Matchup Guide: Discard Skellige vs Weather Monsters - by GumGum
With the recent announcement of the ranked season ending soon on the 27th August, many people are beginning to climb again and aim for their rank 20, Grandmaster or even top 100.
Just as important as it is to choose/add/build/netdeck your deck, it is just as important to know the strengths and weaknesses of the matchups you are going to meet. This time we will be highlighting the Dagon Weather vs Discard Skellige Matchup. A matchup you will see a lot in the coming days! So here is a small preparation and matchup guide for you:
Discard Skellige is an archetype which has been prevalent and been played in different variations since the very start of Gwent and Closed Beta. Of all the mechanics which do something in return for late game power and setup, discarding very likely has the strongest power and synergy between all of the others (reveal, mulligan, consume) and can provide immense point-swings through their preferred leader King Bran. While they have very strong lategame resources for point-generating themselves through Pirate Captains or Skirmishers, they also have very strong removal-tools in their gold-spots with Coral and Madman Lugos. While Discard Skellige very often lacks the power to win a deep round 1, they make up for it with the decent carry-over they get into the next round, denying a potential drypass from the opponent. While losing round 1 is generally okay with this deck, you want to be able to at least go 1 card up in the process.
While weather effects are vastly weaker than they have been in previous patches, Dagon has continued to roll forward as one of the pillars of the meta. The ability to produce points while playing weather through cards like Dagon, Wild Hunt Hound, and Impenetrable Fog allows the deck to play interaction without losing tempo, something few other factions are capable of doing. These decks use a combination of these weather generators to keep their opponents’ boards in check while simultaneously thinning their own deck, allowing them a higher degree of consistency. Along with this, Celaeno Harpy and Earth Elemental provide respectable board presence when played and reward you with additional strength in future rounds. This combination of resiliency and removal lets the deck go toe-to-toe with most others in the meta. While opponents may be able to answer either the weather or your units, they struggle to deal with both at the same time. This is furthered by the power swings available to Monsters in their gold and silver slots. Woodland Spirit and Caranthir provide large point swings while producing weather, while cards like Water Hag, Old Speartip and Bekker’s Twister Mirror provide answers for nearly every scenario. At the same time Monsters can easily swap a few cards around and tech for specific matchups like the current Caretaker-inclusion, who mainly serves as a Skellige counter, but also has great value in almost any other matchup.
Monster: In the mulligan the monster player should look for golds as he can, as well as tools to win round 1 such as Wild Hunt Hounds. The most important thing is to get rid of are “blank” cards and cards that are not going to help winning round 1 – Biting Frost / Foglets and Archgriffins.
A good hand in this matchup can look like this.:
Skellige: As Skellige the mulligan is a bit more difficult than for the monster player. Generally you want to keep all golds, and get rid of all blank cards as well. The general priority is :
• Cerys > Pirate Duplicates > Raiders if Ermion is not in the starting hand > Olgierd > Morkvarg (one of them is alright, Olgierd in hand is generally better) > Raiders if Ermion is in hand
If it is possible to still draw into Pirates and / or Cerys for the third mulligan it’s usually better to not try to go for it, unless the hand is extremely bad and you feel like you need to risk something to take the game. If possible it’s as always a good idea to go for blacklist value to increase the odds to draw into good cards. You should already be aware during your mulligan what you are going to discard with your leader ability and Ermion.
A good hand for this matchup could look like this.:
The way the first round plays out is determined by which player has to go first. Both players should try to take the round on even cards or 1 card down. Going down 2 cards is usually a bad idea, because it’s almost impossible to catch up in card advantage in round 2. The Skellige player usually wants to line up one or if it is possible even two War Longships before he starts discarding units with Clan Dimun Pirate, King Bran faction ability etc. His counterpart tries to deny War Longship value if possible. The player who goes second decide the tempo at which round 1 is played. If the monster player opens with a really high tempo play – Caranthir into siege is a good example for that – the Skellige player is already locked from playing his second ship most of the time, because he might not be able to compete with another high value play. It’s important to always try to think about the next play your opponent could do and try make sure the card you decide to commit allows you to overcome each possible play your opponent can do next. If that’s not possible you should make sure you are able to leave the round in a healthy spot which can be either a card with less possibly less / even carryover, even cards with more carryover, or better than that. Making sure the Cerys counter is at 2 with Morkvarg and Olgierd coming back into round 2 helps a lot to beat the Monster player in terms of carryover into round 2.
One thing the Skellige player needs to keep in mind is to not save multiple Clan Dimun Pirate Captain for the last round, because that might setup your opponent for a huge Scorch. In other matchups, known to run Scorch effects the Discard player can sometimes afford to do that, because the Skirmisher is capable to represent a Scorch shield, but in the current meta almost all monster players use Caretaker so you cannot afford to discard him multiple times without taking the risk to give your opponent some insane value that way.
The Monster player’s main task is to save tools so he can win round 3. Good cards to do that can be Woodland Spirit, Fire Elemental, Caretaker -> Gremist, Bekker’s Twisted Mirror / Scorch etc. Trying to eliminate Morkvarg before round 2 or 3 is another solid avenue to ensure greater odds of victory.
In round 2 it is all about maintaining, annihilating or increasing the advantage or disadvantage the actual player left round 1 with. One way in which players tend to misplay a lot, even in fairly high mmr ratings, is by answering the opponent’s spy with their own in situations where they do not have the tempo to do so. This does not do anything if the opponent passes afterwards because they are forced to commit another card anyways. Making sure to have the last play in round 3 helps for sure, but the most important thing is to not fall down a card, especially if the card count both players go into round 3 with is low. Speaking of card count: Monsters usually perform better than Skellige in an extended round 3, because they can get some good value out of weather. That is especially huge if the monster player was able to steal Gremist before. In a really short round 3 of only 1 -3 cards from each side monster usually wins if they have a really powerful finisher. Some examples for that are combinations of the following cards : Woodland Spirit, Fire Elemental, Scorch, BTM, Crones. One player being able to 2 – 0 the opponent is fairly uncommon in this matchup, and usually only happens if someone misplayed, or drew extremely unluckily. As a Skellige player it helps a lot to make sure Cerys can be revived once more in round 3. So saving Ermion to Discard remaining Raiders or additional Freyas often times helps to win round 3.
The final round comes down to how well both players managed their resources in the previous rounds. Often times the correct sequencing is a deciding factor as well. It’s important for both players to try to guess the remaining cards in the opponent’s hand. You can restrict the possibilities by checking how many silver and gold cards he already played, and by the way he is playing out his card. If a monster player would use Jotunn on a Discard Skellige siege row instead of another row that would damage for more, for example, you can be certain he has a Bekker’s Twisted Mirror in his hand which he does not want to compromise with greedy damage, so you can try to block it if possible, etc.
Some more things to keep in mind during the entire game:
• Gremist is a really powerful tool for the Skellige player and can help a lot in round 1. However he can backfire quite a bit if stolen by Caretaker later.
• Always keep in mind for how much the weather hits your score as Skellige.
• If playing Skellige and discarding Units with Ships on the board always keep in mind that you don’t get the maximum value if you hit harpy eggs and lose 2 points instead of gaining 2 – even more so when they can spawn next to an Earth Elemental
• Carryover between round 1 and 2 is a huge decider for the overall outcome of this specific matchup and players on both sides have to keep track of how much the opposing player currently generates through carry-over compared to your own. Usually if the Skellige player both gets Olgierd and Morkvarg out and manages to do the required setup for a round 2 Cerys, he should be leading that battle, but don’t underestimate the carryover monster can make. Without a surprise Ekkimara-tech, it usually caps at roughly 20 points max, but the average case is more in the range of 9-12 points from eggs and elementals.
Which cards to play around and to be aware of.
-Boats: A very important tool for discard Skellige in round 1, but usually a very bad card in future rounds. As Skellige player, you want to mulligan aggressively for ships,- if for nothing else they can trade for very valuable removal- units or cards like Lugos in a Skellige mirror.
As monster player, you want to put frost on the backrow on round 1 as early as possible, as this puts the discard player on a timer and unable to get full value out of their ships.
-Coral: Coral can provide immense pointswings and punish greedy decks heavily. It is not as great against most Dagon lists, but still provides enough value to include. She can decide games single-handedly, if your opponent is not aware of her or cant play around her. Dagon players have to be careful where they put their buffs to not allow coral to become too big.
-Raider: The core card of this archetype and maybe the strongest bronze card in the deck. Both as player and as opponent you have to keep track of how many raiders have been played, as this is very important to how much of a point-swing discard Skellige is able to create. Usually you want to discard 1 raider with bran, 1-2 with Ermion and eventually with Lugos.
-Pirate Captains: Huge point generator for skellige and very good late game card, but netherless should be played in different rounds to play around Scorch and other detrimental effects. Try to play them, while at the same time blocking a potential BTM with Freyas. Before passing or playing further into a round the Monster player, should always be aware of the current Captain-strength.
Bekker’s Twisted Mirror / Scorch: Most Dagon lists include either Bekker’s Twisted Mirror or Scorch. Until your opponent uses one of these cards you should try to minimize the value of both of them and try to read whether your opponent is using BTM or Scorch (or either). Try to not to commit multiple Pirate Captains into the same round unless you can stagger their strength with Fog.
Water Hag: Even though Water Hag is a lot better in other matchups it can still provide some huge swings if you have multiple units in the same row. If possible it’s always a good idea to split up units into multiple rounds to keep the Water Hag value small.
• Scorch & Bekker’s Twisted Mirror:**
While certainly better in the “Dorf” / Reaver Hunter / Consume matchups, Bekkers Twisted mirror can quickly force you to gamble or even become entirely dead in the Skellige matchup. If you play against Skellige a lot consider swapping it out for a Scorch. If this were the only decks clashing 24/7, you might even play both.
Another Graveyard-hate unit, which has a decent body and is able to steal cards from the filled Skellige graveyard like a potential Olgierd or Skirmisher.
• Alzurs Thunder: Direct removal for ships,- usually under the powercurve though.
• Immune Boost: The classic monster tech in many decks these days as it provides good value and protection from weather techs.
• Clan Tordarroch Armorsmith: Putting units back to base-strength, - usually works well against fog, but isn’t really an option against frost. An uncommon card in this meta.
While overall a very close and also exciting matchup, we still came to the conclusion that Monsters are slightly favoured due to their consistency, flexability and the inclusion of techs being much easier.