This article was written by BanditPig and edited by Weevil89
- The Starter Deck
- Key Concepts
- Leader Ability Rundown
- Frequently Asked Questions
Scoia’tael (pronounced “Sq-uir-rel”) is one of the factions that is loved due to its rich fantasy environment and style. The idea of guerilla warfare, traps and facepaint may be the reason you are reading this now. Well, you are in for a treat! Scoia’tael is a great faction for beginners that is easy to learn, but may take you a while to catch on to every intricacy of the faction. But, with practice and some patience, you will soon be living in harmony with the elves, dryads, treants and other woodland critters. Oh, and Gnomes, for some reason.
The main archetypes of this faction include Elves, Dwarves and Dryads – or even a mixture of all three. Throw in some beasts, gnomes and trees disguised as boars and you are ready to unleash the full power of nature on your opponent. ST are capable of having a flexible gameplan as they can adapt to both long and short rounds more effectively than other factions. They are competitive in almost every meta, and have a lot of promise for the future since they have such a solid foundation. If you’re a new player, Scoia’tael is a great long-term investment for your resources.
2. The Starter Deck:
As with all starter decks, you’ll notice that you have some leftover provisions. (Each deck has 150 Provisions, with an extra amount depending on which leader ability you use. In the case of Invigorate, we have a total of 166). This means that you can instantly take out some worse cards and add better ones without having to sacrifice anything else. If you want to know how to use the leader ability properly, or perhaps want to try a different one, have a look through Section 4.
The starter deck has a strong focus on dwarves – more so than the other races. This is because dwarf decks are generally cheaper to build and simpler in their playstyle. Besides cards which simply depend on the number of dwarf units on your board, there are also some more advanced strategies involving armour and resilience that are worth trying out once you get used to the archetype. But this is more of an introduction. If you are interested in trying out other archetypes such as elves, dryads, or a mixture (what we call “Harmony decks”), then you’ll find plenty of great examples in the Gwent Deck Library. Alternatively, you can filter through our past articles for deck guides and you might find something you like there.
-The Leader Ability, Invigorate, is a fairly simple one yet it is still quite interesting as it is one of the few abilities that interacts with your own hand. What also makes this simple, and perhaps more useful for a beginner, is that you can use it at the start of the game to maximise its value over the three rounds. This means that it is a “one and done” kind of ability, so you don’t have to worry about it later on in the game. Of course, to properly learn the faction as a whole it would be wise to focus on the other leader’s abilities as well, to get a sense of what makes them unique. But for now, let’s focus on this deck. Once you get a feel for the cards, then you can start playing around with the other leader abilities. If you want to know more about these abilities and find some combos to use with them, you can check out Section 4.0 that covers them all in detail.
Because the leader ability boosts units in your hand,we want to gain additional value from cards that benefit from being boosted in the hand/ on the board. Cards like Sheldon Skaggs, Elven Wardancer and Mahakam Defender all get value from being boosted before you play them.Mahakam Defender can be boosted after he is played and still get his ability to work, but boosting him in advance makes it much easier. To get even more value from these boost requiring cards, specifically Sheldon Skaggs as he has no limit, cards have been included such as Hawker Smuggler and Dwarven Agitator, which continue to help boost units in our own hand. Using these effects on Sheldon Skaggs allows him to become very powerful. As well as this, the hand boosts provide protection for the cards before you even play them, which can make them tricky to deal with. This is why engine cards (cards that gain more value the longer they are on the board) such as Pavko Gale and Mahakam Defender have been included.
Key cards to keep:
-Sheldon Skaggs is a very powerful card that should definitely be used since he is free in the starter set. Since he damages an enemy by how much he is boosted, he is a great target for your leader ability – so try and make sure to have him in your hand when you activate Invigorate. He is also a great target for Dwarven Agitators, and he can grow even more if your Hawker Smugglers boost him. Essentially, every boost that goes on to him is worth about 2 points instead of one.
-Geralt of Rivia is a powerful starter card that you’ll see in a lot of starter decks. Some other factions have some good replacements but Scoia’tael have a more limited choice of tall removal cards. He can be great value, especially against Monsters who play a lot of tall units. It’s often good to save him until the end of a round so you can guarantee that you are destroying the highest unit possible. If you use him to destroy a 9 point unit and then your opponent plays a 12 point unit then you’ve missed out on 3 points.
-Milaen is a very reliable removal card. There is not much to explain here – just a very good way to kill off an engine and is good value. Her ranged ability is also quite useful versus decks like Arachas Swarm to destroy multiple Drones.
-Pavko Gale is a good engine who can deal 2 damage per turn if you only control Scoia’tael units. Since most of the deck are Scoia’tael units and has very few neutral units then he will most often deal 2 damage instead of 1. The only way he does 1 damage per turn is if you control Geralt of Rivia, however you will most likely want to play him towards the end of a round anyway. Pavko Gale gets the most of his value when played early in a round.
-Mahakam Marauder is just a simple card that gains value over time. The bonded effect means that you would rather play them both in the same round if you can, that way, the second one will play for 8 points for only 4 provisions which is a very good value bronze card. It doesn’t have huge synergy but simply represents good value.
-Dwarvern Skirmisher Is a decent bronze card that can deal 3 damage to help kill off some low power engines. If you aren’t able to kill it, he also boosts himself by 1. It can combo pretty well with Pavko Gale, as it means you can kill up to a 5 power unit and still get an extra boost. Overall, these cards are here as they are good cheap control options.
-Mahakam Volunteers are great to get some points on the board as well as thin your deck. You never want to have 2 of these in your hand, or else the second copy will be useless as 1 copy pulls the other from the deck onto the board. These only work, however, if played on a row with a dwarf already on it. This shouldn’t be an issue for us.
Replacements & Additions:
-Dorregaray of Vole > Ciaran aep Easnillen, as they both lock a unit. However, Ciaran has two advantages: Firstly, it moves the unit to the other row. This is useful as if they unlock the unit it might still not work properly if it is row-locked. If you happen to end up playing Crushing Trap, or another row effect card, then it also lines up another target. The second reason is that it is a ST card rather than a Neutral card, which makes sure that it works accordingly with Pavko Gale.
-Incinerating trap > Nature’s Rebuke simply because Incinerating trap is unreliable as you can’t target what you want to hit. Nature’s Rebuke also has the very minor advantage that it is a Nature card (which is a tag that comes in handy for some other ST Cards/Leader abilities as you will see in Section 3 & 4) and it also may boost a treant by 2.
-Removal of Elder Bear. Elder bears do nothing and are just filler cards that make you realise why synergy is important. Basically, their only purpose is to be removed. Sorry, Elder Bears.
-Addition of The Great Oak as it is an extremely powerful card for ST. Since the starter decks (both default and our version) have some left over provisions then it is worth straight up upgrading cards without having to take away value elsewhere in the deck. It is a fantastic finisher that relies on a long round and can be either pointslam or very good removal. Currently it is a must have card for ST decks.
-Vrihedd Dragoon > Dwarven Chariot. Dwarven chariots are interesting because they spawn more units, and even more if you trigger the Bonded effect. This is essentially a “2 for the price of 1” card when it comes to activating your Great Oak. Since that gets 1 point for every card on a row, then this Dwarven Chariot is providing 2 points for The Great Oak. It’s also pretty decent value in general.
If you have some spare scraps lying around, or already have the cards mentioned, then you can import our suggested improved version of the deck directly into your game here. It’s designed to synergise better overall but still leaves room for improvement (a whopping 11 provisions, in fact) so you can personalise it aswell as learn more about deckbuilding and implement deckbuilding strategies you may have found from other guides.
The cards put into this deck are by no means the best of the best, but are simply valuable upgrades to give an idea of how decks can be improved. Think of it as a halfway point between a starter deck and a competitive deck.
Important: Only craft this deck if you have the scraps to do it. There may be better cards to spend your resources on as you will see in sections 4 and 5. Don’t mill your other cards just to create this deck. Even just reading above and looking at it should give you an understanding of how to improve decks and you can go about it in your own way!
If you want to try and upgrade it more, then a lot of powerful combos are covered in sections 4 and 5, which go more into detail and show what’s best for your chosen leader or preferred playstyle. A lot of bronze cards can simply be replaced with directly better golds due to the leftover provisions but the best thing you can do is experiment with the cards you have. Your first goal from here should be filling up the provision limit to maximise the power of your deck.
(If viewing on mobile, updated and original starter deck images are avalialbe at the bottom of the page)
3. Key Concepts
Scoia’tael have the least faction specific keywords, however they have good synergy with Harmony, Poison and Resilience as they are included in some Scoia’tael specific cards. As well as this, ‘Nature’ and ‘Trap’ are not keywords but are still important tags. Here are the descriptions:
-Trap is a keyword belonging to some Scoia’tael artifacts. On its own, it doesn’t mean much. However, an example of when it is important is if you play ‘Iorveth’, who can “Return an allied trap to your hand, then play a trap”. As you can see, it just serves as a tag to improve synergy and efficiency in the deck.
-Ambush is a Keyword used on Trap cards. It means that the card is played facedown and will only activate its ability when a certain condition has been met. Not only does this let you show off your card back even more, but your opponent will not see what you’ve played, which can lead to some interesting bluffing and mind games.
-Spring is a Keyword that is also used on Trap cards. Spring means that you can flip over and activate a Trap card by clicking on it, however usually with a slightly less impactful effect since it doesn’t require a condition.
-Harmony is one of the most powerful and important Keywords in ST. You will probably find it in almost any deck since a lot of cards have this tag. If a card has Harmony it means that it will boost itself by the specified amount (1 by default) whenever you play a Scoia’tael card with a unique primary tag. A primary tag means the first tag that is listed. For example if there was a card and underneath its name it said (Dwarf, Soldier) then the primary tag is Dwarf. If you have no dwarves on your side of the board, then when you play this card it will activate any Harmony effects. If you already have a dwarf on the board, then playing another dwarf card will not activate harmony on cards that have it.
The effect can be very powerful if you use a deck that has a variety of primary tags. You can incorporate beasts, machines, gnomes and much more. It allows so-called midrange decks to work very well and so can be a great choice for beginners. It doesn’t require you to focus on a single archetype and also rewards you for variety.
-Nature is a tag that belongs to some Scoia’tael special cards. Other factions have their own version of this: Organic (Monsters), Crime (Syndicate), Warfare (Northern Realms), Tactic (Nilfgaard).
-Poison is a keyword that can be found in several factions as well as neutral cards. However, Scoia’tael is one of the few factions that utilizes it very well. If a card gains the poison status once, nothing happens. A second poison, however, will destroy the unit.
-Resilience is a keyword that allows a card to stay on the board onto the next round. This is another keyword that is global, however it is most prominent in Scoia’tael dwarf cards. Scoia’tael can also utilize vitality well, and since statuses remain on resilient cards between rounds, you can get more carryover points.
4. Leader Ability Rundown
Now that the basics are out of the way, it’s time to choose the most important part of any deck: the leader ability. Let’s go through them one by one:
Invigorate (16 Provisions):
Order: Boost all units in your hand by 1.
Invigorate is one of the more unique abilities as it interacts with your hand rather than the board. It loses value as the game goes on since you’ll be playing cards throughout the game, therefore having less in your hand. For this reason, it is best to consider using the ability at the very start of the game, which is unusual compared to other leader abilities. This can be good for a beginner, since there is one less strategic element in any given match so for the first few games you can focus on experimenting with just how the cards play alone, before trying out other abilities. Of course, this means that you won’t have a strong finisher or a cheeky backup during desperate times, however having a slight edge throughout the first round can mean you’ll often secure it. Any units still boosted in your hand will serve as carryover into the following rounds. If you want to save your points from this ability, some people may consider using the leader ability in round 3, and ensuring they still get maximum value off of it by passing round 1 at 7 cards. This ensures that you have the largest number of potential boosted units possible remaining in your hand when you pass, while not overcommitting to the round. This may all sound a little complicated, however once you try it out for yourself and are able to visualise it, it will start to make sense.
Its maximum value, before considering any boost-related abilities on the units themselves, is 10 points. As mentioned earlier, cards such as Sheldon Skaggs, Mahakam Defender and Elven Wardancer get some additional value on top of that. He is one of many cards I recommend to use with this deck, and since there is no specific card that this ability is used on then it’s better to be used with a wide range of cards that have effects along the lines of “Deploy: Do X, If this card is already boosted, Do Y” in which case Y is a stronger effect than X. Some examples of these cards are Sheldon Skaggs (as previously mentioned), Mahakam Defender and Elven Wardancer.
Call of Harmony (15 Provisions):
Order: Play a Scoia’tael card from your deck with 0 provision cost or less. This value is raised by 1 for every unique primary category among Scoia’tael cards in your starting deck.
Call of Harmony may sound like a lot to take in, but it is comparable to the Harmony mechanic – not in the way that it plays – but in the way that it requires you having a lot of different units with different Primary Categories. These primary categories are explained under the Harmony part in Section 3. A way to sum it up is that if you have a deck that has nothing but elves, then you’ll be able to use the ability to play a card from your deck that costs 1 Provision. Completely useless until you have at least 4 Unique categories. Let’s say you add 1 Dwarf to that elf-only deck, now you can play a card that costs 2 or less. This keeps increasing for each unique category of card that you add. This does include tags such as ‘Trap’ and ‘Nature’ which are found on Artifact and Special cards. Being able to play a card from your deck is a very powerful effect as it thins your deck, which has an impact if you play it in an early round, but it also means that you can play 2 cards in 1 turn as it comes from a leader. This allows you to set up some combos to go un-interrupted from your opponent. The downside is that you must build your deck accordingly which may restrict you somewhat.
Its average value is about 11 as it is easy to get this leader ability to pull an 8-10 provision without having too much of a deck building restriction, but of course having a lot of unique primary categories will always have an impact so this ability is not suitable for any old deck. A good card to use with this leader ability is Percival Schuttenbach, as he is a great harmony card and you will want to play harmony cards since you already have already included a lot of unique primary category units so you should capitalise on that as much as you can. If you are looking for some other combos to do in a single turn then they can be found in Section 5!
Deadeye Ambush (15 Provisions):
Order: Spawn an Elven Deadeye in an allied row.
Deadeye Ambush is a reliable leader that can supply points in the form of Elven Deadeyes, which are simply 3 point doomed token units with no ability (a token unit simply means you will not find it in the deckbuilder as it can only be spawned). This is an ability designed for Swarm decks, specifically Elf swarm decks. The fact that they all have the elf tag means that they can synergise with cards like Aelirenn, who gets summoned from your deck if you have 5 elves on the board. This is just one example, and there are many cards that provide more points based on how many elves you control. With this considered then Deadeye Ambush is a great ability for an elves deck since you get 3 elves that you can spawn at any time in the game. While you can use a charge to catch up early on if you are just a few points behind, it is often best to save all 3 charges for round 3 as this is where it will have the most impact, and it means that you can safely use all 3 of them in a single round allowing you to dive in to your strategy.
Its average value is about 12 points, as the elven deadeyes alone are worth 3 points each however you are almost always going to use them in some sort of combination which will increase their value, either from the Elf tag that they have or simply that they are another unit to which works well if playing cards that require a lot of units, such as Bone Talisman or The Great Oak. A card I recommend to use with this ability is Vernossiel who is able to utilize each specific copy of an Elven Deadeye to output 2 damage each and possibly destroy one of your opponents valuable cards, and even if not then it is still extremely good value if played in an elf swarm deck.
Guerilla Tactics (15 Provisions):
Order: Move a unit to the other row. If it’s an enemy, damage it by 2; if it’s an ally, boost it by 2. Charge: 3
Guerilla Tactics is a powerful control ability that is very versatile. Being able to move a unit can be essential to disrupting your opponents strategy if they have row locked cards, or you can also use it on your own units to put them back in to action if they were moved to the wrong row. Being able to deal 2 damage also means that it can help finish off killing powerful cards that aren’t row locked. It is definitely a fun one for a beginner as it is flexible and can work in all kinds of situations both offensive and defensive, and also having 3 separate charges means that you can spread out your power throughout the game. It’s a good choice if you are playing movement-oriented decks, for example you can move cards into rows with weather effects and force them into bad situations.
It’s average value is about 11, as you can get 6 points alone from the boost/damage effect but being able to stop a unit from functioning by moving it can provide great value, and I thought 5 was a fitting number for a denied engine that’s played mid-round or a card with an order effect like seltkirk – however it can easily be more than 11 points. A good, yet simple card to combo with this leader ability is Vrihedd Brigade as it then gives you 4 points per charge, with half of those still being (albeit randomly targeted) damage allowing for engine removal if you are lucky. The real selling point of this ability, though, is that you have the flexibility to disrupt your opponent.
Mahakam Forge (15 Provisions):
Order: Spawn and play Tempering.
All Dwarves in your starting deck get 1 Armor.
This is the latest ability for Scoia’tael that seems as though it was designed with the Dwarf archetype in mind as they synergise well with armour. Having both an order ability as well as a passive ability is interesting however the main order ability feels slightly weak as it simply spawns a bronze spell that you wouldn’t normally see. In a deck with a lot of dwarf/armour synergy it can definitely find its place, though, and it is definitely a unique ability that has potential in the future depending on what type of cards get added.
It’s average value is about 9 as you will get 5 points from spawning Tempering, and there is no doubt that the armour will absorb some damage from your opponent. In some cases it may not matter, however, since 1 armour will not make a huge difference and won’t stop an important card from being destroyed. With all this being said, it is a new ability so it’s full potential may not be realised yet however as it stands most other ST 15-Provision leader abilities are better. A card I recommend to use with this ability is Yarpen Zigrin, as he has great synergy with armour that turns it into points, so it is a good target for this leader’s order ability.
Precision Strike (14 Provisions):
Order: Damage unit by 1. Charges: 3
Once all Charges have been exhausted, Spawn and play Brokilon Sentinel.
Precision Strike may seem weak on the surface due to only having 3 charges of only 1 damage each, however it can be very effective for finishing off engines that are left on 1 point. It can also be used to line up targets for cards like Scorch and Igni (although now slightly more difficult due to the Inititivate keyword). After all the charges have been exhausted then a Brokilon Sentinel is played, which not only damages another unit by 2 but if that unit dies then it will pull any copies of this card from your deck. This can be a great finisher in a short round, and I suppose you could use it early on to thin your deck however I would not advise that since it means using your entire ability early in the game. With leader abilities with multiple charges then you have the flexibility to use as little or as many as you want at any time. Sometimes even having 5 damage readily available in the bank (3 from the pings, 2 from the Brokilon Sentinel played after using the charges) can be enough to deter your opponent from playing cards earlier which in its self can be very useful.
Its average value is 11 points. It is possible to get below that if you can’t activate the deathblow of the Brokilon Sentinel spawned, but that is a very unlikely scenario considering you have three leader charges before that. The most essential cards to use with this leader ability are 2 Brokilon Sentinels. As long as you don’t draw them into your hand then they are simply free points added on to your leader ability. To play a Precision Strike deck without these cards would be an awful idea as you then only have a 7 point leader ability which is incredibly weak.
Mystic Echo (12 Provisions):
Order: Play a Scoia’tael special card from your graveyard.
Mystic Echo is a very powerful ability that allows you to play two cards in one turn, and despite only being a special card, it can still be very powerful. A simple use you may find for this card is to just play the same special card twice in one turn, since special cards go straight to the graveyard after being played. If played on a ST special card that thins the deck, such as Call of the Forest, then it can be quite powerful as this means the leader ability can simply play a card from your deck, instead of a special card from your graveyard.
Its average value I would say is 14 however it can vary quite a lot due to the amount of combinations that work with it. It can be as low as 5 if used on a bronze special. However, a good card to combo this leader ability with is Waters of Brokilon. This is one of the most powerful Scoia’tael special cards that not only provides 8 points instantly but they are also both Harmony engines meaning they can stack up to a very high number in a long round. You can either play Waters of Brokilon once in round 1, and then again in round 3 OR you can play that card twice in round 3. Doing so gives you 16 points on the board across 4 different Harmony engines, which is extremely powerful in both a long and a short round and has been very popular recently.
5. Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best Cards/Combos?
Some great Combos to use are: Mystic Echo with Waters of Brokilon to get four 4 point harmony engines which is very powerful. Vernossiel played onto a board filled with Elven Deadeyes is another extremely powerful effect for a finisher and to help achieve this effect then you can use the ST Scenario, Feign Death, which spawns many Elven Deadeyes. Muirlega and Etriel are in fact designed to work with each other and provide a very powerful combo. If you are playing Sheldon Skaggs then a great way to boost him is by using Ithlinne Aegli as she boosts a unit in your hand by 5 points, giving you 5 damage extra from Skaggs. Finally one of the chunkiest, yet very unreliable plays ST has is the card Aglais. She doubles the amount of boost she has on the end of the turn, so if you want a very powerful finisher then this card works great with any boosting cards. Specifically Thunderbolt. Although this is very hard to pull off!
What are the best Meta decks?
If you want to find some good decks to play in ranked then you can check out the Gwent Deck Library to see the highest upvoted decks people are playing this patch, just make sure to filter by faction. Alternatively there are a couple of other teams who are producing ‘Meta Snapshots’ which give a rough guide of some of the best ranked decks available. If you’re looking for more
creative decks then our content team will have videos or future streams with some interesting decks and they’ll be happy to explain and help you understand more about the faction if they’re live!
Why are Dwarves in Scoia’tael?
I hate to break it to the lore enthusiasts but unfortunately the rules here bend in favour of game mechanics and simplicity. People have suggested the faction be renamed to ‘Elder Races’, as that as a much more politically correct way to generalise the non-humans. But it doesn’t sound as interesting as Scoia’tael, so instead you should focus on real problems like the heat death of the universe, climate change and cards such as Bribery.
I have no more questions for now, but I’ll update this section when I receive more. Have a question you want to see here? Let us know!
That completes the Scoia’tael 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
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