Brief Summary of Build
***** Final Update 2/19/18 *****
Reached top 40 NA (currently 32nd) and Top 500 Global with a 58% win-rate.
The version with ADC and Shani significantly out-performs the Vandergrift/Sile version, and Dethmold is a huge inclusion that offers a ton of versatility (Clear Skies is great against Harald decks once they play all their weather out, Thunder is generally useful at a minimum, and it's the only thing in your deck that can damage your own units which is useful if you get stuck with Villentrenmerth and a large unit spy on your side in R3).I've gotten better at saving Natalis for R3 or to overcome a large point deficit after the Thaler/ADC play into Dun Banner. I try very hard NOT to use the Natalis-Reinforcement-Ronvid combo because while it's great points, it uses up your Natalis and it's generally easily overcome.
I always dry-pass on the Blue Coin - it's very effective against Alchemy Nilfgaard since if you don't kill their Viper Witchers they can only play 3 in the round, and if they drag it out it's a very long round of 13 cards v. their 11. They almost never get ahead of you and unless your draw is awful you will easily stay ahead, especially if you have Thaler-Scorch and they play Mahakam Ale on it a few times. Just don't kill the Witchers. At worst you'll win R2 on even cards.
Same thing for the Elf-deck that is making the rounds right now in the meta. Just dry pass, play your spy over their spy, Scorch or Selkirk it, and then stay ahead through the Round 2 to go into R3 at least E or most likely +1. The only time I play into R1 is if they have an Elven Wardancer - play Ronvid, let them play Brouver-Yaevinn, then pass. They'll play Cleaver onto Yaevinn but it'll give you back CA, since you are on E and haven't used your spy and they have already.
If you win the coin-flip on the Scoia-tel, just try to win R1 on E if you can get your Henselt combo; if not, -1 is OK if you didn't use Thaler. It's debatable whether you want to Thaler R2 on their Wardancer, or take Thaler into R3 to block the inevitable Schirru on your Villen, but judge accordingly.
In both matchups, Shani into the Henselt Target is incredibly useful. Save Shani if you can, but if you think they're out of removal and you can make a huge Henselt play, just go ahead and use her. You won't find a better use of Shani.
***** Update 2/13/18 *****
Apparently this is still good. I reached Rank 19 (top 1000 globally) with a 71% win-rate. Hope you all are having success with it as well.
Shani in for Vandergrift; at 3700+ MMR right now there is so much removal that Shani is more utility in resurrecting for 13 points and then the extra utility of getting the Henselt combo off if possible.
Swapping out Vandergrift and Sile for Shani and Alzur's Double-Cross has been helpful at 3900. Basically always allows you access to Thaler which is critical against Alchemy Nilfgaard and Scoiatel, which is mostly what I play (and Swarm Foltest). Almost every deck plays a spy (including Bran and Crach) so having Thaler and Scorch/Selkirk is incredibly valuable.
Note re Alchemy Nilfgaard (if you have not tried this) - DO NOT KILL THE VIPER WITCHERS. Let them cycle 2-3 each round, use Shani to res your Henselt target after they've exhausted all of their Vipers.
Well, King Henselt is still a thing (yay!)!
While there are a hundred variants on the traditional Henselt deck, this is my current version, which I've piloted to a lot of fun and moderate success in the early days of the patch. Understanding that in the early days, everyone is playing different stuff and the meta has yet to resolve, I've had a 77% win-rate up to Rank 16 in about 30 matches. I'm hoping the community can help refine this, as I've enjoyed seeing a lot of the other Henselt decks on GwentDB (aside, seems like Gold weather is making a comeback) and help NR regain a spot in the top Tier of the meta, once it settles.
What makes this deck different from the other Henselts? Probably not much except for 3 things:
1) the Gold package;
2) High-roll on the Reinforced Trebuchets; and
3) The Blue-Coin dry-pass.
I started playing around with those 2 things and, if you draw halfway decently, I've beaten every other archetype in a number of ways early on. Of course, things can settle and this deck could completely bomb, but this has just been my early experience. For what it's worth, I didn't have such an easy time climbing last couple of patches with either Radovid or Henselt - so, my hope is with some optimization, this can become legitimately powerful if it isn't already. Further explanation below.
Like I mentioned above, there's nothing novel about most of this deck - what was good 2 patches ago (Henselt into Reinforced Trebs, Battering Rams, or Siege Masters) is still good. Thaler - Dun Banner. Villentretenmerth finisher. Etc. I'm guessing if you're reading this you already know the basics of Henselt machines.
Here's some of the variants of note:
- I almost always mulligan aggressively to high-roll Henselt on Reinforced Trebuchets off of a Winch.
- There's no Shani, so you are relying on a bit of RNG, albeit, in your favor mathematically.
- I sometimes use Thaler differently - instead of always trying to draw out the Dun Banners, I typically save Thaler for R3 so I can ensure last say and also to block a Scorch of Villentretenmerth and assure he always has a target, regardless of matchup.
- Vandergrift and Selkirk are secondary round winners.
- I try not to use Sile until the Dun Banners are out of the deck, but obviously that doesn't always happen.
- Dethmold is versatile - the recent meta has seen a decent amount of gold weather (Nilfgaard, ST, and Harald) so have Dethmold to either clear or zap is extremely useful. Yes, you don't always draw into him but Sile-Winch is good to cycle the deck a bit.
For the guide, I will simply talk about some of the things I do a bit differently from standard Henselt. That doesn't mean it will work for you, but it's worked OK for me.
As usual, Blacklist the Dun Banners First, then I blacklist all the Reinforced Trebuchets if possible. So essentially, I try to make sure I have 0 DBLC and 0 Reinforced Trebs in hand. You will almost always have at least 1-2 Winches if you do this, or Natalis-Winch. The idea is to use Henselt to pull 3 Trebs from your deck after you play 1 from Winch.
If you've blacklisted both DBLC and Reinforced Treb and you have a 3rd mulligan, then go ahead and mulligan aggressively for Golds, Reinforcements, Ronvid, and/or Thaler.
- I almost always pass if I lose the coin-flip (Blue Coin). Yes, you give up R1 without any thinning. But - because of Henselt - you can almost always power through your opponent in R2 and maintain at least 1 card advantage going into R3. If you have Thaler (or ADC if you choose to run it instead of Garrison) you can make this even more effective.
- In R2, just stay ahead. If they dry-pass you can drop a card like DBLC (if you have it in hand) just to get rid of it and go to R3 - that's almost the best outcome because your Henselt-Reinforced Trebs is deadly in a long R3.
- If they play into R2 on the Blue Coin, then Winch out a Reinforced Treb and then Henselt the other 3 if you can. It's a huge tempo swing (3 + 24 = 27 points in one play) and it's usually enough to force them out of the round, or if they are bleeding you, it ensures you will stay hugely ahead so you can play Thaler without losing your lead and so often go into R3 with 1 or 2 card advantage. If you get 2 CA with Villen it's tough for them to beat you.
- Before you play Henselt-Trebs, try to get Ronvid on board (11 points) to protect from Scorch. Or if you have a Winch that doesn't pull Treb, grab a Siege Tower to play for 10-12 points.
- Your finishers are Villen, Selkirk, and a combination of Siege Masters and Battering Rams and/or Scorch if you have it. It's very reactive, but because you have CA, it's surprisingly powerful.
Some random notes:
- Vandergrift is even better in this patch as a lot of thinning cards have 1 value. People tend to spread them out on 3 rows. I don't care how many cards are on their board, if you can trigger 2 Rag Nar Roogs I just go ahead and do it. You can always play Thaler into the weather you spawn, making Vandergrift an extremely valuable long round card. Yes, he is sometimes dead, but he's a round winner if deployed correctly.
- Selkirk getting a 1-point buff (8 + 3 armor) makes him effective at targeted removal. He can take down engine cards like Longships, GreatSwords, Wild Boar of the Sea, and even opposing Villentretenmerths if you pump a Battering Ram to remove armor first. He can outright remove a spy you play (13 points) but I find him most effective at halting things like Mangonels, Siege Supports, and other engine cards. He can also help line up your Scorch in R3 if you have him.
- Sile is here to help you get through your deck. There are a lot of special cards (Winch most prominently) so it's nice to use her once your Dun Banners are out.
The Blue Coin dry-pass has worked out well for me, but no one else seems to be doing it. Maybe it's a dud, but give it a try. I feel like even without always drawing Thaler, this typically gives me CA or allows me to be at a minimum on even cards with the opponent in a short or long R3. And with Henselt and Villen, we don't mind either. A long R3 is almost the ideal circumstance - if you can save Henselt for R3, your chances of winning go up exponentially. Dry-passing R1 if you lose the coin flip, and then having your opponent dry-pass R2, makes that happen. And if you have to play Henselt in R2 you will destroy them and go into R3 +1 on cards.
For this deck, it's a better outcome than winning R1 -1 on cards and then hoping for Thaler to at best get you back to E. This actively gives you CA. It seems riskier but give it a try, let me kow how it works out for you.
Alchemy Nifgaard stomps all over us - they can play the Viper Witcher 6 times so basically in order to win you have to bait out 3 of them in one round then use Henselt to win R1; bleed them as much as you can in R2 down to may 1-2 cards. You will probably try to have Selkirk and Natalis-Winch or Natalis-Reinforcement as your win condition as they will kill Villentretenmerth and you absolutely cannot count on Henselt deriving a lot of value in this matchup. If you run into too many of these, consider teching Shani instead of Vandergrift. She might just be a better play anyway since you can re-use Sile in this way.
Bran Skellige is a good matchup as they struggle when you dry-pass on the blue coin - it sort of renders their carryover (Olgierd, Cerys) irrelevant as you generally can stay ahead of them throughout R2 easily as long as you get your Henselt combo off (watch out for Coral, so have a backup plan). Even Henselt into 2 Reinforced Treb or 2 other machines will typically put you 30-40 points ahead, and you can use your Scorch + Machines to keep them down. Vandergrift, ironically, is a killer here as they will have 1 point units (Freyas, Beastmasters) all over the board you can generally get RNR on 2-3 rows easily as long as your Trebs don't kill all of them first.
See my comment below on Scoiatel.
Foltest swarm is the one matchup in which you want to go first! Never dry-pass this one, but instead make sure Ronvid is out on the first turn - then use your Battering Rams to immediately kill the first Blue Stripes Scout that comes out and then repeat on the second if he plays it from hand or from Reinforcement. They generally follow a script - 2 BSC then Foltest - so you know the first 3 moves. If you have the crewmen on board then you'll screw up their Reaver Scout chain. Once you do that, try to fish for 1 Reinforced Treb to get your combo off and then always Ballistas - they have so many same strength units you can generate 20+ points a turn.
I think there are a lot of sub-optimal cards in this deck right now, so hopefully you all can give me some suggestions:
- Dethmold is great utility but not any thinning - I tried Commander's Horn but the tempo nerf hurts quite a bit.
- Last Wish also can be useful especially if you play the Sile-Last Wish combo in R3 to try and get your golds.
- I won a few games using Ves instead of Dethmold; basically just keep DBLC or Reinforced Trebs and use Ves to clean it up at 12 point tempo. Not a bad way to bleed in R2 if you won R1 early.
- Alzur's Double Cross to pull Thaler and/or Ronvid is viable; if you do that I would drop Reinforcements. The trade-off is having a second access point to Thaler or having a 3 ways to get Ronvid (from hand, Reinforcements, Natalis). I think having Ronvid tends to be more important for the Crewmen but I can see it the other way.
- The Generals - Selkirk and Vandergrift - were originally an idea from Merchant who suggested making a Gold card called "Twin Generals" that allowed you to play either one; I thought it was fun and started running both in this deck to surprisingly effective results. Possibly the other strong NR golds like DJ, Kiera, or Shani could be better but I find these two to be a ton of fun.
Ok that's it, let me know what you all are doing with Henselt!
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