Brief Summary of Build
Hey guys, Swim here and this is the frost hybrid deck I've been playing on stream to great success. The premise of this deck is as a very balanced option between a proactive and a reactive deck, while at the same time forgoing small amounts of synergy for high amounts of independent card value. Your Cilantro Harpies are a large part of your proactive package, as you can play them in any situation, particularly when you want to slow down the pace of the round. They provide really insane value, as do Wild Hunt Hounds, which can be pulled out with a Navigator from Eredin as well. Marching Orders pulls out Water Hag and Nithral, and Ge'els, Caranthir, and Kayran do a huge amount simply as very high value golds.
Crafting Order: Water Hag -> Crone: Brewess/Crone: Whispess/Crone: Weavess -> Fiend -> Frightener -> Woodland Spirit -> Caranthir -> Ge'els -> Caretaker
If you have any of the following cards, you can replace any cards you don't own with:
Gold replacements: Geralt: Aard, Triss Merigold, Imlerith, Ciri, Ragh Nar Roog, Triss: Butterfly Spell
Silver replacements: Jotunn, Nithral, Roach, Ocvist.
The BUDGET VERSION is quite cheap, requiring you only craft Caranthir and a handful of epics in addition to the rares necessary. While it's true the deck does lose some value from not having Kayran or Ge'els, it also is a deck that relies mostly on its bronze's power to do very well, and so the budget version performs quite well, and is basically a solid upgrade to the starter monster deck.
-First Light, -Wyvern, -Earth Elemental, -Nithral, -Renew, +Ghoul, +Ekimmara, +Archgriffin, +Giant Toad, +Succubus
Archgriffin proved to be a better option to First Light, since I was rowstacking and archgriffin's 7 body over a clear proved very valuable in scenarios that it was warranted, which also made Wyvern lose value as it wasn't in the same row. Earth Elemental proved to be less valuable as a proactive option than Ekimmara and Ghoul, which despite being unplayable in turn 1, can still supplement very nicely a cilantro harpy play, and ghoul can be enabled by toad. Ghoul is also a great tech against queensguard, even as a 1x option. Nithral was proving a bit narrowly useful as well, as he was very valuable in long rounds where the opponent offered larger units, but outside of that was a bit unreliable, and Toad is a great neutral option which can enable Ghoul a bit better (I usually just Toad a drowner or possibly an archgriffin if I need to play it early). Lastly Renew was a bit unreliable, and Succubus (thanks to my friends Pyrofox and MaggoGx for the idea) was proving very useful, as there are relatively few d-shackles right now, and if they try to dodge the succubus, you can use drowner to pull the unit back to that row right before it goes off. Note that marching orders now hits water hag or ekimmara, then ghoul.
-Ekimmara, -Ghoul, -Wild Hunt Hound, - Frost, -2x Drowner, -Giant Toad, -Marching Orders, -White Frost, -Kayran, -Succubus, -Eredin, +3x Foglet, +2x Fog, +Bloodcurdling Roar, +3x Crones, +Woodland Spirit, +Caretaker, +Dagon
This is the update for patch 0.9.7 of open beta, on June 13, and it changes the composition of this deck majorly. Ultimately the bronze changes were done to enable fog + foglets, which ultimately gives a lot of free power and thinning. The Bloodcurdling Roar can counter Rot Tossers, as well as get huge value out of harpy eggs, typically in round 3. Ultimately, foglets make Fog the most powerful weather for monsters, and its inclusion to any weather list is very powerful. Giant Toad, Marching Orders, and White Frost have been removed to make way for Crones, which give the deck a large amount of power in later rounds, although they can in some cases be used much earlier if necessary. Woodland Spirit was a necessary addition to the deck, given fog's power, and Kayran's nerf made it more awkward. Lastly, Eredin was replaced with Dagon for higher flexibility and more gold value.
Wild Hunt Hound: Extremely high value card. +2 strength on Aretuza Adepts, despite doing the same thing, and the Wild Hunt tag is valuable here. The ultimate strength of this card is achieved when you start to get very familiar with each deck and what rows they tend to occupy. You'll always play one or two of these guys on turn 1-3, although in many situations the opponent will have 2 rows to potentially target and it can be important to know which one they will be more likely to play further units on. Mulligan every single bronze Frost from your hand to be able to pull them out with this card. Be sure not to put 3 frosts on the board at one time unless you're sure the opponent has no clears or anything; play 1 or 2 and sweat the opponent out until they clear it.
Caelano Harpy: Insanely valuable bronze card. In this deck, they're basically Earth Elementals on steroids. They come out at 7 power, and provide 6 when the eggs are killed, for a total of 13. You generally want to just play them as that; just carryover units, with the harpies hatching between rounds. Play these in different rows from each other. Don't instant-pass on round 2, as you want to play these first to secure some value into round 3.
Drowner: Very high value card that has huge utility; use it to move your opponent's units into frost, or possibly to protect your own units from opponent's weathers or rot tossers, or even simply to disrupt your opponent's positional strategies, such as wild boar of the sea, or vran warrior.
Earth Elemental: Added to this deck because I wanted a 4th cilantro harpy, and this will have to do. Ultimately with such a reactive, control deck, it's always very important to make sure you have enough proactive options, so that you have something to play against an empty board or a board full of golds, and this helps with that.
Wyvern: Very high value card that loses a bit of value here due to the controlling nature of this deck.
Water Hag: Auto-include in monsters, like most silver "mages". Hugely useful here, and most of the reason we run Marching Orders. Save it if you're otherwise vulnerable to weather as an option to clear it, otherwise you can use it for lacerate or rain. Rain if you spot a great opportunity to use it, although you often end up lacerating. Can be great to lacerate a row that you stack with Caranthir or even Drowners.
Nithral: Pretty high value card, can achieve great value when you play for a long round against a deck with slightly larger units. Pull it out with Marching Orders after Water Hag, and it will be generally out of removal range. Play it a bit early in round 1, after you've gotten some frost to stick. Mulligan this away if you see an Eredin though, as well as Marching Orders if it pulls this, as its effect is symmetrical.
Marching Orders: Pulls Water Hag, then Nithral. Like with any deck, this card is great if its first two pulls are both silvers.
Fiend: One of the better locks in the game, and it provides this deck with something it was otherwise missing; the ability to deal with single high value enemy units, such as the ones Nilfgaard can so often put out. Great addition to this list.
White Frost: A very powerful neutral silver, basically achieves almost double the value of a bronze frost. This will really help in matchups where the opponent is removing your weather and making it very hard to stick; generally play this a bit later after they've removed the weather from hounds. Mulligan this away in a very short round 3 scenario though; unlike Ragh Nar Roog this card can't achieve value in very short rounds.
Frightener: Bit of a strange card in this list. Spies naturally synergize very well with weather, as you play them for less cost, but this one will actually "scare" enemies out of any weather you may play this in, and if you use it to scare enemies into weather, this card won't itself be in weather. There are niche ways to get value out of its effect, but generally you find yourself playing it whenever possible while avoiding the effect (if the opponent has a gold card at the end of a frost row, playing frightener to the side of that card so nothing is scared off). Ultimately though, it's still a very valuable card here, and provides a great value target for Kayran if nothing else, even if it's a bit awkward to use sometimes. If you choose it from Ge'els, it will actually draw you the gold card that ge'els showed you immediately, which is great.
Caranthir: Absolutely incredible card here. Play this one a bit late into a round, probably when weather is cleared. Open with hounds and stuff, and if they clear your double frost, and have 6+ units on the board or so, consider using this to pull all of their units to one row and frost them again. Can't achieve huge value within the first 3-4 turns of a round generally, but otherwise a massively gameswinging card, which also enables your Water Hag's lacerate to hit for more.
Ge'els: Monsters auto-include. The fact that it puts the card you decline on top of your deck is generally amazing, and it gives you better access to your golds and silvers while giving you modality over them. If you choose Frightener with him, Frightener will always draw you the gold card you declined, as that will be placed on your deck first, and if you see Renew and decline it, it will always be waiting for you next round which is great.
Kayran: This is a card which may look kind of weak, but is actually VERY strong, and comparable to Tibor. Basically this card is generally used on a Frightener, Drowner, Archgriffin, or maybe one of your 6 str units, but regardless it will come down at a 23-28 STR gold, which denies you the value of a single bronze card in your hand, effectively swinging for the same value as Tibor. Play this as last play into round 3, although if you have Renew you can play this earlier and plan to Renew it, although as always be careful playing this card too early, as card advantage matters a lot in the early game, despite being nearly useless in the endgame.
Renew: Fills out the last slot of this list nicely, as this card is now a lot more reliable, being able to reuse your opponent's gold cards against them, and as your other gold cards are extremely high value renew targets themselves (Caranthir and Kayran). You'll often see this card off Ge'els, and will choose the silver for round 1, drawing this card into round 2.
Imlerith: Not a bad card, and can be pretty great in very short round 3 scenarios to give you value out of a frost you might have, but he can be clunky, hard to use him as removal, and in many cases units under frost tend to die anyway.
Ragh Nar Roog: Bit of antisynergy here as you already run weathers that are vying for the spot on the opponent's board. That being said tihs card is actually still quite runnable in this list, and also has synergy with Frightener.
Geralt: Aard and Jotunn: These cards are actually quite powerful now, and would seem to have a lot of synergy here, but you have better tools for movement with Caranthir and drowners and don't need more.
Crone: Brewess, Crone: Weavess, Crone: Wispess: Ultimately they work in this list, and provide a lot of value. They're runnable, although for situations you need tempo, king of beggars is probably better and only costs one silver. Crones are only better than King of Beggars in the ability to try to out-tempo your opponent, which this deck doesn't generally strive for.
Ice Giant: Just doesn't really give enough value. Killable by 5 damage, and a lot of people are using 5 damage cards, and in addition can only achieve 10 value. Card's a bit too fair.
Wild Hunt Warrior, Wild Hunt Navigator, Wild Hunt Hound: These cards just aren't incredible, and the only synergy that actually ties them together is Navigator. If there was more that interacted with the Wild Hunt Tag, these could end up being a lot better, but as it stands they're pretty awkward, although you do call Wild Hunt Warrior sometimes with Eredin, rarely.
Start by blacklisting all copies of frost, and then usually aim for 1x drowner, 1-2x ways to clear weather (first light, archgriffin, water hag, marching orders). You can get rid of Earth Elemental if you already have at least 2x cilantro harpies, but you generally want 2 proactive plays. Get rid of Nithral (and a marching orders if you have Water Hag) in the Eredin mirror, as Nithral's effect is symmetrical.
Open by playing cilantro harpies and Earth Elementals, if there's no row to commit to frosting. Otherwise, if the opponent has 1 unit on the board, consider frosting, depending on their deck archetype. In most matchups, your most common opener is to frost melee when they put a unit there, because many decks right now primarily utilize the melee row (nilfgaard, dwarves, mulligan, queensguard, eredin, kaedweni sergeant, etc). There are few exceptions, and ultimately it can be important to know each archetype and what rows they tend to occupy. Ultimately, your first objective is probably going to be to try to bait a clear on a single row. Typically the opponent will try to develop outside of the frost row, and you may play a Drowner at that point to drag that unit into frost to try to force a clear. Generally though, people won't use a clear for a single frost, and you'll be inclined to play a second one. DO NOT play 3 frosts at once generally, as many people especially with only one clear left will wait to try to get max value out of it, opting to dodge your 2 frosts as best they can to try to bait out a third. However Caranthir is perfect for these scenarios, as he allows you to, after forcing the opponent to sit in both frosts for a few turns, play your third frost to force his (possibly last) clear, and then use Caranthir to pull all of his units into frost once again: the dream situation for Caranthir. Typically you play Nithral decently early in round 1 to start to ramp up your damage more. If at any point you get ahead of him, but not enough to pass (generally around 8-15 ahead), play Frightener or start putting some more value into next round by playing more cilantro harpies or your earth elemental. Use Ge'els to search for Caranthir, White Frost, Nithral, or Fiend. If you see Frightener with Ge'els, picking it will draw you the gold card Ge'els showed, and if you see Renew, picking the silver will put Renew at the top of your deck where you'll be able to get great value out of it next round. Ultimately this deck should have no problem pushing round 1 out very hard.
In more cases than not you'll have won round 1, generally with a harpy carryover. You may elect here to play any remaining harpies and earth elementals and pass to take it to round 3, where your ability to go 2nd and use Kayran as a strong finisher will be crucial. Ultimately if round 3 ends up being very short, your carryover and your large Kayran will be enough to close out the game; if this happens to be the case, make sure you get rid of cards like White Frost that don't do well in a short round, and have a plan for something to eat with Kayran; optimally a Frightener that you were unable to get great use out of earlier. If round 3 ends up being very long, your frost effects should end up carrying you, provided you're not too greedy with them and end up giving the opponent too good of clears. If you're running very low on remaining frost effects, don't put enough frost on your opponent's side that they'll clear it. Renew ends up being great in longer round 3's if you've already committed Caranthir as being able to reuse him is great in these kinds of games.
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