Bandit Gang’s Guide to Scoia’tael – The Starter Deck

Eithné Young Queen Gwent Art

Your Deck’s Foundations

The Scoia’tael (ST) starter deck is a Nature’s Gift list. While more advanced Nature’s Gift lists focus primarily on Symbiosis (cards that benefit from playing Nature specials), the ST starter deck has a variety of packages.

First, let’s look at Symbiosis. This keyword effectively adds 1 extra point to each of your Nature cards for each unit with the Symbiosis keyword you have (your Nature’s Gift leader has Symbiosis, as well). You’ll want to develop your Symbiosis engines (Hamadryad, Duén Canell Guardian, Abandoned Girl, and Freixenet) early in the round before playing Nature cards, so you get the full benefit from Symbiosis.

This deck also includes a Harmony package. The Harmony keyword boosts a unit whenever you play a Scoia’tael unit whose tag or “tribe” isn’t already represented on your side of the board. The tribes you have in this deck include Human, Dryad, Beast, Elf, and Witcher. Like Symbiosis, Harmony engines should be played early in order to maximize their value.

The deck also includes several cards that give Vitality to your units. Since Vitality generates points slowly (and can be removed with Purify), the payoff is it generally plays for more value than boosting a unit. Hamadryad is your primary Vitality target in this deck, since its ability effectively doubles any Vitality on itself.

There are also several cards that boost units in your hand, a mechanic that’s informally called Handbuff. While you will sometimes use boosted cards in your hand in the same round, they’re often most useful brought into future rounds, a concept called Carryover. Carryover is especially powerful, since it allows you to gain an advantage over your opponent in the deciding Round 3.

Your starter Scoia’tael deck is rounded out by several Utility cards: cards that are useful in specific circumstances. Geralt of Rivia allows you to remove one of your opponent’s units with 9 or more power. Surrender allows you to punish an opponent who is swarming their board on a single row. Dorregary of Vole allows you to lock one of your opponent’s cards to disrupt their gameplan. Alzur’s Thunder allows you to remove key engine cards from your opponent’s board.

How to Win with the Scoia'tael Starter Deck

Mulligan Phase

ST Starter Deck Mulligan
Choosing what to mulligan in the Scoia'tael starter deck.

You should use all of your mulligans, since this deck has no possible “bricked” cards (cards that will play for zero or minimal value). General mulligan strategy applies here: keep your gold cards and mulligan bronze cards.

You want to prioritize handbuff cards: Dunca is excellent in Round 1, Circle of Life gives you flexibility (especially going second), and Freixenet can be used for the handbuff if you get him Round 1.

Otherwise, prioritize a mixture of Symbiosis cards and Nature cards, as well as diverse tribes for Harmony if possible.

Round 1

ST Starter Deck Round 1
A typical Round 1 opening with the Scoia'tael starter Deck.

If you go first in Round 1 (Blue Coin), your strategy should be to develop engine cards like Symbiosis and Harmony, then play cards that benefit from those keywords. Dunca (with Tactical Advantage to protect her from the opponent’s removal) is an excellent opening play.

When playing your Symbiosis engines, start with Duén Canell Guardian or Abandoned Girl if possible. This deck has a lot of Vitality, so Hamadryad is one of your highest value cards, and playing it later can ensure your opponent has used up their removal. You can also use an immediate Leader charge on Hamadryad to boost her to 6 power, out of range of most removal.

You only have 2 Harmony engines in Sirssa and Trained Hawk. If you have both, play Sirssa first so she can boost from Trained Hawk’s Beast tag. Abandoned Girl can get you 2 Harmony triggers: you can play her for a Human trigger, then use her Order to transform her and play another Human unit.

Otherwise, weave in Nature cards and utility cards. You should almost always develop your Symbiosis engines before playing your Nature cards. For example, if one of your units has Bleeding, you could Purify that with Dryad’s Caress. If you instead develop a Symbiosis engine, you’ll take 1 damage but gain that back in the extra Symbiosis value if you play Dryad’s Caress next turn.

If you go second in Round 1 (Red Coin), decide immediately based on your hand if you are going to compete for Round 1. If you have Circle of Life, Freixenet, and/or Dunca, you should usually handbuff as much as possible before passing and letting your opponent win Round 1. If you play Dunca, it’s good to play out your weaker cards while Dunca keeps handbuffing every turn. If not, you can play a few handbuff cards and weaker cards, then pass once you have 7 cards in hand.

Round 2

ST Starter Deck Round 2
Going into Round 2 with a number of handbuffed cards gives you flexibility and carryover power.

Your deck is generally best in a long round, though it can be good in a short round if you saved handbuffed cards.

If you win Round 1 and have more than 7 cards, you can play more handbuff cards to prepare for Round 3. If you win Round 1 and have fewer than 7 cards, you should usually pass to go into a long Round 3.

If you lose Round 1, your opponent may choose to push you in Round 2, also called a “bleed.” Hamadryad is an excellent resource for Round 2, since she both adds Symbiosis and gives you a high-value target for your Vitality cards.

Round 3

ST Starter Deck Round 3
Going into a long Round 3 with Surrender for wide punish, Geralt of Rivia for tall punish, and several handbuffed cards gives you a good chance at winning.

Play Round 3 as if you were playing to win on Blue Coin in Round 1. Play out your Symbiosis engines, your Harmony cards (Sirssa first), then play Nature cards and utility cards.

You almost always want to save Geralt of Rivia for Round 3, though not necessarily if you are going into a short Round 3. Geralt and Surrender both represent the highest potential point ceilings in your deck, so keeping them, especially for a long Round 3, can help you swing the game.

2 thoughts on “Bandit Gang’s Guide to Scoia’tael – The Starter Deck”

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