Gwent in 2021 is so complicated to the normal viewer or a new player, and I have decided to share my journey in Gwent so far so that it could help you, as a newcomer.
I started playing Gwent when the new Way of the Witcher expansion came out and found that learning all the abilities of each card was going to be a long and hard task, but all that was part of the fun and what made me fall in love with The Witcher Card Game.
I started with the Monsters Faction which seemed very interesting and fun. I had then learned that the Thrive concept in the Monster Faction was very simple to understand and that was what I still play with till now.
If you are just starting, you might have to craft a lot of these cards. Or, you could count on your lucky stars and hope you somehow find them in kegs. While the investment might seem steep at first, I can personally vouch for the fact that the return on your investment is AMAZING. Personally, this deck single-handedly got me from Rank 25 to Rank 7, in less than 2 months. Talk about progress!
What The Deck Is About and How To Play it
Playing a thrive deck is as simple as counting from one to ten! You have to play the cards in ascending order. Play the thrive cards first like Endrega Larva and Bruxa and so on, because as you play higher power cards, the thrive cards with the lower power value will boost by 1 and so on. There are some gold cards you should play at certain times to acquire the best value out of them, they are as follows:
Auberon King: The best time to play this card is on the third and final round as he boosts every Wild Hunt unit that is played after him provided you still have some Wild Hunt units in hand and not played them in the first two rounds. He also has the bonus of Veil, making him a bit harder to deal with. He can be used on round two as well if you have lost round one and you do not want to lose card advantage. Playing Auberon is like playing two cards as he creates another Wild Hunt card. The least amount of points you can get is 8 and it can go to a maximum of 12.
Yghern: The insectoid should be played as early as possible in the first two rounds so that you can play around your opponent’s removal cards which remove the armor, therefore destroying your card. This card could be used in early round 1 and 2 to gain dominance for cards like Wild Hunt Rider or Adda. Do not fear removals as this card gives the Ozzrel the best consume value. In situations of a mirror match against another thrive deck, watch out for the opponent’s Ozzrel as he can consume your Yghern and you won’t have any tall unit to consume with your Ozzrel.
The Beast: This card should be played and only played when there is a tall unit or at least a unit higher than Beast’s base power which is 4.
Reasoning Behind The Card Set
Fruits of Ysgith: This leader is ideal for thrive decks since it spawns a 1 power thrive unit and if it is destroyed, the leader ability is automatically refreshed in the next allied turn.
Auberon King: Auberon Conqueror (the third form of the king) is the best time to play him as he boosts every other Wild Hunt card played after him by 1. It is the best point slam as he creates another card, I would recommend playing this card in round 3. He boosts every Wild Hunt unit that is played after him provided you still have some Wild Hunt units in hand and not played them in the first two rounds.
Every round you don’t play Auberon King, he transforms into his next stage at the start of the next round. He is high-roll in the first round and I recommend him for a short round 2 or 3. For round 2 and round 3, you can choose one of any three random Wild Hunt cards.
Yghern: It is the best point slam card in the thrive deck as this card has a power of 13 points but it comes with a catch, if the opponent removes its armor this card will destroy itself. It will gain armor equal to the number of cards in your hand so playing it early would be a good idea. Use the card to gain dominance and drop the Wild Hunt Riders to thin the deck. Make sure this card is playing within the first two rounds so that your Ozzrel has a tall unit to consume on round 3.
Naglfar: This is the tutor card of the deck that can bring out one of your golds in emergencies or uses this to bring out a crucial card if it’s still in your deck in round 3. You get to play one of two cards and the card you don’t select goes on top of the deck. It is important that you play this card in round 1 or 2 as this places the other random gold card which was not chosen on top of your deck so you can get a gold card immediately on your next draw.
Cave Troll: This defender will help safeguard your cards when you fear that your opponent might play a removal card like a bomb or a spell. This card comes very handily in a few pro decks and I would recommend crafting this card if you still do not have it. Watch out for a purification card that can remove the defender’s ability.
Katakan: This card spawns an Ekkimara which is a doomed card upon playing this. Starting with a power of 5, every time you play a card with more than a power of 5 it boosts itself by one and again boosts if a card is above its current power. Doomed cards do not go into your graveyard.
Ozzrel: This card is one of the best cards to play as the last card in your hand. You play this card when you have a tall unit like Yghern in your graveyard as this card will consume and boost itself by the power of the card you consume. Put it on the melee to consume a card from the opponent’s graveyard and ranged row to consume from your graveyard depending on who has a taller unit in their graveyard. If your opponent has something in the graveyard which is important as carry over, Ozzrel can consume it and banish it from there as well. This is especially good against SK decks that are graveyard hungry (that rely on cards in their graveyard).
Golyat: One of the tall units used to help in the thrive curve. When you set up all your thrive cards and then play Golyat, It will boost all those cards provided they are below its power. If you assume or feel the opponent has a tall removal in their deck, play it late, as its deathwish ability can be round losing as it summons the highest unit from their deck to their row.
Adda: Striga: Adda is one of the best cards in the Monster faction only for 7 provisions. This card helps with control when you need to take out an important card that is played by your opponent. Adda can play for a 7-point value for 7 provisions, and with dominance (which is relatively easy to get with this deck), it is a 9 point play for just 7 provisions. This is great for taking out pesky 4 power engines like Cat Witchers or assimilate cards.
The Apiarian Phantom: This is a good card to play early as it keeps boosting by 1 every turn if you do not use the order ability which damages a unit by 3. The earlier played, the more points it boosts by! If this card is moved from melee to ranged row, it can no longer use its ability to damage a unit by 3 but it will still keep boosting every turn. This card has a passive ability of boosting by 1 every turn regardless of the board state. It cannot be given a status unless purified first which rarely happens. The passive ability is so useful and the earlier you play this card, the more points you boost by.
The Beast: This is another amazing card in the Monster Faction which helps you get dominance. This card should be played if there is a higher unit on board. It will boost by 2 every turn until it is the highest unit on the board.
Parasite: This card helps in boosting your unit or removing a crucial unit from your opponent’s play.
Alpha Werewolf: Immunity cards are hard to remove as they cannot be manually targeted and the alpha werewolf thrives as well as helps other cards thrive.
Predatory Dive: This card has the best value when you are going second (red coin) as it removes the lowest units on both sides of the board. When you play this without having a unit, it removes the opponent’s card no matter how tall it is!
Wild Hunt Rider: This card always plays as a pair. When you have Dominance (highest unit on the board) this card will bring out its copy from the deck, therefore, thinning your deck so that you can draw out other good cards in the next round. Thinning is very important in every deck as it helps you draw out the cards you need to win the round!
Phooca: This card is an easy thrive card to obtain from The Way of the Witcher expansion and it is the only card that thrives by 2 points every time you play a card higher than its power at that given point of time. Make sure you have cards to thrive it in your hand so that it can be put to the best use!
Wyvern: Another thrive card which also damages an enemy by 2 if you play it on the ranged row. It gives an initial value of 5 (3+2) for 5 provisions which is a fair deal if you ask me!
Drowner: Another amazing thrive card that also damages a unit by two but also moves it to the other row! This will allow you to shut down the opponent’s row locked card if their card is a melee or ranged card! This card comes in handy in such situations. This can also help move defenders to the other row.
Endrega Larva: This is usually the first card that is played at the start of the round. This card thrives very well as it starts with the lower power of 1. You get the most value out of this card when you play it as the first card. It also has 2 armor, which is great to protect the card against certain cards that damage by 1 or 2.
Aen Elle Conqueror: This card is one of the best cards for 4 provisions but it comes with a catch. This card can only be played if your deck is a devotion deck (all cards are from only one faction and have no neutral cards). It is a tall unit which is very helpful in thriving the units on the board.
Bruxa: One of the most important 4 provision cards to put in a thrive deck, not only does it thrive but it also gives your enemy unit bleeding for 2 turns.
Strengths & Weaknesses
This deck does very well against other decks that don’t carry a lot of tall punishment and removal cards. Because it grows tall and can easily hit 100 points in round 3 provided you have the right cards in hand. A big weakness would be Spores/Yrden, so avoid row stacking.
Tips & Tricks
- Yghern could be played as the first card after you win round one to get a card advantage if you win with one card less.
- Do not mulligan if you have one Wild Hunt Rider and one mulligan left as there are high chances that you might brick your hand with the other rider and you won’t be able to play card’s ability.
- A good rule when in doubt: Bronzes before Golds! Which means that you play your bronze cards before the gold cards as the gold cards have a higher point value and could potentially win the round.
- Always try your best to win round one so you can get last say on round 3. When you are down to 6 cards in your hand, make sure you are ahead in points as players usually tend to pass having a few cards in hand as those cards could be their main winning strategy.
- This deck is always the best on long rounds, avoid short bleeding rounds unless you are really confident with your hand.
- This deck is favoured in a long round so try to get as many cards as you can to your hand on round 3.
- The weakness to this deck is a second round bleed (a second round push), so be careful about that!
As someone who just made his foray into the magical world of Gwent, I can vouch for the fact that the game is bloody good fun once you get the hang of it. However, the intricately detailed gameplay is a double-edged sword – rewarding for experienced veterans to dominate but daunting for potential newcomers of the game or the CCG genre. If you are someone who wants to get into the world of Gwent but feels like the learning curve is a bit too steep, I would whole-heartedly suggest you pick up a thrive deck like this. That’s what got me into this world, and I ain’t leaving anytime soon! 😉