Welcome, Aretuza Novice! Now that you have mastered the basic elements of gameplay, we have prepared for you our course on Deckbuilding. Here, you will discover the ins and outs of Gwent’s Deck Builder, how to recognize and use card synergies when you are building your own deck, and how to optimize the value of your deck using provisions (sometimes also referred to as recruit caps). Additionally, we will take a look at the best ways in which you can develop your card collection. You will learn about Gwent’s resources and currencies, how to acquire them quickly, spend them economically and which cards you should craft first to make the most of your favourite faction!
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.
- Legendary: 800 scraps
- Epic: 200 scraps
- Rare: 80 scraps
- Common: 30 scraps
Game Version Information
This article is up-to-date with Gwent as of version 6.2.1
Royal Decree (Legendary) or Matta Hu'uri (Legendary)
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.
Geralt: Igni (Legendary)
Although the starter set contains a card that serves to punish the opponent for playing tall units (Geralt of Rivia), it soon becomes obsolete in a newer player's adventures. A general upgrade is Geralt: Igni, which can at times remove multiple units from the opponent's board while also providing insurance when we cannot target an opposing unit behind a unit with the defender status. The risk of Igni is that the opponent will not reach 20 points on a single row, so we typically wish to play this in decks that enjoy longer rounds or that have synergy such as movement effects.
Bomb Heaver (Rare)
Gwent features some strong artifact cards which can be removed with very few options. Of these, the one that costs us the fewest provisions is Bomb Heaver. Crafting this card will cost us only 80 scraps and provide us a potential counter to Artifact cards, especially the very powerful scenario cards that will sometimes arise. While running a direct counter to opposing threats is not always a good idea (as we of course do not face such threats every game), this Artifact removal card only costs our deck 5 Provisions, so we can typically just mulligan it away when it will not be useful.
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.
Caranthir Ar-Feiniel (Legendary)
With such a powerful effect, it is no wonder that Caranthir Ar-Feiniel finds its way into most Monsters decks. Often, it is combined with cards that have "passive" effects (such as deathwish effects) in order to gain access to additional copies of such cards. Some commone examples are Dettlaff: Higher Vampire and Kikimore Queen. Other times, it is simply played as a value card in conjunction with Living Armor, which spawns at 1 power due to its ability and existing armor. This is another option to put a high base strength unit in the graveyard for Ozzrel, which also is in almost all Monsters decks.
Adda: Striga (Epic)
Removal effects are often highly desirable in Gwent due to their ability to put pressure on opponents that try to develop their strong engine cards. Typically, these removal cards are evaluated based upon how much they can "trade up" to an opposing engine. That is, we concern ourselves with how many points are left on our side after the opposing engine is removed. Adda: Striga leaves a highly efficient 5 power on our board and removes up to a 4 power engine. At the same time, it can simply play for a solid 9 points, which is not bad on its own. The condition is typically negligible unless we are in a Monsters mirror match where the opponent can also fight us for dominance.
Endrega Larva (Rare)
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.
Wyvern (Common) / Noonwraith (Common) / Bruxa (Rare) / Plumard (Common)
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 Monsters faction.
Deathwish / Consume
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, 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, Penitent, The Beast, Pugo Boom-Breaker ⇒ 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
One way we can play Monsters is to pack our deck with strong cards featuring the Organic tag and pair this with the Arachas Swarm leader ability. This style of deck is a bit different to other decks in Monsters or other factions in that it sacrifices power on its leader ability in order to strengthen the cards we play during the game on average. We take advantage of this by making huge tempo swings during most turns of the game to force the opponent to play their cards with high provisions to keep up with our cheaper cards.
The key power plays of this style of deck (aside from Base Set and core cards like Ozzrel and Yghern) are Imlerith and Glustyworp. These both take advantage of the 1 power Drones that spawn on our board when we play an Organic card with Arachas Swarm decks. Glustyworp’s real value, though, comes when we are able to damage opposing units to 1 power and consume them as well. In this style of deck, it only makes sense to utilize an efficient tutor to play our Organic cards with additional points on them. In this case, we will utilize Whispess: Tribute.
We can fill out the rest of the deck with strong Organic cards to supplement our high tempo Gold cards. The best Organic cards on average are Parasite, Adrenaline Rush (Neutral), Hideous Feast, and Natural Selection. All are useful in different situations and benefit greatly from the extra point added to each by Arachas Swarm.
Summary: Imlerith, Glustyworp, Whispess: Tribute ⇒ Parasite, Hideous Feast, Natural Selection
Masquerade Ball (Legendary)
Over the past several months, many of Nilfgaard's strong cards have seen nerfs, which leaves Masquerade Ball in the overwhelming majority of meta Nilfgaard decks, with various leader abilities attached. The only requirement to this card is the inclusion of cards with the Aristocrat tag, many of which we would like to run anyway. In terms of value, this card is huge. We gain a decent engine in Thirsty Dame, which grows each time we advance our scenario and spawn a Fangs of the Empire. In the end, we have our Thirsty Dame, 8 points from two Fangs of the Empire, and we effectively destroy one unit on the opponent's board.
Van Moorlehem's Cupbearer (Epic)
With the amount of poison effects used in Nilfgaard decks, it makes sense to include a flexible Poison option. Van Moorlehem's Cupbearer can either Poison or purify a unit, which is very useful flexibility to have if we already have an even number of Poison effects or fear the opponent potentially having a purify effect of their own. In addition, the assimilate tag often can help us gain additional points, such as when we spawn units with Masquerade Ball.
Yennefer's Invocation (Legendary)
Most Nilfgaard decks utilize Yennefer's Invocation due to its flexible removal and carryover potential. We can use this card as a spot removal effect that is relatively unconditional, or we can take a powerful gold for our use in later rounds, assuming we have enough of a point advantage to reasonably do so. In addition, this card has strong synergy with some other common Nilfgaard cards, like Joachim de Wett.
Roderick of Dun Tynne (Epic)
Although Roderick of Dun Tynne provides a similar consistency effect to cards like Royal Decree which we recommended above, it does so in a way that Nilfgaard can sometimes use to their advantage. First and foremost, it costs far less provisions than other tutor options. Additionally, it can find both units and non-units (i.e. Masquerade Ball) and possesses the Aristocrat tag (once again for Masquerade Ball).
Imperial Diviner (Rare), Tourney Joust (Common), Battle Preparation (Common)
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 Nilfgaard faction.
We recommended Masquerade Ball above, so how do we fill out the deck to support it? First and foremost, need a reasonable number of Aristocrat units. The most common are Roderick of Dun Tynne, Joachim de Wett, and Van Moorlehem Hunter which are found in effectively every Masquerade Ball deck. These all provide consistency in executing our Ball fully while also giving us play in different situations and in various rounds if necessary. Other Aristocrats to consider are Vincent Van Moorlehem and Thirsty Dame. Vincent is a bit of a meta call while Thirsty Dame is typically only used if we wish to open up the possibility of using Masquerade Ball twice with Assire var Anahid.
The obvious synergy with Masquerade Ball is to include other poison effects in the deck. The ones that are most often played are Maraal, Van Moorlehem's Cupbearer, and Fangs of the Empire. Decks that seek to play two Masquerade Balls or that wish to go more "all in" on Poison effects may also play Rot Tosser and/or King Cobra.
Summary: Masquerade Ball, Roderick of Dun Tynne, Joachim de Wett, Van Moorlehem Hunter ⇒ Vincent Van Moorlehem, Thirsty Dame (option)
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
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.
Prince Anséis (Legendary)
With the most commonly utilized leader ability for Northern Realms being Uprising, it makes sense that Prince Anséis finds itself in most decks at the moment. Although this card can of course be utilized in other decks as well, its synergy with Uprising is notably strong. The Prince can provide flexible removal of targets that are typically out of range of other removal options, which is very powerful potential. When boosted to 5 power, it may duel a unit that is up to 7 power without losing value. That is, it will provide the full 10 points of value. When boosting by additional points, this threshold will increase, so always be sure to double check the dueling math before using the card!
Bloody Baron (Legendary)
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.
Much like Prince Anséis above, Vissegerd has received a recent boost by the rise of Uprising as a leader ability. Vissegerd will provide solid value in most scenarios due to it coming packaged with at least 1 charge and a Formation ability on top of that. If we can play a longer round where we accumulate boosts on many units, Vissegerd becomes incredibly powerful by providing removal and other synergy with cards like Falibor.
Cursed Knight (Rare) / Radovid's Royal Guards (Rare) / Aedirnian Mauler (Rare) / Cintrian Enchantress (Common)
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 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 [card]Kaedweni Revenants[/card] with Draug. This archetype previously relied upon [card]Blue Stripes Commandos[/card] 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 (Legendary)
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.
Toruviel is a card that simply provides good value by playing for 9 points, but it also can provide some potential for minor aoe if the opponent stacks heavily into one row. In other decks, the Elf tag can be useful to help advance our harmony units or by providing synergy with other Elf units.
Weeping Willow (Epic) and Dryad Ranger (Rare)
Scoia'tael lacks notable ways to remove tall units aside from poison cards, so these are used in almost all decks for the faction. Both Weeping Willow and Dryad Ranger also possess the harmony tag, which can accumulate a large amount of value over the course of a round. These cards are often supplemented by additional poison effects, typically in the form of Forest Whisperer and possibly Maraal.
Dwarven Chariot (Rare) / Nature's Rebuke (Common)/ Vrihedd Sappers (Rare) / Dryad Fledgling (Common)
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. 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. Although it shares a tag with Barnabas Beckenbauer, we can also utilize Percival Schuttenbach as another Harmony unit that is especially strong at carrying us in Round 1 when it works with many Bronze units to help us trade with stronger cards from the opponent.
Summary: Water of Brokilon, Barnabas Beckenbauer, Fauve, Call of the Forest ⇒ Hawker Smuggler, Trained Hawk, Percival Schuttenbach
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 first card we want to add is Vernossiel, which can be used for huge value if we create Elven Deadeyes with Deadeye Ambush or to provide us with 3 Elves on board in other situations or with other leader abilities. 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: Vernossiel, Isengrim Faoiltiarna, Yaevinn, Aelirenn ⇒ Feign Death (option, typically with Radeyah) ⇒ Half-Elf Hunter, Elven Swordmaster, Dol Blathanna Archer
Morkvarg: Heart of Terror (Legendary)
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 [card]Crows[/card] on Deploy, which opens up some Beast synergies that we will discuss later.
Wild Boar of the Sea (Legendary)
When Wild Boar of the Sea was heavily buffed, it instantly went into many Skellige decks. We have many ways in the faction to set up opposing damaged units (even many in the starter set such as Dimun Light Longship and An Craite Longship) that make Wild Boar a huge swing play to finish a round. If we utilize the Second Wind leader ability we can even take advantage of this effect twice!
Raiding Fleet (Epic)
Almost every Skellige deck takes advantage of cards with the Ship tag. The Starter set even includes some great ones in card]Dimun Light Longship[/card] and An Craite Longship, though other decks opt for Armored Drakkar instead and utilize an approach that focuses on damaging their own units for some gain. Either way, the bleeding (keyword) added by Raiding Fleet lets us tutor our key bronzes with points added, which is always a strong thing to do.
Savage Bear (Common)
Savage Bear is an auto-include bronze card in every Skellige deck once the player possesses two copies. The first copy plays for 6 points, which is already respectable for only 4 provisions. Playing the first copy also grants us a form of carryover by allowing us to play the second Savage Bear for 8 points with great distribution. A Bronze card playing for 8 points (bordering on Gold value) allows us a lot of flexibility in commiting our resources.
Raging Bear (Rare)/ Dimun Warship (Rare)/ Svalblod Butcher (Common)/ Stunning Blow (Common)
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 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. We can add another Druid into our deck in the form of Gremist to increase consistency while also giving us one of the strongest purify cards in the game.
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 if we are able to play Crowmother in an early round. 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 one of the best is [card]Gigascorpion Decoction.[/card]
Summary: Gedyneith, Ermion, Crowmother, Gremist ⇒ Crow Clan Druid, Gigascorpion Decoction
Another way to utilize Skellige cards, especially those focused on dealing damage, is by building our deck around An Craite Greatswords. This card incentivizes us to utilize cards which deal multiple instances of damage in our deck. Strong options for this role include Hemdall and the pair of Alchemy cards Gigascorpion Decoction and Delirium. The latter two have the additonal benefit of pulling Crowmother from the graveyard due to the Alchemy tag. In additon to dealing the damage, we also will want to set up units in the same row as our Greatswords, which is where Hammond really shines. We can supplement our Greatswords with an additonal similar effect found on Dagur Two Blades, but this card is expensive and weak to [glossary]movement[/glossary] effects on top of the existing weakness Greatswords have to reset and removal effects. This deck will utilize a number of cards with the Ship tag (An Craite Longship, Dimun Light Longship, Wild Boar of the Sea, etc.) so Dimun Corsair is another strong engine we can play.
Summary: An Craite Greatsword, Hemdall, Gigascorpion Decoction, Delirium, Hammond, Dimun Corsair, Dagur Two Blades (option)
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.
Philippa Eilhart (Legendary)
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.
Azar Javed (Legendary)
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 [card]Scarabs [/card]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.
Ewald Borsodi (Epic)
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.
Adalbertus Kalkstein (Epic)
In general, purify is a useful effect to have available. Adalbertus Kalkstein allows us to use its Purify effect multiple times when necessary (if we have the Coins available) while coming ready-made for at least one use with instant Profit of 2. When the purify is unnecessary, we also can play it as a simple 5 power, 2 Profit card which is reasonable in its own right.
Sea Jackal (Common) and Street Urchins (Rare)
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.
One of the most popular options for Syndicate decks is to use Passiflora in an engine-heavy deck. This of course is supplemented by cards with the Blindeyes tag. The most common these days are the aforementioned Adalbertus Kalkstein, Adriano the Mink, Sly Seductress, and Street Urchins. Some decks also take advantage of less core cards like Tinboy and Pickpocket, but these cards are typically used for reasons other than completing Passiflora and that is viewed as more of an extraneous benefit.
One of the single most powerful cards in the Syndicate faction is Saul de Navarette, which means many decks tend to run a small package of Hoard-like cards in order to end up on 9 Coins in the bank often. The most core to these are The Flying Redanian and Pickpocket, but of course any card that generates Coins is a useful addition to a deck featuring this package. Some optional cards included in some decks are Imke and Sigi Reuven, with the former finding a home in particularly engine-heavy decks and the latter typically existing in more midrange styles of decks.
One of the more unique ways to play Syndicate is through the emphasis of cards that have the Crime tag. Any card with such a tag is a potentially useful addition, but in particular most of these types of decks utilize Novigradian Justice (which can also notably be used in Scoia'tael decks), Ferko the Sculptor, Whoreson Senior, and often Harald Gord. As for Bronze support, the most common Crimes are Assault, Bloody Good Fun, and Congregation, while the deck also typically implements Intimidate units such as Crownsplitter Thug, Mutant, and Bare-Knuckle Brawler. Feel free to experiment a bit and also consider utilizing Portal in conjunction with these Intimidate engines.
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.
As a big fan of the Witcher franchise, SwanDive is always on the lookout for her next Witcher fix. She started playing Gwent in the Closed Beta for the lore – and stayed for the game and the community. Long an avid gamer, Swan found her passion for CCGs and competitive gaming at the Gwent table. Away from it, Swan is studying for her Master’s degree in English and worked as content manager for Team Aretuza.