Merchants of Ofir: Card Analysis
Radeyah – 8/10
Radeyah is a support card for decks built around Shupe's Day Off and its value is certainly better than Shupe’s. With this card in the game, Shupe decks will now not be Shupe and 24 more random cards, but Shupe, Radeyah and 23 other cards. This card is an absolute auto-include for any Shupe build and that’s why we give it an 8 out of 10 rating.
Matta Hu'uri – 9/10
Mataa is probably the most popular neutral card during these first days of the expansion. Its effect is really powerful, as it allows you to tutor your highest-provision card while giving your opponent their lowest-provision one. In most cases, Mataa is a suitable replacement for cards like Royal Decree. While we rate this card a 9/10, almost an autoinclude, I would expect it to lose popularity as fast as the meta develops.
Maraal – 7/10
This sympathetic merchant is definitely interesting and seems to be a powercrept version of Gaunter O'Dimm. By itself, it is too vulnerable to removal, but its Poison-focused ability is very useful. Despite that, there are better Poison-based faction-locked cards, so this card cannot be as popular as its effects suggest. That’s why we will be careful with its rating and only give it a 7 out of 10.
Saer Qu'an – 6/10
A reference to the famous novel saga by Emilio Salgari, Saer Qu’an is a decent value card which sadly needs some protection to trigger its effect. This makes it relatively unattractive for Constructed play, but it can be useful in other formats, like this season’s special mode. We give it a rating of 6/10, as it can see some Constructed play if somebody finds adequate protection for it.
Dulla kh'Amanni / Runewright – 6/10
These two cards have to be discussed together, as their effects are only worth it if you control one and play the other, Spawning the new artifact Desert Treasure. Desert Treasure is worth 6 points on average, but its inability to choose what to Spawn and the existence of really specific legendaries like Iorveth or Avallac'h: Sage in the cardpool make this combo not as attractive as it might seem on first sight. Therefore, these cards can be no better than a 6/10.
Caravan Vanguard – 5/10
As one of the most interesting bronze neutral cards of this expansion, Caravan Vanguard’s Bonded ability can be immediately triggered if it is played into the Ranged row. However, as is the case for most neutrals, it is underpowered in comparison to its faction-locked counterparts, which is why we rate it a 5/10.
Caravan Guard – 3/10
This card seems to be a bronze tall-unit punish, but it needs to hit at least a 9-point card to get into the range of competitiveness (assuming that 7 points from 5 provisions is a good, which is really arguable). Caravan Guard is not as good as it might seem on paper; it is just a tool if you want to slightly punish tall units without using golds. Its rating can therefore only be a disappointing 3/10.
Ofiri Merchant – 2/10
This Hearthstone-ish, 4-provision card can be fun outside of Constructed, and maybe some crazy people can try to play it in Nilfgaard in combination with Courier. Despite that, making two low-tempo plays just to exchange your random topdeck with the best topdeck of your opponent doesn’t seem valuable enough to be included in any competitive deck. Ofiri Merchant is one of the worst cards in this set with a rating of 2/10.
King Cobra – 3/10
Despite being a decent card to apply Poison with, but it is a worse version of faction-locked Poison cards. A rating of 3/10 seems fair for King Cobra. Surely, some people will try to use it in Poison-oriented decks.
If we look at all the neutral cards in a vacuum, we can see a clear pattern in this expansion: While the gold cards tend to be really interesting and flashy with their effects, most of bronzes are just printed to have a neutral counterpart to faction-locked cards. In our opinion, this shouldn’t be the case and instead, neutral bronzes should be used to print some soft tech cards which are playable in Constructed. Still, the power level of Merchant of Ofir’s neutral golds is still good for Constructed play.
This expansion has brought a new card type: stratagem. Basically, these cards are meant to be a replacement for Tactical Advantage, the “compensation” the games gives you for going first in a game. With these 12 new stratagems, you can choose the one that fits your deck best. There are six neutral ones which can be used in any deck and an additional stratagem for each faction. Let’s analyze them one by one.
As stratagems only appear in the first round for the player going first, their value is hard to measure. Therefore, we have decided to not rate them on a numerical scale and instead, to just discuss why or why not we think these cards are playable or not.
This reactive stratagem can be useful in combination with Poison units. However, as it has a random effect, a good opponent can play around it, so it’s unlikely to see this stratagem outside of the first days of experimentation.
While this strategy is interesting in a deck that relies on engines, I hardly see Crystal Skull being played outside of specific metas where Purifying your own side of the board matters. I don’t think a Purify ability is worth 2 less points of raw value than the classic Tactical Advantage.
This stratagem focuses on carryover points to other rounds. The problem with this kind of design is that you are hardly getting any tempo from it, and tempo has always been a problem for the player going first. Despite this, Enchanted Armor could become playable if a bronze card that transforms handbuff into points is printed. (It might be worth it with Elven Wardancer.)
Theoretically, Cursed Scroll gives you a sort of extra mulligan. However, its lack of tempo renders it unattractive unless you are playing a matchup where your deck clearly outtempos your opponent’s. As there is no way to control your matchups on ladder and there is always the possibility you will run into a mirror match, this new stratagem shouldn’t see play outside of some niche tournament situations.
While it is true that damage is usually better than boosting, it feels like 3 points is not enough for Ceremonial Dagger to become an alternative to Tactical Advantage. It will probably not see any kind of serious play unless it is buffed to 4 points, which is decent value.
Magic Lamp is my personal favorite of the expansion. Like Tactical Advantage, it is worth 5 points, but it is much more useful in midrange decks, as it doesn’t make you too vulnerable to tall removal, which is one of the flaws of Tactical Advantage. Due to that, I expect this stratagem to become one of the most popular ones once the meta settles.
Engineering Solution (NR)
The Northern Realms stratagem was made to protect engines. While it has a good ability, I’m not too sold on it as long as Tourney Joust exists. Also, Engineering Solution loses 2 points in comparison with Tactical Advantage. Still, I expect this card to see a similar playrate to Tactical Advantage in engine decks.
Mask of Uroboros (SK)
Skellige’s stratagem supports a specific archetype that has received a slight buff with Merchants of Ofir: Discard. While it can be worth a total of 6 points in a deck which uses Sacrificial Vanguard and Morkvarg, the state of this particular archetype makes me think that this stratagem won’t see play. Additionally, having to rely on a Discard you only see half of the time is something a good deck doesn’t want to do.
Urn of Shadows (MN)
As it is the case for most of Monsters’s expansion cards, this stratagem supports the Deathwish archetype. Despite having a point ceiling of 5 (Harpy Egg), other stratagems seem preferable over Urn of Shadows, as it relies on a specific card draw to reach full value.
Aen Seidhe Sabre (ST)
Like the other expansion cards for Scoia’tael, its faction stratagem also supports the Elf archetype. Its ability can be used for reset the Cooldown of Elven Swordmaster, while also developing two Elf bodies for Isengrim Faoiltiarna and Aelirenn. Therefore, Aen Seidhe Sabre should become the default stratagem for Scoia’tael Elves.
Nilfgaard’s stratagem is basically a better version of Ceremonial Dagger: It can also Lock an opponent’s engine. It also synergizes with some of the other Nilfgaard expansion cards, such as Thirsty Dame. Despite this, I’m not a big fan of this kind of reactive stratagem and I can only see Collar being played as part of an Aristocrat deck.
Tiger's Eye (SY)
In theory, Tiger’s Eye can net 8 points, if we calculate with Coin spenders that have a better coin-to-points ratio than purely 1:1, such as Philippa Eilhart. This stratagem will probably become quite popular in Syndicate, but it might still compete with Tactical Advantage and Magic Lamp, as you need to find efficient Coin spenders to make this new stratagem worth it.
Haunt – 4/10
The scenario of the Monsters faction is, in my opinion, the worst of the six printed in this expansion. While it can get decent value, it feels weirdly overcosted, too dependent on specific cards and it has too little of a payoff if you complete all the chapters. Due to this, we can only give it a modest 4/10; it needs several buffs to become playable.
Plague Maiden – 8/10
This is an interesting card that simultaneously supports the Beast, Swarm and Deathwish archetypes. This is a really versatile card whose Deathwish can be combined with cards like Glustyworp or Morvudd, which for sure will see play during these first days of the expansion. Taking all these factors into account, we rate it an 8/10.
The Beast – 7/10
This is the only Monsters card in this expansion that doesn’t support Deathwish; however, it supports the Dominance archetype and can grow to 10-12 points, which is decent value for a 7-provision card. Due to this relatively high point ceiling, we decided to give it a 7/10.
Penitent – 8/10
Penitent is an interesting tutor for Monsters and it supports the Deathwish archetype. With its Deathwish, it can Summon Pugo Boom-Breaker and Imperial Manticore and its Thrive is a nice addition. All in all, this card is a new staple for Deathwish decks. In our opinion, this card deserves an 8/10.
Barghest – 7/10
This card is powercrept in this expansion: It is a much better Celaeno Harpy and potentially also a better Barbegazi. Despite having the downside of needing Dominance to get the Order, it should be really easy to trigger it as Monsters usually never have a problem of having the highest unit on board. We give this card a solid 7/10.
Desert Banshee – 5/10
This card is supposed to work as an engine for Deathwish archetypes, but it has to compete with too many cards in its provision slot. It is a relatively slow engine and doesn’t improve anything over the Consume engines that are usually played in this Deathwish archetype. Due to that, we are rating it 5/10.
Noonwraith – 5/10
Noonwraith is an interesting card which can be used in some meme decks that try to fill the opponent’s board. Aside from that, it provides decent 6 points for 4 provisions which and can be used in Thrive decks as it has a relatively high body. Thanks to this last factor, we rate it 5/10.
Nightwraith – 7/10
As it is quite flexible, this card can fit in swarm and Beast archetypes. At only 2 points, its Deathwish is lackluster, but in combination with its Deploy, it can Spawn four Rat tokens. This represents four 1-strength bodies for Glustyworp and four Beast tags for Morvudd. Due to this flexibility, we rated it 7/10.
As we can see, this expansion has mainly brought tools for two Monsters archetypes, Deathwish and Swarm, while it is also possible to create a new one based on Beasts. This expansion has been pretty decent for the red faction and can lead it to some interesting new decks which we expect to discover in the next weeks.
Masquerade Ball – 9/10
Nilfgaard's scenario will surely become popular in Aristocrat builds. Its value is insane if it can be procced, which shouldn’t be hard as it is very synergistic with the rest of the expansion set for this faction. Due to its high value, we rated it 9/10 and expect it to be played in most Nilfgaard decks built around the Aristocrat tag. Masquerade Ball’s double Poison in addition to the Thirsty Dame generates at least 14 points plus the benefits of the Poisons and possible Assimilate points.
Vincent Van Moorlehem – 9/10
Vincent is one of the best Aristocrats in the current set, as it synergizes with Masquerade Ball. Its card text is basically “destroy any enemy unit”, as you will always play it in a deck focusing on giving the opponent a status, which is the idea of every new Aristocrat in the expansion. Due to this versatility, we rated this card 9/10.
Philippe Van Moorlehem – 5/10
Philippe is a sort-of engine in the line with Sigvald for Skellige. Synergizing with statuses, we don’t believe this cards fits the identity of the mainly Deploy-focused Nilfgaardians. Its payoff can be huge; however, as most of the statuses we can inflict are already negative for the opponent, we are basically losing points every time we are triggering Philippe. Because of that, it can only be a 5/10; barely playable.
Van Moorlehem's Cupbearer – 9/10
This is one of the stellar cards of the expansion. It synergizes with some Assimilate archetypes and its abilities make it useful for Poison builds. If necessary, it can also be used as a 6-point Imperial Diviner. Due to this versatility, we rated this card 8/10, potentially even 9/10.
Thirsty Dame – 7/10
Personally, I underestimated this card on first sight, as I didn’t think it was so easy to put statuses on other cards. Taking this into account, we would rate it 7/10. It’s a good card, but it has to compete with other cards in its provision slot.
Hunting Pack – 7/10
Hunting Pack is a powercrept version of Impera Brigade. It can replace it in Hyperthin decks, but its downside is that it requires a status to thin the deck. This, however, should be fairly easy with Nilfgaard right now. Due to that, we would rate this card as 7/10.
Van Moorlehem Servant – 2/10
This is the equivalent of Dryad Grovekeeper in Nilfgaard, but in this case it depends on statuses. While having a certain type of unit on board is relatively easy, having statuses on the opponent’s board is certainly much more difficult. Therefore, this card is niche and it also has to compete with other really good ones from this expansion, like Van Moorlehem Hunter. We cannot rate this card more than 2/10.
Van Moorlehem Hunter – 7/10
As this card is based around putting different statuses on the opponent’s units, it is a good 4-provision card that supports the Aristocrat archetype. It is versatile, as it can be used to stop an engine or to inflict Bleeding on the opponent. This makes Van Moolehem Hunter deserving of a 7/10 rating.
This expansion has been really interesting for Nilfgaard, as it is able to develop developing a whole new archetype based on inflicting statuses on the opponent. While this dilutes Nilfgaard’s already problematic faction identity even further, it is also brought an interesting new way to play the faction. Nilfgaard is probably the faction that benefits the most from the Merchants of Ofir expansion.
Siege – 9/10
Northern Realm’s scenario is one of the most snowbally. The ability to play a ton of Siege Engines combined with the finisher Bombardment can make this card a potential board clear. Maybe, this can also bring back Mobilization back to the meta. Due to its insane snowball value, Siege deserves a 9 out of 10 rating.
War Elephant – 8/10
War Elephant is a nice addition to the Shield archetype. As we play tall anyways with King Roegner, there are now two tall units and last say is not required anymore to play it. In combination with new cards like Immortals and Immortal Cavalry, this card will always reach 16 points of value, much more than decent. As a consequence, it is definitely a 8/10 card.
Immortals – 6/10
This new Shield-based engine can break even pretty easily, and it is an interesting option for the Shield archetype. As there are currently not enough ways to remove the Shields, we can only give Immortals a 6/10.
War Chariot – 7/10
Although this card mends one of Northern Realms’s flaws, lack of movement, I don’t think this card is worth to play outside of a Soldier-based deck or thrown into a midrange build for its Vitality effect. We rate War Chariot 7/10.
Immortal Cavalry – 6/10
Immportal Cavalry’s main purpose is to Spawn Shields for a huge King Roegner without needing any Prophet Lebioda shenanigans. Outside of Shield builds, it shouldn’t be played, as it is a mediocre 6 points for 6 provisions without the King. Therefore, it can only be a 6/10 at this point.
Boiling Oil – 6/10
As one person said, this type of card is just Alzur's Thunder with extra text. While the Deathblow is not good against Defenders, which tend to be the main target of Purifys on the opponent’s side, it can be playable just for 5 damage. As there is not much profit of running Boiling Oil over Thunder, except in niche scenarios, we rate this card 6/10.
Carroballista – 6/10
Carroballista can see play if a build based on Siege Engines and supported by Siege grows in popularity. As the are currently better Siege Engines, this card receives only a 6 out of 10 rating.
Siege Ladder – 3/10
Although this card protects Northern Realms from movement effects, its low flexibility combined with its low raw value (only 6 points when its Crew ability is activated) makes it no more than a simple tech card that can be put in Shupe decks. Siege Ladder is no more than a 3/10.
Merchants of Ofir has given support to two archetypes in Northern Realms: Siege Engines and Shields, both of which needed it. While it doesn’t seem to be the most benefited faction from this expansion, we are sure it can resurge and its builds will change significantly from the last patch.
Feign Death – 8/10
The Scoia’tael scenario supports the Elf archetype. It can be scary in long rounds, as it can be paired with Vernossiel to generate a ton of points. As it is competing with The Great Oak in this provision slot in this archetype, we can only give it a rating of 8 out of 10.
Vernossiel – 9/10
Vernossiel is probably the reason of why Elves have become a serious archetype with this expansion. Its Ranged ability allows you to go to a short round without having to worry about points, while its Melee ability improves longer rounds. This card is probably a staple for all the decks built around Elves, achieving a rating of 9/10.
Etriel – 9/10
If you already have Muirlega on your side of the battlefield, Etriel can punish tall units and achieve 11 points for 7 provisions. If you do not, it is a simple 7 for 7. Due to its high value and its easy-to-achieve condition, we consider this card a staple in every Scoia’tael deck, which is why it is a 9/10.
Muirlega – 9/10
This 7-provision Beast pairs itself with Etriel. If you control the Elf, Muirlega can achieve 13 points, 9 of which in damage. Due to its flexibility with its partner Etriel, this card also deserves 9/10 rating, as it will be included in any deck where Etriel will appear.
Nature's Rebuke – 8/10
This interesting card is basically an Alzur's Thunder with the added benefit of a Deathblow. While its Deathblow is extremely niche (there are only three Treants in Scoia’tael), it doesn’t stop it from being a good card: Control has always been something lacked by Harmony decks, and Nature’s Rebuke is fixing this problem. As a Nature card, it can also be tutored with Fauve, which is not something that should be done in an ideal scenario, but it’s certainly a possibility. Taking all this into consideration, we can give this card a great 8 out of 10.
Vernossiel's Commando – 6/10
Vernossiel’s Commando is an interesting engine for the Elf archetype, which has received several improvements in this expansion. As this is a slow engine, it should only be used in long rounds; however, Elves already have an excellent long round, so we can only give it a 6/10.
Vrihedd Saboteur – 3/10
Has Kylo Ren decided to join Gwent in the form of an Elf supporter?! While handbuffing has been a part of the Scoia’tael identity for a long time, the Elf archetype doesn’t have a reason right now to justify the inclusion of this card over others with the Elf tag. Due to its lack of tempo and flexibility, it deserves a rating of 3/10, which could be improved if there were more Elves that needed handbuffing.
Trained Hawk – 8/10
At first sight, this card is reminiscent of Miner, but it is much more useful for the Harmony archetype, as it has the Beast tag. While it is not going to replace Vrihedd Dragoon in other builds, it can become a staple in Harmony. Because it’s an improvement to a deck that was already very strong last season, we give Trained Hawk an 8 out of 10.
As we can see, the focus of this expansion for Scoia’tael has been reinforcing the Elf archetype with short-round tools. At the same time, Merchants of Ofir brought some new useful toys for the entire faction (Etriel and Muirlega) and two cards that can further improve one of the best archetypes of the last patch, Harmony. We would say it has been a pretty satisfying expansion for the squirrels.
Gedyneith – 7/10
The new Skellige scenario is, at first sight, the most lackluster one in comparison with the rest of the faction scenarios. Despite that: When you calculate its maximum value of around 21 points, in combination with the fact that you can trigger two Chapters in one turn using the Second Wind leader ability, perhaps it is more attractive than it was at first sight; especially as Skellige already has at least two quality Druids (Gremist and Ermion). Due to its high provision cost, we decided to rate it as a 7 out of 10, but this card is worth keeping an eye on in the right type of deck.
Hotfix 5.0.1 UPDATE: Despite its slight buff in this hotfix, we want to maintain the rating we gave it. With its adjusted provision cost it can certainly be worth playing.
Crowmother – 6/10 7/10
The face of this expansion, Crowmother, is a Druid with two purposes: Developing carryover in Alchemy builds and creating two Beast bodies with Crow for Beast archetypes. While the design is interesting, its low-power body makes it feel a bit overcosted, and, as a consequence, we rate it 6/10.
Hotfix 5.0.1 UPDATE: Buffing Crowmother from a 3-point to 4-point body is certainly relevant, as this takes it out of Sweers's range. Additionally, this is closer to a 3-point buff due to the carryover nature of this card. As a consequence of that, we decided to raise its rating from 6 to 7, with the possiblity of it becoming an 8/10.
Axel Three-Eyes – 8/10
Axel Three Eyes is one of the most interesting cards for our Viking faction. Its flexibility and its acceptable point floor makes this card quite attractive in Beast builds as a kind of finisher. Another viable option is to include it in self-wound archetypes, as most of the best payoff cards of this archetype are Beasts, in which it is an alternative source of tempo. As a result, we rate this card 8/10.
Gigascorpion Decoction – 7/10
An alternative to Delirium, Gigascorpion Decoction will substitute into decks if we need to specifically focus a single unit instead of having damage loosely distributed across a row. This is an interesting card which surely will find its way in some Skellige decks, hence its rating of 7 out of 10.
Crow's-eye Rhizome – 7/10
Crow’s-Eye Ryzome is another decent Alchemy card for Skellige. However, it has to compete with Mardroeme in most decks and it also has a conditional maximum value of 6 points over 5 provisions. Despite that, it usually generates 3 Crows and it is a proactive play, so it might be useful in certain builds. Therefore, we rate it 7/10.
Crow Clan Druid – 8/10
I underrated Crow Clan Druid at first sight, but its conditional value of 8 points over 5 provisions is absolutely great and it can see play in the appropriate Beast-heavy build. Similar to its point value, its rating is a great 8/10.
Crow Clan Preacher – 4/10
Crow Clan Preacher is a support card for an Alchemy-focused archetype and perhaps a hybrid list with Beasts. However, this card has to compete with great cards in this provision slot for a relatively low payoff. Maybe with a different Bonded ability it could become playable, but right now, it can’t get more than a 4/10.
Crow Messenger – 6/10
Crow Messenger’s purpose is unclear. In theory, it can be used as cheap thinning and a sort of carryover from the graveyard. However, it competes with much better cards for Freya's Blessing resurrection. It is a decent card which can be rated 6 out of 10. Still, its competition is really strong and might obscure this card.
In summary, we can say that this expansion has not addressed the Skellige’s problems of having great bronzes but lacking powerful high-provision cards. Despite this, we can probably expect to see at least one new archetype appearing out of this expansion, based on Beasts and Alchemy, although it’s unclear how good this will be. Most of the previous archetypes have received decent cards, but in my opinion, it won’t be enough to expect the rise of Skellige from the ashes.
Collusion – 8/10
This new high-provision Crime requires specific deckbuilding but its payoff is certainly worth it, about 21 points. In reality, Collusion has a point ceiling of 26 points if you control all five gangs and use the 5 Coins gained with a 2:1 ratio spender (Philippa Eilhart). This is great design because it rewards specific deck- and board-building. Due to that, an 8 out of 10 seems like a fair rating, but Collusion is definitely close to a 9 when the double-gang card Bloody Good Friends is included in the deck.
Passiflora – 6/10
Syndicate’s scenario is an interesting card, especially in combination with Lined Pockets. However, the impossibility of progressing between two chapters in the same turn makes it feel a little bit underwhelming. Despite this, this card still has potential and it is definitely playable because it’s basically a way to constantly fuel your own Coin spenders, which sometimes can be the problem in Syndicate. Taking all this into consideration, this card gets a rating of 6/10, but it can also reach a 7 in the right deck.
Ludovicus Brunenbaum – 5/10
Ludovico represents pure greediness in Syndicate: Its payoff can be 11 points after two turns or a simple 7 points for 7 provisions if you decide to pay its Tribute. As the competition for this provision spot is tough, we don’t expect this card to see play in this month’s meta, so a rating of 5/10 seems fair.
Saul de Navarette – 6/10
This gold engine supports the Hoard archetype. This card is often underrated, and it definitely has potential. I don’t doubt somebody will try to build around it. For now, Saul is a 6/10, but its rating can be improved if the Hoard archetype becomes good.
Bloody Good Friends – 8/10
This exciting new spender represents me coming back from a party, circa 1207. Jokes aside, we can see this card as the continuation of the Bloody saga, the duo having been previously featured in Bloody Good Fun and Crownsplitter Thug. As a 1:1 spender, this card will take the spot of Witch Hunter Executioner. It is also worth to notice that it has the double gang tags with Crownsplitter and Cutup, which makes it a great card to include in a Collusion deck. We rate Blood Good Friends an 8 out of 10.
Passiflora Peaches – 5/10
Hoard has been an underused archetype is Syndicate, especially due to the lack of cards which benefited from Hoarding turn to turn. Passiflora Peaches is a good solution to this problem, in combination with Saul de Navarette. However, it is unsure how viable this archetype will be, so we think this card is at least deserving of a 5/10 rating.
Payroll Specialist – 6/10
This is another Coin spender that fills one of the areas Syndicate has been lacking in; in this case, it is movement. Its value isn’t possible to be quantified in points, but it’s certainly interesting. Due to that, we give it a 6/10, as it can see play as a tech choice.
Street Urchins – 5/10
This card allows us to have a flexible Coin spender, but it is improbable that it will see play due to the existence of Bloody Good Friends, which is better. Still, it can be played in decks that use Bincy Blumerholdt, as its Profit 3 synergizes synergizes with it. We rate this card a 5/10 as it is playable, but it also has to compete with other 4-provision spenders which can be more efficient, such as Sea Jackal.
For Syndicate, this expansion has given support to an archetype that had been underdeveloped: Hoard. While Syndicate is probably one of the faction that hasn't received most of the powerful cards, these little reinforcements for sure will help the faction to continue fighting for the top of the metagame.