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So You Want To Play!

So You Want To Play Sihil!

Queen Meve with her Sihil by: Anna Podedworna

Author’s note: it would seem that my previous two articles regarding Poor Fucking Infantry and Archespore have aged poorly in light of the 8.5 balance patch. I’ll keep these articles as is for no other purpose than as a time capsule into earlier states of cards that may well become meta defining cards some day. Proof that even the worst cards have a chance to grow.

Hello you wonderful lovers of the forgotten, the damaged and all the bastard and broken things! We all know why we’re here; let’s lift another forgotten card out of the murk of disuse and, for just a moment, give it a spot in the limelight.

A Primer

Today we unsheath Sihil, test its balance and whet it to reach its full potential. Sihil swords are a family of armaments forged using advanced metallurgy and Dwarven runes. In the novels, Geralt is gifted one such blade by a dwarf and long time friend, Zoltan Chivay. The flavor text of the card reads “What’s written on this blade? That a curse? No. An insult.” The Dwarven roughly translates to “Death to those whoresons” or more colourfully “death to the motherfuckers”.

Now that the fluff is out of the way let’s work on the crunch. Sihil is an 11 provision artifact with the ability “zeal, Order: damage an enemy unit by 1, Deathblow: increase Sihil’s Order damage by 1 until moved from the battlefield, Cooldown 2” A blade that grows stronger with every life it takes and tells its opponents in colourful detail what it thinks of their parentage? Of course I had to deckbuild around that.

Analysis

The card is quite bad, unsurprisingly. With Sihil only being able to fire its ability every other round if you were to play a 10 turn round you would only be able to use it five times. If you miss a turn, don’t have a target or run up against a target with armor or shields you lose a good chunk of the card’s value. To top it off, if you miss a deathblow effect on any of those turns you lose value on the card. This card requires so much to see positive value: a 10 turn round, your opponent playing first, and your opponent opening with a 1 point unit. Totaling the potential value of this card should you be able to meet all of these conditions (1+2+3+4+5 over five rounds) gives Sihil 15 power per provisions at 1.36~ efficiency. Decent for an 11 provision card from the base set but hamstrung by how much of a pain it is it extract its full potential.

Deckbuilding Ideas

Now that I’ve griped about why it’s a bad card, let’s build around it. There are some obvious choices when it comes to choosing your deck’s leader ability: Precision Strike, Imprisonment and the new and (hopefully) improved Reckless Flurry. Both abilities allow you to mitigate the need for an opponent to play a 1 power card by giving you baked-in damage that can set up Sihil’s critical first turn. Luckily enough, Scoia’tael’s Precision Strike, Niflgaard’s Imprisonment and and Skellige’s Reckless Flurry also belong to factions that have units skilled at dealing chip damage that will create openings to trigger Sihil’s deathblow effect.

For the purpose of today’s article, we’ll pick cards out of the Nilfgaard faction. If unitless decks are your thing, you can consider using Hefty Helge alongside a healthy compliment of tactics cards in order to ensure that opposing units are always in range of Sihil from turn to turn. Tactics cards like assassination allow for variable damage to suit your needs while tourney joust can remove a pesky shield then bring a 5 power unit within beheading range. Spies such as Duchess’ informants, Mage Infiltrators, and Emissaries can be effective ways to “create” targets for Sihil as most spies hit the table for a miserly 1 point. Impera Enforcers with their ability to deal small amounts of damage in controllable increments would also be a natural pick in a deck that employs a lot of spies. Lastly, Matta Hu’uri, Stregobor and Ciri: Dash all allow you to extend the round past its natural length, increasing your odds of getting your money’s worth out of this Dwarven sword.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

With the deliberation out of the way let’s play another round of “the good, the bad and the ugly”. Is the card good and awaiting more support or a shift in the meta, bad and requiring a buff or ugly and in dire need of a rework? Sihil finds its place in “bad” category. The working parts of the card aren’t broken by any means and a sword that gets stronger every time it kills a unit is an amazingly fun concept to build a deck around. Buffing the cooldown to 1 turn instead of two would bust this card wide open and, provided you could trigger the deathblow every turn, you would see values up to 55 points which is INSANE even for the newer cards being released today. The better option in my opinion would be to increase the base damage by two to make the sword less daunting to use in earlier rounds. A much more interesting option would be to reduce the cooldown to 1 as above but modify the deathblow condition to “Deathblow: increase Sihil’s Order damage by 1 until moved from the battlefield and increase the cooldown by 1 until the end of your next turn” essentially turning sihil into a swiss army knife capable of both dealing low damage pings and growing more powerful should the chance arise, bringing Sihil’s minimum value floor from 5 to 10.

So what do you think, did I do the card justice? What would you change? Let me know in the comments below and as always this has been Carrost, your friendly neighbourhood jank-peddler, signing off.

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So You Want To Play Archespore!

Hello you wonderful lovers of the forgotten, the damaged, and all the bastard and broken things. We all know why we’re here; let’s lift another forgotten card out of the murk of disuse and, for just a moment, give it a spot in the limelight. If you’d like to see my previous article about Poor Fucking Infantry, you can check it out here.

Today’s reclamation project is Archespore. This plucky-yet-unplucked plant is another forgotten child of the base set as well as the only card with the “plant” tag. The Archespore is a particularly devilish variant of the echinopsae plant species. From soil tainted by dark sacrifices, wicked pogroms or gruesome murders grows the Archespore. This cursed creation drives the Archespore to lash out indiscriminately until its need for vengeance is finally sated. The Archespore bears a strong resemblance to the Byblis Liniflora family of carnivorous plants. Its use of caustic acids also mirrors the Byblis’ use of mucous that binds and dissolves any prey unfortunate enough to become trapped within the plants’ appendages.

The Card

Now with the fluff out of the way, let’s get into the crunch. 2 power, 4 provisions; Deploy: Damage a random enemy unit by 2, Deathwish: repeat the deploy ability. Having met all conditions, the Archespore plays for a modest 6 for 4. The random nature of the damage on both deploy and deathwish is what holds this card back; losing 4 points of the card’s 6 point total to a random ping into armor or a shield feels bad and the card’s overall impact on the flow of a game feels negligible even for a 4 provision card.

The Build

Odds are Archespore won’t be securing any kills on high value targets, but this can allow for some synergies with other cards that require weakened enemies to use effectively. Let’s start with Toad Prince, another card on my dossier of the downtrodden: “Deploy: consume a unit with 3 or less power”. A ping from Archespore can create a valuable opening for Toad Prince to lap up a target that would otherwise have been out of the range of the royal amphibian’s ability. Likewise, combining Archespore with Miruna can potentially remove a target that would normally provide a less than stellar return on Miruna’s deathwish ability or even bring a unit outside of her 4 point requirement within capture range. Sihil, should that unfortunate sword ever see a buff, would benefit from the lower damage pings as Sihil requires weakened targets to grow stronger in subsequent rounds. Hen Gaidth Sword and Gael are two other cards that similarly benefit from the “weaken, don’t kill” strategy that Archespore provides. If those options seemed lukewarm, it’s because they are. People don’t use Archespore for a reason. Our lot is not to ask why but to make the best of what is given to us.

The Good, the Bad or the Ugly

Which brings us to the final segment of our lovely article: the good, the bad or the ugly, where we decide whether a card is “good” and simply awaiting the right support or a shift in the meta, “bad” and requiring a buff to either its power, provisions or parameters, or “ugly” and requiring a complete rework. As much as I love the plucky little plant, Archespore sits squarely in the “ugly” camp. Archespore as it stands now is a unit that only achieves its meager potential once it has been consumed or destroyed and most deathwish decks suffer for having a limited amount of consumes handy already. Using a consume to squeeze two points out of a card such as Archespore seems like a waste.

One would think that adding thrive to the Archespore would elevate it to usability but then you powercreep if not outright invalidate the Wyvern, a 5 provision card with a very similar ability. A controversial approach would be to change the card’s text entirely. An aggressive change would be “Thrive, When this card’s thrive ability is triggered, damage a random enemy by 1. At the end of your turn, damage this unit by 1.” Another lore-compliant option would be “Deploy: damage an enemy unit by 2. The first time each turn a friendly unit is destroyed, damage a random enemy unit by 1.”

Are you a fan of Archespore like I am? Do you think my analysis of the card was fair? Drop your comments in the comment section below. For now this has been Carrost, your friendly neighbourhoud jank-peddler, signing off.

So You Want To Play PFI!

Illustrator: Marta Dettlaff

Odds are none of these cards are going to break the meta… are the netdeckers gone? Good. It’s not their easily-won-yet-fickle attention that I’m courting. No, I aim for a more sophisticated quarry: all you treasure hunters, memelords and/or lovers of bastards and broken things; this column is for you. Welcome to “So you want to play!” The column where we lift a forgotten card out of the muck of disuse and attempt, just for one moment, to elevate it to something usable. Will it work? Probably not. Will it be fun? Definitely.

So let’s inaugurate this column with one of the first cards I laid eyes on when I started this game: Poor Fucking Infantry.

Before we start with the statistics, a little lore dump and historical primer from yours truly. See the straw wrapped around their right foot and the hay wrapped around their left foot? In universe, the PFI were conscripted from the ranks of the peasantry. Being peasants, most were illiterate and didn’t have much use for “left or right”. If they wanted to know where something was they’d point, dammit. So the officers in charge of the PFI regiment attached hay and straw to the left and right legs of their infantry to assist peasant-turned military-men in marching drills. This mirrors the same real-life practice adopted by sergeants during the American Civil War for training new, less literate recruits in marching. The terms “hay-foot” and “straw-foot” later came to denote a new or inexperienced recruit. There are claims that the term is younger than that, originating in rural Ireland when young men-of-the-field were taught how to dance for festivals using this same method. 

The Card

With the mini Gwent/real life lore blast concluded, let’s look at the crunch of the card: 1 power for 4 provisions with the deploy ability to boost itself by 4. Essentially a (relatively) uninteractive 5-for-4 pointslam with a weakness for resets.  That’s right you’re playing an NR card with a weakness to Yrden. Shocking, I know. 

This card has other problems however. Most obvious of these issues is its efficiency. The best 4 prov units outside of engines tend to find their value at 1.75 Power per Provision (PpP if you’re silly) usually with a condition attached: Aen Elle Conquerors require devotion while Tuirseach Invader only reaches that value by round 3 (worth noting that the latter plays on round 1 for the same value as PFI. Powercreep indeed.) PFI swings at a miserly 1.25 PpP. It’s a losing game vs most newer 4 prov cards.

The Build

With that established, how do we make this ragtag group of conscripts work and what can we build them around?

Well I’m glad you asked dear reader. PFI instantly synergizes with Lyrian Scytheman. No setup needed. Vysogota, Anna Strenger? Never heard of them and neither have the PFI. Maybe because the PFI can’t read. Next up is “Smoke them out.” Again, the PFI serves as your ready-made boosted unit to provide the cheeky buff to your spawned volunteers. Maybe throw in Idarran for some extra spice. Continuing with the “stuff that does things when other things are boosted”: we have Temerian Infantry. “Damage an enemy unit by 1 for every boosted unit you control”. Well how about that? With PFI, boosted volunteers from “Smoke them out” and a Scytheman, we’re dropping a cool 27 points by turn 4 with 4 of those being removal value.

Not the best when I read it out like that but considering we did so by playing 3 4-provision cards and one 5-prov I’d call it a good trade. Is it totally mind blowing? Of course not. Is it pretty good for base set cards? Sure! Top it off with a sneaky Vissegerd at the second-to-last turn of the round and you’ve got a fair amount of cards synergizing with these plucky recruits.

The Good, the Bad or the Ugly

Now that we’ve tried to squeeze the juice out of the rind, as it were, let’s get down to the brass tacks. We’ll play a game that I like to call, “the good, the bad and the ugly”. The good are the cards just waiting for a shift in the meta or even a new card that allows for new synergies. The bad are the cards that have been victims of powercreep or are inefficient. The Ugly are the unsalvageable cards that won’t see play until they receive a complete rework.

With these criteria in mind I hereby consign PFI to “the bad”. PFI is a victim of powercreep plain and simple. Seeing its boost ability increased to 5 or even 6 instead of 4, turning the card into a mostly unconditional 6-7 for 4, would allow the card to better compete as a cheap, zero-setup pointslam option for NR. Do I think it would see play after that? Ehhhhhh, maybe, maybe not. You may see decks that take it as 4-prov filler and with more cards that combo with already buffed cards you may see this card really take flight alongside the likes of Redanian Elite and King Belohun. 

So that’s it for Poor Fucking Infantry. Did I do the card justice? Let me know in the comments below and drop a suggestion for the next card that we’ll dust off in next week’s “So you want to play!” This has been Carrost your friendly neighborhood jank-peddler, signing off.

Carrost is a Content Creator for Team Bandit Gang. He has quite the skill-set for when it comes to content creation. While he has been playing Gwent for over a year, he is relatively new to streaming on Twitch. His charisma and passion for memes is something that we liked about him. Not to forget to mention that he is a Voice Actor in his daily life and you can expect to hear his voice on a few projects that we have planned on the Bandit Gang YouTube channel. And at last, Carrost is a talented article writer as you have all been able to witness today yourself, so keep your eyes peeled on this man.