Seasonal Mode Guide: Season of the Dryad
What Is Seasonal Mode?
Seasonal Mode is a special game mode, rotating each month, with a unique ruleset where you fight another player. To join the queue, you need to be at least Level 10.
Playing this mode allows you to complete some quests in the seasonal Reward Tree. Also, this mode is the best place to complete contracts quickly, which will grant you Reward Points (RP). While spending RP, you will encounter special nodes marked with a chalice. Some of these will stop you from proceeding further until you finish a quest. Few of them can be done exclusively in seasonal mode, but most can be done in any mode in game.
We will update this guide and add more decks in the coming weeks!
Season of the Dryad
This month, you fight for the Dryad card back, three unique avatars, four Dryad borders, and two premium Vrihedd Dragoons. To complete the Season of the Dryad Reward Tree, you require 96 RP, while the fastest way to the Protector border requires 53 RP. To complete the Leader Tree (Morenn), you need 88 RP, while the fastest way to the Dryad card back requires 56 RP.
I would like to point out that this season’s border is an enriched version of the open-beta Dryad border and it is definitely one of the best in the game right now.
What if I don’t have time and Reward Points for this season’s Reward Tree?
Fear not! CDPR provides a solution: Each month, you can find a Seasonal Bundle in the store which contains everything that was available in the season four month prior with an additional bonus cosmetic- a new border or an avatar. Accordingly, the Seasonal Bundle of the Season of the Dryad will be in the store in January 2020.
“At the end of turn: Friendly odd-value units are damaged by 1; Friendly even-value units are boosted by 1.”
The rules for this mode look pretty straightforward, but this appearance is deceiving. There are always a lot of things happening on the board and it will be hard to calculate the correct math, especially when engines are ticking.
While building your deck, it is important to answer one simple question: Would you like to take advantage of this mode yourself or do you want to be a parasite benefiting off of your opponent? An example for a deck that focuses on its own side of the board is, as presented below, Northern Realms with Queen Meve (leader ability: ‘Royal Inspiration’), while a deck extracting points from its opponent is Skellige with Crach an Craite (‘Onslaught’).
The suggestions of cards and decks in the next sections of this guide are, as the name suggests, only suggestions and I encourage everyone to tinker with them. This is particularly important when you are having problems against specific decks. tech choices are just as important in Seasonal Mode as they are on the ladder.
There will be a change in the deck descriptions due to an upcoming change announced with Patch 3.2. Leader abilities will be detached from their respective leaders so, in this month’s guide, we will list both the leader and the respective ability name.
Let’s take a look at the cards and decks!
With the last few patches, we have seen that CDPR is trying to boost faction cards while leaving neutrals behind, but in the end, there are still a few useful cards. I’m talking about cards that can expand existing archetypes or cards that are useful tools not available in the faction card pools.
- Spores: Excellent card, especially when facing She-Troll of Vergen, Glustyworp, An Craite Greatswords or numerous boosting cards in Northern Realms.
- Northern Wind and Moon Dust: Solid control cards that can be used to deal with specific opponents.
- Alzur's Thunder: Better choice than the two previous cards. Thunder can deal up to 5 damage. This is especially usable in this mode, as most engines enter with 4 power and get boosted to 5.
- Dimeritium Shackles: A lot of cards will be over 4 or 5 power and that’s why it’s sometimes better to just Lock them.
- Stammelford's Tremors: Good choice when facing a lot of Arachas Queen (‘Arachas Swarm’).
- Bone Talisman: Similar situation to Stammelford’s, but the opposite: good while playing Arachas Swarm.
- Geralt of Rivia: Like always, our beloved Witcher can find its place in a meta with a higher number of engines.
- Triss: Telekinesis: Triss (#TeamYenn btw) received only a little buff in this patch, but in combination with some bronze special cards, it is a very interesting card.
- Vigo's Muzzle: Typical control card finding its place in the engine meta.
- Geralt: Yrden: Expensive and unreliable card, but may be outstanding in specific matchups.
Monsters might not be the most popular faction on Ranked ladder, but it’s absolutely dominant in Seasonal Mode. Sure, pings and tall-unit punish can be a little problematic for it, but it still won’t be that easy for your opponent to catch up with your point output.
Arachas Queen (‘Arachas Swarm’) is without a doubt the most powerful leader for the current Seasonal Mode. This deck not only has zero downsides, but it also has a huge potential to create lots of value. A great example of this is a She-Troll of Vergen combined with Arachas Nest: This combo alone produces 8 points per turn! But you also shouldn’t forget about Vran Warriors or Caranthir Ar-Feiniel, who basically activates the Deathwish of any unit from our hand. Lots of unfair combinations in a consistent list, what more can you ask for? If your main motive to play Seasonal Mode is winning games, this is the deck to play.
The most important thing in the mulligan phase is not bricking Portal. Besides that, you can sometimes mulligan more aggressively for removal, such as Cyclops or Predatory Dive, if you’re expecting to play against engines.
- Avallac'h: Sage is the one card I’m not really sure about. It’s worth considering replacing it for Vigo's Muzzle and then downgrading the Devana Runestone for Spores. This change should work primarily in the mirror match.
- Another interesting card to replace Avallac’h with might be Germain Piquant.
- If you really care about killing engines, it might be worth considering replacing one of the 5-provision cards (e.g. Cyclops or Rotfiend) for Alzur's Thunder.
Because of the popularity of engines, we couldn’t pick any other leader for the Black Ones than Ardal aep Dahy (‘Enslave’). After the last Ranked season, we all know how hard it is to have any engine stick on the board against this Nilfgaardian nobleman. In a Seasonal Mode where Northern Realms and Arachas Queen are the meta, Ardal is the way to go.
Enslave allows you to steal any engine you want. This particular list is hard-teched against popular decks, which is the main reason you’re playing cards like Leo Bonhart or Alzur's Thunder. Assire var Anahid is another card worth highlighting, as it's a really flexible option. You can either shuffle any Tactic card you want and pull it from your deck with Menno Coehoorn or just shuffle back Roach for a 9-point play. This deck’s playstyle is very similar to the Control Ardal list from last month's Constructed meta.
Mulliganing is pretty standard: You never want Fire Scorpions or Roach. If you don’t expect your opponent to play big units, you can consider mulliganing Leo Bonhart as well.
- The first change I would consider is swapping the Dazhbog Runestone for Dimeritium Shackles. With the number of engines in this Seasonal mode, you might really need that ability to Lock something.
- In the original version of the deck, I played Shilard Fitz-Oesterlen and Damien de la Tour instead of Vivienne de Tabris and Leo Bonhart.
- Replacing either Vivienne or Leo with Stefan Skellen seems to be a really greedy change, but it might be worth it.
Northern Realms, despite facing the infamous nerf hammer, is still one of the strongest factions in the game. Especially in this mode, where paying attention to the power of the cards is profitable.
My proposition for a Northern Realms deck is Queen Meve (‘Royal Inspiration’) combined with the numerous cards gaining advantage from being boosted, notably from Inspiration, while having some answers to the opponent’s cards. When playing this deck, you should pay special attention to the usage of Royal Inspiration: Don’t boost units that already have even power.
While creating this deck, I was mostly focusing on the balance between generating points on your side of the board and still having a possibility to answer your opponent’s strategy. That’s why in this deck you can find Prince Anséis, Margarita Laux-Antille and Vigo's Muzzle. I suggest extreme caution in using those cards when facing Bloodthirsty units from Skellige or Monsters.
Your mulligans depend on what you are facing. The main rule is to search for golds, but still keep in mind to not brick Portal and try to find cards that have synergy between them, like Aretuza Adept and Kaedweni Sergeant or Anna Strenger and Tridam Infantry
- Bloody Baron does not always find a suitable target. That’s why you can replace it with Geralt of Rivia.
- Black Rayla or Prince Stennis can be swapped out for Thaler, Foltest's Pride, Dandelion or Avallac'h
- Winch has some synergy with Kaedweni Sergeant and Nenneke. After adding Winch, you can also add Triss: Telekinesis to the deck.
Even in this Seasonal, the squirrels are showing that they’re no worse than the other factions.
With this deck’s large number of archers (like Milaen, Pavko Gale, Braenn or Dol Blathanna Archer), you’re able to control the opponent’s board and disrupt their strategy with simple 1-point damage pings. It might not be the best deck for ladder (especially after the buffs in the recent patch), but I guarantee you that it will bring you a lot of joy in Seasonal Mode!
This deck is one of the best options against the popular Arachas Queen (‘Arachas Swarm’), mostly because of the number of pings and efficient removal cards. Besides your good control options, you also have several proactive plays, like Mahakam Defenders, that generate 2 points per turn if not answered. An essential aspect of piloting this deck is managing your removal cards wisely, so you’re always prepared for your opponent’s most dangerous threats. You should also try to keep either Portal or Novigradian Justice for Round 3.
Mulliganing is the trickiest element of this deck, as you always have to be cautious. You never want to see both Elven Swordmasters and Mahakam Defenders. Bricking Portal or Novigradian Justice can cost you the whole game.
- Saesenthessis, Pavko Gale, Hawker Smuggler can be replaced with good old Ithlinne Aegli, Sheldon Skaggs and Samum.
- Sometimes Waylay might be pretty hard to set up. You can consider switching it for Moon Dust or Northern Wind.
Ach, Skellige! It is a land of humidity and rheumatism! However, it is one of the best places to stay for awhile, enjoy the company of brave warriors and march with them onto the battlefield to kick some ass.
Here, I present to you, my friend, a deck that uses Crach an Craite (‘Onslaught’) with mechanics like Bloodthirst and Berserk. You can also find Skellige’s most important cards in the deck, such as An Craite Greatswords and Dagur Two Blades. Together, those cards make one of the best decks in this mode.
It is important to not waste Greatswords or Dagur too quickly. They are your win condition. Other cards like Knut the Callous, Djenge Frett or Geralt: Professional should be used to keep your opponent on a short leash. Onslaught is very important to get value from this season’s rules, for example by setting your opponent’s cards to odd value, boosting Greatsword/Dagur or activating Bloodthirst.
While mulliganing, you are looking for your most important cards that synergize with each other, like Blueboy Lugos and Svalblod Priest, Tuirseach Veteran and Heymaey Herbalist or Knut the Callous and Olaf.
- You can get a more consistent deck by replacing Geralt: Professional with Royal Decree or Renew.
- Drummond Shieldmaidens sometimes brick because this deck doesn’t use Svalblod (‘Ursine Ritual’) and, thus, cannot proc the Shieldmaidens in the same turn. That’s why you can replace them with An Craite Longship
- Olaf is a target for Knut the Callous; however, another Tuirseach Veteran can be just as good as this bear. With provisions left after this swap, you can also upgrade your Dimun Pirate Captain and Svalblod Butchers.
From patch to patch, Syndicate has suffered quite a lot of nerfs, especially for the Bounty mechanic, but it still is one of the strongest factions in Gwent. Because of that, I attempted to create a deck that contains cards with this mechanic as well as synergy with Crimes.
This deck has many cards that are typical for this strategy, such as Portal into Cutup Lackeys, Novigradian Justice into Bare-Knuckle Brawlers, Congregation combined with Whoreson Senior, the Borsodi brothers (Horst and Ewald), and Bounties with Witch Hunter Executioner. Also in the list, you can find Coerced Blacksmith to keep your cards even-valued.
While mulliganing, you should be aware of the two most important cards in your deck: Portal and Novigradian Justice. These two cards allow you to thin your deck and create good tempo, mainly in Round 1. Most factions in this mode will rely on their engines; that’s why it is important to bleed them in Round 2.
- It is hard to find anything to change, but Tax Collector (aka Rysik) is not always necessary. That’s why it can be exchanged for another Coerced Blacksmith.
- After the recent nerfs, Swindle is not particularly strong anymore, so together with Horst Borsodi, it can be replaced with another Eavesdrop and Dip in the Pontar.