Brief Summary of Build
I've been playing this deck for the last three seasons with about 80% winrate in lower ranks and 70% in higher ones (including GM and ProLadder).
It's a great counter to most of the decks in current meta, while having about 50/50 chance to win with the others.
I highly recommend it to everybody who's tired of the meta (and just wants to see the world burn). Also note that it requires the following to be effective:
- An ability to calculate the risk (and points) as fast as possible, because of the difficult muligan and a desperate need for card advantage.
- An ability to pass effectively (which sometimes means getting two cards down, we'll get to that part later in the 'matchups' section).
- An ability to bluff or bamboozle the rival.
- A great knowledge of the meta and opponents' decks.
Enjoy the huuuge guide ;)
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- Thinning Rules
- Scorching Rules
- Mulligan guide
- General strategy for every round
- Matchups (two for every faction)
- Possible card replacements
- Reasoning behind some of the card choices
The deck consists of two elements: thinning and scorching. We're doing the first while waiting for the second to be set up on the opponent's side. Thus there are two types of card combos:
It once again can be divided into two groups, the one in the beginning of the game, which allows us to make great tempo and get rid of all the 'useless' bronzes and the one in the end, which allows us to get our gold cards (basically the win condition).
1. Blue Mountain Elite --> the other two
3. 5 elves --> Aelirenn
5. Isengrim: Outlaw --> needed special
6. Wardancer --> carryover
7. Yaevinn --> card advantage
The mulligan of this deck is pretty difficult, as mentioned before, because we don't want the following cards in our opening hand:
We have to have in mind that we only get one mulligan during the later part of the game (another one is taken by the Wardancer), so basically the triple mulligan before the game is one of our win-cons. This is why we never take another mulligan if the hand seems good and can possibly get worse.
We also don't have to search for golds, as the deck itself thins down to ~3 cards, nearly granting all of them for R3.
We always start R1 with thinning, so the beginning of the match is an elven swarm - we play out the Blue Mountain Elite, then one or two Elven Mercenary to get rid of our double Reconnaissance (we usually want to get the Half-Elf Hunter to preserve Dol Blathanna Archer for later), while simultaneously pulling Aelirenn. Next we use Isengrim Faoiltiarna (if we have him, of course) to get out either Toruviel (this option is recommended if we want to pass the next turn) or Malena (if there's a target for her or we can create it with one Dol Blathanna Archer the following turn) and we're ready for a potential pass.
If the opponent wants to keep playing, we're more than happy to do that - we usually want to win R1, as that nearly guarantees us the last say in R3 so we develop our remaining Half-Elf Hunters and wait for an occasion to get a good Scorch value. We try to stay ahead of the opponent and pass only if we get too many points ahead for him to make in one move or when he passes (both scenarios are easily achievable by using one, at most two Scorches).
The scenario of R2 depends on whether we won R1. If we did, it's usually better to drypass it (we always try to mulligan away the Wardancer), as a longer R3 gives us better Scorch value. We can also bleed if the matchup requires it, but we have to make sure that R3 is at least 3 cards long to make our Villentretenmerth work.
If we lost R1 and opponent plays, we try to make sure we maintain our card advantage or at least not go a card down. If he drypasses (and we didn't have an Wardancer), we just play whatever has the lowest possible value or the thing that can possibly brick in R3 (including Isengrim Faoiltiarna, it's better to not have him in R3 than have him bricked).
We play all the remaining cards, not caring about the tempo, preserving as many scorches for the last plays, as we consider necessary (here comes in handy the knowledge about matchups).
Ideally we try to preserve one or two Dol Blathanna Archers to play after Villen, as they can make him as effective as possible. But remember that 'ideally' happens once in 100 matches and this deck requires you to improvise, adapt and eventually overcome your enemies :D
I'll mention all the most important matchups from the current meta in here, but if you find some other one difficult, feel free to ask in the comments.
The strategy remains more or less the same, but there are some tips for an easier win. First, it's good to try stealing one of enemy's greatswords with Malena. Second, it's always good to use Artefact Compression on his biggest GS, sometimes even twice with Eithné. Also in this matchup we want at least three scorches for R3, but all together it's mostly free mmr, as they don't have any answers to our strategy.
It's a rather easy matchup too, if the following rules are used:
- Never use your Dol Blathanna Archers before at least two of enemy's Makam Ales
- If there's a Scorch opportunity, take it.
- Malena is great for stealing enemy's Viper Witchers
- Pray to RNGesus when your enemy is playing a Mahakam Ale
Brouver + Barclay + Cleaver + elven swarm:
This is an easy but unintuitive matchup. If you're on blue coin, you always go for two cards down in R1 and win it. It's also a good occasion for a bamboozle - seeing Brouver, you get rid of ALL of your Blue Mountain Elites during the mulligan and then pull them with an Elven Mercenary into a Reconnaissance - this way his Yaevinn pulls your Aelirenn.
In R2 you need a drypass (usually with an Wardancer on both sides) and your Yaevinn in R3 to get your two cards back and have the last play. It's easy to line the spy up with the Vrihedd Officers - and you need all 4 of your Scorches, so you can burn most of his buffed elves, including the 6-based Half-Elf Hunters (even if they're 9 or 10 in the end, Villentretenmerth will burn them without burning himself).
Note: if the bamboozle from R1 works, you can go for the pass with 29 points on your table and a card down - however, the enemy can only play 26 points with his combo, thus he needs to go a card down (with his spy used). This would allow you to get a +1 card in R3, but it makes you vulnerable to two things - first, you only played one of your Elven Mercenary --> Reconnaissance combos, thus risking the brick in R2 or R3 AND risking not getting all your golds. Second, if the opponent decides to 2:0 you, you basically stand no chance, as you need Villentretenmerth for a win and he's not a great card in R2.
Dagon Deathwish (with either Ciri: Nova or without her):
One of the toughest matchups, you always need to Artefact Compression his D'aos, but it's also good to play it on a strengthened with Mandrake Archespore. In the beginning it's decent to use one Dol Blathanna Archer put in the fog to make Dagon a 7 and then burn him and two Archespores. Usually it's one of the 50/50 chance matches I've mentioned before. If you often encounter this matchup, go into the "Card Replacements" section.
Always open with the Half-Elf Hunter and then Blue Mountain Elite (they always die by the end of the turn after they touch the board, this way at least pull Aelirenn). Artefact Compression enemy's Ronvid the Incessant. Try denying his Henselt, win R1 and bleed R2 as long as possible, even if it means playing Villentretenmerth - you want him to get rid of Seltkirk of Gulet while maintaining the last play for burning Bloody Baron. Very difficult matchup, if you often encounter it, see "Card Replacements" section.
Radovid with armour and Ciri: Nova:
It's one of the relatively easy matchups, although it requires good spy play - it's difficult to line up a good Scorch because of the armour, so you have to play Yaevinn next to the Redanian Knight-Elect to then shoot a spy the right amount and scorch. Always Artefact Compression another Redanian Knight-Elect, and remember to save at least two Scorches for R3.
Wait with Artefact Compression for Derran. Try not to show you're a Scorch deck until your opponent develops at least 2 Tuirseach Axeman. Try rolling Ida Emean aep Sivney from Isengrim: Outlaw's 'create' option. Always go for as short R3 as possible with Villentretenmerth and Eithné (or at least Schirrú).
Greedy consume on Nekkers:
Don't care about the mulligan, you need to get either Artefact Compression or Isengrim: Outlaw (one guaranteed Dol Blathanna Archer is crucial too). If you do (and you would 99% of the time), follow the general strategy, with breaks for annihilating the Nekkers. Enjoy the free mmr and, as Tailbot, drink the tears of your opponent when he ragequits.
Be extra careful with your mulligan. Play your lowest possible units from the beginning, try burning something like triple 6 for 18 points (most of the time it can be five of his 6s and two of yours, but the deal is still great). Enjoy the fact that all the other so-called 'Scorch decks' play bigger cards than you. In R3 wait with all your remaining Scorches to the end (unless a card like Hawker Smuggler lines up with something else, then take the chance) so that your enemy will have his own Scorches bricked. Play Villentretenmerth as the last card, to not burn him.
Swim's Nilfgaard Handbuff:
Follow the general strategy, wait until the Scorch is over 100 points, burn. Repeat till you win.
Some of you probably wonder why I didn't include the Elven Scouts. Well, first - I don't like RNG in such a form (at least not on bronzes). Second - I wanted this deck to have all units under 8 (the only exception is Villentretenmerth but he's almost never played before the third last card) to really make it 'the ultimate Scorch deck' and all the Scoia'tael bronzes are either higher, useless or already played in this deck thus wouldn't be created.
Many people also suggested that the trap package isn't that great, but Malena is in my opinion too good of a card to not play her. She requires Isengrim Faoiltiarna as she is literally 0 tempo for one turn, and he requires another trap, thus Toruviel (she's also very good by herself, especially against all the reactive decks). Thankfully the trio works great and is this deck's unique part.
You can of course change whatever you want to, but after over 300 matches with this deck I can tell you it doesn't need anymore changes ;)
Thanks for reading the guide, it was my first ever - if you like the deck (or at least the guide's form) please leave a plus, then I'd probably share some more of my decks, including memedecks :D
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