Brief Summary of Build
Read this as it changes other parts of the guide!
November 19: -Quen, -Summoning Circle, +Farseer, +Mandrake
1x Farseer actually does very well without needing to be Quen'd, and you'll often be pulling it out with Alzur's Double-Cross which puts it outside of muzzle range regardless. It's totally fine to have 2 Alzur's Double-Cross targets (although it feels weird for a lot of people) as your strategy doesn't necessarily hinge on either card and they guarantee you more proactive options. It's also fine to use Ithlinne for only 1x Alzur's Thunder (although be sure to mulligan away thunder aggressively, and more often declining your third mulligan). Overall, these changes increase the deck's power level and consistency both. Lastly, we take out our 6th silver, Summoning Circle, for Mandrake, which represents a great option against nekkers, or in the mirror. Mandrake is better than Mardro, as your bronze slots paradoxically end up tighter than your silver slots, and Mardroeme can hurt your elven merc's ability to play proactively for guaranteed ale.
December 9: -Mandrake, -Muzzle, +Summoning Circle, +Aglais
Hey guys Swim here from Gwentlemen, with my Spell-Ale-Tael deck that I made today on stream. The premise is simple; a spellatael deck with Sages instead of Farseers, and some incidental changes as well. The deck ultimately plays as both a stronger version of Spellatael, and an easier one.
The list is very heavy in 7-8 str removal so it's fantastic against decks like spy nilfgaard, that lose value when you kill such units.
Why no Farseers?
In short, Farseers are clunky and inconsistent compared to Sages. Here's a list of reasons why:
-Only after 6 turns do Farseers give you more value than sages; anything less than that is worse. (in part because sages trigger protectors)
-Without Farseers you don't have to immediately pass if you lose the coinflip (because you play for higher tempo and can Ithlinne later)
-Farseers received a MAJOR stealth nerf from priority changes last patch; Farseers summoned from spells no longer boost themselves, which makes staggering them MUCH more awkward.
-Gives opponent large removal targets in round 1, especially when ale hits them.
-Very vulnerable to not drawing protector or Ithlinne.
-Very vulnerable to passes, opponent can force them out pretty easily.
Operator is a card that was run in old school Spellatael decks and immediately makes tons more sense when Farseer is out of the deck.
-Alzur's Double Cross and Nature's Gift can now find Operator, giving you great reliability for playing him early.
-Without Farseers you cast 3 more spells every game so your protectors often break 20 points; this makes the 4th protector worth going for.
-The one downside of cutting farseers is that it can limit your proactive plays, which operator supplements, in addition to this list's gold slots.
-If the opponent doesn't block Summoning Circle (often if they use Iorveth on Operator) you can summoning circle operator for 5 protectors.
Building This Deck
You can replace any cards you don't own with:
Gold replacements: Ragh Nar Roog, Drought, Hanmarvyn's Blue Dream, Aglaïs, Vesemir
Silver replacements: Mandrake, Yaevinn, The Last Wish, Decoy, Hattori, White Frost, Commander's Horn, Ida Emean
Blacklist Mahakam Ale first, then removing Quen and other bronze spells from your hand (see matchups to know when to keep thunder or first light), and then any superfluous protectors in your hand (you only want one in your opening hand). Against Eithne mulligan Operator. If you have all four golds mulligan Ithlinne. Go for the third mulligan, even if you could draw quen or Royal Decree.
This list often forces the opponent out of early rounds with ale spam. Unlike the Farseer version, this list doesn't need to instantly pass round 1 when you lose the coinflip. Get 4 protectors with Operator, force round 1 with ale spam, with huge proctector finishers in round 3; the round gameplan of this list is extremely straightforward. Make sure to try to save Eithne for late as she's a big bomb to drop with this deck (the most common target being Alzur's Double-Cross)
This is a list with a LOT of available options every turn due to a HUGE amount of tutors so play your turns slow and think about every single option you could make, particularly be aware of what you're pulling with Nature's Gift and Summoning Circle.
Your gameplan in round 1 is to basically push with your proactive tools (operator and your golds) in conjunction with ale to force the opponent out of the round. Although this list doesn't drypass off a lost coinflip, if you have a hand with fewer tools (no muzzle or iorveth), and against an opponent with high tempo options, you can still elect to instantly pass, although this will rarely happen. Start by playing Operator (via ADC or Nature's Gift if necessary) to clone a protector. If you don't have protector in hand, use operator on either an Elven Mercenary or Sage depending on what your opponent won't be able to use (keep in mind sage can re-use spawned potions like Ida or Vanhemar's Overdose!) Apply pressure to your opponent with Iorveth and Muzzle, and play Ithlinne for quen when you have room to breathe. Make sure you play one unit ASAP to both the melee and ranged rows, as you want to enable being able to merc (or possibly sage) for mahakam ale.
Use your removal responsibly and don't be afraid to Ithlinne for Thunder if you have a good opportunity to do so: Quen isn't necessary to use Ithlinne for like it is in the Farseer list. Position your units as much as possible to allow for ale to randomly choose better targets. For example if your opponent plays a spy or you end up with a large unit on your side of the board, try to play as many units as possible on that row to decrease the odds of ale hitting a unit that may just die to a scorch effect. Try to use Summoning Circle on Operator or an opponent's silver Spy. Avoid playing Protectors in round 1 (including rallying) as they'll have more points in round 3.
If you win round 1 you'll often drypass round 2 (although if the opponent has small carryover you can play one big protector to try to force them to play a card after the pass. If you lost round 1 your opponent will often drypass at which point you'll sage for quen or merc for ale; if the opponent doesn't drypass here you'll be tasked with staying ahead of them, if round 1 was long enough you can do so with one or two protectors pretty easily, allowing you to establish ale targets to keep 1-2 big protectors for round 3.
In round 3 your objective is to to avoid scorch, which shouldn't be hard as this deck can protect itself against scorch very easily. You'll usually have one protector in your hand with less points than normal from operator, and you have one protector from deck with Alzur's Double-Cross. Play two protectors at 2 different strengths on melee and ranged, and then play additional ales you may have to stagger further if necessary. Be sure to position your units tactically to decrease ale's odds of hitting targets that play into scorch.
Spy Nilfgaard: Keep Alzur's Thunder in opening hand. Keep his Enforcers down with Iorveth, Thunder, Sage for Thunder, and Muzzle if necessary, although I prefer to use Muzzle on Impera Brigade at 8 if possible. Positioning for Ale is key; reduce the odds of Ale hitting your largest targets, especially spies. Your round 3 plan beats theirs.
Eredin: Save First Light in your opening hand to clear weather. They play for low tempo openers so you should have no problem here. When playing Quen'd units, play them outside of frost, as Quen protects them from Drowners anyway. Try to Iorveth a Drowner for 7 point value.
Consume: When the opponent plays Nekkers, immediately respond with Muzzle and Artifact Compression. If they play more, proceed to zap (using sage to re-use) and Iorveth them; it shouldn't be too hard to shut them down in this way. Don't be afraid to Eithne for Compression. Opponent will often Operator a nekker into your hand; counter with Summoning Circle to put a protector in theirs.
Skellige: Pretty straightforward matchups here even across all Skellige archetypes right now. Save Artifact Compression late against Berserker Marauders and Skirmishers. Consider passing round 2 early if possible to deny their res targets in round 3. Keep their resses in mind; if you go to round 3 where they only have 1-2 units in graveyard, use Iorveth and other removals on units that they can't res for value.
Northern Realms: Be very wary of them setting up a scorch. Try to deny crewmen against radovid (use thunder on Blue Stripes Scout) and to deny henselt targets against henselt; don't be afraid to be very aggressive towards these ends.
Spellatael Mirror: Mulligan operator away, if you can avoid finding operator entirely in this matchup you'll be at an advantage. Use Iorveth and Muzzle on 7 strength targets before they get buffed above that. Save compression and Eithne for round 3 (or use compression on a big farseer).
Handbuff: Piece of cake matchup. You'll often be able to Summoning Circle on Operator since they Iorveth Operator when you play him. Use Compression on a quen'd dragoon. Otherwise a pretty standard matchup.
Movement Scoia'tael: Can actually be a bit tricky if the opponent moves your units intelligently you can sometimes have awkward ale targetting. However you have great answers for their marksmen with your 7 damage abilities. Keep in mind Muzzle triggers commandos/marksmen favorably. Overall a fine matchup unless you have a very awkward hand.
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