Crimson Curse - An In-depth Analysis of the Expansion (Pt. 2: Scoia’tael and Skellige)
March 30, 2019 by Jamedi
Jamedi and Miketocome from Team Nova return for Part 2 of their three-part series analyzing and evaluating every single one of the 101 new cards brought to Gwent with the Crimson Curse expansion. In this part, they take a look at all the new cards for Scoia’tael and Skellige.
Part 1 of this series focusing on Crimson Curse’s Neutral cards can be found here.
This leader's design is very intriguing and reminds us of Summoning Circle. However instead of a timer, Dana uses the different categories that are present in Scoia’tael. As this leader needs a “multicultural” deck, it perfectly supports the new Harmony tag, and it can cover one of the weaknesses of Scoia’tael: its short rounds. Dana is a powerful leader which certainly will see play.
Faction-locked cards are usually stronger than their neutral counterparts. Accordingly, this is the upgraded version of Inspirational Ballad. Additionally, this card Purifies if we control a Dryad, which can be useful in a Bleeding- or Poison-heavy meta. However, Scoia’tael does not benefit too much from boosting their own units (only in the case of Mahakam Defenders), so we do not expect to see much of this card at the moment.
Water of Brokilon
Behind this beautiful art hides one of the key cards supporting the Harmony archetype. If Dryad Fledglings survive on the board, this card can generate insane value in two turns if we are playing a deck focused on Harmony procs, as it features one of the new tags, Nature. With the reduction of the provision cost of tutors, it can be seen primarily in decks using Fauve, which immediately allows Water of Brokilon to Spawn two Dryad Fledglings.
A key engine of Harmony archetypes, like Nekker for Thrive, Dryad Fledgling will likely become the cornerstone of multicultural Scoia'tael. Theoretically, it can reach great value in the perfect deck, so it will most likely be one of the most popular cards in this expansion.
This Dryad supports a different archetype than Dryad Fledgling: It benefits more from Dryad tribal decks rather than multicultural Harmony builds. As Dryads as an archetype have been made possible in this expansion, we do not doubt it will see play as part of the group of low-provision filler cards.
Dryad Ranger supports two new mechanics: Harmony and Poison. As it is a relatively cheap card, we can consider its Poison ability as an added effect to our principal strength, which is a good payoff for its provision cost. In our opinion, this card is good enough to be played without more Poison support.
This card’s design supports one of the classic archetypes of Scoia’tael: Movement. This interesting engine rewards the positioning of units in the field, and with the change to Dol Blathanna Sentry, it synergizes perfectly with Treant Boar too. We think this card can provoke the resurgence of the Movement archetype in Scoia’tael.
In our opinion, this is a very compelling card. It is a cheap way of thinning our deck and it synergizes within the Dryad tribal archetype. Its condition (killing a unit) seems easy to fulfill if this card is played in a deck using the leaders Brouver Hoog or Eithné. As the Witchers trio has been nerfed, this low-cost thinning tool should become popular.
The selling point of this card is its versatility, as it is able to protect engines with a Shield if played on Ranged and apply Poison if played in Melee. Its double utility makes this card a good addition in engine decks, despite engines having to survive one turn on the field. In combination with removal targets, such as Treant Boar or Dol Blathanna Sentry, it can be very useful.
This Dryad’s ability supports another classic Scoia’tael archetype: Handbuff. However, this card needs to be played in combination with damage ability leaders, Eithné or Brouver Hoog, to fulfill its effect. Despite that, the card is great and has a low provision cost, so it could become a popular card in the first weeks of the expansion.
Treant Boar belongs to Scoia’tael’s Movement archetype, and its ability as an engine and self-Healing Order on Melee is very powerful. It also synergizes with Dol Blathanna Sentry and Dryad Matron. This card will likely see a lot of play, as its efficient correlation between possible value and provision cost makes it one of the staples in Movement decks.
This card directly supports any Handbuff builds, as it benefits from being boosted while in hand. Like Mahakam Defenders, the biggest downside of this card is that it plays into tall removal, which cannot be prevented by Shields. Despite that, its point-provision cost efficiency is high, so it could see some play. However, it could also become less popular when people realize they are investing a lot in a worse version of Mahakam Defender.
This card is a tutor for Nature cards. It helps us thin our deck and it has combo potentials with cards like Water of Brokilon (enabling the double Dryad Fledgling Spawn) and Call of the Forest (which, used on Fauve, can play any Dryad from our deck). Its high utility in combination with the nerf of the Witchers trio makes us think that this card will see a lot of play, even outside of Dryad-focused decks, such as in multicultural Harmony decks as a way to start engines like Dryad Fledglings Spawned from Water of Brokilon.
The Great Oak
This card rewards row-stacking. As it counts not just units but also artifacts on the row, it is a possible alternative finisher in Eldain Trap decks. Still, Great Oak is a little expensive, but due to the power of its ability which also rewards the correct positioning of the card on the row, we expect it to become a widely used finisher for the faction.
Treant Mantis: Stalk
This is the only Trap of the expansion; however, it synergizes more with Poison archetypes than with the Trap leader Eldain. Even though Treant Mantis is still a 6-point card in the worst of cases, it forces us to play more Poison cards, which in turn makes deckbuilding restrictive. Its design is still elegant and it will possible see play in Dryad archetypes or in multicultural Scoia’tael.
This leader is designed to support a classic Skellige archetype that lost some of its power and identity with the release of Homecoming: Self-wound - an archetype defined by the ability to damage allied units, the new keyword Berserk, and some older cards, such as Blueboy Lugos or Drummond Queensguard. Spawning a Bear Abomination after depleting all Svalblod damage Charges provides a lot of tempo, which makes us think that this leader may become really popular among Skellige players.
This is the only special card that Skellige receives in this expansion and it works well in Bloodthirst decks. With Bloodthirst support, it should be easy to get full value out of this card, becoming a 7-point card for 5 provisions. Despite that, the addition of another good card with the same number of provisions, Disgraced Brawler, means this card, reactive as it is, could be less popular than expected.
This card marks the return of a classic piece of Gwent art, whose effect is much more interesting than it used to be. The card can be included as a 4-provision filler in Bloodthirst decks, as it synergizes perfectly with the mechanic and rewards 6 points for 4 provisions. This card, however, is a Bleeding unit which means that it is slower than direct damage. Thus, its place in the deck can be filled by Dimun Pirate Captain, which is safer (6 direct points, instead of 4 direct points + 2 Bleeding turns) but also has a lower point ceiling.
This card is the most basic piece for any Svalblod-based deck. It is a possible 5 points for 4 provisions and can be used as the starting piece for our wounding engine alongside Svalblod Butcher or Svalblod Priest. We expect this card to be played as the 4-provision filler card that all decks carry, since faction-locked cards are better than the classic neutral fillers such as Wolf Pack.
This is another card designed as a self-wound activator for some of the smaller Berserk units, like Svalblod Fanatic. As is the case for many of the other 4-provision cards, we can appreciate a slight power-creep from the base set, which makes us think that this card will become a substitute for some of the base set’s 4-provision fillers.
Disgraced Brawler was printed to add good proactive cards for Bloodthirst archetypes, which until now have been focused on reactive cards that damage the opponent. It equals 7 points for 5 provisions and its Bloodthirst reward makes it difficult to remove. We expect this card to replace Savage Bear in damage-focused Skellige decks, as its payoff is better than Savage Bear's, while also being a proactive play and having the Warrior tag.
This card’s text is more appealing than it looks at first sight. Its ability to target enemies enables it to destroy tall units which have been damaged in the course of the round. It is probably not designed for self-Healing purposes, as Heymaey Herbalist is much better in this aspect, but its offensive ability makes it possible for Svalblod Cultist to be played as a tall unit check.
Do you remember the old Beta Dimun Light Longship effect? It is back, but in the form of a demonic god servant. The design of this card is intriguing and it can be used as a Berserk activator while generating points. When played, it boosts to 4 points and becomes resistant to soft removal, except by Locks, which makes it a great engine for self-wound builds.
Undoubtedly, Corrupted Flaminica has one of the best pieces of art created for this expansion. Its ability synergizes with Skellige’s Beast archetype, as it can be used to send one of our Beasts to the graveyard. Some combos shine more than others, for example using Corrupted Flaminica with a non-Doomed Morkvarg. However, even the action of removing a Savage Bear makes this card a 1:1 in the power-provision cost ratio. Flaminica is an efficient card that should see a lot of play.
A Pavko Gale on steroids joins the Skellige faction. Sigvald is a powerful engine that works well with Eist Tuirseach, as it is difficult to stop if the opponent does not use Locks. This card is an auto-include card in Warrior builds, and it should see a lot of play due to its power and the fact that it can reward greediness if we are brave enough to lower its power to half.
Arnvald reminds many of the effect of Slave Infantry in Nilfgaard but rewards self-wounding. As it is relatively overpriced for its effect, we do not expect this card to see much play outside of specific builds, but it is still good enough to keep an eye on it.
Knut the Callous
This is a practically instantaneous gold activator for cards with Berserk, with the downside of having to have the Berserk card in the field for a turn. It can also be used to reduce the power of certain cards, such as taking Svalblod Priest out of range of tall removal, or in combination with Champion of Svalblod to take advantage of its Order. Knut is another card that should become an auto-include in self-wound builds.
Vildkaarl/Champion of Svalblod
Vildkaarl has one of the most rewarding Berserk effects, which transforms its 5-power body into a 12-point unit with an Order for Healing; a true champion. While it has the downside of playing into tall removal easily, it is not difficult to trigger an unanswerable Berserk effect by combining it with Svalblod Totem plus 1 Charge from Svalblod. We expect this card to see a lot of play, at least during the first days of the expansion. Afterwards, its playrate depends on the amount of tall removal in the meta.
This is a very greedy engine that synergizes with Berserk cards, which means a deck can be built around it. However, the high cost of this card and the fact that it is row-locked makes us think that it will not see too much play after the first days of the expansion. That said, the difference between Artis and other greedy engines is that it also acts in the opponent’s turn, gaining great value if it is able to stick.
In our opinion, this is the most interesting artifact that has been printed in this expansion, which simultaneously supports self-wound archetype and acts as a proactive play. It can be used as an activator for other Berserk effects than the ones on the units it Spawns, and in combination with Svalblod, it can auto-trigger any Berserk card. It is probably an auto-include card in self-wound decks, but it can also give a lot of value to Vivienne: Oriole.
Part 3 of this Crimson Curse card breakdown focusing on the new cards of Northern Realms, Monsters and Nilfgaard can be found here.