- 4Mahakam Defender3Gain Resilience when played and at the start of each round. A Resilient unit stays on the battlefield for the next round.
- 4Mahakam Guard1Immune to Weather. Add 3 strength to a non-Gold unit on your side of the battlefield. If it's a Dwarf, add 5 strength instead.
- 10Sheldon Skaggs1No ability.
- 12Geralt1No ability.
- 4Dwarven Skirmisher2Remove 3 strength from an opposing non-Gold unit. If it is not destroyed, gain 2 strength.
- 2Hawker Healer1Add 3 strength to all other non-Gold units on the row.
- 3Hawker Support2Gain 3 strength whenever you play a Special Card.
- 4Elven Mercenary3Play a random non-Gold Special Card from your deck.
- 4Vrihedd Officer2Add 2 strength to the weakest non-Gold unit(s) on your side of the battlefield (except self), remove 1 strength from the weakest opposing non-Gold unit(s).
- 5Dol Blathanna Archer2Remove 3 strength from an opposing non-Gold unit.
- 8Vrihedd Brigade1No ability.
- -Alzur's Thunder2Remove 7 strength from a non-Gold unit.
- -Commander's Horn1Add 5 strength to all non-Gold units on a row.
- -Lacerate1Remove 3 strength from all non-Gold units on a row.
- -Scorch1Destroy the strongest non-Gold unit(s) on the battlefield.
- -Swallow Potion1Add 8 strength to a non-Gold unit. If it's a Witcher, add 12 strength instead.
- -Thunderbolt Potion1Add 4 strength to all instances of a non-Gold unit on its side. If it's a Witcher, add 6 strength instead.
In pretty much all online games that have some sort of combo/strategy/Rogue’ish class, that’s the one that attracts me the most. So I knew from the get go I’d love Scoia’tael. Also, I love having decks that cycle/mulligan so much to an extent that most of the RNG implied by drawing cards gets marginal.
I’d like to show you my deck and kind of go in depth in terms of theorycrafting/deckbuilding. I am by no means a super advanced Gwent player, but I am winning most of my games and the deck works fine for me while it is super cheap to make – most of it is included in the basic collection I think. This will be a rather long read, so if you are not into that kind of stuff, just check out the deck list, read some of the things in the Card choices section and the general tips at the end of this post. It will give you a decent idea of this deck.
Keep in mind that there are some card choices which weren’t really choices. I haven’t put in any real money, so I had to work with what I pulled through Ore. I will comment on cards I’d like to change later down the road eventually, when I find alternatives.
In the first round you basically want to abuse the Scoia’tael faction power combined with Francesca to set yourself up for the best possible 2nd and 3rd round. While baiting your opponent into committing a couple of cards you want to make sure to have as many combo pieces as possible; generate card value, get out Mahakam defenders (maybe even buff them slightly, forcing your opponent to play yet another card, while you will have buffed defenders for the later rounds) etc.
If I had to take a guess, I forfeit 90% of my first rounds. That does not mean it went bad, more like the opposite. This deck wants to accumulate power while baiting your opponent.
3x Mahakam DefenderGain Resilience when played and at the start of each round. A Resilient unit stays on the battlefield for the next round.
This is your bread and butter value card. You ALWAYS want as many as possible of these in the first round. Playing them is an investment but also at the same time causes your opponent to keep playing cards, as most of them do not wanna lose the first round to minions that stick. While the strategy is to forfeit the first round, one of your main focuses is to get these guys out asap. They will help you win the later ones.
These guys will always win you atleast one round. Maybe even two, depending on how many survive and whether one is enough to already win the secound round. I only obtained 2 as of now, but once I get a third one I will definitely put it in and see whether it further increases deck performance, or whether it is bad due to diminishing returns. If anyone of you played/plays Hearthstone, this is kind of the Questing Adventurer. The difference being, even your opponent’s spells buff it up. Keep in mind that their effect triggers pre-spell effect. You cannot e.g. Lacerate them even at 2 strength.
This card is absolute nuts. This is basically 3 Str, draw a spell, play it. It’s insane. The word random might discourage you from putting it in at first, though if you manipulate your spells properly you will get it to have a very strong effect all the time. But this is not the main reason to put it in. The spells it casts let your Hawker Support grow. Yep, it then becomes 6 or 9 strength, depending on how many Supports you got in play. I will go into when/how to use it later.
This is one of the highest value cards if pulled off correctly. It gets stronger the later you play it, obviously, and while Scoia’tael is basically immune to weather effects (most minions can be played on any of your rows), this lets you counter weather once. It can also be a very useful tool to ensure that Commander’s Horn gets value:
This is very similar to the Healer. The difference is, it’s not a flat addition but rather a multiplier. So, pre-weather this is insane, afterwards it is really bad. And this already implies how to use it. It’s best when played very late in a round and on a rather full row (preferably melee, as that is where your Mahakam defenders will be, and they will keep the buff for the third round). If your opponent counters it with a weather effect, you then play your Hawker Healer, as its value will not be affected by weather – it is still Str1+3n.
2x Vrihedd OfficerAdd 2 strength to the weakest non-Gold unit(s) on your side of the battlefield (except self), remove 1 strength from the weakest opposing non-Gold unit(s).
Add 2 strength to the weakest non-Gold unit(s) on your side of the battlefield (except self), remove 1 strength from the weakest opposing non-Gold unit(s).
As previously said, there might be cards that are worth replacing later down the road. This might be one of them, though up until now it has enough going for it to put it in. It is not too much of a commitment, so it might be very reasonable to even play it in the first round – the one we want to forfeit. It is used best against Token decks like Monsters, as it draws strength from all non-golds that share the lowest Strength count; it is even better when you have your Mahakam Defender(s) out while they are your lowest creatures. They will all receive +1. More often than not, the Officer is enough of an incentive to make your opponent play more cards, while you stick to your plan of buffing Defenders and preparing for later rounds.
1x Mahakam GuardImmune to Weather. Add 3 strength to a non-Gold unit on your side of the battlefield. If it's a Dwarf, add 5 strength instead.
I just recently pulled this card a couple of games ago and did not get to test it that much yet. Though it seems very fitting. It’s 3Str+5 which is definitely alright, but it again helps your gameplan. Any buff card is very strong on the Mahakam Defenders, as their buff stays on for the entirety of the match. And obviously +5 is insane over the course of 1-2 rounds. It is good for certain combos in niche situations and is pretty decent even withouth the Defender synergy.
These are also cards that you probably want to replace once you have other, better cards. The good thing about these is they are not situational. I prefer having the Brigade over 2x Skaggs as it is less of a commitment ( you want to have alot of options to always just slightly be ahead on board to maximize value – whether you are 1 or 50 points ahead, in both cases you demand an answer, else you win). Also, it is flexible and does not overcommit on the melee row. If you are afraid of weather, you do not need to put it into e.g. the melee row – which, as previously said, always makes your Commander’s Horn and Healer stronger, due to your defenders always staying on melee. Also, they are non-situational. Just pure vanilla cards that neither gain nor lose value – you do not want to end up with 10 cards that lose value when your opponent has no cards to react to efficiently.
Just very good removal. There are alot of cards that grow stronger when staying on the board, or which get buffed and then duplicated. The archers let you prevent that from happening while further solidifying your board state.
2x Dwarven SkirmisherRemove 3 strength from an opposing non-Gold unit. If it is not destroyed, gain 2 strength.
Kind of a mixture of the Archers and the Officers. The difference being, with this you do not want to kill minions, but rather weaken them (to setup for potential AOE or to slow down your opponents game plan etc)
Just a must have – it lets you remove very big threats which could otherwise straight up lose you the game. Keep in mind that most of the time your Hawker Supports will be the biggest cards on the board. Thus, if you end up with one of these in your hands, try to setup a good situation for it and play it before your Hawker Supports have gotten huge or on the board in general.
Also a very solid card, especially to counteract buffing/douplicating strategies.
A very strong card against decks that flood the board. I currently only own one of it, but you might want to consider bringing a second one. Though as of now, I never felt like I really needed a second copy, anyway.
A very solid buff that just contributes to your overall board strength.
1x Thunderbolt PotionAdd 4 strength to all instances of a non-Gold unit on its side. If it's a Witcher, add 6 strength instead.
Also a very good card as we run alot of copies of the same cards. Best case scenario you want to apply this to your Mahakam Defenders due to afore mentioned reasons.
As you might have already observed, all the spells in this deck have immediate impact on one of the player’s board strength. On any board state, all of them have atleast a minor positive effect that can scale upwards heavily. There are multiple reasons for this. First, Scoia’tael does not care about weather – you do not need clear skies and running weather yourself is very countersynergetic, as this deck aims to keep your opponent’s board down. Weather is strong once your opponent overcommited and pulled out all combos at once. This deck does not even allow for that. Also, the major one I think, is because we use 3 copies of Elven Mercenaries. It is the strongest card in the deck I feel like, and you do NOT want any cards that can harm your Hawker Supports. (The only exception is Scorch, which you just cannot cut. In some very very marginal situations you might end up destroying your Hawker. Out of all the games I ever played, this happened once. But it might.)
Redraw up to 3 cards.
This deserves further analysis. It is the starting leader for Scoi, so you most likely have no other choice. Anyhow, it is the one that fits this deck the best – and here is why. Your plan, as said before, is to set yourself up for round 2 and 3 as much as you can. Get Hawker Supports, get Elven Mercenaries, get Mahakam Defenders etc. etc. – Having two mulligans instead of one is just insanely good for just that. With 3 defender copies and 2 mulligans, your chance at obtaining atleast one in the first turn is roughly equal to 93.3%. But it is not only that. Francesca allows you to mulligan for anything, really, and lets you shuffle back cards that you do not want. All the things mentioned regarding mulligan below are synergetic with her effect. She also does not really cost you a turn, as once played in round 1, which you are forfeiting 90%+ of the time, it doesn’t really matter that you semi-passed. It only does in a mindgame way – as long as you have Mahakam Defenders to play, you want to hold on to her. Playing her is almost like saying “screw this round, I am looking for better cards”. And the earlier you say this, the earlier your opponent stops committing resources to his board state. So, as I said, play her as late as possible, but still in round 1.
You always keep Hawker Supports and Elven Mercenaries. Get as many of them as possible. Same holds true for Mahakam Defenders. Nevermulligan any of these away. If you got Geralt you might aswell also keep him, best vanilla card in this deck. ALWAYS mulligan away ANY spell you have. You want your spells to be casted by your Mercenaries instead of wasting a turn for them. Only if you already have all priority cards, you might use Francesca to get 1 spell that helps you in your specific matchup. Still, do that only very rarely. The Archers, Officers, Skirmishers etc have rather equal priority. You want to make sure you have a diverse hand, though. Mulligan them away for the more important cards, but make sure to end up with as few duplicates as possible to efficiently adress what your opponent plays.
Tips and Tricks to Maximize Odds of Winning
Use Commander’s Horn pre-, and Hawker Healer post-weather as explained above.
Use the Archers to kill minions that will grow in size or enable synergetic effects.
While you generally benefit from adding more minions to the melee row ( Mahakam Defenders+Commander’s Horn etc), you might want to consider mirroring some of your opponent’s placement choices. If he fills up the siege row a bit, it gets less punishing for you to do the same – as weather will affect both of your rows.
Use Vrihedd Officer in the first round to kill a Prize Winning Cow (or similar cards) while buffing your Mahakam Defenders. You do not want the cow to live through the first round, as that will leave your opponent with a 9 Str @round 2. You are not planning to win round 1 anyways.
Try to bait out minor removal before playing your Hawker Supports. There are many non-spell cards that deal 2+ damage, so try and bait them out with your less combo reliant cards.
Learn how to evaluate the estimated value/growth of each of your cards. The longer you drag on a round, the more both players will have to commit. Thus, cards like Lacerate, Commander’s Horn etc. increase invalue as time goes by. Keep that in mind and try to play the cards that have reached their maximum possible value, or something close to that.
Almost always only play your Mercenaries once your Hawker Support(s) is(/are) on board. You want all the synergy you can get. Also, the later you play the Mercenaries, the more impactful the spell will be (due to above mentioned natural increase in board sizes throughout a round).
You can very often use your racial to let your opponent move first in round one. You want to react instead of leading the charge. As said before, round one is all about baiting, gaining card avantage and setting up.
That’s about all I can tell you about this deck. It is not very easy to play but once you get the feel for it, it is very rewarding and consistent. If you got any questions, I will try and reply as much as I can.
Thanks for reading and have a good one, I guess!
I uploaded a Flow on flowfeedback.com – so if you want to see this deck in action with live notiations, I suggest you check it out. I go over my thought process in a not so beneficial situation: http://flowfeedback.com/feedback/yznPH7pMFLhqk5Spq