Black Blood Eithné Control Guide
August 20, 2018 by Haiku
This list represents my attempt at creating a control-oriented deck without sacrificing significant deck power. In this introduction, I'll provide a brief synopsis of the deck, as well as a summary of its strengths and weaknesses.
One of the general pitfalls of control-heavy decks is that they generate subpar points if they are unable to find good removal targets, which means they lose to anything that generates high tempo and doesn't care about removal. This list tries to resolve this issue by reducing the amount of control in favor of high-tempo plays that can be replayed with Eithné in Round 3.
Good initial tempo. The deck has strong early-game plays due to Elf spam and Aelirenn. It's possible to generate up to 23 points and thin the deck by eight cards in one turn by playing Marching Orders into triple Elven Mercenary, triple Reconnaissance, Half-Elf Hunter, and Aelirenn.
Good control. A variety of control tools make engine matchups much easier. Elven Blade counters An Craite Greatswords and Redanian Knight-Elects, Crushing Trap hurts swarm decks, and Mandrake is excellent against Consume, Handbuff, and Alchemy.
Very consistent. The list consistently thins down to one or two cards, which means you almost always find the cards you want for a particular matchup.
Low individual card value. The deck runs 11- and 12-point bronzes, which is lower than most other decks at 13-14+. This means we have to find creative ways to win long rounds.
Weak to counterplay. Two of the strongest cards in the list (Aglaïs and Schirrú) are easily played around or bricked in certain matchups. For instance, against Greatswords or Reveal, Aglaïs is often an eight-point gold. Because of this, the card choices here are largely meta-dependent and should be chosen based on which decks are most prevalent.
Essentially, the deck trades off some raw points for flexibility in dealing with multiple decks. Because of this, the margin for error is very low and knowing when to play and pass is especially important. In the sections to follow, I will cover combos, card choices, and matchups.
Credit to Johaggis for coming up with the initial concept of Black Blood Eithné, and to SirPumpkn and shinmiri2 for feedback and suggestions. Enjoy the guide!
Isengrim: Outlaw + Marching Orders: Isengrim: Outlaw is a low-stat card, but his strength lies in the ability to tutor any Special card from your deck. For instance, playing Isengrim: Outlaw into triple Elven Mercenary into Half-Elf Hunter, pulling out Aelirenn, is 25 points and thins nine cards out of the deck. This provides a huge amount of consistency by increasing the odds of drawing into your finishers in future rounds.
Pavko Gale + Black Blood: Pavko Gale gives this list its identity. Pavko Gale is essentially a silver card with gold stats; if better items existed, he would be ridiculously overpowered. As it is, we are limited to running a nerfed Black Blood. Pavko Gale into Ekimmara is 18 points, while Pavko Gale into Ghoul with a spy in the graveyard is 24 points. If you can use Eithné to replay Marching Orders into Pavko Gale/Black Blood, the combo hits 31 points.
Mandrake + Black Blood: Mandrake finds value in matchups like Consume or Alchemy, but against other decks it can be used to generate carryover for Round 3. Playing Mandrake on a damaged Vrihedd Neophyte or spy is a moderate tempo play that generates carryover for Ghoul to consume in Round 3.
Schirrú + Dol Blathanna Archer: A standard Scoia'tael combo. Schirrú + Dol Blathanna Archer allows us to punish greedier decks like Nilfgaard Handbuff by lining up massive Scorches.
Round 1: The goal of Round 1 is to accelerate points onto the board through high-tempo plays with Aelirenn and Marching Orders while thinning as much as possible with Elven Scouts and Reconnaissance. Generally, you want to save golds and push as deep into the round as possible before taking a safe pass. Against engine-based decks, there's a good amount of disruption that can ruin their Round 1 plan in the form of Elven Blade, Crushing Trap, and Mandrake. On red coin, winning on even can be difficult, and you'll usually end up going a card down to take the round; however, if you can find a good opportunity to double Scorch with Schirrú and go up +20 points, it's worth taking in R1 just to win the round on even.
Round 2: You rarely want to bleed in Round 2, though this is matchup-dependent. Since most of your tempo is expended early in Round 1, it can be hard to bleed without losing a card. Generally, you have access to enough control to deal with engine decks (even in medium-length rounds).
Round 3: Eithné, Pavko Gale/Black Blood, Aglaïs, and Schirrú are the deck's primary finishers. It's important to not overcommit in Round 1 so that you still have two to three finishers. Schirrú and Aglaïs have very high point ceilings but also very low floors depending on the matchup. Sometimes it's correct to mulligan one of these if you don't think they'll achieve value in the round.
A difficult matchup due to the sheer amount of points they can generate. Elven Blade is the key card in this matchup, as it can deny one half of their engine setup completely. If facing lots of Greatswords decks, swap Crushing Trap for a second Elven Blade. Distribute units evenly on rows to play around Harald Houndsnout skulls, and save a Dol Blathanna Archer or Vrihedd Brigade to ping down or move the Bear-creating skull.
Schirrú is your strongest card in this matchup, as Bears naturally line up at 11. A good Veterans player will try to play around this by playing Tuirseach Hunters instead of Tuirseach Bearmasters and blocking Scorch with a spy, but Dol Blathanna Archer can ping down the spy, opening up the opportunity for a massive Scorch.
This is a favored matchup. Elven Blade, Mandrake, and Schirrú completely negate their primary engines, and Vrihedd Brigade or Ida Emean aep Sivney from Isengrim: Outlaw deal with their weather.
This is another favored matchup. Vrihedd Brigade is the MVP of this matchup, as it trades evenly with Birna Bran if played directly after. Aglaïs can be used to replay weather from their Vaedermakar, and Isengrim: Outlaw can be used for weather or clear as well. Control Skellige variants that run Scorch will have a difficult time finding value as well, since our units are no taller than theirs.
Alchemy is generally a favored matchup. Schirrú will always find good value due to Swallow Potion and can easily find double or triple Scorches based on Mahakam Ale RNG and Dol Blathanna Archer pings. Mandrake on Jan Calveit bricks their best finisher in Cahir Dyffryn, and Aglaïs easily achieves 20-26 points. Half-Elf Hunters are our best bronzes, as they actually trade up to Viper Witchers. Not many decks can say their bronzes out-value Viper Witchers!
Fairly easy matchup. An early Schirrú for Epidemic can ruin their Round 1 gameplan and force out early Ointments. Dol Blathanna Archers efficiently deny Soldiers, and double Mandrake on Slave Infantry can outright win the game sometimes as well.
Another good matchup. Handbuff naturally lines its own units up for huge Scorches, and Mandrake and Aglaïs for Mandrake trade well with the main point sources in the deck. On red, win on even, or win down a card on blue and win the game with Scorch/Aglaïs. In this matchup, it's correct to play Pavko Gale/Black Blood early for tempo, since you want to save Schirrú/Eithné/Mandrake for Round 3 if possible.
Tempo Reveal can be a difficult matchup, as they simply have more points than we do and removal doesn't get good value. Look for good Mandrake targets or double Scorches on Spotters/Cynthia, and win the coinflip. Against Morvran Voorhis Scorch/LR Reveal, these matchups are fairly easy. Play through their initial tempo and capitalize on the lack of points in these decks, forcing out their finishers before Round 3.
Don't queue into Mill with a list that thins to zero. If you face mill, win Round 1 and either 2-0 them or spend Round 2 discarding dead Reconnaissance and Elven Mercenary bronzes so you can finish the game with golds in Round 3.
Shupe is arguably the strongest ST archetype currently, and is a difficult matchup. A long round is winnable by lining up taller units like Vrihedd Neophyte/Dwarven Skirmisher, and denying weather value with Vrihedd Brigade.
This deck does well against other Eithné Control variants, as Pavko Gale/Black Blood just generates more points. One of the keys in this matchup is to take Schirrú value as soon as it is available. In a matchup where both opponents are trying to Scorch each other while simultaneously preventing themselves from being Scorched, bricked Schirrús often become the difference between winning and losing.
We generate more early game tempo and have more points late-game as well. Control Farseers with Mandrake/Scorch/Ciaran aep Easnillen lock off Isengrim: Outlaw, and win the game. Be careful, as Elven Blade will generally only be able to hit Aglaïs or Triss: Telekinesis.
Deny their initial setup with Dol Blathanna Archers/Crushing Trap. Winning Round 1 is important, as you can bleed out their win conditions in Round 2 since they generally don't run a spy. Push deep into Round 1 and force out Sigismund Dijkstra/Seltkirk of Gulet before Round 3 to win the game.
Elven Blade, Crushing Trap, and Mandrake all deal with Henselt targets effectively. Kill King Henselt as soon as he drops with a Dol Blathanna Archer to deny Crew value, and don't go ahead by over 25 points to deny Dun Banner value. Vrihedd Brigade finds good value as they often try to use weather in a long R3. Villentretenmerth/Scorch variants are fairly easy games, as our units don't go very tall.
Deny Redanian Knight-Elects with Elven Blade, and push hard to win Round 1 so you can bleed out win conditions in Round 2 with spy. Sigismund Dijkstra/Seltkirk of Gulet/Shani/Vincent Meis generate insane points, so getting these out in Round 2 is very important. Mandrake on Prince Stennis is a strong play if possible, since doing so significantly reduces Shani value.
Deathwish is very strong over long rounds; however, their points come from card combos that can be easily denied. Mandrake should always target D'ao, and Elven Blade is efficient removal against Archespore, especially on an empty board. With multiple copies of Elven Mercenary on the board, it's very likely that Archespores won't be able to find their full Deathwish value and instead hit for one. Push for a short Round 3 where you can win with stronger finishers. Aglaïs into Monster Nest or Pavko Gale/Eithné into Black Blood is ideal here.
Kill Sirens with Dol Blathanna Archers and Scorch their buffed Werewolf plays. Triss: Telekinesis and Aglaïs can both be used for Moonlight denial. Don't forget that Triss: Telekinesis into Impenetrable Fog or Blood Moon enables Eithné to replay the hazard for double denial.
Mandrake. This is an extremely favored matchup. Remove the first two Nekkers with Mandrake/Eithne Mandrake, then kill the third with an archer or Elven Blade. They may try to consume units to buff up the last Nekker so it is out of range; however, if they go this route, remember that there are no Nekkers in their deck getting buffed other than the last one.
Mandrake. Another easy matchup. Mandrake removes the lynchpin of the entire strategy of a Sabbath deck, making this an easy win. Elven Blade also removes Sabbath in a pinch.
Don't let them have a long round. Clear their Impenetrable Fog with Vrihedd Brigade, and force out win conditions in Rounds 1 and 2. Save a Dol Blathanna Archer for Miruna and don't let them have double last say, even if this means saving the spy for Round 3.
Schirrú: A central card to the deck. He finds excellent value against greedy decks, but even more so forces suboptimal plays as opponents try to play around Scorches. Lining up multiple units (even without Schirrú in hand) can force your opponent to make weak plays just to prevent large Scorches, such as low-value Mardroemes or even self-damaging tall units.
Pavko Gale/Black Blood: Sets this deck apart from other Eithné Control variants. It can easily find 18-24 points in Round 3, essentially gold value in a silver card. It also allows you to replay Eithné for guaranteed points, rather than trying to replay a Scorch, which only gets conditional value and can be played around.
Dol Blathanna Archer: Probably the second- or third-best Scoia'tael bronze. Lines up Scorch, deals with swarm. Universally good card.
Isengrim: Outlaw/Marching Orders: One of the biggest strengths of the deck is its consistency. Isengrim: Outlaw and Marching Orders allow us to thin to zero while also providing some flexibility. Isengrim: Outlaw can be used to create Ida Emean aep Sivney or Éibhear Hattori in a pinch, and Marching Orders always pulls Pavko Gale after every Elven Mercenary is out of the deck.
Aglaïs: One of the most powerful cards in the game in the right meta. She usually represents an eight-point gold against GS or reveal, so swap her with anything else if running into many decks without Specials. Replacements: Dandelion: Poet, Muzzle, Iorveth.
Mandrake: A very meta-dependent card. I run this because I like free wins against Consume and Sabbath, and it also finds value against a number of other popular decks (Alchemy, Greatswords). Can replace with Ida Emean aep Sivney, Garrison, or pretty much any other source of points.
Crushing Trap: Running 1x Elven Blade and 1x Crushing Trap provides flexibility at the cost of blacklist value. You can swap out Crushing Trap for another Elven Blade to counter Redanian Knight-Elects and An Craite Greatswords, but this makes the deck significantly worse in the mirror.
Vrihedd Neophyte: The 26th card in the deck. It provides a 10-point body with carryover and makes Ghoul stronger if your opponent doesn't play a spy. The extra unit is needed so that you don't overthin if you use Aglaïs for thinning. Remove Vrihedd Neophyte if you swap out Aglaïs.
In a meta where Shupe is seen as the only competitive Scoia'tael archetype, this is my attempt at finding something else. What it lacks in raw power, it makes up for in flexibility and the ability to deal with almost any matchup. Enjoy the deck, and as always, don't be afraid to experiment!