The Alphabet of Factions and Leaders: SCOIA’TAELPosted by Gwent March 14, 2020 in
Harmony is a special tag associated with some Scoia’tael units. Unit with Harmony boosts self by 1, whenever you play a Scoia’tael unit with primary category not present at your side of the board.
There are 5 bronze units with Harmony tag, 3 golds, and 1 spell spawning two Harmony engines: Water of Brokilon.
There are 9 unit categories able to trigger Harmony effect: Elf, Dwarf, Dryad, Human, Gnome, Beast, Dragon, Treant, Machine, which means that a single unit will never be buffed more than 8 times (unless one unit dies in the meantime)
The main powers of Harmony are relatively high tempo (engines are set up and proceed usually at the same time after first play) and quality of some cards, like Water of Brokilon or Trained Hawk. Combination of Water of Brokilon with Mystic Echo leader ability leads to the most convenient engine overload in Scoia’tael faction.
Ambush is a keyword associated with Traps, meaning that the card is played face down and flips face up after certain conditions are met. This way Trap ability is activated.
There are 2 bronze Traps and 4 golds. There are two explicitly dependent units: Elven Scout and Iorveth. Traps are often zero tempo plays, requiring opponent to predict what faced down card hides.
Traps do not see play now as a separate archetype.
One of the characteristic features of Scoia’tael faction is plenty of cards associated with movement. There are two engines dependent on movement: Dol Blathanna Sentry and Vrihedd Brigade, two self-moving engines: Dryad Matron and Treant Boar and one engine constantly moving targeted units: Malena.
Movement archetype is at the boundary of being playable. It lacks tempo and thematic high-end gold cards in Scoia’tael faction. Usually some pieces of archetype are used in various decks as utility cards to remove row-locked threats.
Handbuff is a Scoia’tael mechanic which enables boost of units in hand. There are 3 handbuffing bronzes: Dwarven Agitator, Vrihedd Saboteur, Hawker Smuggler and 2 golds: Sirssa, Ithlinne Aegli. There are a few cards dependent on the boost at hand, the two most notable being Sheldon Skaggs and Aglais.
Handbuff does not see too much play nowadays, mostly because the game in the current state requires active play in each round. Still, some elements could be used in various decks, as long as not lowering the tempo too much.
Leaders and Gameplans Overview
|Ability name||Leader name||Provision cap||Rating|
|Guerilla Tactics||Brouver Hoog||15||2,5|
|Invigorate||Filavandrel aen Fidhail||16||1,5|
|Mystic Echo||Francesca Findabair||12||4,5|
|Call of Harmony||Dana Meadbh||15||3|
Rating in (1-5) scale, meaning of ranks:
1 = unplayable
2 = playable, but weak or lacking winning strategy
3 = playable
4 = strong leader
5 = top notch leader
Guerilla Tactics (Brouver Hoog)
Order: Move a unit to the other row. If it’s an enemy, damage it by 2; if it’s an ally, boost it by 2. Charge: 3
Raw power: 6
Guerilla Tactics is very weak in terms of raw points. Compared with Precision Strike, Mystic Echo, or Deadeye Ambush, the leader is just on lost position in a short round. On the other hand, these 6 points are probably best points you can imagine in a long round. Defensive effect could be used to protect engines or trigger movement effects, offensive effect could be used for guided removal, movement of row locked engines, or setup of row punish (especially Crushing Trap is thematic here). Therefore, usual strategy for the leader is to secure long round, where board control will prove to be decisive. Offensive use will be most often preferred, and the deck could opt for safe pointslam with some damage, as engines would hardly be a threat.
At the current game state, point efficient damaging units are commonly dealing below 5p damage (there are of course exceptions, like Madman Lugos, etc.), and in order to deal efficiently with 5p+ threats, some additional help is needed. Guerilla Tactics charges come in handy. Guided damage is useful tactic, but not enough to make up for game strategy. Moreover, Precision Strike is strictly better here, so Guerilla has to find its own way.
Guerilla Tactics is supposed to support Movement archetype in Scoia’tael. It soon appears that only 2 cards from this archetype are directly linked with leader ability: Dol Blathanna Sentry and Vrihedd Brigade. These are bronze units. While it could be said that they improve leader ability by 3 and 6 respectively with no costs, the truth is that 7p is now natural level for 5 provision unit, and effective value would be like 0 and 4. In such circumstances, leader still loses in a contest with Eithne or Francesca. In the fact, Brouver probably gains more with protecting movement engines, than with using them to multiply leader charges value.
Used with Regis or Geralt:Igni, Brouver probably is still strictly worse than Precision Strike, but nevertheless, gains powerful winning condition. Decks reliant on one of those cards typically should have pointslam/good stuff character (charges would not be used for engine support and there is no chance for engine overload), and be bleed resistant, as opponent would always try to deprive you out of the your main trump
There is in fact only one trap Guerilla Tactics have synergy with: Crushing Trap. But the synergy is massive, yielding usually +6 on leader ability in a long round. There is only one catch: Crushing Trap is a bronze card, and the real work must be done by other, gold cards. A thematic solution is Iorveth Gambit, drawing 2 random traps from your deck. Iorveth Gambit is a typical late-play cards, and there is no better late play trap than Crushing Trap in a Brouver deck. This at the same time means that optimal number of traps to play is 4: two CT and two more, as strong as possible.
Guerilla Traps in fact would often autolose to Bomb Heaver, which reaches sometimes 20+ effective value. Also, if guided damage gives more effective points than Crushing Trap swing, Precision Strike is strictly better.
The leader is decent, especially in range-locked engine meta, but inferior to Precision Strike in many similar applications. The leader ability lacks a bit support in cards, with Brouver Traps being probably the only logically justified (but meme) approach (2.5/5)
Invigorate (Filavandrel aen Fidhail)
Order: Boost all allied units in your hand by 1
Raw power: <10p
Invigorate is an interesting Handbuff ability, with power equal to number of cards in hand. These points are passive, but dispersed amongst all cards, so could be used for protection of valuable engines. The most important question is…
What could Filavandrel do?
The natural way to go for Filavandrel is playing full units engine decks, aiming for a long round. Imagine we opt for such archetype. The natural plan is winning R1 on blue coin, and passing at 7 on red coin. Then in the first scenario Invigorate is supposed to drypass in R2 (the number of cards in hand could be arbitrary, leader ability possibly weak), and in the second scenario, probably use leader ability immediately and defend against bleeding.
What appears is that in both cases of natural play, Filavandrel finds himself in an unfavored position if only opponent has strong engine play (Waters of Brokilon, Passiflora…). Then first say gives immediately advantage to opponent in a long round, no matter if he starts card down, or not. Filavandrel could still have some hope against blunt pointslam decks.
Just like Royal Inspiration (Queen Meve), the leader cannot find viable strategy (1.5/5)
Mystic Echo (Francesca Findabair)
Order: Play a Scoia’tael special card from your graveyard
Raw power: ?
There are some deviations seen on the ladder from time to time, but we will concentrate here on one particular use of Mystic Echo ability, which is Mystic Echo Harmony. In this archetype, Water of Brokilon is the main leader target. The leader plays then for 10 raw points, setting up two engines (Dryad Fledglings) and usually third engine or defender in one turn.
Mystic Echo Harmony
Let’s try to build Mystic Echo Harmony deck together. The first element we need are Water of Brokilon. This have to be tutored in order to have 100% certain leader play. Fauve is clearly the best tutor for Water, gaining 2 points and additional Dryad body. The Great Oak would be splendid finisher. We have to tutor our finisher, which is possible with Call of Nature, giving second target for Fauve as well. Now missing any of the crucial pieces is almost impossible. We need a few powerplays more, especially Scoia’tael units with unique tags. Short consideration shows that Barnabas Beckenbauer would be a perfect pick, usually coming in for about 14 points for 10 provision.
These are basically all gold autoincludes in Mystic Echo Harmony, so feel free to experiment with own builds based on the core presented above. Thinking of perfect R3, we need also strong Dwarf and strong Elf. Figgis Merluzzo is the usual pick, protecting engines, and sometimes effectively purifying poison. As Elf we will choose Etriel, in order to have 3p removal at hand, and 20p for 16 provision combo with Muirlega. Human tag will be provided by Pavko Gale and Hawker Smuggler. Pavko is a very strong engine, with a condition which is almost always satisfied (unless opponent plays spies). Hawker Smuggler is a good handbuff engine, granting Harmony decks some carryover while staying ahead in points. Smuggler buffs on engines in hand are especially pleasant.
At this point deck seems to lack control a bit. As one-move tall punish is hardly accessible for Scoia’tael, let’s go for Malena to deal with row-locked units opponent plays. Malena would have great synergy with Treant Boar. Moving Boar back to ranged row after each charge, Malena would be effectively worth 2 damage points per turn. Trained Hawks are just too good with Harmony and Beast tag to even consider dropping it. As we decided to not play Poison package, we need some more Dryads for Harmony and Treant Boar synergy. Dryad Matrons would be perfect, entering the game as 5 for 5 and possibly protecting stronger engines.
Fauve would need one more spell to not risk brick or lose value in mulligans. Nature Rebuke would improve control further, while having also some synergy with Treant Boar. At this point only 4 provision cards are left. Mahakam Marauders and Dwarven Skirmishers will provide more Dwarf tags (there was only Figgis so far). Dol Blathanna Bowman is just a good card to add. Finally, Hawker Healers are not great, but will guarantee Elf tag in bronzes in R1, so that we can gain 1 point in the long run in R1 by playing Djinn Lamp instead of Aen Seidhe Sabre.
Mystic Echo decks often run triple poison (Weeping Willow and Dryad Rangers), which we omitted here. The deck is strong both in long and short rounds. The only possible weakness of the leader ability is lack of control, which could sometimes be exploited by very greedy decks. Even then, Mystic Echo has good chances for successful bleeding using Water of Brokilon.
Mystic Echo Harmony deck we built:
Mystic Echo coupled with Waters of Brokilon is a powerful leader ability, strong both is short and long rounds (4.5/5.0)
Precision Strike (Eithne)
Order: Damage unit by 1. Charge: 3. Once all charges are exhausted, spawn and play Brokilon Sentinel
Raw power: 11p
Raw power of Precision Strike is comparable to best pointslam leaders (e.g. Blood Scent), while having amazing guided removal or board setup possibilities. Moreover, Brokilon Sentinels provide additional +3 points body if playing The Great Oak.
Precision Strike leader ability is strong enough to not need big swing cards, unless the meta has greedy pointslam character. Then, there is natural synergy between Precision Strike and efficient damaging cards (Etriel, Muirlega, Milaen…). Using additional charges enables removal of any 5p engine.
Guided removal Eithne would always shine in greedy engines meta. Various archetypes could support this strategy (Elves, Harmony…), but the idea always remains the same.
With 3 damaging charges and additional 2p damage, Precision Strike is perfect ability for setting up board and big point swings. Cards like Geralt:Igni, Scorch, Schirru or even Geralt:Aard+Regis come into consideration here.
Precision Strike Scorch:
Precision Strike is a powerful and versatile leader ability, enabling guided removal or setting up board for big swing plays (4.5/5.0)
Deadeye Ambush (Eldain)
Order: Spawn an Elven Deadeye in an allied row. Charge: 3.
Raw power: 9p
The leader is of pointslam character, and has great synergy with Elves archetype. In synergy with Isengrim, Yaevinn and The Great Oak the effective value raises by +3p each time. Moreover, playing Aelirenn is practically with no risk, even in later rounds and with low number of Elves in the deck.
Cards like Yaevinn, Isengrim and The Great Oak are practically autoinclude in Deadeye Ambush builds. With 3 leader charges, Yaevinn could even act as instant 4p removal. To have normal 8 provision unit power, Isengrim needs about 3 elven targets – each additional Elf is a bonus. Elf swarm is a natural archetype to support Isengrim. Especially Feign Death is a thematic addition, spawning 4 Elves if completed. However, row punish, and cards like Wild Boar or Lambert, scales even better than Isengrim. If these cards are in the meta, Eldain should rather go for big finisher plays instead of swarm.
Eldain spawns, not plays Elves, therefore he needs Radeyiah to activate Feign Death in one turn. Unlike Call of Harmony, if playing Scenario, Radeyah is obligatory for Deadeye Ambush.
Big Finisher Eldain
With 9 raw points and easy access to Aelirenn via Vernossiel, Eldain is able to smash 25 points in one turn. Isengrim comes in for 13 points next, and The Great Oak for another 14 points if undisturbed. This gives total of 52 points in 3 cards, hardly matched by any other leader.
Tempo outburst offered by Eldain might have numerous applications, one of these are Harald Gord decks, going for a very short R3 or no-unit play followed by sudden outburst after ~5 cards.
Radeyah Feign Death Eldain Elves:
Deadeye Ambush is a great leader of pointslam type, with some flexibility due to charges, and slight lack of control (4.0/5.0)
Call of Harmony (Dana Meadbh)
Order: Play a Scoia’tael card from your deck with 0 provision cost or less. This value is raised by 1 for every unique primary category among Scoia’tael cards in your deck
Raw power: ?
The leader is analogous to Pincer Maneuver in Northern Realms. The provision cap is higher, but Call of Harmony is less versatile. The main question then is: how much of a drawback is the unique tag requirement, and how much is lost by the fact that only Scoia’tael unit could be the main leader target. The answer in the current meta for both cases is: not too much. Scoia’tael has a variety of good bronze cards with different tags, and Scoia’tael cards are powerful enough as the leader targets.
Enumerating the tags
Following tags are currently associated with Scoia’tael cards:
Elf, Dwarf, Dryad, Human, Gnome, Beast, Dragon, Treant, Trap, Nature, Tactic, Alchemy, Machine, Scenario, Crime
This gives 15 tags in total, while 13 is enough to tutor the most expensive Scoia’tael cards.
How good is Dana?
Dana is at least as good as the effective value of the best card you would usually miss in the particular build. Call of Harmony decks should be then both polar in terms of card quality (playing many valuable cards to tutor) and synergistic, in order to get big effective value even from weaker golds. Playing two cards in one turn could be used for example to trigger the first chapter of Feign Death scenario.
Highlander Dana 13
Call of Harmony is an interesting leader ability, requiring good deckbuiliding skills in order to unleash its full power (3.0/5.0)
Comments and Ideas
Leaders needing rework
Leaders needing buffs
Invigorate, Guerilla Tactics
Cards needing rework
Cards needing buffs
- Invigorate and Guerilla Tactics could get some provision buffs, or indirect buffs by dedicated cards.
- Eibhear Hattori – now practically unplayable, extremely cheesy card. This card needs rework to have less binary character (now could reach 10+ points for 6 provision, or lose the game coming in as 3 passive points). Maybe it should be something focused around Hattori profession.
The amount of unplayable cards in Scoia’tael is extremely low. While some cards, like traps, probably needs buffs and reworks, it could not be done without seeing the general picture, including further expansions.