Brief Summary of Build
Hey guys, Swim here, with the Northern Realms deck I made today on stream. The concept of the deck is somewhat straightforward, open with foltest, operator a kaedweni sergeant, and then since Operator spawns a base copy, that sergeant will be lined up with your Reaver Scouts and Trebuchets, which you're then able to start buffing up with the rest of your kaedweni sergeants, until all of your units are 7 str. The deck performed extremely well for me, maintaining a 74% winrate throughout the course of the day, even after experimenting with different variations. Buffing Reaver Scouts and Trebuchets up to 7 strength each from Sergeants provides pretty insane value. Interestingly enough, Savage Bears don't actually end up hampering this deck very much, and only end up removing a few points from your round 1 plan.
Crafting Order: Operator -> Reinforcement -> Alzur's Double–Cross -> Thaler -> Dethmold -> Prize-Winning Cow -> Renew -> Keira Metz -> Avallac'h
You can replace any cards you don't own with:
Gold replacements: Dandelion, Vernon Roche, Regis: Higher Vampire, Ciri, Geralt: Aard, Royal Decree
Silver replacements: Sarah, Olgierd, Eskel/Vesemir/Lambert, Margarita Laux–Antille, Roach, Decoy
This deck's BUDGET VERSION is very cheap, as it relies mostly on bronzes for its power. The deck is very playable using vanilla golds, and just a few crafted silvers. If you play this variant, try to use decoy on a kaedweni sergeant when your cards are at 6 strength, as the decoy will always play a kaedweni sergeant as a 6 strength unit.
+2x Blue Stripes Commandos, -Prize Winning Cow, -Avallac'h, +Margarita Laux-Antille, +Dandelion
The first thing you'll note about this change is we added 2 more cards than we took out. The deck ends up being proper beyond 25 cards, as the value of Blue Stripes Commandos becomes very ridiculous. We drop the Prize Winning Cow for the Margarita, as she offers more value consistently now that there's a lot of call to run lock. Lastly, with the extra Commandos, Avallac'h can lose some value especially against Savage Bears, so we swap in Dandelion instead. Dandelion will obviously conflict with Kaedweni Sergeants, so you have to use him after you play them all out, but he still achieves very great value with Temerian Infantryman or units pulled via Reaver Scout. When it comes to Margarita, against units that grow (Axemen, Impera Brigades), in general try to use her later rather than earlier against them.
Kaedweni Sergeant: The core of this deck. Foltest, Operator one of these, then play that one to set all of your bronzes to the same strength to buff them all from there. Play these early, generally pulling them out via reaver scouts, to flood a board of units that all buff each other. Try to play two of these together to create a "pocket" for your trebuchets to be able to hit a row for 4, but otherwise avoid rowstacking with these in general. Sometimes I'll play 2 of these together on one row, and the other 2 together on a different row, to create 2 pockets while avoiding rowstacking.
Reaver Scout: A huge enabler for this deck. Buff these up to 7 str via foltest and sergeants for huge value swings, and use them to make your trebuchets and scouts more reliable. Use them aggressively in the early game to pull out any sergeants you don't draw. Due to the fact that these units are stuck on the ranged-row, you typically play your other units outside of the ranged row so as to avoid rowstacking too much.
Temerian Infantryman: Your big finisher, typically. As with the rest of your cards, these will grow to 7 strength, so in round 3 you have a 21 point finisher. If you have Avallac'h, mulligan these away as you can expect to draw 1 from Avallac'h. If these get forced out early, you can rely on a combination of scouts, trebuchets, and your gold cards as a round 3 finisher.
Trebuchet: Turns out this card is pretty good when its at 7 strength. Play these as your powerhouse cards, often in round 1 but you also end up with them a lot in round 3. Place your Sergeants and Blue Stripes Scouts adjacent to each other to create "pockets" where this card can hit an entire row for 4 value, in addition to coming out as a 7.
Blue Stripes Scout: Use these to both counter weather, and provide additional crewmen you might want for Trebuchets in later rounds. Very straightforward card here.
Blue Stripes Command: A pretty good tempo option for this list, although it confuses many people why it's a 1x. Ultimately, running any more makes the list much more vulnerable to Savage Bear, which disallows these from being pulled, and beyond that you scarcely need that much tempo anyway. The 1x nature suits this list well, just as an added tempo boost and filler card.
Operator: The core of this deck. Use Foltest then play Operator (via Reinforcements or Alzur's Double-Cross if necessary) on one of your Kaedweni Sergeants, to then play the clone and buff up all of your Reaver Scouts and Trebuchets. You'll always play it this way in every matchup, although depending on your hand you can choose something else in the mirror. If you don't draw this card or any of the ways to pull it or draw into it, you can give up round 1 early depending on your handstate to draw into it on round 2.
Dethmold: Card's normally actually quite cuttable, but when it gets to be 7 strength, the card looks a lot better very quickly. Use his Alzur's Thunder to be able to control enemy Axemen, Savage Bears, etc, and his rain to put pressure on boardstates that are vulnerable. Try not to clear weather on more than a single row of weather in general, although if you know your opponent doesn't run more weather, using it on a single row if you don't have a Blue Stripes Scout is good.
Reinforcement: This card's actually incredibly strong. Use it to increase reliability for your operator, although in certain boardstates it can achieve you great value by pulling Thaler, Blue Stripes Scout, or Trebuchet.
Alzur's Double–Cross: Another way to pull out Operator, if you've drawn Thaler already. Otherwise, it pulls out a random unit, which can be very valuable for this deck in terms of finding Reaver Scout targets.
Thaler: Your typical spy. Play this when you need to slow down the pace of the round, making sure that you're able to beat their new score in a single card should they pass. Typically, you end up playing this when you're ~2-16 points ahead of your opponent. If you're unable to win round 1, and you're about to pass, play this card out first to replace it for something else. Lastly, it can be very useful in round 2 if you've won round 1, because it invalidates your need to get ahead of them to generate card advantage.
Prize-Winning Cow: Honestly a pretty solid addition to this list. This card becomes a lot scarier when it's 7 strength. I might end up replacing this for something more consistent, but at the same time, it can achieve great value from weathers and savage bears, which are both extremely common. If facing savage bears, try to play this when you're behind on points enough such that after you play the cow, and it gets hit for 1 and spawns the 6 strength chort, the chort will then trigger brave for 4 extra points. This card can provide insane reach (up to 21 points in a single play) against 1-2 savage bears on the board. Lastly, be sure to play this card before going into round 3, as it can be part of your round 2 bleeding package. Note that brave will trigger on the deathwish chort, if you lose that round.
Philippa Eilhart: This card's great. Use it to control your opponent's board, or otherwise to swing for 13-16 points. If her lightning bounces between 2 units, it will deal 9 to the first one and 6 to the second one. Use this tactic quite often, for example if the opponent opens with Savage Bear and Morkvarg, you can Phillipa the Morkvarg to kill the Savage Bear. Don't be afraid to use this for control even if you lose some value (e.g., killing 2 savage bears on an otherwise empty board).
Keira Metz: Very solid Northern Realms slot. You end up using her for Thunderbolt Potion in 90+% of cases, valuing at 17 points, but in niche cases you can use her for Epidemic or even Quen (quen typically when bleeding or when the opponent passes and you need to beat his score easily, and you've already used all of your Kaedweni Sergeants). In most cases, you just slam her when you have at least 3 units in a row for 17 points. If the opponent plays a Lord of Undvik, you should thunderbolt it with Keira to keep it alive, if there's at least 1 other unit on that row. For that reason, against Skellige you should try to have at least 1 unit in every row at all times.
Renew: High value gold card. Mulligan this away in round 1 if you have enough mulligans to spare, as you'd rather draw into it later. Use it on high value golds such as Hjalmar, or just on your own Phillipa or Keira. Be very aware of this card in your deck, and make sure to populate the graveyard with at least 1 gold if necessary before going to round 3 with this card. Try if at all possible to play this card turn 1 of round 3, so that you can beat your opponent to the Renew.
Avallac'h: Increases the consistency of the deck, which is important for drawing into Operators and Kaedweni Sergeants reliably. Play this early if you need to draw into tools, or you want to disrupt an opponent's combo. Try to play it early in round 3 to force the opponent to draw redundant shieldmaidens, crones, etc, although be very wary that when you use this card, you'll likely draw a Temerian Infantryman, so either mulligan away all your infantrymen if you have Avallac'h (which I do in opening mulligans), or use Infantrymen turn 1 of round 3 before playing Avallac'h.
This section is simply for explaining why many cards that look very fitting in this list aren't run, and in many cases aren't actually as great here as they seem.
Dijkstra: Given the high buffs in this deck, many people have suggested I run Djikstra here. Ultimately, the card just isn't really competitive.
Triss: Butterfly Spell: This card seems very intuitive for the list, as it buffs up all of your same-strength units. At the same time, it makes them vulnerable to scorch, and can prevent Sergeants from buffing those units. Lastly it's also very vulnerable to disruption via single-row weathers, etc.
Ciri: This card's super good, although it eats into my mulligans which kind of sucks with Infantrymen and Avallac'h.
Vernon Roche: Not bad but has too tricky of a time achieving 18 value (in a way that loses points to weather etc) to be worth it. Still a solid budget replacement.
Geralt: Aard: It loses value to normally being kind of win-more, as you might have seen on my youtube video that talks about the shortcomings of cards that can only gain value in longer rounds. Typically you end up playing it in a late round 1 where it doesn't really get you that many points, or to just push 1 or 2 units in a round 3 scenario. Still a solid budget addition to this list.
Dandelion: Very close consideration here. I cut him early on because he was really tricky to use before kaedweni sergeants, and because there wasn't a super reliable way of getting all 3 buffs to see play, for example in round 3 scenarios. Might end up adding him back if I can figure out how to switch things around better.
Decoy: Using it on a 6 strength kaedweni is kind of cute, to get another kaedweni effect, although it has a bit of a narrow range of value otherwise. Very hard to find the silver slot for this card.
Margarita Laux–Antille: Card's actually solid in this list; might end up cutting Cow for her. That being said, her effect is a bit clunky; it's generally very hard to find value from both the reset and lock at the same time.
Roach: Solid tempo option, although it can clog your mulligans a bit. Might end up cutting Cow for her, as she gives free tempo which this deck is a bit lacking on.
Botchling/Lubberkin: Buffs to 7 and 12 via the deploy ability and the sergeants, although this can only work to full effect if the first one is played after all Sergeants, and beyond that these cards are just a bit clunky otherwise.
This deck's mulligans is one of the most straightforward: start by blacklisting out Temerian Infantryman, although depending on your handstate you can keep 1 if you don't have Avallach. Get rid of the Blue Stripes Commando. If you have 3x reaver scouts, you can remove trebuchets or blue stripes scouts to pull them with reaver scouts, if you have a very bronze-heavy hand. Lastly, you can get rid of Renew as you'd rather draw into it if possible.
This deck's round 1 is very standard, and has an easy time overpowering the opponent, and is able to overpower even savage bears.
Open by playing Foltest, then play Operator (via Reinforcements or Alzur's Double-Cross (if you already have Thaler)), cloning a Kaedweni Sergeant in your hand. If you don't have Operator or Sergeant, you can Avallac'h to draw into them, although you can also give up round 1 early if that's not an option. Your operator will give you a 3 strength kaedweni sergeant which you can use to buff up your reaver scouts and trebuchets, as they will be at 3 strength after having been buffed by Foltest. Continue by playing that 3 strength sergeant, buffing up your reaver scouts and trebuchets, then playing more Kaedweni Sergeants, via reaver scout if needbe. Play the first two Kaedweni Sergeants on an empty row adjacent to each other, to create a "pocket" where a trebuchet can be played to deal 4 damage to a row, otherwise trying to spread out your units so as not to row-stack very hard.
Use Blue Stripes Scout when necessary to clear weather, again being sure if possible to place them adjacent to Kaedweni Sergeants to create more "pockets", and try to save your Temerian Infantryman as a late round finisher if possible. If given the opportunity, use Trebuchets late in the round to force the opponent out of the round, though not until you've played several Kaedweni Sergeants. If given the opportunity, use Phillipa to control the opponent's board (remember, if she bounces between 2 targets, she'll deal 9 to the first and 6 to the second). Don't be afraid to use her for less than maximum value (such as 2 savage bears) if the targets are threats. Use Thaler (via Alzur's Double-Cross if necessary) to slow down the round, as long as you can be sure to win in a single additional card if they would pass immediately. Try to use him when you're 5-15 points ahead in general.
Against Axemen, try to use your control options (Trebuchets, Phillipa, Keira, Dethmold) to keep their axemen in check early; remember that Trebuchets damage through armor.
You'll typically be able to force them out of round 1 with your sheer amount of power, although if you lose the coinflip they might be able to force you two cards down to do it, depending. Sometimes I give up round 1 for card advantage, although if it's a matchup where round 1 is important (axemen, kambi, spellatael, etc), I make sure to stay in it in the vast majority of cases.
Typically you'll have been able to force the opponent out of round 1. Here you can bleed them out with tools such as Thaler and Cow, if they have a carryover, or push them out of more resources otherwise. If against spell'atael, instantly pass for card advantage. If against axemen, push this round deep to force a short round 3. Hopefully you'll have been able to save the Temerian Infantryman for round 3, as it is in most cases your finisher, although often times just getting 1-2 reaver scouts out on trebuchets and even blue stripes commandos can be an incredible finisher as well. Use your very high power golds in conjunction to close the game out.
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