The Alliance War expansion introduces the Expertise mechanic to The Elder Scrolls Legends. Expertise is a mechanic associated with The Guildsworn (attributes Strength, Intelligence, Willpower – Red/ Blue/ Yellow), a faction that combines the Mage Guild and the Fighters Guild. They are independent of all other Alliance War factions, although the other factions and Houses can actively involve the expertise of the Guildsworn. Some cards with Expertise are accessible to the other Houses and Alliance War factions.
Now, how does Expertise work?
Cards with Expertise have a bonus effect at the end of the turn if you’ve played an action, item, or support card that turn.The Expertise mechanic
Expertise triggers at the end of your turn, when you have played an action, item or support card on the same turn. The creature then grants you it’s special effect. You can compare Expertise a little bit to Altmer Dragonknight, although his buffs are triggered by actions, only. The following gallery shows a few of the bonus effects that have been revealed so far. A full list is avaiable on legends-decks.com. There is life gain, buffs, token summoning, and even card draw and dealing face damage. If you want to go all-in on the mechanic Master of Incunabula even has the Expertise of all your creatures (on board).
When playing a creature with Expertise, you ideally want to play an item, support or action in the very same turn in order to trigger the effect at the end of your turn. Therefore, your deck should contain either many low-cost cards or cards that generate zero-cost/low-cost actions, items or supports.
Generating Zero-cost or Low-cost Cards to Trigger the Expertise Mechanic
The Guildsworn colors provide few tools to generate low-cost cards. Crown Quartermaster generates a 1-cost Steel Dagger, Cunning Ally generates a 1-cost Firebolt and Plunder generates two items for you. Usually, these are relatively inexpensive to play, although you are depending on a random effect.
Zero-cost card generators are used in a lot of decks in Legends. Swindler’s Market or Lillandril Hexmage decks are even relying on zero cost cards as their win condition. With regards to their Expertise synergy, zero-cost card generators are always in danger of creating a creature instead of an action or item. Nonetheless, they provide a valid possibility and should be considered when building a deck with the Expertise mechanic.
Therana is certainly a great 0-cost action generator, but she is a prime removal target, thus she needs to be played with care. Additionally, she works better in control decks once you have depleted your opponent of their resources. A removal action like Writ of Execution, which is seldomly seeing play, can also generate a zero cost Contract for you.
Agility and zero-cost / low-cost cards
Much better at generating 0-cost/low-cost cards is the green Agility attribute. Here, you can choose between Suran Pawnbroker to generate a 0-cost card, which can be duplicated by Murkwater Guide in play. Swims-at-Night and Smuggler’s Haul are additional generators for these cards.
Goblin Skulk may also be used to tutor zero cost cards from your deck.
Another possibility of generating cheap Expertise triggers is to use Contracts generated by Astrid or Brotherhood Slayer. If you want to play the Curse package with Murkwater Scourge and Murkwater Shaman, you get some valuable zero-cost actions that can also help to keep control over the board.
While all these options in Agility are not accessible to the Guildsworn faction, there could be dual-color decks in Archer, Assassin or Monk that use them to trigger a relevant subset of the cards with Expertise. Equally, one could envision a House Dagoth or House Hlaalu deck, that leverages the Zero-cost powers of agility and mixes them with Expertise.
Low-cost Actions Replacing Itself as Triggers of the Expertise Mechanic
In order to trigger an Expertise creature in play, you can use a low-cost action that replaces itself. By replacing itself, you ensure to get a higher value card. Also, you do not lose card advantage when triggering your Expertise creatures. One of the key pieces in this category is Rapid Shot that already is a staple 1-cost card to remove Wards or to ping a creature. Blackmail provides access to your opponents deck, while Fabricate and Madness Beckons will definitely generate a higher value card. However, these cards do not immediately interact with your opponent’s board and are of a slower nature.
Vanus’s Scribe has an Expertise mechanic that lowers the cost of a random action in your hand by 1. In an action-heavy deck, this can certainly increase the number of actions you can play per turn and potentially generate some interesting combos. With the Scribe in play across several turns, a few of your 1-cost actions can be reduced to zero cost actions, triggering Swindler’s Market or Lillandril Hexmage.
A one-time effect of reducing an action by 2 magicka, can be achieved by Mages Guild Recruit. The drawback for him, though, is that his effect can only be triggered again, by re-summoning him. While this is all but impossible, it can be a viable strategy only in more reactive decks. The Scribe, however, allows you to interact with your opponent’s creatures, which makes him a better inclusion in proactive decks.
Item decks inherently contain a lot of ways to trigger the Expertise mechanic. Double cards such as Cloak & Dagger provide two items with a single draw. In addition, there are a substantial amount of good low-cost items in Strength and Intelligence that can be used in a deck. In addition, item decks provide a few ways to draw items (e.g. via Crucible Blacksmith) and to make them cheaper with Skilled Blacksmith.
The new Mobilize keyword, will also potentially push item decks further up in popularity. Be careful though, when using items with Mobilize and Prophecy. To trigger Expertise, the item must be played on your turn, and playing it off a Prophecy with Expertise creatures on board might not be the best move, although there are definitely going to be situations, where you still want to play the item from the rune break.
With so little time before the drop of Alliance War, I am sure you have already put your heads around some of the Expertise creatures you might want to use. This article hopefully provided some ideas for cards to include in your deck, to get the most value out of of your Expertise cards. Ideally, you can trigger them multiple times or trigger multiple Expertise creatures on board with just a single action, item or support. If you want to pick the Guildsworn as your Alliance War faction, I hope to see your Experts on the ladder soon!