Brief Summary of Build
Hi everyone! Thanks for checking out my guide to Patch 0.8.33/0.8.37 Cycle Scoia'Tael.
This deck relies on a tight deck-thinning core to push for a strong later-game hand, while putting up enough strength to compete against many round one strategies. The deck wins by taking round 1, pushing and building card advantage in round 2, and dropping bombs in round 3.
This deck is inspired by Nubsh1t's Scoia'Tael cycle, which uses the same suite of special cards, and a single Hawker Healer, to great effectiveness with the Mercenary/Commando/Vanguard 3x First light core many ST decks use. My specific additions:
- Isengrim, which has fallen out of favour for Scoia'Tael
- Malena, which has never been IN favour for Scoia'Tael
- Operator, which works well with Malena and Ciaran
Elven Mercenary > First Light: Very well known at this point. Use this to rally our more bronze cards and thin your deck.
Blue Mountain Commando > Elven Mercenary: Very strong. Allows you to pull all your special cards and bronze units out of your deck by continuously flipping mercenaries.
Blue Mountain Commando > Hawker Healer: There will be times where you can swing the game by flipping a Hawker Healer to double-buff a row.
Isengrim > Elven Mercenary: Adding a Neophyte to every spell will definitely demand a reaction from your opponent. Isengrim still makes people pass, by the way.
Isengrim > Malena > All elf cards: If these cards stay, your opponent will struggle for the rest of the round.
Operator > Malena: 2 Malenas are fun and deadly. This is tougher to do in the mirror, but not unheard of, since you do have many ways to pull Mardroeme.
(Brouver Into) Operator > Ciaran: Winning round one and playing 2 Ciarans in round 2 puts you enough turns ahead to move last against most opponents. Considering Milva and Aglais can be very strong final plays, and considering you're thinning your deck all game, this is reliable.
Round 1: First, read your hand and your match up and decide your Operator target as soon as possible. In a power matchup round one, consider Malena. Operator > Ciaran is also very strong for Round 2, and often a better target. Isengrim is a strong first turn play. Isengrim/Malena are setup plays that lock it in. Push hard, cycle, bounce mercs, play specials. When you're far ahead and/or if you have weather on the board from Aeromancy, play Yaevinn.
Round 2: If you won, and the option is still available, Operate Ciaran. Sweat cards by continuing your cycling, if you didn't finish in round 1. A pass won't interrupt you this time. If you lost, then it was likely a very deep round, and your options for winning are more clear. You probably played Yaevinn and Decoy in Round 1, even in a loss, so you should be favoured in cards, which will allow you to win round 2 and go into round 3 with more resources.
Round 3: Play Ciaran(s) and wait. Play lowest commitment. Your hand is likely just going to be cleaning up your opponent's board leading up to and after the pass. Iorveth cleans up well. If you can Milva a target after a pass, you can swing a lot of games with that alone. Aglais also can play a final Lacerate/Aeromancy/Rally for the win. If you don't have card advantage going into Round 3, then you're probably in trouble, but this is a very rare situation unless it was a very close ST mirror match. If you feel like the game is going in that direction, and you have the means, Milva when you can get a spy back.
Using Brouver: Brouver is best used for Yaevinn and Operator. If you have Malena and Ciaran in hand, consider mulliganing Operator. You'll rarely use Brouver for Decoy or Aeromancy, as they will always come out from Elven Mercenary or be in your hand already. Sometimes you'll really need Ciaran and not have him, but using Brouver on Ciaran (and Malena) means you can't Operate them - this is why choosing your Operator target early is recommended.
About Isengrim: He's less popular, and I believe this makes him stronger. This is a meta that is more forgiving to Isengrim than the front-end of 0.8.33. Radovid is more rare, but try to draw it out early when you meet him, anyway. Iorveth is an obstacle as well, but this deck doesn't need any golds to win round one at all, getting gold out of your opponent's hand in the mirror could make Round 3 easier to navigate. Bronze thinning is still always your goal in round one. Isengrim is low-risk, high reward. In the original version of this deck Isengrim's slot was used by Triss. While I like Triss, it doesn't make the slot so competitive that you can't use Isengrim and snowball every other game for a decisive Round 1 win.
Against Skellige: Play on the melee row to dodge Coral. Use Milva to grab a spy or remove a huge ship or skirmisher as a problem in round 3 if you have the cards. Double Ciaran can help if they can play all their spies effectively. Passing while ahead is very beneficial. You play a lot of units, so be considerate of Harald. Us Hawker Healer to limit Harald's effectiveness.
Against Northern Realms: Play on the ranged row and wait to see if you're up again Melee (Infantry) or Elites (Siege) - Once you know, weather accordingly. A late Aglais for weather can make the difference. (double) Malena/Isengrim can help you compete with the huge power swings NR is known for. There will always be power on the board if Baron/Yen is demoted, but you should always have enough units to not make Yen so lopsided.
Against Monsters: Against value monsters, Isengrim and Malena can help you keep pace in a round of huge drops. Don't play on melee row so you can weather some of the bigger melee threats. Against weather, Hawker Healer is your friend, and you do have 3 First Lights for flexibility. Yaevinn does good work against foglets, going into the fog himself. Monsters are less likely to play decoy.
Against Scoia'Tael (Mirror Match): For all the reasons ST is strong, your opponents are threatening. Hold Vrihedd Vanguards to tank fireball traps. Operator can also tank traps. Isengrim also helps spend traps with Neophytes. Consider keeping some specials in hand with Isengrim if you suspect traps. Hold Hawker healer (consider not mulliganing it) until you see weather... and maybe a little longer. On the pass, that can be the one-card win. Against a similar cycle deck, correct timing of Lacerate on a stacked row (before they are buffed), value of Hawker Healer, placement of your units/weather, etc. will all be deciding factors in what will likely be a hard fought round 1. Card advantage is hardest to maintain in this matchup, so Decoy and Milva on the opponent's Yaevinn can often be correct.
This deck is already a variant of a very strong deck, with a tight bronze framework. I believe in all of the Specials, Golds and Bronze cards.
For the Silvers, you could replace Malena with King of Beggars or Johnny, but then it wouldn't be McBeard's Malena Madness, and what's the fun in that?
Thanks for reading - Feel free to upvote if you enjoyed the deck, and comment with your experiences!
Never stop experimenting!
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