By JMJWilson23, October 12, 2019
Highlighting more of Iron Judgement’s new game mechanics in Team Aretuza’s series of Gwent guides, JMJWilson breaks down Enslave Assimilate with a decklist, gameplan, and tech choices to round out any game scenario you’re likely to encounter. With its flexibility and extra Tactics, this Nilfgaard deck showcases how much fun you can have with Assimilate strategies in Gwent.
Deck Guide: Enslave Assimilate
A mainstay from previous patches, Nilfgaard Assimilate decks have new and better ways than ever to power their gameplan. The addition of Ffion var Gaernel allows the use of more greedy strategies, such as high-ceiling cards like Damien de la Tour and Stefan Skellen. Meanwhile, Tactics are as strong as ever and form the core of the deck; they also provide us with strong utility, value, and removal. The deck is flexible, so bare in mind that the provided list is merely a sample and can be easily molded to suit the meta and personal preferences. With Iron Judgment, additional viable Tactics were added to the game. These tactics can be added to the deck to allow the Enslave ability to Seize a 6-point unit if the player desires. It is then recommended to experiment with this archetype and discover the list that best suits the individual player and their local meta.
Damien de la Tour and Stefan Skellen
Damien and Skellen are powerful Order cards. We need to pilot the deck around these two cards, so that they are protected or their value is maximized. In previous metas, these cards were viewed as too greedy to be usable in this archetype, as it did not play enough engines to draw removal away from these units. As many current meta decks run fewer control tools and Defenders were added to the game, Damien and Skellen are able to function much more often in this patch. We usually want to play these cards simply on the same row as Ffion var Gaernel and leave the opponent with limited means to interact with them. At other times, they can be used early in a round if the opponent relies on damage-dealing engines, or they can be used later in the round when the opponent has exhausted their removal potential.
Letho is the greediest card in this deck. It shares all of the same potential pitfalls as Damien de la Tour and Stefan Skellen while also relying on them sticking on board. This make Letho a high-risk, high-reward option, ranging from a 1-provision discount on Damien to something as weak as copying a Nauzicaa Sergeant. The deck does include other reasonable targets like Hefty Helge and Glynnis aep Loernach that can be used when required. The risky nature of Letho means that it should not be included in a meta that features many control tools.
Unlike many other Nilfgaard lists, this one does not thin nearly as heavily. One of our only tools to thin is Artorius Vigo, which Spawns an Impera Brigade and thins the remaining two copies from our deck. When we wish to pressure our opponent in an early round, we can use Vigo to generate a 10-point tempo play while also thinning our deck and establishing a minor engine on board thanks to Vigo’s Assimilate ability. If we are unable to play out Round 1, Artorius can also be saved as a power play for later rounds, although this can make our mulligans more difficult. It is possible to include Marching Orders to tutor Vigo in the early rounds, but as it shares the same base power as Menno Coehoorn and Ffion var Gaernel, tutoring is not guaranteed.
Our core bronze card Imperial Diviner is both an Assimilate engine and a utility card. In Syndicate matchups, we hold onto the card a bit longer to Purify a Bounty or Poison status. In other matchups where statuses are not prevalent, we can simply play Diviners as soon as possible to establish a threat with low resource investment. It goes without saying that these should of course be committed in the same round we play cards like Imperial Diplomacy, Artorius Vigo, and Bribery.
Our main considerations when playing this deck are maximizing the usage of our engines and Order units. It is always important to check our hand in each round and commit only the engines that synergize with the weaker cards in hand. For example, a hand with low-value Tactics, like Tourney Joust and Battle Preparation, can be saved with Hefty Helge, which allows us to remove enemy units and push with weaker cards relative to the opponent. Likewise, Assimilate engines like Glynnis aep Loernach can strengthen a hand with cards such as Imperial Diplomacy and Experimental Remedy. It is important not to chase a round when our support cards do not synergize with our core cards in hand; this will leave our push in Round 2 and our Round 3 too weak to compete. In general, the deck is comfortable in most round lengths, though we do rely on our leader ability in a shorter round.
We will often begin by developing a few threats before playing our low- to medium-value cards. As always, keep in mind that we should play engines that enhance the effectiveness of these cards; otherwise, we can leave the round quickly. If we are able to continue trading our weaker cards (Imperial Diplomacy, Tourney Joust, etc.), we typically stay in the round until we are forced to play a powerful resource. At this point, we pass unless it is important to win the first round due to the matchup. With an ideal hand (containing Artorius Vigo and strong payoffs for our engines), we can sometimes threaten winning on even cards when going second, so be mindful of this opportunity. If we can get ahead in points with our engines, our opponent will be in a continuous battle to catch up.
If we won Round 1, a dry-pass is often a good option, but before doing this, we need to check our cards in hand. If we have a strong engine (e.g. Hefty Helge) and some Tactics, it is often possible to push with this card and force out some stronger resources from the opponent. However, if the opponent has a means to remove our engine while putting points on their own board, we risk losing card advantage and final say in the last round, which can be devastating.
In the case of losing Round 1, we are at risk of losing the game 2-0. It is tempting to hold onto our Assimilate engines in this round because the opponent can pass at any time and nullify their effectiveness. Thus, it is important to always identify the opponent’s plan in the round and adjust accordingly. If they establish engines of their own, it is likely that they will be contesting this round, and we should make sure to develop our own engines in response. A timely use of our Defender can often shut down an enemy push, but this play will leave cards like Damien de la Tour more exposed in the final round.
This round plays out in a relatively straightforward manner. The decision making is mostly based upon sequencing cards properly, namely how to use our remaining engines and Order cards. This is depends on the opponent’s removal cards, so we have to keep all options in mind and play around those we find most likely. A good combo in Round 3 is Yennefer's Invocation and War Council. We play Invocation first if we are likely to receive a good target from it. Playing War Council first is better when the target for Invocation is likely one we do not want to play.
A safer alternative to Letho: Kingslayer is Triss: Telekinesis. When the meta is too heavy on control to allow for our Order cards to stay on the board, Triss is a powerful inclusion that does not give value to the opponent’s removal. When playing Triss, we must be mindful of the options that the card can present. The deck currently utilizes four bronze special cards (Experimental Remedy, Imperial Diplomacy, Tourney Joust, and Battle Preparation), of which the first two are considered desirable for Triss because they play a unit. The latter two are too weak to play from Triss. Maintaining at least two desirable special cards is very important when using Triss. Additionally, this card is risky in a meta where Syndicate is prevalent, as this faction often uses Crimes that worsen the card pool for Triss significantly.
If the meta relies heavily on tall units in many decks, the inclusion of Leo Bonhart can be considered. This card is a better punish to tall units than Yennefer's Invocation because it also puts points on our side of the board. However, it does not combo with War Council. Leo can brick in some matchups, so we should only consider it in narrow metas where the value is almost guaranteed.
We can get value from Tourney Shaelmaar in two different ways. The first and most common way is playing this card as a finisher in a round where we have Created or Seized units from the opposing faction. This play can reach a high point ceiling, although it is weak to bleeding and tall removal when we do not have last say. Shaelmaar is mainly used in a meta where we do not have to fear being pushed and where we need the additional point ceiling. The second way is used in the mirror match, where the 7 damage to a Nilfgaard unit can help us to remove opposing tools, such as Damien de la Tour, Stefan Skellen, and Glynnis aep Loernach.
JMJWilson made his first forray into the world of CCG's with Gwent and has been hooked ever since. Since July 2018, he has competed in the game's Pro Rank scene and has participated in most online qualifiers since the official release of Gwent. Wilson serves as a content creator for Aretuza, especially focusing on the monthly Meta Snapshot and the Aretuza Academy projects. He seeks to bring the same analytical mindset to content creation as he does to his own gameplay with the goal of improving others' gameplay experience in whatever way is possible. With the implementation of Gwent Masters Season 2, Wilson aspires to continue his trend of being a consistent competitor in Gwent Masters qualifiers while also remaining committed to coverage of the game's highest level of competition.