Hi Gwent lovers! Welcome back for the third installment in WoTW: Theory Craft & Thoughts, Part 3. Today we will be discussing Syndicate.
The reveals for Syndicate so far have utterly surprised me, I can honestly say that they have some of the most unique designs for the new ‘Way of the Witcher’ set. I am also eager to see the ‘Salamandra’ tag fleshed out a bit more with the self-poison archetype. We had a small taste of this through ‘Back Alley Chemist’ and ‘Fisstech Trafficker’ however calling it a full-fledged archetype is a stretch. The cards that I will be covering today are a good mix of Power, insane card text and incredible flexibility. Let’s start with power shall we…
Thoughts-‘Fallen Rayla’ has to be one of the strongest cards that have been revealed in the new set. Part of what makes this card so powerful is that it generates value with almost no setup, essentially making your big plays, bigger. ‘Fallen Rayla’ is also a great fit for the self-poison archetype as ‘Veil’ gained from ‘Tribute’ makes her the ideal poison target. The only thing that is keeping the power of ‘Fallen Rayla’ in check is the ‘Adrenaline’ tag and base power of 5. Playing her before the effect of Adrenaline has activated makes her extremely vulnerable to removal, as removal for 5 power units is quite common
Strengths-Very powerful effect, makes stronger plays better. At ‘Adrenaline’ 3 makes herself very difficult to remove due to the boost offered by her own tribute (8 power with ‘Veil’). Almost no setup required, only slight preparation and sequencing for last 3 cards.
Weaknesses-Vulnerable to tall removal. Cannot play prior to ‘Adrenaline’ ability being active, as to vulnerable as a 5 power body.
Potential Synergies– Huge synergies with self-poison archetype, out of the new cards ‘Roland & Gellert Bleinheim’ & ‘Salamander’ (along with ‘Salamanders’ ‘Tribute’ can be huge play). In addition to being able to play in self-poison archetype, ‘Fallen Rayla’ can benefit from pretty much any deck that plays ‘Tribute’ cards. Some notable mentions include, ‘Savolla’ (particularly nasty play), ‘Tinboy’, ‘Azar Javed’ due to added protection. ‘Graden’ & ‘Moreelse’ also have significant ‘Tributes’ if a ‘Bounty’ Witch Hunters deck re-surfaces. Any of the above plays have huge tempo and can win matches.
Thoughts- ‘Salamander’ is such an adorable card that I just had to include it! Although, there is some truth to that, what really caught my eye on this card was its ‘Tribute’. Since its reveal people have been coming up with incredible combos, that if the stars align completely wipe the board. Although I don’t think decks that feature ‘Salamander’ as a sort of “Exodia” will be relegated to anything but “Meme”. I do think the card has some room to see play. Its most likely home will be in the fledgling self-poison archetype alongside cards like ‘Roland Bleinheim’ & ‘Salamandra Abomination’. Additionally using this card in combination with ‘Madame Luiza’ and some ‘Salamandras’ on your side of the board allows you to retain coins from ‘Profit’, which can be used for other powerful ‘Tribute’ abilities, especially if you can take advantage of ‘Fallen Rayla’.
Strengths-Has powerful effect that allow you to make points (from self-poison synergies) as well as remove cards from your opponents side of the board with enough setup. Overall card is flexible and you can pick and choose from its effect to get whats best for you in that moment.
Weaknesses-Can brick in short round due to not being able to make use of its effects. Requires setup on board. Limited to one archetype.
Potential Synergies– I mentioned a few synergies earlier, ‘Madame Luiza’ can allow you to get off an expensive ‘Tribute’ for free and retain the coins. This unfortunately cannot be paired with ‘Fallen Rayla’ as you are foregoing the tribute with ‘Madame Luiza’ therefore not activating ‘Fallen Raylas’ effect. ‘Roland Bleinheim’ & ‘Salamandra Abomination’ make for a nice combo that you can further enhance with ‘Maraal’ (as he can poison two separate enemy units) creating a huge bomb on the board.
Thoughts- As you are probably aware at this stage that I am fond of flexibility & utility in my cards. Cards like these prevent players from feeling like they have lost agency and only see one line of play. ‘Stolen Mutagens’ despite its flexibility does not sacrifice any of it power. Let’s have a look at each ‘Mutagen’ separately.
Red-You probably will not be using this effect often unless there is a powerful engine or threat you need to get deal with immediately.
Blue– This effect is like ‘Fisstech Trafficker’ however you are trading the 3 power body for 2 extra coins which is not the best as this makes this an extremely low tempo play, even with synergies if you do not have a spender on board you are only playing for a few points
Green– This is the one I see being used the least, there may be some niche uses on ‘Failed Experiment’ against factions that also run poisons.
Now all of these effects can be useful but don’t seem to be particularly powerful, however..
‘Stolen Mutagens’ has an additional effect, if you control at least 3 ‘Salamandra’ units you gain 3 coins. The offer of 3 coins makes the deal just a bit sweeter. Now when you put it in perspective, ‘Blue Mutagen’ essentially has ‘Sigi Reuvens’ effect with a much more relaxed deck building restriction. Now that’s definitely an oversimplification, but it allows you to understand the relative power of this card.
Strengths- Flexible card with strong effects. If requirements are met can find 7-8 points of value for each ‘Mutagen’. ‘Stolen Mutagens’ is also a crime card; as a result, it can be tutored with ‘Ferko the Sculptor’. Being a crime card also gives it additional synergies with some Syndicate leaders.
Weaknesses- Has the downside of playing for low tempo if conditions are not met or board state is not prepared.
Potential Synergies- There are too many synergies for ‘Stolen Mutagens’ to list in a sensible manner. All of the cards effects can find its place in any archetype. Even its additional effect can be triggered by ‘Azar Javed’ alone, if either of the tokens are not removed.