meta-snapshot-2-cover-gwent

META SNAPSHOT #2

After a first balance patch which left the field almost untouched, with the exception of the Hidden Cache resurgence, a second hotfix arrived, shaking the board and putting all the factions on an even playing field. While Northern Realms and Skellige seems to be a point over the rest, they can still be beaten by just playing well.

Every faction has at least one viable deck, which makes this meta one of the most balanced in months (probably since the release of Iron Judgement) in terms of competition.

TIER 1

SK - PF Warriorsimport-button

SK – Patricidal Fury Warriors

As Skellige has only been soft nerfed, the strongest list in the patch stays relatively the same: Warriors, but with the auto include Wild Boar of the Sea, as it is a great card.

Despite the recent nerfs in a hotfix, it still remains one of the best lists to climb MMR, and therefore, the main election for most players.

Key Cards:

  • Harald the Cripple: The Skellige evolving card is a great mix between an engine and a pointslam card, allowing us to benefit from veteran cards in the graveyard. Although it was hit with a nerf, it is still a great card.
  • Wild Boar of the Sea: a great card against Swarm builds which generally capitalizes in long rounds solidly. A must include if token builds become the norm.

Pros:

  • Great long and short round.
  • Almost no truly bad pairings.

Cons:

  • Some hands can be awkward on blue coin.

Considerations:

Running Ursine Ritual as a way to abuse red coin with the inclusions of Cerys an Craite and Blueboy Lugos, as shown in the example list.

An option that has been popularized recently has been the use of Blaze of Glory as an ability, which you can check in this list.

Possibility of running a boatless version, like this example list.

NR - Uprising Devotionimport-button

NR – Viraxas Uprising

Despite early experiments with Siege and Pincer Maneuver as go-to options for the faction, the most classic version of Uprising based around Viraxas has remained the most solid list.

After the hotfix to Skellige, Northern Realms has taken a great position among the meta, being one of the contenders to the title of being the best list depending on the moment. The combination between engines and good midrange cards make this list especially good in any situation.

Key Cards:

  • Viraxas: King provides a way to reuse one of our powerful Orders, as it can be used in combination with Prince Anseis or Bloody Baron. It is great even without Devotion as it doesn’t gain much more impact in phase 3.
  • Amphibious Assault: contender for the title of best card of the Master Mirror expansion, it allows us to thin a low-provision card with extra tempo, allowing Northern Realms to win round 1, or even acting as a worse Royal Decree with extra points (and an extra limitation).

Pros:

  • As with any midrange Northern Realms deck, our long round is superb, but also gets good value in mid-length rounds.
  • Plenty of answers.

Cons:

  • More bleedable than other Northern Realms lists.

Considerations:

As mentioned previously in the text, running Pincer Maneuver was the main choice at the start of the patch, being much less popular after the hotfix. Despite this, we can suggest a Siege list in the case you want to try it.

Another popular option among the Russian community is running a different list with less control elements, but featuring cards like War Elephant and Ildiko, having a superior ceiling in comparison, as you can see in this example.

TIER 2

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SY – Hidden Cache Passiflora

A strong contender for being the best deck in the metagame, but a really difficult one to pilot, as any other Syndicate list. Recent buffs to Hidden Cache have made all the decks that traditionally were played with other abilities to switch them, getting a more engine oriented deck, but which is more solid, as it can output more points.

We can expect this deck to plague the ladder during the next month due to the difficulty to stop it, as it runs a great number of threats we need to answer. In our opinion, this isa deck that, once mastered, becomes a real danger.

Key Cards:

  • Passiflora: Novigrad scenario, which paired in combination with other Blindeyes makes us able to generate more engines which can create a large amount of points between the mix of Hoard and Sly Seductress.
  • Saul de Navarette: the real menace in Hidden Cache. A great engine which unanswered can become a problem.

Pros:

  • Great long round due to the engine overload style of deck.
  • Great output of points in short rounds due to Passiflora and Jacques.

Cons:

  • Extremely difficult to play.

Considerations:

A greedier version which plays Bincy Blummerhort has been seen in ladder, with decent results, as it adds another threat that our opponent has to answer, in exchange for control. You can check an example decklist here.

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MN – Overwhelming Hunger Wild Hunt

As spiritual successor of the Haunt Overwhelming Hunger deck, this deck has provided the best shell for the new Wild Hunt units as it improves its long round by including Frost from Red Riders and Ard Gaeth.

Haunt and the Deathwish package composed of Miruna, Detlaff: Higher Vampire and Werecat provide a tempo burst and make this deck a great option to contest the ladder.

Last patch has reinforced the list, giving a tutor for Ard Gaeth and Naglfar, Ge’els, making it much more consistent and therefore, stronger.

Key Cards:

  • Haunt: in contrast to other Monster lists, Haunt is not only a means of tempo for the deck, but also a crucial piece to generate Consumes which will help us to conserve our leader charges and proc our Deathwishes. Being able to predict whether our opponent will be able to answer it greatly changes our gameplan.
  • Auberon: the King of the Alders is not only a great tempo play in this deck, but also good for its utility: the Create effect can give us different units which we can use as Purify, extra Frost. or movement. 

Pros:

  • Extremely good at bleeding thanks to plenty of Frost effects.
  • Can contest a round using only bronze Thrive with enough reach to catch up in one card.

Cons:

  • Loses power if Haunt is answered.
  • Awkward in short rounds.

Considerations:

Playing the list without Scenario if the meta is full of Bomb Heavers.

You lose some potential in long rounds in exchange for improving your short round with the inclusion of Yghern and Ozzrel.

As noted above, we can adjust the list to accommodate Yghern and Ozzrel, mainly cutting Ard Gaeth, adding a second Red Rider and downgrading some bronzes, like the Wild Hunt Riders. With this movement we lose some long round potential, but in exchange we win some reach and short round potential.

MN - FY Etherealimport-button

MN – Fruits of Ysgith Ethereal

A deck which has suffered some changes from last patch, mostly due to the Caranthir restriction, as we cannot copy Ethereal now. As a result of that, we are forced to run multiple options to purify our Ethereal and to be able to replay it, we needed to include Renew, changing the game plan significantly from the last patch, and overall, making it much weaker and counterable.

Key Cards:

  • Renew: With the nerf to Caranthir, we are forced to run it as our game plan consists of playing two our Ethereal twice, once from hand, and another from graveyard. As we intend to do it, we should keep a purifier in hand for our Ethereal, as can be Crow’s Eye or Pellar. Other targets for Renew are mainly the Crones.
  • Ethereal: as the main engine of this deck is used in conjunction with Fruits of Ysgith. We spawn Gernichora’s Fruit to the right of Ethereal to convert a 1 point token into a 4 point unit each turn. Every transformed Ethereal works like the original one, so unless every copy is shut down in the same turn, this combo is hard to disrupt.

Pros:

  • Extremely good long round strategy which is difficult to answer for the opponent.
  • Decent value per turn, giving the faction an alternative to Thrive.

Cons:

  • Vulnerable to movement.
  • Weak short rounds due to the leader ability and no real payoff cards except Crones.

Considerations:

Instead of running a single target purify, Siegfried of Denesle can be a decent alternative, giving us more flexibility, as our opponent shouldn’t be able to deny all our purified Ethereals. Chech an example decklist here.

In ladder, it has also been tested a version of the deck without running Renew, reducing the numbers of time we can use Ethereal to only once, as you can see in this list.

Alternatively, Arachas Swarm has been used as leader, mainly to abuse more on red coin, like in this example list.

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ST – Precision Strike Schirru

An old nightmare of Skellige players has emerged once again to drive the ape-men into the sea: Schirrú. This greedy card has given rise to its own archetype. It is ridiculously difficult to pilot, as you need to carefully align cards to watch how lovely they burn.

This list is a meta call which should disappear once the meta leans towards other decks, especially Overwhelming Hunger. Right now it is still a competitive option for the tree huggers.

Key Cards:

  • Harald Gord: This great short round finisher is the main reason special-heavy decks can exist. The addition of Echo cards increased its value by 1 point as you are able to circumvent the unit restriction and play even more special cards than normally possible.
  • Schirrú: an incredibly greedy card which can  wipe most of the board after it has been carefully set up with Isengrim’s Council and Precision Strike

Pros:

  • Excellent short round finisher in Harald Gord.
  • huge point swings with Schirrú can turn around matches.

Cons:

  • Vulnerable to bleeding.
  • Lacks power in long rounds.

Considerations:

Instead of running Harald Gord and some neutrals for the sake of their utility, we can run a more Symbiosis-oriented list, which doesn’t feature Gord, but provides a higher point output in long rounds.

NG - L Double Ball

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NG – Lockdown Double Ball

The infamous blue coin nightmare from the last patches got some new additions to make it more flexible. Oneiromancy is more expensive than Matta Hu’uri but helps us to fish for any piece of the combo.

The idea of this deck is to abuse the red coin and quickly out tempo our opponent, forcing them to pass on even which allows us to gain control of the rest of the match. Especially gaining double last say is super good for poisons, as we can play two of them and do not have to fear an answer.

Key Cards:

  • Masquerade Ball: the Poison scenario which can be played twice with Assire var Anahid and Oneiromancy. We need to keep the number of Aristocrats in mind to make it work twice, but when we do, the payoff is certainly worth it.
  • Assire var Anahid: we use Assire to move Masquerade Ball from our graveyard back to the deck. In some cases we can also move other gold cards as required.

Pros:

  • Great amount of removal via Poison.
  • Strong list on red coin.

Cons:

  • Extra vulnerable to artifact removal.

Considerations:

While Tactical Decision and Lockdown have been the most popular choices of leader among the double scenario players, Imperial Formation has won some popularity, with the card advantage version or a more classical one.

ST - DA Symbiosisimport-button

ST – Deadeye Ambush Symbiosis

Symbiosis has been considered the least promising mechanic of the new expansion when the patch went live, but after more testing it finally found a strategy to go along with it. Surprisingly it is Elves, even though Symbiosis seemed to be a better mechanic for Harald Gord-based decks.

With a great amount of tempo across the entire match, this deck has emerged as a viable meta option despite being unfavoured against Skellige running Wild Boar of the Sea. Its capability of pushing makes it a fearsome opponent for the other factions.

Key cards:

  • Eithné: Scoia’tael evolving card is a good reason we should run Symbiosis instead of a more classical elf package. Its addition to an already strong archetype adds an extra layer of control to the deck with more Nature special cards like Nature’s Rebuke. This lets us substitute the Poison package as it has lost some strength with the addition of Veil to the game.
  • Vernossiel: one of the strongest cards of the Elf archetype which makes it easier to swarm the board with Elves to get out Aelirenn and improves our short round with The Great Oak. In niche situations it can also be used as a control tool together with the Elven Deadeye tokens.

Pros:

  • Great capability to generate tempo quickly.
  • Strong in medium-length rounds.

Cons:

  • Tends to over-swarm the board.
  • Difficult to pilot.

Considerations:

We can run Precision Strike over Deadeye Ambush to improve our control aspect, however, in that case we need to tech in Ele’yas to keep our swarm potential.

Another alternative is using Feign Death to generate an insane amount of Elves for Isengrim Faoiltiarna as you can see in this example list.

NG - IF Single Ballimport-button

NG – Imperial Formation Single Ball

Probably the second most popular decklist among Nilfgaardian players which combines the strengths Poison by using Masquerade Ball and aristocrats;  and the new addition of Spies, which allow us to make a more efficient use of the Soldier package especially with the change to Impera Enforcers.

While being really strong on red coin, this list has more proactivity than the traditional one had had before the Master Mirror expansion.

Key Cards:

  • Vincent van Moorlehem: a multi-purpose tool which allows us to deal with multiple threats of this patch. Even veiled units are a great target, we only need to find a unit with any status.
  • Masquerade Ball: poison scenario, which is great with aristocrats, and gives us an extra layer of removal. Despite we lose tempo if it is answered by Bomb Heaver, the pros outline the cons.

Pros:

  • Excellent in short and in long rounds.
  • Plenty of answers to engines.

Cons:

  • Difficult to pilot correctly.

Considerations:

One of the most popular alternatives is to run a similar list, but use Lockdown as leader ability to improve our matchups against Fruits of Ysgith and similar decks which highly depend on their leader ability. 

You can check an alternative decklist here.

SY - Congregate Gordimport-button

SY – Congregate Gord

A serious threat when you are on blue coin. It makes you feel fear while you try to think about how to not get coin abused. This archetype has always been a classic list which combines an incredible capability of pushing from red coin with a great bleed in round 2, while keeping a powerful finisher for  round 3, as we build up Harald Gord’s strength during the match.

While our hand can be awkward, the deck’s proactivity has been improved with the introduction of Oneiromancy. This makes playing it from blue coin not as bad as it used to be. Even though it does not run many cards of the new expansion, it is still a solid list which can be played if your intention is to win R1 on even.

Key Cards:

  • Harald Gord: the reason why this kind of decks can exist. The addition of Echo cards have incremented his value by 1 point, as you are still cheating the unit/spells system, making it a great finisher for short rounds.
  • Whoreson Senior: a key piece in our pushes, especially during round 2. As we can generate enough coins and bodies to make its tribute really effective by just using the leader, this card can become really oppressive if our opponent is unable to stop the Cutup Lackeys, as they make every Crime card a +4.

Pros:

  • Great on red coin.
  • Natural good short round.

Cons:

  • Awkward to play on blue coin.
  • Vulnerable to bleed in the case we are not able to get round 1 control.
  • Last say dependent.

Considerations:

As we can see, Portal has been cut, but if we still want to play Portal, we have to make some concessions. Still, list is really solid, as you can see in this example.

NR - VS Radeyahimport-button

NR – Vicious Slash Radeyah

As a classical aspect of the Northern Realms faction, Midrange lists based on Radeyah have emerged every single patch, but this one is slightly different, as the leader used is Vicious Slash, instead of the classic Uprising or Pincer Maneuver.

While in comparison with other decks we can lack some points it is true that we are favoured in Northern Realms mirrors and also in engine matchups in general, being slightly different from the classical gameplan for the faction.

Despite not being the strongest list, it can be an interesting way to climb the ladder if we prefer to play a more midrange version of Northern Realms.

Key Cards:

  • Radeyah: the main enabler of this Singleton strategy. Great card by itself, especially after some changes to some stratagems, and which is really flexible.
  • Oneiromancy: a great card in consistency terms, and which is the definitive tutor. Having the option to access any card in our deck is really powerful, and more if we think about the Singleton restriction.

Pros:

  • Great point output in short rounds.
  • More control than classical Northern Realms lists.

Cons:

  • Consistency problems, too dependant on drawing well at the right time.

Considerations:

Using a version with Uprising, which can raise the point output in comparison with this Vicious Slash list, but at the cost of being more vulnerable to disruption.

SK - BG Gedyneithimport-button

SK – Blaze of Glory Gedyneith

A breath of fresh air for the Skellige faction, especially after the warriors nerf. While it recovers one of the classic identities for Skellige, as it is the alchemical builds, it also has some new elements, specially the leader, which is mostly used for having a control element.

While it is not a great deck for long rounds, it demolishes the opponents in short rounds, due to the unhealthy amount of points Gedyneith is able to develop in two turns. Still, a niche option for Skellige, but a one which can grow in next patches depending on balance.

Key Cards:

  • Gedyneith: the key piece of the list. Combined with Ermion and a Freya’s Blessing, we can reach 31 points in one play if the scenario survives.
  • Ermion: our main enabler for the scenario, great tutor of alchemys. The lack of Second Wind ability forces us to keep him for R3.

Pros:

  • Great if Gedyneith sticks.
  • Explosive short rounds.

Cons:

  • Lack of points in the case of Gedyneith is answered.

Considerations:

It is possible to run a more classical Second Wind version, which allow us to proc the scenario in a single turn, being able to counter the possibility of artifact removals, as this example list.

TIER 3

ST - MF Gordimport-button

ST – Mahakam Forge Gord

Due to the nerfs to Harmony, another alternative has become popular among Scoia’tael players. While being difficult to pilot, its numerous control tools in combination with the multiple ways to generate a decent amount of tempo (like Adrenaline Rush or Novigradian Justice) make this deck a contender for the throne in the green faction. 

While the deck does not have any real good matchup, it also doesn’t have any bad one which makes it a good deck in the meta.

Key Cards:

  • Harald Gord: This great short round finisher is the main reason special-heavy decks can exist. The addition of Echo cards increased its value by 1 point as you are able to circumvent the unit restriction and play even more special cards than normally possible. 
  • Korathi Heatwave: an interesting card I wouldn’t cut in this deck as it is the only way we can deal with tall units or artefacts. Not only do our engines compensate for losing tempo, Heatwave as a special card also helps build up our Gord.

Pros:

  • Excellent short round finisher in Harald Gord.
  • High consistency due to the plethora of tutors.

Cons:

  • Vulnerable to bleeding.
  • Lacks power in long rounds.

Considerations

Running Shupe’s Day Off in this kind of list adds more spice and extra flexibility to the deck, as you can see in this example.

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SY – Hidden Cache Nova

After her rework, finally Ciri Nova has seen a decent amount of competitive play, even reaching some final stages of important tourneys. The concession that Syndicate has to make to accommodate her is not too much, as we only lose Passiflora and Philippa Eilhart from the classic lists.

As we can see, the “shield” used for this Nova is basically an engine overload one, as most of the SY engines are cost under 10 provisions, making this deck essentially a great contender for long rounds.

Despite not being the most competitive option for SY, we still think this archetype can shine in the correct micrometas.

Key Cards:

  • Ciri Nova: Her rework has made her an interesting deckbuilding challenge, as we can see in several decks. Having resilience makes her really attractive.
  • Saul de Navarette: the real menace in Hidden Cache. A great engine which unanswered can become a problem.

Pros:

  • Great long round due to the engine overload style of deck.
  • Possibility of having carryover between rounds, due to Ciri: Nova.

Cons:

  • Extremely vulnerable to bleed.
  • Lack of big spenders as can be Philippa or Jacques.

MN - DS Kikimoreimport-button

MN – Death Shadow Kikimore Queen

The greediest list in this faction. The classical combo of Death Shadow – Kikimore Queen – Caranthir ar Feiniel has received some support in Oneiromancy to make it work even better. The extra layer of consistency helps to compensate for its flaw of being draw-dependent.

With the potential to generate over 150 points in a single round thanks to the power of Kikimore Queen, this archetype instills fear in the heart of players running uninteractive decks.

Key Cards:

  • Kikimore Queen: Her tremendous point potential of over 20 points per Thrive proc by chaining multiple Kikimore Queens makes this deck an almost unparalleled threat in long rounds.
  • Caranthir ar Feiniel: The main target for Death’s Shadow enables multiple Kikimore Queens. The first Thrive is activated by Caranthir, already granting decent points upon Deploy. The slight buff this patch makes this card even better for this deck.

Pros:

  • Great long round if unanswered.
  • Alternative win conditions with cards like Ethereal.

Cons:

  • Extremely vulnerable to bleed.
  • Highly dependent on drawing key pieces.

Considerations:

We can consider running Renew over Haunt, depending on the amount of artifact removal we face on the ladder.

MN - DS Cronesimport-button

MN – DS Crones

Probably no other Monster deck deserves the label of ‘point slam’ more than this one. While none of the cards are really good as engines, most of them tend to get a value over provisions on Deploy. 

The recent expansion did not add much to the list, apart from The Apiarian Phantom. Last patch hasn’t really changed the list, keeping it almost the same that we have been seeing for several months in a row.

Key Cards:

  • Crones (Weavess, Whispess and Brewess): the iconic cards of this pointslam deck.
  • Renew: amplifies the Deploy effect of the Crones to 10 points. We can also use it on cards we have used with Death Shadow.

Pros:

  • Solid value in every card, great against control lists.
  • Burst potential: generate a huge amount of points in just a few plays.

Cons:

  • Not great in long rounds due to the lack of engines.
  • Draw dependant, as this deck aims to maximize the value of its key cards.

Considerations:

Main consideration is downgrading some cards to fit Auberon, as it is always a great value card, and which provides some extra utility. Example here.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

SK - UR Lippyimport-button

SK – Ursine Ritual Lippy

Another of the all time classic decks since Homecoming, and another suspect of abusing red coins. As between Cerys an Craite and Roach, plus the cheat on provision system, it can easily outtempo in round 1.

The idea here is to play our golden cards in round 1, then play Lippy and abuse them another time. The addition of Oneiromancy this patch added extra consistency.

Key Cards:

  • Lippy Gudmund: the key piece of the list. Combined with Knickers, Roach and Morkvarg, it is a 15 point tempo play, while swapping our deck and our graveyard, increasing the card quality of our deck.
  • Cerys an Craite: a great tempo piece in round 1, which can be reused in round 3 with the extra upside of having one more Drummond Shieldmaiden, being a 19 point play at that time (25 including the last leader charge).

Pros:

  • Great tempo from red coin, enables us to win on even.
  • Explosive short rounds.

Cons:

  • Draw and coin dependant.

Considerations:

Running Master Mirror as a way to make the list more highrolly and its ceiling much higher, but more difficult to pilot, as you can see in this example decklist.

NR - IZ Commandosimport-button

NR – Inspired Zeal Commandos

If we would have to define this deck as something, it would be as a crazy combo-list, which is why  it is often seen as the most memey of the lists presented here. The idea is to abuse the generation of Blue Stripes Commandos with cards such as Adalia into Blue Stripes Scout or even Reinforcements round 1, and shuffle them back into the deck with Pavetta in round 2, and yet again via Renew Pavetta in round 3.

The amount of points that we are able to output in a short burst is ludicrous, as we can easily go over 20 in a single play. Despite being a mostly fun-oriented list, it can perform well in the correct environment.

Key Cards:

  • Blue Stripe Commando: the main enabler of this deck, as we can produce a maximum amount of 6 copies with all the tools we are using (a 7th copy could be spawned with Roche: Merciless), resulting in 24 (or even 28) points in a single play.
  • Princess Pavetta: We have 6 Blue Stripes Commandos in the graveyard, what can we do? The answer to this question is Pavetta, which allows us to return them to the deck, and with the help of a tutor being able to replay our Commandos for an insane tempo burst.

Pros:

  • Great point output in short rounds.
  • Relatively undisruptable.

Cons:

  • Consistency problems, too dependant on drawing well at the right time.

Considerations:

The most traditional lists tend to cut Amphibious Assault/Oneiromancy in order to run Draug, as an alternative win condition.

NG - DC Assimilateimport-button

NG – Double Cross Assimilate

Even though Assimilate is not the main focus of this expansion, it has received interesting tools which make this fun archetype really interesting to play. The introduction of great bronze cards like  Mage Torturer in combination with some gold cards such as Braathens and Coup de Grace breathed new life into the archetype.

As the deck needs long rounds to shine, we are able to take control of the length of rounds by using our leader’s ability in the right moment to force a pass from our opponent. This allows us to optimise our point output when we go for a long round 3.

Key Cards:

  • Braathens: Even though we will pick Duchess’s Informant to support Assimilate most of the time, the other options offer flexibility in the form of extra removal or some protection.
  • Coup de Grace: Thanks to the addition of Mage Torturer, we have extra cards on which we can use our Echo card on. It can be any interesting golden card from our opponent and even if there is none, we can always generate a second Roderick de Dun Tynne or Joachim de Wett.

Pros:

  • Extremely good long round due to the overload of engines.
  • Great point potential.

Cons: 

  • Slow start as we need to establish our engines first.
  • Vulnerable to bleeding.
  • Lacks points in short rounds.

Considerations:

As a sort of meme, some lists based on Assimilate have used Master Mirror with moderate success. It can be interesting to use and even perform above expectations. If you want to try it, here is an example list.

NG - Nova Hyperthinimport-button

NG – Nova Enslave

Interestingly, most of the cards run by the Hyperthin Enslave archetype were under 10 provisions (except for Royal Decree), so it seemed logical to fit Ciri: Nova after her rework. As classical Hyperthin, this deck tends to abuse red coin with the help of Venendal Elites and Artorius Vigo.

While not the most consistent list, for sure it is one of the most fun to play, so we expect to see a fair amount of players with it.

Key Cards:

  • Ciri Nova: a great carryover card, and the main enabler of this 9p or less strategy.
  • Triss Merigold / Yennefer of Vengerberg / Xarthisius: the reveal payoffs for the hyperthin strategy. Ideally, each will play for more than 15 points as we will reveal Tibor Eggerbratch.

Pros:

  • Excellent in short rounds.
  • Plenty of answers to engines.

Cons:

  • Easily brickeable.

Considerations:

Imperial Formation has been used as an alternative leader to this archetype, leading to interesting lists like this one.