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By JMJWilson23, October 14, 2019

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Team Aretuza is pushing some Northern Realms love your way with another guide by JMJWilson23 with the Pincer Maneuver Engines deck! If engines are your thing, you’ll want to check this guide out. As always, we have a decklist, gameplan for each round, and some tech choices.

Deck Guide: Pincer Maneuver Engines

Deck Overview

Northern Realms Engines has existed for a long time, although it has undergone several transformations. In recent patches, the leader ability of preference has shifted from Mobilization to Pincer Maneuver due to the latter’s rework. The main advantage of this ability is playing two cards in one turn, which allows us to develop multiple engines at the same time and outpace our opponent’s removal. tutoring any card from our deck allows us to be flexible in what option we choose based upon the matchup and cards at hand. In general, this deck wants to establish multiple engines in one turn in as many ways as possible and we can do so several times per game. We rely heavily on snowballing in a round, especially when we go first, so it is vital to play in such a way that we are able to play first in key rounds.



Decklist Breakdown

Portal, Vernon Roche and Hen Gaidth Sword

Along with Pincer Maneuver, these three cards are our main methods of developing multiple engines in one turn. Most of the time, we want to open a round with either Portal or Vernon Roche to let our engines go out of control as quickly as possible. It is even better if we can combine these tools with our leader ability to place three or even four engines on the board in the first turn of the round. This allows us to both protect them from removal and establish our own damage-dealing engines before the opponent’s. As a result, we are able to wipe them from the board before they accumulate any value.


Donimir of Troy

In a deck full of engines, we want to protect them from removal. By playing engines along with our Defender, we can get a lot of value out of them even if the opponent is able to answer our Defender. In the case that the opponent cannot deal with Donimir, we are likely to get away with the round for free. Our Defender can help us to keep fragile engines, such as Vysogota of Corvo, on our board.


Vissegerd, Dandelion and Vysogota of Corvo

The deck focuses on the Charge mechanic and these cards represent some of the key aspects of this package. All of its elements synergize nicely: Dandelion boosts all our units that gain Charges over time, including Vysogota of Corvo, which makes them harder to remove and also provides boosted units for Vissegerd. When Vissegerd is played, it is boosted by one point for each Charge it gains when used with Dandelion. It is difficult to assemble all these combo pieces together at once, but when it works, it is unlikely for most decks in the game to keep up with this point output.


Redanian Archer

Redanian Archer was one of the strongest cards Northern Realms received in the latest expansion. This card’s armor demands an answer, else there is a high risk of it generating a huge amount of value and removal. It is rare for any card to trade into Redanian Archer efficiently, so it will almost always play for at least 7 points, while having a strong upside if unchecked. The fact that it gains Charges on its own also synergizes with Dandelion in this particular list.


General Gameplan

The key aspect of playing such an engine-heavy strategy is securing the ability to play a round of any length we wish. Typically, this means a longer Round 2 where we are able to go first and push the opponent with multiple engines before they have the opportunity to play their own. However, if we do not fear the opponent playing damage-dealing engines, it is also fine to enter a long Round 3 when we have not been bled of our key tools in Round 2. In general, the deck is tricky to pilot and depends a fair amount of knowledge about the matchup at hand.


Round 1

Based on the matchup and our hand, we decide early whether we:

  • can play higher tempo than our opponent to force them out of the round quickly, 
  • play for value to simply win the round, or 
  • play a few low-quality cards to resist the bleed in a long Round 2. 

This decision will come with practice, but in general, it is a good idea to err in favour of caution and avoid expending key resources unless we are sure the situation requires us to do so. We will usually play 1-2 engines, such as Redanian Archer and Lyrian Arbalest, before transitioning to units that support these engines, like Aretuza Adept and Cintrian Envoy.


Round 2

If we won Round 1, we must decide whether we want to push the Round 2 or dry-pass. We should only consider playing into Round 2 if it is relatively long (greater than 6 cards roughly) and we must have strong card quality with a logical sequencing of cards to play. If we play this round, we are almost exclusively looking to win 2-0 by overwhelming the opponent before they are able to set up their own strategy.

When we lost Round 1, the opponent will likely make a strong push of their own: Either to win 2-0 or to bleed us of key resources and combos. Surviving this bleed is a skill required to pilot this deck. During the round, we want to continue establishing engines and get ahead in points to threaten gaining card advantage. In an ideal scenario, we overtake the opponent without committing our leader ability, but there are times where we may be required to use it to force the opponent out of the round and keep our strong cards in hand.


Round 3

The final round is relatively straightforward and depends only on sequencing our cards in the correct order. Of course, we would like to finish with plays that do not require a turn to activate, such as Vissegerd and Prince Anséis.


Tech Choices

As one of the new additions to the Northern Realms card pool in the recent expansion, Philippa: Blind Fury is a divisive card to include in this archetype. On one hand, it is situational and thus is potentially weak in a deck that uses Vernon Roche up to two times. It also lacks the Order keyword which weakens some of our other synergies. On the other hand, it is a powerful card with the ability to swing control of the board in our favor. Its best use is to wipe out two or even more of the opponent’s engines. In a meta which features other heavily engine-based decks, notably including Portal, this could be a solid inclusion.


Our deck lacks a way to punish heavily boosted units, and Bloody Baron is a powerful way to correct that. It synergizes with our deck in multiple ways, as it has the Order keyword to assist our Lyrian Arbalests and can be boosted by some of our other engines to make use of its Inspired ability. When the meta calls for ways to Reset heavily boosted units, Bloody Baron is the way to go.


Priscilla is a more powerful version of Aretuza Adept that completes an extremely greedy version of this deck. When the Inspired ability is not active and Priscilla is giving only one Charge per turn, it is likely too weak to be included in this deck. However, if we expect to see matchups where our Defender remains on board or the opponent is unable to do small amounts of damage, Priscilla can help us to dominate.


Card images from The Voice of Gwent; Editing & Website: Easha Dustfeather & SwanDive; PR: Callonetta.




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.

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