Brief Summary of Build
EDIT: I swapped Aglais for Geralt. You guys are right, she's better. She's worse against Bran discard, but against almost everything else she's either equal or better.
Link do opisu decku po polsku:
So you probably wanted to try Scoia'teal at some point right? Didn't really like the current archetypes? Check out this deck, it includes quite fresh view on how to approach Scoia'teal.
I created pretty interesting deck and I wanted to share it with you. I managed to get at some point top18 in ladder with it.
The metagame when I was climbing the deck was Dagon fog(Elementals), Consume monsters, Eithne Dwarfes and Northern Realms with a sprinkle of SK Axemen and Radovid control. All of these decks are generally positive matchups for Smugglers, so I managed to beat pro players like PetrifySC2, ProNeo, OceanMud and SuperJJ.
The meta has changed into Bran Discard and Frost Dagons so It's a bit more challenging now. Piloting this deck has became a bit harder, because both of these archetypes have ways of eliminating Smugglers relatively reliably. At the begining I struggled against them, but right now I adapted my play and I'd say it looks reasonably good against them as well. This is the most fun deck I've ever played, however naturally I might be a little biased in this regard. :D
And I can see it being frustrating with quite difficult mulligan (which you can learn to manage by reading this guide and some practice.
The idea behind the deck:
In order to win a game in Gwent, you need to obviously win 2 rounds, so I created a strong plan for both of them. The initial 1st or 2nd round, should be won with only bronze and silver cards and the third round should be won with only gold cards.
The deck revolves around Hawker Smugglers. Those are by far the most important units in the deck and any other bronze or silver serve just the supporting role. Each smuggler can grow to 15+ quite often and in some situations even to 20+ value.
The finisher in third round is borrowed and modified from control Scoia'teal decks. We can have five gold bodies on the board while rampaging everything with 3 scorches if needed or skellige storm/lacerates, depending on the matchup. In order to relatively reliably draw all our golds, the deck consists of significant amount of thinning with First Lights, Elven Mercenaries and Witchers.
Another pretty big feature of this deck is its versatility. You can pull the spells which you like out of deck, and the third round can be 2x Skellige storm + 1 Scorch or 3 Scorches. I like it, because we can react to what opponent is doing. It's sometimes not necessary to turn a card into a scorch with Shirru in 3rd round.
Mulligan can be a bit tough sometimes, but if you follow these guidelines, you should be fine, with generally quite stable hands.
1. The most important part:
Aelirenn, Saskia, and 2 witchers at all cost must be out of our hand.
If this condition is met, I generally don't advise to mulligan third card unless your hand is bad and you have to risk it. If you've mulliganed away 2 of these cards in first 2 moves, it's ok to mulligan third card usually.
Now those two goals have similiar weight so it's up to you which one you prioritize.
2. It's important to keep no more than 1 gold in 1st round. 2 Golds is somewhat fine but 3 is usually really bad sign. The best card to keep IMO is Shirru, but that's debatable, Borkh for sure is not.
2. It's important to try to line up our thinning. This is a bit hard and because 1st point is more important, it leaves not that much room for this point. You usually want to remove shackles and have 2-3 mercs out to pull things out. It's fine to have even 2 first lights in hand so don't blacklist them, they are a guarantee that you pull a unit so it's actually decent. Watch out for situations where your first lights have nothing to pull or your mercs have nothing to pull. I.E. If you have 3 smugglers and 3 Trappers, mulligan one trapper out.
Additionally, if you won first round, you can allow yourself to keep saskia in your hand in R2, because then you can mulligan her out in R3 and you control that she's not going to be in your hand.
Matchups and tips on piloting:
Monsters Consume – It's our best matchup, as long as you manage to have 1-2 smugglers out you win. Lacerate his mid-row at some point to force him out of round. CA is quite useful to stop gravehag.
Bran Axemen – We roll them so hard it's crazy. You win last round if you have your gold setup even with 2 cards down. You can't win 1st round but do some thinning and work on not being too behind with CA. They usually drypass 2nd round so you don't have to care about losing 1st round. Don't make it too short but not too long (get Aelirenn out, thinning and pass)
Henselt Tempo Hunters – They very often open with Keadweni Sergeant and then apply tempo with Henselt on Sergeant. You can counter this by playing Smuggler into Witchers into Lacerate.
Henselt Hunters – Less tempo version, try to set up smugglers, if you succeed, even light cavalry shouldn't be scary. Third round our golds should do pretty well, 3 scorch works nicely, but watch out for CA.
Monsters Dagon Fog – Dagon Fog is very powerful Monster archetype but they struggle a lot to kill our smugglers so we can actually grow them a lot. Watch out for Bekker's Twisted Mirror, try to kill 1 hp tokens as they spawn. 3Rd round 1 scorch is enough, focus on killing tokens. SK Storm and lacerate are pretty strong here. Watch out for Grave hag + caranthir combo in 1st round.
Monsters Frost Dagon/Eredin – The same as previous, but they can kill our smugglers more easily. This makes matchup a bit more difficult, but they tend to struggle with tempo so try to push 1st round with witchers potions and SK storms.
Bran Discard – This is something I'm working on right now. At first I was getting owned quite heavily most of the time, but right now my winrate has improved. Because they can kill our Smugglers relatively easily, while also Tempo-ing, we have to take different approach. It's better to outtempo them early on and apply pressure. I noticed they struggle a lot against SK Storm at the back against their longships in R1 and you can also throw it again with Eithne. Another interesting tactic, and I think combining them both is best, is opening with Witchers into Immune Boost on top of them. This means his longships can't damage you too much and you apply a lot of tempo. Then you can sometimes force a pass or it's much more comfortable to play against them because you are dictating the tempo of the game.
Bran Queensguard – They struggle a bit with tempo so play witchers rather early and then follow with smugglers. It's good to win 1st round, against them, so try to avoid Coral a bit by buffing witchers with potions and playing a bit more controlly, for example with SK storm or trappers.
Other decks with big bronze finishers (Reveal, Mulligan, Spellateal) – Even If you are 1 card down last round it's fine, usually you should beat most of these decks.
Other decks with Gold finishers (Calveit dashgaard, Radovid control, Scoia'teal control) – Try to keep either shackles or Eithne which can shackle the big gold body, then they leave.
Spy play – Watch out for 3rd round spy from your opponent. If he hasn't played his spy in 1st or 2nd round, try to predict if he can do it in third round. If so, then depending on the matchup (Monsters) don't let Borkh go off, but against other matchups with big bronzes or silvers don't hesitate to risk it anyway. You can always also leave your own spy for third round but quite often it has not good consequences.
Drypassing – It's sometimes a tough call. You can have CA here, but it depends how thinned your deck is. I'd say if both of you have 6 or less cards then it's usually fine to drypass, however it depends how many golds do you have in hand and how thinned your deck is.
A little bit about me:
My job currently is being a Coach in Starcraft 2. I was a coach in Polish SC2 Prohouse, led my own team for half a year. I was the top world player in many RTS games, if you are interested in coaching for Gwent, message me, I haven't conducted them yet in Gwent, but I have already some ideas how to make them useful. (12$/hour)
Also, Check my stream, I'm mostly playing this deck so you can see it in action:
I will be streaming everyday CET time afternoon until Saturday.
Cheers, thanks for reading, Good luck :)
Specific role of cards:
3 - Hawker Smugglers: We want them to grow as much as possible. They can be 20+ value which usually allows us to take 1st round. Can be played in second round, but really avoid in third, because they might interrupt scorches.
3 - First Lights: Mostly for thinning. I don't recommend using them too much to clear weathers. The only situation when it's worth it, is when opponent played 3 weathers. Against 2 weathers it's only a consideration when it's early in the round and we want to protect our Smugglers. Watch out for being down in points after clear.
3 - Elven Mercenaries: Mostly for thinning as well, can pull our important spells. You can play them in the back or in the middle to protect smugglers from frost.
3 - Dol Blathanna trappers: They are excellent tool to control the board of the opponent. They also have good synergy with Smugglers, because traps buff them. It means sometimes you can use Trappers to save Smuggler from weather. Once you have 3 Smugglers on the board, they suddenly become 9 value + the damage they deal. Can be insane.
1 - Lacerate: It's pretty good against monsters but generally pretty solid choice for this meta. Preferably pulled with Merc, but can be in hand as well. It can also help in 3rd round against monsters
1 - Immune Boost - It's excellent card right now. It's technically only 9 value, but the armor against weather and lacerates adds up to almost 18 value. Helps us keep Smugglers alive, or can allow Witchers to tank early pokes and weathers.
1 - Shackles: This is love-hate relationship card. Sometimes it's gamechanging, sometimes it's just useless. It's great for unlocking golds in last round, like Baron, Tibor, Hjalmar. It's best to pull it out of mercenary as well, because if it's in our hand we have to use it, if it's in our deck, we can but don't have to.
3 - Witchers: Witchers are a tempo play and good thinning, almost always it's best to play them in 1st round. This is synergetic with Smugglers, because they are 4 point play at the beginning. Together with immune boost they can be very good opener against frost weather or War Longships.
1 - Aelirenn: Once we reach 5 Elves and all of our bronze units are Elves, she comes out, thins the deck and adds tempo. Always aim for getting her out in 1st round.
1 - Skellige Storm: This is often MVP card, because it can be played twice and the damage output is quite sizeable. It also forces out golds and allows to remove multiple targets in last round, especially against Monsters.
1 - Yaevinn: Absolutely necessary. This deck is Hybrid Control deck, and there is this Control part. Control decks in general need to have at least half a card advantage in last round. It's best to use it in 2nd round. If the opponent hasn't played his spy yet, you might even consider leaving it for 3rd round. There's chance his spy on your side can be pretty problematic for our Villentretenmerth.
1 - Saskia: A gold body which you don't play out of your hand which is really nice.
1 - Geralt: He can provide pretty good 13 gold body in last round, which is the biggest you can reliably get. I don't like Ciri:Dash here
1 - Shirru: Shirru provides scorch to your hand and big gold body. Allows you to get rid of cards you don't like and you can bamboozle your opponent by not changing any card into scorch.
1 - Villentretenmerth: Very strong gold. Quite a lot of HP and scorch usually provides a lot of value as well. Play it when your opponent has 3 cards or against consume 2 cards(to counter grave hag but only if you have CA)
1 - Eithne: To my surprise, probably the strongest gold we have. It naturally pulls saskia so it's 12hp in total and you have a lot of versatility with it. You can play double scorch, double skellige storm, shackle that Baron or even double lacerate. Preferably played in 3rd round but in some instances it's ok to play it in 1st round.
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