Guaranteed Succ: Shupe + Miruna + Spy
If you can win on even and drypass r2, keeping Spy + Miruna will guarantee double last say to ensure that Miruna goes off. If you win r1 one card down, Miruna is no longer guaranteed. In that case, you can sometimes use Shupe card draw + spy to ensure that Miruna goes off.
Ozzrel/Ghoul + Heatwave:
Heatwave is one of the most controversial choices in the lineup. If you have heatwave for round 3 and can bait out an Ida/Dethmold in an earlier round, it is often correct to eat these with Ozzrel to deny the Hattori/Shani rez. Using ghoul to consume your own Nekurat is also correct if your opponent has Caretaker to pull out the Nekurat and deny your weather value.
Siren/Nekurat + Heatwave:
Siren or Nekurat can be played as 2 pt engines. However, in a round where you can guarantee weather, an offensive blood moon can often get massive value, as your opponent stacks one row to avoid weather. Replaying Nekurat with Shupe on a fully stacked row is a 31 pt play. Nekurat and Siren can also be used to bait out silver mages before playing heatwave.
Ge'els + Spy/Golds:
Ge'els is best played after you use crones, when he can often guarantee you a guaranteed silver, while giving you information on which of your win conditions is on top of your deck. Knowing what you're drawing helps you to identify your path to victory for the game, and determines whether you go for long/short rounds, and whether to bleed or not.
It's very important to win R1. This allows you to determine the length of the other two rounds and get last say for Miruna. To do this, we're willing to expend a significant amount of tempo in R1. We do this via:
- Fog/frost from Dagon/hound
- Moonlight from Siren/Nekurat
Playing round 1 is a fine balance between staying ahead and conserving your resources. This is where knowing your opponent's average plays are important - if you can stay ahead using just frost and fog, then save Nekurat, and play him offensively later on if you need to. The key here is that you don't want to over commit to round one. Invest enough resources so that you can stay ahead and prevent them from ever coming back, but don't go ahead 30 points on blue and give them the easy pass. Round one is also crucial because it allows you to thin your deck out. Optimally, you will thin up to 6 cards:
-Bronze from Recon
After R1, you're looking for one of three main win conditions:
Alternatively, Ozzrel, Ghoul, or even Cockatrice depending on the matchup.
If you can identify your win condition for the game early on, you can sometimes expend Shupe/Miruna early on to win R1. For instance, you can play Miruna + Spy to win the round on even, then bleed in R2 to achieve a short round with Shupe. Against greedy matchups like Consume or Handbuff, Miruna is your strongest finisher. Against heavy control decks, Miruna is most likely dead, making her a much safer play in R1 or R2. Against decks without weather removal (most Nilfgaard decks) a long round with Heatwave is pretty much an autowin.
Greatswords was our most common match up, and we have a 51% WR against them over the course of 70 games. The key to this match is winning round 1 with moonlight, as weather is very ineffective against Greatswords. Drowner into Frost is a key play to handle one of their boats early on, and two ticks of moonlight are key to winning the first round and keeping pace with their engines. If you lose R1, you can try to win R2 with Miruna + Spy by stealing their biggest Greatsword. This denies them a finisher and gives you an excellent Ghoul target. Note that some variants run Mandrake: you can try to bait out their mandrake early on by playing Ghoul/Ozzrel, or heavily damaging a Greatsword with Cyclops to threaten killing it.
This is a fairly straightforward matchup. They outvalue us in a medium round, so we want either a short round with big finishers (Shupe/Ozzrel) or a long round with heatwave. Note that Miruna is often a dead play due to their access to Hunters. You will usually need to have double last say to pull off Miruna, or see that they've played all three hunters and cannot rez them.
This is a fairly difficult matchup, because Miruna is a 4pt gold and their weather outvalues our Heatwave. To win this, you have to force a short R3, which means you will have to bleed in R2. The only way Miruna survives this matchup usually is if you can guarantee double last say (play high tempo then pass in R2 after they drop a gold weather to make them go down a card)
Save Archgriffin or a Moonlight for their Skellige storm. You will need double last say to pull Miruna off. You're heavily favored in a short round 3 with Shupe, and can win in a long round with an uncontested Heatwave.
Our deck is a strong counter against all popular NG decks; it has a 70-75% WR against all variants over 100 games. Against Alchemy, you can drypass R1, forcing them to go into R2 to develop their graveyard. Oftentimes you will end up with card advantage, as they are unable to keep up with double weather ticks and are forced to play into multiple rows to get value from Ale. If you are on red, you can usually win on even. Finding Heatwave in a medium/long round 3 is usually an autowin. Werewolf is the secret MVP of this matchup; it's an engine that they can't interact with in any way.
Shupe Knight to destroy 9+ soldiers + Heatwave often equals a quick forfeit. Some decks run Vanhemar; bait this out with double weather in R1, or even a long row of blood moon.
Handbuff is a fairly easy matchup. With 2 weathers in R1 and a moonlight or archespore, you can usually outpace even their 20+ pt bronzes after playing crones. Miruna and Cockatrice are key cards in this matchup. Watch out for intelligent players saving a Glorious Hunt or Assire'd mandrake to kill your Miruna. You can avoid this by saving spy or playing Shupe draw.
After their initial tempo swing, everything you play is more value than their cards when you can develop weather. Miruna can be a liability here, since they have access to Fire Scorpions and they usually see her coming by revealing her. With with weather, moonlight and Shupe. Werewolf is immune to Letho/Regis. If you think they are running Letho/Regis, just push them all the way in R2 to win the game. Oftentimes they'll have a suboptimal spy in hand.
ST Shupe is a very difficult matchup because they can kill Miruna efficiently, and have about fifty different ways to clear our weather. If the weather sticks, we are favored in the long round. However, this relies on baiting out Ida early on as a clear or to counter moonlight. It's often correct to Ozzrel the Ida to prevent a buffed/decoyed Hattori from rezzing it. This also can bait out suboptimal Shupe hunter plays to try and clear the weather. Win rate is 49% against Shupe ST in about 20 matches.
Eithne control variants focus more on unit control then board control. Capitalize on their suboptimal early plays by getting moonlight/weather engines going early and outvaluing them. Keep in mind that they have two potential weather clears, one from Ida and another from Isengrim into a silver elf. Isengrim: Outlaw seems to have a 90% chance of finding Ida after you heatwave :)
Spell'atael makes suboptimal early game plays to play 20 point bronzes later in the game. Cockatrice, Shupe charm/reset, and Miruna are all very strong here. Control the early game and (on red) save spy for double last say and a huge 50pt play.
A somewhat difficult matchup. Miruna is always a dead card unless you can get double last say. Their early game tempo is somewhat lacking; punish this by spamming weather and moonlight. If they clear with Ida, Heatwave gets excellent value in a medium-long round, as they do not run other weather clears.
They often don't run spy, which means you can bleed effectively to get a short round 3 with Shupe. Generally able to win R1 unless they use a some of their bigger cards/finishers prematurely. Weather is generally ineffective against armor from Stennis and Dethmold.
Heatwave is a liability, since Henselt generally runs Dethmold. If you can bait out Dethmold early, Ozzrel it to prevent a Shani rez, and the matchup becomes much easier. Moonlight and gold weather usually outpace even Henselt machines in the long round.
NR armor is one of the most difficult matchups for this deck. Weather value is directly countered by armor and thunderbolt potions, and Dethmold is almost universally run. Know when to pass, control round length, and pray that you have red coin.
We are favored against consume. Outpace them in R1 with high tempo plays while controlling their Vran warriors with Cyclops/Drowner. Win on even or take the pass when it will take them 2-3 cards to catch up. End the round with huge point swings from Miruna, Shupe and Cockatrice.
Deathwish generally doesn't run weather clears, which means getting a long round with heatwave is very strong. Focus on killing archespores with Drowner/Cyclops. Playing/replaying Nekurat for blood moon also gets serious value in this matchup, since Dao fills up a row pretty quickly.
Wait for their moonlights to come down before playing weather. Siren and Nekurat are best used offensively in this matchup to force them to play more moonlights. Once they run out, it's an easy win.
Shupe mage is the cleanest solution to an all-in Sabbath deck. It can either kill it outright (10dmg) or charm it. In the absence of Shupe, playing crones to block for Miruna can also potentially charm the Sabbath. If you're facing a deck that you think is Sabbath, opening with a werewolf on an empty board can often force the Sabbath out right away, making it the only target for a potential Shupe charm.
The mirror is largely a game of cat and mouse of managing weathers and moonlights. Predict your opponent's plays and outplay them. Profit.
Shupe's Day Off has no replacement. Shupe is love. Shupe is life. Shupe rockdrop you.
Miruna This is a key card to punishing greedy decks. Irreplaceable as long as NG handbuff and Greatswords are T1. Also, 200 point swings are pretty decent. This also means Frightener is a necessity.
Brewess and co. The crone sisters provide an invaluable service to this deck. They create consistency by thinning, and offer a high tempo play that has no easy removal.
Cockatrice This is probably my favorite card in the deck. It's a bronze Margarita that punishes greedy decks and can be used to finish games. Rarely does it miss average bronze value of at least 11/12 points, and more often it will turn into a 15-25 point play.
Ozzrel While he can be used as a finisher, he is far more interesting as graveyard denial. Deny Hattori/Shani rez targets; brick greatswords; or prevent the last Viper Witcher from being resurrected to protect Miruna. Oftentimes eating the biggest unit is the wrong play.
Korathi Heatwave Somewhat controversial pick in the deck, and definitely the most replaceable. The card is dead in certain matchups, and game winning in others. While Nilfgaard decks remain popular, Heatwave will always be a good choice. It provides a Shupe deck with the possibility for an excellent long round, something traditionally lacking, and autowins certain matchups like alchemy and soldiers. Possible replacements: Triss: Telekinesis , Caretaker , or Weavess: Incantation if running additional relicts.
Nekurat Nekurat is a must when running heatwave. However, if taking out the weather, then Nekurat becomes optional. He can be replaced by pretty much anything: Toad Prince or Monster Nest for example.
Bronzes are fairly flexible. For instance, Archgriffin can be swapped for any number of things, from Ancient Foglet to Wyvern .
Don't be afraid to experiment. This list rewards creativity and thinking outside the box. Make the deck your own, try new stuff and break the game. Not everything needs to be optimized; sometimes it's okay to just play a card because you like it. Enjoy the game!