- The Basics of Coins
- Key Concepts & Combos
- Leader Ability Rundown
- Frequently Asked Questions
Syndicate was the first new faction since the official release of Gwent, and with it came new characters, crime and currency. If you want to learn more about the lore & story of Syndicate, then you can watch the trailer here and view the pre-release character based diary entries here. But this article will strictly be focusing on clearing up any queries any new player might have in terms of gameplay. Why is there no starter deck? Why aren’t the cards included in the base set? What’s a dual faction card? All of these questions, and more, will be covered in the FAQ at the end, but to understand Syndicate as a faction we must start at the beginning.
The most obvious thing that stands out about Sydnicate are crowns (I will refer to these as coins throughout this guide). This is a mechanic that’s exclusive to Syndicate cards. Not the faction, but its cards. Any faction can obtain coins, displayed in a pouch-like icon, however only Syndicate cards can obtain & use them effectively. So while the coin mechanic is not exclusive to syndicate, it is only enabled through the use of Syndicate cards and the only way to get coins in another faction is through ‘create’ cards, and other factions have no reliable use for coins.
2. The Basics of coins:
-You can only hold a maximum of 9 coins.
-On average, 1 Coin equates to 1 Point (With exceptions)
-At the end of each round, half of your coins will carry over to the next one, rounded down. (Having 5 Coins at the end of round 1 will leave you with 2 at the start of round 2)
How do I get them?
Coins can be obtained in 4 ways. Profit Keyword, Leader ability, other card effects or Bounty. Profit is the most basic way to get coins. If a card has “Profit: X” then you’ll gain X coins when playing the card. Leader abilites can also give you coins, for example “Jackpot”, the most basic of abilities, simply gains 9 coins, and then boosts a unit of your choice by any excess amount. Then there are cards which don’t say “profit” but still give you coins, like Tax Collector, who gains 1 coin every turn end. Finally, there is bounty. This is a status that is applied to a unit (Only 1 enemy unit can have bounty at any given time) and when that unit is destroyed, it gives you coins equal to its base power.
How do I use them efficiently?
You can use coins with ‘Fee’ abilities or ‘Tribute’ abilities. Fee works similar to an order ability in that you activate it by clicking on the card. Every time you click to use that ability, it will spend the amount of coins specified (This is visible on the Fee icon, aswell as the card description where it will says Fee X: , with X being the cost).
Tribute is similar to deploy in that it’s a one time ability that happens whenever you play the card – however it uses up coins. Whenever you play a card that has tribute, you’ll see two card appear, an empty chest and a full one. This acts as a menu to decide whether or not you want to activate the tribute ability when you play the card, as sometimes you’ll be better of saving coins. An example of this is Moreelse
. He can deal 4 damage on deploy, or destroy a target completley for a tribute cost of 6 coins. Obviously you won’t want to pay 6 coins to destroy a 4 point card, thus a choice is given.
To get the best value out of coins then you’ll want to try and have a “Spender” on the board the majority of a time. This is a term coined by the community that describes a card with fee. Having one is always useful as it can be used as a way empty your pouch and not waste coins. If you’ve got 8 coins and you have no choice but to play a card that profits 2, then you will want to spend 1 coin in order to not lose out on a coin due to the 9 coin limit. Obviously there are more complicated situations, but this example is a boiled down version of why it’s absolutely neccesary to calculate how many coins you’ll end up with after playing your next card, and then spend any excess beforehand (down to 9) in order to not waste any points.
3. Key Concepts
There are plenty of syndicate-exclusive keywords/concepts to understand that revolve around gaining and spending coins and how the faction works as a whole. They are as follows:
Bounty: On the surface, bounty is simply a status that gives you coins equal to the base power of the enemy that dies whilst having the status. However it can be considered an archetype as there are alot of cards that give out and thrive off of bounties. Nowadays they are generally weaker as there can only be 1 enemy unit with bounty at a time, but there are a few good standout cards/combos.
Most noteably is Graden , who destroys an enemy unit with bounty, and a tribute (5 Cost) to boost self by that units base power. If you pay the tribute and destroy an enemy unit with more than 5 base power, then you’re exchanging coins at a rate higher than 1 point per coin, which is always worth it. The main issue is that he can brick (become useless) if you have no way to give an enemy bounty.
Crime/Intimidate: This is a fairly simple one. ‘Crime’ is the tag that belongs to a majority of Syndicate-Only special cards. Intimidate is a keyword for a unit which means it is boosted by the specified amount whenever a crime card is played.
Sir Skewertooth is an example of a card with ‘Intimidate 2’, meaning it gains 2 power whenever you play a crime. There are also cards such as Cutup Lackey, which damage a random unit whenever a crime is played.
Hoard: Hoard is a keyword which means a card can have a bonus ability if you hold a minimum amount of coins. The coins are not used up.
An extremley good example of this is ‘The Flying Redenian’. It has the following ability: ‘Hoard 9: On turn end, Summon this unit from your deck or graveyard to a random allied row.’ This means that once you have 9 coins, then that ability will be activated without having to spend anything.
Gang Category: A gang category is the category of a card. In Northern Realms, for example, you might have “Human, Soldier” whereas in Syndicate you’d have “Human, Witch Hunter”. These categories are utilized with cards such as Collusion or Sigi Rueven. Both of their abilities get stronger the wider your range of gang categories. All the gang tags are: Blindeyes, Cutups, Crownsplitters, Firesworn, Salamandra, Tidecloaks and Witch Hunter.
Firesworn: Firesworn is an example of a gang category, however it needs more explanation as the term covers an entire side of the faction. It is a swarm-based archetype that relies on spawning token units known as Firesworn Zealots (2 Strength). There are cards that gain coins or a boost etc. whenever a unit is spawned, making it a viable playstyle for this faction and can be considered easier as firesworn based decks usually require more simple cards.
I reccomend starting out with a firesworn deck as while it may not the best at higher ranks, for a beginner it is a great introduction to how coins work without being too overcomplicated.
Insanity: Insanity simply means that a card can use a fee ability by damaging its self by the cost instead of spending coins if you can’t afford to pay. The card can not destroy itself with insanity.
It’s important to mention that this is not a comprehensive list of every
Syndicate keyword, but instead a list of important concepts that may
need explanation to new players. Tribute, Profit and Fee have been
missed out as they were previously mentioned in section 2.
4. Leader Ability Rundown
Now most of the basics are out of the way, it’s time to chose the most important part of any deck. The first option presented when making a deck is what leader ability to use. Let’s go through them one by one:
Blood Money (15 Provisions):
Damage an enemy unit by 8, then gain Coins equal to any excess damage dealt.
This ability is fairly midrange and doesn’t really focus on a specific archetype, perhaps there’s an argument for bounty, but either way it is fairly underwhelming due to how little synergy it has with the cards Syndicate has. It’s a good option if you’re playing a meme deck that needs more provisions or you want some control, but other than I’d avoid this one.
Its average value is 8 points, but considering that’s removal then it can have more value. A good card to use with this is a card that applies bounty, such as ‘Witch Hunter’.
Congregate (16 Provisions):
Spawn a Firesworn Zealot on an allied row and gain 1 coin. Charge: 3.
Congregate is an ability, as you can probably tell, designed for a firesworn swarm deck. It works very well in combination with cards that boost and/or gain coins every time a unit is spawned and has the added bonus of getting 3 coins in total. The fact that this ability has 3 charges means that you can sometimes afford to use it for a boost in earlier rounds rather than losing it all in one go.
Its average value is 12 points if you’re using a firesworn deck, but can easily play for more with the correct synergy. A good card to use with this is ‘Sacred Flame’
Jackpot (16 Provisions):
Gain 9 Coins, then boost an allied unit by any excess amount gained.
Jackpot is the ability you start with, and is a very nice midrange ability that can help in all types of decks. Even when you have a full coin pouch, the boost means you don’t lose any value for excess coins and this can be used to your advantage to keep certian engines alive.
It’s average value is 12 points, as there are plenty of methods – especially with hoard cards such as Sea Jackal – that generate a better coin to point ratio than 1:1. A good card to use with this is ‘Bincy Blumerholdt’.
Lined Pockets (15 Provisions):
Gain 1 Coin. Charge: 5
Whenever you play a Crime card, gain 1 Coin.
Lined pockets is a very good ability if you’re playing an Intimidate deck, as you’re getting 1 extra coin for each crime card played. Being able to gain coins precisely from your leader is also great as it takes pressure of using some charges early in the game if you need a small boost.
Its average value is 14 points – assuming you play 3 crimes per round & have spenders, so it can easily be higher. A good card to play with this ability are lots of crime cards such as ‘Swindle’, or engine cards such as ‘Townsfolk’.
Off the books (16 Provisions):
Gain 2 Coins. Charge: 3.
Every allied Tribute costs 1 Coins less.
This leader ability is another midrange one that gets more value the more tribute cards you’re playing. As with other charge based leaders, it’s beneficial to have multiple charges so you can help yourself in earlier rounds, not having to commit your whole ability at once. Any cards with a tribute cost of 1 also get to use their tribute for free!
Its average value is 12, assuming you play 2 tribute units per round, however this is more difficult to calculate, and may be higher, as some tributes can gain very good value but not all of that can be attributed to the leader ability alone, although it does have an impact. A good card to play with this ability is ‘Renegade Mage’. (All tribute cards work, though.)
Hidden Cache (15 Provisions):
Order: Gain 2 Coins.
At the beginning of the round, refresh this ability.
Your Hoards require 2 less Coins to trigger.
This leader ability is a very strong one that supports the ‘Hoard’ archetype. Being able to gain 2 coins once per round means you can afford a little extra boost if you’re in need, it also means that you can get some free carryover as you can use it in round 2 without losing any value later on. As well as this, it has a very powerful passive effect which means all hoard cards require 2 less coins. This value will be updated in the text of every single card with the Hoard mechanic in your deck, so you won’t lose track. For example The Flying Redenian will come out when you have only 7 coins.
Its average value is 14, 6 points from the coins alone and then plenty more from the hoard value. In the right deck you can go above and beyond this average if you utilize hoard effectively. A good card to use with this ability is Saul de Navarette, he can be extremley powerful at a cheap cost.
Wild Card (13 Provisions):
Play a Syndicate special card from your deck. If its provision cost is 10 or less, gain 2 Coins.
This ability isn’t restricted to a certian archetype as much as others and is mainly used in midrange decks for a combo. It is the Syndicates version of a ‘Play 2 cards in 1 turn’ leader, and while it’s limited to specials, this is made up in that it has more provisions than the other faction equivalents, and gives you 2 coins on cheaper cards.
It’s average value is.. honestly too hard for me to figure out. 8 Points is a guess for the ability its self (2 coins + avg bronze crime value), however the flexibility of playing 2 cards would require a better man than me to pin down to single number. A good card to play with this is ‘Slander’, to combo with Graden, or ‘Fisstech’ to combo with another poison. Both of those are below 10 provisions allowing you to gain 2 extra coins.
Overall I would consider Blood Money the worst as it doesn’t synergise aswell as other abilities however it may see more play, and is definitely more useful, since it’s buff to 8 damage instead of 7.
5. Frequently Asked Questions
Where’s the starter deck?
The reason there is no starter deck is because this faction is considered more ‘high-level’ than the other 5, as the coin mechanic means it is much more complex. Because of this, it is reccomended that you get used to the core mechanics of the game via other factions first, and not implementing a SY starter deck was a good way to encourage this as otherwise it may be overwhelming for less experienced players. However there is a pre-made deck you can now buy in the shop (along with other cosmetics in the bundle) that has some really good cards included for the price.
Why can I play some SY cards in other factions?
When Syndicate came out, so did the concept of ‘Dual-Faction’ cards. As of writing this (29/01/20) then no other dual faction cards have been added since, therefore all dual faction cards are linked half to Syndicate. This will likely change in the future and a dual faction card will not always be linked to syndicate.
Why can’t you get syndicate cards in a base set keg?
Simply because this faction did not exist when the base set was created.
What are the best cards/combos?
Madame Luiza is a card that lets your next ‘Tribute’ card to be activated for free. This combos very well with High-Cost tribute cards like Tinboy or Savolla. Phillipa is another great card that lets you spend coins at a 1:2 coin to power ratio as she siezes a unit. Bincy is also a fantastic combo with any card that creates alot of profit as she boosts for every coin gained. Some must have cards are: The Flying Redenian, Sigi Reuven, Graden, Phillipa Eilhart, Bincy Blumerholdt, Dire Mutated Hound, Moreelse.
Is Syndicate the best faction?
It’s hard to tell. There can never be a true best faction as the meta is always changing, however I like to think it is always a contender as it has such high, possibly untapped potential due to the skill it requires and how many different lines of play there are. But just because it has an exclusive mechanic or isn’t as easily avaliable to beginners, it doesn’t make it the best.
Why is there no Syndicate Runestone?
There is no runestone as the faction was released after runestones. Instead, there is a card called Walter Veritas – who has the same ability (Create a bronze Syndicate card). The only difference is he is 4 provisions more expensive, but has a 4 point body.
That completes the Syndicate for Dummies Guide. If you have any more questions then comments are open and I’ll be happy to continue updating this & responding as frequently as possible.
The last update of this guide was: 16/05/2020 for Patch 6.2.1
Thank you for reading.