Gwent Deck Anatomy: Devotion Warriors Raids

Introduction

Gwent Community June 2024 Balance Patch brought popular Devotion Warriors Raids archetype straight to the limelight with War Of Clans and Highland Warlord provision buffs. 

In this article we would look into Devotion Warriors Raids archetype in a more general way, trying to understand its essentials and how the decks are constructed. 

Deck / Archetype Definers

  • Highland Warlord and War Of Clans are defining cards for the class of Warriors Raids decks.
  • Highland Warlord increases the damage value of Raid cards. Being a low tempo card itself, it impacts Warriors sequencing. In Round 1 Warriors Raids would naturally like to play Warlords first, but then they are likely to fall behind in engine vs control skirmish. Decks with carryover / round control abusive plan usually pose a serious threat. 
  • Highland Warlords are coupled with Raids cards, which are mostly bronzes; these bronzes reach high value especially when removing opposing engines, but do not contribute to deck polarization (i.e. they don’t reach power higher than meta level golds).
  • War Of Clans is the strongest and least conditional (compared with Abordage) bronze Raid card in a Devotion deck. That’s the main reason to play Raids as a Devotion deck and include 4-cost Warriors. War of Clans combined with damage Warriors could give exceptional damage reach; for example 5-damage WoC combined with Tuirseach Axeman may kill a 10 base power target.
  • War of Clans requires graveyard setup and therefore could be disrupted by proper control tools (banish, seize…). It forces at least one (preferably 2 or more) 4-cost Warrior to be played/discarded in Round 1, which is another constraint for R1 power and flexibility. Therefore WoC strongly invites playing Mask of Uroboros as the blue coin stratagem. Same synergy with most discard cards is not justified, because they are point inefficient; the exception is Draig Bon Dhu and 2nd form Tyr.

Deck Core

Tight core of Warriors Raids Archetype
  • Primal Savagery is an obvious payoff card for Highland Warlords – with damage improved twice it can already remove common 4-power engines with a +6 trade, or just play as a 10 point slam. 
  • Gutting Slash is a control card, more conditional on the temporary meta and leader used (in Patricidal Fury variants this card is more stable than with other leaders). In general at least one Slash would be run and useful.
  • Blood Eagle is a weak and overcosted card standalone (sidenote: in my opinion that was the Warriors netdeck card to buff in the Balance Councils instead of Warlords/Vabjorn/War Of Clans), but with extra damage from Warlords becomes more stable. Also it helps to get Warlords early, and as echo card has great synergy with Vabjorn, which is a part of the core anyway. Thanks to synergies, Blood Eagle rises to a core card.
  • Vabjorn at least gives +2 to the best missed raid card and teams well with Blood Eagle.

This Raid core do not include 4 provision Warriors, necessary for WoC. We have to be sure to find at least one in R1; 3 warriors => 88% to find at least one,  4 => 94%. Generally 4 or more would be safe (check out probability calculator) and often we want 2 to avoid bricked 2nd WoC / graveyard punish in R2 push.

The most common pick in June 2024 is Tuirseach Invaders with Bran Tuirseach and at least one Brokvar Warrior. Invaders have great synergy with Tyr, which is almost autoinclude due to synergies with War Of Clans and Blood Eagle.

Extended core of Devotion Warriors Raids
  • Tyr is a strong proactive play and a big threat along with War of Clans, possibly game winning when opponent lacks control resources. Moreover, due to Warrior category its a natural high-end target for Blood Eagle.
  • King Bran mainly supports Warlord and Invader base power value, which is important with these cards being played and replayed many times (effective value of around 6 points in this set). The value of Bran when played from hand would usually be underwhelming with respect to provision cost.
  • Tuiseach Invader with Bran is a good target for Tyr and provides a stable pointslam War of Clans option in R3.
  • Brokvar Warrior is the best direct value 4-cost warrior at the moment and could provide extra damage for War Of Clans.


This way we end up with an extended core of 14 cards (+1 4p Warrior to pick). The rest depends on the leader used, current balance and meta call.

Core Properties

Core consists of few golds and in total ~5 cards we would like to play in a perfect 10 cards R3. Tyr is the card to secure a short round with a card up if R2 push has been defended. We need a bit more proactive plays (Tyr is the only strong one for R3 and likely followed up by a control card from opponent) and high-end powerplays.

Round 1 we want to deploy Warlords and ~two 4-cost Warriors – the rest is free to optimize.

Outside Core

Following cards are not a part of the core, but has rich synergies:

  • Fucusya – used on Vabjorn, Fucusya could play unfound Raid card with added value of Rain damage. In total usually ~10 + Raid value; 20+ play
  • Hjalmar: Seawolf (only Onslaught) – naturally fits in a Onslaught Pirates Raids deck and provides a second threat next to Tyr (and possibly Crach). Drawback is high reactivity and draw variance – Hjalmar has to be drawn in hand for armor value.
  • Harald An Craite – good proactive play and additional engine value; used on Highland Warlord in a long R3 brings 12 + raids (~+5) =17 points + more possible thanks to random damage pings.
  • Draig Bon Dhu – puts a unit (usually Tuirseach Invader) on the graveyard and immediately buffs base power of the target there, which is 1 to even 4 points of carryover in practice (Invader played R1+R2 and then in R3 moved to hand with Tyr for +2). The hack is finding Draig early; in the last round he is sometimes underwhelming.
  • Freya’s Blessing – played into Highland Warlord is an extra source of raid damage carryover; 5 tempo in R2 and ~5 points of carryover. Who wouldn’t like to play a bronze with such stats?
  • Abordage – a bit conditional raid card; usually good in Round 1 or long Round 3 against most decks. Plays for the value of topdeck + damage points and provides thinning. Also requires including more Pirates in the deck than the core. Especially stable with Patricidal Fury leader ability.

Leader Choice

There are 3 leader abilities especially synergistic in the context of Warriors Raids

  • Patricidal Fury – very useful to set up Bloodthirst for cards like Blood Eagle or Gutting Slash in the core. In emergency, tokens are targets for WoC/Primal Savagery and could be game saving vs uninteractive opponents.  Also works very well with OC cards: Fucusya (Sirens are body for rain) or Abordage. Champions Charge and Sove are other cards stable only with Patricidal Fury. Champion’s Charge provides tall removal and compensates for the pointslam character of PF. 
  • Blaze of Glory – sets up graveyard if needed and enables strong Warrior cards: Eist Tuirseach and Svanrige.
  • Onslaught – enables Pirates veteran cards: Yustianna and Bjorn, as well as Hjalmar: Seawolf. In general Warriors Raid Pirates are not very strong (because Pirates already have pretty strong bronzes and Onslaught lacks pointslam) but nevertheless interesting.

Strengths And Weaknesses

+ Efficient instant trades vs low power engines and destroying opponent’s board setup in R3.
+ Not prone to most control.
+ High floor power in R3

– Round 1 is weak with Highland Warlords interfering with optimal sequencing and WoC requiring graveyard setup. 
– Little control outside damage.
– High reactivity may be a drawback against similarly reactive / non interactive decks with a better Round 1.

Demo Decks

Blaze Of Glory Eist Warriors Raids

(Click on image to get playgwent link)

Eist Tuirseach is the big powerplay, potentially 6 + 2×13 = 32 pointswing in R3. The challenge is to setup Bloodthirst:3. Even if not succeed, Eist on the board may become a  threat because would work with Tyr/Draig moving unit to the graveyard. Double Greatswords are played only because of Blaze of Glory + Eist synergy.

Skjordal is a call of June Balance Council. Ulula is a flex slot; fits pretty well in the deck because Eist, Draig and Tyr are other engines important to remove. Ulula can support Round 1 play. 

Otherwise the deck would likely run Kaer Trolde / Harald An Craite instead of 8s.

Draig fits especially well because of engine overload and combo with Eist just in case.

Feral Bond and Brokvar Hunter are flex slots. The latter is supposed to help in setting up Bloodthirst.

Patricidal Fury Abordages

Sove is a strong pointslam play, possibly 22 points for 11 cost. 

Harald An Craite is a flex slot and probably not the most optimal pick; Kaer Trolde is another consideration, very good as a backup to guarantee Sove deathblow. Also Greatsword roll could potentially be amazing with Deranged Corsairs.

Deranged Corsairs are played with Abordages and have very good synergy with leader; 1 power Siren target for infusion can be created in any row. This combo could be a powerhorse, especially for Round 1 which is typically weak in Warriors Raids decks. Another raid card potentially powerful in this type of deck is Feral Bond; for example Greatsword roll could be great with Cataclysm on board and Tyr to retrieve GS in R3. Sadly there is little space to include all good cards in 5-range.

Brokvar Archer is a flex slot. Thematic pick, having synergy with high bloodthirst.

Onslaught Veteran Raids

Hjalmar: Seawolf and Crach could be tutored with Blood Eagle (although we would rather like to avoid it) and provide extra threats next to Tyr. Yustianna and Bjorn cannot be tutored, but due to their Veteran tag they possibly gain +2 effective points from King Bran. 

An Craite Warrior is a flex slot; putting in a Pirate card instead is a serious consideration, because Abordages have few early play targets.

Closure

The article is written June 2024, but hopefully would remain useful even when balance shifts and particular decks become outdated. All of the showcased decks I’ve played on stream – vod could be found here.

Warriors Raids Devotion are one of the best defined archetypes in Gwent: The Witcher Card Game, although as the article demonstrated it is possible to use various leader abilities and host different powerplays on the top of the core of about 15 cards.

I hope this article made you learn more about Warriors Raids archetype and you feel inspired to grab the axe and invade the ladder!