Brief Summary of Build
Hey guys, Swim here, with the new deck I made today on patch day 1: the reincarnation of my old dorf list and this one comes out insanely strong in the new meta. The deck has been holding a 71% winrate for me after having played it all day, and is very difficult to shut down once it gets going. Elven mercs as an addition to the dorf toolkit provide an insane amount of utility and value, as they provide not only 2 points over a thunderbolt potion, but a buffable body which enables huge consistency with commander's horn. We end up using our silver slots for high consistency tutoring tools to be able to more reliably pull out our mercs and defendersm. If you're unable to win round 1, use or doublecast adrenaline rush to carry 25-60+ value into a short round 3.
Crafting Order: Yarpen Zigrin -> Barclay Els -> Alzur's Double–Cross -> Marching Orders -> Nature's Gift -> Ithlinne -> Geralt: Igni -> Saskia -> Zoltan Chivay
You can replace any cards you don't own with:
Gold replacements: Royal Decree, Saesenthessis, Zoltan: Animal Tamer, Triss: Butterfly Spell, Yennefer: The Conjurer, Isengrim (With Toruviel and Sapper)
Silver replacements: Sarah, Olgierd, Decoy, Ciaran, Toruviel, Ida Emean, Roach, Decoy
This deck's BUDGET VERSION is very solid, although you will have to craft some core silvers. The deck is basically able to achieve all of its power through bronzes, and its consistency through silvers, while golds are a bit more of a luxury, so the only gold you'll need to craft is Ithlinne.
June 6: -1 First Light, +1 Mardroeme
Simple swap. First Light wasn't entirely necessary, and Mardro provides huge options against reveal nilfgaard, consume monsters, and the dorf mirror. Not being able to rally for dorfs can be awkward sometimes, but Mardro is generally worth more right now, just because of the meta. Naturally, save mardro to use it as late as possible in general.
June 9: -1x Hawker Healer, -Saskia, +1x Immune Boost, +Royal Decree
Just a couple more optimization tweaks. Royal Decree is great with this deck as it heavily increases the consistency of its gameplan, and the extra 7 value from Saskia isn't entirely necessary here. Use it for Ithlinne whenever you don't draw her and Igni/Zoltan otherwise. And a 2nd Immune Boost just started seeing more value than Hawker Healer.
Mahakam Defender: The core of this deck. These little guys are able to give you a truly insurmountable amount of value when they're buffed up. Play these early (after Yarpen) and start stacking the buffs. Make a habit of playing these on the right side of your melee row, so that Yarpen when pulled (to the right side) will align with them for buffs.
Elven Mercenary: A huge enabler for this deck. Use these typically for pulling Thunderbolt Potion and Immune Boost, after you've established your resilient units. Avoid playing these until you have at least 2 units lined up, so that you can play the merc next to them for the thunderbolt potion. Avoid using Adrenaline Rush in round 1 in almost all cases (unless you won round 1 but need more carryover). These are going to be your targets for Marching Orders, alongside Barclay Els.
Thunderbolt Potion: The bread and butter of this deck. 12 value bronze, on top of resilient units. Blacklist these first, and pull them with Elven Mercs for huge value.
Hawker Healer: Very solid value filler card. Use these as basically unit versions of Thunderbolt Potions, buffing up 2 resilient units.
Dwarven Mercenary: While this card is a 1x in this list, it fulfills a very valuable role. Use this early to pull your Yarpen to the melee row to allow you to buff it alongside your Mahakam Defenders. In unique situations, you can use this card alongside Zoltan Chivay to dodge Cow Carcasses, Succubus, or even on the opponent's board to align an Igni. Note that running too many of this card BLOCKS your Barclay, Alzur's Double-Cross, and Rallies from hitting your Mahakam Defenders, which is why it's a 1x.
Adrenaline Rush: While this card is a 1x in this list, it fulfills an extremely valuable role. ALWAYS mulligan this card out of your hand after your blacklists; you want it from Merc or Ithlinne. Typically you use this in round 2 to be able to recycle a huge carryover for round 3 to take the game, if you weren't able to push round 1 for the win. In niche scenarios, you can use this in round 1 if your opponent is denying or locking your carryover, and you're able to win the round regardless. Ithlinne is often this card's best friend.
Immune Boost: It's basically a 4th Thunderbolt Potion. In some matchups (Northern Realms, Weather), you're going to be able to gain good utility from the armor, so be sure to use this before Thunderbolt Potions in those cases.
First Light: A great flexible option here. Call it with Merc or Ithlinne if you have a bricked hand early and need to be able to find your Mahakam Defenders. You can also use it for a cheeky anti-weather play for anybody trying to sneak weather by you, although note that depending on the situation ignoring the weather and just buffing through it might be valuable. If you merc and you see both this and Adrenaline Rush, choose this unless in round 2.
Yarpen Zigrin: This card's amazing. Play it early either from hand or from Alzur's Double-Cross, and start buffing it up with mercs. Drag it to the melee row with your Dwarven Mercenary, and start buffing it up along with your Defenders. I'd recommend crafting a premium one of these because this card will be sticking to the board for a really long time. :)
Commander's Horn: 20 point silver that buffs your carryover value. Absolutely amazing card here, and the ability to clone it with Eithne is entirely gamewinning. This is your primary Eithne target, although in certain matchups you won't need the power from double horn. Play this card late, later than thunderbolt potions and other buffing tools.
Barclay Els: Core Dwarf card. Note that this card actually gets better the fewer dwarves you run (part of the reason why I run 1x Dwarven Mercenary) as it only increases the odds of you pulling Yarpen and Mahakam Defender, which are the ones you want the most. Play this one early, after playing Yarpen. Note that this card will be pulled by Marching Orders alongside Elven Mercenaries.
Alzur's Double–Cross: Great tutor card. Pulls Yarpen, your Dwarven Mercenary, then Mahakam Defenders. Play this in the first turns of the game, either for Yarpen on turn 1, or Dwarven Mercenary or Mahakam Defenders afterwards. If you have a hand without enough resilient units, and especially if you don't have Commander's Horn or Nature's Gift for it, use Eithne to reuse this card for more resilient Defenders.
Marching Orders: Great tutor card. This one rolls between barclay and merc typically. If you have all mercs in hand and this pulls barclay, play this very early, right after Yarpen. Otherwise, play it early after you've put 2 units together on a row, so that if it pulls a merc you're still able to thunderbolt for value. If your grab from this will be Barclay Els, and you have a hand without enough resilient units, and especially if you don't have Commander's Horn or Nature's Gift for it, use Eithne to reuse this card for more resilient Defenders.
Nature's Gift: Your tutor for tutors. Use this as your blank check for silver spells. Typically for Commander's Horn, although otherwise you can fill in the gaps for Alzur's Double-Cross or Marching Orders. In niche round 2 cases you can use it for Adrenaline Rush.
Ithlinne: Powerhouse gold of this deck, and incredibly versatile too. Use it for thunderbolts to push a round 1 hard, for Adrenaline Rush either in round 2 or after an Auckes to be able to carryover massive value, or even for Rally to be able to find resilient units early if your hand is bad. Put it on a row that maybe forces that row into Igni range. In the dwarf mirror, use this early between your opponent's Mahakam Defenders to block off their buffs.
Zoltan Chivay: Flexible high value card. Basically you use it as a 14 point play that can drag your units to the same row to buff, or dodge threats such as weather, succubus, and Cow Carcasses. Consider using one of its grabs on an opponent's unit to align an Igni.
Saskia: Super high value scoia'tael card. Pulls itself out for free value which helps your ability to push round 1. Mulligan this away as soon as you blacklist thunderbolt potion, and otherwise decline the third mulligan if you haven't seen this card yet.
Geralt: Igni: Natural synergy with dwarves, as dwarves need to be able to push round 1 and Igni is all about pushing deeper into a round. Super useful in the mirror, and can punish Kaedweni Sergeants very hard. Consider using one pull from Zoltan Chivay or even Dwarven Mercenary to be able to set up an Igni on your opponent's board, as well as Ithlinne to push a row into Igni range.
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.
Dennis Cranmer: Honestly this card isn't that good. It forces you to run more dwarves than you really want to in order to gain even decent value, and blocks better targets for Alzur's Double-Cross.
Yaevinn: Normally a great card, but dwarves don't need card advantage, and need to be able to push round 1 harder. Understand that the true purpose of spies is less about card advantage and more about providing you an option to slow the game down when you're 5-15 points ahead, and that with a deck where you're playing for carryover, you already have cards that fill that niche making Yaevinn effectively purposeless.
Olgierd: I actually kind of miss this card a little bit; It's super solid in dwarves. Ultimately though, it's just not necessary to the win condition and blocks ADC a bit. Silver slots are super tight. Still a solid budget replacement.
Toruviel: Not a terrible card, although blocks Alzur's Double-Cross, and has too hard of a time finding a place in the silver slots. It also blocks the adjacency buffing of thunderbolts and Commander's Horn, which can be actually a lot more awkward than it might seem. Still a decent budget replacement.
Decoy: Experimented with it to return Barclay and Elven Mercenaries. Wasn't really useful enough.
Overdose: Honestly this card is pretty bad. It's new and a lot of people are trying to make it work but the numbers aren't there. A situational 12 isn't worth it for a bronze. Furthermore, it clogs your mercs hard (imagine using mercs early and seeing overdose + rally/adrenaline), giving situations where you have no good options.
Mahakam Guard: Not a good card and while this deck utilizes dwarves, it isn't an all-in archetype deck so you don't actually want to put in that many dwarves.
Dwarven Skirmisher: A decent card but no real synergy here and while this deck utilizes dwarves, it isn't an all-in archetype deck so you don't actually want to put in that many dwarves.
This deck's mulligan is VERY straightforward: start by blacklisting your Thunderbolt Potion, then getting rid of Saskia if you have her, then get rid of in this order: Adrenaline rush, Immune Boost, First Light. Decline the third mulligan if you haven't blacklisted Saskia yet, unless you have 3+ bronze spells left, as you need to end this mulligan with no more than 1-2 bronze spells as we want to pull them with merc/Ithlinne.
This deck's gameplan is basically to play deep for round 1, using a combination of your proactive resilient dwarves (yarpen, mahakam defender), buff them up really big, and preferrably win round 1, establishing a carryover that can't be beat. If you aren't able to win round 1, you still force it very deep, and typically are able to achieve an unbeatable carryover going into round 2. The opponent will instantly pass, and you can use adrenaline rush (if possible doublecast from Ithlinne) to be able to transfer one or two 25+ str units into a very short round 3. Avoid passing in round 1 with this deck, even if you need to go 2-3 turns after the pass to be able to catch up.
Open by playing Yarpen (via Alzur's Double-Cross if necessary), and start developing your Mahakam Defenders. Protect them as best you can from removal by healing them with Dwarven Mercenary and Hawker Healer. Don't worry if one or two of your four resilient units get pinged off, as you only need one or two to survive to be able to win out the game easily. Use your Dwarven Mercenary to pull your Yarpen to the melee row to be able to absorb buffs with your Mahakam Defenders.
Take careful note of your silver tutors: Nature's Gift, Alzur's Double-Cross and Marching Orders. Using these three cards properly, and knowing which one to Eithne can be pretty crucial. Nature's Gift is basically your blank check, you typically use it on Commander's Horn, Alzur's Double-Cross, or Marching Orders; whichever one you need. Alzur's Double-Cross pulls Yarpen, then the Dwarven Mercenary, then Mahakam Defenders. Use it to tutor for your resilient units early, and if you only have one resilient unit and have no way to get more (or if you don't have access to Commander's Horn), Eithne it to get you another defender. Marching Orders will typically roll between Elven Mercenary and Barclay Els; use this right after Yarpen if the Barclay is guaranteed, otherwise wait until you have 2 units on the same row in case you find an Elven Mercenary. Use Eithne for Marching Orders if it's a guaranteed Barclay and you only have one resilient unit and have no way to get more, or if you don't have access to Commander's Horn. Otherwise, save Eithne (and Nature's Gift) for Commander's Horn, unless you're in a matchup where your Igni will win you the round regardless (kaedweni sergeant).
If you NEED more resilient units (you want at least 2-3), you can Eithne for Alzur's Double-Cross or Marching Orders (into Barclay) to find more, or use Ithlinne (or Elven Merc) to pull rallies. Do this if you didn't draw into enough resilient units or the opponent is controlling them early.
Continue deep into the round, stacking buffs with Hawker Healers and playing Elven Mercenaries for Thunderbolt and Immune Boost. Again, do not pass with this deck, even if you need to play several cards to catch up or even if you won't be able to win the round; forcing more out of your opponent is still worth it.
If you're feeling a bit brave, you can use Zoltan Chivay or even sometimes Dwarven Mercenary aggressively to line up an Igni.
More often than not you'll have been able to force the opponent out of round 1 with at least 1 very large carryover unit. This game is typically already over at this point; you can either 2 round them or use adrenaline rush to outvalue them. If you were forced out of being able to win round 1 but still able to secure carryover, the play is basically to use adrenaline rush (if possible doublecast via Ithlinne) to carry over 25-40+ value into a short round 3. Overall, the round 2-3 with this deck is likely going to be very autowin, provided you've been able to get at least one resilient unit to stick. Good luck. :)
Against Nilfgaard, make sure you have a nonresilient unit between your 4 so that Letho can't banish all of your resilients. Your opponent will have a lot of tools to disrupt your resilience (auckes, peter, etc), but you should still be able to outpower in round 1. You may need to use adrenaline rush on round 1 if the opponent uses Letho or auckes + decoy, but it should still be a very easy matchup.
Against Monsters, try to save Zoltan Chivay to dodge Succubus. In niche scenarios you can play around Bekker's Twisted Mirror by buffing opponent's units.
Against Dorf mirror, use Ithlinne early on between their Mahakam Defenders to block off their buffs. If you can't win round 1, you need to be able to force out the opponent's Eithne whilst preserving your own for round 3. Remember that you can use adrenaline rush on their resilient units to remove their resilience, and prioritize that if it's more valuable. Tech options: Mardroeme, Merigold's Hailstorm.
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