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.
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.
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.
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.