Brief Summary of Build
Hi this is nantas and here's my first deck guide.
This deck is built around Menno spies archetype which focus on using your spies and bounce enemy spies to gain free card advantage, with the addition of Fake Ciri to solve the prolbem of most NG decks in this meta: struggles to win R1.
This deck doing great so far in casual matches. And I feel like it has potential to be competitive viable with a few tweaks. The overall advantage of the deck is that it has so many tech spot that can counter meta but still have the consistency to get your win condition played in 2 rounds out of 3.
I'll post update once I have more ranked experiences and tweaks.
I found myself mulligan away Nauzicaa Brigade more often than I think. The main purpose of this card was to kill Joachim without Menno, but when you have to play Joachim without Menno you already in trouble and the +9 points from Nauzicaa Brigade won't drag you out of it. But a second Lacerate can make a huge difference in Dagon swarm matchup.
I also played a lot of 4k ranked match with this deck and it's doing alright around 60% WR. It can deal with Axemen/Henselt Reaver Hunters/Foltest pretty well. I'm also getting more and more comfortable against Dagon swarm with this deck.
Why Fake Ciri?
I believe a lot of us has been caught off guard by Fake Ciri once or twice. When you can't counter it you are forced out of the round or try to play bleed only. But it can be easily countered with locks/decoy -- what goes around comes around, that sucks. I guess that's the biggest reason no one runs the card.
But what if we have enough tools to counter the counter? As NG we got Auckes to unlock Fake Ciri, we got Emhyr var Emreis/Decoy to counter a decoy, we can also Emhyr/Decoy to reuse Auckes multiple times if against decks running multiple D-Shacles. Or once bounced you can also wait until your opponent passed to lock it with Auckes. At last if we run out of the tools and Fake Ciri is still locked on opponent's side. We call Menno Coehoorn to end it all.
Besides the high power it provides once opponent passes. It's also a good card against scorch heavy meta. Obviously you can't play scorch after you passed. So if Fake Ciri is played early in the round, it can protect your Impera Brigade from scorch.
You should never play her if not have the "Insurance package" in hand: Auckes + Decoy/Emhyr.
NOTE: She can also be killed on sight by Alzur's Thunder, but before everyone sees how it's going a lot of people will just hold on to their locks and feels smart about it. The real nemesis of Fake Ciri is consume monster or Letho so be prepared against those matchups. Don't forget you can play her as loyal against those decks and feel better than a 7 point Peter. Check out this discussion on gwent forum if you want to know what can happen to Fake Ciri ;)
Card Advantage Suite
The deck focus on getting card advantage by tossing Cantarella and your opponent's spy, also if you can win R1 with Fake Ciri, you're almost guaranteed to use Ciri to get +1 in R2. In a lot of games I had +3 cards in R3.
Cantarella + Joachim de Wett + Menno Coehoorn is your bottom line combo which gives you at least 19 points and +1 card advantage. In reality it also adds 4~12 points to your Impera Brigade, depending on what's been pulling out by Joachim it will add even more points and utilities.
Ciri in R1 if you don't have Fake Ciri and her insurance package. It will encourage your opponent to pass if his/her deck requires the last play.
Ordinary NG Spies Suite
The bronze part of the deck plays just like good old John Calveit Spies before July patch. It's actually not too bad in this meta. Just don't play into scorch in R3 with your fat Impera Brigade.
Vicovaro Medic to steal Skellige's Axemen/Queensguard/Any strengthen unit. Or revive Emissary like an ordinary NG player to thin even more.
Peter Saar Gwynleve + Emhyr for countering Axemen and Nekkar.
Tibor Eggebracht to counter scorch heavy deck in R3.
Very easy and straight forward mulligan phase compare to NG decks using Alba Pikeman/Imperial Golem/Daerlan Foot Soldiers.
Your priorities should be ( in the following order):
- Get one of your win conditions, either Fake Ciri + Auckes or Cantarella + Menno Coehoorn
- If the above is not possible, get Ciri and aim for +1~2 card advantage in R1. (depending on who wins coin flip)
- Mulligan away Vicovaro Medic like a normal NG player
- Get as many Emissary as possible for deck thinning
- Rot Tosser over Impera Brigade due to leader ability.
This is a reactive deck with a lot of versatile tools to counter a lot of meta stuff. However it also has its own powerhouse that can win 1 round with points and another with guaranteed card advantage. So to play this deck you should always keep clear about the current situation and what your opponent gonna play deep into the round.
Ideally you would want to use Fake Ciri to win R1. Use Ciri to get card advantage in R2. Cantarella + Menno Coehoorn to get more plus cards in R3 and counter whatever your opponent has with last say (Rot Tosser/Peter/Tibor/whatever other tech options). But you can also change your plan on the fly if your hand is suboptimal. For example use Ciri in R1 if you don't think you can win R1. Or if your opponent call their spy in R1 you should consider playing yours and toss theirs back to keep card advantage.
Open with Fake Ciri if you have the insurance package. It's very important to have Auckes or your fat Fake Ciri will be locked and betray you (your typical double agent xD).
While Fake Ciri grows, play your Emissary like a normal person. Except two medics there's really nothing that can ruin your gameplan. Try to stagger your Impera Brigade against Igni with Cow Carcass or Nauzicaa Standard Bearer.
If your opponent try to counter Fake Ciri with lock, use Auckes to unlock her and lock one of the enemy threats. Bounce Auckes to do it again if needed.
If your opponent use Decoy to toss her back, use your own Decoy to repeat the action. You should use Decoy over Emhyr since it will gives you more points.
You should win R1 generally. But if your opponent won't pass and you have played all your bronzes you can pass and get card advantage. If against heavy weathers and somehow your opponent has answer to all your Cow Carcasses, play Ciri to force a pass or get card advantage.
If you win R1, play Ciri and your remaining Emissaries if you still don't have your R3 winner (Cantarella + Menno + Tibor). You can play deeper or get out of R2 as soon as possible depending on your opponent. Against combo heavy decks you bleeds, otherwise you can save your Emissary for a little bit more points in R3, or save your Rot Tossers for final control.
If you lose R1, just play NG spies normally you should be able to win easily due to card advantage. If your opponent use spy in R2, toss them back if you have Menno. By doing this you will have +1~2 card advantage, it doesn't matter if they pass and you need to use Menno to win in 1 turn or use other method in 2 turns. Since if you saved your Menno you can still pull off Cantatrella + Menno combo in R3.
You should always have card advantage in R3.
Besides the ultimate Cantarella + Joachim + Menno combo for points and card advantage, hopefully you still have some tech cards left like Peter/Rot Tosser/Mardroeme against current meta and your gold tempo cards Vilgefortz and Tibor Eggebracht. Play the last card and win the game.
Against these matchups you can't reliably win R1 so you should consider play Ciri early.
- Consume Monster: They can eat your Fake Ciri and took away your R1 win condition. You can still play her to the left side of Arachas Behemoth to bait out Unseen Elder but you should get ready of lose R1 and to get card advantage only. Consume monster can't win R3 if you have Auckes/Peter/Mardroeme/Lacerate against Arachas Behemoth, Nekkar and Grave Hag.
- Hensalt Reaver Hunters: 45 points at turn 2 and pass will leave the score at 45 : 8 if you play Fake Ciri first. So you should always open with Ciri to get card advantage ( if Henselt goes first passing at turn 2 gets you +2 ), or play Rot Tosser immediately if your hand is good enough to win R1. Win R1 is indeed advantageous against Reaver Hunters since you can bleed R2 real hard. So put all you have in R1 and win R3 with Tibor is a solid option.
- Swarm Dagon: If they know how to stagger their swarms it's really tough to win. Your Fake Ciri will grow big (if not eaten by an Ekimara), but probably not big enough to win you R1. So you can play both Fake Ciri and Ciri to force the opponent out. Once you've done that, bleed R2 super hard with all your spies and bounced enemy spies. You can even force out game finishers like crones and Yennefer due to card advantage spies provide.
- Axemen: You'll have a easier time against this archetype compare to other NG lists, due to the multiple Peter banish and amount of cards you can play that dodge damage. Also long rounds favors Fake Ciri, and you can steal axemen from their graveyard. If you have Peter in hand you can invest in win R1 by banish all the axemen they put up. If not just focus on card advantage and save your tech cards for R3 (they will not bleed R2).
- Discard Cerys: It's a war on lock toggles. You'd want to use your Peter to lock warship and Morkvarg. But generally it's not easy to win R1 if you don't have a successfull Fake Ciri. A lot of discard player will use Coral to seal R1 since NG decks won't put up a stacked row in R3.
- Spella'tael/Radovid: They will kill pretty much every single unit on your side. So just play Fake Ciri and Ciri and try to force them out or get card advantage. You'll keep card advantage till the end of R3 so it's not hard to dodge scorch. Make sure you toss their spy back with Decoy against scorch. You have a good chance winning R3 if your Tibor is not D-shacled.
This deck's core is a very small set of silvers and golds, beyond that are all flexible spots either for more points or more tech options. Thus I think it has good potential to be better and maybe competitive. Here's the thoughts on possible replacements.
Rainfarn: Replacement for Vilgefortz for better consistency of pulling off Fake Ciri or Cantarella. For now I think the tempo Vilgefortz brings is more important for R1 and R3 but I'll give Rainfarn more tests.
This card works great against NR which is one of the strongest enemies for this deck. (Turns out NR matchup is easy due to cow carcass) If you find yourself a lot of 16+ igni targets you should replace Vilgefortz with this one.
Avallac'h: Since our deck have easy mulligan time and Fake Ciri benefits from long round, Avallac'h can be a good option to increase draw consistency while sabotage pulling heavy gameplan of the opponent (NR/ST).
Vanhemar: Weather clear or 17 points, depending on the meta you face.
Iris: Kind of win-more card. Your benefits from her deathwish is seldom above 15 points. But against Axemen it might worth trying since every unit we don't play on our side hurts their gameplan.
Ocvist: Fits the idea of getting card advantage and absorb thunder for Fake Ciri.
Assire var Anahid: Use her to revive Fake Ciri and Auckes for more meme score? Maybe not worth the silver slot.
Alba Pikemen: Maybe run one or two of them to absorb thunder. Or just run 3 to get even more tempo/thinning like current meta NG decks.
Silver/Bronze weathers: For surprising effect and force your opponent out of R1 if not prepared. Most of NG deck don't run weather, use it to your advantage.
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