By JMJWilson23, October 15, 2019
I know this comes as a shock, but Team Aretuza has another deck guide for you all. Mostly because JMJWilson23 doesn’t sleep and feasts on his own tears of exhaustion.
Today’s guide is on Second Wind Armor! This Skellige deck is combo heavy and more difficult to pilot than other decks at a high level, so JMJWilson graciously takes us through it all step by step.
Deck Guide: Second Wind Armor
This deck plays on the existing theme of self-wounding Skellige, but instead of allowing the damage to hit our own units, we protect them with the new (old?) armor mechanic. As with most Skellige decks, our main advantage is the ability to push in Round 2 which forces the opponent to invest key resources. As a result, winning Round 1 is often important, so we can use our strong bleeding capabilities as well as develop strong units in our graveyard for Round 3. The deck features several satisfying combos, especially with our bronzes, that harken back to the days of open beta in many ways. Overall, the deck is quite combo-heavy and, as a result, is fairly difficult to pilot on a high level.
Dracoturtle and Iris: Shade
This natural combo was born in the new expansion and provides a way to remove all of the armor from Dracoturtle with Iris: Shade while gaining value from it. With Second Wind, we are able to activate this combo in a single turn, leaving the opponent with no counterplay if we have last say. Dracoturtle is a card that is strong in early rounds when combined with Svalblod Priest or Mardroeme, as the armor absorbs the damage and turns it into points. This combo also allows us to use Iris: Shade aggressively on opposing units, such as on the armor found on Dwarf Berserker. Both parts of the combo are weak to tall-unit removal, but this is an inherent weakness of the deck. Despite this, we want to maximize the number of tall units in the deck to generate as many points as possible.
Morkvarg: Heart of Terror
This version of Morkvarg is a tech card that even in the worst case has a high point floor. Many decks will boost units at least to a degree, even if it is only with Tactical Advantage. Morkvarg: Heart of Terror can remove this boost for a reasonable floor while also serving as a tech against heavily boosted units. The opponent cannot hide the boost behind armor, as Morkvarg will continue damaging until all of the armor and all of the boost is removed. In particular, Morkvarg is strong against cards such as Dire Mutated Hound and Ozzrel.
Jutta an Dimun
Jutta an Dimun is a card that Skellige decks have tried to include for many patches with varying degrees of success. In the past, playing Jutta for 12 points (i.e. when there is a unit on the board of 13 power or more) was fairly rare and often depended on combining Jutta with Olaf in one round. This is no longer the case thanks to the addition of armor to the game. We now have multiple options to grow a tall unit: Using Mardroeme on an armored unit to offset the 3 damage dealt by the card, allowing a Svalblod Priest to grow, or boosting Dracoturtle. With Second Wind, we even have the opportunity to play Jutta for 12 points twice in some cases.
Mardroeme, Svalblod Priest and Armored Drakkar
These cards form our core bronze package and help to enable armor synergies. Svalblod Priest and Mardroeme are our primary ways of extracting value from armor, so it is important to have access to these cards in almost every round we plan to play. Armored Drakkar has one of the best payoffs when it comes to removing armor. When paired with Priest, we form a two-part engine that is difficult for the opponent to remove and generates at least 5 points every two turns. One of the convenient aspects of Drakkar is that it will reach exactly 13 power when damaged by Mardroeme, setting up Jutta an Dimun for full value.
In most games, we want to contest and win Round 1. This deck is strong when it comes to pushing the opponent in Round 2 and can also stand its ground in a long round, where we rely on Svalblod Priest to gain value over time. If the opponent has methods to neutralize Priest, our gameplan becomes considerably weaker. In general, this deck (and most Skellige decks for that matter) plays more aggressively than other decks to win Round 1, so do not be afraid to seemingly overcommit to this plan.
Since we plan to win this round most of the time, we should not hold back in terms of engines. Some of our best cards to play early are our bronze engines (Armored Drakkar and Svalblod Priest)supported by Raiding Fleet, which generates value over time with its Bleeding ability and thins our deck. The opponent will not leave the round without a fight though, so we need to include a high-tempo play in this round that can generate a large point gap the opponent cannot or does not want to overcome. Playing Jutta an Dimun for full value is the best play in this case, as it forces the opponent out of the round and sets up our graveyard for later.
Managing resources in Round 1 includes saving ways to gain value out of armor for the later rounds. If we are in a matchup where the opponent might remove Svalblod Priest, it may be necessary to save multiple Mardroemes for Rounds 2 and 3.
If we won Round 1, we will almost always play out Round 2. Our goal is to trade our good cards for cards of equal or better quality from the opponent. Be mindful of the resources the opponent spends. The worst possible outcome from this round is the opponent overcoming our score by with weak bronzes, which means that we effectively bled ourselves out of strong cards. Trading our own powerful golds for the opponent’s is typically favorable because we replay one with our leader ability and we have high-tempo plays for a short Round 3.
When we lose Round 1, the opponent will most likely dry-pass us. If they are not, their plan is most likely to 2-0 us with their engines before we are able to set up a strong graveyard for Freya's Blessing and Second Wind. In this case, we develop our own engines. Do not be afraid to play Dracoturtle early in the round to get full value out of it. Greedily holding onto a card like this for the next round could result in losing the game. Our deck lacks removal to a degree, so we should use it (One-Eyed Betsy and Stunning Blow) to remove key engines during the push.
Most of our work has already been done in the early rounds and all that is left to do is capitalizing on it. The most important decision is which target to resurrect with our leader ability, assuming it is still active. If Dracoturtle is in the graveyard, this will be our target in most cases, as it ties our synergies together nicely. We can combine it with Iris: Shade instantly or simply get extra value out of our Svalblod Priests and Mardroeme. If we are in a matchup that features heavy boosting, we have probably made an effort to keep Dracoturtle in hand, saving Morkvarg: Heart of Terror as our Second Wind target instead.
Knut the Callous was often paired with Olaf when it was first introduced, but the use of this combo has steadily declined as counters for it entered the meta. Statuses like Bounty and Poison were especially bad for a high-base power unit such as Olaf. Running multiple tall units in this deck, such as Gremist, means that we can play as many high-point ceiling cards as possible to power through the counters. If we only have a few cards with high base strength, a single tall removal can be effective against us. The combination of Olaf and Knut plays for 22 points with 4 points of removal. Additionally, they are potential Second Wind targets. Besides Olaf, Knut can also be used on Dracoturtle and Armored Drakkar when necessary.
Our deck includes two prime targets for Sigrdrifa's Rite (Dracoturtle and Jutta an Dimun), but we can run another if we decide to play Olaf as described above. Ermion effectively tutors Sigrdrifa, which we cannot play with Royal Decree. Sigrdrifa further increases our dependence on a strong graveyard, so we must play even more aggressively in open rounds to make sure that we have sufficient targets for our leader ability, Sigrdrifa, and Freya's Blessing. The payoff of this package is quite high, however, and we can typically overpower most decks. Playing our most powerful units in early rounds (especially Round 2) forces the opponent to play their own powerful cards, and in the last round, we simply replay our strongest cards while the opponent is left with scraps.
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.