Season of the Cat is well underway and so Andasama and Wusubi are back at it with their spicy guide for Seasonal Mode. The rules are fairly simple: every 2 turns the players switch their hands. You play your own card, the opponent plays theirs and then your hands switch. Since card advantage doesn't exist here, the basic idea behind this Seasonal is to never pass.
You should try to build a deck that can win Round 1 without giving your opponent any good cards that would synergize with their deck. If you manage to win Round 1, you should always try to 2-0 the opponent. Choosing a rare cardback is a good idea in order to keep track of which cards are yours because of possible hand manipulation.
The deck ideas that we will suggest later on are usually built in a way to have around 7-9 gold cards that you want to play over the course of the game. You have to mulligan your strong cards if you have too many of them in your opening hand. It's a good idea to keep 2-3 gold cards in your hand so that your opponent only gets value from one. Tutor cards that only work within specific factions are convenient, for example Scoia'tael has the most luxurious options with Call of the Forest, Isengrim's Council and Fauve. If you're looking to complete some contracts, this is a good time to focus on Assimilate and Harmony, as both decks are great at securing Round 1. You can also finish any leader ability mastery of your choice.
The MVP of the vast majority of our represented decks is Shupe, our most beloved keg-smasher. Other than being a strong play on his own, most players actually don't use Shupe decks in this Seasonal. When your hands are switched, the best they can do is play him as a brick just to deny you the value. Since Shupe is a special card, you can fetch him with Land of a Thousand Fables. You can use Shupe: Mage to answer engines on Red coin.
Thinning options are very strong in this Seasonal and you will definitely see some of them in any deck. Portal potentially pulling out 2 engines not only makes your Round 1 better, but also improves your draws for the remainder of the match. To ensure you get the Portal out, you can throw in Avallac'h: Sage while adding 1-2 more artifacts so that he never bricks. Marching Orders are another option to tutor Avallac'h. Marching Orders can be tutored with Land of a Thousand Fables.
Land of a Thousand Fables allows you to tutor your expensive special cards and significantly increases the odds of drawing your combo pieces and winning Round 1. Being able to grab Shupe or Marching Orders into Avallac'h can tip the scales in your favor. With that said, be careful when giving this card to the opponent, because they might find it useful. The rule of thumb is mulliganing tutors that can benefit your opponent, while keeping the tutors they can't utilize.
Some decks prefer playing Alzur's Double-Cross to pull their highest unit. Monsters can utilize it for consume carry-over. Marching Orders are perfect in Nilfgaard due to being a Tactic, but most decks can use it to grab a low power tutor.
If you ever have some leftover provisions, throwing in Roach and Knickers is always good. They provide additional thinning and tempo in order to get round control, which is the most important thing in this Seasonal. It is worth noting that Roach can't be played in Shupe decks, because then you lose the option to cheese the opponent with Shupe: Mage on Red coin.
To kick things off, we have a nice Reckless Flurry deck. Marching Orders fetch Avallac'h, who tutors 3 different artifacts that can be replayed with Caretaker. Portal has 9 targets with synergies, whereas Raiding Fleet pulls 4 unique ships. Knickers offers extra thinning and Shupe is the menacing power play. Don't be afraid to commit your Dagur and/or Reckless Flurry in order to secure Round 1. The top end of this deck is very strong in a 3 card Round 2 and you can always proceed to try and 2-0 your opponent.
In order to get nice progress on your Harmony contract while advancing the Call of Harmony mastery, you can play Wusubi's masterpiece, which feels like the most powerful option. Call of the Forest, Isengrim Council and Fauve are dead for your opponents outside of the mirror or Avallac'h: Sage. Your leader can pull any Scoia'tael card from the deck, including The Great Oak.
The goal is to win Round 1 with Water of Brokilon and/or Percival. Isengrim's Council is guaranteed to show you Fauve or Figgis Merluzzo, which gives you the best 2-0 potential. Very few decks can hope to survive any combination of Fauve/Council/Figgis/Call/Oak in Round 2. Always try to look for the maximum amount of points with Call of Harmony and mulligan/sequence it accordingly.
Fables can pull the Shupe or Water of Brokilon. Dryad's Caress and Tempering serve as your back-up targets for Fauve. Waylay should be played after you've already proced the Elf Harmony. It's also a Tactic, which means that you could actually tutor it with opponent's Menno. Dwarven Chariot is a machine which spawns a Dwarf token. Roll the Runestone first in case you can create a Dwarf.
Figgis and Oak are the primary mulligan targets since they are your finishers, or rather the cards you need for 2-0. We have artifact removal and movement shenanigans and the sneaky Reveal contract Farseer is also worth mentioning.
Utilizing Fruits of Ysgith, Monsters can play a Shupe deck that doesn't rely on overpriced big boys. Alzur's Double-Cross has perfect targets in our carry-over bronze cards, playing for nice tempo while empowering Ghoul. Slyzard can be used to either recycle your Fruit or potentially enable the Ghoul in your hand. Whispess can play 6 different Organics, the optimal pull is Manticore Venom, which is also your main mulligan target.
Since we are playing Monsters, we can abuse the Naglfar + Dandelion combo, resulting in some huge point-swings. Eskel: Pathfinder and Katakan are very decent proactive plays that can be dropped when trying to 2-0 the opponent. Don't by shy to use the top end of your deck to win Round 1, as with the Fruit and some proactive plays at your disposal, the 2-0 potential is scary.
The Great Empire of the Black Sun can rely on a nice Imperial Formation deck built around Assimilate, so if you still haven't completed that contract, this is your time to shine. You have up to 7 potential Assimilate engines and a great amount of Create cards, resulting in more than enough value to win Round 1. Imperial Formation charges can be used to either protect your engines or to simply 2-0 the opponent with your Affan.
Menno and Marching Orders tutor Avallac'h: Sage, who can fetch our Portal or two different artifacts. Scepter of Storms and Summoning Circle actually proc your Assimilates. If you're planning to open with Portal, make sure to mulligan Glynnis so that the opponent doesn't get to play her. Don't give them Menno, because people play Tactics like Royal Decree or Marching Orders.
Enslave  variation of the Assimilate deck. The biggest difference is a sneaky Damien finisher instead of Affan. Since we need 8 tactics for the leader ability, War Council had to replace Scepter of Storms.
Pincer Maneuver is the strongest ability Northern Realms have to offer and it is very useful in this Seasonal. On top of offering great 2-0 potential, you can also use your leader to get Vandergrift if you lost Round 1 and the opponent tries to 2-0 you. The Avallac'h package consists of Fables, Marching Orders, Portal and Summoning Circle. Natalis tutors 4 Warfare cards. Shani and Donimir of Troy are your mulligan priorities, as you want them in Round 2 with leader ability.
Be careful to always keep a Northern Realms card in your hand for Round 2 so you can use Pincer Maneuver right away. Your bronzes generate a lot of value on their own, offering multiple synergies. Similarly to Nilfgaard Assimilate list, you only have 3 targets for Portal, so make sure to mulligan them if you have more than one in your opening hand.
For Syndicate, it's best to go with the Jackpot leader ability to ensure that your spenders have some coins to use in Round 2. The idea is to 2-0 your opponent with Jackpot into Decree/Savolla or a different spender. Since the deck plays many crimes, try to make sure that your opponent doesn't get to play one of your spenders. This deck can also advance the Intimidate contract thanks to Novigradian Justice into Bare-Knuckle Brawler. Muscle is the back-up target.
Knickers and Redanian offer the additional tempo, while Dire Mutated Hound presents a great proactive play in shoter rounds. Philippa timing can be tricky, you generally play her before the opponent develops their bank. Your mulligan targets are therefore going to be any excessive spenders since you don't need more than two of them. There are 3 sources of Poison, so be careful with that.