favored to win the first round and all of the decks are very easy to bleed. And finally all of them don’t have enough points to defeat your short round. Also your deck doesn’t have much tall targets, making Ball even worse in this matchup.

Bleed or not? You have to bleed all of the matchups and get their key cards out.

Who would win? You’re favored in all of the matchups, specially against Ball.

Syndicate:

Pirates Cove is a tough matchup since it has a good first round. Passiflora is a much better matchup since its first round isn’t as strong, and the deck is very bleedable. Congregate Swarm is also a great matchup, since it’s useless in a short round and also their tokens provide good food for your Revenants. Crimes is now easier to win the first round against after the Safecracker nerfs, even though it’ll still be a hard contest.

Bleed or not? You must bleed all of the decks – the general strategy of the deck.

Who would win? Other than Pirates Cove, all of the other matchups are winnable, crimes being slightly less favorable than the others. Pirates Cove is a bad matchup.

Good against:
Nilfgaard, Passiflora, Nature’s Gift
Bad against:
Keltullis, No-Unit, SK Witchers
Cards replacements:
Siege Ladder -> Aedernian Mauler

Syndicate - Crime SY | Lined pockets | 4.0 stars

Crimes have without a doubt dominated the ladder in the Season of the Bear, being not only the single most played archetype, but also elevating the entire Syndicate to remarkable presence in Gwent popculture. High win rates, flexibility in deck building, very strong starters and finishers, combined with carryover potential, made this deck rightfully classified as top of Tier 1 in most of the meta snapshots.

After a season of dominance, everyone expected a nerf to come, and a nerf has happened, not one though which would make any difference to the strength of the deck – after making Drill 1 prov more expensive, Crimes just shrugged off, and replaced 1 vicious crime with another. Despite the fact that new decks like Chinese Ball appeared, Crimes are still one of the best decks on ladder.

We have updated the deck to reflect this change, and present you with what we believe is the best lineup of cards for current meta. Please be aware however, that depending on the matchups you may want to look into the replacements sections to find something more suitable. And no, we’re not talking about Yrden 😉

This version runs Heatwave and flying Redanian, but you can play Sigi or Triss as well. Tavern brawl is also an interesting addition being another win con in some matchups and brick in another.

Difficulty: Hard

Gameplan:

Mulligan:
You want to have one or two spenders on hand and access to Novigradian Justice. It is important to have at least one Halfling Safecracker on hand or access to other Crownsplitters unit.

Round 1
Make tempo with Halfling Safecracker and Novigradian Justice and other Crime cards. You want to win this round.

Round 2
It depends on matchup but usually you want to bleed in second round.

Round 3
You should win thanks to Gord, Cleaver and Jacques.

Matchups:

Mirror:

In mirror first say is pretty important. You can setup your Skewertooth, Cleaver and Drill one turn earlier than opponent. Because of that you can try tempo pass on blue after playing Halfling and Justice r1. On red you can try to abuse coin and check if opponent drew as good as you. When Cleaver is gone, last say becomes more important than first say, because of Gord.

Northern Realms:

You have many answers for opposing engines. In this matchup you should win the first round. Your deck is more powerful, so you will win long round. After winning first round you can pass and go for long round 3. You can also try to make tempo in first round with 3 cards: Halfling Safecracker, Novigradian Justice and one other card. Opponent can have some problems to beat you with 4 cards, often can’t bleed second round, and you have long or medium round 3, which you also win.
Bleed or not? You don’t have to bleed in this matchup.
Who will win? Syndicate Crimes will win this matchup.

Scoia’tael:

Traps are the hardest matchup, as they make some of your crime cards useless. Only chance for you is win first round and go for 2:0. In round 3 opponent can play no unit and for finish will use Eldain. Although you will have a hard time against no unit Precision Strike due to their non-interactive play, and most of your crimes being offensive, you have a much easier time against devotion Nature’s Gift due to their lack of removal and tech cards like Heatwave. Most of the time your important engines like Cleaver and Sir Skewertooth should stick easily and get lots of value, while also killing engines like Hamadryads. Tunnel Drill is the MVP here since it can answer multiple engines at once, including Eithne’s Young Dryads. However, it can easily be answered by a Nature’s Rebuke, hence the timing of dropping the Drill is key, to get the maximum value out of the 1 turn of spending available to you.
Bleed or not? Bleed.
Who will win? Scoia’tael is favoured in this matchup, part from Gift.

Monsters:

Second bad matchup is Arachas Swarm with Yrden, and we could see many Arachas with Yrden these days. Opponent can make big tempo and your only one card to kill Drones is Drill but opponent can destroy it thanks to Parasite. This matchup is a little bit better if opponent plays version without Yrden.
Viy is definitely better for Crimes. You have many ways to stop opposing consume cards, which means Viy will not grow that much. In this matchup you should win round 1 and go for long round 3.
Bleed or not? You should bleed Arachas Swarm deck but against Viy you should go for long round 3.
Who will win? Arachas will probably win. Crimes are favoured against Viy.

Skellige:

Crimes are a little bit favoured against Skellige Warriors. You have to win first round and then bleed second round to get Eist from opponent’s hand. Probably he will have to play all good cards to win second round. You have big chances to win short last round.
Bleed or not? It is important to bleed second round.
Who will win? Crimes are favored in this matchup.

Nilfgaard:

Chinese Ball becomes the best and the most popular NG deck. Generate terryfing value so bleeding is necessary. Short round is also dangerous with double Joachim, so matchup is difficult and unfavoured. On red coin SY have decent chances, especially if is able to win on even.
You should win the first round against old Ball as in most matchups. Heatwave is your answer for Masquerade Ball. You don’t have purify in your deck, so short round 3 is better.
Cloggers might be tricky sometimes, but with a pretty good draw you have answers against both defender and Kolgrim. You should win the long round, winning R1 is also quite important.

Win condition:

Gord, Cleaver, Tunnel Drill

Good against:

Viy, Northern Realms Witchers, Warriors,

Bad against:

Chinese Ball, Arachas Swarm, Scoia’tael Traps

Cards replacements:

Flying Redanian/Heatwave + Tavern Brawl into Sigi/Triss + Payday/ Coerced Blacksmith

Monsters - Crimson Infestation | Arachas swarm | 4.0 stars

Patch 8.3 came out, and impacted the meta game substantially – Gwent feels more fresh than ever, plenty of cards and archetypes found their way back or straight into mainstream. Most importantly – in a way that didn’t create any Viy-like monsters (pre-nerf), which would dominate the entire game. New meta is diverse, and our beloved Arachas feels very good in it, being able to shine against the old deck concepts and the fresh ones alike.

Nothing changed majorly in the way we play this deck, but due to the meta being again more reliant on tall / boosted units, we are suggesting a couple of alternatives depending on the type of opponents you find prevalent in your games.

Difficulty: Standard

Gameplan:

Mulligan
Clearly you don’t want two Riders, and Knickers. On red, depending on who you play against be wary Riders require dominance. If possible ensure a healthy combination of golds/bronzes, which will last until your first major point slam (Chimera – Adrenaline 4), with at least 1 of yours strong finishers present just in case. If you have Oneiro and Whispess, you can even mull out Yen and CC.

Round 1
Spam, spam, spam, and then boost. Best spam is achieved by using 1 of each – Nest and Evolution. Thin your deck, pulling out Riders and Knickers. If need be, even by playing Whispess and CC, as soon as there’s an opponents row with 8p. Win R1 using your strong bronze finishers, like Bone Talisman, Chimera, Dol Dhu Lokke Chimera, but don’t shy away from ensuring win by one of your super golds – Yen, or Triss (into Talisman, or Evolution on drone if you have space, or on Knickers, Chimera if no space). On red always win on even cards. No problem if you use Behemoth as well. Just don’t play all golds at once, and try to keep close score, without overcommitting too soon.

Round 2
Unless you have a shitty hand without any synergy or point slam, or play Lippy / Kelly, always bleed! And very often you’ll win in the process, even starting on one card disadvantage. Spam, bleed with Yen, Behemoth, whatever you have left. Korathi the scenario. Continue to spam and boost.

Round 3
If by now you haven’t won yet, try to launch your last swarm & boost.  Remember to keep at least one drone from ability for Evolution. In longer R3, use your answers – purify the defender, lock Kolgrim or Gezras, Korathi the most dangerous card, etc.

Matchups:

Mirror: If your opponent swarmed too early, you can use Yen to destroy his swarm. Aim always to have a the last say.

Northern Realms (Witchers):

Make sure to move Veiled Griffin Witcher to ranged, or lock/move the boosted one, which means however you cannot lock Keldar anymore.

Bleed or not? Bleed, and keep your lock / Korathi ready for Keldar.

Who will win? 50/50

Scoia’tael:

Nature’s Gift, Elves Swarm, Dwarves – win R1 cheaply, or at least make the opponent spend some key cards. With Symbiosis and Dwarves consider including Yrden in your deck, and use at the right moment for boosted cards, and keep answers (lock / move / purify / Korathi) to their respective key gold cards depending on the deck (Gezras in Elves, Defender, Resilience, Brouver in Dwarves, Madoc in unitless, etc). Against Traps – time your swarming and boosting, trying to foresee and avoid the disastrous effect of Crushing Trap.

Bleed or not? Usually bleed, but against swarm – pass on even

Who will win? Favoured with unitless control Madoc, Dwarves, slightly favoured with Elves, at small disadvantage with Symbiosis, and bigger one with Traps

Monsters (Kelly):

As long as you keep the right answers for the right cards, just play your game of swarming and boosting. Get rid of Nithral, your only major worry.

Bleed or not? No

Who will win? You’re favoured

Skellige:

Against Lippy – use Yen before all their Roaches and discard units pop out together with Cerys, or in the next round after. Against Eist – bleed him out and / or BoG ability before R3

Bleed or not? Don’t bleed Lippy, else – yes.

Who will win? You’re favoured

Nilfgaard:

Don’t let Yen be Coup’ed. In short round consider consuming / purifying Joachim. Against cloggers – employ Yrden in deck, and consider withholding your drones in R1, even if it means discarding some bronzes.

Bleed or not? Yes, until they spend Ball. Against Clog don’t bleed.

Who will win? You’re favoured with most NG, with Clogrim you’re screwed unless you have Yrden.

Syndicate:

Play your game until advantage established in R1. Get rid ot the Drill ASAP.

Bleed or not? Yes, and don’t stop until Cleaver is out.

Who will win? You’re favoured

Good against:

Control decks, majority of other swarm decks, Kelly.

Bad against:

Row punishment (eg. Traps), Clogrim and Yrden decks, you may struggle with NR Witchers and Symbiosis, which are more greedy.

Cards replacements:

a) Korathi and Knickers out – Yrden and Talisman in

b) Korathi out – Igni in

Scoia'tael - Elven Land | Deadeye ambush | 4.0 stars

Good news for Elves fans – they remained strong after the new patch, and most likely their biggest issue in terms of popularity is the crazy amount of viable meta decks in ST these days. In a meta, where Eist is extremely strong, the swarm-y elves can be a pretty strong competitor. It has one of the best long rounds in the game and can put out an extremely scary bleed in Round 2 if given round control.

Difficulty: Standard

Gameplan:

Mulligan
The deck has only one brick in the form of Aelirenn. Hence, you can mulligan much more aggressively in this deck, but do be careful about the Aelirenn brick. Depending on the matchup you might either want to mulligan very important golds if you drew Oneiromancy in order to make your hand more playable. Maxii can make the deck a bit more consistent (and Kolgrim-proof) by putting Aelirenn at the bottom of your deck, if you see that you aren’t drawing your golds, which can allow you to mulligan more aggressively

Round 1
You usually want to try and take this round with your bronze cards. The MVP, if you can make it stick, is the Elven Swordmaster, since with a decent number of elves in your opening hand, the card can play as a basically 1 point per turn engine which is extremely strong for its provision cost. However, spending one (or maybe 2) gold cards is not the end of the world if it gives you round control.

Round 2
Depending on the matchup, if you get round control you would like to bleed with your scenario. This can put your opponent in a very awkward spot especially if they cannot answer your scenario since you put so many points on the board, if you pass at an opportune moment you can make your opponent go even 2 cards down or even 2-0 if you feel like your opponent has a bad hand to defend the bleed.

Round 3
Usually you would want to save at least one or two power plays (Vernossiel, Gezras) for your Round 3 if possible in case you are unable to 2-0 your opponent. With one of these cards you should be able to win even a short round most of the time.

Matchups:

Mirror:

The player on blue is usually favoured in this mirror due to order/first say abuse. You can pretty easily win Round 1 unless your opponent commits a few gold cards to win Round control. However, having first say in the round in which you wish to play scenario can be potentially game deciding, since your opponent is basically following whatever you play, just a turn later because of second say in the round.

Northern Realms:

Against Witcher swarm you will have a much easier time winning Round 1 on blue coin, however it is not unwinnable on red coin. If you can purify the veil on the Griffin Witcher or use Curse of Corruption on it, you should be able to take the round without too much commitment, however you may have to thin your Aelirenn out and/or commit a gold or two. This is worth it, because you always have a better long round than Witchers, as you have clean answers and removals to their threats, while they do not have too many targeted removals to answer your swarm efficiently. If they play vanilla Geralt, it should most likely be bricked, which is good for you.

Scoia’tael:

The other popular Scoia’tael decks are Devotion Nature’s Gift, Trap ST and Precision Strike control. Unless you face the Schirrú version of Precision Strike, you should be favoured in this matchup. Against Nature’s Gift, you should be much stronger in a long round since you have tall punish answers while your opponent is a devotion deck and cannot answer your scenario. Against Traps, you can be slightly unfavoured in a long round due to the existence of Crushing Traps, however if you get round control (or if your opponent plays their scenario Round 1), you should be in a decent spot because you can potentially heatwave a Crushing Trap which can be a good heatwave target for you.

Monsters:

The strongest contender for Monsters right now is Arachas Swarm, and your swarm definitely can make it a tough matchup for them. Your own swarm makes their Yennefer of Vengeberg value very bad, and with cards like Toruviel you can destroy their swarm in one turn which plays for a lot of potential points. Against Keltullis you should be favoured too, however drawing your answers at the right time is extremely important (for example, drawing purify for defender, heatwave for Ciri/Kelly and/or movement for Kelly). Against Viy the matchup can be pretty tough for you, especially with Ihuarraquax milling you of a top end gold. However, if you see a lot of Viy you can try to tech a Spores instead of a 4p bronze or a Curse of Corruption instead of Ele’yas/Toruviel which can make the matchup much better for you.

Skellige:

Right now, the most popular Skellige deck is the Eist Warriors deck, which does not play a lot of wide punish. Since you do not play too tall their leader value is mainly limited to the 12 points from Eist. Hence, you should be pretty favoured against this deck.

Nilfgaard:

Right now the strong options for Nilfgaard are Ball and Cloggers. Against Ball you don’t play tall at all which makes their control options extremely weak. Their locks also don’t see too much value because of the fact that you play a more pointslam version. Against cloggers, Maxii can be an extremely strong card since she can shuffle your deck, making your draws potentially better after getting clogged. Having a purify for defender is pretty good for you and if you use Curse of Corruption you can use purify on a potential Ciri: Nova, since Kolgrim can be killed even behind a defender.

Syndicate:

Syndicate can be a difficult matchup. In a long round Drill can kill a lot of your Elven Deadeyes which can make your Verno and Isengrim value pretty weak. Hence, winning Round 1 and bleeding is extremely important in this matchup.

Good against:

Ball Nilfgaard, Eist Warriors, Arachas Swarm

Bad against:

Syndicate Crimes, Kolgrim

Cards replacements:

Ele’yas/Toruviel -> Curse of Corruption

Dol Blathanna Bomber -> Spores

Scoia'tael - Traps | Deadeye Ambush | 4.0 stars

Traps became the most played Scoia’tael list last season, largely due to its lack of interactivity in the Lined Pockets meta. This season Traps still competes with top decks and has relatively good matchups against swarming and control-focused lineups. The May patch buffed this deck in a couple of minor ways. There is no longer much need for heatwave as Nilfgaard Ball fades in popularity, and Scoia’tael Neophyte’s buff adds up to 2 extra Elven Deadeyes! This deck has both extremely good tempo as well as good control. In many matchups final say is not important as you are favoured in a long round. You can therefore use the scenario in round 1 and tempo ahead by 20-30 points then tempo pass. This might force your opponent to have to play multiple cards and force a long round, which makes you very very happy.

Difficulty: Moderate

Gameplan:

Mulligan
Always mulligan your Aelirenn. Do not hold on to too many traps in round 1 as you do not want to play them at that point. On red coin, having a high powered trap in hand can help abusing your opponent.

Round 1

If you have scenario in round 1 you want to consider playing it especially on blue coin because of the stratagem. In most matchups you want to play it turn 1, then activate your stratagem immediately to proc the first chapter if you suspect your opponent runs Korathi Heatwave. Then win the round with cheap bronzes. On red coin you should try adding as many deadeyes as possible with scenario/Scoia’tael Neophytes to keep reach with Vernossiel. Try not to pull Aelirenn round 1, as she’s fantastic in defending the bleed.

Round 2
You should typically pass round 2. If you are getting bled, do not be scared to commit some traps or even an Eldain to get ahead. Most opponents will try to bleed traps hard, so committing Eldain at the right moment can save leader charges and gain card advantage.

Round 3
Play out your traps and try to stay non-interactive. Often you want to play your Eldain as your second last card and Vernossiel in the front row as a finisher but that is not always the case. If you have leader charges saved, Yaevinn is a pretty solid finisher.

Matchups:

Northern Realms:

Against Commandos the Crushing Traps are often better used to win round 1 and secure the long round than saved for round 3, since Draug can convert the damaged units into more revenants. Lock is also important to save for Foltest. NR Witchers is also a tough match. Use your traps to deny as many boosted units on the opponent’s side as possible. Be careful of Griffin Witcher Adepts as they will make your Incinerating Traps play for 0 points.

Bleed or Not? You should not bleed either deck.

Who will win? Commandos can go either way, but you are unfavoured against Witchers.

Scoia’tael:

Against Symbiosis, crushing traps can deal with all the Wandering Treants. These decks run a lot of special cards, so your Serpent Trap is guaranteed to get a lot of points. Their sequencing is also to some extent predictable (for example they play Gezras late in the round) which you can use to your advantage. Same can be said about Movement Elves. Your Crushing Traps will be deadly in that matchup especially if you save both for round 3. Schirrú decks are one of the few decks where final say is extremely important so winning round 1 is a must. This is easier on blue coin with scenario. Do not be afraid to even commit leader in that matchup as the leader will be pointless in round 3 anyway if your opponent plays Schirrú to kill your deadeyes. Playing Eldain as your last card will outpoint a Gord.

Bleed or Not? You do not want to bleed.

Who will win?  You are favoured against Scoia’tael decks.

Monsters:

Arachas swarm relies on their drones to stay alive. Use your Crushing Traps (sometimes even use spring to quickly kill 1-point drones) and a Pitfall Trap to make sure that does not happen. Here final say is not important, as long as you make sure that Yennefer does not get a lot of value. Viy is a tough match as they can play Haunt in round 1. If they have a tall unit in round 1 you may consider spending a Serpent Trap, just to avoid losing on even. Keltullis is an easier match as the opponent will often be forced to either play their Keltullis in the back row or commit it in round 1. Your Serpent Traps will also be worth a fortune. You might consider playing your Serpent Trap in round 1 to kill a Ciri.

Bleed or not. You do not want to bleed either deck.

Who will win? You will likely lose to Viy but likely win against Arachas Swarm. Keltullis is a slightly favoured matchup.

Skellige:

You will see a fairly even mix of decks on ladder. Versus Eist Warriors, you should do well. A lot of their cards will not find any targets to damage. Their Eist finisher will not be worth a lot since they will neither have a tall unit to use leader on, nor will they have bloodthirst set up for Eist. Final say is not important so tempo passing in round 1 is okay. Against witches, you likely struggle, since they play special cards early in the round to swarm, and damaged units set up monstrously tall Bear Witcher Mentors. save Curse of Corruption for round 3. You will want last say, since Lambert will devastate your deadeyes. Madoc SK lists can be difficult to beat due to their inclusion of Lambert and point slam potential. Against this list, you’ll likely want to commit both scenario and front row Vernossiel in round 1 to ensure last say, otherwise Lambert will go to town on your deadeyes in round 3.

Bleed or not? No.

Who will win? Eist is one of your easiest matchups, but Witchers and Madoc can be quite difficult.

Nilfgaard:

Winning against clog is not going to be easy because they like to push round 1. You have 2 options. Option 1 is to play your scenario then tempo pass and force a long round. Option 2 is to discard in order to prevent your opponent from clogging your deck then try to survive a bleed in round 2 with traps, however you can only do this on red coin or you will lose your card. You have a Maxii to shuffle your deck too, which should be used later in your long round 1 or 2. Save your Incinerating Trap or Pitfall Trap until you think your opponent will play Kolgrim. Against Masquerade Ball you will struggle with points, and without Korathi Heatwave you will struggle even more. Saving scenario for round 3 will over swarm your board, so your options are to either slam it round 1, or keep and use it to bleed in round 2. Timing your traps will be important. For example, when your opponent plays a Joachim you can suspect a Coup so playing a Serpent Trap is a good idea. If you can save your Incinerating Traps for round 3, you can often kill important engines.

Bleed or not? Optional bleed if given long round 2 vs Masquerade Ball.

Who will win? You are unfavoured against Masquerade Ball but favoured against Kolgrim.

Syndicate:

Versus Lined Pockets, winning round 1 and then playing no units in round 3 will make some of their crime cards useless. You will need to be careful though. Your opponent can play a Tunnel Drill or Whoreson Jr. after you play your Eldain, making your Vernossiel finisher worse. You should lock Whoreson Jr. and use Making a Bomb on Tunnel Drill ideally. If you lose round 1, expect a heavy bleed, since their short round 3 is usually very strong. Hidden Cache Passiflora has lots of engines, which give you good trap targets, though a round 2 bleed can be difficult to defend without Curse of Corruption. Without many special cards, serpent trap is probably best used early to deny engine growth. Don’t forget to watch out for Whoreson Jr on your deadeyes!

Bleed or not? No.

Who will win? You will be unfavored versus Lined Pockets, while Hidden Cache should be more of a tossup.

Good against:

Symbiosis, Arachas Swarm, SK Warriors, Kolgrim

Bad against:

Viy, NR Witcher, SK Witchers, SK Madoc, Masquerade Ball, Lined Pockets

Card Replacements:

Curse of Corruption + Nature’s Rebuke >> Korathi Heatwave + Making a Bomb

Northern Realms - Witchers | Uprising | 4.0 stars

The “Way of the Witcher” expansion has introduced a lot of new witcher cards, and as result we finally got a viable witcher deck. This deck excels at bleeding your opponent, even potentially winning 2:0, and also has the tools to defend a bleed. It has a great short round with the witcher trio (Vesemir, Eskel and Lambert) and Amphibious Assault. The deck also includes some of the best carryover cards in the game (with Erland and Vesemir: Mentor). Finally, the deck is also really consistent with the amount of tutor cards, like Geralt: Quen, Amphibious Assault or Selective Mutation. With the recent nerf to Lyrian Scytheman, this deck became more reliant on a short round than before. Having said that, we believe it should still remain a very strong option for players who are hoping to climb the ladder with Northern Realms.

Difficulty: Easy

Gameplan:

Mulligan
Look for Erland and Vesemir mentor in round 1. Having one copy of Griffin Witcher and Griffin Witcher Adept is also a good idea. You have a lot of tutors in the deck so make sure you do not brick them. For example, make sure that you have at least one Warfare card in deck for John Natalis. Never keep more than one of the Witcher trio (Vesemir, Eskel and Lambert) cards in hand. Try to avoid taking risky mulligans if unnecessary, especially in round 3.

Round 1
Try to establish your bronze engines. Griffin Witcher and Griffin Witcher Adepts are a good way to push the round. This is the round where you should develop carryover with Erland and Vesemir: Mentor.

Round 2
Apart from some matchups, you will typically want to bleed round 2 and go for a short round 3. If your opponent is far behind, you can play the witcher trio and try to 2:0. Otherwise shorten the round and keep witcher trio for a short round 3.

Round 3
You will struggle against many decks in a long round especially engine decks. Your short round should be very strong.

Matchups:

Mirror: In mirror matches, establishing carryover is more important than winning the round so that should be your main priority. Bleeding does not accomplish much because your opponent can match your tempo.

Northern Realms:

Besides Witchers, Shieldwall is the other most common archetype. Some versions run Madoc, while some versions play devotion cards. Either way, bleeding round 2 is important since their engine value is better than yours. Try not to give them a good Anseis by boosting your important units too tall.

Bleed or Not? You should bleed Shieldwall and try to win in a short round.

Who will Win? You should be favoured against Shieldwall if you bleed them well.

Scoia’tael:

Scoia’tael is a diverse faction with Elves, Symbiosis, Precision Strike Control and Dwarves being strong options. Movement Elves, Symbiosis and Dwarves can overwhelm you with their engines, so bleeding them and breaking their combo pieces is important. Unitless decks can deny your boosts, however since you are not giving them many engines to control, they can struggle.

Bleed or Not? You should try to bleed Scoia’tael decks.

Who will Win? You should be favoured against Symbiosis, control and Dwarves. Movement elves are a trickier matchup.

Monsters:

The strongest strategies are Keltullis, Arachas Swarm, Viy and Vampires. Keltullis is a hard matchup since it is hard to answer both Ciri and Keltullis. Bleeding out Keltullis is important. You have a better chance against Arachas Swarm, especially if you can set up an Igni or Yrden. Viy is a good matchup if you draw your tall punishes. Vampires can struggle against your Griffin Witcher Adepts since these can transform other witchers to remove bleeding.

Bleed or Not? You want to bleed against Kelly deck and force them to play Keltullis. Keldar will be useful here since the 2-point tokens will make their Keltullis worse. You should bleed Arachas Swarm since their short round is usually underwhelming. Against Viy if you have a good hand in round 2, you can try to win 2:0. Otherwise take the long round. You want to bleed Vampires as well because bleeding status is usually not good in a short round.

Who will win? You are unfavoured against Keltullis especially if your opponent saves Keltullis for round 3. You are favoured against the rest of monster decks.

Skellige:

The two most common archetypes are warriors and Lippy. Lippy is a favoured matchup while warriors are more of a tossup. Against Lippy try to establish carryover. Set up your Griffin Witcher Adepts since Blueboy Lugos might not get value in that situation. Sometimes it is okay to pass early and defend a bleed, since you can win card advantage in that scenario. A long round also suits you so going down a card in round 1 if your opponent passes early is fine. Against Skellige warriors try to win round 1 and bleed hard in round 2. Try not to give your opponent bloodthirst especially against blaze of glory. Try to force some of their stronger plays.

Bleed or Not? Against Lippy, taking a long round is fine. Against Skellige warriors you should bleed heavily.

Who will win? If you develop carryover against Lippy you are favoured. Skellige Warriors matchup is a tossup, as it depends on if you can bleed out your opponent’s strong plays in round 2.

Nilfgaard:

The two most common archetypes are Masquerade Ball and Assimilate. Occasionally you might still see Kolgrim decks. Try to win round 1 against Masquerade Ball and bleed out their scenario in round 2. Their round 3 is weaker without it. The same strategy applies to assimilate decks. Against Kolgrim try not to give them a good target to clog you with in round 1. Erland for example is a bad target for them. If you play our version with Igni, you can deal with Kolgrim without having to worry about their defender.

Bleed or Not? You should bleed against assimilate and Masquerade Ball. If you have an answer to Kolgrim you can take a long round.

Who will win? If the Masquerade player has the right answers to your engines, and has enough tall punishes, you will be unfavoured, especially if you fail to bleed out the scenario. Assimilate is also very tricky because of how good their long round is. You should be favoured against Kolgrim because of how much consistency and thinning you have.

Syndicate:

Syndicate Crimes is a tough matchup. Their intimidate engines will overwhelm you in a long round. Save a Boiling Oil for Tunnel Drill since the card will remove boosts from your units.

Bleed or Not? You should bleed your opponent heavily and shorten round 3 as much as possible.

Who will win? You are unfavoured in this matchup.

Good against:

Kolgrim, Symbiosis

Bad against:

Syndicate Crimes, Keltullis

Cards replacements:

Igni -> Prince Anseis, Yrden or Geralt of Rivia

Tier 3

Northern Realms - Commandos | Inspired Zeal | 3.75 stars

Commandos come back to meta with Foltest buff. The possibility of creating multiple Blue Stripes Commando is now even greater. Deck is all about making copies of Blue Stripes Commando and spam them from deck. In next round you put them back to deck thanks to Pavetta and in third round play them again.

Difficulty: Standard

Gameplan:

Mulligan:
You want to have defender, Foltest, Blue Stripes Commando and Blue Stripes Scout to make as much as possible copies of  Blue Stripes Commando.

Round 1
You want to play defender Blue stripes commando and Foltest to make Commando copies. You can save  Roche: Merciless for bleed in second round.

Round 2
You should bleed and try to make 3rd round as short as possible.

Round 3
Play Blue Stripes Commando what should make win for you.

Matchups:

Mirror:

It’s good for you to have first say in last round. It allows you to play Draug first and make more points by killing enemy’s Kaedweni Revenants.

Scoia’tael:
You should win first round thanks to Blue Stripes Commando. You don’t have to swarm it if you have more tempo without swarm but you should do this if it is necessary.

Bleed or not?
Bleed as long as possible. You can play Pavetta in second round or in last if you have  Oneiromancy or Amphibious Assault for 3rd round.
Who will win?
You are favourite

Monsters:
Lack of tall removals and reset cards make matchup against Viy harder. You have big tempo with Commandos but Viy can make more points. You should try to win first round.

Bleed or not?
Bleed. Play all in and everything depends how much Viy opponent will get in r3.
Who will win?
Depends how much Viy opponent will get in r3. It is close matchup.

Skellige:
Against Eist, you make copies of Blue Stripes Commando and you should win first round. Bleed r2 with Roche: Merciless  and try to get Eist from opponents hand. Put Commando back to deck and If he save Eist for r3 you should also win thanks to Commandos swarm.

Bleed or not?
Bleed
Who will win?
Commandos are favourite.

Nilfgaard:
This matchup can be bad for NR if enemy draw locks on your Commandos. You can spawn them in your deck but it can be hard to win first round, because you can’t swarm them on table.

Bleed or not?
If you won first round you should bleed as long as possible.
Who will win?
If you won first round it should be your win. It can be hard to do this so NG is little bit favoured.

Syndicate:
You should make tempo in first round with  Blue Stripes Commando and make as much as possible copies in your deck.

Bleed or not?
You should bleed second round. If had some  Blue Stripes Commando and you draw it you should play this card and try to play Pavetta in 3rd round. Thanks to Oneiromancy or  Amphibious Assault spawn all  Blue Stripes Commando copies.
Who will win?
You are favourite in this matchup.

Win condition:
Draug, Blue Stripes Commando
Good against:
SK, SY
Bad against:
Viy
Cards replacements:
Reinforcements ->  Sabrina Glevissig/ Dorregaray of Vole

Nilfgaard - Madoc Nilfgaard | Imprisonment | 3.75 stars

Nilfgaard has seen a major nerf after Masquerade Ball was reworked to only work with loyal aristocrats. This deck is perhaps the deck that Nilfgaard players need. The idea behind the deck is to play Madoc and transform Letho into Madoc, giving you double Madoc. Then enjoy playing your bombs for a lot of value. Each bomb plays for around 10 points making them comparable to some gold cards. However, the deck will struggle against other control decks especially if your Madoc gets dealt with.

Difficulty: Hard

Gameplan:

Mulligan:

Always mulligan Madoc as you do not want him in deck. Otherwise, be careful to not brick your Geralt: Quen. Sometimes you will struggle with proactivity in round 1. In that case make sure you have some proactive options.

Round 1
Try to establish carryover by playing a bomb then transforming Letho into Madoc. Warritt can be a nice play in round 1 as it gives you an opportunity to steal your opponent’s best card. Depending on round length, playing Viper Witcher Mentor to get you out of the round is useful.

Round 2

Bleeding is typically a good idea. However, you are a playing a reactive deck so make sure you have enough proactivity to bleed efficiently.

Round 3
You have plenty of pointslam options. Save bombs for threats. Your leader can help you deal with threats as well.

Matchups:

Mirror:

Final say is useful. Save Northern Wind to banish your opponent’s Madoc.

Northern Realms:

Shieldwall is a good matchup is you have answers to their engines as well as the ability to bleed out the duel cards. Commandos are a good matchup too since you can banish commandos with Northern Winds. Their only threat is Foltest which you should easily deal with.

Bleed or Not: You should bleed Shieldwall to force out their engines and potentially duel cards. You can take a long round against commandos.

Who Will Win? You are favoured Shieldwall and Commandos.

Scoia’tael:

Unitless decks are tough to beat especially Trap decks as they have a very strong finisher. Therefore your strategy should be to bleed out your opponent’s combo pieces with your tempo plays. Dwarfs can be tricky. Although you have answers to your opponent’s threats they are usually not efficient due to the fact that dwarfs have armour.

Bleed or Not? You should bleed unitless decks and force out combo pieces. Against dwarfs, bleeding out Brouver is a good idea.

Who Will Win? You are unfavoured against ST decks.

Monsters:

Viy is a 50/50. You have plenty of control to kill your opponent’s consume units. Keltullis is a pretty good matchup. You play plenty of specials and spies meaning that you can deny your opponent some points from their Keltullis.

Bleed or Not? If your opponent already played Ciri: Dash it’s okay to take a pass, otherwise you should go for a soft bleed to try to force it out. You could try to soft bleed Viy to hopefully make them commit Haunt.

Who Will Win? Viy is a tossup and depends on how well you’re able to deal with consumes. Keltullis should be a better matchup.

Skellige:

SK warriors is a tossup. They do not have a way to deal with your Kolgrim. If you bleed out Eist you should have a better short round.

Bleed or Not? You should bleed heavily and force out your opponent’s Eist.

Who Will Win? It’s a tossup and depends on how well you bleed out your opponent’s Eist.

Nilfgaard:

Clog: Clog should be a nice matchup. You play a lot of specials which can make it awkward for your opponent to clog you.

Bleed or Not? If you have Moon Dust in hand you can take a long round. Save Moon Dust for the defender and your leader should be able to deal with Kolgrim.

Who Will Win? You are favoured against Kolgrim.

Win condition:

Madoc, Letho: Kingslayer, Viper Witcher Mentor

Good against:

Commandos

Bad against:

Control

Cards replacements:

Lambert->Heatwave, Triss: Telekinesis

Nilfgaard - Cloggers | Tactical Decision | 3.75 stars

With the introduction of patch 8.3 fear came upon the Nilfgaardian Empire, and a ray of hope appeared for all other conflicted factions, dimming the toxic glow of the Great Sun. The well deserved nerfs to Viper Witcher Mentors, restoring them to their original state, were followed by a very harsh treatment to Kolgrim, with a drastic reduction of Adrenaline to a mere 1 – deserved as well nonetheless.

Both the fears and the hope were exaggerated, as Klogrim is alive and well, albeit no longer OP. Playing this deck requires now very good moves planning, careful targets selection, and general strategy varying depending on the opponents ability to deny your clog. In such state we can clearly recommend it as a very much viable and fun deck to play, without risking being called bad names after the game. Still, don’t count on many GGs after 😉

As much as your game plan is simple – clog, clog more, profit, the execution isn’t, as more and more players are finding the right way to play against it – meaning delaying your clog as much as possible.

There are multiple versions of this deck out there – the one we pick combines supreme thinning (really good consistency), the ability to re-roll a bad hand and play with yourself if your opponent doesn’t play ball, and some serious point-slamming.

The main conditions unlocking your strategy are:
a) Targets played by opponents and the use you make of them. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not only 4p bronzes, as you can win easily even clogging with some useless golds.
b) Ability to play with yourself in absence of targets.

Difficulty: Standard

Gameplan:

Mulligan:
You don’t want Roach, Knickers, Hounds. If your hand looks fairly good, but you aim for a better one, you can mulligan away Necromancy and Assire, as rarely needed in R1. What you really want, especially on blue coin, is Helge, and if you foresee a long round with close score, Ciri.
Your ultimate goal is to ensure that even if your opponent doesn’t want to play your game, you have enough cards allowing you to play 3 turns with yourself, after which you have plenty more options, or he passed.

Round 1
If on blue, start with Helge, even if low on Tactics. More will come with ability. On red you might as well, as it gives a perfect bait for your opponent to burn their valuable removers / lockers, and they may have none left after you clog them. Cynthia is also a great start, but if you’re short on both, you can always safely play Menno and use one of the boosting Tactics on him. If your opponent started with unlocking Magic Lamp or playing any non critical bronzes, you can start clogging right away with Coated Weapons. If your opponent discards cards or plays key bronzes and golds, do not waste your ability before you can use its maximum potential, and do not waste your cloggers (Viper Witchers) and point slammers (Viper Mentors) – you’ll need each and every of them in the right moment. Your ultimate sacrifice limit should be creating Viper Witcher Adept from location. From 4th turn your options open wide – either your opponent has stopped discarding and passed, which means you have to get ready for clogging in R2, or he started playing, which unlocks targets for Viper Witchers.
Remember that this deck theoretically has 5 of them (or Mentors), as you have Gorthur Gvaed, Vigo and Necromancy, but in most cases Vigo plays best by pulling out 2 Hounds for thinning and wide point slam.
Win this round at all cost, in some cases even on 2 cards down, if you finish off with Ciri. Don’t hesitate to use your Defender or ability – you can bring back Ffion for R3 through Assire, and ability is here purely to generate a better hand.

Round 2
Assuming you won R2, bleed, and bleed hard. If you haven’t used Necromancy and any Mentor yet, play 1 Mentor to have a Necro target to bring him back later. If you clogged well and the opponent hasn’t jumped out of his wincon yet, you may want to use Kolgrim now, if you have at least 1 Mentor for R3, and Ciri carryover. If you’ve used Ffion in R1, and thinned your deck very well, you can use Assire to get him back.

Round 3
Ideally you should have 6/5 cards before mulligans in your deck, which ensures you’ll get what you need. If opponents has no way of using it, put his most valuable card back in deck for Mentor. Pray for no Yrden.

Matchups:

Mirror: Forget about protecting Kolgrim, and try to make more use from boosting and Helge.

Northern Realms (Witchers):

Students are your ideal targets, but you’ll do very well if you flood your opponents with Adepts. Ideally spawn one with your Viper Witcher, and once shield breaks, spawn again with Coated Weapons.

Bleed or not? Bleed, at least until Trio is out.

Who will win? 50/50 – they still can generate a lot of points in R3, and with good hand win R1.

Scoia’tael:

Ideal targets – 4p bronzes and tokens, but some less strategic bronzes will also do, even the Pyros. Against dwarves, remove defender with Joust and two Helge shots, but if not successful, you might as well clog their deck with Figgis as the last resort. Against unitless – survive long enough to win R1 and start clogging at the first opportunity, even with Maxii.

Bleed or not? Yes

Who will win? Favoured with Gift, slightly favoured with Elves and Dwarves, at disadvantage againts unitless.

Monsters:

Kelly – if they start with Defender, play with yourself until you run out of options. If R1 win impossible, clogging with Cave Troll as your last resort can also work. AS – wait until your many token targets appear, and make use of them. Helge is your friend both as bait, and drone removal.

Bleed or not? Yes

Who will win? You’re at slight disadvantage with Kelly, favoured with AS.

Skellige:

Against Lippy, win R1 ideally starting to clog ASAP, before they start their draw and discard porn, and push in R2, remembering that graveyard / deck swap will mess up your Kolgrim and clogging. With Eist, play the regular game and lure out all their Longships – and do not use Coated Weapons on them, unless you want Kolgrim to die on entry…

Bleed or not? Yes

Who will win? You’re slightly favoured with Eist, at disadvantage with Lippy.

Nilfgaard:

Try to avoid Coup on Vigo, and remember that Informants will be used for revenge clog, so you just have to clog R1 and R2 much stronger. Mentor does wonders in winning R1 if Ball in deck. Bait their Yen into Helge ideally, even in Ciri, as Yen on Defender in R3, and lock / poison on Kolgrim can mean missing a few essential points.

Bleed or not? Yes, until they spend Ball and / or Joachim.

Who will win? You’re favoured with most NG, but strong hand Assimilate can outpoint you for 2:0, if you don’t have Kolgrim in R2.

Syndicate:

Spawn those Safecrackers and Muscles and watch them waste their golds. Remember that most of those decks only have 1 purify and 1 Korathi, so try to get at least one out before R3.

Bleed or not? Yes

Who will win? You’re favoured

Good against:

Most of the meta decks out there, with some exceptions mentioned above.

Bad against:

Very greedy decks with strong R3, if your opp managed to win R1, or unitless decks.

Scoia'tael - Symbiosis | Nature's gift | 3.75 stars

With a nerf to the Kolgrim archetype and Keltullis falling out of favour, Devotion Nature’s Gift can be the potential contender for a strong Scoia’tael deck.

Difficulty: Standard

Gameplan:

Mulligan
If you have Eithne in Round 1 and have Dunca as well, it can be good to mulligan Eithne since if you plan on playing Dunca, she can boost Eithne which makes all those boosts dead once she transforms. If you can make a Hamadryad stick in Round 1, you can easily take the round by playing just bronze Nature cards due to the passive points you get as a result of the Symbiosis tag.

Round 1
In Round 1 you would like to establish carryover with Dunca and try to win the round by just committing your bronze nature cards which can generate a lot of passive points along with a Hamadryad on board. You can also play your Shaping Nature echo card which plays for a lot of tempo in itself.

Round 2
In engine mirrors you can abuse first say by dropping defender, Pavko in order get ahead of your opponent in terms of engines developed. This can multiply and end up in you being a lot of points ahead of your opponent.

Round 3
For Round 3 you have Eithne (if you didn’t play her already in Round 2), a few bronze Nature cards and a Harald Gord finisher which can be a lot of points in a short round.

Matchups:

Mirror:

In the mirror, the most important thing is first say. Be it about Blue coin vs Red coin in Round 1, or first say in the longest round. If your opponent pushes you very deep into Round 1 you can afford to give up the round since Round 2 will be extremely short and awkward for your opponent to abuse first say, meaning they have to dry pass, hence giving you first say in a longer round 3.

Northern Realms:

Against Witcher Swarm, it can be slightly hard to take round 1 on red coin, however they usually have no control outside of an Anséis (sometimes a Vanilla Geralt). However, if you suspect your opponent is playing Yrden (if they play Kerack City Guards or overcommit very hard to win Round 1), you should answer with your own commitment and bleed your opponent since a long Round against Yrden should be a loss for you.

Scoia’tael:

The matchups you have against the rest of the Scoia’tael decks is not the best. Trap and Precision strike decks have lots of control with which they can easily answer your engines like Hamadryads. However, if you can push both decks hard in Round 2 they can potentially have bad hands which means you could even 2-0 or get out a lot of their control options.

Monsters:

You have a very solid matchup against the most popular Monsters deck – Arachas swarm right now. However, the matchups against Kelly and Viy are really not that great and you will usually suffer quite a bit especially if you are not able to win Round 1.

Skellige:

Against Eist Warriors, you have a pretty decent matchup because you play a lot of tempo and if you avoid stacking a lot of boosts on your Hamadryad, you should be able to deny them lots of leader value and you also deny them lots of bloodthirst since most of your units are almost always boosted or they are 1 power treants that cannot give bloodthirst.

Nilfgaard:

Against Ball Nilfgaard, you usually have a good time since you have access to up to 3 Carresses (and up to 2 veils from your echo card) which can really disrupt the lock-poison control Nilfgaard usually has. You want to win Round 1 and bleed Round 2 in this matchup to get Ball out, since you are a devotion deck and have no answers to scenarios. However, against Kolgrim, you spawn a lot of 1 point treants that can be clogged pretty easily and make mulligans a nightmare for you, hence it is not really a great matchup for you.

Syndicate:

Against Syndicate crimes, they have quite a bit of control to answer your engines. Winning Round 1 and bleeding Round 2 in order to try and catch them offguard with a bad hand might be the most efficient way to win this matchup, however, it is still a very bad matchup for you.

Good against:

Masquerade Ball, Arachas Swarm

Bad against:

Keltullis, Kolgrim Cloggers

Cards replacements:

Pavko + Figgis -> Ele’yas + Frexinet

Ciaran -> Paulie Dahlberg/Morenn

Scoia'tael - Schirrú | Precision Strike | 3.75 stars

Schirrú is making a comeback! Thanks to so many decks on ladder which swarm efficiently, Schirrú is thriving. Though it’s notably been a difficult deck to pilot in past seasons, this season feels a little more straightforward. NR Commandos, ST Deadeye Traps, and various other 4-5 strength unit decks make lining up a strong Schirrú play an absolute blast. Generally, this deck wants to win round one to avoid being bled. Harald Gord’s survival as your big finisher is your main win condition. Schirrú’s long round is pretty darn good when you consider how uninteractive the deck can play using cards like Saesenthessis, Saber-Tooth Tiger, and Madoc bombs. However, being bled isn’t necessarily a death sentence either if your opponent bleeds you, since depending on the matchup, you can drop Schirrú late in the round to gain card advantage before finishing a short round 3 with a huge Gord.
Using Pyrotechnicians, Madoc bombs, Serpent Traps, and Geralt should allow you to win round 1, take the dry pass to round 3, then kill everything your opponent throws on his side of the board, and finish the game with your massive Gord.

Difficulty: Standard

Gameplan: 

Mulligan
Obviously you don’t want to have Gord, Brokilon Sentinels and Madoc in your starting hand. Ideally you can play whole your hand in round 1.

Round 1
On blue coin, drop Saber-Tooth Tiger and play a ton of bombs, along with a tall removal or two. On red, destroy your opponent’s proactive plays with bombs, maybe drop Saesenthessis, and again use tall removal to win the round.

Round 2
Pass, you do not have any ability to bleed. Last say is very important for you.

Round 3
Be as uninteractive as possible. Kill everything, set up a great Schirrú, play a massive Gord, win the game!

Matchups:

Mirror:

This comes down to having last say. Win round one. Using Schirrú in round 1 is your best option, since round 3 should be pretty uninteractive. Serpent traps can kill Saesenthessis in round 3, so save one or both for later.

Northern Realms:

Versus Witches, you need to win round one, otherwise you get bled to death before losing by double digit points. Purify Witcher Adepts with Moon Dust, move Griffin Witchers. Schirrú can be very good in a longer round 3 in this matchup. Against Commandos, you are favored in a long round 3, but the difficult part is getting there. Typically Commandos lists lack removal, though you’ll run into an occasional Baron to reset Gord, so winning round 1 is important. If you cannot answer Foltest in round 1 though, you’re best off passing early to defend the bleed. Schirrú is godly in round 3. This will be one of your harder matchups, likely coming down to whether or not your opponent could use Foltest early.

Bleed or not? No, no, definitely not.

Who will win? Both matchups are toss ups, though slightly favoured versus Witchers.

Scoia’tael:

Dwarves – lol just don’t plan on facing them. For real though, if you do, they’re pretty tough because of the variance in boosted units and armor needed to ping through. Elves are a great matchup so long as you win round 1 and keep Schirrú for annihilation in round 3. Simbiosis should also be winnable since they go quite tall and have small treants that Schirrú can mop up nicely.

Bleed or not? No.

Who will win? Dwarves are favored vs Schirrú, but Elves and Simbiosis are favorable.

Monsters:

Against Keltullis winning round 1 means you probably win the game. Uninteractivity does really well against Kelly decks typically as long as you have tall removal – which Schirrú does. Schirrú won’t find great targets, but that shouldn’t matter too much. Early Serpent Traps to kill defender and Ciri are quite important. If you run into an Arachas swarm deck, your Schirrú will work wonders, as will Madoc. Play as deep into round 1 as you can, denying swarm. You likely won’t win round 1, but a massive Schirrú can change the game. Feel free to use him to secure card advantage if bled. Viy will be a really tough matchup, though having 3 solid tall removals helps. Schirrú is best used in round 2 or 3 against thrive units.

Bleed or not? Bleed against swarm if your opponent passes early without committing anything important. Versus Keltullis you need a long round to kill tall units late, along with some luck with Schirrú.

Who will win? Keltullis is about a 50/50 if not slightly unfavoured. Winning round 1 without the Ciri playing through is important. Swarm wins if they keep extra swarm to play after you use Schirrú. Viy almost always outpoints you in this unfavoured matchup.

Skellige:

If you face Eist Warriors, the key to win the matchup is winning round 1 and having last say. If you cannot win round 1, your opponent will kill your Gord with Eist and make a massive point swing. Keeping Schirrú for round 3 can be very good, due to  many 4 to 6 points card on the opponents side of the board. Against witchers, your Serpent Traps will be pretty awful, since they play relatively few, if any special cards late in rounds. Your best shot is to win round 1 and keep Schirrú for the discarded units in round 3. Finally, if you run into an SK Madoc deck, you’ll be favored because your Schirrú will find plenty of targets and your uninteractive play makes things awkward for your opponent.

Bleed or not? No.

Who will win? You should be favoured against Eist and Madoc, while witchers will probably have their way with you.

Nilfgaard:

Ball should be a pretty good matchup for you. Your opponent won’t find good removal targets. Schirrú is best in round 3 to deny engines, though a round 1 Schirrú on red coin can win a card from your opponent. Kolgrim can be tough if you play bronze units in round 1, however if you can keep units off the board, you should do well. Using Schirrú in round 1 can secure the round and give you a long round 3 to win the game.

Bleed or not? No.

Who will win?
You should be favoured against both opponents.

Syndicate:

Crimes should be a relatively good matchup since it has evolved into a more control-focused deck. It will be hard to win round 1, and your Madoc will likely change sides thanks to Philippa. Schirrú in this matchup is best for Cleaver and his Muscles, while Serpent Traps should find really good value. Passiflora should be a bad matchup with its lack of special cards and passive engine build. If you can lineup a good Schirrú in round 1 it can be the difference between winning and losing. You do not want to get bled, since the scenario will out tempo you and make you lose a card.

Bleed or not? No.

Who will win? Very favoured matchup for Passiflora, while Crimes is now slightly favored.

Good against:

Elves, Symbiosis, Eist, SK Madoc, Ball, Crimes

Bad against:

Passiflora, Viy, SK Witchers

Cards replacements:

Éibhear Hattori + Serpent Trap >> Morenn + Korathi Heatwave

(Necessary if ladder plays high amounts of Passiflora, Ball, and Commandos)

Syndicate - Firesworm | Congreate | 3.5 stars

Even after receiving many tools in the Master Mirror expansion, Firesworn has never been able to consistently perform as a top tier deck. The concept of the deck is pretty simple; play your Fallen Knights, swarm the board, then boost all your cards. Professor and Whoreson Junior are very strong after the buffs and are in autoinclude territory for all Syndicate decks. Jacques, in addition to being a very good card by itself, is a great engine with all your Firesworn cards. Even though the bulk of the deck is related to swarming, it also runs a small Crime package. Whoreson Senior joins his (not) beloved son to provide an alternate source of points for the deck – if both of the Cutup Lackeys can stick to the board, they will be worth a lot of value. Although the deck can be pretty powerful when you draw your top cards, it has a weakness in terms of draw consistency.

Difficulty: Easy

Gameplan:

Mulligan:
Make sure to always have at least one crime in your deck for Ferko, and at least one bronze unit, preferably Fallen Knight, for your Ulrich. You should be careful with Excommunication, it can screw you over if you don’t have a way to ensure a good target. The last card you have to be mindful of is Procession, make sure you can generate enough firesworn tokens if you decide to keep it.

Round 1
You can decide to commit your Ulrich into Fallen Knight depending on your hand state. Play out your bronze cards.

Round 2
Depends on your matchup, most of the time you are better off in a long round 3. But in some matches you need to bleed out your opponent’s key cards.

Round 3
Fallen Knights. Set up your engines. Swarm. Boost. Profit.

Matchups:

Mirror:

This can be mostly solitaire. Try to answer your opponent’s engines with your Professor and Whoreson. Hopefully you drew into enough points.

Northern Realms:

You can easily win round 1 against Witchers, since those decks don’t have much points in the first round. And it’s important to ensure the round control since you can just outpoint them in a long round 3. Also Witchers don’t have a way to remove your engines, meanwhile you can remove theirs thanks to Professor and Whoreson Junior. Against Commandos though, you can be in a world of hurt if you are unable to answer Foltest. Commandos can easily out-tempo you to win the first round and hard bleed the second round. You will be feeling really useless in a short round against the quick swarm decks.

Bleed or not? You should always take the longer round 3 – you have way more point potential than Witchers and Commandos.

Who would win? Witchers are slightly favored because of your ability to ensure round control. Commandos are a really bad matchup, because unless your opponent draws really badly, you can’t hope to win the first round.

Scoia’tael:

Traps are a real nightmare for this deck, Crushing Traps can single handedly ruin your day. Not to mention the multiple removals for your Fallen Knights. Against Nature’s Gift, you run into the issue of not having enough answers for your opponents’ engines. Gezras, Pavko, Hammadryads, Eithne – too many engines and not enough answers. No-unit control can also be really difficult, turning into an impossible ordeal if you fail to bleed out Shirrú. With Movement also has the same issue as you had with Gift, too many engines. As an added bonus, Gaetan and Cat Witchers can ping off your tokens.

Bleed or not? You must bleed to get Shirrú out again N-U control. Against Gift, you should bleed and see if you can get a lucky 2-0. In other matchups, you’re better off the longer the round is.

Who should win? N-U control is a 50/50. Other matchups are heavily unfavored.

Monsters:

You have more points in a longer round 3 compared to Arachas Swarm, not to mention you make their Yen obsolete and Triss harder to pull of thanks to your bronze specials. Yrden can be an issue but you should still be able to outpoint them. Against Viy you should be looking for a long round 3, so make sure you get the round control. Viy can be an issue because you don’t have much ways to remove their consumes. Keltullis has a field day with this deck though, you have no ways to removed a buffed up Ciri or Keltullis. You will probably have a hard time to get through even the defender.

Bleed or not? Bleed Arachas a little to make their Yrden worse. You’re better in a longer round against Viy. Bleed Kelly to get Kelly out.

Who should win? You’re heavily favored against Arachas, Viy is a slightly unfavored matchup. Kelly is the worst matchup for this deck.

Skellige:

Madoc is a difficult matchup thanks to Lambert ruining all your hopes and dreams. Eist Warrior can efficiently remove your engines too, and your Fallen Nights provide a juicy target for his leader. In case you face Lippy, this deck easily outpoints it in a long round 3.

Bleed or not? There is a case to bleed out Lambert against Madoc. Against Warriors and Lippy you’re better in a long round 3.

Who should win? Lippy is the winnable matchup out of the three. Madoc and Warriors are bad matchups.

Nilfgaard:

Assimilate is a pretty similar deck, busy with doing their own stuff. The problem is Assimilate usually outpoints you in a long round. Against Ball, you are much better off since your removal targets are veiled and other cards don’t go tall at all. You have no ways to remove Madoc as you’re running devotion, making the matchup really hard. Although your Clerics can turn damaged Zealots into Footmen, the matchup still can be quite hard.

Bleed or not? Against Ball decks you need to bleed the scenario out. You’re better in a longer round against Madoc.

Who should win? Assimilate and Madoc are unfavorable for you, but Ball is a more favorable matchup.

Syndicate:

Against Passiflora, you run into the issue of not enough removals again. The amount of engines that Passiflora plays can easily overwhelm you. Against Crimes, the card you need to look out for is Tunnel Drill since it can take down your tokens with ease. But due to the Safecracker nerfs, getting round control now is possible and you should be able to secure an opportunity to bleed out the Drill or its Crownsplitter activators.

Bleed or not? You should always try to bleed out Passiflora. Against Crimes, you should go for a hard bleed, it really struggles in a short round if it uses up its finishers such as Gord or Jacques.

Who should win? Passiflora wins the matchup without much difficulty. Crimes is a 50/50 matchup depending on who gets round control.

Good against:

NR Witchers, Arachas Swarm

Bad against:

Keltullis, Passiflora, Nature’s Gift, ST Movement

Cards replacements:

Cleric of the Flaming Rose -> Smuggle

Northern Realms - Duel NR | Shieldwall | 3.25 stars


With the nerf of Lyrian Scytheman, the era of Uprising’s dominance may finally be over.  As the default leader ability for just about any Northern Realm deck without explicit synergies with other leader abilities, Uprising has been the home of the midrange boost deck as long as it has been around.  If you miss that archetype already, Dueling Shields may be the deck for you.  While it lacks Uprising’s sheer stopping power, it makes up for that with an emphasis on tall removal and engine protection.

Using your leader ability in r1 has a lot more impact in terms of protecting cheaper engines like Frigate and Anna Strenger, though you do miss out on the explosive and near-unconditional finish that Uprising offered.  The consistency issues that have been a weakness in Northern Realm Devotion decks even while they were strong are only more pronounced in the Duel list, seeing as you rely heavily on expensive cards like Viraxas and Anseis that you have no way of tutoring.

Overall, Duel Shieldwall has been a viable archetype quite consistently, but it did not receive any significant amount of support in the latest patch.  The list has remained almost exactly the same, so while it is definitely playable on ladder, it may not always have the same power level as decks that have received more recent buffs.

Difficulty: Easy

Matchups:

Mirror:

Try to save Donimir for r3, as he can deny a lot of Duel value.  Bloody Baron is also important, as your opponent will most likely have at least one heavily boosted unit.

Syndicate Crimes:

Not only is Syndicate Crimes the best deck in the game, it also directly counters your strategy.  With tons of removal at their disposal, getting an engine to stick is quite a feat.  Worse, even if you do protect your engine properly Phillipa can steal it for massive value.  This is easily your most difficult match up.  Try to bait Phillipa with a lesser engine like Temerian Drummer, and try especially hard to force your opponent to use her in r1.  Reserve an answer for Cleaver, whether a shielded duel or Bloody Baron.  He generates massive value when left alone.  Don’t think you are safe to play an engine if your opponent doesn’t have the coins to remove it with Phillipa or Bloody Good Fun.  The Lined Pockets Buff has made people pretty bold about using their Leader Charges in r1 if the target is good enough.

Bleed or no – If they haven’t used Phillipa yet, forcing them to use her in r2 is much better than getting a shielded Vysegotta stolen in r3.

Who wins- Your opponent.

Unitless Scoia’tael:

Unitless ST is another extremely challenging matchup.  They have more than enough removal to stop your engines in their tracks, they have pings to get around your shields, and they run close to zero good targets for a Shielded duel unit to get value from.  This matchup is extremely dependent on your ability to get last say and duel their Gord, so don’t be afraid to commit important cards in round one if it will net you the win.  Many Unitless Scoia’tael lists run Schirrú, so practice extreme caution when using cards like Temerian Drummer and Anna Strenger.  It is easy to accidentally line up an enormous Schirrú for your opponent if you aren’t careful.  Try to reserve Adalia as a counter to Sabertooth Tiger.

Bleed or no – If you feel like your hand may be vulnerable to Schirrú, it’s better to have that happen in r2 than r3.  Just make sure you retain last say.

Who wins – You are not favored here.

Movement Elves:

This list goes wide, denying a lot of value to your duels.  Their value is based on setup and boardstate, so you do have a small edge in the short round.  Save a duel to remove Gezras.

Bleed or no – You should definitely bleed a little.  So many of your opponent’s cards are based on synergy and boardstate that it is actually pretty easy to force them into awkward plays with even a short bleed.

Who wins – There is little you can do to disrupt your opponent’s gameplan if you don’t win r1, so your opponent is slightly favored.

Symbiosis:

Reserve your duels for Hamadryads, as that is where they will get the most value.  It shouldn’t be too hard to keep your engines above five health, letting them generate value unmolested by Nature’s Rebuke.

Bleed or no – Bleed moderately, not too aggressive.

Who wins – You are heavily favored.  There is little they can do to remove your engines and your duel units make some of their best engines useless.

Blaze of Glory:

The new iteration of Skellige Warriors, as usual, offers a fair amount of removal, as well as plenty of pings.  However, this matchup is less challenging than it looks.  First, as a devotion deck, they don’t have an efficient way to remove your defender in a timely manner without committing their leader ability, and even then they need a ping.  This makes your Donimir/Vysogota combo useful for bleeding in r2.  Second, its reliance on tall units like Greatswords and Jutta gives you plenty of targets for a big duel.  Reserve your boiling oils for Brokvar Hunters.  Without them, this deck has a lot more trouble breaking your shields with pings.  Many people run Tyrggvi, so try to reserve one leader charge to counter him just in case.

Bleed or no – If you think you can force them to commit Eist and leader, it may be worth it.

Who wins – About even

Imposter Ball:

Imposter Ball offers many of the standard challenges you would expect from a control deck with access to poisons.  Do what you can to spread around your boosts to deny your opponents some poison value.  Most of your engines are relatively unconditional, so your opponent’s leader ability is a problem.  Avoid using the absolute best imposter targets, such as Anna Strenger, Seltkirk, and Vysogota, in r3, using them instead in earlier rounds.  Make sure Selkirk is protected from being removed before he can duel, either by playing him behind Donimir or giving him zeal with Siege Support.

Bleed or No – Yes.  An aggressive r2 bleed is a good way to get rid of cards that would be problematic if impostered.  If you can use Amphibious Assault with last say in a short r3, you have a good chance of winning.

Who wins – Fairly even match, if a little skewed in your opponent’s favor.

Assimilate:

Assimilate will outvalue you by using assimilate engines as well as stealing your own engines.  However, these engines often run pretty tall, allowing you to get a ton of value with your duel units.  You also have access to far more short round burst value with cards like Amphibious Assault and Prince Anseis.

Bleed – Aggressively.  The shorter r3 is the better.

Who wins – Depends almost entirely on who wins r1.

Crimson Infestation:

Crimson infestation does pose a problem to Shieldwall, as its reliance on wide boards make getting value from large duels tough.  Your best bet at winning is winning in r1 and bleeding for a short r3.  Many lists run a Wild Hunt Bruiser, so try to keep a siege ladder handy when playing Vysogotta, and do your best to activate Seltkirk with zeal from Siege Support.  Frigate can deny a lot of Yennefer value if you get it going fast enough.  Besides Blood Moon, Crimson Infestation runs very few pings, making your shields great at protecting engines from damage cards.

Bleed or No Bleed – You should bleed, but keep in mind you need time for your own engines to generate value.

Who wins – Infestation is favored, as they are better at denying you value through removal than you are at controlling them.

Good against:

Symbiosis

Bad against:

Syndicate Crimes, Crimson Infestation, Unitless Scoia’tael

Cards replacements:

Griffin Mentor -> Griffin Ranger

One of the biggest weaknesses of this deck is its inconsistent ability to draw the units it most depends on.  Griffin Mentor helps with that consistency, and its adrenaline ability can both help to protect engines and make your duel units more potent.  That being said. If you are encountering a lot of swarm decks, Griffin Ranger can generate lots of value, and be an asset when protecting engines.

Honorable mentions & memes


Nilfgaard - Ball | Imposter

Nilfgaard’s evergreen archetype, Masquerade Ball, makes yet another appearance in the current meta. With the familiar faces update, Nilfgaard has seen one of its staple Leader Abilities, Lockdown, reworked, as well as the addition of Anna Henrietta and Emhyr var Emrys, both with the Aristocrat tag.  Finally, Cadaverine has also been reworked, offering support for both the poison and Tactics packages.

This list is pretty much unchanged from earlier Imposter Ball lists, with the exception of the inclusion of Emhyr. Cadaverine and Anna Henreitta both have potential, but at the moment are not quite making the cut. Emhyr, on the other hand, is excellent, providing procs to Enforcers and Dame. If your enforcers go uncontested, their pings are often enough to get engines to one health, allowing Emhyr to steal them. Finally, Emhyr’s card replacement effect is often overlooked, but the added consistency is quite a bonus.

To be clear, replacing Emhyr in this list with Vincent Van Moorlehem is probably the more efficient option. That being said, the power level is close enough that this list is a great way to play around with a new card that has a ton of potential while laddering.

Difficulty: Standard

Gameplan:

Mulligan

If you have Ramon, make sure you also have a bronze soldier in your hand so he doesn’t brick. Also, mulligan away any Hunting Packs first if you plan to mulligan aggressively to avoid bricks. Try to have a lock handy to make sure Vanhemar can use his effect.

Round 1

Rely on your bronze engines as much as possible, committing Ramon if necessary. Using Joachim can be acceptable, but pay close attention to the units in your hand. Joachim pulling a high value unit in r1 like Usurper is potentially game losing. If you have a Hunting Pack in your hand, do your best to use it to thin your deck.

Round 2

Matchup and draw dependent. If you have the aristocrats to proc it, using Scenario to bleed is a legitimate strategy if you think you can reserve cards like Usurper and Joachim that do well in a short round.  

Round 3

Pretty straightforward based on how the game has gone so far. Ideally, you leverage value from your scenario to put you over the top.

Matchups:

Mirror:

If your opponent spawns Operatives on their side of the board with Usurper or Lockdown, you can give them spying with Fergus. That way your Usurper’s order will steal them too! Otherwise, try to get them to waste more resources in earlier rounds than you do.

Syndicate Crimes:

This matchup is incredibly challenging. Not only is Syndicate crimes the best deck in the game, but they also have a ton of control to reign in your engines. They can easily destroy your Emhyr with Bloody Good Fun, and many lists run heatwave for your scenario. The good news is that you’ll have no shortage of gigantic units to poison, the bad news is that you don’t have enough poisons for all of them and will most likely drown in points. Don’t let too many charges accumulate on your enforcers, or Phillipa will steal them.

Bleed or no – Bleeding isn’t off the table, but their flexible Leader ability and Flying Redanian carryover makes it extremely risky.

Who wins – You aren’t favoured here.

Unitless Scoia’tael:

This is an extremely challenging matchup, as Unitless Scoia’tael is specifically designed to deny decks like yours value. Your most important cards are high value, proactive units like Usurper and Joachim. Many Unitless Scoia’tael lists run Schirrú, so be very careful about lining up your Nauzica Sergeants and Dames. If you get last say, you will still have issues removing their Gord in one turn. If you aren’t running Yen’s invocation, you have to either use Imposter to lock it and kill it with Vanhemar, or double proc your Scenario with Roderick or Joachim into another aristocrat. Try to save Ramon as a counter to Sabertooth Tiger if possible.

Bleed or no – Bleed aggressively, as your engines will most likely be killed by removal/destroyed by Schirrú anyway. Relying on Joachim and Usurper in a short r3 is more reliable.

Who wins – You aren’t favored here.

Movement Elves:

This list doesn’t go very tall, so your poisons won’t get a ton of value. However, you are well equipped to deal with their engines since you run so many locks. They rely on row stacking, so can deny a lot of value by filling the row to its limit with a disloyal unit.

Bleed or no – A conservative bleed is good, if they have an awkward hand they could be forced into playing inefficiently. However, you want to make sure you still have a long r3 to take full advantage of your engines, as well as the engine you steal from them with Imposter. Don’t go too hard.

Who wins – A fairly even matchup

Symbiosis:

While they do run a purify, it just makes the unit taller for when you do eventually poison in. They have a decent amount of removal, but not much that gets through Ramon’s extra armor, so you should have no problem getting at least one engine to stick. Since they can’t control which row their symbiosis tokens are spawned, you can force them into awkward plays by blocking a row with disloyal units.

Bleed or no – Bleed if you can, be careful starting a bleed by setting up engines though. Forest Protector is a strong tempo play, and may cost you last say and card advantage.

Who wins – You are slightly favored, as you can disrupt their strategy and gain maximum value from your poisons.

Blaze of Glory:

The good news is that as a devotion list, Blaze won’t run heatwave to destroy your scenarios. The bad news is that they can easily destroy Emhyr with leader, as well as most of your engines with damage spells. However, your own leader ability is pretty strong here too, netting you fourteen points when used on Jutta. If you follow that up with Vanhemar, you’re looking at nearly thirty points in one turn. Fight hard for last say in r1 so you can take advantage of this.

Bleed or no – Yes. Eist plays for insane burst in the shortround, but if you can manage to bleed him out in r2 they may be forced to commit their leader.

Who wins – Fairly even, but it depends a lot on who gets last say and whether an effective bleed happens.

Assimilate:

Your engines are no match for Assimilate’s pure value, but you do far better in the short round. Be careful with saving Usurper, as Double Cross pulls the fully upgraded version when used in r3. Despite your opponent’s ability to steal high value shortround cards like Usurper and Joachim, their deck is famously weak in the shortround, so play aggressively to win r1 then bleed.

Bleed or no – As much as possible. Forcing them to commit leader ability is worth going a card down if you have the right cards to win the shortround.

Who wins – Depends almost entirely on who wins r1.

Crimson Infestation:

Another deck that uses swarm tactics, denying you a lot of poison value. Even worse, they run few units that will net you much value when impostered. Be very aware of their ranged row, if they overcrowd it and let you block it with a spy before they play Yen, you deny them a ton of value. Speaking of Yen, you can easily negate it by spawning it with Coup de Grace. Make sure you play her in the melee row so she does damage instead of boosting. Impera enforcers are absolutely critical for eliminating their tokens before they can be buffed, so make sure to mulligan for them as well as Ramon.

Bleed or no – Bleeding is a good idea, but this deck has a surprisingly good shortround if they can use five leader charges and Yen, so don’t overcommit too much.

Who wins – You are slightly unfavored. While your Enforcers are useful for removing tokens, your opponent will almost certainly plan for that and keep their Natural Selections handy. When protected by Ramon’s armor, Enforcers still die to Parasite. Even using Coup de Grace on Yen sometimes isn’t enough.

Good against:

Symbiosis

Bad against:

Syndicate Crimes, Crimson Infestation, Unitless Scoia’tael

Cards replacements:

Emhyr var Emreis -> Vincent van Moorlehem

Vincent is a real workhouse, bringing consistent, high value removal to the table. While Emhyr has a lot of potential in this list, you’ll probably find more success against opponents who can remove him with Vincent.

Scoia'tael - Zoltan Slammy | Mahakam Forge

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Contributors

Writers, consultants and editors: Gregor__Crythene , Darthlothins, Patsy_1998 , Manekk , Szamuro, TroVNut, HotAndrej2001, Noelle69420, Gregory_Black, Broglas, Truzky, Gandalf0271, Enzomarea, ArtNhr, BiggieO, Rogbros, INPU_EL, Zurii69, TheRealLorenzOFFICIAL, Marcwils, Kostur.

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