Rogues Gallery #1: Aglais
Rogues gallery is a weekly column on some of the strongest, most interesting or meta defining cards in the game. Each week Gravez takes a closer look at a single card; its strengths, weaknesses, applications and its place in the Witcher Universe.
DISCLAIMER: The article contains minor spoilers of Witcher novels.
DISCLAIMER: The article is written on patch 0.8.72, some information might be outdated
The first on the list of Gwentlemen’s most wanted is Aglais, the infamous Aed Woedbeanna ~ dryad of Brokilon Forest. Not much is known about dryads in the Witcher world written by Sapkwoski. They are exclusively female, terribly racist, excellent shots, they don’t eat dinner and for some reason, they would have us believe drinking Scorch is good for us.
Aglais is a fairly minor character in the novels. She is the healer of Brokilon Dryads, and she is only mentioned as the Aed Woedbeanna that healed Geralt after an unwise clash with Vilgefortz left him with a broken leg, ribs and severally bruised ego. Aglais uses the sacred Brokilon water in her healing process.
Aglais is a siege row, loyal, 5 strength unit available to Scoia’Tael. While her strength is nothing to lose words on, her ability is arguably one of the most interesting and powerful ones in the game. As she enters the battlefield, the player gets to choose a single special card in his graveyard and re-use it.
The Streets of Gwentsglow:
It hasn’t always been that way. Aglais (then a 7 strength golden unit that could pick a special from any graveyard) started her criminal journey back when the game had just begun its closed beta. For the first few months, Scoia’Tael have been rather underrepresented as a faction, their decks were costly to craft, they took quite some skill to properly track what specials remain in the deck and how to use them correctly, and ultimately, that led to the faction being underplayed and under tested.
But that all changed when Eithne, Aglais and Francessca decided to enter the scene. Donned in finely crafted green tuxedos and strapped with triple Decoys, double scorches and their goon Roach hopped up on illegal hallucinogens, they’ve turned the ladder on its head. Don Foltest and Harald began cowering in their villas, while the new gang ran the streets they used to love and adore. Aglais herself stayed one, two, sometimes even three steps ahead of their foes, making it nearly impossible to squeeze out even a minor victory.
In early winter 2017, things became even more turbulent. A new family drove into town, trying to get their own piece of the pie. Herr Moorvran brought in highly disciplined mercenaries and spies that brought hope of downfall of the elven tyranny. Nilfgaardians, well connected with the authorities in the Projekt Yard performed an assassination attempt on Aglais. Whilst the hit didn’t put her in the ground, she hasn’t been the same since. She lost two of her fingers in the hit, and some of the finest goods she used to deal just keep getting removed by the Yard’s new fleeting import policy. Aglais also lost some of the confidence and bravado she used to have, so she prefers to stay around the block, rarely entering the opponent’s territory in search of the goods.
All that left the Scoi’Tael family weakened but far from defeated, mostly due to the help from their newly made woman, Saskia, who took the armies out on the streets and fought back the advancing rival families. Hell bent on revenge, Scoia’Tael resorted to high priority hits, using incineration as their modus operandi. Although some cries have been heard about a crazy new pyromaniac, Schirru (who is rumored to do so many things it’s nearly impossible to count), most of the work remains in the hands of Saskia and the infuriated Aglais. On the rare occasion they find themselves outnumbered and burning the strongest enemy’s goon just won’t do the trick, Aglais will rally her troops behind her and bring further mayhem to the streets of Gwentsglow.
Aglais is one of the cards that have seen the most nerfs since her first iteration, be it through direct or indirect changes. Her strength has been lowered, the ability to pick spells from either graveyard has been limited to the owner’s, and most importantly, several of her favorite spells have been tagged as fleeting (Decoy, Nature’s Gift, First Light, Aeromancy…) or changed altogether. Her Agility has been replaced and she’s been placed into the siege row.
Following all the hits it has taken, Aglais’s ability might seem like nothing special (pun not intended), as there are quite a few drawbacks to it. She requires you to have drawn, played and kept the special card you wish to cast in the graveyard, her 5 strength body is mediocre in a top deck round 3 and finally, some of the strongest special cards in the game are fleeting.
That said, Scoia’Tael is the faction with some of the best thinning in the game and their Elven Mercenaries, Brouver Hoog and other special thinners and tutors guarantee Aglais will almost always re-use the exact special ability you want her to. The 5 strength body is usually a-plenty when it’s attached to a multiple choice card (the choice being your entire graveyard), the tempo swing she provides is scarcely anything but above average.
At 66.3% pick ratio above 4k MMR, Aglais is the most picked Scoia’Tael golden card, sporting a 52% win ratio. It will come to no one’s surprise, the two spells players cast with her most commonly are Rally and Scorch as the most and second most picked spells respectively.
That hardly comes as a surprise, as Rally is one of the most played, and arguably strongest bronzes for the Scoia’Tael, while Scorch is one of the few spells that provide hard and sometimes even mass removal. The ability to run a 4th or 2nd copy of spell such as those gives Scoi’Tael a much-needed consistency, strength and first-most a toolbox of choices that are ever so important in card games.
Aglais is one of the cards with a relatively low skill floor, but a surprisingly high ceiling, as choosing when to play her and what to recast with her is not always as obvious as it might seem.
In the following weeks, as we’re all preparing for the arrival of the open beta, one of the cards to keep a closer eye on is definitely Aglais. Her ability undoubtedly limits design space of special cards to some extent, and I believe it’s fair to assume she might see some changes in the process. Is she going to keep her staple status? Is there going to be a new card taking her place? Or are the bloody streets of Gwentsglow claim another soul and Aglais will find her eternal peace in the annals of history.
I’d like to thank Mule for the help he provided with the Aglais’s background lore and the GwentUp team for providing the statistical data used in the article.