META SNAPSHOT #4

Way of the Witcher expansion is here and it has shaken up the meta. Paired with great amount of balance changes, new archetypes have risen and some have returned.

Almost every faction feels competitive, being SY the worst among them, but with potential of reaching good scores in Pro Rank.

TIER 1

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MN – Overwhelming Hunger Viy

One of the contenders to the title of strongest deck appeared due to the expansion. The main mechanic of this kind of deck is really simple, play and consume in the same turn your Viy as many times as you can, getting tempo and carryover in the same play.

A really polarizing deck, which feels really difficult to answer, especially if your deck is built around midrange strategies, as you will be unable to catch Viy in points. It has some beta Nekkers vibes in that point of view, but a deck that can reach high scores easily.

Key cards:

  • Viy: this horrendous Alzur creation terrorizes the ladder. While at first sight looks easy to counter, as the deck is built around being able to consume it the same turn you drop it, it’s almost impossible to stop unless your consumes are killed.
  • Ihuarraquax: one of your multiple tutors, but the one which can steal one of your opponent’s win conditions. We should try to adapt the moment in certain matchups, as Lippy.

Pros: 

  • Great point ceiling.
  • Relatively easy to pilot.

Cons:

  • Some R3 hands can be almost unplayable.
  • Plenty of counters in low MMR ladder.

Considerations

Running a Hauntless version, which has a lesser ceiling but can be more stable. Another consideration is tweaking the number of consumes, keeping in mind we should always have 2 Barghest and at least 4 consumes in the deck.

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ST – Precision Strike Movement.

Green faction has received cool new cards after new expansion, Way of the Witcher. Movement as a mechanic has become a staple in most of its decks, as they are usually efficient engines that trade at least even with removal.

In this first presentation of the Movement archetype, apart from these great engines, a more controlish package has been added, assuring we can compete with other engine decks. A candidate for the title of the best deck of the expansion.

Key cards:

  • Gezras of Leydas: the creator of the Cat School. A really efficient engine that usually trades over provision cost if played with the adrenaline condition met. We have to keep in mind that it’s our best engine, and that against Syndicate we should wait for Philippa Eilhart before we slam him on the board.
  • Korathi Heatwave: the main reason to drop devotion. A quickly flexible card which gives us removal.

Pros:

  • Great deck, with high point ceiling in both, long and short rounds.
  • Engines tend to trade up with removal.

Cons:

  • Easily brickeable.
  • Slightly slow at the start of rounds.

Considerations:

Running a Devotion based list, which lowers the amount of removal and draw consistency in order to improve our point ceiling.

TIER 2

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NG – Lockdown Ball

A classic archetype whose popularity has increased after the multiple buffs to the faction and how the meta has evolved. Lockdown is a good election of leader as most of the top tier decks are heavily synergistic with their abilities.

Ramon and the soldier package gives an extra share of proactivity to the deck, while Coup de Grace paired with Joachim de Wett makes us fairly good against bleeding. While not the top tier deck in meta, a one which can counter those who are.

Key cards: 

  • Masquerade Ball: poison scenario, which is excellent with aristocrats, gives us an extra layer of removal. Despite we lose a heavy amount of points if it’s answered by Korathi Heathwave, the pros outline the cons.
  • Usurper: our evolving card, which has a double sinergy in our deck, as it gives spying units for the Impera Enforcers and statuses for our Scenario part.

Pros:

  • Great against engine decks, as we have multiple answers.

Cons:

  • Struggles against swarm decks like Elves.
  • Some hands can be really difficult to pilot depending on draws.

Considerations:

Running an Enforcerless version, which is less proactive, but easier to have functional hands.

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SK – Warriors Patricidal Fury

A strong midrange deck that has been in meta since Master Mirror expansion. Meanwhile, the warrior core hasn’t received any new card in WotW, new Bear Witcher additions complement it perfectly.

Still a great deck in meta, but which struggles against more greedy builds, as can be Viy Overwhelming Hunger. Devotion and no devotion coexist in harmony, being this election the main difference between lists.

Key cards:

  • Heimdall: a great card against Swarm builds, and which in general capitalizes long rounds super good. A must include if token builds become a norm.
  • Wild Boar of the Sea: the favorite boat of everybody is back to the meta. A card which after the inclusion of Bear Witcher Mentors, doesn’t need to hit on a damaged board, as we can use it to set up the Mentors.

Pros:

  • Excellent in middle length rounds.
  • Solid in both coins.

Cons:

  • Lack of tools to deal with greedy decks.

Considerations;

Running a classical list with Devotion but including some of the new cards as the one shown in the example.

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ST – Deadeye Ambush Movement

Meanwhile Precision Strike has risen as the most usual way to play Movement in Scoia’tael, Deadeye Ambush has shown to be a great alternative, which leads more towards pointslam than control.

A deck whose long rounds are as scary as other Movement lists, but with the addition of Elf package, being able to be better in control matchups, as it doesn’t need all your engines to stick to work.

Key cards:

  • Gezras of Leydas: the creator of the Cat School. A really efficient engine that usually trades over provision cost if played with the adrenaline condition met. We have to keep in mind that it’s our best engine and that against Syndicate we should wait for Philippa Eilhart before we slam him on the board.
  • Feign Death: elf scenario. A fair pointslam card that allows us to quickly swarm the board with Elf tokens, which also will generate a great value in our payoff cards, as Gezras, Yaevinn, or Isengrim.

Pros:

  • Great long round, and decent in short ones.
  • Less countereable by hard counters than Precision Strike.

Cons:

  • Lower point ceiling than the Precision Strike version.

Considerations:

We can run a more classic Elf list, using Maraal and cutting Gezras of Leydas, adding a Poison package.

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NR – Shieldwall Devotion

Shield leader ability allowed us to build an even greedier Northern Realms deck, which freed Seltkirk from the long exclusive, and firm grasp of Inspired Zeal. Shielding our Duel units and the possibility to reuse their Orders with Viraxas is an incredible interaction.

Another point in our favor is protecting our engines, such as Anna Strenger or Vysogota of Corvo, by using the leader’s ability. All of this makes them difficult to stop, as they generate an insane amount of points in long rounds.

Key cards:

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

Pros:

  • Excellent point output in long rounds.
  • Plenty of tall removals.

Cons:

  • Consistency problems, as any Northern Realms deck.
  • Worse finisher than Uprising when depleting the charges.

Considerations:

Using a more shield oriented list, as the example one.

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SY – Hidden Cache Passiflora

While Syndicate hasn’t received much love this expansion, the most classical list featuring Passiflora has received some new toys to play with. There are two versions being run in ladder, this one mixed with Bounty and a more classical one featuring Hoard engines.

While not as strong as last patch, this list is the most stable way to go for the faction, as Congregate has lost a ton of popularity and Salamandra memes are just that, memes. Piloted wisely, can be used in both coins and win against any other deck.

Key cards:

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

Pros:

  • Excellent in long rounds due to the engine overload style of deck.
  • Bounty package gives us enough removal.

Contras:

  • Difficult to pilot.

Considerations:

Running a more classical list, based on the engine overload principle, without using any of the new expansion cards.

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NR – Mobilization Control

After Myamon showed a control build was viable, ladder immediately became infested with it, especially before expansion. Despite WotW didn’t bring new cards for the deck, meta has become a perfect source for the archetype to thrive.

With most decks lacking enough control tools to stop the revenant swarm, the deck is pretty powerful at the moment. The goal is to use revenants to get control of the first round to make sure you get last say in round 3. In the final round, the deck can be extremely reactive, denying the opponent removal value, or it can set up the engines before removing everything your opponent plays.

Key cards: 

  • Queen Adalia: an interesting card that allows us to duplicate our engines, getting a second Redanian Archer, which is part of why this deck is so difficult to play against.
  • Amphibious Assault: our main tempo tool, which in combination with the Kaedweni Knight allows us to win any round, or to have a decent amount of reach.

Pros:

  • Great against engine decks.

Cons:

  • Lack of points if we lost R1 and suffer bleed.

Considerations:

Running a greedier list with Sabrina Glevissig and without Idarran.

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SK – Ursine Ritual Lippy

This splendid Skellige archetype has received some interesting cards during last expansion, making it much more consistent, eliminating the draw factor in a lot of cases, mainly Snowdrop. 

Gameplan is similar to every version of Lippy since HC, using our better cards during R1 and R2 to outtempo de opponent and getting them back using Gudmund, being able to push a short R3, where Cerys is our main win condition.

Key cards:

  • Lippy Gudmund: the critical 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 our deck’s card quality.
  • 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 the red coin enables us to win on even.
  • Explosive short rounds.

Cons:

  • Less draw dependent, but unable to win long rounds against engine decks.

Considerations:

Instead of running Snowdrop, we can use a more control focused version, swapping her for Curse of Corruption.

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NG – Double Cross Assimilate

Assimilate has become a competitive archetype for the first time since it was introduced in Crimson Curse expansion. The combination of great engines with the possibility of gaining advantage of our opponents deck has made this archetype unstoppable.

Some of its old toys have received buffs, namely Braathens and Portal, making it stronger in both short and long rounds, and the meta has made cards like Angouleme viable. Still, it doesn’t feel a better alternative than other archetypes, but it is good enough to be played unironically.

Key cards:

  • Masquerade Ball: poison scenario, which is excellent with aristocrats, gives us an extra layer of removal. Despite we lose a heavy amount of points if it’s answered by Korathi Heathwave, the pros outline the cons.
  • Braathens: the buffs received this patch have made it a competitive card, despite the need to run the spy we want to generate.

Pros:

  • Extremely good in long rounds, after our engines are developed.
  • Red coin abuser

Cons:

  • Weak against control decks.

Considerations:

Instead of running Angouleme, Yen: Invocation can be used as a more stable card and which doesn’t depend as heavily in the meta.

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NG – Lockdown Kolgrim

Nilfgaard has received an interesting archetype this expansion, related to opponent’s deck manipulation. Combining this to the classic hyperthin builds, it has developed a deck which mixes the best part of both packages, resulting in this Kolgrim build.

Our win condition is divided in two: making our opponent’s draw awful, while we have an amazing engine on the board, as it is Kolgrim. It feels less powerful than other Nilfgaard decks, but it is for sure a viable option for laddering and tourneys.

Key cards:

  • Kolgrim: our main engine, which can boost by 9-10 each turn if we have made our thin correctly, while putting some stuff in the opponent’s deck. Really vulnerable to resets or banishes.
  • Letho: Kingslayer: a really versatile card, which can be used to have a secondary Kolgrim in the other row, or even a second defender if the first one is purified. It can also be renewed if it’s transformed into Kolgrim or Ffion, but with the 5 base body.

Pros:

  • Great in short rounds.
  • Always will have better draws than the opponent due to the Viper Witchers.

Cons:

  • Some hands can be really difficult to play in blue coin.
  • Vulnerable to tall removal.

Considerations:

Tactical Decision is another popular leader election for this kind of archetype, as we show in this example list.

TIER 3

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SY – Congregate Swarm

Last expansion has been a nightmare for Congregate Swarm, as we are one of the decks which haven’t received new cards. Said that our primary strategy is the same, swarm and generate a ton of points with the Fallen Knights.

Besides, the Echo-card (“Dies Irae”) might allow us to buff our board in rounds 1 or 2 and remain available as one of the deck’s wincons for round 3. The deck could be defined as a point slam deck with a preference for a long round. However, the lack of consistent control might suggest pushing against decks that are heavier in engine cards or those that run some control elements that might hinder our key cards such as Vincent van Moorlehem.

Key Cards: 

  • Fallen Knight: this 6-provision bronze card benefits of both spawning units and playing crimes. In combination with Ulrich and the leader ability, it is easier to preserve them alive and boosts itself by the synergic cards throughout the round. This card can grow to a 15-ish value in a long round, and playing in the same round several of them might lead to a solid wincon if unanswered.
  • Jacques Miraculous Child: Jacques is a precious card in the deck, as he gives the points necessary to succeed in a short round 3, mostly if the deck gets bled. Utilizing devotion, Jacques is, in fact, a 12 point play that synergizes with Fallen Knights as well as an engine that generates coins when Firesworn cards are being played.

Pros:

  • High point ceiling, very synergistic.
  • Excels in long rounds but is still pretty decent in short ones thanks to Jacques and Helveed.

Cons:

  • Swarm is utterly weak against row punish in the form of meta cards such as Hemdall or Werecat.
  • Many of the points get condensed in Fallen Knights, which are weak to tall removal or resets.

Considerations:

We can consider it interesting to use different eight provisions cards, as can be Damnation for the mirrors if Azar Javed is played widely. In contrast, the most exciting card could be Lieutenant Von Herst, which was cut due to the lack of coins.

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MN – Carapace Keltullis

An interesting deck which appeared first during a Gwent Open Qualifier and which has evolved every patch until reaching this current list, featuring Alzur as a secondary engine and Ciri: Dash as the way of winning card advantage.

While Keltullis is the main card of the deck, card advantage is the main win condition of this deck, mixed with the ability to keep alive your engines, generating extra value each turn. A deck that shines in tournaments more than in ladder, where it struggles against random decks.

Key cards:

  • Keltullis: main engine of this deck. After the defender is played, it is really easy to keep him alive, doing points each turn. Potentially can win a long round by itself.
  • Alzur: a pay-off for our spells. As we are running 13 provision spell, we should try to play him in ranged row, to avoid a random Keltullis losing our match.

Pros:

  • Great in long rounds if piloted correctly. Keltullis can be played for a ton of points.
  • Red coin abuser, but actually strong in blue.

Cons:

  • Easy to be countered.
  • Bleedable if lose R1.

Considerations:

Running a list without Alzur and double spores to deal with the Viy matchup.

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MN – Force of Nature Koschey

An interesting deck which has appeared during Way of the Witcher expansion, and which it’s intended to be an in-steroid version of the classic Thrive decks, and a half-cooked of the Kikimore Queen versions.

Koschey gives more support for Thrive, but creates by itself more engines for the mechanic, which in combination with Caranthir becomes a wild amount of points. Rest of the deck is composed of tall units to proc the engines we run. Not the best deck for the faction, but an interesting one that can be played if we don’t want to play Viy.

Key cards:

  • Koschey: A great card for the Thrive archetype. We should focus on getting the best value from it by abusing its adrenaline ability.
  • Caranthir Ar-Feinel: An enabler for the deck. We have to keep in mind that in the case we don’t get Koschey in hand, we should use it on The Beast.

Pros:

  • Excellent long rounds, especially in round 3.
  • Easy to pilot.

Cons:

  • Lack of control options.

Considerations:

Using a non devotion list instead of the devotion list, lowering the ceiling, but getting some control options in exchange.

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NR – Uprising Witchers

A deck which appears from a mix of old neutral cards, as can be the Witcher trio and Vesemir: Mentor, with the new Griffin school cards, which revamps the old Northern Realms swarm archetype.

Lyrian Scythemen are still a great part of the core of the deck, as they capitalize heavily on our Witcher swarm, while Erland assures an uninteractive source of points if we need it. A difficult deck to pilot, but a really fun one.

Key cards:

  • Lyrian Scythemen: our main boosted swarm payoffs, as we can play 13-14 points per each bronze.
  • Vesemir: Mentor and Erland of Lardvik, two sources of carryover and which can also be used as tempo plays, especially Erland with the adrenaline requirement.

Pros:

  • Excellent long rounds.
  • Our payoffs can easily go out of control.

Cons:

  • Less control than other Northern Realms builds.
  • Midrange decks are really difficult to deal with.

Considerations:

Running a version with Igni and Yrden if the meta goes uber greedy.

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ST – Precision Strike Control

The heavy control version of Precision Strike is still a viable way to go on the ladder, as engines have become more frequent, after Way of the Witcher expansion. 

Our main win conditions are still the same than pre-expansion, focusing in building a big Harald Gord and making the removal run by our opponent inefficient, as we tend to special cards with no body to interact.

Key Cards:

  • Harald Gord: our leading finisher, which we built during all the match playing spells, assuring we have great short rounds.
  • Novigradian Justice: after Mahakam Volunteers buff, a 13 point tempo play which also thins a card, great for pushing or even for keeping tempo in blue. In exchange for that, we add two potential bricks to our deck

Pros:

  • Enough control to shut down most engine decks.
  • Great red coin abuser.

Cons:

  • Lack of points in long rounds.

Considerations:

Running a more classical list, with more units, but making our opponent able to interact with our cards.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

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MN – Arachas Swarm Organics

Meanwhile most of the faction lists are based in Deathwishes or in just playing tall units and getting points from Thrive, this Arachas Swarm is based around two factors: spawning Arachas Drone and consuming them with Chimeras.

While this list shines in medium lenght round, it is true that it lacks the number of points other monster decks can output. Despite this, after next balance patch, it can become one of the ways to go for the faction, especially with the cards it received this expansion.

Key cards:

  • Chimera: this new beast card focuses on consuming token cards that are placed in the same row, acting like it could do first light, but with a body.
  • Dol Dhu Lokke: a flexible card, which can be used as a third Chimera spawner or if needed, could be used for a Phooca or even an Hybrid if needed.

Pros:

  • Great control in comparison with other monster lists.
  • Excellent against engine lists.

Cons:

  • Lack of points in comparison with other lists.

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SK – Battle Trance Arnaghad

A different deck, which mixes the strength of druids and its scenario with Arnaghad-Sukkrus combo, being a breath of fresh air for Skellige faction. 

Better in long rounds than the old versions, this deck packs more control, especially if we think about the difficulty of our combo to be answered. Short rounds are still part of our identity, as Gedyneith combo carries us.

Key Cards:

  • Arnaghad: a Sabbath vibes card, which in combination with Sukkrus can deal with most of our opponent units, after adrenaline requirement is met.
  • Gedyneith: the critical piece of the list. Combined with Ermion and a Freya’s Blessing, we can reach 31 points in one play if the scenario survives.

Pros:

  • Explosive short rounds.
  • Arnaghad – Sukkrus combo nets a great amount of points if unanswered.

Cons:

  • Lack of points if our scenario is answered.

Considerations:

It is possible to run a more classical Blaze of Glory version, which allows us to have an extra control layer but lowering our ceiling.

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NG – Imposter Vyper

A great meme deck which has emerged from the Moors’ mind. The idea of this revolves around giving Vypper to your opponent, copying it as many times as we can and getting an insane amount of carryover for round 2/round 3.

Despite not being competitive, this deck has deserved an honorable mention, as it is really different from the rest of the faction decks, and it can win some matches by surprise factor.

Key cards:

  • Vypper: the only reason we play this deck. We should discard it to our graveyard, making it move to our opponent’s field, where we will start making copies of him.

Pros:

  • Insane amount of carryover if the combo works well.

Cons:

  • Easy to bleed. Loses card advantage so fast.