GUIDE: Hybrid Scoia’tael – Handbuff/Dwarves/Spells (4.3K+ MMR)

Deck

-- 6,150
0
Melee
0
Ranged
20
Siege
49
Multiple
69
Total

INTRO

Hi, everyone!

 

My name is Daniel and I’ve been playing Gwent since just before the Weather Patch (June/2017). I play mainly Nilfgaard, as it is my favorite faction, and I finished last season in the top 750 – with 4.5K+ MMR – using my GrandSPYmaster Deck. 🙂

Since the Saovine Patch I’ve been exploring different ways to build a consistent Scoia’tael deck featuring Dol Blathanna SwordmasterDeploy: Damage an Enemy by this Unit's Power. as win condition, and I’m pretty satisfied with the results so far. Understand though that this is a work in progress, so keep checking back for regular updates. 

This version differs a lot from the standard handbuffing lists you see out there. In comparison to those versions that focus a lot more on elven bronzes, I figured that dedicating some slots to dwarves makes the deck a lot more consistent and less vulnerable agains high tempo archetypes. The inclusion of strong silver special cards that can be recast with Eithné is another distinguishing trait that makes this deck quite unique and very powerful.

My goal here is to share the knowledge I’ve gathered playing Gwent so far and engage into healthy discussions with whoever is interested, so we all can improve as players!

I’m not sure I was able to explain myself as well as I wanted to, so excuse me if it gets to confusing some times and help me improve it!

I’d also like to state that English is not my native language and I don’t practice it very much, so forgive eventual misspellings and grammatical flaws.

 

Let’s get to work!

 

 

UPDATES

 

02/12/2017: included the “Matchups” section.

30/11/2017: out: Saskia + 1 First Light/ in: Ithlinne + 1 Alzur’s Thunder: Saskia is a good card that increases consistency but her low value for a gold card was proving to be kind of a problem. Ithlinne on the other hand represents great value and the always welcome disruption  with a double Alzur’s. First Light techs against weather, but it’s that effective and necessary.

27/11/2017: out: Francesca + Isengrim + Renew + Morenn + Toruviel + 1 Vrihedd Sappers/ in: Eithné + Saskia + Muzzle + Decoy + Nature’s Gift + 1 First Light: the Eithné proven is seems actually stronger, so I’m switching in favor to her. Updating the guide as a whole to reflect this majos change.

24/11/2017: started doing some serious testing with a very different version of this deck. It runs Decoy, Nature’s Gift, Saskia, Muzzle, First Light (x1) – replacing the three ambushers, Isengrim and Renew – and Eithné as leader. If it proves to be truly stronger then this version I’ll update this guide and explain the reasoning behind it.

22/11/2017: got to 4.25K MMR and I see potential to get 4.5K MMR. The deck is incredibly satisfying to pilot and I feel I’m better with it every game. I still make mistakes and that just reassures me that the deck is very good. I’m not naive to say this is a Tier 1 deck, but it deserves more then Tier 2 for sure (lets call it Tier 1.5? kkk). If you give it a try let me know how you feel about it, please!

 

PROS AND CONS

Pros:

– Amazing finishers;

– Strong tempo plays (aside from hand- improving cards);

– High consistency;

– Unique gameplay;

– Not really counterable;

– Fun as hell. 🙂

 

Cons:

– Can get out valued in longer rounds by highly snowballing proactive decks (no snowballing potential);

– Lack os regular carryover or Yaevinn can make it harder to regain card advantage sometimes (especially if you lose coin flip and the opponent runs carryover);

– Takes a lot of experience to understand how to control it’s rhythm (hard to explain kkk) – a bit easier now with the Eithné Version.

 

DYNAMIC AND GAMEPLAY

The concept is all about buffing Swordmasters in hand in order to win a medium-short Third Round with very high value plays. To do this we are forced to play a few very low tempo cards – Elven Mercenary > Quen Sign and Hawker Supports – that require the player to be very smart with tempo management to avoid getting too far behind.

On the other hand, the dwarven side of the deck provides very strong tempo  – 13+ points plays – that allow it to not only keep up with the opponent after playing handbuffing cards (low tempo) but also get a good lead to create card advantage. And that unique dynamic that mixes immediate value with handbuff carryover is what makes this deck quite hard to pilot effectively, but also very distinct and fun.

At this point what I want you to realize is that this deck does not have a point generating dynamo core like Spy Nilfgaard or Swarm Northern Realms. It also does not benefit from longer rounds like weather based decks. Instead, it shines in medium-shorter rounds in which you can play 1-7 points cards without getting too far behind or just overwhelm the opponent with 13-16 points every turn. To effectively exploit this idea, you must understand what kind of deck your facing in every matchup and how to create the perfect window for a pass in First Round.

Translating it all in terms of game plan, you pretty much going to lose First Round 🙂 and there is a simple explanation to that: it tends to be the most disputed round, so players invest hard on it – basically everything that is not their win condition – and hardly pass before the first 7-9 turns, unless you are very far behind. So, instead of wasting your power cards – that are very strong, but not snowballing – in a long round where they will eventually be out valued, it’s just way better to save them while you do as much handbuffing as you can without being forced -2 card disadvantage.

And there are 2 ways of losing round one profitably: the first one is by going full handbuffing, or almost, and passing quickly; the second is by playing a bit of handbuffing (one or two cards) and then going hard on tempo to get ahead and then passing. The first is better suited for when you win coin flip, the second for when you lose. Either way, your goal is to do at least some handbuffing – while the opponent commit important resources – before getting out of the round in a situation that forces the opponent to go 1 card down. Once you get used to the impact of every card, it won’t be hard to do it at all.

Then we go to Second Round, which is very simple: go for tempo. Play what you must to stay ahead every turn, and if it is not possible, try to fit a handbuffer if it doesn’t mean falling behind too hard.

If done right the game will go for a short Third Round with at least even cards in hand, but every single play you’ve got is worth 13-20 points. Seizing victory from there shouldn’t be hard.

 

CARD CHOICES

BRONZES:

Dol Blathanna SwordmasterDeploy: Damage an Enemy by this Unit's Power.: CORE. one of the defining cards of this deck and the great finisher. With minimum buffing – exempla: one Support and the Quen – it’s already worth 18 points, which is insane. You must have at least one in hand from the beginning, and if it does not come in the opening hand you Saskia for it.

Hawker SupportDeploy: Boost a Unit in your Hand by 3.: CORE. Simple card that complements the Swordmasters. It’s way better then Vhrihedd Dragoons since the buff is instant and targeted. Not much else to say here.

Elven MercenaryDeploy: Look at the top 2 Bronze Special cards from your Deck. Play 1 and shuffle the other back.: CORE. A tutor for Quen, but can find you First Light if needed.

Quen SignChoose a Bronze or Silver Unit in your Hand. Give all copies of it in your Hand and Deck a Shield and Boost them by 2. Units which already have a Shield cannot be chosen and aren't affected.: CORE. Provides extra points to Swordmasters while also giving them that sweet shield that helps a lot in some matchups. Quenning a Swordmaster puts it in the 6 damage level, enough to take out key units like Impera Enforcers and Kaedweni Siege Support.

Dwarven AgitatorDeploy: Spawn a base copy of a random different Bronze Dwarf from your Deck.: CORE. If you run at least 1 set of dwarves it represents 2 free points that separate decent plays from the strong ones. It also makes 2 bodies at once, which helps with Toruviel, if you run it.

Dwarven SkirmisherDeploy: Damage an Enemy by 3. If it was not Destroyed, Strengthen self by 2.: just a consistent good value dwarf to be copied by agitator. Also helps setting up Iorveth kills or Muzzle steals, and sometimes even take out key units. Can be replace by any 10+ value bronze  dwarf – like Dwarven Mercenary or Pyrotechnician, if you prefer.

Alzur's ThunderDamage a Unit by 7.: not much to say here. Run it for Ithlinne, cut it if she is replaced by something else.  

 

SILVERS:

Barclay ElsDeploy: Play a random Bronze or Silver Dwarf from your Deck and Strengthen it by 3.: CORE. very strong tempo card – 16 or 18 points – that also thins the deck a card. Amazing target for Hattori.

HattoriDeploy: Resurrect a Bronze or Silver Scoia'tael Unit with Power less than or equal to this Unit's.: CORE. basically another Barclay, resurrecting the silver dwarf (16/18+3) or the Agitators (13+3). Make sure you always have a decent target for him in graveyard. With buff from Support, can resurrect bigger targets, but that is only a backup plan. Amazing card.

DecoyReturn a Bronze or Silver Ally to your Hand, Boost it by 3 and play it.: decoying Agitator (14 points), Barclay (17 to 19 points) or Hattori (17 to 24 points) is very very strong. If you’re not going for tempo you can also decoy Hawker Support or even Elven Mercenary, but those are not the best option. Also counters disloyal units like Iris.

Marching OrdersBoost the Lowest Bronze or Silver Unit from your Deck by 2 and play it.: CORE. gets you the Mercenary, or a tempo dwarf if Merc was already played/drew, being a strong card in both cases. All you low base strength cards are well worth it.

ScorchDestroy all the Highest Units.: Your ace in the sleeve and counters the core cards of strong and common archetypes like Impera Brigades, Far Seers, Unseen Elder, DB Protectors etc. Be careful not to get stuck with it in hand and the bigger unit on your side of the board though.

Nature's GiftPlay a Bronze or Silver Special card from your Deck. Shuffle the others back.: gives you increased and always welcome consistency. Since this version runs a lot of important silver spells, it’s only natural to include a tutor card like that.

 

GOLDS:

IorvethDeploy: Damage an Enemy by 7. If it was Destroyed, Boost all Elves in your Hand by 1.: CORE. Strong tempo (14), strong disruption and handbuffing. Just every aspect of this card fits the deck extremely well.

IthlinneDeploy: Play a Bronze Spell, Boon or Hazard card from your Deck, then Spawn a copy of it. Shuffle the others back.: used for double Alzur’s Thunder, representing great value – 16 points – and strong removal. That extra disruption is key in a lot of matchups, like Spy Nilfgaard. 

 MuzzleMove a Bronze or Silver Enemy with 8 Power or less to the opposite row.: a broken card that provides good tempo and disruption, and even value over time, some times. There are so many key targets to steal (Kaedweni Siege Support, Morkvarg, Ronvid if you damage it with Skirmishers first etc) that it is almost an auto-include in any deck in the current meta.

Royal DecreePlay a Gold card from your Deck. If it is a Unit (but not an Agent or Double Agent), Boost it by 2. Shuffle the others back.: increases consistency in a deck in which every gold card has a distinct purpose.

 

ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS

Mahakam PyrotechnicianDeploy: Damage a random Enemy on each row by 3.: with two targets it is as good as Skirmisher and with three targets it represents 14 points (16 with Agitators), which is a lot for a bronze. Definitely an option, but I prefer Skirmisher’s consistency.

Dwarven MercenaryDeploy: Move a Unit on another row to this row on its side. If it's an Ally, Boost it by 3.: is worth 10 points while Skirmisher is worth 11, so it is close. Mercenary moves and buffs and it has defensive applications (messing up that Iris can be key, for example). Skirmisher damages, setting up Iroveth’s snipes and, sometimes, better scorches. My personal preference is Skirmisher, but Mercs is very decent.

Mahakam AleDeploy: Boost a random Ally on each row by 4.: if you want a second special card to prevent Elven Mercenary from being dead in your hand, Mahakam Ale is a solid option, requiring only three targets to be worth 12 points. Can replace First Light. OBS: Full Moon PotionBoost up to 6 random Allies by 2. and OverdoseDamage up to 6 random Enemies by 2. do basically the same thing as Mahakam Ale, but are way less reliable. You can run them if you do not own Ale, but Ale is definitely better.

First LightSpawn Clear Skies or Rally.: supports the deck with weather clear and, if it is not needed you pull a unit which will be at least 11 points value (Skirmisher). 

Vrihedd SappersAmbush: After 2 turns, at the start of your turn, turn this Unit over.part of the Isengrim package if you run it, being a third target so that you never see him dead in your hand because you already drew the silver ambushers . It can also confuse opponnents quite often forcing them to play around an imaginary Morenn or locking a ghost Toruviel. Also note that Isengrim > Sappers is a 16 points play, which is far from bad for a gold card. Remember that ambushes can’t be targeted, so Sapper makes a decent proactive play for Third Round. Replaces First Light.

ToruvielAmbush: When your opponent passes, turn this Unit over and Boost 2 Units on each side by 2.part of the Isengrim package if you run it. Provides good value (14) and some mind pressure over the opponent due to the ambush factor. Few thing are more satisfying the winning the round with that amazing voice line – “I LIKE the way you DIE, human” kkkk!

MorennAmbush: When an Enemy is played (except Leaders), turn this Unit over and Damage that Enemy by 5 before its Deploy ability resolves (but after it gains Armor).part of the Isengrim package if you run it, with regular value (12) and that insane mind pressure. A well placed Morenn sniping a low strength unit before it’s deploy triggers is just so rewarding and powerful. Just be careful not to play her in a situation that allows the opponent to just pass without flipping her up.

Ida EmeanDeploy: Spawn Impenetrable Fog, Clear Skies or Overdose.: silver mages are always a decent option and Ida can fit in this deck. Weather clear, weather spawning or 15 points: those are the modes. 

IrisDeathwish: Boost 5 random Units on the other side of the Board by 5.: absurd 22 value (25 from deathwish – 3 from own body) that this deck can proc easily. Good option. 

Yarpen ZigrinWhenever a Dwarf Ally is played, Boost self by 1. Deploy: Gain Resilience.: decent value in medium-long rounds and provides carryover, which can always be key. Decent option.

CiaranDeploy: Toggle a Unit's Lock and move it to this row on its side.: the meta does not really call for a lock as a must have, but if you truly believe you need one, go for it.

IsengrimPlay a Bronze or Silver Ambush card from your Deck.: one of the strongest gold cards in the game and few cards can match its value (pull Morenn = 19 points + utility/ pull Toruviel = 21 points). The problem is that it requires the dedication of two silver slots to suboptimal cards, and we cannot afford that in this version. If you prefer the Francesca version, he is absolutely CORE.

EskelDeploy: Destroy a Bronze or Silver Enemy that is not Boosted.: is basically a Muzzle, but a little bit worse.

RenewResurrect a Gold Unit.: replaying your core gold unit is always a good option, but in this deck the only card that would benefit from this is Iorveth. If you run more gold units, like Isengrim, It can replace Muzzle.

SaskiaDeploy: Mulligan up to 2 cards, but choose any Bronze cards from your Deck to replace them. Then shuffle your Deck.: is here for one reason only: it puts Swordmasters in your hand if they were not drawn,  because without them there is no target worth handbuffing. As a plus, she increases your hands consistency and gets rid of undesired cards like a stuck Scorch, Skirmishers and bronze specials that were meant to be pulled by Mercenary. The 10 point value is kind of low for a gold card, but is not bad overall.

DroughtApply a Drought Hazard to all opposing rows. Drought Hazard: Every turn, at the start of your turn, Damage the Lowest Unit on the row by 2.: nets cheap wins if it is not countered, but provides no value if it is. Better then Ragh Nar Roog in this deck because you want the opponent to go as tall as possible for you to Scorch. Suboptimal in this deck since we do not have a way to punish row stacking – unless you run Dol Blathanna Trapper.

AglaisDeploy: You may Resurrect a Bronze or Silver Special card from your opponent's Graveyard.: huge value if the opponent has played a decent special card, mediocre if he/she has not. Good card that can replace Renew, but I don’t find it to be consistent enough.

 

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

1. Running 1 Mercenary and Marching Orders is a reliable way of getting Quen out without wasting Ithlinne for it. It’s more consistent and saves you Ithly for double Alzur’s.

2. I experimented a lot with more elven focused lists and I can say this version is a lot better. It’s not perfected yet, but it’s been working very well so far. I already made it to 4.3 K MMR and getting to 4.5K seems realistic. 

3. Similar versions of this deck can be run with both Francesca and Brouver. Read the section dedicated to it.

4. Believe when I say this deck can be very effective but takes a lot of experience and decision making, and that’s what makes it so interesting and fun to play.

 

EITHNÉ OR FRANCESCA (or Brouver)?

This deck was first designed with Francesca as leader, but Eithné has proved to be stronger.

Fran gives you more consistency allowing you to mulligan for Swordmasters if you did not draw one, while also buffing. She also a universal tutor, giving you access to any card you want, like you gold cards or that key Scorch. The drawback is that she makes a low value play – 7 points ain’t much – in a deck that already has few (handbuffers).  Nonetheless, Francesca as a leader for this archetype is very viable and a recommended list would be very similar to this, replacing Ithlinne for Isengrim and Decoy (or Scorch) and Nature’s Gift for Toruviel and Morenn. You could also replace Muzzle for Renew since you would have two very strong gold units to resurrect, and Alzur’s Thunder for Vrihedd Sappers or First Light.

Eithné, on the other hand, represents just too much value and utility in this deck since we run some very strong silver cards. For example, if you go for a second Decoy it means 19 (decoying Agitators) to 22-29 (decoying Hattori) points, and it is absurd! Another example: recasting Marching Orders represents 19 value at minimum. That being sad, even though Fran has great synergy with Swordmasters, Eithné outclasses her by being just too strong. The only actual drawback is that you risk drawing no Swordmasters in opening hand, disrupting your handbuff game, but thats very rare and this version is not truly dependent on that. 

You can also run Brouver, but it gets very differente and is not as optimal as the other leaders (but very good still).

To conclude, all my testing indicated that the Eithné version is quite stronger, and that’s what I’m running now. If you still prefer Francesca though, you should go for it and it will be a very good deck too – climbed all the way to 4.25K MMR  with it.

 

 

MATCHUPS

Fortunately, this deck does is not really counterable and does not have very disfavorable matchups overall. Here I offer some general strategy for playing against the most common archetypes in the meta. Notice that every match is different and because of that tips are not to be followed blindly.

Eredin Frost: since it’s a weather based deck, it will overpower you in a medium-long First Round, to try to keep it very short, baiting out 1-2 Frosts and passing with +1 card advantage. If you win coin-flip, play 1-2 handbuffers over 3-4 turn, then pass. If you lose coin-flip, handbuff once then go for a few tempo plays in order to create a window to pass on +1. Its not an easy matchup, but, even without clears in this list, I would call it even.

Nekker Army: vulnerable to high tempo plays in early game, but features heavy carryover for third round. It’s a disfavorable matchup, but not much. In general I try to kill as many Nekkers as I can, especially while they have 3 strenght (one shot with Skirmisher), unless it gets clear that I won’t be able to forced them all out. Muzzling the first Nekker is a good strategy that can mess up their entire plan if they don’t have a second in hand.

Standard Consume: stronger tempo wise, but lacks the hard carryover in comparison to Nekker Army. Killing the Vran’s is a good way to prevent the Nekkers from growing. Keeping rounds short is also a good option to limit Vran triggers. If Nekker is played First Round kill it to disrupt carryover for Third Round.  If the opponent is careless you can kill 2 Ekimmaras with one Scorch (11 power each if consumed harpy eggs). Even matchup.

Henseult Machines: the key to prevent Henseult from finding value is to kill his bronzes once they hit the board. Note that our deck features a lot of removal, so it shoudn’t be hard. If he plays Siege Tower, it’s better to just Scorch it since a good player won’t let them leveled as highest power on the board. Ronvid can be Muzzled if you hit it with Skirmishers once. Machines has a lot of snowball potential with Ballistas, so it’s a good idea to pass if a copy sticks to the board. Slightly favorable matchup.

NR Musters: a strong deck with good value and tempo throughout the whole game and powerful finishers. It’s game plan is not really disruptable either. If you win the coinflip and the opponent opens with Blue Stripes Scout + Commando, play Elven Mercenary (Quen), then he should follow with more Blue Stripes and you can Scorch it for 20 points. The same strategy to steal Ronvid applies here. Even matchup.

NR Swarm: I haven’t seen swarm in a while. Kill/Steal the Siege Supports as quickly as you can and get out of the round if it sticks on the board. It’s not a very strong deck if you keep rounds short. In longer rounds it will snowball and out value you. Favorable matchup.

Nilfgaard Spies: this deck counter Spies hard, since its early game is so reliable in Impera Enforcers and Brigades and we pack enough disruption to easily get rid of 3 or 4 of them. It’s easy to either force Spies out of the round or grab +2 card advantage, even doing relevant handbuffing. For Third Round, we have Scorch against Joachim, Decoy against Iris and Swordmasters is worth more then Menno. Very favorable matchup.

Emhyr Mill: this deck it not very vulnerable to mill if you play wisely. Keep a copy of Skirmishers in hand to prevent Sweers from breaking Agitators and Barclay. Avoid playing tutor cards (Royal Decree, Marching Orders, Nature’s Gift etc) to avoid self milling – a dead card in hand is better than a free turn for the opponent. Kill/Steal Avallach and Albrich when you can. Mill doesn’t have enough power to defeat you, so you should be fine. Favorable matchup.

Scoia’tael Spells (With Farseers): starts slowly but scales hard in longer rounds. Scorching Farseer is an option, but the best is to save Scorch for Protectors. Try to remove Farseer early (Ithlinne > Double Alzhur’s or Skirmisher + Iorveth) slow down the opponents evolution throughout the round. If you manage to survive about 5-6 turns while doing at least a few handbuffing, you good to go. If you still have Scorch and Eithné, Third Round should be easy, otherwise you’re still in a good position. Easy matchup if you draw the right cards, even matchup if you don’t.

Scoia’tael Handbuff: the closest you will get to a mirror match. The archetype itself isn’t that strong without the high tempo options this list – and it alone – includes.

Scoia’tael Movement: Movement Scoia can be problematic due to its reliance on weather. Because of that, keeping rounds short is a must, especially Third. Luckily we have enough removal to get rid of Marksman’s to prevent the opponent to find huge value from them. Try row stacking since the opponent will have to waste resources spreading your units across other rows. Even in a short Third Round you may have problems since Movement usually runs Barclay and Hattori. Very slightly disfavorable matchup, due to gold weather.

Skellige Cursed: has good snowball potential and some strong tempo plays, like Crach > Djenge and Skjall. If he plays Houndsnout kill Hilhelm, and it will kill Wilmar, thus negating its effect, since it only triggers during player’s turn. If you see 2 big units leveled, go for the Scorch. Even though saving Scorch for resurrected  Djenge in Third Round is good, it only works if you have the last play since the opponent will save Sigrdrifa as a finisher, so keep that in mind. The good thing is that your deck is stronger in a medium-short Third Round if you have the right cards in hand. Even matchup.

King Bran: “King Bran” isn’t exactly an archetype but a leader that features variations of a similar strategy: high value cards all game long and a carryover with Morkvarg, Cerys and possibly Olgierd. Our deck has more general value and stronger finishers in shorter rounds, so that’s what you aim for, as usual. If the opponent opens with Bran > Morkvarg + Wolfsbane a good strategy – but situational – is to hit Morkvarg with Skirmisher and steal it after the Wolfbane triggers (it will boost Mork up to 8 power). In order to do that, feel free to play high tempo stuff since you must be ahead after the Wolfsbane triggers. Also, remember to never do more than 3 points of damage to a unit you’re not killing, to prevent Armorsmith from finding huge value.  It’s an even matchup that can be turned into favorable with smart plays.  If he runs Birna Bran, it gets slightly disfavorable.

Skellige Self-wounding: Greatswords come with just the exact amount of strength to be removed by Alzhur’s and Iorveth and doing this slows down the opponent’s game nicely. Even better then that is to weaken a Greatsword and then stealing it with Muzzle (a turn later it will heal and strengthen!). If a Greatsword sticks to the board, pass the round or do it a turn later. If you can, save Scorch for the end of Third Round, after resurrections have been played. It’s a favorable matchup, but may take 1 or 2 games to really understand how to counter it.  

Skellige Axemen: the viable version of Axemen deck relies on gold weather or Skellige Storm, with Bran as leader and running Avallach to force longer rounds. You win this by countering Axemen, either killing them early with Ithlinne or later with Scorch (save Eithné for a second one). Multiple Skirmisher may setup a sniping with Iorveth or Muzzle, but its more of a situational play then a reliable strategy. Also notice the opponent will try to force you out of First Round with Bran > 3 Raiders. When he does judge don’t feel afraid of playing deeper that round with high tempo plays and maybe force out key cards like gold/silver weather or an Axeman (do not overcommitt though). Slightly favorable matchup.

PS: Some viable archetypes were left out of this because I hardly ever face them in my ladder environment – like Mulligan ST, Dagon Weather, NG Reveal and NG Alchemy. 

 

CONCLUSION

This deck  has been performing quite well so far and is very unique in some of it’s choices. Nonetheless, expect a few changes in the future, since I seek to master it. 🙂

Even though this is meant to be a comprehensive deck guide with a lot of valuable information and tips, nothing substitutes experience. So, if you don’t do that well at first with this deck, know that it is just expected, since this is very hard to pilot and very dependent on knowledge of the meta game.  

 

Hope it helps!

 

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36 thoughts on “GUIDE: Hybrid Scoia’tael – Handbuff/Dwarves/Spells (4.3K+ MMR)

  1. ProfRuf
    December 15, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    GREAT Deck! Best Deck I´ve played so far, for real! Ton of fun and stuff to think about. Just awesome, thank you so much!

    Reply
  2. Dmm17 - Author
    December 10, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Just got to 4.5K MMR, with 60% win rate after the change to Eithné!!!

    There will be no further updates to this deck due to the unexpected change on this website’s guide builder – now “deck description” has a maximum characters limit of 5000, which is way less than this deck currently has, so a can’t update it without cutting down a lot of things, which I don’t think is worth.

    Reply
    • Rushton
      December 16, 2017 at 5:33 pm

      Really enjoying playing the deck . I made it to Rank 20 for the first time because of the deck ! . Thank you ! . I just wanted to ask , could you provide any mulligan advice ? and more tips against consume and mill ? . I struggle quite a bit against consume and mill .

      Reply
    • Rushton
      December 16, 2017 at 5:35 pm

      Have you considered posting the deck on Gwent DB ? . It is the biggest Gwent site. You would find many more views from that site .

      Reply
      • Dmm17 - Author
        December 18, 2017 at 12:08 am

        So glad to hear that! I believe it will be even stronger next patch, unless core cards get changed. Really excited for the new silver dwarf (resurrecting a strengthened Skirmisher is huge value!).

        For mulligans: 1 Skirmisher (blacklisting) > Quen > Alzhur’s Thunder > remaining Skirmishers > 4th gold card > 4th silver special > 1 Smugler or 1 Agitator

        Against Mill: avoid using thinning tools, NEVER put a Skirmisher in play if you do not have one in hand, kill Avallach on sight and save ammo for that, kill Albrich on sight if you can, and try hard to always have a bronze unit in deck in order to break Magne Divisions!

        Against consume (assuming it’s regular consume, not nekker army): you got to be smart in order to minimize consume triggers (killing vrans, killing units vrans would consume, stuff like that) and you will always try muzzling Nekkers, even if you need to damage it first. Also, make your Scorch count, and recast it with Eithné if possible. You have more value overall but carryover can screw you, especially because consume have acess to very strong finishers (Ghoul and Caretaker).

        I actually posted it on gwentdb last week!

        Reply
  3. BombFaction
    December 1, 2017 at 12:16 am

    Please Share a video how to play with this deck ? thank you 🙂

    Reply
    • Dmm17 - Author
      December 1, 2017 at 1:09 am

      oohh, boy.

      Making a video is actually waaay out of my skills kkkk

      I’ll think about it!

      Reply
  4. Akriosss
    November 30, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    Great just bought Saskia yesterday and you swapped for Ithlinne)) Im new in gwent and using your deck have trouble with all skellige faction.Too many weather decks dont know about swap first light.

    Reply
    • Dmm17 - Author
      December 1, 2017 at 1:16 am

      To be honest, Saskia is a good card and using her is perfectly viable.

      If you do not have Ithlinne, there is no point in running Alzurs Thunder, so you can cut it out for First Light. If you face too many weather cards as you say, you can also try a copy of Vrihedd Brigade replacing one Hawker Support to counter single row hazards like Skellige Storm.

      Reply
      • Akriosss
        December 1, 2017 at 2:53 am

        Weather deck i mean Eredin 3 frost, Carantir, Jotun and im dead.With Skellige dont know they core cards and what best to Mazzle.

        Reply
        • Dmm17 - Author
          December 1, 2017 at 2:09 pm

          Against heavy frost Eredin you should bait the opponent into setting weather over multiple rows, then pass the round while you’re still ahead. You can also row stack to prevent multiple rows under frost. Keep in mind that Frost Eredin starts the round slowly, so high tempo plays early in First Round will likely net you card advantage if you then pass in the right momment.

          Skellige packs different archetypes. Which one gives you trouble?

          Reply
          • akriosss
            December 1, 2017 at 4:30 pm

            Discard i think.I met many Eredins and other decks with golden or silver weather(white frost) insta dead((

  5. Hamsolovski
    November 30, 2017 at 9:58 am

    Thanks for the advice ! You helped a lot ^^

    It’s more or less what i do, but i find it very dependant on coin drop. Managing to lose first round with +1 card in that condition is not easy at all. So priority drawing targets for first round are Agitators and Barclay, then ? That way you can also resurrect at least one of them with Hattori on 2nd/3rd round.

    Funny thing, but dry pass is not that common in most of the games i played, and that’s generally how i manage to come back if I lost round 1 evenly. Not ideal though.

    Ithlinne seems like an interesting choice ! More thinning, and can also benefit from the buff of Royal Decree. Thunder can replace First Light, right ? I usually use First light only for Golden Hazards or multiple weather rows, so i think it could be taken off. Seems a little more suited to my playstyle, i’ll try it.

    Reply
    • Dmm17 - Author
      November 30, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      Yeah. Coin flip is major for this deck! Playing second makes things a lot easier – a bit more then with other decks in general.

      Barclay and Agitators: exactly, especially to enable Hattori.

      Dry passes enable that sweet Mercenary with no down side. If the opponent decides to fight Second Round, just stay ahead until he passes, if you can. Either way, you are in a good position.

      Ithlinne is very good. I actually droped Saskia, because she has not enough value for a gold card, and first light, for that exact same reason you are considering it, in favor of Ith and Thunder. I do like Muzzle kkkk

      Reply
      • Hamsolovski
        December 12, 2017 at 9:32 am

        Hi !
        Currently sitting at 4,1K, and i’m really fond of the deck as it stands right now. Ithlinne is indeed quite powerful and muzzle is… well muzzle, so in the end, quite useful.

        For a reason that I don’t know, i met a lot of decks running Golden hazards (Skellige Axemen, Scoia’tael dwarves), so I replaced a skirmisher with First Light. It’s a bit of a gamble to play your mercenary if you don’t have FL in your starting hand, but since you can generally manage first round by playing handbuffers and agitators, it works quite well. Was thinking of putting Ida in this deck, but honestly, i don’t think it can bring as much power as any of the silvers the deck currently runs.

        I stand with previous comments : it’s still a blast to play, very fun. Can’t wait to see where it will go with winter update. Also, thanks for the matchup section, helped a lot 🙂

        Reply
        • Dmm17 - Author
          December 12, 2017 at 12:00 pm

          Well, I wasn’t facing a lot of weather, but if you are, first light is definetely reasonable! But I agree, Ida is just weaker then the current silver and may not be worth it.

          For the next patch, it should be beneficial for this deck. Alzhur’s Thunder is getting buffed to 9 damage and the new silver dwarf will be very strong with skirmishers, especially if you strengthened one with Barclay. Also, it’s realistics to expect small buffs for Scoia’tael in general, since it is the “weakest faction”.

          Reply
          • Hamsolovski
            December 18, 2017 at 5:33 pm

            First mirror match today ! Was refreshing to face something else than the endless waves of Nilfgaard / Northern Realms decks haha 😀

            This patch will be a lot of fun ! Aguara (the gold neutral which has a choose 2 between 4 effects) might also prove useful. I’m also thinking with next patch, i might try something more aggressive running panthers and maybe some traps.

            Also, tried a different setup last week, and finally stuck with it :
            Replaced Muzzle + Ithlinne with Eskel and Aglaïs
            Replaced Azul Thunder with 1 Dol Blathanna Trapper
            Replaced Marching Orders with Yaevinn.

            In the end, i’m not that big a fan of Muzzle haha ! But i disagree with you on Eskel being a bit worse than Muzzle : it allows some 19-pt play with Yaevinn + it’s quite useful against a lot of archetypes, Skellige being the first to come in mind (removing 16-pt targets).

            Aglaïs is quite strong in every matchup except maybe Nilfgaard Spies (only spell they seem to run is the guy who can spawn frost, overdose and clear skies). Best use of her is against Foltest + Henselt : cast their winning condition (commander horn), then cast it again. But overall, there’s not been a lot of game where i found her dead in my hand, and if it happens, it’s still a 9-pt body, which is 7 pt more than Ithlinne.

            Marching orders for Yaevinn is my least favorite change, but it allows to trade 1rst round if you lost coin rather easily (and it’s even better with eskel in hand). Overall, i think spies are still quite useful.

            And finally, the trapper is very good versus a lot of match-ups, NR in particular. And with decoy in hand, it’s even better !

        • Dmm17 - Author
          December 18, 2017 at 7:46 pm

          Nice to see you giving your personal touch to the deck in order to ajust it to your playstyle! Keep up the good work!

          I’m excited for next patch too! Unless there are changes to core stuff, I expect this deck to became even better!

          Reply
          • Hamsolovski
            December 19, 2017 at 12:18 pm

            Actually, i’m surprised by how well it works ! Was struggling at 4.1k and right now, i’m at 4.350. NR was the deck giving me most trouble and these cards counter them quite well !

            I also messed with new cards on PTR, they might put this deck in a very good position !
            – General buff to handbuff (swordmasters at 5 power base, meaning with Iorveth up, you can destroy a lot of key cards right from the start + rework of neophytes)
            – Buff to almost every card the deck runs : skirmisher buff self by 1 more point, Alzur’s Thunder (well i’m not running it x)). Royal Decree cannot pull Muzzle anymore, but hey, who likes Muzzle anyway 😛
            – Quen removal is not as bad as it seems (half of my games, i don’t draw either mercenary nor quen, and still manage. One swordmaster buffed with Iorveth + Hawker Support is already strong enough to take out nearly anything problematic)
            – New mechanic of Commando Neophyte might be good.
            – Spawn cards in general might prove reaaally powerful and versatile (thinking about Runestone here, especially if you can combo it with Eithné, but i’m also quite interested by the new Isengrim and Mahakam Horn)

            The funny thing is a lot of decks will change if i’m judging by community reactions. Some people are already claiming Skellige and Consume Monsters dead, we’ll see. Quite excited to see what people will come up with ! This deck can handle a lot of matchups, so i think it will really shine next season 😀

  6. fabfabo
    November 29, 2017 at 12:23 am

    I must comment again. This (brouver version “brouver and the squirrels) is a fukkin mighty deck… Once u understand the logic of this deck u r able to beat nearly every opp… Still, still i’m havin lots of fun and a crazy wr. Thx a lot buddy!!

    Reply
    • Dmm17 - Author
      November 29, 2017 at 3:21 am

      So glad to hear that! The whole point of writing a guide is to help people and it feels good when you actually do!

      If you find some time, try out the Eithné version!

      Thanks for the comment!

      Reply
  7. Pbout
    November 28, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    Nice deck, thank’s for the work.
    Any advice for the mulligan ?

    Reply
    • Dmm17 - Author
      November 29, 2017 at 3:18 am

      With the Francesca build: one Skirmisher for blacklisting > Quen Sign > forth gold card > remaining Skirmishers > Sappers > Morenn > any other bronze.

      With Eithné: one Skirmisher for blacklisting > Quen Sign > forth gold card > remaining Skirmishers > First Light > any other bronze.

      With Brouver: something similar to the other leaders…

      🙂

      Reply
  8. Fabian
    November 27, 2017 at 11:29 pm

    Still runnin this deck with tons of fun and high
    Winrate (runnin it with the brouver version). Mighty deck!!!

    Reply
    • Dmm17 - Author
      November 29, 2017 at 3:11 am

      I’m happy to hear that! Thank you!

      And why don’t you try the Eithné version some time? I bet you will like it!

      Reply
  9. fabfabo
    November 23, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Super guide through this deckbuild. I tried it yesterday and had tons of fun with this deck in ranked plus high winrate so far. Against weather its not good, but against all other decks its very consistent. Top!!

    Reply
    • Dmm17 - Author
      November 23, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      I haven’t seen much weather lately, and because I try to keep rounds short, when I do its not the end of the world. But you’re right, weather complicates things for a deck with no clears.

      First light would be my choice to tech against weather, replacing Sappers.

      Reply
      • fabfabo
        November 26, 2017 at 9:14 am

        Everything ok, played this deck in ranked the last days and its a decent winrate so far and toruviel is very often a “last card game changer” and surprizes the op;).
        Sappers is a card i usually dont play so often except the op runs radovid as a leader. Often the op is forced to play radovid cause of not beein surprised of this card layin down. But u are right, sappers would be the first card replaced.
        Mighty deck so far, thx! Greetings, fabfabo

        Reply
  10. CursedFish
    November 22, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    You put a lot of effort in this guide, merch instead of ith looks very promising. Thumbs up 🙂

    Reply
    • Dmm17 - Author
      November 22, 2017 at 3:48 pm

      Yes I did kkk

      It’s basically the only archetype I’ve played regularly since the patch. Spy Nilfgaard is already proven to be Tier 1, so I decided to try something different.

      Hope you like it as much as I do.

      Reply
  11. Hamsolovski
    November 22, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    Tried it today, lovin’ it so far ! Thanks !

    Reply
    • Dmm17 - Author
      November 22, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      Hope it works to you as it worked for me! Let me know how you feel about it after a few more games!

      Reply
      • Hamsolovski
        November 27, 2017 at 3:24 pm

        Reached 4K with the previous version, I find it very fun (a bit more than mulligan scoia’tael which was my main archetype since i started gwent). But your actualized list might be better against the archetypes that gave me trouble (weather + consumer monsters)… Will try and tell you what i think 🙂

        Reply
        • Dmm17 - Author
          November 27, 2017 at 10:13 pm

          Do it, buddy! I bet you won’t regret! The current version is a bit lighter in handbuffing, but way stronger in terms of overall tempo and value! Thank you for the feedback!

          Reply
          • Hamsolovski
            November 29, 2017 at 8:59 pm

            30+ games in with it, right now. Well, on paper, I like it a lot more than the Fran one. In practice, though, I can’t seem to make it work as well. Not sure why. I think i need to get better at maths.

            On the plus side : more tools vs various decks (stealing Iris is one move I find very fun) while keeping the strong sides of the old decks. Eithné is indeed very strong : the decks i find myself crushing the most are the other Eithné focused on spell + buffing protectors.
            On the minus side : I think this deck needs its player to get better at evaluating the situations + decks in front of him, because you lack the surprise tempo of the ambushers.

            Also not a big fan of Muzzle, which often gets countered by itself since everyone runs it. Any idea of a card that could replace it (I was thinking Aglaïs since basically every deck i ran into plays at least one silver special + 9 pt-body)?

            I also get a bit confused by the whole “try to lose round 1 cleverly” thing. A lot of decks I run into have strong tempo moves they keep for round 1 (Northern realms being the ones I struggle the most against), so it’s very rare that i end up with an edge if I try to lose round 1 by playing mainly buffing cards. Also, not sure, but it seems to me that including a lot of spell cards also reduce the tempo moves you get during first round.

            Maybe you can help here : is it very worth it to keep a lot of your specials in hand during round one (often, i find myself mulliganing the skirmishers first, then quen, then scorch or first light depending on the deck i face). Any advice regarding this phase of the game.

            Sorry for the long post, but thanks a lot for your guide : even if I struggle a bit to master this version of the deck, it’s still a blast to play !

          • Dmm17 - Author
            November 30, 2017 at 3:11 am

            I’m experimenting Ithlinne to play double Alzhur’s Thunder and it seems good. You can try it in Muzzle’s slot. It generates the same tempo, but is less conditional and more disruptive (may kill to key targets), but requires you to have Thunder in deck.

            For First Round it is indeed complicated since its very dependent on the matchup (I plan to write a section dedicated to First Round, actually).

            The main goal is to get out of it with at least +1 cards, or -1 if you win. Buffing Swordmasters is the secundary goal, and even if its limited to a single Hawker Support it is fine.

            I usually open with handbuffer and then try to match the opponents pace for a couple of rounds with bronzes. Play silvers if you need, but just a few. If you see the opponents game is starting to snow ball, drop the round. Then, if the opponent dry passes, fit another buffer. If he doesn’t, you can either try to preserve card advantage, or just keep up the pace fitting buffers into any windows.

            Note that the Eithné version is the least dependent on handbuffing since the silver and the leader are just too strong, so getting to late game with just a 9 strength Swordmaster is far from bad.

            Not sure if it helped, but I tried! kkk

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