Brief Summary of Build
so I've seen a lot of complaining about this deck not working and being too vulnerable to disruption.
The reason people are down on this decktype is that it is so easy to disrupt and is very low tempo while you're trying to set up. That's why I think it should not be all in on Greatswords with things like Warcrier and Adrenaline Rush. Greatsword + Longship is already a good core which can provide you passive points while simultaneously investing into further rounds by strengthening your Greatsword.
Clan An Craite Greatsword + Light Longship: When the card was revealed, greatsword basically screamed "Light Longship". Having these two together generates 6 points every 2 turns (1 in the first, 5 in the turn the greatsword triggers). These two cards are the core of the deck.
(Neat little trick with Greatsword: If you expect your opponent to run hailstorm. You can play him round 3 while your opponent has an even amount of cards in his hand. This way Greatsword will reset right before the game ends.)
Clan Brokvar Hunter: Having a Brokvar Hunter right to the unit getting hit by the Longship generates 1 additional point per turn. He also gives you access to a bit of removal. Use him to kill Elven Wardancer before it gets buffed/Aelirenn gets out, kill Succubus if you play against Monsters, or damage Redanian Knight Elects.
Tip: When using your leader, position Crach next to Brokvar Hunter and then hit Crach and the other Unit next to the Hunter with the Djenge you pulled. This will buff Hunter by 3 additional points, making your leader a 21 point play.
Clan An Craite Raider and Clan Drummond Warmonger: So I tried to come up with the solution for the early game tempo problem and I also was unhappy with how little this deck thins (I didn't like shieldmaidens at all). This discard package helps with both of those problems. You'll note that we're running only 2 Warmonger for 3 Raiders: This is because Warmonger is the first bronze unit that discards, so we're able to reutilize them in later rounds with freyas. In round 3 that is a 14 point resurrection at least. More if it got buffed by Wild Boar, which is why Warmonger is an excellent target for it. In dire situations, you can use Warmonger to get a bronze unit in the grave to resurrect it with freya (this with a Brokvar Hunter counters Succubus for example)
Djenge Frett: This in combination with your leader is your "Tempo Joker". You will always have that play available to you and should use it when you need a little burst. Number to memorize: Crach on Djenge is 18 points. If you hit your greatswords you can mitigate the point loss that Djenge does by pinging while also activating your Greatswords.
Morkvarg: Great secondary Crach target because of the strengthening, great buff target for Wild Boar. Prevents you from being dry-passed and is a decent tempo play if pulled by Skjall
Restore: This card solves a lot of problems for this deck. First of all, it serves as an additional resurrection for your engine (Longship and Greatsword). It also buffs both of these out of Alzurs Thunder range. Additionally, the buff is permanent (at least on the Greatsword) so all your resurrections are stronger and more resilient to removal.
Skjall and Udalryk: Would you use a 7 strength spy? I would. Would you like to double the chance of drawing your spy? I hate the coinflip so I definitely would. This even has a chance to be a 3 point spy if you hit a raider with your 2 choices. It's 42% after you've used your leader and not played any Warmongers yet. This is assuming that you draw 2 random cards out of your deck. Since Mulligan works in a way that the cards mulliganed first are more likely to be at the top of your deck, this number is probably even higher. Can also pull Morkvarg, which is a decent tempo play with carryover
Wild Boar of the Sea: Serves as an additional engine piece which is a lot harder to remove and is not as vulnerable to removal (8 points and 5 armor is a lot) and movement (moved units land on the far right, so if every row is populated, Boar will continue to provide value even after being moved)
Madman Lugos: Serves as removal for snowbally units and provides decent tempo. It can also get you an engine piece to the grave for a res if you don't have any in your starting hand. Can also be used to discard Raiders although you want the damage most of the time.
Eskel: Same role as Lugos with a little less utility - tempo and removal for units that can get out of hand.
Coral: Turns out putting a silver spell on a 5 body is still pretty good. Coral can deny dangerous units, prevent your opponent from resurrecting them (looking at you, Trollololo) and wins against every bronze/silver finisher. From a tempo standpoint, Coral is the highest unit on the opposing board +3.
The general idea of this deck is that you can generate a lot of points in long rounds while simultaneously setting up a big resurrection for short rounds.
Always mulligan Raiders first. This increases your chance of getting a Raider from Udalryk because of the way how mulligan in Gwent works.
If you have Skjall, try to get either Djenge, Morkvarg or Udalryk to eliminate the randomness from him (Djenge because you can then pull Morkvarg with Crach)
Other than that mulligan Freyas against decks that don't run a lot of removal, keep one otherwise. Try to get a good mix of Swords and Ships
Try to find a balance between setting up your engine and keeping up in tempo with warmongers/Djenge/Golds. Use your Golds to deny your opponents snowball units. The great thing about this deck is that while you're denying your opponents setup, your Ships and Greatswords keep ticking. Preferred rows for your engine are Siege->Melee-> Ranged. The reason for that is that Warmonger and Raider have set rows, so the Siege row is free most of the time. Putting Wild Boar Of The Sea in Siege or Melee also leaves the Ranged row open for movement effects. This way Wild Boar can buff Warmonger, which is still a great r3 res.
If you have Skjall and Morkvarg is no longer in your deck, look for opportunities to use him. When going second he can be super awkward for your opponent, because Skjalls 5 points make the Spy much easier to overcome. And if your opponent counter-spies you, you have gotten 4-5 points in that exchange (8-9, if you hit a raider with Udalryk)
If you won round 1
Decide if you want to get the +1 Card Advantage or if you want to bleed. If you do decide to bleed your opponent, the ideal round 3 hand for you is: Freya, Sigrdrifa, Coral (or Eskel against NR and SK). If you have Restore, use it now, because the buff will stick when you res the card with Freya in round 3. Speaking of Restore: If you suspect your opponent to play some kind of graveyard hate (Caretaker/Vicovaro Medic), use restore immediately to get your unit from the grave to your hand and keep it there for round 3 (in which your opponent will start).
If you lost round 1
If your opponent tries to bleed you and does not have a spy, try to overcome him in tempo to get your Card Advantage back. Skjall can help countering his spy. The great thing about Skjall here is that normally you would be at a disadvantage with your 12 point spy against 11 point spies. So instead of losing the spy exchange, you come out on top. Again, if your opponent may have graveyard hate, try to rescue your unit with restore. In this case you can also play the unit because you are the one starting round 3 and will be the first to resurrect it.
Pretty straight forward: Go for your big resurrections, set up your engine early if you have a long round. Look for opportunities to play greatsword while your opponent is on even cards to make it immune to hailstorm. That's about it.
Eredin Frost: Sometimes, when I try to sleep, nightmares of frost and drowners keep me awake.
This deck can really mess with your gameplan and beats you in long rounds. Try to keep up with them as much as possible so that you go into a short round 3. Kill their ships with Coral/Eskel/Lugos. In round 3, Sigrdrifa on a Crached Djenge is more points than crones.
Mulligan ST: Try to keep up in tempo to not get into card disadvantage. They don't play much removal, but movement cards, so try to spread out units in a way movement does not hurt you that much. Also having more of the same engine pieces helps. Try to deny elves with Brokvar Hunter, Lugos, Eskel. This can deny Aelirenn and make their Vanguards less effective. Coral should be used on Officers. Look out for the Toruviel-Aelirenn Bamboozle by overcoming them with a card that kills an elf. Playing a Greatsword into Morenn basically nullifies her effect, but be careful not to test by putting him next to a Longship, as that will kill him before reset.
Basically an armwrestle on who has more thunders/greatswords. You can cheat them by using restore on a Greatsword, thus getting him out of thunder range. This will make killing him inefficient and all your subsequent resurrections of him will also have 9 base strength. As soon as a Greatsword sticks, you should be favored because Stammelfords and Overdose benefit you, too. Try to Deny Farseer value with your golds or Donar. If possible, keep coral for r3 for a Protector, winning round 1 is more important, though. Hotfix Edit: Don't know if this deck will still exist, but the exchange of thunder/greatsword has become easier for you with the changes, because the Thunders will be banished. After the hotfix, this doesn't seem to be a deck anymore.
Armor NR: If they're Henselt, try to kill their Drummers before he gets to use his ability on them. If they're Radovid, try to bait out his ability and then play Wild Boar. If he saves his ability, let your Longships tick and use your removal/tempo plays. Sometimes they can do a huge tempo boost and you can't catch up. Try to anticipate those plays and pass at the right moment. It's okay to lose round 1 with the opponent going 1 card down if you have Morkvarg, because they can't dry-pass you.
Generally, you'll beat them in a short round 3 most of the time, although sometimes Shani -> Stennis -> Heavy Cavalry can be too much for you. They go through their deck pretty quickly, so keep track what cards they have left.
For Trollololo use Coral round 1 or Eskel round 3.
NG Spies: They mostly play 0-2 Assassins and Menno as removal, so you should be okay here. Do not play you Longhships left to the Assassins if you can avoid it because they can resurrect Assassins with Vicovaro Medics to kill more of your engine pieces.
They can disrupt your chains by placing emissaries between your Longship and Sword, but you're still getting +1 per turn through the Ship and it only disrupts you for 2 turns. Sometimes you can finish those spies off with Djenge. Look out for Vicovaro Medics as they have become popular again (see the round 2 guide for that). Their perfect finisher (Rainfarn + Roach + Joachim + Nauzicaa) is better than yours so try to not go to a 1 card round 3.
Marauder ST: Has been pretty favorable for now. Eskel is useful to kill a marauder, use Coral on the biggest Marauder at the end of round 1 for a huge swing. They have an extremely weak round 3, so try to manufacture such a scenario.
If you want to use the discard package, the Bronze core is mostly set. The only flex slot here is the Brokvar Hunter. The great thing about Skellige Bronzes is that you sometimes just need to have one copy in the deck, because you can reutilize it with Freyas. Notable Bronzes are:
Raging Berserker: Secondary Skjall target that synergizes with our engine and is an acceptable res target. I don't run him because I like having the guaranteed Udalryk from Skjall
Clan An Craite Warcrier: Provide good tempo in round 1 and don't need a lot of setup. If you Crach out Djenge and hit a Longship with Djenge you already have 2 great targets. Only hit Greatswords at the end of the round because otherwise it will stop growing because it is buffed
Clan Tordarroch Armorsmith: If you see a lot of damaging effects like weather, this card is really useful. It is also never really a dead card, as everything is damaged anyway and Ships generate +2 points a turn if they hit an armored unit
Your Silver core should be Djenge, Sigrdrifa and Restore, notable Replacements are:
Gremist: If you run into a lot of Frost, Gremist also is a 3 Strength unit in the deck but 11 when you use Bloodcurdling Roar, so he's a high strength unit that does not interfere with Crach
Donar an Hindar: A possibility for the secondary Crach target instead of Morkvarg. If you already have Djenge in hand, Crach becomes a 14 point lock on demand, which can be very useful. The secondary effect is also helpful for getting more options for your freyas. Note that in round 2, he is no longer a guaranteed pull with Crach because Warmonger has Veteran
Olgierd: If you don't have Morkvarg. Has the same attributes and serves the same role. The fact that he doesn't come back during rounds makes your rounds weaker against damage, but your carryover better.
Jutta an Dimun: Just a big beefy body which can be reused with Restore and Sigrdrifa. Would recommend her if you decide to use a warcrier. Being locked to melee hurts a little. Note that she will be the primary Crach target if you decide to put her in. The Crach play will still give you 18 points, but doesn't allow you to activate your Greatswords.
Merigold's Hailstorm: We all know this card. Really strong in the current meta, I just found the silver slots to be tight and also not being able to move units can make this card awkward.
Decoy: If you're on a budget, Decoy allows you to reuse freyas or re-position/unlock Ships or Greatswords
Marching Orders: Can be used to fetch a Freya, since you're more reliant on resurrections than other Skellige decks.
Summoning Circle: Has gotten a big buff with the new patch in being able to copy units played on your side. So if your opponent plays a gold unit, this replays the last unit you played. This can also copy a spy your opponent plays to counter it. Right-click the card to see what you would get. Note: This can copy ambush cards, but it does not show it if you right-click. It's good for finding out what your opponent played.
Your gold cards are basically flex cards to patch up the weaknesses you have. The only exception is Wild Boar, which is part of your engine, but it is so strong that I still run it. It's not mandatory, though. I'd say the only card you should definitely run is Coral, except you don't own her.
Notable Golds are:
Ciri: Saw this on Truedawns Stream and worked pretty well for him. After the hotfix it seems like we will see more of the Radovid list so this would be an additional lock target. Also works well with tempo plays like Djenge or Warmongers
Royal Decree: Sacrifices some power of your deck for the option of having access to removal and wild boar all the time
Geralt: Igni: Pretty good in the current meta of highly statted Bronze cards. Can help winning round 1. I like shutting down cards before they get out of hand with Lugos and Eskel more. though
Cards I would not recommend:
Birna Bran: A slow play that gets value over time, which is exactly what our bronzes do and what our golds should patch up
Vabjorn: We only use one Brokvar Hunter and also we're in a buffing meta, so this rarely finds value
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