Syndicate Starter Deck Guide
February 10, 2020 by Easha Dustfeather
Greetings fellow Gwenches and Gwentlemen. My name is Easha Dustfeather, member of the Gwent community that is the Lodge of Sorceresses. As author of the Starter Decks guide I already pointed out the difficulties for new players to start with the Syndicate faction: the complexity of the faction due to the additional Coin management and the lack of a starter deck. The latter has now been addressed by CDPR with the release of a pre-constructed Syndicate starter deck available for purchase from Shupe. This article is meant for players who bought this starter deck and explains how to play and improve it.
First of all, I urge you to read the introduction of the Starter Deck guide and the paragraph on the self-made Syndicate starter deck, as it provides an overview about the faction’s mechanics, archetypes and playstyle. These aspects won’t be repeated here and will continue with the assumption that the reader is familiar with them.
Improving the pre-constructed starter deck
Instead of learning how to play the original list we can move on to the improved version right away. All the improvements are made using neutral cards from the other starter decks, so you do not have to spend any resources for these adjustments and can update the list before playing your very first match with it.
Changes to the list
The pre-constructed deck uses only 151 provisions, so we remove some weaker cards and add more expensive and stronger cards instead until we hit the maximum provisions of 166 provided by this deck's leader ability. I suggest using Jackpot as it has a rather straightforward ability. We also remove some Coin generators from the deck and Jackpot compensates for this.
- Both copies of Oxenfurt Naturalist have been removed. With 3 power, they are vulnerable to removal and you still have the more durable Coerced Blacksmith as a 1 point for one Coin spender.
- The 4-provision Fence and one copy of Shakedown have been replaced as well. The deck is still very focused on boosting units and we need to make room for the more expensive cards.
- The first addition to the deck is Philippa Eilhart. It is part of the purchased bundle, so not using it would be a waste. Try to Seize your opponent’s engines, so they work in your favour. Stealing a Reinforced Trebuchet for 4 Coins not only gives you points right away, but the Trebuchet can wreak a lot of havoc if you Seized it early in a long round. You can also steal cards with Order effects before your opponent is able to use them.
- Geralt of Rivia is a legendary card provided to all players as part of the starter decks. Make sure you do not damage potential targets and accidentally brick Geralt. For units above 9 power, it is much more efficient to destroy them with Geralt instead of paying the expensive 6-Coin Tribute of Moreelse.
- Lacerate may not have synergy with the deck but can grant lots of value in a long round when many units have been played. Try to play around your opponent’s Lacerate by placing units on both rows, but keep in mind potential row restrictions.
- Dorregaray of Vole has been added for its utility.
Playing the improved starter deck
Leader ability and finisher
The deck can stand its ground in long round, but it definitely shines in a short round where you have last say: Sea Jackal combined with the Coins you can generate in a short Round 3 plus your leader ability Jackpot can boost it to over 20 points. Try to keep your leader ability as a finisher for Round 3 and – as long as you have a spender – aim to gain the maximum numbers of Coins over the boost aspect of the ability. You can use Coins more flexibly than a boost on a single unit. Keep the Hoard condition of Sea Jackal in mind and preferably use it whenever you have more than 7 Coins: This grants you 1.5 points per Coin instead of the usual 1:1 ratio.
The Borsodi Brothers
Try to play them in two different rounds to benefit from their additional Profit. These Coin spenders can be played in almost every Syndicate deck due to their flexibility: Horst Borsodi helps you keep your engines alive, while Ewald Borsodi deals damage to remove your opponent’s engines.
Big money – Sigi Reuven and Pickpocket
Those two cards give you a considerable amount of Coins to fuel your Fee and Tribute effects. Sigi Reuven grants you the maximum of 9 Coins at once, so spend some of them first before you play another card with Profit so you do not waste any. Sigi's Intimidate effect is a small added bonus. Pickpocket can be played as your first card in a round, so your opponent might brick some of their cards that require a target on your side of the board. If you play Dip in the Pontar after Pickpocket, you do not give your opponent a target for yet another turn. Just be careful not to fall too far behind, as both cards do not grant any points on your side.
"Thinning is Winning"
Casino Bouncers is one of your thinning bronzes. Keep one of them in your deck, so they do not brick. You should use the Insanity effect in most of the cases, as you have other Coin spenders which are more efficient or flexible. Sewer Raiders is yet another thinning card. Try to play both of the pairs in Round 1 to improve your draws for the later rounds.
Sly Seductress as an engine should be played early in a round. Play both of them in the same round if you want to benefit from their Bonded effect. Also remember that you can get another copy by paying Adriano the Mink's Tribute.
Greater Brothers can surprise an opponent who passed with a lead below 10 points assuming you were unable to catch up with only one card. This benefit and its great value of 10 points for 7 provisions comes at the risk of its negative ability. To prevent your opponent from destroying it by removing its armor, you can use Dorregaray of Vole to Lock your own card, disabling this drawback. Another option would be using Greater Brothers as your very last card. While in a pinch you can also use the Fee ability; just mind that it spends all your Coins first before it starts to damage itself. 2 Coins for 2 armor are quite inefficient: you pay Coins not to gain, but to protect your points from Greater Brothers; so preferably resort to the strategies mentioned earlier.
How to move on
Once you've gathered some scrap, you can check the Top Cards to Craft guide and improve your deck even further. If you already got some more Syndicate cards from kegs, you can also try to build your own deck with the help of this budget deckbuilding guide or move on to explore the other factions as well.