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 188.8.131.52.
Portal represents a highly efficient card that can usually find suitable targets. Notably, it is utilized in Northern Realms, Nilfgaard, and Syndicate, but to a lesser degree it can also be used in the other factions, though typically with rather niche applications. Portal has many benefits, not the least of which is its ability to develop two ongoing threats at the same time. If the opponent is unable to remove two engines at once (through playing multiple removal cards at once or through AoE effects), we will be at an advantage. While serving as a notable power spike that we will often use in Round 3, Portal also has the benefit of thinning two cheap cards from our deck when utilized in Rounds 1 or 2. Apart from all these advantages, there is also a downside: As Portal Summons the cards adjacent to it, Deploy effects are not triggered, so pay attention during deckbuilding.
With the game gradually shifting emphasis to a point where almost all decks contain at least some engines or key Order cards, tools to contain these threats are more important than ever. One defense is developing our own engines to remove opposing engines before they gain value. This, however, is not an option for all decks or even all factions. Instead, some decks must utilize strong removal cards. Muzzle is one of the highest cost removal options in the game and returns solid rate, trading up on a card by its strength on board (assuming that strength is less than or equal to 5). It is important to include removal options among our golds because they are cards we are incentivized to keep for later rounds, where card quality is of the essence.
Although a bit more of a fringe inclusion, Triss has seen a huge spike in play with the increased power level of bronze special cards. In any deck with strong special card options (such as Second Wind decks utilizing Mardroeme or Freya's Blessing), Triss can be added to play these cards with additional points attached. The flexibility of this card is also sometimes its downfall, as it can see its value greatly reduced in metas that include many special cards. Notably, this is seen in Syndicate decks which include many bronze Crime cards.
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
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.
With the advent of Defenders and the reintroduction of the Armor mechanic in the Iron Judgment expansion, a new avenue of play was opened. In order to deal AoE damage, we often have to contend with Armor on opposing units and Surrender is the only card that meets this description. Often, decks that utilize the Defender from their faction seek to stack the same row to extract value out of these cards, giving Surrender more upside. Still, this card is meant to serve as a tech option for most decks that want to specifically target certain matchups (Scoia’tael decks come to mind) and only exists as a core part of decks that possess movement effects to synergize with the card itself
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: Portal, Vigo's Muzzle, Royal Decree
Techs/Others: Triss: Telekinesis, Avallac'h, Lambert: Swordmaster, Surrender, Alzur's Double-Cross or 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.
While not an instant craft for Monsters, particularly if we already possess Royal Decree, Naglfar is seen in most Monsters lists for all archetypes. It saves us a provision on Royal Decree while also providing extra benefits. We are able to stack another gold card on top of our deck, sometimes tutoring two gold cards for the price of one. Additionally, Naglfar is able to source any gold card instead of just units, meaning it is a useful tutor for cards such as Portal, which make their way into decks such as Blood Scent decks.
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.
If we wish to move in the direction of a deck focused on Deathwish effects (most likely using the Death's Shadow leader ability), we will need some additional support aside from the Harpy Eggs and Celaeno Harpy found in the starter deck. Using these cards relies on having sufficient Consume effects, so adding Kayran is a strong base moving forward. Later, we can consider adding other Consume units, such as Slyzard and Barbegazi. In conjunction with Kayran, we want to add the strongest Deathwish units, so we start with Dettlaff: Higher Vampire. This provides us with a natural combo with Kayran that plays for 20 points without considering the final consume effect on Kayran. The other strong Deathwish effect comes from Miruna, which is capable of playing for a huge tempo swing (up to 12 points) while also potentially Seizing an engine. To tie this whole package together, we add Caranthir Ar-Feiniel, which can provide us with an extra copy of any of the other cards to help in the situation at hand.
From there, we can add some less important cards to the package. Imperial Manticore is another Deathwish effect we can add to the deck to synergize with our leader ability and ensure that we don’t have extra Consume effects relative to Deathwish effects. The package of Endrega Eggs and Endrega Warrior can actually be placed in several Monsters decks and are even better here due to the ability to serve a function as both a Deathwish effect (Eggs) and a Consume effect (Warrior).
Summary: Kayran, Dettlaff: Higher Vampire, Caranthir Ar-Feiniel, Miruna ⇒ Imperial Manticore, Endrega Eggs, Endrega Warrior ⇒ Barbegazi, Slyzard, Foglet
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 (Bruxa and Plumard do not appear when we use Portal for Garkains) or are not considered core to the strategy (Armored Arachas lacks the Vampire tag and serves a similar role to Queen of the Night without a secondary option). Still, these are useful cards to pick up and at least Armored Arachas and Alp will end up in a “finished” Blood Scent deck.
Summary: Orianna, Gael, Queen of the Night, Nekurat, Garkain ⇒ Armored Arachas, Alp, Bruxa, Plumard
Be advised that the swarm package may look relatively small and inexpensive, which it is with regards to Monsters cards, but it relies upon some rather niche Neutral cards such as Yennefer of Vengerberg, Triss: Telekinesis, and Bone Talisman. As such, we recommend that only players with slightly larger collections and pools of resources go down this path, unless the player is absolutely certain they wish to play this style of deck. The main idea is to swarm the board with cards like Arachas Nest and Natural Selection, plus the Arachas Swarm leader ability, and follow up with strong payoffs such as Arachas Behemoth and the aforementioned Neutral cards. Whispess: Tribute ties the package together with consistency while Whispering Hillock allows us to utilize a powerful Deploy ability twice.
The secondary recommendations are all around solid crafts, as they can appear in a number of Monsters decks. Here, the Deathwish of the Endrega Eggs can only be enabled by exactly Endrega Warrior, but the combo does provide us with good value and additional swarm potential when it works.
Summary: Arachas Behemoth, Whispess: Tribute, Whispering Hillock, Arachas Nest, Natural Selection ⇒ Endrega Eggs, Endrega Warrior
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 card recommendation comes with a condition. In current meta Nilfgaard decks, Artorius Vigo is almost always included, but this comes at a bit of a cost: The deck must be set up in a way so that we only utilize three different bronze units. This ensures that Artorius Vigo always shows us our preferred option. The starter deck provides Impera Brigades, which is a strong target that can play for a tempo swing and provide deck thinning. Other potential options are Duchess's Informant and even Venendal Elite in a pinch. The main downside to the card is the deck-building restriction, which is not that much of a downside as seen with the next recommendation.
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. If we cannot protect these cards with Ffion, then our best hope is to play them in a situation where the opponent is unlikely to have an efficient answer.
In addition to the aforementioned late-game threats, Nilfgaard decks will often pack Hefty Helge as a potentially powerful engine. As mentioned in the Core crafts section, we want to run a number of Tactics in our deck to empower our Enslave leader ability. This fits in perfectly with Hefty Helge, which becomes a solid card in any round as long as we have Tactics to synergize with it. It should also be mentioned that this strategy often incorporates Portal as another power play, with Nauzicaa Sergeants as the target. This is great news because Nauzicaa Sergeants are included in the starter deck, so players already have a leg up in this regard.
Summary: Damien de la Tour, Stefan Skellen, Ffion var Gaernel ⇒ Hefty Helge (Portal + Nauzicaa Sergeant)
Often (but not always) in conjunction with the package above, we can include a number of Assimilate cards in the deck. The primary elements are Glynnis aep Loernach and Imperial Diviner, which grow each time we play a card that did not begin the game in our starter deck. As you have probably noticed, many of the cards that we have already recommended fit this description, such as Bribery and Imperial Diplomacy. This also appears in less obvious ways, such as in cards like Ffion var Gaernel and Stefan Skellen. Some neutral cards also will fit into this strategy potentially, notably Triss: Telekinesis.
In support of Glynnis and Imperial Diviner, we can add a few more ways of enabling Assimilate procs. Experimental Remedy is not a core card due to its cost, but it can be a useful way of activating our Assimilate effects, particularly if our Artorius Vigo creates a Duchess's Informant that makes for a perfect target. Even Dazhbog Runestone is a consideration, but this should be made further down the line because it is an inefficient craft at 200 scraps for a 5-provision card.
Summary: Glynnis aep Loernach, Imperial Diviner ⇒ Experimental Remedy, Dazhbog Runestone
Whereas the previous two packages appear in most Nilfgaard decks, this one is far more niche. This avenue should only be explored by more intermediate players who have the desire to further explore what Nilfgaard has to offer. The point of this package is to swarm the board with Daerlan Soldiers and then boost them all up with Vreemde. With only two copies of Daerlan Soldier in deck, our power seems limited, but we have ways of getting even more. Artorius Vigo can create an additional copy if we set our deck up to do so. Furthermore, Ramon Tyrconnel can play an extra copy of Daerlan Soldier, assuming we have both of these cards in hand.
From here, we look to increase our consistency of actually pulling off our combos. Vrygheff is a card that will help us with consistently swarming the board, especially in situations where we lack additional copies of Daerlan Soldier. On top of that, it further increases our point ceiling, although it can sometimes represent a dead card in Round 1 or Round 2. As a final way to increase consistency, we most likely want to include Roderick of Dun Tynne to make sure we always find our key gold cards, notably Vreemde so that we actually receive the payoff for swarming the board.
Summary: Ramon Tyrconnel, Vreemde, Daerlan Soldier ⇒ Vrygheff, Roderick of Dun Tynne
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.
Vissegerd is a card that ties together multiple synergy package in the faction. As an Order card that also receives Charges, it is a valuable addition to engine-based decks. On the other hand, it plays for value on Deploy based on generating a number of boosted units, which fits in more of a midrange strategy as well. In particular, Vissegerd fits in nicely with Prince Stennis (which can boost 4 different units by 1) that we already possess from the starter deck.
In a bit of a theme of the Iron Judgment expansion, Northern Realms received their own signature faction bronze card in Redanian Archer. The addition of Armor to the card means that it plays for a reliable point floor of 7 points while also having the potential to snowball out of control if the opponent cannot turn off the Barricade ability or if we are able to consistently maintain it. Although this card of course fits naturally in engine-based decks, its high power level has seen it run in essentially every Northern Realms deck since its inception.
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.
Diversifying our deck from the core crafts to include an engine package does not involve many cards and is rather cheap, although the deck plays considerably differently when compared to the starter Northern Realms deck. We rely on such cards as Portal, Vernon Roche, and the Pincer Maneuver leader ability to quickly overload the board with engines. Some of the key engines that we must craft are Shani (who is able to convert 1 Charge into more than 1 point, which is rare among our options) and Aretuza Adept. Kaedweni Sergeant is also a cheap card that gives us another proactive source of using our Charges while synergizing with Vissegerd from above. Our objective with this package is to overwhelm the opponent with more engines than they can remove, leaving us at an advantage. In particular, pairing a unit that provides Charges, such as Aretuza Adept, with a unit that deals damage, such as Lyrian Arbalest, will allow us to wipe any opposing threats as well as snowball out of control.
Aside from the engines on which we want to focus, some other support cards fit well in the deck. Any unit with the Order keyword makes for a solid addition due to synergy with Lyrian Arbalest (which will usually be played from Portal). Some of the best Order cards available to us are Lyrian Landsknecht and Cintrian Envoy. Vincent Meis provides synergy through the Order keyword while also providing removal potential (we can use its effect to reduce an opposing unit to 1 power before finishing it off with one of our own engines) and some tech potential against high base power units.
Summary: Vernon Roche, Shani, Aretuza Adept, Kaedweni Sergeant ⇒ Lyrian Landsknecht, Cintrian Envoy, Vincent Meis
One of the best uses for the Inspired Zeal leader ability is a strategy in which we generate copies of Blue Stripes Commandos and look to replay them in a later round. Our core idea is to use Blue Stripes Scout to make extra copies of Blue Stripes Commandos, which in turn generate tempo and thin our deck slightly. We then use Princess Pavetta to shuffle all copies back in our deck and use them again for one huge tempo swing. Roche: Merciless serves as a tutor for our copies, usually in Round 3 but not always. With the large number of Humans on board, Draug is able to find great value by transforming a row of Blue Stripes Commandos into Kaedweni Revenants, which then gives us a large amount of damage to remove enemy threats and simply play for solid value. Aside from Blue Stripes Commandos and possibly Roche: Merciless, we need targets for our leader ability and the best of these options is Seltkirk of Gulet, which appears in every finished Inspired Zeal deck.
Some of the supporting cards to this type of deck serve various purposes. Prince Anséis provides us with another target for Inspired Zeal if we find ourselves with an extra Charge, often while still providing a safe option of dealing 4 damage. Sabrina Glevissig is a rowstack punish that further strengthens our long round when paired with the Kaedweni Revenants spawned from Draug. The 1-point body is a perfect target for a Kaedweni Revenant ping and it further sets up any 3-point units on the row for extra Revenant value. Radovid's Royal Guards is capable of protecting our Blue Stripes Commando from removal, which saves our Inspired Zeal Charges for later rounds. Aedirnian Mauler (along with some core cards like Redanian Archer) helps to set an opposing unit to 2 points so that Roche: Merciless is capable of achieving its Zeal condition.
Summary: Draug, Roche: Merciless, Seltkirk of Gulet, Princess Pavetta, Blue Stripes Scout ⇒ Prince Anséis, Sabrina Glevissig, Radovid's Royal Guards, Aedirnian Mauler
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.
Call of the Forest represents a direct improvement on Royal Decree in most Scoia’tael decks, providing 1 point of boost at the cost of narrowing the card pool to only Scoia’tael units. Complete Scoia’tael decks include almost exclusively faction cards, so this downside does not affect those decks. If the player’s collection forces them to include Neutral cards in the deck, Call of the Forest is a card to craft in the future.
Along the same lines as the previous inclusion, Fauve sees play in the majority of Scoia’tael decks as a means of consistency while also providing reasonable returns itself. Fauve can tutor other tutor cards, such as Call of the Forest or Isengrim's Council, to make sure we draw all of our key cards each game. It can also find lower cost synergy-driven cards, such as Zoltan's Company or Tempering, both of which empower a more Dwarf-based gameplan. Dryad's Caress is a bit of a tech card but it also represents a strong target for Fauve. The point is, Fauve can help increase the consistency of almost any Scoia’tael deck while also representing points and utility.
The most powerful bronze that the faction received in the Iron Judgment expansion, Dwarf Berserker finds a home in any deck. The card plays for essentially guaranteed value because it is able to absorb damage with its Armor, which would otherwise be used to damage our other units. Alone, the Berserker plays for 7 points, but it can be much more when we factor potential Dwarf synergies and the ability to re-enable its Barricade ability with such cards as Tempering.
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 Scoia’tael faction.
A deck that relies almost entirely on cards with the Dwarf (aside from some key power plays like The Great Oak), Dwarves represent one of Scoia’tael’s strongest decks. However, it will not function at its maximum until we are able to completely fill the deck with Dwarves. We will recommend a general order of importance to craft the cards, such that our ability to play the deck is maximized, but do be aware that the Dwarf deck is intended to be complete before playing it.
First of all, we need Novigradian Justice, which is probably the single most important card in the deck. This allows us to utilize Mystic Echo as our leader ability in order to replay Novigradian Justice for a second swing play. Dwarf Berserkers are a great target, but we will cover another option shortly. The next three cards we would recommend are a package deal in that we will either play all of them or none of them in a deck. Munro Bruys, Figgis Merluzzo, and Zoltan's Company allow us to run more methods of generating multiple Dwarf Berserkers in a single turn to put pressure on the opponent. These are listed as a high priority craft because they are powerful and can be fit into almost any deck.
The next batch of recommendations represent the payoff to running so many Dwarf cards. Zoltan: Warrior can be utilized in several ways. The most point efficient way is to boost up a board full of Rowdy Dwarf tokens, but this has anti-synergy with Munro Bruys. As a result, we will often use Zoltan: Warrior as an additional way to source Rowdy Dwarfs. Zoltan Chivay and Barclay Els both scale with the number of Dwarves we have on board in opposite ways; one will deal with an opposing unit and the other will give us a huge tempo swing on our own board. Gabor Zigrin is a strong engine that rewards us for playing such a huge number of Dwarves and has Immunity to make it stick on board. Dwarven Mercenary is the other strong Novigradian Justice target to which we alluded earlier. If we can develop two of these in one turn, we can often destroy almost everything the opponent plays if they stick. If we are able to play four in one turn with the Mystic Echo leader ability, the effect becomes even crazier and we basically lock the opponent out of the round.
The last cards on this list represent cards we definitely want in a finished Dwarf list, but are lower on the priority list. Mahakam Guard, after its nerf, has lost some of its luster but can still represent a powerful play to finish off a round in which we swarmed the board with Dwarves. It is particularly strong in Rounds 1 and 2, where we can push the opponent out of the round or use the swing to pass their score in only one card after they pass. Tempering has been mentioned already as a way to get more value out of Dwarf Berserkers and it is a solid value play in this regard. It also represents a Fauve target if we wish to utilize that card in our deck. It is worth mentioning Dennis Cranmer here as well. While we likely will not include this card in a fully finished Dwarf deck, it does share strong synergy with Mahakam Defenders that are included in the starter deck and costs a mere 200 scraps.
Summary: Novigradian Justice, Munro Bruys, Figgis Merluzzo, Zoltan's Company ⇒ Zoltan: Warrior, Zoltan Chivay, Barclay Els, Gabor Zigrin, Dwarven Mercenary ⇒ Mahakam Guard, Tempering, Dennis Cranmer
The Harmony archetype is centered around a special card just like Dwarves, but this time it is 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.
It is worth mentioning that the package of Munro Bruys, Figgis Merluzzo, and Zoltan's Company that we mentioned earlier can also fit nicely into a Harmony deck. These are some Dwarf cards that we actually want to play in Round 3 so that our Barnabas Beckenbauer has suitable targets among Dwarves.
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. In terms of additional Harmony effects, Half-Elf Hunter is a solid addition, as it plays an Elf to aid with our Barnabas while also developing a Harmony engine and swarming the board slightly for The Great Oak. We also 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. Fortunately, Pavko Gale is a starter card to help us out, but Milva is also a strong option that actually has synergy with Pavko. If the opponent removes our Pavko Gale, we can follow up with Milva to trigger all our Harmony effects with the Human tag once again.
The final batch of cards here helps us fully flesh out our Harmony engines and our Harmony enablers. Percival Schuttenbach is a potentially powerful engine, though its usefulness is slightly mitigated because it shares a tag with Barnabas Beckenbauer. Still, this card has great potential especially in Round 1 where it can easily reach over 10 points in value. Some other cards we want to utilize to include more tags are Panther and Dwarven Chariot. Finally, we will certainly want to include Dryad's Caress, which is almost always active in the deck due to Water of Brokilon.
Summary: Water of Brokilon, Barnabas Beckenbauer ⇒ Munro Bruys, Figgis Merluzzo, Zoltan's Company ⇒ Milva, Weeping Willow, Half-Elf Hunter, Dryad Ranger ⇒ Percival Schuttenbach, Panther, Dryad's Caress, Dwarven Chariot
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.
Our starter deck for the faction contains two types of Ships, Dimun Light Longship and An Craite Longship, and both are fine targets for Raiding Fleet. Raiding Fleet is a strong card especially in the early rounds, as we are able to thin our deck of a low-cost card while playing for solid value. Once we begin to improve our deck further, Raiding Fleet remains a central piece as a tutor for bronze ships, of which one will usually be a core bronze card.
Harald Houndsnout simply represents a strong value card that we can play proactively into any round. If we trigger all of Harald's Pals with Harald, this card represents 10 points with some removal potential, though this is highly subject to variance. We also gain synergy with any card that damages our own side of the board, which is a common theme in Skellige, as we will see moving forward.
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.
This package, centered around damaging our own units for some gain, is essentially the only way that Skellige can play effectively at the moment. There are slight variations on this theme, of course, but this is the only set of Skellige cards we can truly recommend. The basic elements are Svalblod Priest from above and cards we pair with it to enhance the value of Priest. The main target we want to place beside Priest is Armored Drakkar. These two cards together generate 5 points every two turns for a strong bronze engine. We supplement the addition of Drakkar with Mardroeme, that can play for 8 points when it targets a Drakkar with the full two Armor. Ermion is added to tutor Mardroeme or Freya's Blessing, which allows us to replay Svalblod Priest or Armored Drakkar as needed.
From here we can add cards that will give us additional power plays. When we use Mardroeme on Armored Drakkar, it ends up at exactly 13 power. This result is perfect for Jutta an Dimun to play as 12 tempo from hand. In addition to this method, we can gain a unit that is 13 power or higher by allowing a Svalblod Priest to grow that tall, or by including Dracoturtle in our deck. Dracoturtle can grow this tall with Mardroeme when we need it, but that does leave it highly susceptible to tall-unit punish effects. In general, we will place Dracoturtle next to a Svalblod Priest and activate it with various self-damage effects that we will cover shortly. The addition of these two cards, as well as Ermion from before, leads us naturally to Sigrdrifa's Rite, which can play for a simple 12 points on Jutta an Dimun or give us access to Dracoturtle once again.
One option we can add to give the deck some additional power is the combo of Olaf and Knut the Callous. When played together, we get 22 points of value in total with 4 of those points coming as direct removal. Sometimes these cards gain some additional value when paired with other self-damage effects (in the case of Olaf) or with other Armored targets (in the case of Knut the Callous).
We will fill out the deck with a mixture of cards that damage our own units, which actually becomes a positive when we factor cards like Armored Drakkar and Dracoturtle as targets. Some examples are Raging Bear, Dimun Smuggler, and Terror Crew Plunderer. In addition, there are some other targets for our self-damage that we can utilize, although we don’t want to add too many or we risk losing value. The most notable example is Terror Crew Axe-wielder.
Summary: Ermion, Mardroeme, Armored Drakkar ⇒ Jutta an Dimun, Sigrdrifa's Rite, Dracoturtle ⇒ Olaf, Knut the Callous (option) ⇒ Raging Bear, Dimun Smuggler, Terror Crew Plunderer, Terror Crew Axe-wielder
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 most powerful cards in the whole game, Azar Javed should appear in every Syndicate deck for the foreseeable future. Creating two units with the Defender tag causes headaches for most decks, and they will most likely have to deal with at least one of the Scarabs with damage. In the case of one scarab being destroyed by damage, Azar Javed plays for 9 points with the potential for more. In the case where both Scarabs must be destroyed with damage, Azar Javed plays for a huge 13 points while allowing us to develop our own engines.
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.
With the inclusion of Bounty effects (see below) we want ways to activate them. Witch Hunter Executioner is the best way to do this with a bronze unit and it also provides us with a way to spend our Coins, although Bleeding is a slightly weak effect.
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.
In order to have Coins to spend, we need to build them up somehow. Typically, the most efficient way to do this is through Crimes. The main ones we often run are Eavesdrop (this is typically only used as a single copy), Dip in the Pontar, and Fisstech, as well as Slander as mentioned above. Ferko the Sculptor is often added to increase our consistency in finding these cards, especially so that we can play both copies of Fisstech in the same round.
We will most likely want to flesh out our Bounty package in a complete deck, although the previously mentioned Witch Hunter Executioner and Slander is solid enough to run on its own. 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. We can also gain additional sources of Bounty through Caleb Menge and Witch Hunter (typically limited to a single copy), although these cards do not always make their way into the deck. One thing we notice with the addition of so many Bounty effects is the need to spend Coins on our own side, and Sea Jackal is typically the preferred way 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.
One route the deck can take is the addition of Portal as a way to make our long round stronger. The targets for Portal are Sly Seductress, which make it difficult for the opponent to get back into a round if they do not have immediate removal. Portal becomes incredibly valuable with Azar Javed on board, although it does increase the variance of our deck and put a strain on our mulligans. Along with Portal, we will often run Adriano the Mink to provide another copy of Sly Seductress. Adriano gives us 2 Coins from its Profit effect, so we need only 3 Coins in the bank in order to utilize the Tribute. You may notice that Adriano also possesses a Tribute effect that can serve as a back-up for Madame Luiza. With Portal limiting our 4-provision options, we cannot run Sea Jackal as recommended above. Instead, we run Coerced Blacksmith as a way to spend Coins to gain points on our own side of the board.