Closer look #1: Radovid, King of the North

Today I want to analyze why Northern Realms, after being nerfed in 0.8.15 and again in 0.8.25 (including its dear Promote to Base Strength getting taking away), remains standing as one of the best factions. The Radovid (Hybrid) Control Decks are keeping Northern Realms on board for this patch, so let’s take a look at what makes them strong and why.

Why this archetype got stronger this patch despite nerfs:

                                         
 Scoia’tael matchup & recent patch-changes:

This was a pretty good archetype already before the patch, but it had one major problem outside of the deck itself: Scoia´tael. Before the patch it was almost impossible to beat Scoia’tael with this deck. Your removal would have no value, Borkh only found your own units and there was simply no way of getting card-advantage against a pre-patch Scoiastall deck. Additionally, this deck did not play big enough minions to force Scoia’tael to play awkwardly attempting to reach big numbers.  Finally, there was simply no way for this deck to deal with Isengrim.

After the Isengrim rework and introduction of the fleeting mechanic this matchup almost made a complete 180° and is now favoured for the Radovid-Control player.  Scoia’tael now plays bigger minions and Radovid almost always gets full value against premium targets like Isengrim.  If the Scoia’tael leader is Eithne Iorveth and Aglais become additional targets for Radovid’s wrath.

Why is this matchup important for the strength of this archetype?:

Scoia’tael, even after the changes to some of their key cards, is one of the hardest decks to beat and this archetype excels at doing that.

Promote:

This may sound counterproductive but the promote change did not make Radovid-Control itself weaker.  Instead it mostly nerfed the Henselt and Foltest Promote lists which traditionally have made for a tough matchup against Radovid.  The removal of that archetype takes another strong opponent away from the battlefield and lets  Radovid-Control decks shine even further.


Borkh Three Jackdaws:

Borkh will, at least until Dimeritium Shackles is added to the game, have a huge impact on games especially in NR.  In this archetype you mostly play low or medium strength units which, in most cases, are unaffected by Borkh. Borkh has the potential to give you huge value and win games by himself.

Ocvist:

Borkh and Ocvist, despite spitting fire for a while now,  were untouched this patch.  In fact Ocvist had his timer reduced to four which is a huge buff.  One of the main reasons Ocvist works so well in Northern Realms is because of the strong medical options available; even for a heavy removal deck it will be difficult removing this near-immortal Dragon.  Ocvist has very good synergy with Shani since she can ressurect him as a golden six strength unit.  Borkh and Ocvist are carrying a lot of the weight for NR, with Ocvist very often getting huge card-advantage and at the very least baiting removal from the opponent (which you can often bait out previously with Reaver Hunters).


The King of the North and his Servants

Radovid:

Despite the recent nerf Radovid is more relevant than ever.  Dealing eight damage to any unit is a huge benefit in the current meta.  The ability to kill Isengrim and Ciri is immensely powerful.  The main drawback of the nerf to eight damage from ten is not being able to kill Borkh anymore,  however this kind of archetype does not have problems with an opposing Borkh most of the time anyway.

Baron:

Not only did he dodge another nerf (not being Permadeath), we can still demote him with a Kadwaeni Sergeant and resurrect him with Shani next round. 

Shani:

Shani can serve a lot of great purposes; resurrecting a demoted Baron or Borkh can be quite strong.  Resurrecting Ocvist with Shani is great, especially against Scoia’tael.


How does this archetype play out?

 Greyboxer:  “For me, a control Radovid archetype is strongest vs. the field of strong decks on the ladder when you diversify your win conditions. I built my Radovid deck to have win conditions achievable through not only control, but also through card advantage (Ocvist, Ciri, decoy), through removal (Borkh on high strength units and Radovid on Isengrim/Ciri) and plenty of medics to recycle units like trebuchets and demoted Baron. Thus, it is not a pure control deck but is a hybrid control with medium unit strength, reusable control, and potential for solid card advantage. “

This archetype has a lot of different options and can achieve its goal through different win-conditions and paths.  There are great opportunities for different tech choices: one to two Kadwaeni Sergeants, weather, Scorch, Sabrina and more and can be chosen depending on your own playstyle and environment.  Timing with this deck is key and has to be adjusted according to your opponent and cards in hand.  You have to decide very early on how long you want to play each.  Do you want to commit with Borkh early or would you rather keep him for round three?  How much is Ocvist worth to you?  When do you play Radovid?  Does your opponent still have cards left for which you want to have Radovid? Ciri, Isengrim, Madman Lugos etc..

You can put your gameplan in two main categories:       

      Proactive gameplay and reactive gameplay.

    

Proactive play:

If you want to be proactive you need high-value cards to win the round.  For example, playing Borkh early in a round to try to force your opponent to pass.  Another proactive play would be playing Sabrina for high value removal; again either forcing your opponent to an early pass or creating awkward turns and playing reactively.  Since you want to play Sabrina on a huge board or on a potentially growing board, you almost always will have committed two cards since you’ll need a way to kill her.  She is a pro-active play however she is slightly reactionary as well.

Every play which forces your opponent to react is a proactive play.  Despite being used as stalling tools Ciri and Ocvist both go under this category since they force your opponent to react to those cards.  That being said,  practically no card is 100% proactive or reactive, they simply lean one way or another to varying extents.

Reactive play:

Reactive play would be you reacting to your opponent’s gameplan.  Examples of this would be playing Alzur’s Thunder to remove a War Longship, playing Geralt “Gigni” or Scorch to remove huge threats instantly, or using Radovid to remove threats like Ciri, Isengrim or Madman Lugos.

Every card which you play to counter your opponent’s play is reactionary.  However, almost any play you make is reactive/ proactive to some extent and getting the hang of when to switch between proactive and reactive plays is the key to victory.

The third option you have is just straight up stalling and draining the cards out of your opponent’s hand.  This is very easy to do with this deck especially when you have won the first round.  Just play cards like Ocvist over and over again.  Thin your deck meanwhile through cards like Priscilla and First Light and do not forget well-timed Bork and Ciri can also be stall options.


An example build for a Radovid-Control deck could be:

Raddy Issues ~ greyboxer version

Or the version I am currently running:

King of the Norf – gumgum version

Both of these versions are hybrid-orientated and don’t go too heavy in either direction.

Bjthebrave’s version is more focused around reviving even more units back to the battlefield, specifically the Redanian Elites.  You can watch him play his deck here: Ocvist Reincarnate

 If you want to see how greyboxer plays his deck you can watch him here:

Raddy Issues Ep.1: Ocvist

Raddy Issues Ep.2: Johnny

 

 

written by GumGumFacePunch

11 Comments:

  1. Really well written article with good insight of the actual meta (Borkh & Ocvist).
    Having card advantage is still the biggest factor to win games and with ocvist reduced to 4 rounds and the possibility to promote / revive with shani / multiple medics fits him the best especially versus Scoja`tael.

    Thank you for sharing those information!

  2. Good article GumGum… the deck certainly feels strong in the current meta. What do you feel are its bad/hard match ups? For additional video on the deck https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IU6UgQfqIFU&t=29s

    • Thankyou,- as stated in the article it has a comparatively strong matchup against scoia´tel, which are quite popular and the main-reason i found this deck to be top-tier atm.
      I think it has a tough, but winnable matchup against Skellige;- playing a good Borkh is a key in this matchup and ocvist can get huge here as well since they dont have many ways to remove it reliably after the first few turns with war longship on the board. <-- Speaking of which, you eventually want to play priscilla if those are out to be able to eventually reliably medic her out again, since playing her several times is really strong. I have not played against many monster-decks so far, but i have struggled quite a lot gathering a win against them. Mirror matches are quite interesting,- these very often seem to be relying on draws and who can remove ocvist better/ get the better medic-draws;- radovid-mirror matches i found very fun to play though 😉 . Thanks for the comment and the video,- i might link it into the article 😉

  3. This deck is a monstrosity. How do I beat it with Scoia’tael? The matchup seems borderline impossible. What should be my strategy, deck techs? This is the only deck I’m consistently losing to and I’m matched up against it often, my spirit is broken :(. After so many loses in the last few days, I might start forfeiting as soon as I see it.

    • Scoia’tael can be played in primarily 3 ways I’d say? Now elf rush is seemingly the best since it was buffed a lot. Dwarf tech also got buffed but it’s a bit slower but the adrenaline rush aspect makes up for it. The third way that I’ve experimented with is a all in ambush counter. Ambush synergy cards also got buffed, it’s just not as flashy as the other more clear options. Ambush strategy means you really understand deck types and combos from every faction and you’d have to figure out what you are going to counter.

      Ciaran (ambush version of ciri) is card that seems fairly weak but when you consider hand advantage it’s really strong. Also since Most players assume it’s Toruviel (the ambush card that buffs) they might over compensate attack power and potentially throw off their hand advantage.

      Another nice strength of playing towards ambush is Dol balthanna trapper. being able to hit a whole row with -5 is so damn nasty. Placement of the card at the right time can win/lose the game but once you’ve played the game enough the common patterns become easier to predict. Playing Yaevinn means you can force trigger a trap if needed and they get a 6 strength card instead of an 11 that gives you a draw. Yaevinn vs weather is amazing to boot.

      You need really strong gold cards to support this deck of course. Heres an example of what I messed around with : http://www.gwentdb.com/decks/8422-trapt

      I’d love to play some of the people from this site to really test out some strats in general!

      • I think Bluffing-Scoia´tel decks is a archetype, which will get much stronger with time and more synergistic card getting thrown into the pool (like Schirru soo…)

        I personally think Ciaran is a much better Ciri currently.
        -Only has 2 less strength
        -does not die to Radovid or Iorveth
        -and your opponent is forced to assume it is Toruvieel, which leads to some awkward plays.

        You can always find us in the gwent-discord server, twitter or add us on GoG and we can arrange those custom games! 😉

  4. Hello. Skellige control deck is playable?

  5. Gr8 article m8, i give it 8 out of 8

  6. Nice article, i’ve been using this deck with some little variations, but the core idea is the same. Today i’ve played against a dude using ST twice (because MMR). He (i supposed is a he because of his nick) kicked me ass hard specially in third round. Usually he save in third round Isegrim, some Hawker Healer, Nature´s Gift, Vrihed vanguar and finishes with Saskia. I don’t quite remember how he do it, but even if i hit his Isegrim with Radovid, he just keep poping up cards with First Light combining with Elven Mercenary/Blue Montain Commando. I even have Aeromancy but is unstoppable. I played a harder round one to lure his best cards, but even so, he still uses Saskia at the end and win easily. Any ideas to counter this deck GumGumFacePunch?
    Thanks

    • I almost never see Isengrim and Saskia getting played anymore in my games (most people including myself have dropped them from their ST-lists, mainly because of Iorveth and Radovid…).
      The elven mercenary -> First Light is the main combo which, makes ST broken atm.
      If they get their combo off with Aelirenn ST is almost unstoppable round 1. Aeromancy should already help with that, if not you might want to include more removal fx Sabrina + Lazerate & Triss or if it is really saskia, Isengrim and Hawker healer making you problems,- try including Dimeritium Bomb?

      But in general this archetype should stand a pretty good chance against ST for the most part.

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