Custom Cards

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #14

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

Drunken Sailor

What do you do with a drunken sailor?
Chuck him in the long boat ’til he’s sober.
Put him in the long-boat and make him bail her.
What do you do with a drunken sailor, early in the morning?

Surprisingly catchy sea shanty lyrics aside, this unit combines several interesting Syndicate concepts together. It’s a spender, an engine, a Tidecloak, and it even has some self-poison mechanics going on.

Personally, I like this design to an exceptional degree. It’s a threatening engine yet not impossible to counter. It also has a meaningful downside–you can’t just drypass and have it happily chug away while your opponent slams down tempo in a desperate attempt to catch up. No, you actually have to think ahead and properly manage your coin count. Get it wrong, and Drunken Sailor will helpfully destroy itself in just two turns. Ouch.

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Adventurers

Have you ever played Dungeons and Dragons? You join of team of adventurers (affectionately called murderhobos) and run around killing stuff, until eventually someone called the Dungeon Master admits that your characters are overpowered and stops trying. This is like that, but in Gwent form.

In this case, you spend the entire match killing stuff until your Adventurers are ridiculously swole. Typically you’ll drop them as your last card and duel the final “boss”, gaining “loot” equal to its provision cost. I decided that the player should not be able to choose the duel target, because cards with lower power and high provisions like Simlas Finn Aep Dabairr would give ridiculous boost. Also, this card isn’t primarily intended as removal, though it might work out that way.

My biggest qualm about this card is that it supports no-unit control heavy archetypes with so much pointslam. Perhaps it should be more expensive, or redesigned to require a certain number of units in your starting deck as a condition. It’s certainly food for thought.

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Treant Behemoth

Fellas, I love Skellige and my Nilfgaard win count is too high to mention in decent company, but in my heart I love the green dudes the most. They’ve got the proud Aen Seidhe, grumpy dwarves, territorial dryads, and best of all: treants. I always imagine treants as being lumbering and majestic creatures, living quietly and bravely in the depths of Brokilon. And Treant Behemoth is no exception.

This card is intended to encourage the player to run units like The Great Oak, Oakcritters, or Treant Boar. Although this card is rather risky at 14 provisions, it can realistically play for up to 7+9 points (if it summons the Great Oak) and then 9 damage if there’s a full row of Treants. A lot of payoff for a lot of setup.

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Rhenawedd

Poor Syanna. She’s always pretending to have everything under control but she’s actually an utter mess. From the carefully planned series of murders in Beauclair to her affair with Dettlaff and her theft of the royal wine, Sangreal, she was invariably clever and yet ridiculously emotional. If there’s anyone in the Witcher universe who very badly needed a hug a long time ago, it’s her.

This version of Syanna sees her as massive vampire support, allowing the player to double up on either the deploy or passive abilities of their bronze vampires. I had to price her at 13 provisions because she plays for up to 11 tempo in a Masquerade Ball deck while also placing up to three engines in a single turn. It takes a lot of setup to pull that play off, though, especially given how likely players are to bleed heavily if they suspect a ball deck.

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Alzur: Trailblazer

Alzur’s Thunder is an interesting card. At first it was just a throwaway neutral 5 damage spell, a worse alternative to the 5 provision factional removals (Nature’s Rebuke, Boiling Oil, Payday). However, with the arrival of Alzur in Way of the Witcher and then the new focus on mages in Price of Power, the card now has meaningful synergies thanks to its spell category. But I don’t think they’ve taken it far enough, so I created this card. This version of Alzur allows you to deal up to 15 damage and gain 3 thinning, playing all of your Alzur’s Thunder‘s in one turn. Quite dramatically, I might add.

As a downside, the card is vulnerable to being bled, and you can’t know what cards you’ll be drawing. It’s probably played best early in round 2, if you can gather all the needed components by then. You certainly don’t want to get stuck with this card in deck, because that would really steal your thunder. Pun quite possibly intended.

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Transmutation

Among all my custom cards, there’s a few that really make me go, “Dang, wish I could actually play that one” more than the others. This is one such card. It’s not really overpowered, just memey–but oh what a beautiful meme it is!

In all honesty, a mere one-provision bump isn’t enough to make the card playable, especially considering the synergies that go into a carefully chosen deck. However, this card does allow you to gain second copies of high-end cards like Scenarios or second copies of high end golds like Fucusya and Amphibious Assault.

Note: when I first made this card, Masquerade ball was 15 provisions, and thus unreachable from any other card via transformation. I’m not sure how I feel about the prospect of Nilfgaard players dropping Masquerade Ball twice in the same round. Maybe this card isn’t so weak after all?

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Renfri Vellga

Here we are at Renfri herself, the goal of my quest. With the Black Sun expansion announced and the addition of Renfri likely forthcoming, it’s a good time to reflect on everything that’s transpired. I’ve enjoyed making custom cards, and while my designs aren’t always perfect, I think I’ve gotten more right than wrong. Gwent has been a wonderful game, with such beautiful art and interesting and deep characters. It’s been a great journey and I appreciate the support and encouragement from fellow Gwentlemen that I’ve received along the way.

This version of Renfri is an extremely potent pointslam and control tool, allowing the player potentially the ability to perform a shielded duel against an enemy unit and also resurrect a bandit. However, this comes at a steep cost, as bandits are highly weak and powercrept. To play seven of them would be quite the task, even if they weren’t powercrept.

Thanks for reading, and may the cards be ever in your favor!

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Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #13

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

Alraune

If you follow the books and games, the Scoia’tael are portrayed primarily as angry and vengeful vestiges of a bygone era, and as victims of so-called progress. Though sometimes portrayed in a sympathetic light, their violent attacks against major characters often render them irredeemably villainous.

It only takes a little imagination to consider the motivations of the Scoia’tael, however. In part, they fight because they are goaded and persecuted by humans. But there is another reason: they hate humans because they correctly perceive them as a threat to a way of life that is beautiful. When I see the Scoia’tael faction, I don’t focus on their violence. That’s just them having a bad day. I focus on their ways of beauty and harmony, which are their true nature. And that’s why the green team will always be my favorite faction.

And so I present you Alraune, fading ember of a dying age. I see Alraune as a unique type of dryad who maintains a living garden deep in the forests of Brokilon. She only wishes peace and beauty on those around her–human, elf, dryad, even dwarf–alike. But alas, it’s not to be. One day her garden will burn while her precious trees and flowers are converted to lumber and perfume, to be sold for a few coppers in Novigrad. In response, there isn’t really much to say except…

Bloede dh’oine!

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Apex Predator

I was going to call this card “Food Chain” but in all honesty, “Apex Predator” sounds way cooler. This card gives monsters players double bronze thinning and allows them to play and thrive a card in the same turn. Since thrive’s biggest weakness is initial fragility, this card makes it hard for opponents to cheese away Nekkers with targeted or ping damage. It also encourages monsters players to pack their deck with 3-4 bronze big boys. You know: Aen Elle Conqueror, Frost Giant, and Griffin and so forth. Also known as the total chads that the monsters faction is known for.

With the devotion condition met, you can tutor gold thrive units like Koschey and thrive them the same turn, but there’s major antisynergy with Caranthir in doing so. Apex Predator requires the thrive unit in deck, while Caranthir requires it in hand. Sometimes, a little antisynergy is good, as it balances otherwise potentially OP combos.

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Nine Lives

In my headcanon, Nine Lives is a young and spunky street urchin who offers tours of Novigrad to anyone who will pay for such a service. If she likes you, she’s true to her word and you’ll be treated to the best shops and sights the city can offer. Rub her the wrong way, however, and you just might wake up to an aching headache and an empty wallet–if you wake up at all. More than one foul soul has attempted to take advantage of this young girl, only for the predator to become the prey. Yay for street justice!

In terms of gameplay, this card offers a new meaning to the “place at the bottom of your deck” card abilities scattered throughout the Syndicate faction. As long as mulligans don’t get in the way, you can sequester cards there, safely out of reach of deck manipulating shenanigans. That means you Nilfgaard!

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Ice Titan

In Skellige, there is no shortage of young men willing to hurl themselves at some ancient and deadly monster in hopes of earning the heart of a maiden. If that fact could have a card, this would be it right here.

Without synergies, this card is merely a 1-point-per-turn engine. But being the astute Gwentlemen (and Gwentladies) that we are, we know that Skellige gets a lot of use out of healable bodies. When cards like Heymaey Flaminica and Bear Witcher Mentor come to the table, this card is a powerhouse indeed.

In all honesty, I think that Gwent is too tempo-focused at the moment and that we need more synergy-focused engines like this one. If Ice Titan were maybe 1 provision higher and had veil or immunity, it might have the means to survive for more than a turn or two and actually be meta defining. On the other hand, we could lower the provisions by 1 so that the card could be replayed by Fucusya.

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Fabio Sachs

Fabio Sachs was a dude who helped Ciri, got knighted at one point, and eventually became an explorer. This card recognizes him in his shining moment, as he made his famous discovery.

In this case, playing Fabio Sachs allows you to add an extra gold card to your deck, though it can’t be played immediately. This allows you to plan around the created card, even deciding whether you wish to play it at all. Since the card is always an epic, it can’t add too much value to your deck. At the same time, because it isn’t played immediately, you can plan for the perfect moment to drop your card.

This card synergizes with Oneiromancy to a substantial degree. In a lot of ways I try to avoid adding Oneiromancy to my decks because its so expensive and adds no direct value. It also makes matchups a bit more predictable due to the increased consistency. Yet, there is a time and a place for Oneiromancy, and I do think it should occupy a substantial place in the meta. Thus, a card like Fabio is a consideration for people who play Oneiromancy and still have the good fortune to draw all their golds.

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Interferator

Ah, if it isn’t our old nemesis, the dastardly Nilfgaard faction making an appearance. In what ways will this monstrosity mangle the strategy of our pitiable opponent? Let’s take a look.

In this case, the Interferator is a mage who connects the Lock and Spying archetypes. Giving spying to units as they are locked is already devious, but true Nilfgaard mains will turn up the nefariousness to level eleven by triggering the devotion condition. A combination of Interferator, Emhyr var Emreis and Phillipe Van Moorlehem could be the Nilfgaard equivalent of Sukrus and Arnaghad.

Alright, let’s move on. I already feel like I’m going to puke.

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Tedd Deireadh

It’s the end of the world! No, I’m not being dramatic, it really is! That’s what Tedd Deireadh means, anyway. The end of the world is often seen as a bad thing, but sometimes the old must die in order to pave way for something new and better. So goes the Aen Ithlinnespeath prophecy: “The world will die amidst frost and be reborn with the new sun. It will be reborn of Elder Blood, of Hen Ichaer, of the seed that has been sown. A seed which will not sprout but burst into flame.”

In this highly unique Gwent card, the player is encouraged to seek out three specific bronze units which are marked at the start of the game. The quest gains resilience whenever a marked card is played, offering the player an additional chance to find other cards from the set. Overall, it’s worth quite a few points, since it plays for roughly 6 points per round. It’s effectively an 18-for-14, but it’s not even played from hand, making it closer to a 24-for-14. (Note that we can add the value of the weakest bronze in our deck to the value of cards played not from hand. In most cases, that’s a 6.)

Tedd Deireadh’s greatest weakness is that the Wild Hunt (and Monsters in general) tends to have poor consistency, with few direct tutors. For this reason, I created an additional custom card to support this quest. With access to a direct bronze tutor which can itself be tutured by Ge’els, Wild Hunt should be able to reliably complete the quest… to bring about Tedd Deireadh and THE END OF THE WORLD!!!

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Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #12

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

Desperation

Northern Realms, we know, doesn’t always have the greatest consistency. You can tell that by the way they all play Cintrian Envoy in round 1 like their lives depend on it. The only other consistency cards they have worthy of note are Amphibious Assault and John Natalis. Raffard’s Vengeance hits hard in Inspired Zeal, but is difficult to play otherwise.

Back in the old days, when everyone had crap consistency, Northern Realms used to open up by playing engines like Kerack Frigate. Their main tools for acquiring gold cards were mulligans and hope. But thanks to power creep, that just isn’t good enough anymore.

This card doesn’t tiptoe around that fact that Northern Realms has poor consistency by giving them some marginally useful tutor and pretending it’s a godsend (cough Henselt cough). Instead, it offers you a choice between a potentially lifesaving gold card or a strong bronze tempo play. It’s best used in Round 3, when the gold cards in the deck are confirmed unreachable.

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Saulrenith

Saulrenith was a Zerrikanian priestess responsible for assembling the Faithel. The Faithel’s sacred duty was to find and protect the world’s remaining dragons. Two of these Faithel, Tea and Vea, travelled with Borch Three Jackdaws, also known as Villentrentenmerth.

Though dragons in Gwent are few and far between, they are among the strongest cards in the game. Villentrentenmerth, Saskia: Commander, Keltullis, and Myrgtabrakke are all threatening cards that find use in recent decks. Though not a dragon, Saulrenith quite obviously supports the dragon archetype strongly. She can be played on her own, but also acts as a soft tutor for neutral dragons. Personally, I’d like to see more creative use of the Create keyword. The way it’s used by bountiful harvest is something I’d like to see more of.

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Kraken

Ah, the mighty Kraken. This is an example of a card where flavor and balance intersect wonderfully. In this case, you consume a ship in one round and gain a solid damage card in the next round. The mechanic fits nicely with Skellige, too, which tends to have a setup-payoff play style with a weak round 1.

You really need to be running this card alongside Dimun Warship. With the Onslaught leader, those sometimes gain an enormous amount of armor, blocking them from triggering their Deathwish ability. With Kraken, you can unbrick the ship–and Kraken–should you be stuck with the pair in round 3.

Either way, you consume a ship in round 1-2, usually of 4-5 base power, and gain a powerful Kraken in round 2-3, offering decent damage with a sizeable body. Really, a card like this would encourage the development of a Skellige ship Deathwish archetype. Which sounds pretty cool, honestly.

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Saimaa

To humans, mermaids and sirens are inaccessible and inscrutable, mysterious beasts to be feared and tamed. Yet I’d like to think that among their number are gentle souls, every bit as human as we are–perhaps more. (Humans aren’t very human sometimes, sadly.)

In this card, a mermaid, or havfrue if you prefer, cuddles her pet seal, whom she has named Bork. She allows Skellige to tutor any beast from deck, from the lowly Little Havfrue to the mighty Fucusya. Given how powerful Fucusya is, I think it’s pretty reasonable for her to have a direct tutor at this point.

As a nice little upside, Saimaa spawns a Deafening Siren if the tutored card was bronze. I’d like to see more tutors with this behavior, in order to encourage more bronze tutoring. For example, Henselt might spawn a Volunteer if his target is bronze. This would make him able to instantly provide a crew pocket for bronzes, as well as the 2 extra points.

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Bork

Bork! Bork bork bork! That’s seal for “Please feed me some more fish! I’m still hungry.” You’d know that if you were a mermaid like Saimaa, because mermaids speak seal. Probably.

Bork supports the already strong discard package by allowing you to summon 4-power cards as if they were Tuirseach Skirmishers. What are some potential targets for Bork, you ask? An Craite Longship, Herkja Drummond, Messenger of the Sea, Melusine Cultist, Dagur Two-Blades, Brokvar Hunter, and maybe Crow Clan Preacher come to mind. There are really a couple targets in every archetype, which is nice.

Bork offers a decent potential combo with Saimaa. Saimaa into Bork into Herkja Drummond or Brokvar Hunter gives you 14 points for 13 provisions, while also establishing an engine and granting a total of two thinning. It’s pretty balanced, and has synergy with Coral. Doing this also means Bork lives, because otherwise he’s a great target for Parasite or Gigascorpion Decotion. Poor Bork.

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Mourning a Loss

Scoia’tael is a complex and varied faction, full of differing groups with equally diverse motivations and goals. However, the one common theme that unites them is grief. Grief, indeed, as their homelands and old ways of life are systematically dismantled by encroaching humans. I don’t think many of us can truly relate to the threat of being wiped out, or the absolute hopelessness of extinction.

Superficially, we see Scoia’tael as a bunch of vicious guerilla warriors with a side of jolly dwarves. But what really drives them, beneath their hatred and violence, is an extremely profound grief and hopelessness. I’d like to see more attention drawn to this side of the Scoia’tael. It’s what–ironically–makes them human.

This card is intended to reflect the solidarity that the disparate races share as they are united by common sorrows. The idea is that you banish one elder race and play bronze units from the other two. Banishing a dryad grants you a dwarf and an elf, and so forth. Strategy wise, it provides nice thinning, as well as tempo. But it comes with a deck building cost, and also forces you to play a gold card in an early round, lest you wind up with an 11 provision brick.

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Maugrim

Maugrim was a massive beast created by the powerful Gemmeran sorceress, Eira Frostsinger. Though Eira intended to use the monster to obstruct the Nilfgaardian forces that had overrun her homeland, the monster was eventually slain by a viper witcher named Gerring of Kharkiv. According to the lore, the witcher was outmatched and forced to forge a new dwarven sword to fight the monster, proving victorious on his second attempt. However, it seems likely that was just a Nilfgaardian PR job. The truth is probably that Nilfgaard was playing Mill as usual and banished Maugrim from Eira’s deck before she could play it. Those bastards never fight fair!

As a card, Maugrim provides thinning for the monsters faction and allows them to establish a body with high base strength, useful for Ozzrel or She Who Knows value.

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Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #11

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

Goetia

Goetia refers to the practice of summoning evil spirits and binding their souls to perform one’s will. This form of black magic was discussed quite a bit in Season of Storms, the standalone Witcher novel. Though officially forbidden by the Brotherhood of Sorcerers, its practice is tolerated if one does it quietly enough.

This card is a powerful control tool that can also function as pointslam.  Realistically, it can act as a 15-for-12 in certain decks such as Arachas Swarm or possibly Nature’s Gift. It can shut down multiple engines at once, too. At the same time, getting full value out of this card can be challenging. In a short round, it’s entirely possible that your opponent may not even control three units.

It’s no accident that the card damages three enemies by six, paying homage to the most devilish number known to western man. The only way this card could be spookier would be if its provision cost were increased to 13, which isn’t completely unreasonable given its power level.

Art source is here.

His Excellency

This card’s purpose is to provide Nilfgaard with a powerful wide punish that emphasizes the wealth and power disparities running rampant through their empire. The unfortunate truth that the rich get richer while the poor get poorer has never been so frustratingly clear.

Realistically, you’re playing this in a Masquerade Ball deck. You’re probably playing 3-4 bronze aristocrats, Roderick of Dun Tynne, Joachim DeWett, and Usurper Emperor. You might also play Coup De Grace on one of your own Aristocrat spies, for an additional aristocrat, making a total of 8 Aristocrats. All told, this guy can easily be at 9 power by the time the enemy has a chance to answer him. Hopefully this should make him a potent threat and not just another expensive Nilfgaardian Elder Bear.

Art source is here.

Dancing Nancy

This gal’s a lively Syndicate version of Gezras of Leyda, providing powerful payoff for swarming your board. Whether you’re running full-on Firesworn or just Cleaver crimes, you’re going to get significant value out of Nancy if you can get around a dozen or so units on your board.

Note that her current design doesn’t grant her any profit, creating potential for her to brick in a short round. To be perfectly honest, I think this is a design flaw in the card, since high-end golds shouldn’t be so likely to brick. I would fix this by either raising her power to 7, or by giving her profit 4. Her design may not be perfect, but it is quite interesting, which is why I’m sharing her here.

Also, I should mention that she boosts herself when using her own fee. This means that she becomes progressively more difficult to remove when allowed to stick, unlike Gezras of Leyda.

Art source is here.

Heretic

Even though it’s just a lowly bronze, this card packs a punch and involves a lot of complexity and flavor. The Heretic constantly spawns Firesworn Zealots behind him on his never-ending chase, as he tries to escape the religious authorities that would see him burn upon the pyre.

This card acts as a 2-point-per-turn bronze engine, though he requires some setup and risks overswarming the board. Especially in a long round, a board full of firesworn tokens can be as much of a blessing as a curse when it comes time to play high provision cards.

Art source is here.

Blades of Destiny

This card was inspired by a number of factors. First, I’d recently read the short story Sword of Destiny by Andre Sapkowski, where Geralt rescues Ciri in the forest of Brokilon. Second, I found this beautiful artwork of the two of them in combat. And finally, I wanted to experiment with a thrive-in-deck ability similar to Sunset Wanderers boost-in-hand ability. Altogether, this card represents the intertwined fates of Geralt and Ciri, his child of surprise.

Due to the structure of a Gwent match, one naturally wishes to play low provision bronzes first, followed by gradually higher provision cards, saving one’s highest provision gold cards for round 3. This card rewards that behavior by gradually boosting the card to higher values. By the time the card reaches perhaps 8 or 9 base power, it is extremely threatening. Even though it can be cleanly answered with Korathi Heatwave, it won’t be easily removed by pure damage in most cases.

Art source is here.

Leshen

The mighty Leshen is one of Geralt’s fiercest and most difficult opponents in the games, which contrasts rather disappointingly with the bland Woodland Spirit token spawned by the Force of Nature leader. Surely such an interesting foe should have a more unique Gwent card?

Here, I envision Leshen as a non-removal tall punish. Most tall punishes like Korathi Heatwave, Curse of Corruption, or even Artefact Compression act as removal in some capacity, shutting down the target’s core abilities. By contrast, this card leaves the target intact, but enables sabbath and triggers allied thrive abilities. In short, this card focuses on developing allied synergies more so than disrupting enemy synergies. Further, the devotion ability allows it to synergize with other cards like Ozzrel and She Who Knows.

Part of the philosophy of monsters is that because they have such strong proactive engines and pointslam, they can’t be allowed access to compelling control tools. Thus, part of the purpose of this card is to provide Monsters with a powerful tall punish that does not act as removal. The immunity here might seem a bit strong, but remember that removal cards like Korathi Heatwave have de facto immunity by virtue of their uninteractivity. For this reason, I think immunity is quite justified.

I can’t find the original art source for this, but here’s a wallpaper-sized version of the art.

Meve's Guard

After playing Thronebreaker, I gained a lot of respect for Queen Meve’s story. Not just for the Lyrian Queen herself, but also her footsoldiers and loyal followers. The true Lyrians followed her through thick and thin, through mires and blizzards and everything in between. They bravely struggled in hopes that one day their beloved country of Lyria might be a free and independent state. I think it’s safe to say that they deserve a Gwent card.

In this card, we see something similar to the familiar Blue Stripes Commando, though with a unique twist. First, the card’s summoning is tied to deathblows, much like Brokilon Sentinel. Second, each card is worth 6 points, 2 more than Commandos. And finally, the card benefits from having Queen Meve in your starting deck, while synergizing with her swarm payoff.

In terms of gameplay, I think these are going to feel like a cross between Kadwaeni Revenant and Blue Stripes Commando. Casting Contest can be used to re-enable their order ability, while other damage cards like Boiling Oil can be used to extend their reach. With 3 armor, they’re quite difficult to remove, too.

The main downside of this card is going to be in the balance between setting up reliable deathblows while also spawning new copies in the deck. If your opponent doesn’t play many units in the right strength range, an all-in Meve’s Guard deck could be hard to pull off.

Art source is here.

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #10

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

Feint Cavalry

Ah, here it is. The elusive “Adrenaline” keyword, not seen seen since the release of the Way of the Witcher expansion. Using Feint Cavalry, you can put extra pressure on your opponent in round 1, either defending on blue or forcing your opponent to commit harder than they’d like on red. The obvious downside of this card is the fact that you can only play four cards. Play a fifth card, and all those juicy boosts disappear.

It might seem reasonable to buff this unit’s adrenaline condition to 4, but that allows this card to be used to tempo ahead and possibly gain card advantage on red. Remember, if you pass with five cards left on redcoin, your opponent has only 4. This means that if you are ahead after five cards, your opponent can’t regain card advantage even with a drypass. This card is more of a tool to force a long round three than to gain card advantage. Thus, the adrenaline condition must stay at five.

Original art is linked here.

False Flag

A false flag operation is when you stage an attack against yourself and then blame some other party for the attack. It’s like punching yourself in the face and then going to your dad and saying “Billy did that!” so that your dad goes and beats up Billy. For an example of a real false flag operation that was performed by the USA, click here or here to read about the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. In that case, the US military pretended that an allied ship was attacked so that the American people would rally to support the war effort, allowing them to justify their planned attack on North Vietnam. America basically went full Nilfgaard on that one.

This card lets you put a card in your enemy’s graveyard. Preferably you’ll want to put Vypper, but I also thought of a 200 IQ combo where you put Count Caldwell in your opponent’s graveyard. If your opponent passes and they have no units taller than 12 points, you can use Gorthur Gvaed to put Caldwell on top of your opponent’s deck, and then summon him with Tibor Eggebracht for a 23 point swing. Very dastardly.

This card can also put Ard Feainn Tortoise or Nilfgaardian Knight in your graveyard for 7-8 points of damage. In those cases, this is a worse Bekker’s Rockslide but with the upside of thinning, as well as the fact that you control the amount damage.

Finding the original art source for this one was a little tricky, but this might clear things up.

Azarazar

Ah, yes. Evil Yoda. Fun fact: there’s like 5 different ways to say this guy’s name. I’m going with Az-er-uh-zar.

This card gives you a massive amount of points, but also plays very heavily into tall punish and generates negative carryover. If you’re forced to play this card from hand at the end of a round 2 bleed, you’re almost certainly very screwed.

I have to be honest, this card in its current form is way too strong as can easily play for 30 or more points with minimal setup. It’s going to be used as last say, making it unanswerable in most cases. Although its always important to get last say, the penalty for failing to do so shouldn’t be so severe.

Given the above, I still think its an interesting ability and can be fixed in a number of ways. For example, we might give it initiative to prevent it being tutored from deck. We also might limit the number of targets to three or four. It could become an order ability like Mourntart, though this would necessitate the use of Petri’s Philter. We might also limit the ability to bronze units, though even this would be oppressive.

Original art is linked here. Apparently this really is evil Yoda.

Klappermaw

Klappermaw is a robust gold thrive card that provides scalable removal in a long round. He’s also an alternative target for Caranthir if Koschey is missed, and can stand on his own feet if played in a different round from Koschey. At 6 power, he’s just strong enough to thrive Koschey while also having his own thrive triggered by popular 7-power thrive units such as Kikimore Worker and Aen Elle Conqueror.

Until Klappermaw’s order is used, each point of armor on him is worth 2 points, making it potentially worthwhile to consider buffing him with Armory. From the opponent’s perspective, it might be worthwhile to damage his armor to prevent him from getting his order off.

Klappermaw’s main weakness is lock. He trades even with Korathi Heatwave and is very difficult to remove via damage. He’s not amazing tempo, so it’s wise to decide whether to commit him fairly early in a round. All in all, a solid card but not inordinately oppressive.

Original art is linked here.

Loki

Although Loki isn’t a part of Skelligan mythology as far as I know, I felt comfortable giving him a custom card due to his place in the Norse pantheon.

Here, Loki acts as a sort of Wabbajack (Y’all played Skyrim right?) that transforms highly boosted enemy units into random units. His intended use is to place Mischief on a high-powered enemy unit, wait until it transforms into something useless, and then purify it to ensure that it doesn’t do anything scary like transform into Damien de la Tour or Gezras of Leyda.  This ability is complicated so I’ll explain its interactions in more detail.

Mischief is a status, and status effects are processed after end-of-turn abilities for a card register. If you give Mischief to Gezras of Leyda, he’ll move to another row one more time before he turns into a chicken. If you give it to Damien de la Tour, he’ll still be able to activate his order ability. Thus, Mischief isn’t usually very effective as a lock. I will note that status effects are processed before counters, meaning that Loki does counteract cards like Stregobor and Ciri: Dash.

Since Mischief uses the transformation mechanic, it means that the old card is removed from the game permanently. Loki can be used to effectively banish cards like Madoc and Crowmother, especially if those cards are boosted. Their power will change to the base power of the new unit, which may not be ideal, however. In fact, playing Loki onto an allied card such as Madoc may be a viable strategy if you don’t intend to play any more bombs. In this case, you’ll want to use purify to stop the transformations once something useful appears.

Original art is linked here.

Face Stealer

In a typical Gwent match, you play your cards and end your turn, whereupon your Nilfgaardian opponent’s turn begins and they also play your cards. In fact, there’s room for debate whether there are really six factions in Gwent because everything–from Vysogota of Corvo to The Great Oak–is actually a Nilfgaardian card if you assimilate hard enough.

Face Stealer is no exception. He ensures that all the gold cards on your opponent’s board find a nice and cozy spot in your deck, where they can be replayed in later rounds to devastating effect.

This card has some interesting interactions worthy of note, by the way. First, it can easily transform Mage Assassins into cards that aren’t summoned from deck, which makes them unlikely to be included in the same deck as Face Stealer. Second, it can put enemy bronzes in deck, thereby enabling the use of tutors from your opponent’s faction. Stealing Amphibious Assault via Double Cross suddenly becomes a viable strategy. And finally, this card has considerable antisynergy with Fercart, which gives spying at random, often to tokens.

As you can see, not all of these interactions are positive. My goal is not to show that the card is weak or strong, but merely that it is very interesting.

Original art is linked here.

Sabrina: Schemer

Honest to god, Sabrina Glevissig deserves a better card than the scene of when she’s on the pyre. About to burn to death over petty political squabbles? Not a good look for such an impressive and powerful sorceress. I contend that Sabrina should get a real card, and that the current Sabrina card should be renamed to Sabrina: Pyre.

Much like Face Stealer, this card truly enables some truly impressive 200 IQ bigbrain plays. It requires a sharp knowledge of Northern Realms engines and their provision costs, as well. For example, John Natalis can become Draug if boosted by 5. Five provision units boosted by 1 can become Kerack Frigates, Alumni, or Vincent Meis on a good day. And Lyrian Scytheman can become Foltest, Falibor, or even Gerhart of Aelle with enough luck.

Note that if there’s no card of a specified provision level, the card won’t transform. So you can’t boost a 9 provision unit by 5 and get a 14, because Northern Realms has no 14 provision units. The highest provision card in NR is Draug, so everything becomes Draug eventually. The easiest way to get Draug is to simply boost Sabrina by 1, forcing her to transform herself.

Original art is linked here.

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #9

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

Vigi The Loon

Fun fact: You haven’t lived until you’ve played the Witcher 3 and met Vigi the Loon. For those who have never had a chance to play the Witcher 3, the quest “The Lord of Undvik” follows Hjalmar An Craite and his men as they hunt the frost giant Myrhyff. At a certain point, Geralt discovers that one of Hjalmar’s best fighters–Vigi–has been trapped in a cage in the giant’s lair.  Once Geralt gains the key, Hjalmar warns him not to free Vigi until Myrhyff is defeated. Of course, I disregarded this warning purely for curiosity’s sake. I wasn’t disappointed when Vigi immediately ran up and promptly kicked Myrhyff in the head, awakening him so he could give Hjalmar’s men a proper battle. By comparison, Hjalmar’s plan to kill the giant in his sleep now seemed rather cowardly.

Truly, this man was balls-to-the-walls insane, so obsessed with proving his valor in battle that even his fellow Skelligers correctly identified his condition as lunacy. Such a character is more than deserving of a Gwent card, solely due to how memorable he was.

Original art source is here.

Tavern

Heroes and travelers of every stripe gather in taverns every night to sing, cavort with maidens, and get utterly drunk. After all, why else would they bother to delve into dungeons littered with ungodly abominations, traps, and ego-maniacal wizards? There’s gotta be a payoff somewhere, right?

Simply put, Tavern allows you to play two bronze cards in one turn. The astute Gwentleman can use this card to put two engines onto the battlefield at once, protect a scenario from Heatwave, or play poison twice in one turn. In retrospect, I’ve proably created this card too cheap by one or two provisions, even without the deck condition.

The deploy condition rewards decks for excluding four provision cards. My intention is to provide a powerful payoff to compensate for the reduced deck polarization. Even if this card is never added to Gwent, it would be interesting to see this unique deckbuilding condition some day.

Original art source is here.

Nirvana

In Buddhism, “Nirvana” means “No wind”. Meaning, the end of struggle as one transcends the physical world of conflicting desires and attains enlightenment. As a wise man once said: “Just like the lotus, we too have the ability to rise out of the mud.”

In Gwent, however, “Nirvana” means “No units”, because with a card like this, you probably aren’t playing any. And given the sheer number of bombs you’ll be playing, your opponent won’t have any units either. The only unit that matters after this is the juicy Gord you’re going to be dropping with last say. How’s that for enlightenment?

Original art source is here.

Fallen Seana

Although Seana (Pronounced shay-nah) is not a character from the witcher books or games, she has an interesting story nonetheless. Seana was banished from her clan after being falsely accused of killing her own son. She swore to track down his true killer, eventually tracking down a band of pirates and their captain–the boy’s own father. Enraged and frustrated beyond reason, she ran him through with her sword, whereupon the ship’s crew fired upon her with arrows. She fell face down in the snow, a triumphant grin on her face as she quietly bled out. Her son avenged and her honor proven, Seana proudly died a warrior’s death.

In Gwent, Seana appears as a major support for the self-wounding archetype. A current weakness of self-wound is that the payoff cards like Bear Witcher Mentor and Giant Boar play heavily into tall removal. This allows significant counterplay against a strategy that already requires fairly complicated setup. Because Seana doesn’t play tall, she provides a much more robust payoff.

It appears that this work of art was uploaded to DeviantArt and ArtStation and later deleted. You can still view the original image here.

Ciri: Destiny

A recurring theme in the Witcher novels is the notion of two individuals connected by destiny. This theme is explored notably between Geralt and Ciri, as well as between Geralt and Yennefer and Duny and Pavetta. Heck, even Eskel had a child of destiny named Deidre Ademeyn. Personally, I don’t believe in destiny. I don’t mean to say that two individuals can never share a special connection. Rather, I view destiny as a distraction from the aspects of my life that I can change.

This card directly counters the removal meta, which renders many other engine cards unplayable. Due to its immunity, this card allows you to gain passive points while forcing your opponent to play proactively. The resilience helps the card recover some value if it defends a round 2 bleed and justifies its low floor, but also means that it cannot be used to obstruct a round 2 drypass like other resilience units.

Original art source is here.

Alluring Lamia

Yes, she has enormous bazonkas. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s discuss her ability and see whether she’s worth 13 provisions.

Alluring Lamia has a consume on cooldown, which is similar to Slyzard. But if you think that this card is essentially a weaker Slyzard with immunity, you’re missing the mark. Because she spawns and plays a copy of herself, she also triggers thrives and activates relict synergies with Selfeater and Rat Catcheress.

Triggering thrive every turn is extremely important when attempting to play cards like Koschey and Kikimore Queen, as these cards tend to be removed quickly. By thriving them on the turn they are played, their abilities can be triggered instantly.

Her immunity means that she doesn’t play into tall punish nearly as hard as Slyzard does. And of course, she also allows you to trigger the abilities of deathwish cards before they are locked or banished.

On the downside, she plays for 1 tempo initially, is horrible in a short round, and high bleedable. Also, her 13 provisions is high enough to exclude her from most Viy decks. Though her drawbacks are substantial, such weaknesses are crucial in order to balance a card like this.

The uncropped, original version of the art is here.

Fortress

What’s the difference between a castle and a fortress? According to some guy on a forum somewhere, a castle is a special type of fortress that houses members of the aristocracy, anywhere from a lowly baron to the monarch himself. Thus, all castles are forts, but not all forts are castles. Probably.

This fortress was likely built by Redanian forces in order to hold off Nilfgaardian invaders. In terms of gameplay, it establishes crew pockets, provides flexible tempo, and allows for carryover. Realistically, this card is going to be appearing in Pincer Maneuver Seige decks, providing extra value for cards like Battering Ram and Foltest’s Pride.

The the uncropped, original version of the art is here.

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #8

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

Smash 'n Grab

Much like the real-world crime of the same name, this card is designed to provide instant value with little to no setup. Like Graden, it allows for the unconditional removal of any unit with a bounty, even if highly boosted or armored. Unlike Graden, this card can often play for its provisions even without any bounty. Additionally, it can act as a same-turn removal against a number of threats, as long as they are neither boosted nor armored. Due to its high floor, this card would probably still be playable at 10 provisions.

The original art source can be found here, on ArtStation.

Cintrian Bride

 The Northern Realms boast among their ranks a number of valiant souls who stare bravely into the face of danger and stand toe-to-toe with Nilfgaard’s toughest knights. But there is another side to Northern Realms, and a reason their soldiers have for risking their lives so fearlessly. For without wives, lovers, and families, what reason would they have to fight? This card is for those women. And men, too. I’m sure that Ves has a sweetheart somewhere, for whose embrace she longs for while on the battlefield. Well, besides Geralt.

Cintrian Bride is designed to synergize with Amphibious Assault and act as both an engine and a finisher. Optimally, one would play her at the end of a long round, just before Lyrian Scytheman is dropped. On the other hand she can be an awful card in a short round, but this is intentionally part of her design.

The original source of the art can be found here, on ArtStation.

Crazed Bear

Sometimes I wish Skellige had a card with the Consume ability. The faction’s graveyard focused identity means that they often want to move units to their discard pile quickly. Since they already have the ability to discard units from hand or deck, I don’t think it’s a stretch to give them the ability to move units from the board to the graveyard.

This card’s design is fairly simple, and it can be low tempo on the turn it is played. However, its primary purpose is not as a tempo play, but as a carryover card. When it destroys a unit with high base strength like Jutta An Dimun or Melusine, it becomes a prime target for Sigrdrifa’s Rite – but unfortunately also for your opponent’s Korathi Heatwave or Yennefer’s Invocation. Ouch.

Good card design is hard.

The original art source is here, on ArtStation.

Chappelle

Chappelle was the éminence grise of Hierarch Cyrus Engelkind Hemmelfart and the head of Novigrad’s secret service. I don’t actually know what an éminence grise is, but it sounds pretty scary and I honestly don’t think I want to find out.

This card provides delayed tempo that proves quite difficult to disrupt. He can be locked or banished, but other than that, he’s a reliable 14 point play. There is also some synergy with Tatterwing, for what it’s worth. Sadly, if this card were printed, it probably wouldn’t make Firesworn more viable, but would probably end up in the latest flavor-of-the-month Syndicate midrange deck instead.

It looks like the art was drawn by Mitchell Malloy, who deleted the original from their ArtStation account. You can still view the original art on Pinterest, here.

Kvletta

Kvletta supports the self damage archetype by providing a substantial payoff when there are a large number of damaged allied units. She naturally synergizes with self damage cards such as Bear Witcher and Heymaey Spearmaiden, as well as Haern Caduch. However, her low floor and high provision cost could let her brick significantly in a short round.

I’ve always been intrigued by the self-damage archetype in Skellige, and would like to see it shine someday. Part of the problem the archetype is facing currently, is that many of the payoff cards play into tall removal. A card like Kvletta would change that, helping to push self-wounding into relevance.

The original art source for this card is here, on Pinterest.

Fergus Graem

You may recall Fergus Graem as the dwarven blacksmith at Crow’s Perch. Although he posed as a master of his craft, it was later revealed that it was his assistant, Yoanna, who possessed all the talent. Fergus had leveraged his Dwarven privilege to obtain employment, as it were. I felt that the temporary tempo ability fit this character, since he turned out to be a total poser.

This card explores the concept of temporary tempo. It’s most useful when attempting to prevent Red Coin Abuse, though it can also be used during a bleed. Finally, the Barricade ability allows the card to avoid its downside, making it potentially a decent value play.

The original art can be found here, on artist Dean Spencer’s personal website.

Armistice

As much as I hate playing against Mill decks, the archetype is undeniably part of Nilfgaard’s faction identity. Therefore I present to you Armistice, an extremely unique card with a distinctly Nilfgaardian flair. However, this isn’t just  something that would find value in a Mill deck. In fact, it has a number of carefully thought out synergies with Soldiers, Spies, Assimilate, Hyperthin, and even Tactics.

Since it summons a unit to the melee row, it automatically creates a target for Alba Pikemen. Furthermore, it provides double thinning without playing into the opponent’s tall punish, and would be a worthwhile addition to Hyperthin lists. And since it places a bronze unit on the board, it guarantees a target for Dutchess’s Informant.

In general, good targets would be either Ard Feainn Tortoise, Nilfgaardian Knight, Impera Enforcers, or Alba Pikemen. Summoning two engines and boosting them with Imperial Formation or just two high tempo bronze cards could be an extremely strong play indeed.

The original art source is here, on ArtStation.

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #7

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

Willbreaker

You know, there ain’t much to tell about this guy. You have locked units, he damages ’em. You have hair, he makes you pull it out. Classic Nilfgaard stuff. You know, I really think we need more engines like this, that act as payoff for completing a specific task that involves a good deal of setup. What do we get instead? Point-vomit relicts and an Alzur that can be fully procc’d in one turn. Yuck.

Credit for the art goes to Andre Riabovitchev on Artstation.

Valkyrie

Since we’re still in the removal meta, all bronze engines are sweating pretty hard on that first turn they come down. Even the ones with 6 strength. This card would be no exception, as it generates carryover while also adding a bit of extra removal for your bronze raids and whatever unga bunga damage your Skellige deck is throwing at your opponent. Personally, I think that this card is close to the ideal for a Skellige bronze. It’s an engine, it gets decent value even when locked or in a short round, and it generates carryover on Harald the Cripple by strengthening itself.

This appears to be the original art source.

Lambert: Prick

Lambert was such an interesting character in the Witcher 3 that I think it’s really a shame that he has only one Gwent card. Technically two, but I don’t think the triptych ability really counts.

The astute Gwent player will recall that Lambert: Swordmaster damages all copies of a unit by 2, making it a devastating tech card that still functions as a decent value play against most opponents. I don’t have any problem with this card, but I don’t think it really fits Lambert or his perpetual snark. The beauty to the right, on the other hand? Perfection.

I think that this card’s strength could really go up to 6. It’s substantial downside means that it has potential to backfire, except versus Berserk-focused Skellige decks or maybe unitless Scoia’tael, provided it doesn’t mess up their Harald Gord.

Nosk

Among the dead and dying archetypes scattered throughout the Gwent deckbuilder, one that catches my eye from time to time is Plague Maiden and Monsters rat swarm. One of Plague Maiden‘s most serious issues is that fact that she essentially clogs an entire row, making it easy for her lead to overswarming in a long round. In addition, over time she’s become understatted, making her the opposite of an autoinclude. A not-oinclude? I don’t even know anymore.

This guy’s purpose is to breath life into Plague Maiden by allowing her to set up an extremely oppressive combo. Additionally, he connects Deathwish to the Sabbath keyword and makes Nightwraith into a key bronze instead of worthless filler. All good stuff, in my opinion.

Oh by the way, the dude’s name is taken from a boss in a game called Hollow Knight. You should give it a try, if you never have. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.

Original art is here.

Nilfgaardian Embassy

That the Nilfgaardians possess a seemingly infinite capacity for subterfuge is learned quickly by anyone playing even a modest amount of Gwent. In this case, this subterfuge takes the form of an embassy which is quite blatantly spying upon everything in its immediate vicinity. Leave the Nilfgaardian embassy unchecked for long enough, and soon Nilfgaard will have conducted a thorough surveillance of their foe.

Unless, of course, their embassy should happen to suddenly tranform into a bear for no particular reason. Oh Gwent, never change. (For those of you out of the loop, Bearification is a 6 provision spell that transforms an artifact into an Elder Bear).

Arachne

This card potentially introduces 5 or more engines to the board in one turn, making it able to compete with top-tier Monster engines like Koschey and Gernichora. Arachne also gives you motivation to run Koschey in round 1 or 2 if you really want to hurt your opponent later on. However, since her ability is a deploy effect, it means she doesn’t directly synergize with Caranthir. It would be pretty insane if she did, to be honest.

I set her power to 2, meaning that she can thrive Nekkers on the turn she is played, but not Endrega Larvae. I also gave her 3 armor in order to increase the likelihood that she survives. Sometimes its a bit disappointing that interesting high-end gold cards get removed so fast, since it gives you little time to admire their art.

This card might lead to a gameplan where Caranthir and Koschey are played in round 2, and then a 3 card round 3 with either Dandelion: Poet or Auberon: Conqueror being used to trigger thrives three times in two turns. Scary!

Original art is here.

Empress Ciri

In the Witcher 3 (Spoiler Alert!) there’s an ending where Ciri defeats the white frost and becomes empress of Nilfgaard. Although Nilfgaard has been known to operate in an unethical manner (to put it mildly), someone like Ciri with a compassionate heart and strong will could do a lot of good in such a position of power. Even if becoming empress isn’t strictly what she wants, it’s what the world needs.

In terms of gameplay, Empress Ciri allows Nilfgaardian players to commit their leader abilities much earlier than usual, especially if their opponent hasn’t already used their leader. Although she can be played around to some extent, she still affords the Nilfgaardian player a good deal of control. Defending a bleed, for example? Don’t play Ciri until your opponent passes. Trying to win round 1 on even? Play Ciri before your opponent has a chance to use theirs. Playing enslave 7, you beautiful degenerate? Boom, Empress Ciri.

You get the idea.

Original art is here.

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #6

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

King Demavend

I played through the Thronebreaker game recently. (Not gonna lie, I only did it for the animated Kelltullis and Dagur Two-Blades.) I remember King Demavend being such a chill dude, a true ally of Meve and an all around bro. Now, I usually do a bit of research on a character before making a card out of them because I want to the card ability to match their personality. So when I started reading about King Demavend I was massively surprised to learn that he’d imprisoned and tortured quite a few people and also was responsible for numerous pogroms against the Scoia’tael. Holy shit, dude. Not cool.

Anyway, my idea for this card was to have a unit that produces unique effects based on what targets he boosts. In this case, he synergizes with mages, soldiers, and siege engines all in unique ways. With this design, he synergizes with both Uprising and Vysogota of Corvo. My intention was to reward boosting units in such a way that doesn’t play into Geralt: Yrden and also allows flexibility of gameplan. For example, in round 1 you might play him between two mages in order to build up some sweet carryover. On the other hand, in a long round 3, you can play him to the ranged row to protect siege units while also pining down the enemy for some brutal attrition.

Alseid

CDPR is clearly taking the Scoia’tael “spellatael” archetype in a very different direction from what I would have. Their version focuses on elves and Spells, while I would have envisioned an archetype focusing more heavily on Nature cards and the Symbiosis mechanic. Personally, I like to build upon and add nuance to existing archetypes before creating wholly new ones. Yet, now that part two of the Price of Power has been released, I think I see their logic more clearly. Other than a few cards that miss the mark entirely (particularly Saov Ainmhi’dh), Spelltael seems quite powerful.

In this card, I envision a pointslammy bronze card that adds to Symbiosis and Harald Gord value while also introducing a minor threat to the board. Though fairly easy to remove, the Alseid with trade up versus most removal cards, making it an extremely strong bronze in nature decks.

Original art source is here.

Lyrian Officer

Northern Realms competes with Monsters for the most greedy engine heavy decks in the game. Currently Monsters has them beat just a bit due to cards like Selfeater and The Bloody Mistress, but Northern Realms has some impressive bronze engines such as Reinforced Ballista and Cintrian Artificer that truly give Monsters a run for their money. I’d like to see Northern realms get some stronger bronze engines that synergize heavily with their other engines, allowing them to snowball if left unchecked. In that spirit, I present you Lyrian Officer, who acts as a payoff card for engine heavy decks. Particularly in a long round, this card can reach an extremely high potential value.

Original art source is here.

Alsana Gwyn Crevan

The powerful eleven sorceress hovers in the air, her eyes narrowing as she judges the distance and angle to her target. She takes aim and utters the magic word as the flames well up in her hands. The bolt of flame connects with an arrow midair, converting it to harmless ash before it connects with its intended target. Moments later, a great explosion marks the grave of her human adversary.

She lands lightly on the ground, glancing around quickly. When she is sure that her last foe is vanquished, she breathes a sigh of relief. Her power drains her, but she never lets it show. “Why, oh why, must the humans fight us so?” she wonders, asking a question that will never truly be answered.

From a gameplay perspective, Alsana is a powerful engine with a very high floor. Yet her self-damaging behavior, absence of veil, and tall body mean that she is often an ideal target for Korathi Heatwave. To derive value from her, you’re going to want to either bleed heatwave from your opponent, or queue into a very greedy matchup.

Original art source is here.

Zovik the Mad

There’s a fine line between bravery and madness, between courage and stupidity. Skelligers have never truly found that mark, always erring so far into foolhardiness that one can only gaze in awe at the sheer pluck. Truly, their philosophy showcases the difference between fighting to live and living to fight. For if the violence and chaos of battle are what one lives for, then is it foolish to avoid battle? Even if there were a definitive answer to that question, do you think the Skelligers would care? No! They just fight because they love the clash of steel and smell of blood!

ROOOAAAAARGGGGGHHH!!!!!!!

Original art source is here.

King Radovid V

King Radovid V is truly an excellent villain, as he portrays everything we love to hate. Cold, arrogant, cruel, vindictive, and borderline insane. And most importantly, defeated in the end by our favorite white-haired witcher.

When Radovid returns to Gwent, I’d like to see him at the forefront of the brutal onslaught presented by the Mobilization Revenants archetype. In this card, we see him taking the role as a brutal damage dealer as well as a lock. Since the deck is highly dependent on deathblows, they’ll get a lot of value out of the weakened and muzzled enemies who will become fodder for their endless army of Kadwaeni Revenants. Fight! Maim! Kill!

Svivi Folskar

So, I got in an argument with someone the other day over whether Skellige or Nilfgaard has more tall punish. Of course, Skellige only has a couple tall punish cards (Champion’s Charge, Morkvarg, Hjalmar An Craite) while Nilfgaard has more than they ever need (Vincent Van Moorlehgem, Yennefer’s Invocation, Vilgefortz, Peter Saar, Vanhemar, Poison, Ivar Evil-Eye, Leo Bonhart) so I thought it would be a short argument. After my opponent started claiming that 4 provision raids were a form of tall punish, I stopped tearing out my hair and calmly threw my computer out the window instead. Gotta love Reddit!

Anyway, given SK’s surprising lack of tall punish, I decided to create something that would count as true tall punish while feeling very much like a Skellige card. Behold, I give you Svivi Folskar. Svivi synergizes excellently with Armor Up and Bear Witchers, as well as Patricidal Fury. Patricidal Fury basically enables this as a kill-anything card.

Oh, and Svivi can be tutored by Blood Eagle, replacing the role old Morkvarg: Heart of Terror used to serve before he lost his Warrior tag.

Original art source is here.

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #5

After reading The Last Wish, I was impressed by the character Renfri and realized that this unique and interesting character was entirely absent from the game of Gwent. What a travesty! I decided to remedy this situation by posting a custom card every day until Renfri is added to Gwent. The custom cards from the last week appear below.

Triss: Royal Advisor

As an unapologetic and devoted member of Team Triss, I can’t help but notice that Yennefer has four separate Gwent cards, while Triss only has three. In order to remedy this situation, I’ve developed this card which recognizes Triss’ longstanding role as Foltest’s advisor.

Balance wise, the card’s design resembles Amphibious Assault, and has powerful synergies with the newly reworked Cintrian Spellweaver. This card also cements the reliance on core bronze cards which is part of the Northern Realm’s faction identity. Also, she can’t tutor Oneiromancy, which limits her power a bit. The existence of Oneiromancy makes it difficult to make balanced tutors for spell cards, which Triss’ condition neatly sidesteps.

Credit for the art goes to AlienAlly on DeviantArt.

Seduction

We humans have been fascinated with vampires ever since… well, ever since we created them. But what is it about them that we find so compelling? I’ve always felt that their cold, yellow eyes and sharp fangs hiding behind a beautiful face serve as a poetic metaphor for the dangers of a cruel and selfish heart concealed by physical beauty. Thus, there’s a sense in which vampires–far from being confined to myth–are everywhere. Watch out, folks!

In this Gwent card, I’ve attempted to capture the concept of vampiric seduction. This card is balanced relative to cards like Imlerith’s Wrath, Yennefer’s Invocation, and Korathi Heatwave. There’s really two conditions required for this card to achieve full value, since you must control a vampire and also destroy the Human Prey. Therefore, I think the substantial provision discount relative to Heatwave and Yenvo is justified.

Credit for the art goes to CGlas on DeviantArt.

Ivor Breckenriggs

Dwarfs have been a perpetually underpowered archetype for as long as pretty much anyone remembers. A buff here, a tweak there and yet it’s never enough. Dwarfs remain sadly and soundly mired in the bowels of tier 3 and far, far away from the competitive scene. Truly, the state of the Dwarfs archetype stands among life’s little tragedies, unnoticed and forgotten.

Yet, I do dream on occasion of a powerful dwarven deck able to go toe to toe with even the mighty Syndicate, packing tons of proactive points and difficult-to-counter and heavily armored engines. And maybe a smidgen of removal? Hey let’s not get too crazy…

Anyway, Ivor Breckenriggs is the father of Zoltan’s fiance. Clan Breckenriggs is among the wealthiest dwarven clans, and it’s probably about time they received some recognition in Gwent cards.

Credit for the art goes to KilartDev on DeviantArt

Vienne

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Vienne was an elven girl who Lambert and Geralt interrogated at the Seven Cats Inn while tracking down Aiden’s killers. Before her membership in Jad Karadin’s gang, she was a Scoia’tael guerilla, though her unit was eventually decimated, which led her becoming an assassin. Though she’s only a minor NPC in a side quest from the Witcher 3, I’ve found her character to be quite interesting, more than deserving of a Gwent card.

Balance wise, Vienne acts as a payoff for unitless Scoia’tael decks, allowing them to clean up a large number of weak units while also synergizing with Dol Blathanna Sentry and Sabrecat. In many cases, she competes with Schirru for value, having a much higher floor but also a lower ceiling.

Credit for the art goes to Linda Lithen, who can be found on ArtStation here.

Penny Styles

CDPR has made a few feeble attempts to assemble a pirate archetype within Skellige, but nary a one at establishing the Syndicate Tidecloaks archetype. Personally, I think that Syndicate pirates could actually be quite compelling, provided they receive a few more core golds.

This card is quite interesting, as it allows you to replay bronze crimes from your graveyard. This can have interesting effects, such as converting Dip in the Pontar into a 6-power removal tool, and allowing same turn removals with Fisstech. Alright, I admit that this card isn’t really balanced, but I think it would be reasonable if its cooldown were increased to 2 or 3. Personally, I’d like to see more support for the “slow” engine tags such as Harmony, Resupply, and Intimidate, which is what motivated me to create this card.

Credit for the art goes to mist XG on ArtStation.

Lonely Axeman

There are still a few of us who remember when An Craite Greatswords were more than just the optimal Megascope target. Back in the day, you’d make sure to get last say so you could play one from hand and then play Morkvarg: Heart of Terror from your graveyard with Second Wind. If the enemy controlled a highly boosted unit–Ozzrel, for example–you were pretty much guaranteed a win. In those days, Greatswords acted as a payoff card for what Skellige does best: damaging units. A payoff for which they are now sorely lacking. Honestly, 10-for-6 is a rather poor payoff for something so closely tied to Skellige’s faction identity.

But I digress. This card is intentionally reminiscent of old style Greatswords, allowing players to gain significant points provided they are prepared to deal heavy damage. Their veil prevents them from being locked or poisoned–which are really just ways for the enemy to cheesily deny you points that you rightfully earned. Thus, the card is reminiscent of Ancient Foglet, which gives a similar payoff to the Monsters faction for generating weather. Ideally, this card acts as a 3-point-per-turn engine when the devotion condition is met, which synergizes wonderfully with Harald An Craite‘s final form.

The original art source for this one was tricky to pin down, but I finally discovered that the work is titled Viking Repose and was created by one Seb McKinnon.

The Putrid Grove

The Putrid Grove first appeared in the Witcher 3, sought by Geralt in his quest to find and help Triss Merigold. The Putrid Grove served as the headquarters of the King of Beggars as well as a sanctuary for the mages of Novigrad who were now relentlessly persecuted by witch hunters. That Triss would appear here instead of at the side of great monarch only served to show how far the Eternal Fire’s all-consuming hatred and zealotry had spread. For shame, Novigrad!

This card is the latest in a series I’ve been doing of high-provision artifacts, one for each faction. (You may recall Ancient Sarcophagus and Gnomish Forge from previous weekly recaps). My intention is to design powerful artifacts that generate value over time that trade up versus heatwave. In this case, the artifact rewards an almost coinless playstyle for Syndicate, with deliberate antisynergies with Jackpot, the dominant SY deck. The card provides an extremely enticing 2-point-per-turn engine which lasts over 2 rounds. Of course, the downside is that it forces players to spend all their coins at the end of each turn, which drastically reduces the versatility that is one of Syndicate’s greatest strengths.

Credit for the art goes to MarkusML on DeviantArt.