Top Faction Decks #2 By LbDutchboy with Lorenthiel and Moody_
Welcome to our second Gwent Top Faction Decks report.
First off, I would like to announce that I have called in some help with this new report. Sector One’s new Gwent players: Moody_ and Lorenthiel will be helping me make this article to raise it to a higher level.
Whether you want to climb normal ladder or to grind pro ladder and see how far you can get, you can find you decks here. We have listed one of the if not the best deck for every faction.
If you are just looking for the best deck to climb normal ladder with, no matter the faction, pick the first deck you see. We have ranked the factions from strongest to weakest in the current meta.
NUMBER 1: NILFGAARD
Nilfgaard is as prevalent as ever. The emhyr spy variant has dodged the latest nerfs and remains one of the strongest decks. The deck has many strengths. It is very consistent thanks to its thinning with Emissaries. The points grow exponentially once you have multiple bronze spy synergy cards on the board and the deck has a very powerful finisher thanks to cards like Joachim de Wett combined with Nauzicaa Brigade perhaps even with Rainfarn creating 19 to 24 points in 1 card. Making the deck perfect for both a short and long round.
During the first round you want to thin out most of your bronze cards, whilst you make an insane amount of points thanks to your synergistic cards. You can’t really dry-pass* as much anymore in today’s meta, since more decks have exponential points ( Cursed Sky or any Golden Weather deck for example). But it is still correct in the mirror and against restore Skellige. Once you have noted you are going to play the round you want to start with your spy synergy cards, since they take some time to set up. This means playing your Impera Enforcers and Impera Brigades combined with Emissaries . Make sure you kill an Emissary when you have a chance of playing Vicovaro Medic in the near future. Resurrecting it helps you thin even more and makes your spy synergy cards create even more points. The medics are also a good Emhyr target, as well as Ceallach, giving you even more spies. Cantarella is especially strong in spy Nilfgaard. Once you have multiple Impera Enforcers and Impera Brigades on the board, the amount of points you are losing when playing her lowers a lot. Making it more easy to play her and stay ahead. Giving you an inevitable card advantage over your opponent. You generally want to keep your gold cards until the last round as your finisher. This does not mean that you never want to play them in an earlier round, but all your bronze cards grow together with other bronze cards. Impera Brigades can be worth around 20 points in a long round 1, but they are only 6-10 point cards in the last round. Cards like Joachim always around the same amount of points, making it a good finisher. You want to play Iris when you have 2 Impera Enforcers on the board, this way you can insta kill her during your turn, making it impossible to interact with and giving you at least 25 points.
Round 2 depends a lot on the matchup. If you play against Henselt you would like for them to use their leader, unless you are certain that you can deny his full value in the last round. Playing a long round 2 is almost never worth it however, since your bronze cards grow exponentially and if you have that many cards left after round 1 you prefer a long round 3 ( as long as you are not playing against another exponential deck like Axemen ).
This is where the fun begins. Your deck is thinned with only a few cards left in this position. Meaning that you know what card Joachim de Wett is probably going to pull. Make sure you always have something in your deck left to pull with him, since he will be dead if you don’t have any loyal bronze or silver cards left. Always have an Infiltrator ready for this round, since round 3 is most likely you want to use Menno Coehoorn in.
This is a deck where blacklisting* is very strong. You do not want multiple Impera Brigades and Impera Enforcers in hand, since you want to pull them with Emissary. You never want more than one Infiltrator or Nauzicaa Brigade in hand, since they do not grow exponentially like your other bronze cards. 2 Vicovaro Medics is tricky, but can be fine if you can kill of your Emissaries early with your Enforcers. Make sure that your Rainfarn always has a spy left in the deck to pull.
MATCH-UP TIPS AND TRICKS
Against Spy Nilfgaard: Drypass round 1 if you have lost coinflip. Make sure you kill the enemy enforcers as soon as you can. The player that has multiple enforcers most likely wins. Emhyr is especially strong since you could take their Joachim de Wett or Iris if they do not insta kill it. Your opponent should play around this so just using him on Ceallach to create tempo is also good. I almost never like using him on Cantarella, since this means you are giving him a 22 point swing and you use a very strong leader ability to do so.
Against Veteran Skellige: Be aware of a possible Geralt:Igni. They have Decoy so always insta kill Iris with Enforcers if you play her. They play an Armorsmith so either fully kill one of their units or damage everything a little bit so his value goes down. Try to get last say so they are not able to Coral your Joachim unit. They don’t play a spy so you can bully them a lot if they have lost coinflip.
Against Spell-ale-tael: Denying units in one of their rows can be massive. Try to do this with your Enforcers if possible.
Artifact compression is very common in these types of decks. Try to only play your Iris when you can insta kill her.
They generally do not play a spy, but do play summoning circle. This means that you can always get your card back after you have won the first round if you keep Emhyr and Cantarella for the second round. To do so you need to use Emhyr on the spy that your opponent gave you with their summoning circle, after this you can bleed them as much as you want.
They have a lot of point removal, try keeping your enforcers in your hand for the first few plays. They are most likely going to be removed by Iorveth or Ithlinne anyway, but if your opponent has to wait with using Iorveth he is obviously losing value.
Against Eredin Iris: You want at least 2 Frosts cleared when you play Vanhemar, bouncing him back is often correct. The threat of him lurking around makes your opponent unable to go in on Frosts.
You can Emhyr Iris if she is not one shot with the Wild Hunt Riders, keep this in mind.
Try killing their Wild Hunt Riders, but do not kill other units in the first round. This way their Slyzards are as dead as can be during the first round.
Rowstack, often best done in the Range row since your Vicovaco Medics go here and can tank a 2-3 points Frost hit.
Against Machine Northern Realms: Be aware of possible Dun Banner Light Cavalry.
Try to offset your units the best you can, scorch/villentretenmerth are lurking. Take especially good care of your Impera Brigades, it can be good to kill 1 or 2 spies before you play a second one so that the first one is bigger.
Only damage machines if you can kill them, otherwise Kaedwini Siege Master will heal them back up.
Last say is really important in this matchup, try to get it the best you can.
You can keep Cantarella for your last round, most likely giving you the last say and, if you have not played many big units, can block scorch/villentretenmerth.
Keep Vanhemar for possible weathers.
The Guardian or Roach with peter, especially good if you face a lot of nekkers, since peter instakills it.
The Guardian with Iris, if you do this you need to replace Infiltrator with Nauzicaa Brigade as well, so you have an extra option to kill Iris.
The Guardian with Assire Var Anahid.
Muzzle with Cahir.
Vanhemar is cutable for any of the other silver cards named before, but I do not recommend it, since weather can do a lot against this deck.
*Drypass is the action of passing the round without having a card played.
*Blacklisting: if you mulligan a card in gwent, you will no longer draw that card in the same mulligan phase.
NUMBER 2 : SKELLIGE
Skellige is certainly amongst the top with multiple strong archetypes.The old Restore Cerys deck, Axemen and the newer so called “Valuetown” made by Shinmiri are all very strong in the current meta. I have decided to showcase the latter in this edition.
The deck is not fancy in any way, but has a lot of points available per card. Making it very strong in short rounds, without giving up many points in longer rounds.
The deck is able to do this with the prior unpopular Clan Tuirseach Veteran together with the newer Heymaey Battle Maiden. The Veterans give “carryover” in the other rounds with their ability and the Battle Maiden makes the deck consistent.
During the first round you want to use King Bran together with the Raider, Morkvarg and Wolfsbane. This creates an immediate 12 points and another 12 points in the future. This should give you time to start up the Veteran train. Try to get all your Clan Tuirseach Veterans out in the first round, using at least 1 Battle Maiden, so you can Restore it in a future round. The skirmishers are mostly finishers so there is no need to rush them. It is generally more worth it to get the Veterans out with the Battle Maids, thinning your deck and increasing the strength of your other cards. If you have a good Decoy possibility ( using it on a Battle Maiden ) feel free to use it. You have some carryover with the Morkvarg, meaning that your opponent can not drypass the second round if he has won it. Take this into account when passing.
Depends entirely on the matchup, you would want to bleed axemen for example, but instapass against consume monster, so that their Ekimmaras don’t get any carryover value. If you can restore a Battle Maiden this round it would be extremely good, since you can resurrect her with a Priestess of Freya next round again.
If you still have Madman Lugos you can use him this round with the Skirmisher, shooting for a massive amount of points and giving you a good resurrect target. Use your Whale Harpooners to set up a good Geralt:Igni. If you have an 8 point Battle Maiden in your graveyard make sure you can use it on one of your units.
Make sure you always have units to resurrect in your graveyard, dead Freyas are never allowed in this deck.
Do not be too greedy on your Geralt:Igni, since he can be only a 5 point gold in a short round and most people know he is popular in this deck and will play around it.
You can use Svanridge to discard bad cards in hand during the last rounds, so you are able to get rid of a dead Freya or Igni.
First off: you never want to have your King Bran targets in hand of course. This means mulliganing Morkvarg, Wolfsbane and the Raider is important, however it is more important to have at least 1 Clan Tuirseach Veteran in your hand. You can increase the chance of drawing one by first blacklisting other bronze cards, thus making sure you don’t draw a copy of said bronze card.
You also do not want all of your copies of 1 card in your hand, make sure your Battle Maidens are as useful as they can be.
MATCH-UP TIPS AND TRICKS
Against Spy Nilfgaard: They can steal the units in your graveyard with their Vicovaro Medics, so if you go first in the last round make sure get the big unit out of your graveyard as your first play.
They have an easily accessible spy and there is no spy in this deck, losing on even is never allowed if they have not played the spy in the first round. Make sure you pass before this possibility occurs.
Geralt:Igni can be very strong in this matchup if you get the Impera Brigades lined up correctly or the target that has been pulled by Joachim de Wett.
Keep your Coral for either Iris or their pull from Joachim de Wett, you are also able to decoy Iris if she is not insta killed by enforcers and resurrect either of them with Sigrdrifa in a later point of the game.
2 Clan Tuirseach Veterans in your opening hand is actually not bad, since they can steal the first one you play with Muzzle.
Against Veteran Skellige: Make good use of the wolfsbane timing, using Coral on a big Skirmisher denies the resurrect since the target gets banished. They normally play 1 armorsmith, so always kill the target you use your Whale Harpooner on or the damage will go to waste.
Against Spell-ale-tael: You can try to deny some early ales with your Whale Harpooners, but this is hard to keep up, so don’t go to all in on this game plan.
They play muzzle, so make sure you can still get your veteran train going if they muzzle your Clan Tuirseach Veteran.
Killing Farseer (if they play it) with Madman Lugos is amazing, but keeping him for the last round to shoot a big Protector is also a lot of points.
If possible getting last say or even double last say can be really good for you, since you will have more time to set up a good Geralt:Igni without having the annoying Mahakam Ales blocking your way.
Against Iris Eredin: Try to make the last round as short as possible, you always have decent big point plays, but they often need some time to get there.However, do be careful of Caretaker, he can steal a big Skirmisher from your deck.
Use your armorsmith efficient, if needed you can resurrect him next round.
You can kill one of their Wild Hunt Riders with Madman Lugos.
Make sure you play around the occasional Geralt:Igni.
Row stacking against Eredin is often good, since they do not play Lacerate and have the option to play multiple Frosts during one round.
2 Clan Tuirseach Veterans in your opening hand is actually not bad, since they can steal the first one you play with Muzzle.
You can Sigrdrifa their Iris, denying their ability to get it with Caretaker and getting yourself a decent point play combined with Whale Harpooner.
Against Machine Northern Realms: Play around scorch the best you can. Your veterans often line up because of their ability, try to have a bigger skirmisher around or have some of your units damaged with the Battle Maiden.
Madman Lugos can deny a Henselt target in the end, but they often have more than 1 target to do so, so this is not a must.
Armorsmith is MVP, he helps best offsetting your units and denying Machine value.
Be aware of possible Dun Banner Light Cavalry, make a mental note of this at the beginning of your match, a lot of good players still fall for them because of the many things going on at once in gwent.
They often play at least 1 weather, so keep Gremist until you are sure he does not have it.
They play spy, be aware of this.
I do not recommend a lot of bronze card changes, but you could change Clan Tordarroch Armorsmith for Lacerate or Clan Tuirseach skirmisher. You could also replace Clan an Craite Raider with Clan Tuirseach Skirmisher if you want more flexibility in your Leader ability.
Svanridge with Udalryk or Donar, depending on the meta.
Geralt:Igni with Birna Bran or muzzle.
NUMBER 3: NORTHERN REALMS
In case of balance between faction archetypes Northern Realms is the most balanced one – there are many viable archetypes like: Double-Dijkstra decks, Machines, Foltest Trebuchet Deck, Armor variants. After the latest patch Northern Realms received the best designed card I have ever seen – Ronvid of Small Marsh – he gives you an opportunity to have carryover along with a crewmen tag on the board, which pushes machine variants slightly on the top of faction archetypes – and that is why I will focus on SuperJJ’s Henselt Machines variant today, which is very good at this particular moment.
Ideally, you want to force out your opponent to get out of this round using Ronvid+ Reinforced Siege Tower + Henselt ability combo that gives you a huge tempo advantage (51 points play in 3 cards = 17 avg) or Reinforced Siege Tower + Henselt ability (37 points in 2 cards = 18.5 avg), so they are forced to go -2 Cards to the next round or pass immediately. However, there are decks that can easily catch up – then you should think about playing long round and try to threaten your opponent with Henselts leader ability.Keira spawning frost would be really handy in that situation as well. Always wait with your Ballistas for more targets, and try to use Battering Rams to line up your targets for mentioned Ballistas. Try to use Kaedweni Siege Masters in long rounds(most probably in round 1), since they are harder to pull off properly in a short round.
This round depends heavily on the matchup, but in most cases you would rather want to drypass to have long round 3. In case your opponent has more carryover than you, you can play Thaler to get the Card Advantage back. If you want to bleed, you should always keep in mind fact that you should go into round 3 with at least 3 cards in hand, to have option to trigger Villentretenmerth. Also, if you don’t expect that Villentretenmerth will have targets to burn, you should always keep your spy for that.
Round 3 is pretty straightforward (though knowing what to hit, and what to expect to lineup scorch effect is not that trivial) if everything was doing good previously – you ideally want to line their units up for Villentretenmerth using machine combinations.
2nd or 3rd Siege Tower (or other targets like Battering Ram or Ballista to make full value out of Henselt ability) -> Roach -> White Frost if you have Keira Metz in the hand -> Kaedweni Sergeant if you know that you are not playing against weather decks.
MATCH-UP TIPS AND TRICKS
Against Spy Nilfgaard: Going first in this matchup is pretty bad, so you might consider making a drypass in round 1 under risk to be bled – but then be sure you will maintain the card advantage, so bleeding will not be that painful for you.
They have a lot of tools to generate points early on, so do be careful of the point gap even if you are going second. If your opponent starts has a low tempo opener do not hesitate to use your Henselt ability to overwhelm him.Keep in mind that Villentretenmerth is your round 3 win condition, so try to not use him early.
Against Veteran Skellige: You will probably need to use Henselt in the first round to even have a chance of winning it, so you can take the slow approach at first. Moreover, you can steal carryover using Muzzle, that way you should be in a good position if they will not catch up. Card advantage in this particular matchup is very important, since you want to lineup units for Villentretenmerth in round 3.
Against Spell-ale-tael: This is a pretty straightforward matchup, try to win round 1 with a tempo opener (you might consider using opener on Battering Rams to deny opponent’s units), so you will have an easy Villentretenmerth (you can lineup Dol Blathanna Protectors with Ballistas) target in round 3. Try to kill your opponents units as well so that he will not have full Mahakam Ale value. Steal his Farseer using Muzzle (nowadays they are playing only 1-of), so your opponent will not have a single point generator on his side of the board.
Against Iris Eredin: Try to overwhelm your opponent with a high tempo opener and ,if possible, keep your weather clears for round 3 to deny Iris value. Meanwhile try to kill your opponent his units so he will not reach the optimal number of targets for Iris. Always rowstack your units into the weather, so their Drowners will not reach maximum value.
Against Machines: Coinflip is the biggest offender in mirror match, but overall try to keep your hero ability, and if you force him to use it sooner than you did, you should be in the winning position. Card advantage in this matchup is really important.
1st variant – big units hate:
Muzzle -> Drought
Reinforced Siege Tower -> Kaedweni Siege Support
Alzur’s Double-Cross -> Myrgtabrakke
Summoning Circle -> Scorch
(if you don’t expect too many weather) Kaedweni Sergeants -> Dun Banner Light Cavalry
2nd variant – no weather variant :
Keira Metz -> John Natalis
White Frost -> Reinforcement
Summoning Circle -> Commander’s Horn
NUMBER 4: MONSTERS
The monster faction has received a new top tier card in latest big patch: Slyzard. Slyzard has increased the consistency and strength of the nekker consume archetype and has increased the consistency of the current Eredin Iris decks. The two archetypes are fairly close strenght wise, but in the end I have gone with the Eredin variant. The consume deck is in no way bad, but can still have problems, say your opponent denies your Nekkers or you do not draw any Nekker Warriors. The Eredin variant is more consistent, especially with The Crones, making Ge’els often pull Iris. The deck is also decently favorite against Nilfgaard Spies, which is a rare sight these days.
Make sure you asses the matchup first. You need to determine how many weather clears your opponent plays, you have a total of 6 frost rows available to you, so you do not want to get 3 of them cleared by 1 card. You need at least 1 frost on the board together with a Wild Hunt Rider to one-shot Iris for a good 25 points.
Now that that is cleared up, we can go on with the generic gameplan.
You want to start with your weather cards of course, since they get more value every turn. It is good to have at least one of everything in your graveyard, so the Slyzards won’t be dead the upcoming rounds. Do not be afraid to play frost to early, since you can always move their units into the frost with Drowners. Make sure you don’t go 2 cards down during the first round If you need a big tempo play you can always use Eredin, either with Wild Hunt Navigator to thin your deck or just the unit you want. It is not bad to use Iris the first round if that lets you win the round, since you can get her back later with Caretaker. The Crones are also good for tempo early on, they are not as prevalent anymore as before since a 20 points silver card isn’t as amazing anymore. However, they are good for thinning and a decent early point lead.
Can depend on the matchup, but you generally want to drypass. Since your Hazards will get more points the longer the round goes. Do make sure you don’t have any dead Slyzards in the upcoming round though.
Use your last Biting Frosts as efficiently as possible, meaning that you play around the clears that can still be around. Play your overtime point gain card like Wild Hunt Rider and at least 1 Frost first and make sure you set up a row where you can one shot Iris once the time is right. If you have not used Caretaker yet you can resummon Iris from the opponent’s graveyard using Caretaker and get a good 29 points.
When you play Ge’els you get the option between a gold and a silver card. The card you do not pick gets on top of the deck, meaning that if you play him round 1/2 ( or round 3 combined with Frightener ) you always draw a silver or gold in the upcoming round.
Make use of the blacklisting*, if you only have 1 Biting Frost in your hand mulligan that first, this way you will not draw any more Biting Frosts in the upcoming draws. Try to get at least one of every other Bronze card ( except Slyzard ), so that you have options with your Slyzards later.
Be careful of the Crones in your deck, it is never good to have 2 of them in your hand. Mulliganing them is obvious.
In some cases your Ge’els can turn up dead if you are not careful in the last round, make sure this never happens by keeping track of your gold and silver cards and if needed mulliganing one of them.
MATCH-UP TIPS AND TRICKS
Against Spy Nilfgaard: Try to kill their Impera Enforcers as soon as you can. You can one shot them if you are able to move them with drowner into a Frost row where there are no other 1 or 2 strength units.
They often play Vanhemar and are able to get him back with Emhyr, never have more than 2 Frosts on the enemy row.
Muzzle is really good to deny one of their spy synergy cards.
Try to get a mid sized round 3, since you need some time for your frosts to get value and get the insta kill on Iris, but they can get a massive amount of points in 1 card with Joachim de Wett.
You can Slyzard silver cards as well, if your opponent has played Iris and killed her, you can consume the Iris in your graveyard and get your own.
Against Veteran Skellige: They have Gremist, so again do not play 3 Biting Frosts at once, unless you are absolutely certain he does not have him. If your opponent has played Gremist during the round, it is impossible to resurrect him. Meaning that you are free to Frost the Range and Melee row without him ever being able to clear it.
They often play 1 armorsmith, try to play around him by killing the units you pull with Drowner.
You can try to muzzle your opponent’s first Clan Tuirseach Veteran. If that is the only copy of the card he had in his hands his Battle Maidens will not be able to pull any others.
Against Spell-ale-tael: A cool matchup for your for sure. They have to play in multiple rows because of their Mahakam Ales, they are able to get out 2 First Lights ( at the cost of their leader ability) but you have 6 Frosts to keep them at bay. Always Frost their back row, since you can be assured that he has to play the Sages there.
Muzzle can be very good if they play a Farseer, but it does not really do much if they do not have one in their deck. Try to get a 16 point muzzle whenever you can if you have figured out that he should not have a Farseer.
You can keep more Slyzards in your opening hand that usual, they are likely to kill of at least 1 drowner with Iorveth, enabling you to eat it from your graveyard and getting a copy of the unit back in play.
Against Iris Eredin: Once again you can eat their Iris with Slyzard to get your own. Row stacking against them is very good since they generally do not play Lacerate and they always have multiple frosts per round available.
They never have more than 1 weather clear so you do not need to be too careful about this.Taking tempo with The Crones is pretty good early on, especially if you go second. This way he will not be able to set up all his frost effect without going -2 cards on you.
Against Machine Northern Realms: Try to deny their scorch/villentretenmerth the best you can. Your units are fairly small until you Iris, so you have possibilities.
They do not always have weather clear ( Dethmold ), once you have recognised this you can go ham with your Hazards.
They are likely to kill a Wild Hunt Hound round 1 with their machines, keeping 1 Slyzard can be valueable.
You can muzzle their Henselt target in the last round, this can save you a lot of points.
Be aware of possible Dun Banner Light Cavalry.
Slyzard with First Light.
White Frost with Monster Nest
You can play the Silver consume package for some high value plays, change The Crowns with Toad Prince, Manticore and Monster Nest.
Ge’els with Geralt:Igni.
NUMBER 5: SCIOA’TAEL
A new version of Spella’tael has risen and succeeded to surpass the Golden Weather variation because of the most recent buff to First Light and more important, thanks to the new card Mahakam Ale.This deck has many strengths such as having a very strong round 3 thanks to Dol Blathanna Protector, efficient deck thinning and strong removal from your gold cards.Unfortunately some weaknesses such as not having carryover ,being vulnerable to reset effects, being vulnerable to Scorch and single target removal won’t allow this deck to challenge Spy Nilfgaard or Veteran Skellige for the top positions on ladder.
Unlike other decks which are using Operator in round 3, you want to use him as fast as possible Round 1 on Dol Blathanna Protector to maximize your points from using spells. After that play your Farseer from hand or with Nature’s Gift/Alzur’s Double-Cross.When you have finished this setup you want to play Iorveth whilsts having as many elves in hand as possible to maximize his buff. Your next plays are straight forward: Play Elven Mercenary combined with Mahakam Ale while you have units on all rows. Thin as much as you can and then use Sage combined with Mahakam Ale from your graveyard. Feel free to pass when your opponent can not catch up easily giving you 2 card advantage. If you can’t fill all 3 rows with Elven Mercenary you can play Dol Blathanna Protector and then resume your gameplan. Use removal via Ithlinne, Iorveth, Muzzle, Artefact Compression on important targets such as Nekker or big point units.
Usually this is the round where your opponent will try to obtain Card advantage by playing his Spy. This is where your Summoning Circle shines. Try to always take note of the last played card and take the most Summon Circle value. As soon as you have 1 unit on Melee and 1 unit on Range row, you can continue with your Mahakam Ale gameplan.
At this point Dol Blathanna Protector should be quite big so make sure you have access to them from hand or with Eithné. Having Card advantage here is crucial because it guarantees safety for at least one Dol Blathanna Protector.
Tip: Prioritize having units on Melee and Range rows first because your only card that isn’t agile is Sage which comes into play on Siege row.
Mulliganing with this deck is pretty straight forward. You want to increase blacklist value as much as possible. You don’t want Mahakam Ale in your hand since you want to get it with Elven Mercenary. You don’t want more than 1 Dol Blathanna Protector so if you have 2 you should mulligan it as soon as possible. If there is no more blacklisting you want to get rid of Alzur’s Thunder because it is the only card that works with Ithlinne. Make sure you don’t have 4 gold cards in your hand so Royal Decree is not dead for first round. Mulligan First Light if you are not playing against a possible weather deck.
What you want after Mulligan : 1x Dol Blathanna Protector , access to Farseer/Operator, as much deck thinning as possible (Elven Mercenary, Marching Orders etc), 3 gold cards including Royal Decree.
MATCH-UP TIPS AND TRICKS
Against Spy Nilfgaard: Spy Nilfgaard is favorite in a longer rounds because of their Spy Synergy cards. Try killing/Muzzle their Impera Enforcers and Impera Brigades as soon as possible and deny their value. Your best Artefact Compression targets are : Iris, The Guardian, target pulled by Joachim de Wett, Impera Brigade. Try to always have 1 Dol Blathanna Protector in deck in case they use Vilgefortz on your units. Keep in mind that you can Summoning Circle his last Infiltrator to deny his Menno Coehoorn. They don’t have carryover either so drypass round 2 is possible. Peter is good against your Dol Blathanna Protector so try to play them as late as possible.
Against Veteran Skellige: Morkvarg is your best Muzzle target, steal him as soon as possible. If you can not steal him, keep in mind that you can not drypass unless you kill Morkvarg or Summoning Circle him. Prioritize killing units over dealing damage because of Armorsmith. Keep in mind they play Geralt:Igni and Harpooners to try to kill multiple Dol Blathanna Protectors. Coral is also a threat to your Dol Blathanna Protector, play them as late as possible. Your best Artefact Compression targets are Clan Tuirseach Skirmishers.
Against Spell-ale-tael: Mirror match usually comes down to who has access to more thinning and who is able to use removal more efficiently. Try to Muzzle his Farseer, kill Dol Blathanna Protector with Ithlinne and wait with your Artefact Compression until it gets maximum value. If you suspect golden Weather keep First Light.
Card advantage is crucial and , because neither player has carryover, coinflip becomes a huge factor. Winning round 1 and dry passing round 2 is key.
Against Iris Eredin: Keep First Light in hand, you might use Eithné on First Light for a second clear. Use First Light on at least 2 rows since they usually play 4-6 weather effects. Try to deny their Frost/Wild Hunt Rider/Iris/Caretaker combo by not letting him kill Iris and Artefact Compression her. You don’t want to play a long round 3 against that much Frost but try to maintain Card Advantage. Play a short round 3 and win with Dol Blathanna Protectors since they don’t have massive tempo swings. Some versions are running Scorch, try to stagger your Dol Blathanna Protectors with Alzur’s Double-Cross or playing them on Frost.
Against Machine Northern Realms: There are two main things you should be aware when you are facing Henselt. His leader ability is generating an absurd amount of points and it should not be underestimated. The other important point is their gameplan of playing Scorch or Villentretenmerth and aligning your Dol Blathanna Protectors. The correct strategy is trying to bleed them in round 2 and never giving them more than 1 Dol Blathanna Protector for their Scorch while also keeping Card advantage. Keep in mind that Mahakam Ale is good here for staggering your units so try to keep one Sage until Villentretenmerth procs to deny huge value. Be aware what units he is trying to pull with Henselt and remove/Muzzle them as soon as they appear on board. Pay attention if Shani has been played since all list run her.
Only replacement that I consider viable is Quen Sign instead of Farseer. It gives you an additional Ithlinne target and it provides some protection to your units in exchange of having a weaker turn 1.