Brief Summary of Build
This deck is outdated and no longer works in its old capacity.
This is my latest deck that I played today on stream to reach top10 on leaderboards. Scoiatael has been somewhat of a tier 2 faction so far this patch but this is a tier 1 deck for them, and I expect to see a lot more of ST in the following weeks. I'm very confident that this list (or something close to it) is the most competitive Scoiatael deck available right now. Witchers provide much needed tempo, and eithne (to many people's surprise) is very strong in this list. While this deck may look very greedy and weak to weather, dbomb, villentretenmerth, and rot tosser, it actually performs very well against all of them.
Special thanks to KerisTV who achieved high ranks with his own dwarf deck and thus made me realize how competitive they can be.
Removed: 1x Mahakam Guard, Toruviel, King of Beggars
Added: 1x Hawker Healer, Cleaver, Alzur's Double Cross
Toruviel saw less value when everybody knew what the list was and that it didn't contain schirru. Cleaver can counter cow carcass in a much better way than eithne, and allow you to keep the cow carcass as a pet. More importantly it counters dwarves in the mirror which as you guys have noticed is fucking everywhere for some reason xd. If you guys are seeing too much of this deck and want to increase your winrate in the mirror, consider a 2nd thunder as well. Anyway Cleaver's great, but mulligan him away vs NR, as only bad lists that still run reaver hunters will have cleaver targets. Alzur's Double Cross is decent, considering switching it for Yaevinn. Further testing required.
Yaevinn is really good with this deck what was I thinking I should have listened to chat NotLikeThis.
Basically its str is offset by your insane str gain, so it's mostly a free draw. Also counters Villentretenmerth so consider saving him vs NR.
Added: Zoltan: Animal Tamer
I was wrong this card is nutty. The extra body it provides with companion is strong. It should be played before Hawker Healers. It also represents the best typical eithne target (better than hawker healer, unlike Saskia), as reusing Zoltan adds an extra body unlike reusing Hawker Healer. Lastly, in niche situations where you have no other answer to an otherwise devastating cow carcass, Agitator can be used on your own row to deny it.
Removed: Mahakam Guard, Iorveth
Added: Regis, Alzur's Thunder
Regis is really good for this list. You basically always want to win round 1 and bleed them out round 2 and Regis accomplished that VERY well, giving you a buffable body on round 3. Unfortunately this means that Iorveth needs to be taken out (I personally think this is fine as I've been seeing pretty little NR these days), but that extra removal was supplemented with Alzur's Thunder, which was also wanted because the lists ran out of spells relatively often. Iorveth was nothing but NR tech (villen, yen:con).
Removed: 1x Alzur's Thunder
Added: 1x Hawker Smugger
Despite occasionally running out of spells to grab with merc, 5 spells seems to be the way to go as units are just simply better. Hawker Smuggler doubles with the function of the original Mahakam Guard, as it protects from igni and yen:con, and is thusly a valuable asset. I've also been toying with the idea of Thunderbolt Potion. Anyway, I encourage you guys to tweak the deck for what works against what you're seeing. I can't make a deck that accounts for weekly trends and bracket trends, so if you're seeing more greedy decks that need punishing (including mirrors), feel free to keep the 2nd Alzur's.
So basically, this deck doesn't need more power. Zoltan:AT gives you a really ridiculous amount of round 1 power, but except in certain matchups like the mirror, this deck doesn't need more power, which was the original reason I didn't add Zoltan:AT at first.
Added: Zoltan:AT, King of Beggars
Removed: Regis, Cleaver
Alternative Cards (Must Read)
So at this point I've gone through over 2 weeks of iterations of this deck. Many cards were added and removed and MANY worked quite well but I couldn't fit them all in. I can't make a guide for every variation but I encourage all of you to try to tweak the list as you see fit to find what works for you. What follows is a list of all the cards that I would consider competitively viable swaps, and you should try whatever works for you based on what you're facing and my descriptions.
Alzur's Thunder and maybe 1x of the smugglers are replaceable by the following:
Adrenaline Rush (amazing in many situations, can "lock" enemy dorfs)
Mardroeme (hard-counters nekkers, can kill cow carcass)
Thunderbolt Potion (pretty easy 12 point play, can be used on vesemir to protect vs yen:con)
Cleaver is mostly cow carcass tech, with some nekker/warship applications. If you're not seeing that much nilfgaard, consider replacing him.
Yaevinn is mostly weather/dbomb tech (to allow you to force a card advantage since you cant pass easily vs them).
Both are replaceable.
King of Beggars (Very powerful card, try replacing Cleaver or Yaevinn with him, see if you miss them too much)
Decoy (Very powerful especially with KoB, if adding this try to maintain 5-6 spells)
Iorveth/Triss could be replaced by Zoltan: AT if you feel like you NEED more power. I don't think this should present itself commonly, but try it. Triss is better against nilfgaard (for cow carcass), but if you're not seeing much nilfgaard you can prioritize keeping Iorveth.
Tricky Cards (Must Read)
Witchers: These cards are key to the deck. They block scorch/igni on your dwarfs, they stack melee for buffs, but most importantly they provide a great tempo option, which is something this kind of deck NEEDS. I plan to collaborate with Gravez to write a full article about the art of tempo soon, but the basics are that every deck needs options to play both high tempo plays and low tempo plays, because if you're behind on score you need to stay within 1 winning play of your opponent's score (such that you can play 1 card and overtake their score if they pass at any given turn). Since dwarfs are fundamentally low tempo, they synergize with witchers which have huge tempo. I expect most competitive decks to start running witchers within the next week. They're a very powerful card that will force decks to start bringing back aeromancy.
Iorveth/Triss: Kill dwarves, ocvist, nithral, arachas behemoth, ancient foglets, and more. Don't feel bad about using these cards early on round 1 to deny a key threat, even if you have to overkill a unit like using Iorveth on a Reinforced Siege Tower. Last meta it was mostly a bad idea to commit with golds early in round 1, but in this meta it's a lot different. Play Iorveth in the melee row so that if you get Dbombed, you gain a buff target. Against NR, save Iorveth in hand to kill Villentretenmerth with Iorveth and Eithne, and if a yennefer conjurer is dropped which u dont have a good answer for, you can Triss + Eithne to kill it but this locks you out of being able to kill Villentretenmerth later.
Aglais: This card's best function is to re-use commander's horn (which is not fleeting anymore) after rowstacking very hard. However, don't feel bad about using this card early for Rally, I do that quite often, if I have my healers in hand and want to pull more defenders before playing them, or if I want to try to pull a healer after my row is stacked. Also, don't feel bad about using this card for an alzur's thunder, such as in a dwarf mirror to keep their mahakam defenders dead, although note that Yarpen isn't worth doing this for as he represents much less potential than mahakam defenders.
Hawker Healer: Play these in the melee row late into a round. Don't bother using this card to block rot tossers in the melee row, an arbalest will come down to counter it. However, you can use this card to counter rot tossers in the ranged row to prevent cantarella value, if you have no way of removing cow carcasses. These are very useful post-frost (preferrably in conjunction with a Mahakam Guard) to protect your units from lacerate or wild hunt warrior.
Mahakam Guard: This card's function is to block against scorches and weather, and it does so phenomenally. Buff one mahakam defender ahead of the others to prevent a multi-target scorch/igni. Unlike witchers, this protection will last through multiple rounds. Because this card is weather immune, when you invariably face a deck that frosts you, you can buff your entire row to protect it from lacerate/wildhunt warrior with healer/commandershorn WITHOUT setting yourself up for igni/scorch.
Elven Mercenary: Don't play these too early, as hitting commanders horn or rally into hawker healer is something you want to do later into a round. These should be the 2nd to last bronze card you play, before hawker healer.
Hawker Smuggler: Play this card in melee row ASAP in round 1 (unless you're going first against a nonweather deck, see guide below). It's basically your counter to yennefer conjurer, and can provide scorch/igni protection.
Saskia: Play her late into a round for massive value. Sometimes, in a round 2 scenario where you're trying to stay in the round committing the least important cards, it can be important to realize this card in that situation is rarely worth a lot, and should be played before other gold cards and sometimes toruviel.
Commander's Horn: This is a very powerful card, but also a major contributing factor to why playing mercs too early is bad (if this is still in your deck) as pulling it too early can represent a huge loss in potential. Play this card last, after your hawker supports, and against weather try to save either this or a hawker support to pull your units out of lacerate/wild hunt warrior range.
Eithne: This is a weird one for many people, as not being able to use her on Aglais is very awkward. However Eithne counters every card that can punish this deck, those being Villentretenmerth, Cow Carcass, and Succubus (which is a surprisingly good card). Your normal targets are King of Beggars, Iorveth, Triss, Saskia, Hawker Healers, Cow Carcasses, Avallach, Succubus. Eithne Re-using Iorveth can allow you to kill Villentretenmerth (Triss works too outside of NR-borkh), so SAVE Iorveth against NR.
Mahakam Defender: Pretty good card. Play them first and make sure to avoid igni/scorch range. The most important thing with this card is to know when to not play it. If you play this card and your opponent passes, will you then be able to beat their score in a single card? If the answer is no, try playing something higher tempo instead (mahakam guard, toruviel, elven merc, witchers, etc).
Barclay Els: This card isn't very good, despite just receiving a 3 STR buff (crazy, right?). There simply aren't enough good dwarfs in the game for this card to be viable at a top competitve level. Many people run this card to justify running many bad dwarfs, such as dwarven skirmisher, yarpen, and Zoltans, but it's not worth it. At 8 STR it will see play in the future when there's more dwarf synergy.
Zoltan Chivay: This card is very bad in a dwarf deck. This card performs horribly vs radovid, iorveth, vernon roche, and triss. This card actually has anti-synergy with dwarves for the same reason witchers have synergy with dwarves: you want your deck to have a balance of low tempo and high tempo moves, and dwarves are already low tempo. People often mistake synergy with redundancy, and sadly this card and Yarpen Zigrin are right now more redundant with dwarves than they are synergistic (this is prone to change with more dwarf synergy though).
Zoltan Animal Tamer: Despite the insane amounts of rowstacking in this deck, this card is very bad in any scoiatael list for one reason: hawker healers just do its job better. While the body this provides does make it marginally better than a hawker healer, it's simply not worth a gold slot. You don't want your gold slots to be slightly better versions of your bronzes; they should serve different functions. I WAS WRONG
Brouver: I ran this for a while but it's very awkward with witchers and it's bad against Cahir. Eithne is better.
Blue Mountain Commando: Keris' list ran 1x of these, and while they're good against rot tossers, they don't melee stack which isn't worth the fact that their only application is on hawker healers. They also are bad vs vicovaro medics.
Mulligan priorities: FL, healer, witchers, with a minor emphasis on blacklisting. If you have 2 mahakam guards, mulligan one. Against weather, you can keep 1 FL if you have only 1 merc. If you blacklisted one witcher, use all 3 mulligans; if you haven't blacklisted any but have 1 in your hand, decline the third mulligan. Against NR, mulligan cleaver.
If you're playing against a non-monsters deck and you have to go first, play witchers. If the opponent plays a card that is ~7 value or less, pass. The goal is to get them to play 2 cards into your pass. This doesn't work against monsters as they can always beat you with a single card, either frost or crones. After they play their first card, think about what 2nd card they can play to beat you and if you can't think of any card they would have in their deck to beat your score, go ahead and pass. Witchers + pass is an amazing combo that redeems losing the coinflip and having to go first. If they play something that's ~8 or more value, you'll have to continue with the plan as usual.
Start to develop your board. The following section details the proper way to sequence your plays (everything in melee row). If you didn't draw any of these cards, skip that particular step. With each of these steps, make sure that after any of these plays, that if the opponent passes, you can beat him in a single card. Otherwise, you'll have to play slightly out of order to keep up with his tempo (most common with the low-tempo mahakam defenders). Also note that these steps are only valid in a nonreactive game.
Sometimes you will need to react to threats with Alzur's, Iorveth, Triss, or Aglais (If you have drawn commanders horn or both Healers, it's acceptable to merc to try to fish for an alzur's thunder to deny an important threat you have no other way of killing). Also, be ready to react to frost with Healers or Clear Sky. Don't let your melee units stay at under 4 health for any duration of time as they're vulnerable to lacerate. If they frost early and you can keep up with their score by using healers, that's preferrable to FL. If you need 50+ STR and FL gets you there, use that instead.
If at any point you feel confident your opponent will have to play 2 cards to beat your score if you pass, do so. This won't happen against weather unfortunately.
Play Hawker Smuggler first, followed by Mahakam Defender. Play your Mahakam Guard as soon as one of your Defenders survives its first turn, then resume playing Defenders. If you haven't already had to at this point, play witchers. If you have no hawker healers in your deck, play King of Beggars here. Then play mercs to rally. Play Hawker Healers, prioritizing King of Beggars if his target is a hawker healer. Commanders Horn here if you haven't pulled it with a merc already, then Aglais to use it again. Saskia to finish.
If you lost round 1, try to stay ahead of their score in round 2 to be able to pass when they do (or at least stay within 1 card of their score). If you won round 1, try to bleed them out of cards by buffing your mahakam defenders, probably saving only high value golds for round 3. The game should be essentially decided at this point.
If you would like to further improve on how to play this deck, I would suggest checking out my stream, where you can see this deck in action as I'll be playing it a decent amount for the next week or so.
If you are a budget player, consider this list to be acceptable replacements for the above. The silvers in this deck are cheap and necessary but the golds are for the most part replaceable.
Silvers Replacement Pool
King of Beggars
Alzur's Double Cross
Golds Replacement Pool
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