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By Gravekper, July 24, 2020

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Gravekper returns for part two of his Guide to Arena. In this new addition he goes over the leaders that you pick before you jump into building your deck and what cards can synergize really well with these leaders and rates on a scale of one to ten.

Gravekper's Arena Guide Part Two: Leaders

Leader Abilities

Imposter (Nilfgaard, 10/10)

Imposter does two things at once. First, it blocks the opponent’s threat with a lock. Second, it makes the same threat which is boosted by two. Considering you play a card from your hand; you've done three things in a single turn. This makes great pressure in a number of actions.

Imposter is powerful enough without any synergy card. If you have a card like Vincent Van Moorlehem, that will be awesome. But even though you don't have any good synergy, it's still strong enough.

Imposter has no bad matchup. The ability is best when you disable your opponent’s order units. So, it is best against engine heavy decks. But just using the leader ability on the biggest enemy unit brings you eight or more points, that's what average leaders do. You can easily find a decent target even in short rounds.

After the release of Master Mirror expansion, Imposter got slightly weaker due to veil engines. But copying those engines with two additional points is still a good play and Imposter is still the best leader ability.

Due to these several advantages, and no major disadvantages, Imposter is the strongest leader ability in arena. Though it isn't that great in constructed because it doesn't get much synergy from other cards and has a low provision limit. But in arena, that's no problem. Always pick Imposter over anything else.

Best Synergy With

  • Vincent Van Moorlehem
  • Cards those give zeal to allies: Ves
Fruits of Ysgith (Monsters, 9/10)

Fruits of Ysgith was the strongest leader ability before the release of Imposter. There are many cards that  work great with Fruits. You should care much about synergy to build a good Fruits of Ysgith deck. You can get lots of strength by destroying and regenerating your fruit token several times.

Fruit of Ysgith is especially powerful in a short round. If you win round 1, you may wish to push your opponent in round 2. It is good to build a deck for short rounds as you are playing Fruits of Ysgith.

Fruits of Ysgith relies heavily on synergy. So, it can be extremely weak against Lockdown. As Lockdown is also one of the top leaders, you may face them often. It is not a great idea to pick too many cards like Griffin or Fleder as those need sacrifices.

Best Synergy With

  • Destroy/transform allies: Griffin, Fleder, Kikimore Warrior, Kaedweni Revenant, Slave Infantry, Cursed Knight, Whoreson Senior, Ethereal
  • Cards which consume allies: Slyzard, etc.
  • Cards strong in short rounds
Uprising (Northern Realms, 9/10)

Uprising is an ability for big point swing, works best in medium or longer rounds. However, it isn't that weak in short rounds too. If you have three or more undamaged units, you can immediately gain nine points, or more if you have some boosted units. Cards boost or give vitality are good with Uprising. Every boosted unit counts as a point for Lyrian Scytheman.

Boosting the Lyrian Scytheman is not the only reason to spend boost charges. You can use it to protect your engines or for some boost synergy. Uprising outperforms Royal Inspiration, as the timing of use is free and Lyrian Scytheman can score a lot.

Lyrian Scytheman is also a boosted unit, so having another Lyrian Scytheman or Vissegerd in your deck is also good.

Best Synergy With

  • Lyrian Scytheman, Vissegerd
  • Cards which boost allies
Lockdown (Nilfgaard, 9/10)

The stronger your opponent’s leader is, the more power Lockdown gets. Your opponent’s leaders are likely to get more powerful the more you win. You may not feel great if your opponent plays a weak leader, but that's still a fair game without leaders.

Synergy heavy leaders do not wish to face Lockdown. Fruits of Ysgith and Uprising are the best opponents. Their decks are built around their leader ability, so you can expect some of their cards will not work as they planned.

The reason Lockdown is not a 10/10 leader is that it is not guaranteed for your opponents to bring top tier abilities. If your opponent leader's performance is below average, it is better to play as Imposter than Lockdown.

Worst Synergy With

  • Damien de la Tour: It just does not work.
Guerilla Tactics (Scoia'tael, 8.5/10)

Guerilla Tactics is versatile. Can move row-restricted cards, or just for damage or boost. Combined with 3-4 damage sources, you can effectively destroy opponent engines. You can also stack units in a single row to maximize row effects. It's a great toolbox you can use for anything.

The ability of Guerilla Tactics has never changed since the release of base set. It was the strongest leader at the time. It isn't the strongest because 6-point is a bit small now as the power standard of cards went up and new stronger leaders are released. But still a strong leader.

Best Synergy With

  • Effects on a row: Tinboy, Surrender, Lacerate, Dragon's Dream
  • 3-4 damage source
  • Row movement synergy
Imperial Formation (Nilfgaard, 8.5/10)

Compared to Guerilla Tactics, Imperial Formation is more effective at protecting engines. But can't be used on the opponent’s units. Imperial Formation is a great leader for engine-heavy decks.

'Move a Soldier unit from your deck to the top' basically does nothing. But if you get Affan Hillergrand, that's a great addition that gives you five free points. Theoretically, you can put Tibor Eggebracht on top and play Vilgefortz to summon it.

Best Synergy With

  • Affan Hillergrand
  • Engines to protect
Vicious Slash (Northern Realms, 8/10), Blood Money (Syndicate, 8/10), Blaze of Glory (Skellige, 7/10)

These abilities can be used to remove an opponent’s engine. The side effects of Vicious Slash and Blood Money are usually ignorable.

Blaze of Glory can be used similarly if you have three or more Skellige units with seven strength or higher. There are many Skellige units with high strength, so it's likely to get some unless you're out of luck. Maybe you can kill a 5-point engine even in an unlucky case. The ideal use is to throw Jutta an Dimun and resurrect with Sigrdrifa's Rite.

Damage ability is useful in most situations. But it may not work well against defenders sometimes. It is often best to use your leader ability when you can. Because your opponent can use their defender late to protect their last unit.

Best Synergy With

  • (Blood Money) Coin spender
  • (Blaze of Glory) Jutta an Dimun, Sigrdrifa's Rite
Reckless Flurry (Skellige, 8/10)

Stable and strong leader. Guaranteed eight points in most situations. Because Reckless Flurry now ignores armor, it is better than it used to be.

Early in the round, it can be used to kill opponent engines, similar to eight damage abilities. In long rounds, if you use some synergy cards like Dagur Two Blades or Wild Boar of the Sea, you can expect a big point swing.

Best Synergy With

  • Dagur Two Blades, An Craite Greatsword, Wild Boar of the Sea
  • Bloodthirst
Pincer Maneuver (Northern Realms, 7.5/10)

The ability is very powerful. Drawing a card you want is fantastic, the only problem is that Pincer Maneuver requires you to have a Norther Realms card in your hand. Sometimes you don't get good NR cards, so you don't feel like bringing them to round 3 or even don't have any of them. You should make sure you have enough Northern Realm cards and it’s better if they are good golds.

Playing multiple cards in a turn is good synergy for engine decks. There are many good NR engines, so it will be great to get them.

Best Synergy With

  • Northern Realm cards, 5+ if possible.
Double Cross (Nilfgaard, 7.5/10)

Strong if you and your opponent's decks are not built around synergy. If you have any assimilate units they will get a boost upon using Double Cross, but that's not a major thing.

There's an important question: When is the best time to use the ability? If you wait until your opponent has three cards left, maybe they will use good cards early and you don't get good things to steal. I think it's best to use it when your opponent has five or six cards left. Also, it is best to have a friendly unit to boost and an enemy unit to damage on the board.

Best Synergy With

  • Assimilate
Deadeye Ambush (Scoia'tael, 7/10), Congregate (Syndicate, 5/10), Arachas Swarm (Monsters, 5/10)

These abilities summon units. None of those summon Nilfgaard units, so they are great with Tourney Shaelmaar.

Deadeye Ambush has the biggest total strength. Congregate is a bit weaker but can get some human synergy or coins. Arachas Swarm is quite weak without 1-strength unit synergy.

Best Synergy With

  • Tourney Shaelmaar
  • (Deadeye Ambush) Elf Synergy
  • (Congregate) Draug, Coin sink
  • (Arachas Swarm) Ethereal, Voymir, Glustyworp, Griffin, Fleder, Kikimore Warrior, Kaedweni Revenant, Organic cards
Blood Scent (Monsters, 7/10)

Specialized in raising total strength rather than dealing with engines. If all the bleeding effects are applied, you can get 11 points including a vampire token. There are many cards good with Blood Scent. Monster's bleeding ability synergy and Nilfgaard's status related cards can work well.

Extremely vulnerable to round 2 bleeding because you can't make a big point swing. Also, not a great leader to make round 2 bleeding. It is sad as a "Bleeding" leader.

After release of Master Mirror expansion, new evolving cards played for casual 10-12 points made round 2 plays more important. Also, veil made it harder to find bleeding targets. So I revised its score from 7.5 to 7.

Best Synergy With

  • "Bleeding": Gael, Orianna, etc.
  • "Status": Vincent Van Moorlehem, etc.
Precision Strike (Scoia'tael, 7/10)

Three damage from Precision Strike ability, two from Brokilon Sentinel. Five Damage is enough to kill most engines, 7-point total is not bad. It is a good thing to be able to distribute 3-point damages.

If you have a Brokilon Sentinel in your deck, you can pull them with its deathblow ability. So, you can get two extra points for every copy of Sentinels. Once I had two.

Best Synergy With

  • 3-4 damage source
  • Brokilon Sentinel
Patricidal Fury (Skellige, 7/10)

Patricidal Fury creates an 11-point token, but actually gives eight points because it spawns three point worth siren tokens for the opponent. It summons less if there is no space to summon them. So, you can sometimes aim for it. The 11-point token is extremely vulnerable to removals, so it's better to have round 3 last say.

Three siren tokens come out damaged, so you can easily get bloodthirst. Svanrige Tuirseach and Champion's Charge are especially good with this leader.

Best Synergy With

  • Bloodthirst: Svanrige Tuirseach and Champion's Charge
  • Mass damage: Wild Boar of the Sea
Force of Nature (Monsters, 6.5/10)

The key is how to use the card with an 8-point boost. If you can't secure last say, it's vulnerable to removals. So, you want round 3 last say more than any other leaders.

A common mistake you see in arena is using Force of Nature on a turn you will not play target unit. That's usually bad because Shilard Fitz-Oesterlen can hit hard.

Best Synergy With

  • Sheldon Skaggs, Prince Anséis
  • Immune units
Tactical Decision (Nilfgaard, 6.5/10)

Tactical Decision is not that weak on average, but it is not always possible to get the gold card you want. In round 3, there are usually 7 - 10 cards left in the deck. The remainders include cards you mulligan away, so they are usually weaker than the average of your deck. You'd prefer something reliable (like 8-point damage) more than Tactical Decision.

Deck manipulation is good, but playing a card for manipulation doesn't feel that great. But utilizing cards like Albrich in round 3 is not bad considering they are usually a brick in round 3.

Best Synergy With

  • Deck manipulation: Albrich, Fisher King, Naglfar
Carapace (Monsters, 6/10)

For sure, Carapace makes your engines more likely to survive. But sometimes your opponent will kill both engine and buff with a single Korathi Heatwave. Six points is a bit lower than average, and it isn't versatile. But a 6-point boost is not the worst thing to have as a leader.

While I was writing the tier list, Carapace was always on six points. On my stream, two viewers said it was overrated and two said it was underrated.

Royal Inspiration (Northern Realms, 6/10)

Boost by one point every two turns is something helpful to protect engines. Similar to Uprising, but can't make a tempo swing. Still, Royal Inspiration is a decent leader for engine decks.

Korean translation of this ability is still "Queen's Inspiration" while only NR leader available in Arena is Foltest. I hate both.

Best Synergy With

  • Boost synergy: Tridam Infantry, Anna Strenger, Lyrian Scytheman, Vissegerd
Onslaught (Skellige, 6/10)

Onslaught is not very effective at destroying enemy engines. Your opponent will play more important engines on turns you can't ping. You will need some bloodthirst or damage related synergy to use this ability well.

Best Synergy With

  • Bloodthirst: Donar an Hindar, etc.
  • Damage synergy: Dagur Two Blades, An Craite Greatsword, etc.
Overwhelming Hunger (Monsters, 5/10)

Deathwish. Overwhelming Hunger is a good leader if you have six or more Deathwish units, which is unfortunately unlikely.

You can use the ability to refresh a bad status. But the Ekimmara token you get is also vulnerable to removals.

Best Synergy With

  • Deathwish Units
  • Units with a penalty: Count Caldwell, Skjall
Invigorate (Scoia'tael, 5/10)

The biggest problem is when to use the Invigorate ability. The ideal case is to win round 1 without leader ability and dry pass round 2. But the tragedy starts with losing round 1. Then the opponent bleeds you in round 2. You have to use the ability on fewer units or even lose another round.

Then you will think "Maybe it's better to use in round 1". But if you go first and use the ability, you will experience "Bleed in round 1". Not that bad plan if you go second. But we can't always go second.

Best Synergy With

  • Anna Strenger, Mahakam Defender, Elven Wardancer
  • Lyrian Scytheman, Vissegerd
Second Wind (Skellige, 4/10), Strategic Withdrawal (Nilfgaard, 4/10)

These abilities depend a lot on what you have in your deck.

Second Wind is not bad if you have at least three good Skellige gold units. Just hope the opponent doesn't use Korathi Heatwave or Yennefer's Invocation on your leader ability target.

Strategic Withdrawal is all about deploy ability. There are fewer good units with deploy compared to Second Wind, but you need only one unit for round 3. You can play two cards on the turn you use the ability. Playing two non-Nilfgaardian units can be possible by bouncing a Nilfgaard unit on the board and play two other cards. You need to put a Nilfgaard unit early in that case.

Best Synergy With

  • (Second Wind) Good Skellige Units
  • (Strategic Withdrawal) Nilfgaard units with strong deploy ability
Enslave (Nilfgaard, 4/10)

Following part is a flavor text from Enslave. Ignore it.

"This value is raised by 1 for every 4 Tactic cards in your starting deck."

A deck with 4 or more tactics almost never happens.

To steal something, usually you need to damage a unit. After the steal, the opponent will kill that 3-point unit. Not very hard to get a target, but 3-point steal is too weak.

Sacrificial Vanguard (Skellige, 4/10)

It's very hard to use the ability of Sacrificial Vanguard three times if you win round 1. If you use play cards in round 2, you are likely to lose card advantage because this ability does almost nothing about tempo.

Discard and draw isn't strong enough as an ability you can use it once per a round. One damage is also too small.

Best Synergy With

  • Discard and Draw: Birna Bran, Coral, Heymaey Skald
  • Morkvarg, Tuirseach Skirmisher
Mahakam Forge (Scoia'tael, 4/10)

How many dwarves do you need to make Mahakam Forge a strong leader? Ten? In most cases you can't even get four. So, it's just an ability about Tempering. Enjoy your Bronze.

Fun Fact: Tempering is a 'Nature' card.

Fun Fact #2: There are more than 10 leaders weaker than this.

Inspired Zeal (Northern Realms, 3/10)

There are too few Northern Realm units with good single-use order ability. You can't even boost non-NR units with Inspired Zeal. Those 'good NR units' are listed below.

Best Synergy With

  • Seltkirk of Gulet, Prince Anséis, Kaedweni Revenant, Draug, Ildiko
Mystic Echo (Scoia'tael, 3/10)

For Mystic Echo, there are 11 Scoia'tael special cards. Iorveth's Gambit does not count, so 10 left. Hope you get a good one.

Best Synergy With

Ursine Ritual (Skellige, 3/10)

Ursine Ritual is great with

Blueboy Lugos

Decent with

Svalblod Totem
Harald Houndsnout

If you have three or more of these, this is a good leader. Not much otherwise.

Mobilization (Northern Realms, 3/10)

As I know, there are 872 cards in draft pool, Base set to Master Mirror. It's quite hard to pick two of a kind. Maybe better remember you can use Mobilization on created units. Something from Scenario for example.

Best Synergy

  • Blue Stripes Scout
Jackpot (Syndicate, 3/10), Off the books (Syndicate, 3/10), Hidden Cache (Syndicate, 2/10), Lined Pockets (Syndicate, 2/10), Wild Card (Syndicate, 1/10)

All these are the same kind. Just between 'Bad', and 'Terrible'.

Jackpot or Off the books can be used for a single coin-spending unit and make a good swing. Better than other ones, but it's still hard to get a decent spender.

Hidden Cache and Lined Pockets gets a bit of coins. Not impossible to use them well, but not that strong.

In the case of Wild Card, everything is a problem. You can just filter 'Syndicate' and 'Special' in your deck builder, and count how many of them are good enough to use as a leader ability. It should be in your deck, so you should mulligan them away. Moreover, you also need to spend coins from the ability and a special card. Are you ready for all those? I'm not.

Best Synergy With


Death's Shadow (Monsters, 2/10)

Two problems.

First, you need a good leader target. Which will be a good deathwish unit. And you use the ability, deathwish triggers. Second, you need a way to kill the spawned unit. If you can't, the leader ability is worth a card but the target isn't.

Is there any good non-deathwish target? Maybe the Crones are good if you get four or more of those; which will not happen. Whispess: Tribute with double organic is another 'theory' case.

Best Synergy With

  • Strong deathwish unit and a way to kill it
Stockpile (Northern Realms, 0/10), Call of Harmony (Scoia'tael, 0/10)

Fortunately, there are only two 0/10 leaders and you get three leader choices. Choosing these leaders will never happen if you pick leaders by my tier list. Do I need to explain how bad these leaders are? Maybe not. But I do because I can.

In the case of Stockpile: having three or more units with 'charge' is hard, and some of those aren't worth picking even under Stockpile leader ability. Every charge counts as one or two points. If you play a charge unit, the opponent will kill it immediately. You barely can make one point or two with your leader.

In the case of Call of Harmony: Elf, Dwarf, Dryad tags are not uncommon. 'Not uncommon' does not mean you can easily get each of them. And you need something more to trigger your ability for a 4-provision card. Is it worth it? I guess not.

Best Synergy With

  • A good strategy is not picking these.


Here we have covered all 42 leader abilities in arena. I hope that this article will help you pick leaders in the future and also help you think of the synergy between leaders and cards. As well as playing against certain leaders!

I am planning on making a more detailed guides about cards after the arena rework, and according to CDPR it will happen SoonTM. I really hope it comes soon and it brings lots of positive changes to the arena system.

I have also been writing a series of small topics about arena, I’m hoping that they will be a good read for arena players. I have already published some of them in Korean and they will be updated to English soon! These topics are like:

What is the strongest card in arena?
Is it worth picking around Highlander cards before I get a Shupe/Radeyah?

The articles are available here, please give them a read if you would like.

For a concise and easy to view list, as well as an arena reward sheet, there is a document available here.

I hope you enjoyed my article on leaders, I’ll be back soon with some interesting topics. Happy Drafting!




JoshWitcher760 JoshWitcher760 is Aretuza Member

Joshua Witcher was first introduced to the world of CCGs with YuGiOh when he was around 6 or 7, though after a few years the interest fell off for quite some time. When he just started college, he discovered the world of the Witcher 3, which had originally drawn his interest because of his last name. Immediately after playing the game, he was smitten with every aspect of it and its world. It was only a matter of time before his interest in CCGs was piqued by Gwent. In 2019 he launched the game for the very first time and has been playing consistently ever since. Josh has also started on a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication, which he hopes to finish in 2023.

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