Hi Gwent lovers, welcome back.
We are so close to release day, I can basically smell the cards. Today, we will be covering the Ard Feainn!
Nilfgaard was my favourite faction when I first started playing Gwent back in open beta. In recent months however, faction identity as well as power has truly been lacking. I’m pleased to see that, ‘Way of the Witcher’ set, may yet change that. The revealed cards show that the direction of the set, for Nilfgaard, is deck manipulation. Which I am quite happy to see and excited to play. Manipulation of this kind feels fair and allows you and your opponent to make thoughtful plays. We will cover some of these interactions in our analysis. In the past, part of what made Nilfgaard such a hated faction, was due to the high amount of board control it possessed through Locks, Poison & Damage. Killing or neutralizing everything your opponent played did not make it a fun time for your opponent.
Instead, control through Deck & Graveyard manipulation has no such issues. Now lets look at the cards and see what CDPR has cooked up for Nilfgaard in the new set.
Thoughts- At first glance this card can be quite confusing, it is a lot to take in. The effect is unique and is thus, as a result, very hard to judge. There are many arguments for and against the effectiveness of this card. I will try to advocate for both sides.
The positives: ‘Vypper’ has the ability to banish key ‘Echo’ cards like ‘Oneiromancy’ or ‘Amphibious Assault’. It can also banish key cards from SK Warriors graveyard preventing the opponent from getting full value from cards like ‘Harald an Craite’, ‘War of Clans’ etc. If it manages to banish every card in your opponents graveyard it can potentially represent 14 points of carryover if played Round 1.
The negatives: Most decks have little/no graveyard interaction. Cards like ‘Forest Protector’ do need access to ‘Nature’ cards in graveyard, however, due to the amount of ‘Nature cards’ in ST decks and the fact that ‘Vypper’ banishes from lowest to highest provisions, ‘Forest Protector’ should have no issues finding a ‘Nature’ card as a target. Other cards like ‘Flying Redanian’ and ‘Crowmother’ are valuable banish targets, yet due to the high provisions of these cards, by the time ‘Vypper’ chews through the low provision cards the round may already be over. SK Warriors can also banish this card from the graveyard with ‘Hjalmar an Craite’, neutralizing it. As you can see most decks do not care for their graveyards and the ones that do, can deal with ‘Vypper’.
Having said that, there are ways to negate the impact of the potential cons for this card which we will discuss in the ‘Potential synergies’ section.
Strengths- Can wreak havoc on your opponents graveyard banishing cards that are key to your opponents strategy. If played in Round 1 can potentially be 14 points of carryover (Round 2 & 3)
Weaknesses: If destroyed by opponent before round end ‘Vypper’ will go into your graveyard and start banishing your cards, which may ultimately lead to it moving onto your opponents side of the board.
Potential Synergies- There are a few cards that can help ‘Vypper’ in banishing cards from your opponents graveyard. ‘Squirrel’ is not uncommon in the meta currently due to the power of ‘Echo’ cards. ‘Xavier Lemmens’ is another option which allows you to banish up to 3 cards from your own or your opponent’s graveyards. With ‘Xavier Lemmens’ you get what you are paying for, the 8 provisions added to the 9 provisions of ‘Vypper’ ends up making ‘Vyppers’ carryover less valuable due to the extra provision cost to make its text work. One other synergy that could work is ‘Experimental Remedy’ which is a bronze ‘Tactic’ that allows you to play a bronze unit from your opponent’s graveyard. The downside to this is that ‘Experimental Remedy’ is expensive and the decks that run this tactic are usually stuffing ‘Disloyal’ units into your opponent’s graveyard, which is anti-synergy
As you can see there is a lot of push and pull with this card and it is therefore hard to predict how it will perform in the new meta that will take shape.
Thoughts- This card has finesse, if ‘Vypper’ is complex and interesting, ‘Warritt the All-Seeing’ is simple and efficient. The Aston Martin to ‘Vyppers’ Ferrari. I can see ‘Warritt the All-Seeing’ being able to support many archetypes in Nilfgaard. Mill, Assimilate and possibly a new type of deck manipulation archetype are the first that come to mind. It can also make some nasty power plays by supporting ‘Viper Witcher Alchemist’ ‘Viper Witcher Mentor’ and ‘Cantarella’. This card in combination with its synergies allows it to be greater than the sum of all its parts.
Strengths-Flexible, can bring online a lot of synergies very effectively with current Nilfgaard cards and archetypes. 7-point body is a nice upside and does not sacrifice tempo.
Weaknesses- Can be less effective in a short round where it cannot take advantage of its synergies. Ranged ability is not as powerful as Melee ability. Limited to what your opponent hasn’t drawn, if your opponent has drawn key/strong cards power of synergies severely reduced.
Potential Synergies- As mentioned earlier, ‘Viper Witcher Mentor’ as well as ‘Cantarella’ can make great use of this cards Melee ability. You can also use ‘Viper Witcher Alchemist’ to take the opponents cards after using ‘Warritt the All-Seeing’s’ Melee ability.
Thoughts- There are cards that exist currently in Gwent that achieve a similar effect to the effect of this card. ‘Ofiri Merchant’ & ‘Isbel of Hagge’ are the cards I am referring to. However, with the classic notion of power creep in CCG’s, ‘Viper Witcher Alchemist’ does the job better. The advantage that this card has over the other two is that it allows you to choose which card you are giving your opponent. Combining the effect of this card with ‘Warritt the All-Seeing’ can take away some serious power from your opponent’s deck. ‘Oneriomancy’, ‘Heatwave’ are just some of the possibilities, you can even nab your opponents win condition.
Strengths- Allows you to determine which card your opponent gets. Can completely kill some decks by taking win conditions such a ‘Lippy’.
Weaknesses- Low tempo card, not much use in final round if swapped card cannot be tutored. Power level decreases the deeper your opponent draws/thins their deck.
Potential Synergies- ‘Viper Witcher Alchemist’ synergies have been mentioned through todays article, its main one being ‘Warritt the All-Seeing’. Another card that it can be comboed with is ‘Courier’. The effect with ‘Courier’ is not as strong but gives you some agency on which of the opponent’s card you will be taking. You can also pair the swap with ‘Joachim de Wett’, if it is a unit.
Overall, I really like the combos that are emerging in Nilfgaard they are very flavourful and seem fun to play. Let’s hope it’s enough to put Nilfgaard back on the map!
Join me tomorrow for coverage of the final faction, Northern Realms.