Team Bandit Gang

Zedi

Deck Guide: Radeyah’s Elves

INTRO

Hey guys, Zedi here.

You may remember from my last article that Deadeye Ambush was the first deck I used to get onto the pro ladder. What you may not have learned from that is that my obsession with Scoia’tael’s Elf package is unhealthy, both to my mental and my faction MMR. In recent times, Deadeye Ambush has failed to hold a place in the competitive meta, often being ignored in favour of spellforge archetypes, such as Nature’s Gift or Precision Strike control. In the two months since the release of Master Mirror, I have had to bid my good Elves ‘adieu’ in order to find any success on the Gwent ranked ladder… that is, until now.

One of the greatest challenges for Deadeye Ambush was the inability to successfully run Feign Death on the competitive ladder. The value of Bomb Heaver as a response to Masquerade Ball made the card an ‘auto-include’ in most decklists. Unfortunately for Scoia’tael, Feign Death is one of the only scenarios that loses a trade against Bomb Heaver, making the card a liability in most deck lists. However, the absence of Nilfgaard in the current metagame combined with the popularity of Devotion lists means that Bomb Heaver is nearly nonexistent on the competitive ladder.

I started playtesting with Feign Death again after all of my favourite decks were killed off in Patch 7.2 (goodbye forever, Ethereal). The deck feels strong, and despite its susceptibility to power-creep, it has enough control tools and tempo plays to claim round control starting from either side of the coin.

In this iteration of the deck, I decided to go for an old-school Singleton list, using Radeyah to set up Aen Seidhe Sabre. The ability to complete your scenario quickly with the use of the stratagem makes Feign Death a devastating card in any round. The deck goes wide, which is great in today’s “Korathi Heatwave” meta. The revert to Harmony also helps this deck a lot, since you’ll be free to place your units wherever you please, without needing to overflood any particular row.

The Deck

Instantly download this deck into your client with the following link:

https://www.playgwent.com/en/decks/e9b6f1868d66a682321b9a0a0ddc0e96

DECK OVERVIEW

Before we talk strategy, let’s take a look at some of the deck’s key cards and how they synergize with the rest of the list.

RADEYAH – Radeyah is one of Gwent’s most unique cards, providing an incredible amount of tempo and flexibility in singleton decks. On melee row, it allows you to finish your scenario quickly and sets up more Elves on the board for Yaevinn and Isengrim. On ranged, it plays for an immediate value of 13pts and can help you fill your row for your other finishing cards like The Great Oak.

FEIGN DEATH – Feign Death is one of the most undervalued scenarios in the game. Since the omission of Bomb Heaver in most competitive lists however, it often finds value on the board, setting up the rest of your gold Elves for big point finishers.

VERNOSSIEL – Vernossiel is your core gold in this list, as she synergizes incredibly well with all the other contents of your deck. In the right situation, she can fully clear an opponent’s board, while overpopulating yours with a myriad of Elven bowmen to set up for Yaevinn, Isengrim and the Great Oak.

YAEVINN – Yaevinn is one of your strongest assets in this deck, as he represents strong point swings and high removal value against enemy engines. Yaevinn finds value in nearly every matchup, synergizing well with your Half-Elf Hunters and leader ability charges. He can be used to clear off a low health unit, or set up for Waylay to make even more tokens.

ISENGRIM FAOILTIARNA – Isengrim is your best finishing card. He is your most reliable follow-up to Feign Death. After completing your scenario, he can represent a ton of points in a short round, especially when combined with your leader charges.

THE GREAT OAK – The Great Oak is one of Scoia’tael’s most staple golds. It is a flexible enough card to be useful in long or short rounds. In this deck, The Great Oak will find most value when used in combination with your other row-flooding cards like Vernossiel and Feign Death, since you will almost always be able to fill up a row using your cards and leader charges.

Feign Death (Astor Alexander)
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GAMEPLAN

In today’s metagame, the ability to bleed in round two is very important in most matchups. This means that your job is to do whatever you can to win round one, even if it costs you a few resources.

Like most Scoia’tael decks, this list thrives when you can bully your opponent on red coin and force a short Round 3. In this situation, you’ll want to use your low-provision bronze cards to keep up pace behind your opponent, threatening their engines with your poison package. After winning the first round, you’ll need to bleed your opponent down a few cards so that you can shorten the length of the final round. Ideally, you’ll end the game with your big finishing cards like Vernossiel, Great Oak, and Isengrim Faoiltiarna.

From blue coin, you’ll have to expend a few more resources to make sure you secure round control. Since this deck naturally runs Aen Seidhe Saber, you’ll be able to combo your stratagem with Feign Death without needing to Radeyah. Once you’ve committed your scenario, you’ll be able to follow up easily with cards like Yaevinn and Isengrim to take advantage of the multitude of Deadeye tokens currently on your board.

TECH OPTIONS

The deck already runs a number of tech cards for certain matchups. Crushing Trap is your core wide-punish card against swarm decks, such as SY Firesworn or NR Kerack Frigates. Vrihedd Sappers are used to counter enemy Defenders or to protect your tall units from poisons. Squirrel is used to deny echo cards such as Oneiromancy and Blood Eagle.

If you find that these tech choices are not enough, you could consider replacing Maraal for Korathi Heatwave for more removal, or Novigradian Justice for some extra thinning. However, without Maraal, your poison package feels quite lackluster, since you will only have two poisons remaining in your deck.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I’ve enjoyed using this deck on the pro ladder so far this season. While the deck lacks the engine strength to keep up against the likes of NR Shieldwall, it does very well from red coin against popular short-round bully decks like ST Nature’s Gift or SY Hidden Cache. As much as I love Deadeye Ambush, it will be a while before it becomes a strong enough leader to see play in Gwent tournaments and the like. I do believe however that this deck can be very strong on the ladder, and is a very strong list to use as you climb your way to pro rank.

I hope you enjoy using this deck in your games. Big thanks to [BG] Sonneillon for helping me build this deck and playtest it on the ladder. If you end up using the deck, let me know what you think of it! You can find me in the Bandit Gang Discord, or on my Twitter (@lolzedi).

Gwent Beginner’s Guide for the Non-Beginner

Hey guys! Zedi here.

I’ve played a lot of card games in my time. From Pokemon TCG in the playground to a varsity push in collegiate Hearthstone tourneys, it’s fair to say I’ve made my way around the block when it comes to CCGs. None of them however have grabbed and enticed me the way Gwent has. Within my first month of playing, I hit pro rank using a homebrew Elf list for Scoia’tael. I learned a lot during those thirty days, and it’s fair to credit the speed at which I learned to my years of experience playing other card games. That being said, I had a lot of help on my climb, and despite my pre-existing knowledge of sequencing strategies, deck-building and card-tracking, it was important for me to ask questions, learn from more experienced players, and engage with the game at a very personal level before I was able to find success on the ranked ladder.

If you’re an ex-Legend Hearthstone player, a Magic: The Gathering enthusiast, or a Lulu-abusing Runeterra player looking to break into the Gwent competitive scene, then consider this guide your ‘one-stop-shop’ introduction to Gwent. In this guide, we’ll introduce some of the key differences between Gwent and other competitive CCGs, and discuss the ways you can best translate your previous experiences to success on the Gwent ranked ladder.

Introduction

Gwent’s round-based gameplay makes it totally unique from other card games. While experienced players may be familiar with many basic concepts, such as tempo and  “playing to your outs”, some of the more advanced strategies of the game may feel foreign to even the most well-versed card gamers out there.

The first thing you’ll notice when you load into the game is the layout of the board. One of Gwent’s pivotal mechanics is the ability to play your cards to one of two rows: melee or ranged. Since the game’s initial launch as a side-event in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, row placement has been a critical piece of Gwent’s strategy. Though the starter decks you have been provided for each faction (except Syndicate) are fairly uninteractive with your opponent’s side of the board, rest assured that the upper echelons of the ladder are filled with row-punishing techs, unit isolation mechanics, and disruption through row movement. We’ll cover these concepts more in-depth in a later section.

The next thing you’ll likely notice is that none of the cards in your hand have mana costs. “But Zedi,” you might ask, “how can this game be balanced then? Can’t I just throw all my best cards down and win the game outright?” Not so, I’m afraid. In fact, playing your best cards in the first round can be a risky endeavour that may lead you to a swift and inescapable defeat.

In Gwent, the name of the game is resource management. Each card you play comes with a cost. Since your deck should only pack a total of (25) cards and only one copy of each gold card, every time you play a card you’re committing a resource that, generally speaking, won’t be accessible to you in a later round.

At this moment, you may find yourself furiously navigating to the deckbuilder in an attempt to pack as many OP golds as you can into your deck… But wait. There’s something there…

The provision limit! That’s right. You need food to feed your army, and your big, beefy gold cards have quite the appetite for your provision space. In order to make space in your list for those greedy gold cards, you’ll need to pack more than a couple bronze cards to keep your provisions open. The best deck-crafters in the game are able to find strong synergies between their gold and bronze cards and squeeze as many points out of their bronze package as they can.

By this point, you’re probably eager to get deckbuilding and hop into your first match. Before you do, let’s take a look at the various factions in Gwent so that we can find the perfect fit for you.

Faction Overview

For this section, we’ll take a look at each of Gwent’s factions including the elusive Syndicate faction, review some of their core cards and mechanics, and draw some comparisons to other familiar archetypes from your ‘used-to-be favourite’ card games.

Monsters:

Our first faction is an absolute graveyard smash to play. Monsters are widely considered to be the easiest faction to learn since their mechanics are fairly straightforward and they have a lot of high-tempo cards that can give you just the right amount of reach in a short round. A typical Monsters game plan revolves around using your Thrive cards to help you generate a point advantage early on so that you can end the game with your big finishers like Golyat and Ozzrel.

If you’re a fan of tall units, graveyard mechanics, and just generally being spooky, then Monsters is the faction for you.

Similar to… Warlock (HS), Golgari (MTG), Shadow Isles/Freljord (LoR)

Eredin Bréacc Glas by Lorenzo Mastroianni

Affan Hillergrand by Oleksandr Kozachenko

Nilfgaard:

The imperial forces of Nilfgaard are cunning, deceitful and dashingly handsome. Nilfgaard is the strongest Control faction in Gwent, armed with a myriad of tools to take its opponents down. While Nilfgaard struggles to put its own points on the board, it excels at carefully dismantling an opponent’s strategy, locking and seizing enemy engines, poisoning tall units, and taunt spamming as your opponent’s point score crumbles to pieces. Common strategies for the faction include using Ramon Tyrconnel to lead an army of soldiers into battle while you bide your time for your ‘piece de resistance’, Masquerade Ball.

Nilfgaard is the perfect faction for players who enjoy playing reactively, responding to your opponent’s every move with malice and forethought. Lovers of mashed potatoes with thick gravy preferred.

Similar to… Mage/Rogue (HS), Azorius/Dimir (MTG), Ionia/Demacia (LoR)

Northern Realms:

King Foltest’s pride and glory know no bounds, and neither do his point totals. The Northern Realms faction is chock-full of boosts and engines. It excels at generating large amounts of points over the course of a round. If left unattended, the armies of Rivia will quickly grow out of control, and your opponents will find themselves scrambling to catch up. Nordlings aren’t merely content with being the biggest, baddest boys in the land. They want everyone to know it as well. Prince Anseis and the Bloody Baron will be quick to handle any unruly peasant-folk that get out of line.

Northern Realms is perfect for players who enjoy growing their units to massive strength, and then massacring their foes as they eat from the finest grapes across the land.

Similar to… Paladin/Priest (HS), Selesnya/Simic (MTG), Freljord/Demacia (LoR)

Queen Adalia by Diego de Almeida

Aelirenn by Lorenzo Mastroianni

Scoia’tael:

The outcasts, the undesirables, the rebellious… The Scoia’tael are awfully resentful of their human counterparts, and will drive the ape-man into the sea with their sharp wit, clever traps, and teamwork! Scoia’tael’s unique Harmony mechanic makes your units stronger when you mix-and-match unit tags in your decklists. Your elves, dwarves, dryads and tree-folk work together in perfect “harmony” to elevate their point scores while simultaneously cutting their opponents down. If unit-based strategies aren’t your fancy, Scoia’tael also hosts a number of viable spell-based archetypes, proving once again that the non-humans are the most diverse faction around.

Scoia’tael is perfect for players that like to play a little bit of everything. With strong engine pieces, control tools, and massive finishing cards like the Great Oak and Harald Gord, you’ll have your opponents begging for mercy in both short and long rounds.

Similar to… Hunter/Druid/Shaman (HS), Simic/Izzet (MTG), Bilgewater/P&Z (LoR)

Skellige:

While the Nordlings and the Nilfgaardians continue their endless conquest for supreme domination, the Raiders of Skellige are happy to loot and pillage as they please. These bloodthirsty bastards have no shame in decimating your point score, even if it kills them. Self-damage mechanics, unit-punish, and deadly alchemical solutions will befall the enemies of An Craite and Svalblod. The warriors of Skellige will always get the last say (literally) and will dominate your board with big finishing plays like Morkvarg: Heart of Terror and Wild Boar of the Sea.

If you like lootin’, pillagin’, piratin’ and the like, Skellige and Cintra will stand ever together by your side as you hack and slash your way to victory.

Similar to… Warrior/Warlock (HS), Rakdos (MTG), Noxus/Shadow Isles (LoR)

Cerys an Craite by Grafit Studio

Adriano the Mink by Daniel Valaisis

Syndicate

Last but not least, the Syndicate represents a band of villains and thieves from across the land of Novigrad. The Syndicate play by their own rules, using points as well as coins to turn the tides of battle. Each Syndicate deck uses their coins in different ways to generate large amounts of points. It is the most complicated faction to learn, but it can be very difficult to deal with if piloted correctly. Cards like Saul de Navarette and Philippa Eilhart can represent massive point swings in the right situation.

If you like clicking lots of buttons, making big brain plays and earning quick cash FAST, then Syndicate is the faction for you.

Similar to… Nothing! The Syndicate are different in their own special way :]

Leader Abilities

Each faction has seven leader abilities for you to choose from when building a deck. Your leader ability provides additional utility to your deck. In many cases, decks are built around their leader abilities for maximum synergy.

A good example of this would be Scoia’tael’s Deadeye Ambush. This leader ability gives you (3) charges to spawn an Elven Deadeye into an allied row. If used in ‘just any’ Scoia’tael deck, this ability represents a total of (9) points. However, if we were to include cards such as Yaevinn, Vernossiel and Isengrim in our deck, those Deadeye tokens could represent significantly more value to our point total.

In other situations, it may be more valuable to consider the provision space offered by your chosen leader ability. Nilfgaard’s Lockdown for example is a highly effective control tool against decks that are reliant on their leader abilities. However, Lockdown only adds (10) provisions to your deck’s provision total, while most leader abilities add around (15). This means that you will likely have to squeeze in a few suboptimal bronzes into your deck to meet the provision limit. 

I encourage you to explore all of the leader abilities and get familiar with them. Some abilities, such as Monsters’ Force of Nature and Scoia’tael’s Invigorate are very easy to use and synergize with your starter package quite well. While you won’t see these abilities being used much higher up on the ranked ladder, they’re a decent place to start while you work on developing your card collection.

Gameplay Fundamentals

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk about gameplay.

Unlike most CCGs, the objective of Gwent is to score more points than your opponent in a Best-of-3-rounds scenario. As you play your units, spells and artifacts, they will contribute points to your point total shown on the right side of the board. Players continue to alternate turns, playing one card at a time each, until both players either pass or run out of cards.

In order to close out the game, players will look to preserve their best cards for the final round, and sequence them as efficiently as possible for maximum value. The player that wins the first round typically has an advantage here, since they will have the opportunity to exhaust their opponents resources in the second round, or pass early and preserve their strongest cards for a longer third round. Different deck archetypes perform better in short or long rounds. For example, engine-based decks generate points each turn, and thus gain more points in a (10) card round than they would in a (4) card round.

The other advantage of winning the first round is the ability to secure “last say”. This term describes the ability to play the final card in the game, meaning that your opponent will be unable to respond to it. Decks that typically seek to gain “last say” are decks that have strong unit finishers, such as Harald Gord and Ozzrel.

When the game starts, each player will draw (10) cards and have the opportunity to mulligan away individual cards. At the beginning of each round thereafter, players will draw up to (3) cards to a maximum of (10) total cards. For example, if you only play two cards in the first round before deciding to pass, you will only draw (2) cards at the beginning of the second round. Since you do not draw at the beginning of each turn, the length of the final round is determined by how many cards each player commits in the rounds prior. It is common to see players passing in the first round at either (7) or (4) cards, since they will easily be able to regain a full hand of cards as they move into the final round.

Your ability to gain round control may often be influenced by the coin toss. At the beginning of the game, a coin is flipped to determine who goes first. Unlike other CCGs, going first is a disadvantage in Gwent, since the second player (red) will always have the ability to pass without conceding card advantage. The first player (blue) will receive an additional mulligan and the ability to use their deck’s stratagem (ie. Tactical Advantage). This card will appear in the center of the melee row and can be activated on any turn during the first round.

On your turn, you may choose to play your cards on either the melee or ranged row. There are many factors that may influence your decision. Certain cards have abilities that are locked to a particular row, such as Pavko Gale or An Craite Longship. In other situations, your opponent may have a particular response in their deck that affects your unit placement and sequencing. Nilfgaard, for example, has the ability to play Assassination which does increased damage to isolated units. If you suspect your opponent is using Assassination in their deck list, you may choose to stack your units onto the same row to prevent them from being easily removed.

Lastly, your leader ability can be activated from the left-side of the screen at any time during your turn. Be warned that using your leader ability, like all other Order abilities (see entry in Glossary) does not consume your turn, meaning that you will have to play a card from your hand as well. If your leader ability has multiple charges, such as Rage of the Sea, you are able to use all (3) charges in the same turn, should you so choose.

The objective of the game is fairly straight-forward. At the end of the final round, the player with the highest point total wins. It is up to you however to give yourself the best possible chances of achieving this. Learn your deck’s win condition and plan your strategy accordingly. Each match-up requires a different approach, and each game, a different play. Do your best to learn these skills early on, and your climb up the ranked ladder will be smooth and steady.

Gwent Glossary

By now, you should have a decent understanding of Gwent’s unique features and factions. As you play, you’ll encounter new cards and mechanics. You’ll likely adapt to these mechanics as you go, and if you’re ever stuck wondering how you just lost your whole board of Elves to Geralt:Igni, you’ll always be able to review the play history on the left-side of your screen (you can also right-click cards while they’re on the board to get a detailed view with keyword descriptions).

That being said, if you’re interested in getting a headstart learning some of these mechanics, I’ve included a number of examples below for your perusal.

Deploy:

Lock:

Zeal/Order:

Consume:

Seize:

Inspired:

Trap:

Bloodthirst:

Tribute:

Fee:

Hoard:

Profit:

Outro

I hope you enjoyed reading this transition guide to Gwent. The concepts and  techniques introduced in this article will have you well on your way to pro rank. If you’re interested in learning more about Gwent, be sure to check out the many other awesome articles and deck guides on the Bandit Gang website. Now, go forth and conquer!

ZEDI IS AN ASPIRING CONTENT CREATOR FOR TEAM BANDIT GANG. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SEE MORE FROM HIM YOU CAN FIND HIM ON TWITTER, TWITCH AND YOUTUBE.