Brief Summary of Build
Hey guys Lockin here, today I'm sharing a take on a deck that I can't take all the credit for but actually got from some of my teammates on CCG such as Kolemoen, Fanderman, Aporogise, Gnurrgard etc. who encountered this deck on pro ladder and shared it with me. I believe I took the list that they were sharing at the time and made a couple of changes to make it a bit more competitive. I reached Top 15 with this deck on stream yesterday morning and played it on pro ladder this season and a little bit this season :). You can check me playing the deck and continuing to experiment or even just ask me questions at my stream.
Why Control Skellige?
I wanted to find a way to beat Greatswords but also not have to play them myself so when this list was stumbled upon I wanted to find a way to make it a bit more competitive and started experimenting with ways to do more than just beat Greatswords and that's when I ended up changing a couple cards, namely dropping Decoy for Morkvarg & dropping the 3rd Warship for an An Craite Armorsmith. There are a few other options I have messed around with as well for tech options and such but we'll get into those later in the guide.
Lots of removal options without going all in Control strategy
Get to play Restore
High value bronzes
Get to play Hym
Grindy gamestyle and abusive carryover
Lacks proactive plays outside of a couple
You can't play 15 Restores
It's the question I get most often amongst the changes I've made to the deck and I believe that carryover is a fundamentally broken mechanic in current Gwent given that almost all other forms no longer exist. The only match-ups that Morkvarg fails to go off is against enemy Corals that they must draw in round 1 to be able to use and even if they do, you still trade up with your leader into their Coral. Furthermore, you are already favored versus most types of Skellige so I believe adding Morkvarg just helps you to beat opponents like Dagon and Foltest that can't trade well into your Morkvarg.
Identify: You are going to want to identify right away what your gameplan is in the match-up. You need to decide how long you are prepared to play round 1 and if its a match-up where you want to use carryover to win the round. You are either going to go all in round 1 so that your opponent cannot achieve some "cheese" strategy (Letho of Gulet + Regis) or whether you can pass and abuse Morkvarg to have permanent card advantage. I detail which match-up is which in my match-up guide at the bottom.
-Plan A: If you are playing the round then setup your weather as early as you can in the round while also working to develop a graveyard for future rounds. Don't be afraid to give your opponents a chance to pass early by developing cards like Vaedarmakar or Birna Bran. If you try and focus on only staying ahead early those cards will never get down and you're going to always lose in the long run not getting their full value. Once you have weather going try and dump Morkvarg.
-Plan B: However, if you are not trying to win the round once you get a decent graveyard setup, have Morkvarg down and have Renew enabled look to get out of the round and use cards like Skjall --> into Udalryk to keep your card in the later rounds.
You always want to be leaving yourself with the most playable number of cards in your hand or the least amount of resurrect effects possible, of course excluding Renew. My typical blacklist order as a rule of thumb however is:
You want to be leaving yourself with as many playable cards as necessary so that you have the options to play as many cards as needed into your weather because once you commit with Vaedarmakar and Birna Bran you do want to be winning that round. Given certain hand states I may keep one Dimun Pirate just to get rid of more Corsairs from my starting hand.
You want to often thin out Dimun Pirate as your opener in most match-ups then once your opponent commits to a row get Vaedarmakar down as soon as possible and try and bait out the opponents weather clear as soon as possible.
A.) Force people to pass and give you the long round you want with your weather
B.) Mean that even if you lose this round you get to keep your card because of his carryover.
Lastly, you're going to want to identify what kind of round this is, a round where you setup your Dimun Corsair effects and future plays or a round where you try and win. if you want to win then play aggressive with Whale Harpooner and Birna Bran to force them out, but if you have carryover oftentimes I like to play less committal and just set up my resurrects and pass once a graveyard is setup.
IMPORTANT: Assire var Anahid exists and if you only have two graveyard targets she will ruin your day so make sure to play more than she can shuffle back :).
In round 2 you need to decide if you are the "bleed" or not. You need to decide if your average value of cards is lower than your opponents (Spies NG) or if playing into the round would be bleeding yourself (Veteran Skellige). Remember that because of your weather effects each card is an extra round of weather of 2, 3 or even 4 points. For more details on when you're the "bleeder" you can reference my match-up table at the bottom.
When you get to round 3 evaluate your handstate and decide what you are playing for with your Renew. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF ROUND 3. You need to decide whether this is being used on Hym or Birna Bran or in even rarer cases like Consume Coral. If you decide Birna is your Renew target then you are going to want to be pairing the effect with multiple Whale Harpooners and sometimes even Skjall and Udalryk.
Lastly you're going to want to make sure in the mulligan phase you have a Restore target with your Restored Dimun Pirate Captain. As long as you check all the boxes and played round 2 accordingly you should find yourself able to grind down most decks through weather and the stacking value of cards like Whale Harpooner.
- Mulligan hard for weather and the ability to play every card in your hand while focusing on killing Nekkers. If you bleed Brewess out in round 1 or 2 you win.
- Don't get tempted to pass for card advantage until your hand starts to have nothing to play, card advantage against Consume is a meme.
- Aggressively spy in the matchup to let you play more cards round 1 (through the discard) and to abuse consume's round 1 gameplan. if you can have card advantage with Restore + Coral and them only having two cards or less in round 3 you can win.
- Dagon can mean many things, but whether it's Shupe, Moonlight or Deathwish always play in until you know what they are!
- Against other kinds of Dagon you typically want to play round 1 as deep as you can until you feel the cards you are trading are worth less. As long as you can go into the final round on even or with a card because of Morkvarg you should win with cards like Hym and Restore.
- If the opponent is Shupe it's important to save Udalryk for round 3 especially if the opponent already has last say. if the opponent gets double last say they'll be able to use Miruna without you being able to kill it where as if you save Udalryk for round 3 and you save a Warship/Corsair for it you can make it a nice 4 point gold for them :).
- Make sure not to kill sword timers until they get to 1 with your zaps like Vaedar and duels like Champion of Hov, you'll delay their resurrect effects an extra turn this way!
- Be patient with your pass, you have plenty of removal for Swords in this matchup but while passing with Morkvarg on the field is great, if you pass too early you can get 2-0'd. Develop an adequate graveyard and when possible pass a card up with carryover and silver spy.
- Save Armorsmith for when the opponent plays Harald, you can armor up the skull and then not even have to waste removal on the skull. You'll just get to laugh as they don't have any way to kill it.
- Plan to use Renew on Hym in this matchup, it's unlikely Coral round 1 is going to be enough tempo to play her then. Often times you'll save Coral for the last play on any sword that may have squeaked by your heavy removal to ice the game and Hym can just be a good lead play in round 3 alongside Renew.
- Develop Birna early in this matchup, they can't answer it and they can't afford to pass early.
- Veterans will outpunch you card for card but they can't keep up with your weather onslaught and value over time in a long round, try and force as long a round versus them as you possibly can and win round 1 so you can drypass round 2 to not get bled.
- Cards like Vriheed Brigade & Ida Imean trade really well into you so make sure you don't overdevelop weather. Just take it slow & let your bronzes outvalue them. While they wait for you to develop your 2nd weather to clear your 1st, you will rack up EZ value over time.
- Plan to use your Renew on Birna in this matchup, Coral won't find much more than 15 or 16 in this matchup and Hym is dangerous with the only good create option being silver mage Ida.
- Always make sure that you aren't opening yourself up to Shupe mage card draw! If your opponent is down by only 2 points in round 2 while you are bleeding them, they may very well play Shupe:Mage into card draw and suddenly you find yourself losing the round a card down!
- This matchup is very rough for you since your removal merely is sunk into the impenetrable armor of cards like Redanian Elite . Remember to use cards like Dimun Warship to remove the armor of units like Redanian Knight-Elect
-Viper Witchers don't trade as well into you as most units as they tend to overkill you by at least 2 or 3 points and your units all deal removal, so don't be afraid to push aggressively round 1 and out-value them card for card.
-Alchemy players don't run Vanhemar so be very aggressive with Birna & Vaedar and push aggressively, it doesn't take many turns of weather pressure to force them out.
-Eventually the Alchemy player will realize they can't win the round and switch to setting up carryover. Try and deny this by killing Calveit while he is still at 5 or by Coral'ing a Viper Witcher.
-Turn the tables! Hym always finds Assire in the match-up and can be used to shuffle one or two Viper Witcher back into the deck.
These were the most relevant matchups I faced on my climb but I'd be more than happy to delve into it more if the desire was there and of course you can always ask me specific questions below or in my stream.
I think there are a few options for card replacements that I haven't addressed yet. I'm going to go in order of efficiency and you can slot in either what you own or prefer.
Geralt: Igni - Igni as a card is the perfect example of a card that has a lot of flexibility and potential but can be awkward in certain spots. Ultimately I think Igni is very powerful right now and rarely bricks due to Whale Harpooner but is not very synergistic with cards like Renew so has a very real trade-off with the replacement of Coral.
Royal Decree - This card is not ultimately something the deck needs in terms of power but cards like Birna Bran and Geralt: Igni are much more effective when drawn and always held in round 1. However that being said, if you want to play Decree that means you have to cut Renew and suddenly Birna gets a bit worse however the deck can still perform very well with Decree in the Renew slot.
Decoy - Decoy was the card I ended up cutting to run Morkvarg and I've struggled between Decoy and Vaedar for some time. I think ultimately while Decoy is worth a few more points on average, Vaedar's ability to force weather clear and be valuable removal is very important and I decided to keep him instead but if you find yourself in a meta game not needing multiple weathers or on a budget, Decoy can go in the deck and be very good.
I hope this deck guide helps everyone understand the deck better and the changes I made to make the deck in my eyes a top tier 2 competitor and incredibly favored versus engine based gameplay. If you want to see the deck in action or ask me more about it you can always check me out on my stream twitch.tv/lockingames and comment below with any questions that I'll try to answer. Lastly, if you like the style of deck guide i did today let me know or give me suggestions for ones in the future, I'd love to do more like this and if this is well received and liked I'd love to do another with even more illustrations and write ups for other decks, thanks for reading!
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