1: The Henselt/Margarita Golden Finisher
[caption id="attachment_81110" align="aligncenter" width="222"] Henselt: Choose 7 adjacent units and convert them to gold.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_81111" align="aligncenter" width="222"] Margarita: Whenever a gold ally appears, spawn an Aretuza Adept.[/caption] Henseltâ€™s 7 promotions, combined with the Northern Realms faction ability of boosting all gold units by 2, was an impressive 14 point play. However, that wasnâ€™t the problem. It was when combined with Margarita Laux-Antille that sent shivers down our spines whenever we queued into a Henselt player. She would spawn an Aretuza Adept (a 3 strength token) on a random row whenever a gold card appeared on your side. Add that to Henseltâ€™s ability and youâ€™re easily looking at a 35 point play in two turns, perhaps the most insane finisher in the Closed Beta. Try catching that at the end of round 3.
2: Geraltâ€™s Weather Bamboozle
[caption id="attachment_81120" align="aligncenter" width="222"] Geralt Aard: Choose 5 adjacent enemies and push them to the row behind them.[/caption] Picture the scene. Itâ€™s round 3, youâ€™ve an army of units on your range row and your opponent just canâ€™t make up the point deficit. Itâ€™s looking good. But then it comes â€“ Aeromancy, spawning a weather of choice. But wait, what was that? A miss-click? Haha, they played it on the row BEHIND my units, Iâ€™ve won! Heâ€™s going to forfeit... why isnâ€™t he rage quitting? â€œNot your lucky day,â€ comes Geraltâ€™s signature quote on deploy. And how right he was. Geralt: Aard would push your units straight into that Torrential Rain. When combined with old weather reducing everything to 1, Geralt Aard was the ninja of the Closed Beta; by the time you saw him coming, it was too late.
3: Follow the Trail of Medics
[caption id="attachment_81112" align="aligncenter" width="222"] Field Medic: Resurrect a random bronze unit.[/caption] Field Medics are now considered to be an RNG card (shuffling a bronze ally back into your deck and then playing a random bronze unit from your deck) but they were once auto-include for Northern Realms. Thanks to their ability to resurrect a random bronze unit from your graveyard, they could easily hit a chain that mimicked a dozen clowns exiting a small car. Imagine resurrecting a Reaver Scout, which played another Field Medic, pulling a second Reaver Scout followed by another Medic and finishing off with a Reinforced Trebuchet. Your turn, try and catch that. Nope, not even close. GG.
4: All aboard the Nilfgaardian Tempo Train
[caption id="attachment_81109" align="aligncenter" width="222"] Imperial Golem: Orders: Summon this unit and all copies of it from your deck.[/caption] While John Calveitâ€™s ability hasnâ€™t changed â€“ he still looks at the top three cards in your deck and plays one â€“ the Imperial Golems have been reworked. Previously, they had the â€œOrdersâ€ tag, playing themselves from the deck whenever you deployed your leader. Oh, you lost the coinflip so have to go first? No problem. John Calveit would hit the board with a trio of Golems in tow. Letâ€™s see those top three. Iâ€™ll play Cahir, out comes Roach, and looks like Ciri wants to join the party, too. Itâ€™s only the first turn of the game and your opponent is already 20 points behind. Thatâ€™s a safe pass if I ever saw one.
5: The Great Skellige Savage Bear Parade
[caption id="attachment_81113" align="aligncenter" width="222"] Savage Bear: Whenever a unit appears on your opponentâ€™s side, damage it by 1.[/caption] No matter how many Alzurâ€™s Thunders you tech into your deck, these beasts just kept coming. Savage Bears made playing cards that spawned tokens a liability and, because they were part of the Skellige faction, you knew they were only a Priestess of Freya away from returning to the board. Even killing them came with a price. If they were sent to the graveyard, they would still deal the damage to whatever unit shut them down. Savage!
6: Ambush Scoiaâ€™tael: Face Down with the Enemy
[caption id="attachment_81114" align="aligncenter" width="222"] Schirru: Ambush â€“ when the next Special card is played, cancel its effects and destroy the highest enemy unit(s).[/caption] Ambush Scoiaâ€™tael may still a thing, but back in the Closed Beta you couldnâ€™t interact with face down (ambush) cards, which led to a lot of guess work as you tried to determine what had been played. When you guessed wrong, youâ€™d lose your turn. Schirru was the biggest offender. Oh, you wanted to clear the weather I just spawned? Nope. Sorry, thatâ€™s your turn over. While Iâ€™m at it, Iâ€™ll remove those two 12 strength units of yours. In the words of Schirru himself, â€œOh, how lovely, it burns.â€
7: Carryover that carries you to victory
[caption id="attachment_81115" align="aligncenter" width="222"] Vran Warrior: Every 2 turns, at the start of your turn, consume the unit to the right.[/caption] Ask any competitive Gwent player what used to wake them in the night in a pool of chilled sweat, and theyâ€™ll stammer the word, â€œMon-monsters.â€ Playing against Monsters has always been a test of will, but back when faction abilities were a thing, it was less a test of will and more of a dash across No Manâ€™s Land into a Merigoldâ€™s Hailstorm of bullets. Whenever the round ended, the last played Monster card would remain on the board. Okay, you canâ€™t win round one? No problem, just pass. Donâ€™t push yourself. Oh, wait â€“ they have a 70 strength Vran Warrior on the board. Time to panic! All Monster cards may as well have been wearing Thug Life sunglasses. You knew the 2-0 was coming. Deal with it.