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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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 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:
Or the version I am currently running:
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:
written by GumGumFacePunch