Welcome to the fourth part of our Beginner’s Guide series! We hope you’ll enjoy reading through the rest of the guide!
7) WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE FACTIONS?
While each Faction doesn’t limit general deck archetypes (ex. Nothing is stopping you from playing cards based around buffs, no matter what faction, for example), some Faction specific cards and Leaders go better with some strategies than others.
In addition, each Faction has general trends and keywords that feel ‘exclusive’ to them. These may not be entirely exclusive, but many of their cards carry certain keywords, or utilize certain mechanics more than others, thus lending uniqueness to each faction’s potential with various strategies. For example, many Monster cards utilize Deathwish and Consume keywords more than any other faction.
Before we dive deeper, BeeBoBoop has prepared for you another episode in which he’ll give you a quick rundown of each faction:
If you liked the video, be sure to check out the entire ‘Gwent for Dummies’ series on BeeBoBoop’s Youtube channel!
Monsters –MO– (Red): Monsters represent the natural (and unnatural) world of the Witcher series, often representing beasts and species that don’t bow to the general rules of civilization.
- Swarm: Not a keyword. This refers to a strategy of creating multiple, usually weak units en masse. In many card games, these weak masses can be referred to as ‘tokens’, or token units.
- Thrive: Keyword. Increase unit’s strength whenever another allied unit of higher power is played.
- Deathwish: Keyword. When unit dies, trigger an effect usually beneficial for you.
- Consume: Keyword. Unit destroys a targeted allied unit, and increases its own power based on the strength of the destroyed unit. Sometimes referred to as ‘sacrifice’ in other games, where one destroys their own units for gain.
- Bleeding: Keyword. Status that is applied on an enemy unit for X amount of turns (X being a specified number), with the effect of damaging a unit by 1 when the turn ends for your opponent.
- Dominance: Keyword. It is used to describe triggering effects when you play something while you have the biggest unit on the board. Note: the card you play doesn’t count itself as the highest unit, meaning you need to have the highest unit on board when you play a card with this effect.
- Organic: Special card subtype. Not exclusive to Monsters, but they have more than any other faction and a few more interactions with Organic cards.
Monsters generally like to play focused on putting out units, rather than controlling threats with damage / spells. Their strategies often involve utilizing their ‘exclusive’ keywords together.
Thrive allows otherwise weak units to gain value over time. Deathwish can punish opponents who try to kill your units. Consume can be a way to easily trigger your own Deathwish effects (especially since opponents don’t to kill your Deathwish units outright) to gain even more value, while also maintaining your point score. Bleeding is a damage over time effect, that acts like an engine which is triggered on your opponent’s turn. Dominance, describes units who have abilities that can be triggered if you already have the highest strength unit on the board – very few of these kinds of cards are non-Monster cards, if any. Lastly, Swarm refers to how some Monster specific cards / effects can produce multiple units at a time, and this can help play into the above keywords (ex. gives you Consume targets) and maintain point leads.
Their leader abilities focus on these trends and have very simple-to-use powers. Carapace is an ability that has 2 charges and allows you to boost a unit by 3 strength and give it a shield. This can be used to help keep the target safe so you can exploit card effects while they’re present. An example is using Carapace to protect Ge’els so all your next cards can trigger Deathwish abilities by simply being played. Other examples include protecting cards like Nekurat, Imlerith and Yennefer: Conjurer to maintain strong control over the board.
Force of Nature simply boosts a card in your hand by 8 once per match, handy for point leads or to maintain Dominance effects. For example it is great with practically any low strength card, so you can trigger a Thrive by playing a removal such as Geralt of Rivia as your last play, while not giving your opponent an even taller target waiting to be removed. A common deck combination with this ability often involves high strength cards like Old Speartip and Golyat, with other cards like Ozzrel and Ghoul, effectively double dipping on high strength cards and using the leader ability to help win matches.
Death’s Shadow allows for multiple Deathwish triggers over the course of a match without actually killing said Deathwish units. Examples of strong Deathwish card effects include Imperial Manticore and Miruna.
Arachas Swarm pairs very nicely with Swarm decks, as the ability is passively spawning a 1 strength unit (‘tokens’) whenever you play an Organic card and it also has 5 charges that can spawn the token. You can make use of these tokens by pairing them with cards that are effective when you have a lot of units on the board. For example it pairs nicely with cards that can boost a lot of units at once, such as Bone Talisman, Triss: Telekinesis, Zoltan: Scoundrel, Yennefer of Vengerberg, Arachas Behemoth, and even Glustyworp.
Fruits of Ysgith is spawning a 1 strength token that has Thrive. This ability usually works well with a similar type of deck as Force of Nature, which includes tall units, but it also allows you to add some cards like Griffin, Fleder, Pugo Boom-Breaker, that can benefit the most here.
Lastly, Blood Scent is the go-to ability for Vampire decks. It has 3 charges and it allows the player to apply a 3 turn Bleeding effect on an enemy unit. This effect plays an important role into the game as it can ignore Armor and it synergizes well with Vampire decks. For example, cards like Garkain and Orianna are engines that will only work if you previously applied Bleeding on an enemy unit.
If you like focusing on units and winning through might and destruction, whether it be through amassing ‘tokens’, reigning Dominance over your opponents, or sacrificing your own units to make gains, Monsters may be for you. As I mentioned earlier, if you’re lacking cards the Monster starter deck is one of the better starter decks to use, alongside the Scoia’Tael starter.
Skellige –SK– (Purple): Skellige are human islanders native to large islands far away from the mainland. While their territory size seems tiny compared to the other human civilizations, surprisingly enough they have yet to be conquered (not that others haven’t tried). This is due to the warring nature, as they are similar to Vikings of real life lore, finding glory in combat and plunder. If others won’t bring battles to them, they will raid the mainland in search of combat themselves.
- Resurrection: Not a keyword, and not exclusive to Skellige (though they have more instances of using this mechanic). Refers to ‘reviving’ or playing cards from your graveyard. Note: some cards play a card from the graveyard, while others summon it without triggering its effects.
- Bloodthirst: Keyword. Status that triggers an effect if the condition of a number of damaged enemy units is present, e.g Bloodthirst 3 means three damaged enemy units must be present on the board to activate that particular Bloodthirst.
- Berserk: Keyword. Card ability triggers when the unit has the specified amount of strength left. Skellige often features many effects that damage themselves. While this seems counter-intuitive, this can often activate more powerful effects or allow strong interactions, since many Skellige cards do things if they are damaged.
- Discard: Keyword. Move a card from your hand to the graveyard. Skellige cards tend to feature cards that use discard. While it seems counter-intuitive to lose cards, often times they make it up by being able to play / draw another card.
- Alchemy: Special card subtype. Not exclusive to Skellige, but they have more than any other faction and a few more interactions with Alchemy cards.
Skellige thematically loves berserk destruction, even if it hurts themselves. As such, they have cards to work well with damaged allies and enemies alike. They can even discard cards to gain benefits! This can be great to cycle through your own deck to get what you need. Due to this theme of working with damaged units, they often have ways of inflicting the pain to units regardless of allegiance. Not to be held back by elimination, they also have ways to reuse units that have been sent to the graveyard.
Their leader abilities fit their overall theme pretty well. Onslaught (damage an enemy unit by 1, with a cooldown of 2 turns) and Reckless Flurry (split 8 damage randomly to all enemy units once per match), both offer ways of just dealing damage to enemy units, the difference between them being that the first one is better in a longer round, while the second one is better in a shorter round. Examples of these powers in play include using the Onslaught ability to help activate any Bloodthirst card and combining the Reckless Flurry ability with Dagur Two Blades for a huge score change (enemy takes 8 damage while Dagur is boosted by 8).
Meanwhile, Sacrificial Vanguard (can discard a card, then draw a card once per round – also passively damages a random enemy by 1 whenever you discard) and Second Wind (play a Warrior from your graveyard) offer ways to play with deck cycling and reusing previously used cards. An example for Sacrificial Vanguard is combining his power with Tuirseach Skirmisher (When this unit is discarded, summon it from your graveyard to the melee row) to get some value, as the card that is discarded will come into play instead. A Second Wind use is to make a combo play with Knut the Callous and Olaf / An Craite Greatsword and Hemdall in the same turn or just replay power cards like Hjalmar an Craite, Morkvarg: Heart of Terror, Hemdall depending on the board state.
Patricidal Fury is another leader ability that works well with Bloodthirst units. This ability provides an 11 strength token on your side of the board, while spawning 3 token for your opponent that have 2 strength and also damaging those by 1 (effectively playing for 8 points). This makes sure you can play and activate cards with Bloodthirst 3 in the same turn, with the potential of being able to trigger Bloodthirst again, later on, if your opponent doesn’t answer. A few examples of cards with Bloodthirst that work really well with it are: Svanrige Tuirseach and Donar An Hindar. At the same time, there are a few cards without Bloodthirst that can synergize, like Madman Lugos and Regis.
Ursine Ritual is a leader ability that is able to damage your own units by 1, while having 5 charges, and when these charges are depleted it will spawn a 5 strength token on your side of the board. Why would you damage your own units? Because Skellige has the Berserk cards that are triggering their effects when they are damaged. One of the best cards to use with this ability is Vildkaarl, a 5 strength for 9 provisions that will transform itself into a 12 strength card if it is damaged by 3 and it is not killed; this means that you’re actually ignoring the damage done to yourself and play instead a 12 strength for 9 provisions.
If you like the idea of dealing damage to literally everything (including yourself), want to get tricky with getting benefits from graveyard cards, want to use discard effects for good deck cycling, or just feel like having a bunch of Viking-esque warriors in a deck, Skellige may be for you.
Scoia’Tael –ST– (Green): Scoia’Tael represents various non-human races fighting against discrimination usually from humans. Long ago, non-human races like Elves used to rule the Continent, until humans drove them to near extinction. Driven out of their lands and left to die, those who would rather fight until their last breath join the Scoia’Tael, for they have very little left to lose. In Gwent, they are mostly comprised of Elves, Dwarves, and Dryads.
- Artifacts: Not a keyword, although artifacts are a type of card. Ambush cards often set up minefields for your opponents to figure out, as they need to guess what Ambush cards you played and then react accordingly to minimize problems for themselves. However, Ambush cards also count as artifacts, so certain interactions with other cards are made possible.
- Buffs / Handbuffs: Not a keyword, and not exclusive to Scoia’Tael, but is a general term interchangeable with boosts. Many Scoia’Tael units can play effects when boosted, or benefit from being boosted. For example, some units have an effect that is triggered if the said unit is already boosted. In addition Scoia’Tael have the most ‘handbuff’ effects in the game, where something can boost cards in your current hand.
- Row Movement: Not a keyword. While not exclusive to Scoia’Tael, the faction features more row movement effects than any other faction. This refers to effects that move a unit to a different position on the board. This can be used in combination with cards that have additional benefits when cards are moved, or to manipulate the board to set up traps or spells.
- Harmony: Keyword. Harmony is a less optimal form of an engine that will buff itself by 1 or the specified amount, for each unique Scoia’Tael card with a different category tag. Why is it a “less optimal” engine? Because the effect doesnt trigger automatically at the end of your turn, but only when you play another card and meet the requirements. Since this faction has a large diversity of categories, the cards that have Harmony are actually viable engines. Let’s dive deeper and talk about how it works exactly with this example: i play a Dryad Fledgling with Harmony, then i play an Elf; this will buff my Dryad by 1. If i play another Dryad or another Elf, my Dryad Fledgling will not buff herself by 1, because i already had her as a Dryad and also an Elf present on the board, but it will receive the buff for playing an Elf, if my first Elf was killed in the meantime.
- Poison: Keyword. Status effect that is applied to a unit; if the unit reaches two instances of this status, it is destroyed. This effect is more common in Scoia’Tael and having at least two (preferably three, so you can have a backup one) of these cards that can apply Poison is a very good tech against tall units. Keep in mind that this is a status effect, meaning it can be removed with Purify before you are able to apply the second Poison.
- Ambush: Keyword. Scoia’Tael have access to Ambush cards. These are played facedown, meaning the opponent does not know what card it is. These Ambush cards often flip up and trigger effects in reaction to something the opponent does on their turn, such as when they play a card or pass a turn. Otherwise, the Scoia’Tael player may choose to manually flip a facedown card up on their turn, to produce a lesser effect (such as less damage).
- Nature: Special card subtype. Currently exclusive to Scoia’Tael.
True to the thematics of the faction, Scoia’Tael fighters can set up guerilla-style ambushes for their prey. They are the only faction to have access to Ambush cards which can really put a damper on your opponent’s play. In addition, one can set up artifact synergies with these traps, since they count as artifacts. Otherwise, Scoia’Tael also favours buff synergies, where they want to set up units who are good with buffs due to additional effects. Some cards play strong effects if they’re already boosted, so using handbuff cards can be useful. Movement manipulation is also a handy mechanic for Scoia’Tael as they feature cards that can benefit from this (ex. Deal free damage whenever an enemy is moved), and can also be used to set up traps or spells. They also have several cards that care about unit types, allowing players to craft thematic decks built around Harmony.
Scoia’Tael leaders are quite flexible, not necessarily being built around their faction ‘traits’. While most of their powers are not necessarily ‘simple-to-use’, they are very versatile powers.
The first leader ability is Guerilla Tactics and it allows you to move an allied or even an enemy unit to a different row, while also buffing an allied unit or damaging an enemy unit by 2. It comes with 3 charges and it can be used for value plays, such as combining it with cards like Vrihedd Brigade and Dol Blathanna Sentry. Guerilla Tactics may also be used to help set up row-specific conditions or effects, like throwing multiple units into the same row and then playing a card that deals damage to that row, such as Crushing Trap or Lacerate.
Invigorate offers the simplest power: A once-per-match boost to all units in hand, which means obvious synergy with buff cards. Examples of cards that benefit from already being boosted include Mahakam Defender and Elven Wardancer.
Some leader abilities are restricted to spells only, like Mystic Echo. This one can replay a Special Scoia’Tael card from your graveyard, which means that you want to run some high provision spells in your deck. Novigradian Justice, Water of Brokilon and Call of the Forest are the best cards for this ability and can help define decks based around Dryad and / or Dwarf archetypes.
Precision Strike is a flexible leader ability thanks to its simple, yet versatile power having a limited amount of charges to spend on dealing one damage to a target (referred to as ‘pings’). She currently has 4 charges of 1 damage pings. This power has been severely nerfed compared to the early days, but to counterbalance this she adds the highest number of Provisions to a deck (18). Her ability can be great for helping to win by point leads, but is also extremely flexible in that it can help destroy key detrimental units and set up any number of conditions needed for better results when it comes to certain spells or combos. In other words, Eithne’s ability can be used to gain more value out of other cards. For example, her 1 damage pings can be instrumental in helping set up cards like Scorch or Regis, so multiple units are affected instead of just one. Or you can use her damage to help set up destroy engines, such as bringing a target low enough for other cards to kill it and thus become more powerful. It can also be used on your own units for disalignment, in rare occasions.
Deadeye Ambush is the go-to leader ability for decks based around the usage of Traps and it synergizes with the Elf archetype. It can be used only on face-up allied Traps (meaning Traps that have triggered their ability beforehand) and it transforms said Trap into a 3 strength Elf token. Given that it has 4 charges, it can help swarming the board, in order to gain more value out of cards like Isengrim Faoiltiarna or just summon Aelirenn out of your deck.
Call of Harmony is the last leader ability for the “non-human” faction and relies on building your deck in a specific way. This can play any Scoia’Tael card out of your deck, starting from 0 Provision cards, with the value being raised by 1 Provision for each different type of Scoia’Tael card in your deck. Which means that in order to gain more value out of it, you will need to include cards that are: dwarves, elves, dryads, gnomes, beasts, treants, humans, dragons, traps, nature spells, tactic spells and alchemy spells.
If you like the idea of setting up logistical minefields for your opponent through facedown Ambush cards, playing around with ‘tribe’ units/themes, playing with buff cards, or just want some flexible leaders for various strategies, Scoia’Tael may be what you’re looking for.
Northern Realms –NR– (Blue): Northern Realms are represented as various human states located in the north. Their borders are always changing due to constant strife and rivalry amongst themselves, however this has made the Nordlings a strong hardy people. When it comes to uniting against a common foe, they are powerful, but it won’t be long before the Northern Realms once again start fighting among themselves after the threat is gone. Various non-humans live as second class citizens here, and Nilfgaard has partially conquered some areas in the past.
- Specters: Not a keyword. There are not many Specter types in the game, but most of them belong to NR. There are some powerful interactions exclusive to Specter types.
- Machines: Not a keyword. While not exclusive to NR, they have the most Machine type units, and these often use Order abilities that require Charges, and benefit from Zeal.
- Orders / Charges: Keywords. Not exclusive to NR, but they use these more often than any other faction. Some Order abilities can be used repeatedly on a cooldown, while other Order abilities are limited based on the number of Charges available (ex. 2 charges means you can use that Order ability 2 times). NR tend to have cards that interact with Charges, whether simply increasing them or doing something based on the number of charges available.
- Zeal: Keyword. Not exclusive to NR but they use it more often. Zeal allows a unit to use its Order immediately, instead of having to wait a turn before being able to use it. Some NR cards and leader abilities can also give Zeal to units, allowing these to do special effects before giving opponents a chance to react to it.
- Inspired: Keyword. This ability is triggered only if your unit is boosted over its base strength. The extent of this ability is an improved effect over their standard one. For example, Bloody Baron will normally reset a unit, but it can reset a unit and also apply a Bleeding effect, if it is Inspired.
- Crew: Keyword. The unit will trigger this ability only if it is placed between two Soldiers. Like Inspired, this effect is supposed to improve the standard ability of the card.
- Resupply: Keyword. Cards with this ability can trigger the effect each time you play a Warfare card.
- Formation: Keyword. The idea of Formation is to provide flexibility in a faction that has many cards with Orders. Since this ability has two uses, you can either play your card on the melee row and gain Zeal or you can play it on the ranged row and boost self by 1.
- Duel: Keyword. This ability will put two units into a “fighting” mode, in which the unit with Duel strikes first, based on how much strength it has. The enemy unit will get hit for that amount and will hit back with the strength left. This process will keep going until one of the units dies. In order to maximize the value of a Duel, the unit that starts the fight should have roughly 60% of the receiver’s strength (see “Golden ratio” — credit goes to Johaggis).
- Warfare: Special card subtype. Currently exclusive to Northern Realms.
Northern Realms tend to favour trends involving using units with Orders. Several Order abilities require Charges to continue doing what they do, and Zeal allows them to do something immediately instead of normally waiting a turn. Likewise, multiple NR cards can give off Charges or Zeal, allowing them to best make use of their Order abilities. This kind of playstyle may be referred to as an ‘engine’ style, where you set up something that can achieve a greater value if left unchecked. NR, like Scoia’Tael, also has unit / ‘tribe’ themes, as they have many interactions with Machine, Soldier, and Specter types.
Leader abilities also help out with the whole Order / Charge / Zeal trinity. Inspired Zeal can boost NR allies by 1, while giving them Zeal – practically any Order unit (within the faction) can benefit from being able to immediately use their ability, though powerful examples include Roche: Merciless, Prince Anseis, Seltkirk of Gulet, Nenneke, Blue Stripes Commando, Kaedweni Revenant, and more.
Royal Inspiration is an ability that lets you boost an ally by 1 and has a 2 turns cooldown. This benefits a ‘long round’ style of play and it synergizes with cards that have the Inspired keyword and even cards with Order to keep them alive. This includes cards like Priscilla, Black Rayla, Anna Strenger, Reinforced Trebuchet and the best example: Prince Anseis; this can be placed on a melee row to gain Zeal from the Formation keyword and then boosted by 1 from the leader ability, in order to trigger the Duel effect, instead of dealing 4 damage to an enemy unit.
Mobilization can play a copy of an allied unit on the battlefield from your deck (usually this means a Bronze unit since you can only have one copy of each Gold card, unless you multiplied it through other means), boost it by 3, and give it Zeal. There are various Bronze cards you could multiply and make use of immediately (as well as set up engines), such as Lyrian Arbalest, Aedirnian Mauler, Cintrian Spellweaver, Kaedweni Revenant, Redanian Archer, Aretuza Adept, and even Machine type units like Ballista and Reinforced Ballista.
Vicious Slash has the power of dealing 8 damage to a unit once per match and any excess damage will bleed the adjacent units for the respective amount. This ability can seem out of place with the NR general trends, but on the other hand it opens up other strategies thanks to this wholly different power.
Stockpile can give Charges to units repeatedly on a 2 turns cooldown. Since there are plenty of Order units that use Charges, Stockpile can keep these engines going to increase their value. Examples include using it with cards that can generate 2 points per charge like Shani, Priscilla, Foltest’s Pride, Huber Rejk and many other units that can generate 1 point per charge.
Lastly, Pincer Maneuver can play two cards on the same turn. When you use this leader ability, you will be prompted to select a card from hand, play it and then pull out any card from your deck (including Gold cards) and play another card from hand (which can also be the one you just pulled from your deck). This is extremely powerful since it allows you to set up multiple engines on the same turn, making it harder for your opponent to answer all of them immediately. One of the best cards to pull out of the deck is Portal, which will effectively play two engines with one card, and can be combo-ed in the same turn with another card.
If you like setting up ‘engines’ through armies and war machines, then pelting away with Order abilities that miraculously don’t run out and are available quickly, Northern Realms might be for you.
Nilfgaard –NG– (Black): The Nilfgaardian Empire is the most powerful empire in the world. Originating in the southern parts of the Continent, it has expanded mostly from conquering foreign countries and converting them into provinces of Nilfgaard. With a large, disciplined military backed by a strong economy and a big appetite for expansion, it is no wonder why most most other civilizations hate them.
- Soldiers: Not a keyword. Not exclusive to Nilfgaard, but they certainly have a lot of Soldier types. Nilfgaard cards tend to have effects that benefit from using Soldier types.
- Reveal: Keyword. Reveal a card to both players, then hide it back into their deck. It often plays an effect alongside itself, like Banish the revealed card or Buff your unit based on the base strength of the revealed target. Essentially a risk that relies on randomness, but this risk can be mitigated with the right deck composition.
- Assimilate: Keyword. Boost self by 1 or the specified amount, for each unit you play that is not present in your starting deck. This effect heavily relies on cards played from Create and cards that Spawn other cards. Nilfgaard has quite a few cards that are synergizing with this effect, but there are also neutral cards that can be used; to mention a few of them: Imperial Diplomacy, Experimental Remedy, Artorius Vigo, Bribery, Stefan Skellen, Scepter of Storms, Avallac’h and even Letho: Kingslayer.
- Spying: Keyword. Status for a unit played or moved to the opposite side of the battlefield. It seems counter-intuitive to give units to your opponent, but often these give you benefits, and/or can be used for setting up interactions. Spying units are not exclusive to Nilfgaard but they have more of them, and have more uses for them.
- Lock: Keyword. Status that disables a unit’s abilities. Not exclusive to Nilfgaard, but again they have more of these. It is worth mentioning that it can be purified to remove the lock, since it is a status.
- Tactic: Special card subtype. Not exclusive to Nilfgaard, but they have more than any other faction and a few more interactions with Tactic cards.
Nilfgaard is quite a bit more complicated than the other factions. Realistically, Reveal is very risky and generally not worth it. Relying on randomness means that your Reveals are never going to have quite a consistent effect. Of course this can be mitigated by extreme measures, but at the end of the day it’s still relying on chance, especially if it relies on an opponent’s deck. Nilfgaard usually loves to play more control orientated, relying on cards with Lock, as these can help you get around problematic unit effects and engines, and certain interactions with some Tactics and ‘top card in deck’ mechanics can let you get real crafty. Lastly, having the most unique control cards in the game may also be an attractive and unique factor.
In terms of leader abilities, Strategic Withdrawal is interesting as it can move an allied Nilfgaardian unit back to your hand, boost it by 2, then play a card. This is great for recycling abilities (like Deploy ones) and / or ‘saving’ a damaged unit to increase point score or prevent it from dying. Some examples include re-using strong Deploy abilities like Peter Saar Gwynleve, Leo Bonhart, Vrygheff and Vreemde.
Imperial Formation has the ability to boost an allied unit by 2 and has 4 charges. When these charges are depleted, you can move a Soldier in your deck to the top of the deck. Its greatest use is to keep engines alive or high provision cards that have powerful effect, like Stefan Skellen and Damien de la Tour. The depletion effect can help you draw an important card in a later round or it can synergize with Affan Hillergrand, which will automatically summon him from the deck, on a random row.
Meanwhile Tactical Decision is a simple ability to look at the top three cards of your deck and play one. This is most obviously useful to help fish for what you might need at the moment, and it also acts as a ‘free’ card (fantastic for card advantage) since it is played from your deck instead of your hand. Some synergy can be gained by using the ability with cards that can show you what your next top cards are, such as Vicovaro Novice and Isbel of Hagge.
Lockdown is an amusing leader ability which can passively disable the enemy leader’s ability entirely. Since it does not provide anything else, it can be thought of as a way to ‘even the odds’ by making both players unable to use any leader powers. This makes the matchup more dependent on the decks themselves. As a disadvantage for this power though, Lockdown only provides 10 extra Provisions, which is the lowest of all the leaders currently.
Enslave can seize (steal) an enemy unit that has 3 or less strength. This value is actually increased by 1, for every 4 Tactic cards you have in your starting deck. So by default this is a 3+3 play in a best case scenario (your opponent loses 3 points and you gain 3 points). Usually Enslave decks are able to seize up to 5 or 6 strength units.
Lastly, Double Cross can Create and play a card from your opponent’s hand. Since it creates, this means you can only see up to 3 random cards from your opponent, but the randomness can be mitigated by playing this leader ability later, when your opponent has but a few cards left in hand. Unfortunately, your opponent can also play his more powerful cards early in the round, as a way of giving you less value out of Double Cross.
If you like control orientated decks that can make use of playing around with numbers thanks to Spying and boosting your enemies, don’t mind some randomness through Reveals, and want greater control over opponents with unique interactions and abilities no other faction can do, Nilfgaard may be for you. As I mentioned above though, it’s not an easy faction for newcomers.
Syndicate –SY– (Orange):
Syndicate is a faction based around the free city of Novigrad, where every crime lord is fighting for control over the streets. Each one of them has it’s own gang and they’ve put aside the rivalries in order to make an “alliance of coin”. Who are these crime lords and their respective gangs, you would ask? King of Beggars (Blindeyes), Cleaver (Crownsplitters), Gudrun Bjornsdottir (Tidecloacks), Whoreson Junior (Cutups) and Cyrus Hemmelfart (Eternal Fire).
- Coins: Not a keyword. Core mechanic of the faction and it represents carry-over points that can be translated into points (at a 1:1 conversion rate) or just kept for use in later rounds. It is worth noting that the amount of coins you can carry over is rounded down, so for example if you have the maximum amount of 9 coins in the first round, you will get 4 coins in the second round and 2 coins in the third round.
- Intimidate: Boost self by 1 or the specified amount for each Crime special card you play. Since Syndicate is always using a few Crime cards in their bronze package, you will be able to get a few points out of Intimidate quite easily.
- Profit: Gain a specific number of coins when you play a card.
- Fee: Pay a specific number of coins to trigger an effect; this can be triggered multiple times, assuming you can pay the Fee.
- Tribute: Cards with this ability will let you choose if you want / do not want to use a specific amount of coins to trigger an effect. As a side note, if a card includes both Profit and Tribute keywords, the Profit will trigger before being able to pay the Tribute. Let’s take Adriano The Mink as an example; if you have 3 coins and play him for another 2 coins, you will be able to pay his Tribute at 5 coins.
- Bounty: A status that is applied to an enemy unit. If this unit is destroyed, you will gain coins equal to the base strength of the unit with Bounty. Given that Syndicate can have a maximum of 9 coins, every Bounty collected of more than 9 base strength, will only give you 9 coins back.
- Crime: Special card subtype. Not exclusive to Syndicate, but they have more than any other faction and a few more interactions with Crime cards.
Syndicate does not currently have a Starter Deck and because it has a very high skill ceilling, i will not recommend playing the faction until you are comfortable with the other factions. For this exact reason i will just showcase the leader abilities, instead of detailing them.
That’s it for now! Thank you for your time and see you in the fifth and last part of the guide!
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