For players whose in-game resources are tight, knowing which cards give most value for those resources can be difficult. Which cards can be used in the most decks? Which cards are most likely to let me keep up with competitive play? Which ones work best together?
In this article, we look to answer these questions by providing our own recommendation on which cards to craft from Gwent's entire base set collection, for Neutral and every faction. We'll keep the article up to date with every major card set release and try our best to make sure it follows changes from Gwent's continuous balancing patches. The article will be stored in the Aretuza Academy, under Deck Building, for reference.
This article is up-to-date with Gwent as of version 5.0.1.
To the dismay of many, singleton decks have returned with a fury in this patch due to the addition of Radeyah to the game. In terms of pure value, Radeyah will represent the amazing return of 13 points for 10 provisions 71% of the time that we play it on the ranged row. This choice also gives us versatility options, such as a Purify, and the ability to boost our engines out of removal range. In addition, several factions can use their own stratagem from Radeyah to synergize synergy with other key cards and make huge point swings. We will cover these combos and synergies when they arise later in the guide.
Unlike other cards on this list, Avallac’h represents a pure value card. When the weather row effect is able to reach full value, Avallac’h plays for a solid 12 points. The point distribution is not ideal, however, and offers the opponent the opportunity for counterplay. As such, it is recommended that Avallac’h is added to a deck which benefits in terms of synergy to a degree, such as taking advantage of the Deploy keyword or the fact that a special card is cast.
Simply due to the nature of the provision system, all strong decks will include several key cards that represent a huge power spike during play. Some of these cards even lead to the entire deck supporting them. Thus, the deck suffers greatly when these key cards are left in the deck. A defense against this is the inclusion of Royal Decree. Without any thinning, a given card will appear during the course of the game in roughly three out of every four games. With the addition of Royal Decree, a given card will appear over 90% of the time. These odds drop when we want a card to appear in hand before Round 3, at which point the advantage of Royal Decree is exacerbated. We also may choose to include Matta Hu’uri instead if we strongly wish to tutor a card that isn’t a unit, or if we always want to fish for specific high-provision cards in every matchup. Matta Hu’uri provides us with some fringe benefits, such as extending the round for our engines or potentially drawing the opponent a completely bricked card.
In factions with convenient access to Poison cards and a lack of strong faction golds, Maraal typically finds a home. This usually means Nilfgaard and Syndicate, but we can also potentially utilize Maraal in Scoia’tael to great effect if we are still building up our collection in that faction. Maraal puts the opponent in a sticky position where they are forced to remove Maraal to deny its Order ability, which allows us to follow with a second Poison effect and destroy our target before the opponent can Purify it.
Everyone’s favorite Witcher sidekick became a tech option only recently (Patch 4.0) when its ability was reworked. Now, Lambert is a solid tech choice against swarm decks. Notably, this card is used to tech against Arachas Swarm decks, but we can also gain strong value against Rowdy Dwarfs in Scoia’tael (further value if we are able to deny the combo with Munro Bruys) and some more niche strategies, such as Congregation out of Syndicate. These strategies have fallen out of the meta slightly, so Lambert is typically a tech choice for wide strategies in Scoia’tael Elf decks, where we can target Scoia'tael Neophytes or Elven Deadeye tokens.
These cards represent two sides of the same coin, both increasing our consistency in unique ways. Like Royal Decree above, we are able to source our key cards from the deck. In the case of Alzur’s Double-Cross and Marching Orders, we are limited by the need to pull the highest- or lowest-power unit from the deck. In return, we save two provisions in comparison to Royal Decree. In decks that require key pieces with high or low base power, these cards can be a consideration.
Best: Radeyah, Avallac'h, Royal Decree/Matta Hu'uri
Techs/Others: Maraal, Lambert: Swordmaster, Alzur's Double-Cross/Marching Orders
The theme of the Monsters starter deck revolves around several concepts, but one of the main ones is using large units (in terms of base power) to power up our short round and proc Thrive cards for some minor engine value. Ozzrel is probably the strongest card out of the gate, so we will seek to play to its strengths with this craft. Yghern is a bit of a difficult card to grasp at first, because it is seemingly susceptible to damage effects. While this is true to a degree, Yghern does provide us with a unique advantage in that it provides us with an enormous amount of potential value after the opponent has passed in Round 1, which completely negates the downsides of the cards. Other ways we play around the pitfalls of Yghern are by Consuming the card or by playing it in the same row as Cave Troll (if we have this card and want to run it in the deck).
Yet another Ozzrel enabler finds its way onto this list in Golyat. In most senses, this card is a strict upgrade to Old Speartip: Asleep, with only minor downsides. The Deathwish effect on Golyat can sometimes punish us for playing it into tall removal, especially in Round 3. As a result, we often like to play this card in earlier rounds, where the opponent does not want to destroy it and pull a strong card from their own deck. In addition, opposing tall removal will almost always find value against our deck anyway, so it is not a large risk to play Golyat.
Added in the Merchants of Ofir expansion, The Beast has several layers of synergy in the faction. We will typically play quite tall, so The Beast will often represent a 2-point-per-turn engine that begins at 6 power, which makes it difficult to remove for many decks. The downside of The Beast, growing tall for opposing Resets and tall removal, is mitigated by the fact that we already play many tall units in Monsters so these cards will gain value anyway. There are additional synergies (one major one) that will cover below, making The Beast a valuable inclusion in any Monsters deck.
With all of our tall units, it then makes sense to play some cards that reward us for putting these units into play. Katakan starts out as an 8-point play, which is not particularly excellent for a 9-provision unit. However, it is purely proactive, which is an advantage, and possesses a Thrive ability. Thus, we are sometimes able to recover value when the opponent is forced to damage Katakan, or simply gain Thrive value from playing our tall units. In some other cases, placing two Vampire bodies (Katakan and Ekimmara) on the board can provide us with some benefits.
Endrega Larva, when added in the Iron Judgment expansion, became the strongest bronze card for the Monsters faction and one of the highest priority acquisitions for players looking to play the faction. These cards can go in any Monsters deck due to their reliable point floor and high point ceiling. The statline of 1 power and 2 Armor on each Larva makes effectively trading against them practically impossible for the opponent. Once the Larvas begin Thriving, it is then even more difficult to stop them through damage. Often, these cards are able to carry a round by themselves, which lets us play less powerful resources than the opponent.
While these cards are not priority crafts (we would not recommend crafting them at all from the start), they do represent potential stop gap solutions as you seek to build up a more complete deck. With that in mind, be on the lookout for these cards in packs if you are looking to move into the Monsters faction.
Decks focused around the Deathwish mechanic have begun to take a different shape than they did in the past, due in part to the changes to the Death's Shadow leader ability. The key concept is that we will generate units that have powerful Deathwish effects and then Consume them to enable the card’s ability. Our heavy hitter cards are Kayran, Dettlaff: Higher Vampire, Caranthir Ar-Feiniel, and Penitent. This package will form our core and supplement the standard Monsters golds mentioned above. Dettlaff: Higher Vampire is the most reliably strong Deathwish gold card we can play, while Kayran is an efficient way to Consume it and other Deathwish units. Penitent is a new piece to the puzzle and is a card with a high power level. We can let this card Thrive, as we play tall units until we are ready to proc its Deathwish, which is typically used when we play Pugo Boom-Breaker and The Beast as our only 7-provision cards in the deck. Caranthir Ar-Feiniel rounds off this package by allowing us to gain an additional copy of any of the cards mentioned above as our needs demand.
The real decision when playing with Deathwish cards is whether or not we wish to use Haunt in our deck. Largely, this is a meta call, so players with limited scraps to spend should probably avoid this card. If we do proceed with it in a given meta, we can take advantage of the Death’s Shadow leader ability to play a Deathwish unit on the same turn we play Haunt and instantly progress Haunt to Chapter 1. This is a way to avoid artifact Removal on our expensive card.
We can fill out our Deathwish/Consume package with some core Bronze cards. Endrega Eggs and Endrega Warrior have natural synergy and can provide us with solid value while also putting a large unit in play (Thrives take effect after Endrega Warrior Consumes your cards) to help with our Thrive value and in enabling The Beast. Other Consume options include Barbegazi and Barghest, each of which places a Consume effect with Orders on the board, such that we can play a Deathwish unit and Consume it in the same turn to improve the tempo of the play.
Summary: Kayran, Dettlaff: Higher Vampire, Caranthir Ar-Feiniel, Penitent ⇒ Haunt (consideration) ⇒ Barghest, Endrega Eggs, Endrega Warrior, Barbegazi
If we are looking to move into a deck with Blood Scent as the leader ability, there are several key cards we must have to maximize our potential. The most important card for this type of deck is Orianna, which represents a huge power spike when played. Even when played with only our leader ability and a few Vampire cards, Orianna is able to quickly snowball out of control. Other key cards to support our leader ability include Gael (which can be easily enabled with the Blood Scent leader ability) and Queen of the Night. The key bronze cards are Nekurat, which can be used to carry early rounds and play for a reasonably high point floor in later rounds, and Garkain. Garkain in particular receives an emphasis because it can be utilized with Portal to develop an incredibly strong engine in the deck when combined with all of our various Bleeding effects.
The remaining cards either do not appear in all Blood Scent decks or are not considered core to the strategy. Protofleder provides solid points, some removal potential, and the valuable Vampire tag. Armored Arachas can play for huge value and its weakness to Purify is not as large in this deck due to the huge amount of Purify targets we give throughout the game. Some of the key bronzes are Bruxa, Plumard, and Garkain, all of which synergize nicely and form a strong Round 1 presence when combined with Nekurat.
Summary: Orianna, Gael, Queen of the Night, Nekurat ⇒ Garkain, Armored Arachas, Protofleder, Bruxa, Plumard
Although Bribery can be a frustrating card to play and to face, it does represent Nilfgaard’s most effective point-oriented card. This is because it can Create cards from the opponent’s deck that far exceed the expected return from an 8-provision card. At the same time, we can Create cards that are much worse than an average 8-provision card, making our options highly susceptible to variance. With a great deal of the faction focusing on either control/manipulation of the opponent’s board or developing our own engines, Bribery stands out as a strong point option that can potentially exercise a great deal of flexibility.
As with most faction’s 8-provision tutors, Menno Coehoorn provides us with extra consistency (it can tutor the aforementioned Bribery) while also representing a strong play itself. This is because Nilfgaard decks often seek to utilize strong bronze special cards, which we will cover soon. The faction also places an emphasis on a few key cards, which greatly impact our chances of winning when drawn. Menno is able to thin a low-cost card out of the deck in order to increase our odds of drawing our most powerful pieces.
We have a bit of a package deal on the next listing, as the two cards synergize so nicely together. By itself, War Council helps us to fish for key cards that we did not draw and has the upside that it can find any type of card, instead of finding only units. This is a higher priority than Yennefer’s Invocation, which shares some similarities to Geralt of Rivia (a starter card). Still, it is an improvement and makes the deck quite a bit stronger while finding a place in almost all Nilfgaard decks due to its versatility and synergy with War Council.
This grouping of bronze specials serve many purposes. First and foremost, they are all Tactics, which empower the Enslave leader ability. We want to get this leader ability to at least 5 when we use it, requiring at least 8 Tactics cards in the deck. Secondly, we are able to reduce the number of bronze units we play to allow us to run Artorius Vigo. On top of these, the Tactics are simply good cards that we want to include in most decks anyway.
One of the common choices in Nilfgaard is to use some expensive “bombs” to help us generate points on our own side. The basic idea of the package goes like this: we use some of the highest value cards in the faction (Damien de la Tour and Stefan Skellen) and protect them with our Defender, Ffion var Gaernel. Damien allows us to reuse our leader ability, which will in almost all cases be Enslave, for up to 15 points of value (5 points from Damien and 10 points maximum from Seizing a 5-point unit) that can remove an engine as well. Steffan Skellen is ideally combined with Bribery to play one of our best point-oriented cards again with 5 extra points attached. We can protect these cards with Ffion var Gaernel if the opponent is not equipped with a means to deal with it, such as a Purify effect. Typically, we will play these cards with the Imperial Formation leader ability to boost them out of removal range, but we can also use them with Enslave if the meta is particularly light on removal effects.
Summary: Damien de la Tour, Stefan Skellen, Ffion var Gaernel
As most Nilfgaard decks are rather linear in nature at the moment, the Soldier package is streamlined to only include its most efficient elements. The key card is Ramon Tyrconnel, which lets us play a copy of a bronze soldier in our hand. Ramon is a solid card to commit in Round 1, as it will surely be followed by a bronze card at some point and generates a large amount of pressure on the opponent. The remainder of the package is full of the bronzes that serve as targets for Ramon, but do keep in mind that some core faction cards, such as Sweers and Menno Coehoorn share the Soldier tag and have some synergy. Our main bronze Soldiers are Ard Feainn Tortoise, Ard Feainn Crossbowman, Magne Division, and Recruit, but others will inevitably be included to increase our consistency and help improve our synergy with Ard Feainn Crossbowman especially.
Summary: Ramon Tyrconnel, Ard Feainn Tortoise, Ard Feainn Crossbowman, Magne Division, Recruit
Nilfgaard has probably the best Poison options in the game in terms of efficiency and quantity combined. Among our faction cards, Van Moorlehem's Cupbearer is a highly powerful card that also provides flexibility if we draw an odd number of Poison effects. The other major component in Nilfgaard is Fangs of the Empire, which displays strong stats on top of its effect. We can consider Rot Tosser, but it does provide the opponent with additional counterplay options while providing us with rather low value. We would only include Rot Tosser if we gain additional value from Assimilate effects or from placing multiple statuses on opposing units.
We would be remiss if we failed to mention neutral Poison options which also appear in such Nilfgaard decks. Maraal is a powerful option that can play for huge value on its own or place the opponent in a difficult position as we discussed in the neutral section. King Cobra is also an option to round out our Poison effects, but it is typically only employed in singleton decks.
Summary: Van Moorlehem's Cupbearer, Fangs of the Empire, Rot Tosser (consideration)
Falibor is one of the true power plays in Northern Realms, as it can be deployed for up to 13 points while removing several units. The faction utilizes many instances of damage from Order effects, which makes setting up Falibor relatively simple in many cases. The worst case scenario is 10 points, which represents a high point floor. One of the further advantages to Falibor is that it does not take time to accumulate its value, so it can be used at the end of a round where we have spent time developing our own engines without losing value.
Northern Realms plays a great number of engines in the faction, which makes it susceptible to bleeding in Round 2. Often, decks in the current meta will look to develop their engines in Round 2 while pushing us. Philippa: Blind Fury is a means to punish this line of play, as we can remove multiple units at once with its effect. In general, Philippa is just a strong card which almost always plays for at least its baseline value (11 points) while offering unique potential to remove multiple engines, including those from Portal.
While Bloody Baron can be viewed as more of a tech card, the points we gain on it reliably establish a reasonable point floor. When played in the Ranged row, Baron provides a Reset effect on a 7-point body, which can become a complete blowout against decks that boost heavily. Even when the matchup does not lend itself to a strong Baron play, we can usually extract decent value from the card through healing one of our own units or Resetting the boost from Tactical Advantage for example.
Prince Anséis on the surface is just a decent removal option with some upside if we are able to boost it and gain value by dueling. Such combos have existed in the past with Prince Stennis and even Thunderbolt. With the addition of Radeyah, though, we have truly unlocked the power of this card. The Engineering solution stratagem can apply 3 points of boost to Anséis while also giving it a Shield. This allows us to duel a unit that is up to 14 power and win the duel without taking any damage. Between the two cards of this combo, we generate a huge swing which can either punish a tall unit or play for removal on any engine in the game.
With the increase in decks utilizing Radeyah, Vincent Meis consistently gains strong value for it’s provision cost. While Radeyah increases the point floor of the card, its point ceiling is as high as ever if there are any high-base strength units around, particularly in Monsters. Placing a unit at 1 power also opens up some additional synergies, one of which will be described in more detail later. One potentially powerful one is the combination with Hen Gaidth Sword to play any non-boosted unit the opponent uses for yourself.
While these cards are not priority crafts (we would not recommend crafting them at all from the start), they do represent potential stop gap solutions as you seek to build up a more complete deck or may appear in finished decks down the line. With that in mind, be on the lookout for these cards in packs if you are looking to move into the Northern Realms faction.
The Northern Realms Scenario took off more than those of any other faction for the most part. The faction has relatively strong bronzes and weaker 8-9-provision golds than other factions so it welcomed another powerful gold to add to its arsenal. Siege is of course the core of the package and we surround it with many of our available Siege Engines. Battering Ram, Carroballista, and Reinforced Ballista are some of the most common aside from those options available in the Starter Set, while Bombardment can often gain great value on a board full of Siege Engines that we play naturally or gain from Siege. The exact number of Siege Engines played in the deck will rely on the player’s collection and a bit of personal preference with regard to the exact list played.
Summary: Siege, Bombardment, Battering Ram, Carroballista, Reinforced Ballista
While pure midrange or Siege-focused decks are the most common in Northern Realms, there is an interesting alternative available that is based around swarming our board with multiple cards sharing the Human tag and transforming them into Kaedweni Revenants with Draug. This archetype previously relied upon Blue Stripes Commandos to generate human bodies, but the addition of Caravan Vanguard has given us another method to spread the board and gain targets for Draug. We can play multiple copies of Caravan Vanguard (or any bronze we need at the time) by adding Queen Adalia to the deck, which can play as many as three Humans on a row at once. In order to take advantage of the Deathblow effect of Kaedweni Revenants, we want several methods to set opposing units to 1 power. We discussed Vincent Meis above, which has great synergy with Draug, but we can also use Sabrina Glevissig to Spawn an additional Revenant and also punish the opponent for stacking one row.
There are more options to take advantage of our wide board further. We will end up with many boosted units between Caravan Vanguards and those units we boost with cards such as Prince Stennis. This makes Vissegerd a natural choice. It also presents us with another way to set opposing units to 1 power for Kaedweni Revenants. In addition, we can power up our Vissegerd further or simply get solid value from Voymir if we wish, but this card is not necessarily core in all versions of the deck.
Summary: Draug, Queen Adalia, Sabrina Glevissig, Caravan Vanguard (Neutral) ⇒ Vissegerd, Voymir
The Great Oak is perhaps the strongest card in Scoia’tael and is one of the best singular cards in the game. At the end of a longer round, it is easy to play this card for over 15 points with perfect distribution. It also provides potential removal against late-game threats and engines. In most Scoia’tael decks, it is simple to generate a large number of units on one row, even in medium-length rounds. Additionally, The Great Oak possesses the Treant tag, which is relatively unique and helps out with any Harmony synergy we may have.
This new duo packs a pretty powerful punch when played together and they are reasonable even when played alone. If we gain the upgraded ability of Muirlega in particular, we can play the card for a maximum of 13 points while also gaining some AoE benefits. The Etriel ability is less impressive in terms of points, but can be situationally useful for removing some engine threats. We also gain additional removal targets in these two, which can sometimes allow us to re-enable harmony synergies and punish the opponent slightly for removing either of these cards.
Most Scoia’tael decks, aside from those heavily invested in synergies with a single tag, can make use of Percival Schuttenbach. This card is great to carry Round 1 when paired with a menagerie of bronzes sharing different tags. The opponent will have to commit strong cards just to keep up with the growing Percival while we play only mediocre bronze cards. In general, the value can be quite high on Percival, but we do have to be careful about playing around punishing effects, like Resets and Poison.
While these cards are not priority crafts (we would not recommend crafting them at all from the start), they do represent solid value as you seek to build up a more complete deck. Some may also find their way into refined deck lists. With that in mind, be on the lookout for these cards in kegs if you are looking to move into the Scoia’tael faction.
The Harmony archetype is centered around a special card in Water of Brokilon. Thus, the deck lends itself perfectly to utilize the Mystic Echo leader ability. With Water of Brokilon, we want to play as many unique tags as possible while still playing only strong cards. Of course, The Great Oak is a great inclusion, but another strong Scoia’tael card with a unique tag is Barnabas Beckenbauer. The Gnome tag is relatively rare and Barnabas will often play for a full 12 points when we have a Dwarf, Elf, and Dryad in play. Even if we have only two of the tags, Barnabas is still 10 points while proccing any Harmony effects on board. The aforementioned duo of Etriel and Muirlega also utilize somewhat unique tags and play for great value. In order to increase our consistency in finding Waters of Brokilon, we will also play Fauve as a tutor option. Often, this is accompanied by Call of the Forest, which is an additional target for Fauve and provides us with our strongest unit still in deck.
After filling out our core and adding some enablers for Harmony effects, we will look to fill out our deck with cards that fill out both roles. We can include a Poison package containing Weeping Willow and Dryad Rangers. These cards allow us to have a tech against tall units while also putting even more Harmony bodies on board. To continue filling out our options for unique tags, we want to utilize at least one Human in the deck. For newer players, Pavko Gale is a starter card to help us out, but Hawker Smuggler is also a strong option that actually has synergy with Pavko. If the opponent removes our Pavko Gale, we can follow up with Hawker Smuggler to trigger all our Harmony effects with the Human tag once again. Later on, the deck will likely become too tight on provisions to maintain Pavko in the list, but it serves a strong role at first. One additional Harmony unit is Trained Hawk, which we can use as a Harmony engine and a tech choice for its movement ability.
Summary: Water of Brokilon, Barnabas Beckenbauer, Fauve, Call of the Forest ⇒ Hawker Smuggler, Weeping Willow, Trained Hawk, Dryad Ranger
With the nerf to the Dwarf archetype came the rise of another archetype based around a specific tag. When we fill out our deck with an Elf package, our idea is to generate a board full of Elf cards and then finish off with some of the units that provide payoff for playing so many Elves. The most important part of the package is Isengrim Faoiltiarna, which is our huge power spike play to finish off Round 1 or, more commonly, reward us in Round 3 for generating a large number of Elf units. The other major payoff card in the Elf package is Yaevinn, which can generate huge removal, albeit slightly delayed. Our final piece of the key gold package is Aelirenn, which provides us with points in Round 1 or Round 3 as needed. Not only is it 5 “free” points in the round, it is also another Elf unit for our previously mentioned payoff cards.
One option we have when playing with Elf cards is of course Feign Death. This can generate 4 Elf bodies and play for up to 15 points on its own while also enabling our other synergies. The payoff from the card is quite high, but it is sometimes risky if we fear artifact removal. For this reason, it is often paired with Radeyah to play Aen Seidhe Sabre in the same turn as Feign Death and instantly progress it to Chapter 1. It is also sometimes paired with the Call of Harmony leader ability to give us another way to play an Elf on the same turn we play Feign Death.
In terms of bronze options, the process is not overly complicated to find our desired targets. Mostly, we simply want to play cards with the highest value that also have the Elf tag attached. Common options include Half-Elf Hunter, Elven Swordmaster, and Vrihedd Officer. The last one is in the Starter Set though, so another crafting/keg option would be Dol Blathanna Archer, although any card with the Elf tag is a reasonable inclusion.
Summary: Isengrim Faoiltiarna, Yaevinn, Aelirenn ⇒ Feign Death (option, typically with Radeyah) ⇒ Half-Elf Hunter, Elven Swordmaster, Dol Blathanna Archer
While the effect of Morkvarg: Heart of Terror borders on being a tech choice, it is one of the few strong Skellige golds, which means it ends up in almost every Skellige deck. The ability to punish highly boosted units and damage cards through Armor has good utility and the fact that Morkvarg: Heart of Terror is a Skellige faction card is a great boost when we wish to play the Second Wind leader ability.
With Skellige’s heavy reliance on Alchemy cards, meeting the condition on Crowmother is not very difficult. If we are able to draw Crowmother in Round 1, we can play it for 8 tempo with two instances of 4 carryover value. This is incredible value and worth the risk of playing a potentially weak gold card in later rounds if we are unable to draw the card early. We also gain two Crows on Deploy, which opens up some Beast synergies that we will discuss later.
As mentioned with Crowmother above, Skellige relies heavily on several Alchemy cards, making a tutor for these cards valuable. Not only are we increasing our consistency of finding these cards, we also gain flexibility in our ability to choose the correct card at the correct time and gain 2 points from Ermion itself. Ermion is also a combo enabler for Skellige as we will address below.
Purify effects are usually a tech choice, but Skellige’s faction-specific Purify card is so strong relative to its other faction golds that Gremist enters the territory of a core card. Most decks will run Gremist as a way to deal with Defenders or remove pesky statuses on our own cards. Skellige units are often tall and some have high base power, so we will be extremely susceptible to both Poison and Bounty effects without a Purify effect in our deck. The ability to use the Purify multiple times when we synergize Gremist with Alchemy cards is a bonus. We even have Freya's Blessing in the starter deck, which provides us with some instant synergy
Svalblod Priest is the core bronze card for Skellige. Almost all of the effective strategies in the faction center around dealing damage to our own units and Svalblod Priest allows us to do this repeatedly while also growing itself. This quickly puts it out of the range of bronze removal cards, meaning the opponent has to trade a strong gold just to remove Svalblod Priest in most cases.
While these cards are not priority crafts (we would not recommend crafting them at all from the start), they do represent potential stop gap solutions as you seek to build up a more complete deck or may appear in finished decks down the line. With that in mind, be on the lookout for these cards in packs if you are looking to move into the Skellige faction.
The most common way to play Skellige these days is to take advantage of the faction’s Scenario, Gedyneith. With the Second Wind leader ability, we have the potential to fully complete the Scenario in a single turn and eliminate the opponent’s ability to interact with it. The idea is that we play Gedyneith and then use our leader to resurrect Ermion, which plays Freya's Blessing to resurrect another Druid. This completes both Chapters of the Scenario at once and plays for a total of 33 points in one turn if Crowmother is already in the graveyard. The most important cards are then Gedyneith of course, with the other combo pieces in Ermion and Crowmother.
In addition to our main pieces, we need a strong Druid to target with Freya’s Blessing. Crow Clan Druid is our best option: it plays for 8 points if we have adjacent Beasts, which is not a difficult task in this deck. We can get this Beast “pocket” by using Crow Messenger to thin our deck and also set up our Crow Clan Druid. We need to fill our deck out with additional Alchemy cards to gain targets for Ermion in the early rounds (before we have units in our graveyard) and some of the best are Gigascorpion Decoction and Crow's-eye Rhizome. Some versions will utilize Axel Three-Eyes, but it is not found in all versions of the deck.
Summary: Ermion, Gedyneith, Crowmother ⇒ Crow Clan Druid, Crow Messenger, Gigascorpion Decoction, Crow's-eye Rhizome
Syndicate is considered a more advanced faction and does not even feature a starter deck (though we provide one anyway, courtesy of Easha Dustfeather). As a result, crafting advice will be geared toward generating a “finished” deck and merely represents the basic progression of crafts the player should follow. Syndicate crafting is more suitable for intermediate players who have already built a comfortable collection and are capable of playing other factions while building up a Syndicate collection.
One of the issues that Syndicate can have is filling the bank with Coins without a way to spend them properly. Philippa Eilhart is a great fix for this, as it is a way to spend Coins efficiently (2 points for every 1 Coin spent with removal potential) without also Profiting to further fill the bank. From here, we can begin filling the bank again to spend with our other Coin spenders.
Simply one of the more efficient cards available, Azar Javed should appear in most Syndicate deck for the foreseeable future. Creating a unit with the Defender tag causes headaches for most decks, and they will most likely have to deal with our Scarabs with damage. In addition, we gain 3 Coins for use later, assuming that we decline the Tribute effect. In the case of our scarab being destroyed by damage, Azar Javed plays for 10 points with the potential for more.
While the class of cards that have 4 power and deal 4 damage for 9 provisions have fallen by the wayside slightly in recent patches, Moreelse adds extra utility that keeps it in most Syndicate decks. If we spend 6 Coins, we are able to destroy any unit. This mode will not be utilized often, but we are able to pack the effect of a tech card on a reasonably well statted unit in the most common case.
In addition to Azar Javed, Dire Mutated Hound is the other Syndicate card from the Iron Judgment expansion that has massive power potential. When left unanswered, the Hound can escalate to over 20 points of value in one round while possessing a solid point floor of 8 points. When paired with Azar Javed, it can quickly get out of control. If the opponent is able to deactivate its Barricade ability, Hound even represents an option to spend Coins, although it can sometimes reward us with only 3 points for 4 Coins if the opponent is once again able to remove the Armor.
The single best Coins spender in the faction, Ewald Borsodi has been a staple in every Syndicate deck since its inception. With this card, we are able to remove multiple engines at once or simply spend Coins efficiently while dealing precious damage. When paired with Bounty effects, Ewald Borsodi becomes even more crazy, removing up to 4 units in one turn at times.
Our most efficient ways to spend Coins with bronzes are Sea Jackal and Street Urchins. Sea Jackal allows us to convert Coins to points with a larger than 1:1 ratio, but we do risk playing a tall unit. Street Urchin is the perfect complement as it spends only 1 Coin at a time, which allows us to perfectly clear our Coin bank to zero.
As mentioned above, we want to include Bounty effects because they provide a solid return on our Coins while also adding removal potential. The best Bounty effect comes from Slander, as it is cheap (only 4 provisions) and also gives us the Coins up front to help actually destroy the unit. For example, using Slander and following up with Witch Hunter Executioner alone leaves us with 5 Coins in the bank, enough to remove a 5-point unit.
One combo that is often included in Syndicate decks is Madame Luiza and Savolla. Alone, these cards are not that impressive, but together they generate a huge amount of value in only two cards. This gives us some power in a short round that we otherwise lack. Madame Luiza can also find other targets in Moreelse and Azar Javed from above and we will address other units with Tribute that you can consider running shortly.
We will most likely want to flesh out our Bounty package in a complete deck. Graden is typically included with Wild Card as our leader ability due to the opportunity to tutor Slander and play Graden in the same turn. This perfectly sets up the Tribute ability on Graden to punish any high base-strength unit. We can also gain additional sources of Bounty through Caleb Menge, although this card does not always make its way into the deck. With the addition of so many Bounty effects, we need to spend Coins on our own side, and Sea Jackal and Street Urchins are typically the preferred ways to do so.
Some common cards in the faction serve various roles to help us outside of our standard gameplan. Adalbertus Kalkstein is one of the strongest Purify effects in the game and can be used to repeatedly Purify if we require so. Vivaldi Bank is a strong tutor that will always show us the top four cards of our deck. In situations where a card we absolutely need is deeper in our deck, we can even tap into our Coin bank to fish it out. This card shares a fair deal of similarities with Royal Decree, but it can tutor for special cards and artifacts as well. This is especially important when considering the Portal package (see below). We can also consider adding more Poison effects in the form of Mutated Hounds that help us to brick our Fisstech less often.
Syndicate is the other faction with a large number of Poison effects and we want to take advantage of them due to their huge upside for low cost. The Poison effects in Syndicate are mainly Fisstech, Mutated Hounds, and Fisstech Trafficker. All of them represent low-cost cards with potential for incredible value (if we find an early tall unit) and a reasonable point floor. We can also include Ferko the Sculptor as a tutor for Fisstech. This helps us to round out a round with the correct number of Poison effects without committing to Poison, which can lead to dead cards in hand. Of course, with such a large Poison package, Maraal is a fine option and is often included in Syndicate decks. If we adopt a singleton deck approach (one copy of each card in deck in order to play Radeyah), King Cobra is another neutral Poison card we can consider.