Brief Summary of Build
Hey guys, Netherworld here with another deckguide. But this time i'm not alone. I have joined forces with a guy that i discovered a couple months ago, a guy that immedeatly impressed me with his gameplay and made me want to play and learn Spies as well.
He taught me almost everything that i know about Spies right now, and he is, in my opinion, the best NG Spy player there currently is.
I'm talking about the NG Spy Mastermind: Hyskoa!
He has reached Rank1 this season playing Spies only and on top of that he has at least 3 or 4 accounts in the Top100 of the ladder at the end of every season, again: Spies only
After slowly learning the deck and playing it on stream, i've been gettings lots of messages about Spies. So i have reached out to Hyskoa, who i have been contacting a lot, and asking if he was up for creating a guide together. And this is the result of it.
I will admit that Hyskoa is the "Brains" behind this guide and most (if not all) knowledge comes from him!
Be sure to check out his amazing youtube channel with lots of gameplay footage, a nice addition to the guide where you can actually see him playing the deck and will show you how to play in certain situations. Also make sure to check out his Twitter.
Hyskoa Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC62AY3VQSMLz2wDErs7iK2g
Hyskoa Twitter: https://twitter.com/Hyskoa1988
Other than that, you can find me on the following pages:
- Top 100 Ladder Gameplay, September 25th by Hyskoa
- Hyskoa Vs. MegaMogwai, NG Spies Vs. Letho/Regis Spies
- Dagon Deathwish (Vs. Adzikov)
- Hyskoa beating Greatswords without any Emmisaries
- NG Handbuff (Netherworld Vs. Fanderman)
- Axemen (Netherworld Vs. Crokeyz)
In my opinion, NG Spies if one of the, if not: the, hardest decks to play in the game currently. But that also makes it one of the most fun and interesting decks to play.
There's just so much thinking/thinking ahead, decision making, calculating and all that stuff that you need to keep in mind, it's one of the hardest decks to learn/master.
It is also one of the most underrated decks in the game at the moment in our opinion. Possibly due to the difficulty and complexness of the deck, people try to play it a couple times, fail a bit and think the deck is mediocore.
Truth is, this deck has a really high power level. If you can master this deck it's a solid TIER 1 Deck according to Hyskoa. And i kind of agree with that, but the only one i've come across so far that has mastered the deck is Hyskoa himself. In general, for the folks that don't exclusively play Spies, they can probably get this deck to a High Tier 2 level
Playing a deck as complicated as NG Spies it is important to be able to always adjust your strategies due to different hands/cards and opponents.
In some games you can play Enforcers at the very beginning of the round while in others you should only play them when you need to kill emmisaries or need the damage in some sort of way.
Usually you almost always dry pass on blue coin and go all-in on red coin. However, this is one of the only decks where it is also correct to dry pass on red as well.
An example is Greatswords. They will still need to play R2 and you're almost guaranteed to go up a card, in addition to that, it gives you the first say in R3 so you can steal their biggest Greatsword with your Vico Medic.
Other matchups are SK decks with Morkvarg, this is because card advantage is really important for Spies, and winning on red on even still doesn't provide CA vs Morkvarg.
Here we are going to into some specifics and what line to take on blue/red coin(s). I will be updating this section with video footage of Hyskoa playing against some of the decks listed below. Coming soon.
Dry pass, the only exception to this is when your hand is really really bad (All Bronze units, no acces to Cantarella).
If this happens you play R1 in order to thin as much as possible whilst staying ahead in order to get a better shot at improving your hand and winning the game.
But this is rare, in 100 matchups vs. Greatsword i might have played R1 on blue coin once.
There are 2 strategies to take here:
1. Acces to Cantarella
Play Cantarella at the same row with the opponent’s Greatsword and decide wether to out-tempo him (If he directly plays Udalryk without Skjall or Hymn), or pass (If he plays another card or plays Udalryk with the aid of Hymn/Skjall).
What’s the reasoning here? He’s either going 2 cards down without playing Spy or he’s going 1 card down whilst playing his Spy. This means you are 1 card up and they need to play R2, and you're almost never going to lose your card advantage in R2 as Spies vs GS.
So you’re going up R3 1 card and you’re going to have the first say to ressurect their biggest GS.
2. No acces to Cantarella
If you have no acces to Cantarella and your hand isn’t great and the odds of you drawing Cantarella in R2 is low
(For example: No Dandelion:Poet as well, because if you have Poet; you can risk the dry pass, thin R2 as much as possible and play Poet later in order to find Rainfarm or Cantarella).
Then you could play R1 and win on even. Depending on how the game goes and how long the round goes, you could even play a Vicovaro Medic in R2 to deny his biggest GS, depending on the size of the GS , then you can pass and still go 1 Card up to R3, or you can try to 2-0.
But most of the time the better line to take here is to just prevent them from ever growing a big Greatsword.
Dry pass, most opponents will play Blue Stripe Scout to thin their deck or use Foltest. Both are fine. NG Spies has the overhand in a long round, in addition to that the opponent’s deck has a lot of bricks it can draw in to as well. This makes the dry pass even better
All-in on red coin, play Cantarella to bait him into passing and then gain card advantage into R2. A long R3 is perfectly fine for Spies, even against Foltest with Knight Elects. If you play your Enforcers out in a smart way we still have the better long round.
So this is a matchup where you will play your Brigades first from the deck with your Emissaries, then only play your Enforcers when you need it to kill a Emissary or remove armor from Knight Elect’s .
Don’t play your emmisaries next to the Knight Elects, try to prevent your opponent from boosting your emmisaries, Nauzicaa is a good way to kill a emmisarie that’s boosted a lot.
One of the harder matchups for Spies. One benefit that we have is that NG Spies is currently a deck that’s not being played a lot, so some Alchemy players might not know how to play against us. But we’re going to be honest, we’re going to need to draw really well in order to win vs good Alchemy players
So the strategy is to develop 3 units with Spying on your opponents board in order to get out our Brigades at 12 points, this makes it so they are unable to be killed by Viper Witcher.
Play Cantarella first, if your opponent plays Cantarella first: You pass. If he keeps playing units after you play Cantarella you pass to gain 1 card advantage. Only play your Enforcers when you need to kill an Emissary or when your opponent has no more Viper Witchers left.
Getting as much card advantage as possible is the key to beat Consume, we’re also probably the only deck that can get away with dry passing on blue vs them.
You can use your Vicovaro Medic’s on their Nekker Warrior as soon as it goes to the graveyard, then either copy your Vico Medic (most of the time) or Enforcer (Almost never, but sometimes this is better).
If you can at least deny one Nekker Warrior here that’s really good for us considering we’re also targetting Nekkers in the early stages of the game with our Enforcers (most of the time).
Killing 2 Nekkers and denying 1 Nekker Warrior is already 4 Nekkers. Even if the Nekker Warrior comes out later, the Nekkers will be small.
Dry Pass or play Cantarella and try to win on even.
You can also choose to supress your opponen’ts points and calculate how many cards he will need to catch up. This is why we sometimes play on blue instead of passing. (Dry Pass = 1 Card advantage, playing for points = Possible 2-3 card advantage).
All-in and win the round. Or (less likely) get 3 Card advantage and pass.
Now you don’t have to always target/kill the Nekkers. The only point of killing Nekkers is to make sure their power won’t go crazy in R3. So; if you don’t have enough Enforcers or you get them out too late; you can take two different lines/strategies here:
1. Destroy Vran Warriors and Nekkers (If there are too many just ignore them).
The theory behind this is killing Nekkers early makes it so the opponent might have only 1 or 2 Nekkers left in R3 because they’re going to need to consume a lot of Nekkers in order to keep up with our points and not go down too many cards.
So every Nekker killed in the early stages is very good, but at a certain point when there are too many or they are too big it’s not worth it anymore, point wise. Killing Vran Warriors makes it so that the opponent needs to use Slyzard on Vran early (If he doens’t have another one in hand) and it stops the consume trigger effect, wich essentially is carryover as well.
Sometimes we might even use Ceallach to kill Vran Warriors, depending on hand of course.
2. Don’t hit Nekkers at all
So they don’t get any amount of points back and try to go for a 2-3 card advantage to R3. With enough card advantage in R3 it’s an pretty easy win if we have Menno and Igni.
Play Cantarella on red coin to see if you can get any card advantage. If your opponent plays his own spy after this you can play units like Menno or Dandelion:Poet to out-tempo him and make him go 2 cards down whilst playing his Spy.
So for example: Menno on Cantarella is a 21point play, 25 with Roach. It’s really unlikely Dagon can match those points in a single card.
If you don’t have Menno and you played Cantarella with Rainfarim + Roach you’re up 8 points already in the Spy battle. Then if you can tempo out with Poet into anything really, you still have a really high chance to get him to go 2 cards down.
Long Round Strategy: In some extreme occasions your opponents deck/archetype could be well targeted against yours, like being removal heavy (Cyclops/Vaedermaker) and still having long round power (Weather) but you can still manage to pull of the win if you can take notice of this and play smart. Like finding a good pass when he plays weather, and in some cases using Assire to shuffle back Enforcer(s) and Brigade(s).
Against full on Deathwish decks you can play around with your Medics/Assire and your passing strategy in order to brick their Graveyard. But be careful with using your Medics on opponents units, only do this if you’re certain you can brick them and don’t need it for the Emmisary.
So again; be aware of your opponen’ts Cyclops. This is also a matchup where it’s best to get your Brigades out from the emissaries and using Enforcers to get them to the graveyard. Other than that, the target for your Enforcers are units that could be a potential Cyclops target.
For example: Using Enforcer hit on a D’ao or Archespore makes it so that their 4 and 5 strength. This means that their Cyclops is unable to kill your Enforcers with it and either can’t kill it or needs to sacrifice a bigger target in order to remove it (and in addition to that give up the Deathwish effect of the D’ao and Archespore)
Further more: You could use your Enforcers to set up your opponents units down to 4, this could give you a huge and game winning Igni on a row with lots of D’ao spawns. Based on our experience it is harder to set up a double 9 or double 11 Igni in this matchup then it is to set up a Igni on the D’ao row.
On paper it looks like Control Eithné is the perfect counter to Spies, but in fact it’s quite easy to beat Eithne, as long as you get your card advantage. And even without card advantage you could adjust your Brigade’s points to avoid Scorch
For example: Destroy an Archer as soon as possible so you can use your Vicovaro Medic to ressurect one and sabotage your opponen’ts attempt to set up a double Scorch.
Other than that your Iris and Ceallach > Ambassador could achieve the same goal.
In this matchup, try to Igni more than two 6 or 7 point units. According to the experiences Hyskoa has facing this deck, there is a high chance you could destroy three 6 Point units with Igni.
Against Shupe you should all-in on red coin, otherwise your opponent could use Shupe Mage to take advantage of you.
If it’s Dwarves, your opponent probably plays no Spy (Yeavinn), so you can just follow the plan of getting card advantage that we take vs other matchups. No need to go into specifics here because its a quite straight forward matchup.
Depending on hand and depending on if you need/want to shuffle back your own cards; Use Assire to shuffle back the smallest Mahakam Volunteer and Barclay
This matchup is also one where you probably want to get your Brigades out at 12 Points as well, same as vs. Alchemy.
This is because most run Elven Blade (Possible Triss:Telekenesis as well). And having them just kill 1 or 2 Brigades with that can cause us a lot of problems.
Another thing to keep in mind is to space out your Enforcers, if the opponent plays Ithlinne then the value he gets is just huge. If you play one Enforcer and wait 1-2 turns with the second one, he might use Ithlinne already, and if not; you at least got a couple shots of with your Enforcer and gained some value.
A hard matchup because their long round is as strong as ours.
The only deck where we don't dry pass. We always play at least one card here, if they then use gold weather immedeatly, we pass.
They will drypass us, our goal here is to go to play seven to eight cards in R2, this way we will not lose cards and we weaken the Axemen engine for R3. So the goal is to go to R3 on even cards, but not play a super long round.
The most important thing in this matchup is keeping our Enforcers alive and killing/controlling the Axemen
To be continued..
Cards you want in opening hand in order of priority:
- 2 Vico Medic
- at least one Enforcer.
In other words: Blacklist Impera Brigade and Infiltrator, mulligan away other bronzes (Nauzicaa) and keep most silvers.
There are some matchups however where you would want a slightly different starting hand.
Greatswords - Here you want to have/keep your Nauzicaa in hand in order to kill a potentially Muzzle'd Enforcer.
The reason why this is important is because if they play Harald with an Enforcer on the board they can immedeatly kill the skull, this gives him a really big point swing and can cost us our card advantage or even the game.
Alchemy - Here you want to have at least 1 Infiltrator in hand because you're going to need 3 Spying Units on his board as soon as possible.
The reason for this is so that your Impera Brigades come out as 12Points and are unable to be killed by Viper Witcher.
Mill - Against Mill you want to keep one Brigade and one Enforcer in hand
- Why Emhyr over Usurper?
As a leader, Usurper is quite unstable/inconsistent. Sometimes it can turnaround the game, like creating Francesca or Emhyr. However; Emhyr is so flexible that it always creates a lot of value. Not only can it create an extra spy (Bouncing Medic/Ceallach, so the fact Usurper is a spy and boosts your Engines is not relevant in the discussion) but it also provides some amazing combo's.
On red coin, the first thing we want to do is trying our best at getting card advantage. So we have to play Cantarella to push our opponent to pass or go two cards down. Our deck is amazing (probably the best) long round deck in the game. So the goal is to go for a long round or to get and keep the card advantage if we're going in to a short R3
- We play Cantarella, opponent passes, we play Menno if we have acces to it. If we don't have Menno we can also win this round on even with Emhyr + Dandelion Poet + Anything, then bounce Roach back to hand and we still win on even. This all is not possible with Usurper.
Also Emhyr provides more options, using Ceallach for Assasin (Twice) for example is game winning vs decks like Reveal (Mangonels) and Sabbath. Playing vs Reveal and not being able to remove the Mangonels straight up loses you the game. Then the third Mangonel can be answered with Medic on to Assasin (Killing the Assasin with Enforcer after the double bounce)
- Why Dandelion: Poet over Vilgefortz?
The only advantage Vilgefortz has here is that sometimes you can use it to destroy an enemy (Like Villentretenmerth or Sabbath). But you can't control the card that it will pull from your deck, and sometimes this can mess up your gameplan and possibly lose you the game.
Dandelion: Poet however is again; more consistent. You sacrifice 4 points but you can decide the card that will be played. Besides that it's better for Spy Abusing/Card Advantage (As talked about in the Emhyr vs Usurper discussion).
- How to use Iris ?
One of the most important cards in our deck. Although it can be removed by Mandrake and such, that still means they're trading a silver for a silver. This also means that that mandrake is not used on one of your big Brigades or Joachim pull. Other than that, vs decks that will play a long round vs us (Axemen, Henselt, Dagon) Iris is a game winner.
These decks don't have direct removal, so they have to kill our Enforcers over time (Weather/Machines/Ships/Harpooners). If we manage to pull of the Iris early enough that will boost our Enforcers out of their kill range and provides tons of value for us over the course of the game.
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