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.

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.

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.

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