By JMJWilson23, October 15, 2019
Last, but certainly not least, of the JMJWilson23 deck guides is Wild Card Midrange! This Syndicate deck is comfortable with any round length and versatile on the ladder - if not the easiest to pilot. You'll find the decklist, gameplan, and tech choices included.
Deck Guide: Wild Card Midrange
Syndicate decks have fluctuated heavily since the faction’s inception three months ago. Decks have transitioned from relying on the Bounty mechanic to engine-heavy approaches with Portal, trimming down the Bounty package and relying on synergies with Crimes instead. The new wave of Syndicate decks this month includes the best of both worlds, playing powerful card after powerful card with a mixture of control tools, engines, and carryover. This flexibility is also noticeable in gameplay: The deck is comfortable in any round length and can typically adapt to the matchup and situation at hand. With this deck more than others, almost every card can be considered a key part, as they are highly dependent on the situations presented. This is why we will highlight a few of the new cards and their implications rather than repeating the same rhetoric surrounding cards that have been essential to Syndicate over the past few months.
Far and away the strongest of the new Defenders is Azar Javed. Spreading the Defender status to two bodies is very powerful, as it does not allow the opponent to Purify the first one. Azar plays for a total of 13 points while forcing the opponent to deal with the Scarabs before developing their own strategy. We can take advantage of our Defender by playing our engines or Coin spenders like Dire Mutated Hound, Ewald Borsodi, and Sea Jackal in the same row.
Savolla and Madame Luiza
The addition of Savolla greatly strengthened the power of Syndicate in short rounds, as we are now able to burst for 26 points in a two-card combo, assuming we have a way to spend the two Coins generated by Savolla. Savolla alone sometimes allows us to spend a full bank when we do not pair it with Madame Luiza. In turn, we have strong alternative targets for Madame Luiza when required. Both Graden and Moreelse allow us to punish the opponent for playing tall and Madame Luiza saves five and six Coins respectively when paired with them. It is important to remember that Madame Luiza only discounts the next Tribute, so we have to be mindful of the order in which we play our cards.
Dire Mutated Hound
With this card, Syndicate received one of the most powerful cards in Iron Judgment. In the worst case, this card plays for 9 points, but it has a huge point ceiling of up to 24 points when left unanswered. Dire Hound has strong synergy with Azar Javed, leaving the opponent with no choice but to work through the Scarabs to shut it down. In niche scenarios, Dire Hound’s Fee ability can generate solid value if the opponent has shown an inability to remove the armor again. In the worst case, it is 3 points in exchange for four Coins.
Fisstech and Mutated Hounds
Fisstech has always been a powerful card since it was buffed to include a Profit of 4, but it could lack consistency when we were unable to draw both copies or the opponent had a Purify. Mutated Hounds increases the consistency with which we are able to actually destroy a unit with Poison. As Ferko the Sculptor can tutor one of our Fisstechs, we are often able to pull off double Poison on a unit, which provides us with removal when necessary while also punishing the opponent for playing tall.
Syndicate has some of the most versatile decks in the game, which also makes them some of the hardest to pilot. The gameplan for this deck will change almost every game based on the matchup and situation at hand. It is therefore almost impossible to describe the plan of the deck at a general level without delving into each matchup individually. Instead, this part of the guide will address the consistent themes that develop while playing Syndicate and how the player can use them to their advantage.
Due to the way that the Coin bank functions, Syndicate is poor at generating and sustaining pressure on the opponent. There are almost always inevitable turns, especially in the early game, where we must slow down and build up our bank before converting our Coins into points in a later turn. The recent expansion gave us more ways to pressure the opponent in Round 1, but this involves spending key cards like Azar Javed and Dire Mutated Hound. Therefore, the opponent will typically have an opportunity to pass in Round 1 without losing on even. In contrast, our ability to generate value is strong compared to the other factions, so winning Round 1 is often possible. We are especially strong in Round 1 when we go second: We can keep a relatively full bank of Coins and threaten to surpass the opponent’s score in one card, while building up carryover if they decide to keep playing.
If we won Round 1, we assess the matchup and decide on how we can play Round 2. It is often fine to simply dry-pass, as we are then able to play reactively in Round 3, which our deck likes. This increases the length of the third round, so that we can effectively play Dire Mutated Hound combined with Azar Javed. However, if we find ourselves faced with an opponent that wants a long round more than us, we can push if our hand allows. Key cards we are looking for to push Round 2 are Dire Hound, Azar, and ways to punish opposing engines, namely Bounties and one of our damage-dealing Coin spenders.
If we lost Round 1 and the opponent is playing out Round 2, we will play this round very similarly to Round 1 when going second. We can often provide the opponent with few, if any targets on our side of the board by playing special cards and Azar Javed. This makes them waste strong cards on our weaker cards, at which point we can often surpass their score by using only bronzes. If our hand contains stronger cards that we will have to use anyway, it is important to plan out our turns to find a point at which we can get ahead permanently and secure card advantage. The extra card will help immensely in Round 3 when we have to play proactively with limited resources, especially if we are without the Madame Luiza and Savolla combo.
As always, the final round is dictated by the way the previous rounds played out. In an ideal scenario, we enter Round 3 with the Madame Luiza and Savolla combo intact, alongside an efficient Coin spender like Ewald Borsodi. As a result, it is risky to spend Royal Decree in the earlier rounds without these key pieces already in hand. If we still have Wild Card, we use it to play a Slander from deck. This combines nicely with Graden: We immediately gain the Coins necessary to activate its Tribute and play around Purify. Without Graden, Slander is still strong to pair with Ewald and remove even more units from the opponent’s board. Against decks that use many engines or cards such as Draug, wiping multiple units from the board at once can be devastating.
Caleb Menge is a very strong card that barely misses the cut in this deck. It allows us to get more value out of Azar Javed by developing it alongside either Ewald Borsodi or Witch Hunter Executioner to repeatedly destroy opposing units. Additionally, it increases the consistency of Graden, which can sometimes (though rarely) brick in this deck. In the worst case, it is a proactive 8-point card that fills up our bank early in a round. The fact that a card with this many benefits misses the cut goes to show how powerful the rest of the cards in the deck truly are. If the meta lacks mirror matches, where Adalbertus Kalkstein shines, it is possible to replace it with Caleb Menge to further increase this deck’s point ceiling.
The remainder of the deck essentially includes all of the core cards to playing this style of Syndicate deck. There are some minor considerations, such as Adriano the Mink, but it is difficult to find time to actually use this card since Coins are at such a premium. Feel free to experiment with other tech options as you see fit, but there are no other cards we would recommend to add to the list at this time.
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.