Gwent

Deck Guide: Reckless Flurry

SK

Introduction

While we see Eist decks fall out of Meta, Reckless Flurry remains a solid Skellige deck to climb the ladder with. Not only does the deck provide you with a lot of round control, but it also provides enough points to close out a round with.

Difficulty

A fairly easy deck to pilot.

Game Plan

Mulligan:  First and foremost, make sure we don’t have Madoc in our hands so we can summon him from the deck via bombs. Secondly, keep at least one bomb in your hand to get Madoc out of your deck in round 1. Avoid drawing and holding Bear Witcher Adept in hand because it bricks your Portal. And finally make sure to have at least some proactive play in your hand.

Round 1: Main plan for round 1 is to keep the opponent’s side of the board empty with bombs and potentially an early leader. If you are going second, you can even play cards like Portal for the tempo to potentially win on even. Starting on blue coin can be a bit awkward for us in case we miss our proactive cards and using Portal to gain tempo on blue can be an overcommitment. Our main goal is to thin Madoc out of our deck and potentially win on even so we can bleed our opponent.

Round 2: Depending on how round 1 went and whether you still have your Sunset Wanderers available, we can bleed our opponent with An Craite Greatsword and Megascope, as well as Bear Witchers and Haern Caduch. Our main goal in round 2 is ideally to shorten the round as much as possible so we can go into a short round 3 with only 3 cards.

The Deck

Round 3: At this point, we can close out the round with Svalblod Totem and Junod of Belhaven. I would recommend using your leader early in the round if you want to find a Junod target as the chances of finding one decrease as your opponent continues to play.

Pros and cons

Pros:
-Good against engine decks as well as decks with slow tempo
-Very good on red coin resulting in you abusing Madoc and potentially win on even with Portal

Cons:
-Lack of proactive cards can lead to awkward situations on blue coin
-Bad against decks that can point slam and swarm

Considerations

There are a lot of variants of this deck and one of the other strong variants is Discard Package with Birna, Coral and Skirmishers. For that, you will have to remove the Portal and the Bear Witcher Adepts. Another consideration is replacing Djenge Frett with Champion’s Charge.

Combo

Portal is going to be your tutor for your Bear Witcher Adepts. This will not only to give you tempo, but also thin out your deck.

Haern Caduch would mainly be used to play Bear Witchers for some control options.

Maxii Van Dekkar’s true value comes when your opponent dry passes, in which case you can use her to look at your deck in order and put those useless bronzes at the bottom.

Haern Caduch’s Order ability will almost always be used to heal your Bear Witchers or any other cards that are damaged. 

Mask Of Uroboros is useful in case you draw your Madoc. You can use the stratagem to draw another card and ditch him until you play a bomb.

Northern Wind can be used to either banish your opponent’s Madoc or  Flying Redanian if you’re facing Syndicate. In some situations, you can even use it to banish a Joachim on your side of the board.

Hjalmar An Craite is a very good removal option and your Greatswords further improve its value. Slam those points!

An Craite Greatsword is vulnerable at first, but he can reach 7 power easily with just a single leader charge. The following turn, you can use Megascope to make another one – an easy 10 for 4.

Korathi Heatwave is self-explanatory. Use it to banish any threats you have no other way to deal with, such as enemy scenarios, Kolgrim, or Foltest. 

Djenge Frett’s bloodthirst is easily enabled in this deck with the amount of control you have with your bombs and as well as your leader ability. Use him to lock your opponent’s important engines that are out of removal range. 

Svalblod Totem is mostly used in round 3 to give us the tempo we need to take the game. 

Conclusion

Reckless Flurry is a fun and simple deck to play for anyone who wants to climb with Skellige. It has a lot of good matchups and is more than capable of holding a place in the current meta. But at the same time, it also has some bad matchups like Syndicate’s Lined Pockets and Jackpot, both of which are solid tier 1 decks. Keeping that in mind I would place this deck at tier 2. 

Thanks for reading, and happy Gwenting! 

Skill beats Luck Ep. 2 – The current Kreve League Champion JSN991

Introduction

After our talk with SuperSpock9000 in episode one, which you can find here, this time we want to have a chat with Bandit Gang’s Pro Player JSN991. Making it regularly into the top 64 on ladder, he also managed to be crowned Champion of Kreve by winning Kreve League Season 2 in a final vs. Santtu2x last June.
We want to get a deeper insight into what it takes to play a league format compared to a single tournament. We will also talk about his preparation and his overall thoughts on the competitive scene in Gwent. But first, some details about the player and also the event in general.

Meet the Player

Name: Jason

Age: 17

Hobbies: Gaming, Basketball, Football

Section: Pro Team

Favorite Faction:  Scoiat’ael*

Favorite Card: Olaf

About the Event - Kreve League

The Kreve League is a tournament organised by Team Kreve. Based on a league format, everyone is able to participate. For a duration of 6-7 weeks, depending on how many players participate, you play a single best-of-three series every week. This means the standard one-day swiss phase is stretched into a weekly format. 

After that, the top 16 will compete, again on a weekly basis, in the playoffs for the title Champion of Kreve, in addition to some meteorite powder and premium kegs. 

Currently, Kreve League is in its third season already. For more information, check out their homepage!

Also, if you want a detailed summary from the last play-offs where JSN991 could claim his title, make sure to give Aitchkay’s recap a read!

The Interview

Sawyer1888: As the current Champion of Kreve, let’s take a step back and talk about your journey. What kept you motivated through the League phase and why did you participate in the first place?

JSN991: I joined Kreve League just for fun, since I generally find the tournament format more enjoyable than ladder. This is mostly because on ladder you can face a particular very strong deck over and over, whereas in tournaments you can just ban it, making the game more skill dependent. I also used it as a place to test out lineups for qualis and other tournaments, since it provides a different kind of practice than just prepping with teammates.

How would you describe your preparation for this event, given that you are able to change decks weekly?

The way I picked my lineup varied from week to week. Some weeks I would play decks that weren’t necessarily the absolute best but that I found fun and could still win with. Other times I would play a lineup I was considering bringing to qualis, or just bring the best lineup I could think of (especially in playoffs). 

I never really took Kreve League super seriously, so my preparation was generally limited to a couple of ladder games or a quick best-of-three against teammates. Usually with Synergygod or Hawgplex since they were also playing in the League.

Recently you managed to achieve some decent results on ladder as well and regularly take part in top 64 qualifiers. What differences are there in a League where everyone can take part compared to an event you have to qualify for?

The most noticeable difference is that you would play against some fairly bad players in the earlier weeks, but the standard in playoffs is higher than  you might expect. It won’t be as high as qualifiers, but there are still some very good players in it.

Would you be interested in something like an official league as well? What events would you like to see in the future?

Definitely, I’m a big fan of the league format since you have to adapt to small meta shifts from week to week. It takes a different mindset to the standard one-day format. 

For qualis a lot of players struggle to play the entire day or can’t play on that particular Saturday. A league format is more accessible since you can organize when you play and only have to play one series in a week. This means that I would like to see more of the league format, potentially even one run by CDPR.

I would also like to see more community tournaments, since they’re fairly rare. I think a big part of this is how unreliable the tournament client is, making it a nightmare to be an admin. If CDPR were to fix the client, I think we would see more of them, which would be great.

A feature that would be great to see as well would be a tournament mode implemented into the actual game, where you choose Bo3 or Bo5, pick a lineup, and play out a full series against an opponent with open decklists, bans, and pre-determined coin allocations. This is because ladder is quite bad when it comes to preparing for tournaments. You can’t constantly queue into the deck you plan on banning or get the wrong coin whilst playing a coin dependent deck. 

This would be great for everyone but especially players who are new to the competitive/ tournament scene and would like some practice. However, this would take a lot of time and effort for CDPR to make, so I doubt it will ever happen. But I’m pretty sure it would see more play than draft mode.

You also did quite well in our Bandit Gang internal tournaments so far.
Is there anything that feels special for you playing in a competitive environment in general?

As cool as it is to win stuff, internal tournaments aren’t a particularly good measure of who is the best since most of the team plays memes. I was however able to establish dominance over SuperSpock9000 in two finals and made $50 so that was nice. I would also say that in a tournament I’m more focused and try my best to win every game. On ladder I have more of a chilled “zak zak zak” mentality and don’t really care about efficiency. 

Obviously tournaments are special because there is a lot more at stake, but I try not to let that affect how I play. The other key part which decides how well you do in tournaments is your lineup rather than how you play in the game. We saw a prime example of this when Lifecoach beat Tailbot in Season 1 World Masters, despite Tailbot being an undeniably more experienced player.

Currently some might say the meta is in a bad state because of Sunset Wanderers and certain other things. What are your feelings about the competitive state of Gwent right now?

I’ve barely played this patch because I’m not really enjoying it. I actually really like the design of Sunset Wanderers but one card seeing this much play is never a good thing. Although that’s not whats wrong with this meta.

I saw a stat from the most recent top 16 qualifiers that the four most popular leaders made up 84% of decks in the tournament compared to just 55% in May. And as the meta settles this will only get worse for top 64. 

Having such a small amount of decks that are so much stronger than everything else isn’t good from a competitive standpoint. Because besides it just simply being repetitive and boring, it also takes a lot of skill out of the game. This is because at the top level, if players just have to memorize maybe five or six matchups, they can play them perfectly after a bit of preparation. It then just comes down to who drew their best cards.

In more diverse metas, there are much more opportunities to go for a different strategy with a lineup. Whether that’s hard targeting a meta deck or bringing something more off meta and spicy. This variety means that it is about how a player can apply their knowledge of the game to a strange new situation in a way that takes much more skill than “in x matchup do y and just draw your golds“.

Interesting, as I also read the statistics and kinda felt the same.
Reflecting on your progress so far, what are your goals and expectations for Kreve League Season 3 and on ladder in general?

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t take Kreve League too seriously but it would of course be nice to do well. I would like to make the playoffs or even defend my title, maybe whilst clapping some teammates on the way (especially a certain German article writer *wink wink*).
 [Comment by the author: That won’t happen.]

As for ladder, I want to try and make top 64 each month and after missing out by 1 mmr on top 16 in May (yes, I’m still salty about it) I want to actually make a top 16 at some point. This wouldn’t be until we were in a meta where I could happily grind games again, though, so I’m hoping for the next set of new cards to fix the meta a bit.

Understandable, but I wish you luck nonetheless!
At last, do you have any advice for “newcomers” on how to approach something like Kreve League?

My advice for anyone new to competitive Gwent would be to play in as many tournaments as possible in order to improve. 

The ultimate goal for a lot of players is making top16/64 qualis, opens, etc. Also playing in smaller events like Kreve League will make you much better equipped to do well in these bigger events. Some people, however, don’t have the time to grind ladder and make top 64, in which case they should still try to play in these kinds of events. It’ll be a new experience for you and the majority of players will find it more enjoyable than ladder.

The main thing to keep in mind when competing in events like this is just to treat it like any other game of Gwent and stay cool. This gets easier the more tournaments you play in. Something that even the best players struggle with is getting tilted when they throw a game or miss cards. It’s much easier said than done but you should try your best to not let it make you play worse.  Games are often still winnable after misplays or bad RNG, so keep that in mind.

Alright, sounds good. I am sure that many might find this advice helpful…if you want to improve, you have to play, simple.
So thanks for your time again and I wish you good fortune in the wars to come!

Sure thing, glad to be your guest. Thanks, I will try my best! 

Guide – Seesaw

This article is part of a Bandit Gang series, covering the many different seasonal modes with brief descriptions, strategies, and deck ideas. Not every deck will always be up to date, given the weekly rotation. Instead, we display the date of creation, so that you can retrace what may have changed in the game since then. Feel free to adjust the decks with new cards or old cards that you like better and have fun! – MAIN PAGE

On the end of the player’s turn, damage player’s odd power units by 1. Boost player’s even power units by 1.

The Seesaw seasonal mode was introduced in the season of the dryad and it rewards proper alignment of unit strength by the end of each round. It’s self-explanatory that you want to aim for as many boosts and as little damage as possible, but there can be many end-of-round effects, so first let’s talk about the sequencing.

The seasonal boost or damage is what is coming first, all the other effects will follow. So if we take the example of a common boost-self-by-1-engine on even power, it will first gain one point for the even power, then one point from its engine ability, effectively boosting it by two. However, if the unit has an odd power, it will first lose one power due to that, before gaining that one power back, leading to stagnation. For all units that are not engines, the mechanics of vitality and bleed work in the very same way. Shields and armor will be affected by this as well, but they only serve as a delay for the remaining damage that’s coming in on uneven power, unless the shields or armor are part of an engine mechanic.

So with this in mind, your first objective is to get your units on even power and the opponent’s units on odd power as efficiently as you can. Your main weapon are all abilities that should boost or damage by an uneven amount, otherwise you wouldn’t change the alignment. Northern Realms has a lot of engines that can serve you well here, while Skellige offers rainy weather and some more types of small damage pings. Scoia’tael has a lot of vitality to use and Monsters can bring bleeding, however the latter is easier to deny. Syndicate of course has its spenders and Nilfgaard may also find a way, even if it’s just its assimilate cards. There are many options, give them a try!

Bandit Gang’s Meme Snapshot for Gwent #2

Introduction

A meme deck can be considered many things. Some people believe that a meme deck is mainly played for fun, to make yourself and the opponent laugh, and not to win with. A deck like Thicc Aglais would be a good example. Other people believe that meme decks have their own theme like the bandit archetype, which makes it a lore friendly deck. And most people would agree that a meme deck is also considered an off-meta deck: a deck that has its own unusual strategy or inclusions, but that can still win you plenty of games. You could think of a deck like Triple Commandos here.

But I digress. Welcome to the second edition of Bandit Gang’s Meme Snapshot! In case you missed out on our first edition, you can find it here. This time, we wanted to use new concepts that weren’t included in the first edition, but you might also see different versions of decks that were included already. The main goal, as always, is to show you the diversity that is possible in Gwent, beyond all the top tier meta lists. As before, we kept the same 3 categories:

1. Fun But Garbage Decks: these are the decks that are just for fun but will not win you any games 90% of the time. 

2. Lore Friendly Decks: these are decks that are based around a certain theme that is often lore based. 

3. Becoming A Pro Decks: these are decks that are considered off meta, but are decent to climb to Pro Rank with. Nonetheless, they are not included in the Meta Snapshots.

Note: Click on the image of the deck to get directed to the PlayGwent website in order to import the deck to your client.

Fun But Garbage

Overview:
Francesca
must be one of my favorite cards from the Price of Power expansion. The first thing I thought when I saw her was: how can I abuse it? Of course, the answer is expensive (or high-provision) specials. But which one is the best? SHUPE! As you may already guess, the idea is to play Shupe twice. Try to protect Francesca by letting the opponent remove other engines. Count how many spells you have and look out to not copy a different spell by accident.

Pros:
-When it works, you can get tons of points or even double carryover!
-Can generate a lot of long round value
-You get to play ST, which is rare

Cons:
-Draw dependent
-It can be tricky to time Francesca perfectly
-Can easily lose against heavy control decks

Core Cards:
Avallac’h: Recent buffs made this card very good in mid-range decks. It can easily get its full value and the choice is flexible. Also, it triggers spell counter.

Gezras: The god of swarm finishers. Not only can he boost your row filled with Whisper of Dol Blathanna and treants but he also can generate offensive value.

Harald Gord: While he is not in a deck in this version, you might consider putting him in the deck. All units that generate spells can make him bigger and worth playing.

Written by Bomblin.

Overview:
This was the first meme I made from the new Price of Power, expansion. The idea is to create as many Vigilantes as possible. If you manage to create a lot, every enemy that receives a bounty status will instantly die. Moreover, with The Witchfinder on the board, you can just pass and enjoy the victory!

Pros:
-Possibility of huge *pew* *pew* *pew*
-Can destroy greedy decks in a long round 3
-Gives a chance for an amazing hero pass

Cons:
-Vulnerable to bleed
-Veil is your worst enemy
-Not very good against control meta

Core Cards:
Igor the Hook: helps you make as many Vigilantes as possible. Use all your coins just to create your masked boys.

Idarran/Megascope: The beauty of this combo is that you have a guaranteed value from Idarran if you use him after copying a card with Megascope. If he stays longer, Igor is your best friend.

Savolla/Moreelse: These two cards have no direct synergy with the whole deck concept but lets you get a nice tempo in round 1 to force the opponent to pass. This way, you have a higher chance to get to a long round 3. Also, they work great with all the coins you generate
from bounties.

Written by Bomblin.

Overview:
Salamander combo was always one of the coolest looking combos and at the same time, very satisfying to watch. With changes to Jackpot, we now have a new payoff card: Roland Bleinheim. Now, when he is on the board during a combo, you get a huge boost of points from every poisoned target! Buffs to other cards also made the deck good in round 1, which it’s crucial to win.

Pros:
-Looks amazing!
-Can easily win against engine heavy decks.
-If Roland survives, you can’t lose.

Cons:
-Relies heavily on the combo.
-Can be bled easily.
-It’s awkward if you get to a short round 3 or you miss your combo pieces.

Core Cards:
Salamander:  You need to be careful! Remember that you need 7 coins to trigger the tribute or your combo won’t work! You can transfer the poison from Roland to Salamander using Salamandra Hideout to instantly kill it for Renew.

Lieutenant Von Herst: The idea behind this guy is to create a lot of units for your combo. The more units on the board, the more poison you can apply which means more points for Roland!

Thinning bois: Both Sewer Raiders and Casino Bouncers give you a fast and nice thinning option for round 1. Combining their bodies with the power of Gellert Bleinheim gives you a chance to easily win round 1.

Written by Bomblin.

Overview:
This is a full meme deck! Do not craft! The idea is to make Istredd as big as possible. Hide him behind the defender and let him grow. In round 3, use renew on him and let him grow again. Finish the game with a nice Snowdrop + Istredd combo! Look out! If you draw more cards than you can hold, you will mill cards from your HAND!

Pros:
-Big snowdrop
-Opponent will not know whats going on
-It’s consistent because of leader!

Cons:
-You rarely win
-You can self mill cards from your hand
-Super vulnerable to any removal

Core Cards:
Foltest: Combining him with Blue Stripes Commandos can win you round 1 easily if your opponent has no answer for both defender and Foltest. It also shuffles more cards into your deck which works great with big Istredd.

Queen Adalia: with Cintrian Spellweaver, Adalia can be the machine gun that can steal the win in any round.

Pavetta: Works well with both Commandos and Dun Banners! With Pincer Maneuver, it is a guaranteed that you will drop at least one part of the combo.

Written by Bomblin.

Overview:
I love hyperthin. In the last snapshot, I presented NR hyperthin, Syndicate hyperthin and, of course, Nilfgaard hyperthin is now around everywhere on the ladder. Here, however, I bring something new – Skellige hyperthin! It is easily possible due to the number of discards you have and the inclusion of Jutta that generates tons of value.

Pros:
-Super consistent
-Can easily win round 1 if you draw perfectly due to discard package
-Unique and unexpected

Cons:
-Auto loses against mill
-Like really auto loses against mill
-Sequencing, especially in the end, can be super tricky, awkward, and sub-optimal

Core Cards:
Snowdrop: with all the discard cards, Snowdrop can get to very high points super quickly. If you also have Coral on the board, your discard not only gives you consistency but also boosts and damages! It also fixes your hand!

Blaze of Glory + Sigrdrifa’s Rite is a nice finisher up to 24 points that the opponent cannot really prepare for. As a backup, you can use Covenant of Steel. The consideration for the deck is to also put An Craite Greatsword into it.

Ciri: Nova: nice carryover points that can guarantee you a pass in round 2 or bonus points in a short round 3. Also baits removal.

Written by Bomblin.

Overview:
This experiment was brewed in the Kalvino + Bomblin laboratory. There are two combos in the deck. The first one is the great synergy with Idarran and Queensguards. You can get 2 spawns just by clicking it once! The second combo is Yennefer -> you want to play as many annoying cards for your opponent to deal with (Harald, Olgierd, totem, Veteran) and then just use Yennefer for damage! You will get only benefits, will your opponent will suffer tremendous pain!

Pros:
-Super awkward for your opponent to deal with some cards
-Has a fun and unique combo
-Do not need that much consistency – only Yennefer is necessary.

Cons:
-Can be out greeded by heavy engine/armor decks (e.g. Koschey).
-You can over-swarm
-Heavy control decks can deal with your cards easily

Core Cards:
Cerys: can be used as a tempo and thin tool in the melee row but can be also used as an engine generator on the range row. Flexibility is always welcome!

Dire Bear: Tech for Koschey decks that work like a charm! It is quite powerful against other match-ups!

Olgierd: Super clunky to deal with for your opponent. He is a master of soaking random damage (weather, Ballista, Madoc). He also works well with Svalblod Priest and Yennefer!

Written by Bomblin.

Lore Friendly

Overview:
In the most recent patch, we got a tiny buff to Adriano. It inspired me to make a whole deck around just this tiny buff. The plan is to make AS MANY SEDUCTRESSES AS POSSIBLE. This will result in your opponent being unable to play any card without losing points especially if your opponent uses tutor cards like Menno/Fauve etc.

Pros:
-Can out greed any deck
-Powerful in both long and short rounds
– ( ͡°͜ʖ ͡°)

Cons:
-Control decks can easily deal with your early low tempo
Korathi Heatwave gets tons of value
-Sometimes lacks coin spenders

Core cards:
Portal: The change to ghoul made it possible to easily use Portal in Syndicate. You can get both engines (Peaches) or raw points (Ghouls). Both help you in round 1.

Igor: Can create a lot of Sly Seductresses and Peaches that overwhelm your opponent. Cards like Swallow and Shakedown let you use the insanity again. And again. And again.

Adriano: The core card! Can give you coins and a nice tempo especially with Passiflora. Be careful to not over profit and to miss the tribute!

Written by Bomblin.

Overview:
What is better than 1 cow? 5 cows! Germain Piquant is the king of the swarm and he synergizes well with Slave Infantry. The amount of points you can generate is insane! This deck works well in a long round (with cows and bone talisman) but also in a short round (leader, Portal, Slave Infantries).

Pros:
-Amazing long round with all the swarm and Bone Talisman
-Have a nice mix of small combos
-Cows

Cons:
-Pinging damage and destroy the deck
-Draw dependent, so consistency can be an issue
–Vulnerable to bleed

Core cards:
Triss: My favorite flexible card. You can play her as a short round value card with Imperial Diplomacy or battle preparation or you can play her as another bone talisman with a body. Sometimes you can even use your opponent’s good cards!

Portal: Buff to Ard Feainn Tortoise made a perfect Portal target. Card also thins and put big points on the board.

Vreemde/Vrygheff: The “V” officers! The gods of soldier decks have been around for years. Their provision cost is so low that they can easily find their value in a heavy soldier deck. Soldier decks just need a good high provision finisher!

Written by Bomblin.

Overview:
The deck is all about getting as many beasts in your graveyard for Corrupted Flaminica as possible and then playing Crow Messengers every round. Depending on what you draw, you either go for swarm and purification in round 1 with Siegfried or making copies of Crow Messengers. If you go for the as many beasts in your graveyard as possible route, then make sure to use Rage of the Sea before you play Siegfried. The other route to make copies of Crow Messenger requires you to draw Operator & Megascopes. So judge accordingly based on your hand.

Pros:
-Amazing short round if you managed to setup Corrupted Flaminica and Crow Messengers well
-You play a deck from someone that reached Top 8 in Gwent Partner tournament
-Its a budget version of Triple Commandos

Cons:
-Susceptible to row punish
-Draw dependent
Corrupted Flaminica is not your final play, therefore she is vulnerable

Core Cards:
Siegfried of Denesle in order to purify all the tokens.

Corrupted Flaminica because of all the beasts that you get in the graveyard.

Written by Babyjosus.

Becoming A Pro

Overview:
With the release of Rience, the archetype Hyperthin got a huge buff and all of a sudden Rico has become playable. Alongside cards like Rience, Dead Man’s Tongue, Blightmaker, and  Mage Assassins got also added to the card pool and are a perfect fit for Hyperthin as well. CDPR also buffed Imperial Golem recently which is a good replacement for Tibor. So with all the love the archetype has received, its on the edge of being competitive.

Pros:
-Tempo plays in round 1 with Blightmaker and Mage Assassin
-Can thin to 0
Allgod

Cons:
-The mulligans can be problematic and could force you to play Tactical Decision early
-Cloggers and Mill are your worst nightmare
-Not being able to play Allgod on Rience, Imperial Golem and Affan

Core Cards:
Imperial Golem is the reason why you get value out of cards like Xarthisius, Yennefer: Divination, and Vilgefortz. So make sure he is the only card left in your deck before playing them!

Written by Babyjosus.

Overview:
An amazing deck was made by my boy Mercernn last season but it still works perfectly fine. It is for me a big surprise that people still do not play Mobilization. This deck just wins! The plan is to overwhelm your opponent with tons of damage from cards like Reinforced Ballista and Lyrian Arbalest. This is a true definition of a good mid-range deck.

Pros:
-Deck is great both in the long round and in the short round
-Have a lot of different answers from locks, through Korathi Heatwave, to Bloody Baron
-Unexpected

 Cons:
-Sometimes you can get screwed by mulligans (Hubert in hand, no soldiers, no Adalia target)
-It is hard to play perfectly
-You can be out-tempoed if you are not careful

Core Cards:
Gerhart: I just love this card. It is super flexible and rewards you for knowing a) what is in your opponent’s deck and; b) for knowing what spells are in the deck builder. He can help you with everything! Row punish, tall punish, points, even thinning!

Falibor: A silent killer. I haven’t seen this card in a looong time but it is just good. It gives you a nice body and a small removal. It is also very easy to line him up for maximum value in the current meta with all your engines.

Shani: SHE CAN GIVE YOU 20 FKN POINTS!

Written by Bomblin.

Overview:
Basically the game-plan is to push R1 with Ciri: Dash and Defender. You want them to heatwave either defender or Dash for you. Then you can play Dagur R1 if you have to as well, though you should mainly focus on the discard package. After round 1, if defender got heatwaved you want to try to bleed out their potential answers to Dagur, and then rez Dagur in R3 and hope he sticks. If defender wasn’t heatwaved, go straight to r3 and rez defender, then play Dagur as soon as you think its safe.

Pros:
-If unanswered, Dagur can generate a lot of points in a long round
-Lots of control options
-Consistent due to discard package

Cons:
Korathi Heatwave wrecks you
Wild Boar of the Sea can be awkward if you kill everything
-No Sunset Wanderers

 Core Cards:
Dagur
can win in short round just with leader ability, can carry you to the moon.

 Ciri: Dash can guarantee you final say, which is crucial for Dagur.

 Discard package has amazing consistency and points.

Written by DrCorchit.

Honorable Mentions

While Kalvino is not on Bandit Gang, we consider him as a friend of Bandit Gang, or even the Adored Fan of Bandit Gang. Therefore we include one of his favorite decks in our Meme Snapshot. Of course, this is not something we do for free. We had to strike a deal with him to write his future Deck Guides for the website. So expect a lot more from Kalvino as a Guest Writer!

Even though AcidBunny is still on trial to join Bandit Gang, we decided to include one of his OG decks in the Meme Snapshot, with the reasoning to bully Rasheed of course…

Ahh, the deck that you have all been waiting for. Rasheed’s Monster Mill.  According to Rasheed the deck is quite optimized and will do the milling very well for you. But that’s about it. One golden tip from him is to put your Goliath in different rows to avoid full rows because then they don’t mill anymore.

Conclusion

This was our second Meme Snapshot, we hope you enjoyed it! Hopefully we can all agree on the fact that there are plenty of decks included for all kinds of players that don’t want to contribute to the meta. For players that would like to have a good time, that want to role-play and want to go put their boot in the meta and claim their seats among the kings.

A big thank you to Denpai, Dr.Corchit, Mercernn, Kalvino, AcidBunny & Rasheed for providing us with their decks! Otherwise it would have been somewhat one-sided, with only decks from Bomblin and myself. We hope that we inspired you to create your own memes or own versions of the decks with this Meme Snapshot. But for now, Bomblin and I will fare thee well, and we’ll see you again in Meme Snapshot #3!

Please consider checking out our article section where you can find plenty of articles. From member interviews to deck guides and more!

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #4

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.

Coup D'etat

Empires have battled each other for supremacy for untold centuries, and men have plotted their downfall for just as long. The fact that a single human can pose a threat to an entire empire is an unfortunate consequence of the centralization of power. The saying “a single death changes everything” is true indeed. And nobody understands this better than Nilfgaard.

This scenario for Nilfgaard attempts to support the Spying archetype and features a rework for Assassination. It also supports assimilate and tactics, to a degree. It’s even possible to finish the scenario in one turn by using a spy to tutor a card that plays another spy, such as Braathens. In most cases, it plays for a minimum of 15 points, though it puts two engines on the board and therefore has a potentially higher ceiling.

The art used by the card is promotional art for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

Shupe

The familiar and lovable keg-obsessed rock troll poses a serious threat to your opponent’s victory in this card, which becomes stronger with each passing round provided you’ve met his unique deck condition. I’ve always found Shupe’s deck condition to be quite interesting, but the payoff for Shupe’s Day Off is sadly underwhelming. This version of Shupe is considerably stronger, and makes the payoff more worthwhile. By the time he reaches his third form, your opponent has little to do but watch in horror as your beautiful Shupe meme plays out uninterrupted, spawning up to three Kegs on the board for unpredictable RNG goodness. Shuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuupe! Shuuuuuupe! Shuuuuuuuuupe!

The resilience on the Kegs might be a bit much, in hindsight. Oh well.

Art source is linked here.

Gather by Moonlight

On a cold, clear moonlit night you may hear singular unearthly sounds as nocturnal beings gather for their accursed feast. Vampires! Whether gathering in an old shed, a subterranean cavern, or a sumptuous palace, vampires prefer to consume blood in great quantity and under the cover of darkness. This holds true even for higher vampires who can tolerate the light of the sun.

This scenario serves the vampire archetype by providing several sources of bleeding, plus a single use of bronze tall removal. Having this scenario on the board may force the opponent to delay playing their bronze engines, which will only make the vampires that much more oppressive. I chose the last stage of the scenario carefully, in order to provide vampires with something they lacked: tall punish. At the same time, I wanted to avoid the pitfall where scenarios simply play a handful of different bronze cards. As you’ll notice, this scenario only spawns one bronze card, while the other two effects are more unique.

Credit for the art goes to Steven Stahlberg, on DeviantArt.

Gnomish Workshop

Strange as it may seem, the finest smiths in Mahakam are not dwarves but gnomes. In fact, the finest blades–called Gwyhyrs–are forged according to advanced Gnomish technology. Thus it is that Gnomes are behind much of what is apparently dwarven technology.

This card supports the dwarf archetype massively, making dwarven units much harder to remove than they otherwise would be. In addition, its resilience makes it useful across multiple rounds. Dwarf decks sometimes struggle in short rounds, which makes them vulnerable to a bleed. A card like this would address this issue quite effectively, by giving dwarven engines a substantial edge for two entire rounds.

Credit for the art goes to Todor Hristov, found on Artstation.

Sea'ala

Long ago in an age enshrouded in mist and myth, legends tell of a powerful Gwent archetype known as Harmony. In those ancient days, players could replay the Water of Brokilon card twice, placing 4 engines on the board in a single turn. Though this technique has been lost to time, there are still those who dream of a return of Harmony–and with it, Scoia’tael–to its rightful place at tier 1.

Sea’ala supports harmony by allowing human and elf units to trigger harmony and then become harmony engines themselves, thus paving the way for more harmony triggers down the road. She’s designed to support Harmony in a manner analogous to the way Koschey supports thrive. Interestingly, Sea’ala would allow Deadeye Ambush to become a Harmony leader, as the spawned elves can be transformed into Dryad Fledglings.

The original source for the art is here, on Artstation.

Radegast

Skellige cards are typically divided between druid-themed alchemy cards and damage-oriented warrior cards. For the most part, the two archetypes rarely meet in the middle. After all, druids are mainly focused on boost and healing, while warriors deal pure damage. CDPR has made some attempt to unite the two archetypes with the recent rain package, but this card takes it a step further by encouraging players to play two different types of specials in their decks.

Radegast rewards players for including both raids and alchemy cards in their deck. By playing a single raid followed by several alchemy cards, players can generate significant carryover and maintain a presence through multiple rounds. Radegast’s ceiling is quite high, but he requires a significant deckbuilding commitment to reach his full value.

The original source for the art appears to be DeviantArt.

Borch Three Jackdaws

Introduced in Andrzej Sapkowski’s short story The Bounds of Reason, Borch Three Jackdaws was the name used by Villentretenmerth while in human form. His true form, it was revealed, was that of a mighty golden dragon. It was only when this form was revealed that Geralt understood why Vea had called him “the most beautiful”.

Borch was known for his female companions Tea and Vea–who he referred to as his “weapons”. I think that Borch truly deserves a dedicated card, just like his daughter Saesenthessis. After all, he’s one of the only golden dragons in the entire witcher universe, alongside Zerrikanterment.

The version of Borch showcased here allows you to tutor the highest provision cost unit from your deck, while adding an additional 6 points of tempo to the play. Obviously the downside to this play is that it requires an enemy unit of 2 or less strength, which may not be easy to obtain. I almost made it say “highest card” but that would end up making the card merely a tutor for Oneiromancy, which isn’t what I intended.

The art here is by Nastya Kulakovskaya, from Artstation.

Guide – Power Shift

This article is part of a Bandit Gang series covering the many different seasonal modes with brief descriptions, strategies, and deck ideas. Not every deck will always be up to date, given the weekly rotation. Instead, we will display the date of creation, so that you can retrace what may have changed in the game since then. Feel free to adjust the decks with new cards or old cards that you like better, and have fun! – MAIN PAGE

At the start of the match, set the power of every unit in your starting deck to its provision cost.

In the Season of the Griffin, the seasonal mode called Power Shift was introduced. The rules that it offers are rather simple and the main effect is a shift in the balancing of the cards that you can use. There are cards that exceed their provision cost in strength and have a little effect or a drawback for this, so these cards shouldn’t be played here. And then there are cards that have a base strength way below their provision costs and a strong ability instead. These are the ones that you should consider while building your deck. That includes a lot of neutral cards like Sunset Wanderers, Roach, Knickers, Vivienne: Oriole, Gascon, Saer Qu’an, Witcher Trio, and many more. You can always include those as fillers according to the provisions that are available. The high supply in viable neutral cards allows for functional decks with very few synergies, if you want to go for that.

But faction specific strategies and cards are making a difference as well, of course. Monsters can utilize the higher base strength well for consume decks. The good cards for this used to be Detlaff: Higher Vampire, Ruehin or even the old Ciri: Nova. I guess nowadays it just would be Viy. Nilfgaard, Syndicate, and Scoia’tael should be able to gain good bronze value with poison cards, and each of these factions will also find high value gold cards. And I’m sure that there’s also something for Northern Realms and Skellige as well, such as decks with witcher synergies, for example. But when you go and create your own lists, keep in mind that the altered strength only applies to the units in your starting deck. Anything that you spawn or create will have its original base power.

In a short time, I’ve built a nice Tactical Decision list that thins very well and makes Rience exceptionally powerful. Other decks may follow soon.

Skill beats Luck Ep. 1 – SuperSpock9000 and the TLG Invitational II

Introduction

Skill beats luck“, a quote we are all familiar with, describes the basic idea of competitive Gwent. I guess we would all agree that this might not be the case in every situation…but surely being able to play Gwent at a high level helps on ladder and in tournaments. 

In this series, we want to talk with some of Bandit Gang’s Pro and Academy Players about their experience and thoughts of recent events they took part in. For episode one, I had the chance to talk with SuperSpock9000, who not only played in the last top 64 qualifiers in June, but managed to secure himself a spot in the top 16 playoffs in the TLG Invivational II. So let’s have a look at the player, the event, and what he has to say!

Meet the Player: SuperSpock9000

Name: Nick

Age: 23

Hobbies: Gwent, Yu-Gi-Oh, Running

Section: Pro Team

Favorite Faction: Scoiat’ael

Favorite Card: Cintrian Envoy

About the Event - The TLG Invitational II

The TLG Invitational is one of the biggest community tournaments in Gwent right now. Organised by Team Leviathan Gaming, the best players and competitive teams face each other to fight for a $1,000 price pool. To take part in the event, you either have to be invited, which means being a pro of one of the known Gwent teams, or have a decent reputation in the community. The other way is to make it to the top 16 in one of the qualifier events, which SuperSpock9000 managed to achieve in qualifier #2 in March.

The first part of the tournament will be a two-day-long swiss phase, which was just played last weekend, July 10th-11th. The second part is the top 16 playoff event, which will take place on July 31st – August 1st. If you want to learn more about this event, check out their homepage.

The Interview

Sawyer: What motivated you to take part in this event?

SuperSpock9000: Nothing in particular. I think I just wanted to play in a big Gwent event and see what I can do.

How did you prepare for this event compared to, for example, the top 64 qualifiers last month?

This time, I tried a more chillexd approach to prepare, if you can say it like this. I looked at the current meta, looked at what’s good and efficient right now and just went with it. I saw what Pajabol and the other pros were playing, tried out a couple of games on ladder before and this was it. I didn’t feel the need to come up with some spicy teched stuff like I did for the top 64 qualifier.

So you would say it was a different approach and experience to prepare for a community event and not for an “official” event?

Well, the skill level of the participating players in the Invitationals is still very high, of course. But you don’t have to grind as hard for it to qualify. I think playing a huge amount of games can be pretty exhausting, which I experienced when I went for a top 64 spot. And this kind of exhaustion carried over into the next season and also my preparation for the qualifiers. I prepped almost every day, but for the future I definitely will go with a more chilled preparation again.

Playing in events like this, how do you feel? How do you keep your focus?

To be honest, there is a lot of anxiety. You feel the pressure and try to perform at your best.  For me, it was the first tournament after the top 64 qualifiers in such a competitive environment, so I was a bit nervous. I tried to listen to some music while I played, but I am not sure if this helped me to focus or not. You just have to gain confidence during your preparation, know your lineup well, and believe in your own abilities. 

Can you give us an example? Maybe a certain situation where you can sketch the differences between ladder and tournaments?

On ladder, I sometimes lack the necessary efficiency. Coinflips, matchups, card draws, everything can be against you. But in open decklist tournaments, I spent more time thinking about my plays and proper sequencing. I can reflect on the value of my resources a bit more. In a tournament setting, I try to allocate each card for a certain purpose, while also keeping in mind to be flexible in certain situations. 

How was the overall experience for you with the organisation? Do you like the tournament format or do you prefer leagues?

I don’t have much to complain about. TLG and everyone in general do the best they can to make these events work. It is always a cool opportunity to maybe be seen on stream, get into the spotlight, etc.

Sometimes, I wish the match process would go more smoothly. Because of the deck discussions,  it can often take a while before the next round starts. A long day can be exhausting. 

Personally, I prefer events on the weekends. I also don’t really like a week-by-week thing which you have to adapt your schedule to, but maybe in the future. 

You managed to secure a spot in the top 16 and went 6-1: congratulations! So what is your plan until the playoffs in a few weeks?

Thank you! I kinda want to work on my ladder efficency a bit more and increase my winrate. Also the last time the meta changed at the end of the month, so I will analyse what’s going on and keep my eyes and ears open for last minute changes and eventual meta shifts. 

Do you have any final advice for our readers who might be interested in taking part in such events themselves?

Just do them. Make the experience yourself. In Gwent, you learn by doing, so you have to overcome your competitive anxiety at some point. 
I can also recommend to record your games, to ensure you learn and take something out of it, if you want to improve. Your mistakes shine when you lose but you don’t think about them as much if you win. 

Alright, thanks for taking part in the interview. I wish you good luck and also good fortune in the wars to come!

Thanks, I will try my best. Cya!

Guide – Banished

This article is part of a Bandit Gang series, covering the many different seasonal modes with brief descriptions, strategies, and deck ideas. Not every deck will be up to date, given the weekly rotation. Instead, we will display the date of creation, so that you can retrace what may have changed in the game since then. Feel free to adjust the decks with new cards or old cards that you like better and have fun! – MAIN PAGE

After the mulligan phase, banish both players’ decks. Whenever a card appears in any deck, banish it.

The Banished seasonal mode came to the game as the second mode in the Season of the Bear. It somewhat throws you back to open beta, where you were able to just drypass in round one without any severe penalty. But while the banished deck allows you to pass anytime you want, you also rely solely on the cards that you draw in round one.

To assist with this, you need to cut all the tutors that usually give your deck the desired consistency and instead make sure that you can somehow utilize all the cards on their own. That means a relatively even distribution of provisions among all units is recommended, unless you are particularly lucky. Thus, I would say that decks built around Ciri: Nova should be pretty okay here in general, especially since carryover is more powerful in short rounds. And the last round can be really short, because of no redraws.

As we know, there’s one faction in particular that has a lot of deck interaction, and that is Nilfgaard. While some cards like Kolgrim or all kinds of Viper Witchers would be fairly pointless, there are some cards that lose their drawback entirely, such as Tibor Eggebracht, Vilgefortz, or Imperial Golem. This alone makes Nilfgaard a very popular faction in this seasonal mode. I built a deck that reflects many aspects of this mode and also targets the mirror match pretty hard, so it’s a good one to start with. I’m not yet sure if other factions can keep up with Nilfgaard here, but let’s see… maybe there’s more to come.

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #3

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.

Stealth Archer

Guerilla forces know they would be decimated if they met their foes on the open battlefield. For this reason, they remain hidden anywhere nature presents cover – behind rocks, in trees, or even buried among the very leaves on the ground. Arrows whiz by seemingly out of nowhere, picking off the enemy one by one.

This card expands upon the concept of invisibility, and cannot be answered by the opponent for 2 turns unless it is pinged. It’s a fairly powerful engine that can reach its ceiling of roughly 12 points much more quickly than most other cards of this type. The downside, however, is that it is quite fragile and its initial tempo is poor.

Credit for the art goes to Jack Wang. Original art is available on Artstation here.

Khagmar: Bloodlust

Driven by his unquenchable thirst for human blood, Khagmar would harvest entire villages of humans in a single night. Yet the terror he inspired came back to haunt him, as the humans began an organized campaign of hunting vampires. Though not a direct threat, other higher vampires became annoyed and determined to punish Khagmar by tormenting him with perpetual hunger. Khagmar spent years, decades, and then centuries trapped within a cage in Tesham Mutna, ever tormented by the scent of fresh human blood he could never obtain.

Many people have called for Khagmar to appear in Gwent, so I present to you Khagmar: Bloodlust. This card is an extremely greedy engine that can be countered in advance by not playing units to both rows. Though threatening, Khagmar needs to drain 4 units on the turn he is played to escape from standard removal range, and drain 5 units to pay back his provisions. Once he sticks, however, he becomes an extremely aggressive and dangerous engine. Woe betide the opponent who has no answer!

Credit for the art goes to LoranDeSore, and the original source is here.

Wild Goose Chase

This card provides SY with high-tempo tall punish, but there’s a catch. Wild Goose Chase requires you to boost one of your own units, which gives the opponent a chance to answer with tall punish of their own. To help the card compare favorably with cards such as Heatwave, I added the echo tag. Overall, I think it’s a strong card, but it’s not a substitute for cards like Morelse or Heatwave.

Truly, non-removal tall punish is a concept that CDPR could explore more fully, especially for devotion decks. Non-removal tall punish requires more careful thought regarding its use, and is less oppressive against Blue coin.

Credit for the art goes to Rudy Siswanto, whose art I also used for the card Ilya the Merc in last week’s custom card series.

Red Widow

Many people are frustrated with clog and its ability to completely disrupt their gameplan. Quite a few have suggested that clog could shuffle cards into the deck instead of placing them on top. I’m not completely against this idea, but if this plan is executed then Kolgrim players need better ways to play cards like Infiltrator. I’ve experimented with Infiltrator quite a bit and my experience is that the card simply isn’t worth it.

This card addresses the above issue by allowing the player to deal 6 targeted damage and spawn up to 3 Infiltrators. With the proper setup, it can play for 21 points, which is a lot but not unreasonable for a 13 provision card. Without setup, Red Widow plays as a 13-for-13 card with substantial removal potential. A solid card, but not overpowered. Her real potential lies in synergy with tactics engines like Hefty Helge and Fire Scorpion.

One issue with the card is that Infiltrators should ideally be played in round 1, yet it’s usually not ideal to play 13-provision cards this early in the game. Personally, I don’t believe that every card needs to be perfect in every situation. I see this card as extremely strong when pushing a round 2 bleed or attempting to win on even under redcoin.

Original art can be found here.

Boarding Party

Arrrrrrr me matey, I spy a ship on yon horizon! And a piratey expansion for Skellige! Arrr, maybe!

This card’s got a little bit of it all: pirates, rain, bleeding, ship synergy, and even seizing that sweet booty. Until now, Seize has remained in the territory of Nilfgaard and Syndicate, but I think that it would find a welcome home within the budding pirate archetype of Skellige.

Skellige’s reliable access to cheap and efficient damage should ensure that the last stage of the scenario rarely bricks. While Nilfgaard often struggles to find targets for 3-power seize cards such as Amnesty and Sweers, I wager that Skellige would actually make highly effective use of such a mechanic.

Credit for the art goes to Shen Fei. Here’s his Artstation.

Ancient Sarcophagus

This card supports bronze deathwish cards by allowing a single bronze deathwish unit to be triggered multiple times. The ability mainly synergizes with cards like Harpy Egg and Rotfiend, but not so much with cards like Nightwraith and Endrega Eggs, which would merely clog the board. It also makes it more difficult for bronze cards like Slyzard to be removed, as it summons them back to the board.

This card is also a potential Heatwave target. Although it almost always trades down with Heatwave, it might still be worth it. Deciding whether to heatwave something that will trade down is the type of decision that makes Gwent so interesting.

I should also point out that the card synergizes unbelievably well with Glustyworp, which can be used to consume all the 1-power targets at once. Just thinking about such a chad move has me hyped for this card.

Credit to the original artist (Anton Fedotov) is here.

Pogrom

Paranoia. Fear. Suspicion. Blame. These are the hallmarks of a society that is on the verge of breakdown. Torches and pitchforks are raised, accusations hurled. Soon, homes are invaded, men are trampled and burnt at stake, and law and order no longer represent justice but rather the will of the bloodthirsty mob. This is the nightmare scenario with which wizards, witches and members of the Scoia’tael in and around Novigrad have become all too familiar.

This scenario would add massive support for the Witch Hunter and Bounty archetype. In particular, this scenario allows for back-to-back same turn removals with Bounty. Witch Hunter Executioner is the ideal trigger for the first stage, as the bounty can be applied and cashed in on the same turn very easily. For the next stage, any witch hunter that applies bounty can allow for instant 6-point removal. Brutal!

Unfortunately, I was unable to find the original art source for this card.

Through the Thorns of Top-64 Qualifiers to GWENT Open. Part 3

Written by renova- and Sawyer1888. Edited by Weevil89

Introduction

OPEN#2 comes closer each day and the tention is rising. Who will book the second ticket for the GWENT World Masters Season 3 and join Tailbot? This time, besides kams134, Redrame,  and wangid2021, five people from the CIS community (Commonwealth of Independent States) could qualify for this event: Akela114, BigKukuRUzina35 (iluxa228), Ch.aseNik_r and Sif_Great_Wolf.  Four of them were interviewed in the two previous articles, which you can find in part 1 here and part 2 here

For all who read the previous articles, welcome back dear readers, but also thanks for everyone new who is joining us today! 

After we talked in the interviews before about deckbuilding processes, tournament preparation, and in-game decisions and choices, we want to take a closer look now on how the meta has shifted in recent months. While the first qualifiers of the Season of the Bear took place in April, the qualifiers of the Season of the Elf were played in May. Since then, the first set of new cards from the Price of Power expansion released, many of which made a huge impact on certain decks, while also providing new options for some factions as a whole, such as example Northern Realms. 

In this part, we want to evaluate some statistics from these qualifiers and compare them with this month’s qualifiers, which will represent the tournament meta for the upcoming OPEN#2. 

Shortcut

For people who are not strongly involved in the competitive scene, it is always a bit harder to reflect meta changes and how some cards can shape a whole faction. What we want to do is to analyze some statistics, take a look at some example decks, and try to figure out what key aspects have changed over the recent months. With this in mind, we will write a short note for some factions, and more detailed explanations for others. We will also cover some niche archetypes and strategies, but to remain concise we have not included everything.

Finally, we will only focus on the decks and data from Day 2 of each top 64 qualifier, to provide more targeted and detailed insights. 

Cards and Decks - Season of the Bear

As we all know, discussing the meta in any given season can be confusing. Although a player might qualify for an event during the Season of the Bear, the event might not happen until the following season (the Season of the Elf).

To make things easier, we will stick to the simple rule that whenever we refer to a certain meta, it is always named after the qualifier. So the Season of the Bear qualifier, for example, would be the Season of the Bear meta.  

The Season of the Bear qualifiers was clearly shaped by the dominance of Syndicate’s Lined Pockets, which was brought by every single participant on day 2. A variant of the so-called “Chinese Metabreaker” was also chosen for Nilfgaard by almost every player, as well, except by the eventual winner of the losers bracket BigKukuRUzina35.

In the following pictures, you can see what all the participants brought, while here you can remind yourself of what the brackets looked like.

If you compare all these decks, you can find some interesting clues on what kinds of strategies the players tried to employ.

Every player took at least one swarm deck in the form of Monsters’ Arachas Queen or Scoia’tael’s Deadeye Ambush. Many also brought Carapace (Keltullis) to the tournament, but you will never find both of these archetypes in one line-up. The only player who brought neither was Leks72. 

The decks these players brought also gave us some insights into the lengthy process of preparing for a tournament and the kinds of questions they asked themselves. Do you want to tech against certain factions? What if your opponent does not bring what you hoped? Do you want to bring certain decks which are stronger on a specific coin, like Uprising Witchers Northern Realms? Maybe you want to bring a deck which you think will be banned all the time, to bait it. Or do you just think outside the box and try a totally different approach? 

All these questions have to be considered while preparing for day 1 and day 2 of a tournament. We talked about what this process could look like in our recent articles, where all of the interviewed players followed different approaches. 

Energiix, for example, decided to bring Geralt: Yrden in all of his decks except for Nilfgaard, while Tailbot was the only player who chose Imprisonment instead of Double Cross as his leader ability for NG. Imprisonment has since become far more popular due to its frequent appearance in the Season of the Elf qualifier, and also in the most recent qualifiers for OPEN#3.

Beyond this, you can also spot once-off tech cards for specific matchups all over the place, like Forktail, Crushing Trap or Whoreson Junior to counter swarm.

If you take a closer look on the infographic below, created by Dream and Mettie, you can see how the idea of teching against a faction (or avoiding it) plays out. Even though Syndicate was so oppressive and used by everyone, it was only banned four times. Instead, people decided to ban the famous Blaze of Glory + Eist Tuirseach combo and Arachas Swarm, which can be tough matchups for every faction. This is rather interesting because most players’ line-ups were prepared to face Arachas Swarm

On the other hand, banning it could be the right decision, as Arachas Swarm had the highest winrate (78.57%), with 14 games played in total. Alongside that, everyone expected their opponents to play Syndicate, so everyone was prepared which resulted in a low banrate and also a low winrate (39.39%).

In conclusion, you could say for the top 64 qualifiers that everyone followed a specific gameplan, while only two could secure their ticket: Akela114 and BigKukuRUzina35.  Both of them made interesting deck decisions, which kind of looked like fortune telling, by including cards like Professor or Whoreson Junior in SY, or deciding to bring the unique Portal version of Arachas Swarm (Akela114).


Maybe these small card decisions led them to victory and paid of in the end, giving them an advantage in certain matchups.

Next, let’s now take a look at the second top 64 qualifiers for OPEN#2, the qualifiers of the Season of the Elf. 

Cards and Decks - Season of the Elf

While in the Season of the Bear qualifiers everyone brought Lined Pockets for SY, in the Season of the Elf focus shifted towards Pirate’s Cove. With its recent change to two charges and with the buff to the Borsodi Brothers to become more effective spenders, it proved to be one of the strongest and most flexible decks of the season.

Also, you might have noticed that, compared to the previous top 64 qualifiers, this time only eight people decided to bring NG, but twelve people took ST in form of singleton Elves or Nature’s Gift Devotion, which are generally considered as viable NG techs. So here you can see how the dominance of NG during the time before this qualifier shaped the open decklists decisions to tech against it.

As before, you can see all decks in the infographic below and all of the bracket information here.

When giving these decks a more detailed look, you can see how differently certain factions are now represented compared with the previous month. First, not a single person brought Arachas Swarm and only Ryazanov13 trusted in Carapace Keltullis again. Instead, Overwhelming Hunger (Viy) seemed to be the way to go in this qualifiers event for MO. 

It is also interesting to see that, with the leader changes to Reckless Flurry and the buffed discard package, a new Skellige archetype appeared during this qualifier. 

As with the previous qualifier, players included tech cards often to give them an edge in certain matchups. Analyzing the decks of some CIS players like Ch.ase, Nik_r and also Ryazonov13, you might notice some of these unique inclusions.

While everyone relied on Lambert: Swordmaster in their SK list to tech against elves, Nik_r decided to bring two additional tall removal cards in the form of Geralt of Rivia and Prince Anséis in his NR list. He was also playing Artefact Compression in SK and Tavern Brawl in his Syndicate list. All of these cards make the matchup against Viy much easier. On the other hand, Ryazanov13 was the only one who played Carapace and Shieldwall, not sticking with the combination which brought him to the previous losers final.

If you compare this with the analysis of the last top 64 qualifier you can see that small tweaks to adapt to their opponents’ strategies turned out to be very successful.

Comparing the statistics below with the ones from the last qualifier, you can see how much the banrate of SY increased. And, if not banned, it dominated with a 75% winrate over all other factions. A safe pick for blue coin seemed to be SK Reckless Flurry, which had a solid 66,67% winrate on blue coin in nine games, but struggled on red coin, where it only won 36,36% of games.  
Otherwise, all factions seemed to be pretty balanced in their matchups and winrates, while again the teched line-ups against Deadeye Ambush kept it under a 40% winrate in total. 

Reflecting on both top 64 qualifiers so far, you can see that some original thinking can give you the upper hand in certain matchups, but you still need to remember to tech against the most dominant decks. 

In our final analysis, let’s see how the ban procedure plays out and what factions and archetypes were played after the Price of Power expansion hit the circuit. 

Cards and Decks - Season of the Viper/Price of Power

With the Price of Power expansion, some leaders like SY Jackpot were changed, buffing the faction even more. With a small influx of new cards, each faction was also provided with some new tools to play with.

NG got some impressive consistency cards like Dead Man’s Tongue, while SY was blessed with the long-awaited bounty package, including Witchfinder. NR got a huge rework, making Siege, Pincer Maneuver, and Patience a powerful archetype. MO got some new strong relicts for pointslam, while ST could make use of some new support for special cards (particularly useful for a Harald Gord deck). Only SK, with its new druids, seemed a bit underwhelming, so it relied more on neutral cards to remain competitive.

If you are interested in what the players brought to day 2 in the top 64 qualifiers of the Season of the Viper, you can check them out here

Compared to what we saw in the previous two qualifiers, this time the impact of the new expansion was quite noticeable. Almost every faction played included some of the new cards or reworked and buffed versions of other cards. 

As with the last qualifiers, every player brought SY, which was banned almost every time. This once more demonstrates the strength and pure dominance of this faction. Alongside SY, SK Reckless Flurry seemed to be a very strong pick, with everyone but one_two12 bringing it along (he instead brought Devotion Warriors). Cards like Korathi Heatwave, Junod of Belhaven or Hjalmar an Craite were often included, as well as some other unique techs, like Portal, Madoc or even Geralt of Rivia

It is really difficult here to see a pattern, as all the players decided to bring some sort of unique line-ups. Force of Nature with relicts, Pincer Maneuver or even Inspired Zeal Siege, Imprisonment Masquerade Ball. Each deck has its good and bad matchups, but in the end players seemed to favor tall removal, such as Hjalmar an Craite, thinning in form of Blightmaker or simpler value cards like Gerhart of Aelle. 

You might also notice the distinct lack of ST decks, even though Natures Gift and Deadeye Ambush always seemed a decent choice for open decklists. For this event, only Forever_Tabaki brought a non-devotion list, together with CintrianLions Precision Strike.

It is interesting that the eventual winner, Truzky, didn’t bring NG at all and was the only one playing a control heavy Arachas Swarm deck, which proved to be the winning strategy. 

As you can see, the following statistics look a bit different from the previous ones. This time, with some help from Bomblin, I had to design something on the fly myself. Forgive me if certain things are not optimally readable, as I am no expert in this, but if you resize the page it should do the trick. 

So if you take a look you can see again a very strong banrate for SY, which was only allowed to be played three times in total. On the other hand, you can see that except for SY, NR and NG only received one or two bans, while SK, MO and ST were never banned at all. This doesn’t mean that these factions were considered weak or that they always provide decent matchups: it just shows the oppressive and dominant state of SY once again.

6th Quali to Gwent Open 3 Season 3

It is also worth noticing that for SK and NG, only one leader ability was brought for each: Reckless Flurry and Imprisonment. They both ended up with solid winrates over 50%, while MO were able to sneak in a 41% winrate. ST, on the other hand, couldn’t manage to win a single game. 

So, what can we conclude from these data? Well, kind of the same as in the previous qualifiers. Unique deck decisions in this tournament, especially leader abilities, gave some players a decent advantage. Inspired Zeal and Arachas Swarm were only picked by a small amount of players, but those players all ended up in the top 3 (Spyro_ZA and the eventual qualifiers Truzky and Wangid2021).

Bananas, Coins, Dragons, Elves, Spiders and Warriors -
Shapes and Shifts of the Meta

Looking back on the last three top 64 qualifiers and the players’ deck decisions and matchups, it was interesting to bear witness to and analyze all these changes as they happened. The meta shifted not only because certain cards were buffed, nerfed, or changed, but also because new cards were added during the Price of Power expansion.  In the following part, we want to gather some thoughts on each faction and reflect on how they evolved during the last months. Keep in mind that this is only a general overview, and it does not claim to be complete or comprehensive.

The changes to Professor and Whoreson Junior as well as the buffs to Pirate’s Cove and Jackpot placed Syndicate as one of the strongest factions in the game. In addition to that, the Borsodi Brothers now function as spenders, which made the faction way more flexible. The new 12-provision gold card Witchfinder also allows SY to build a deck around bounty, which has proven to be a decent midrange control archetype. 

Over the past three months, SY evolved from a strong Lined Pockets crime list, to a flexible Pirate’s Cove midrange list, towards the new Jackpot bounty deck, which combines all of Syndicate’s greatest strengths. Whether due to the design of its cards or its use of coins, it seems clear that there is no middle ground for Syndicate. It is either too weak, or unreasonably strong.

Scoia’tael seems to function as a kind of “tech faction” these days. Elves were always a solid pick in open decklist events, as it can have many decent matchups, while often enough you pick Nature’s Gift to tech against Nilfgaard. There was also an argument to play control heavy Precision Strike or Trap decks.

  
The power of Nature’s Gift often shines in open decklist tournaments, which was shown in Masters Season#1, but nowadays people are trying non-devotion versions which include the new Elf Sorceress or the buffed Avallac’h. After the recent qualifiers, where ST wasn’t often played, we have to see what impact it will make in OPEN#2.

When it comes to Skellige, most of us think about some sort of warrior archetype. Supported by a solid discard package in form of the newly buffed Coral, it always had a decent amount of control, short round points and an impressive finisher with Eist Tuirseach + Blaze of Glory as a leader. 

Nowadays, we also witness some different approaches, including some witchers together with Reckless Flurry, to abuse Red coin and control their opponent’s board. But even after the addition of some new druids in the last expansion, Gedyneith as a scenario still seems underwhelming. SK also seems a bit weaker lately on ladder, because its bad matchups like NG or NR became even more powerful, while SK stayed mostly the same.

With the Uprising witcher archetype, NR became one of the strongest blue coin decks in the game, making it a solid choice for open decklists. Including Prince Anséis or Geralt of Rivia, it also provided some decent control, while easily being able to outtempo every faction, even when two cards down.

With the Price of Power expansion, we got many changes to charge-based cards, siege engines, and mages. Together with Pincer Maneuver as a leader which could always find their top golds, and supported by strong new cards like Gerhart of Aelle or the reworked Shani, it can be a threat to any faction. It is also able to abuse every coin with a tempo pass, playing the King Foltest + Dun Banner combo, making it (together with NG and SY) one of the strongest factions out there.

Monsters are the faction which you always kind of have to tech against or ban. Whether they decided to play Carapace Keltullis, Arachas Swarm or Overwhelming Hunger Viy, they always demanded certain tech considerations to be made. While some factions had a decent chance to win, other matchups, like Blaze of Glory warriors vs. Viy resulted almost in an auto-loss.

With the addition of the new relict cards and the change to Endrega Larva, it highly buffed the pointslam potential of the faction, including Koschey decks, for example. With some non-devotion cards like Korathi Heatwave or Dorregaray of Vole, it has answers to some engines and can be quite strong in an open decklist format.  That doesn’t mean we won’t see swarm or Kelly in the future, because these decks are still solid as well.

Ard Feainn, for the Great Sun! While being bullied on ladder by some Kolgrim piles, right now Nilfgaard seems to be in one of its strongest periods for a long time. Even after they changed Masquerade Ball to not being triggered by disloyal units, it is still the best scenario out there. If we have learned anything it is that, regardless of the changes, if it is possible to create a functional scenario deck, players will find a way.

NG’s ability to control with its Imprisonment leader, its many removal cards and its skillful deck manipulation make it a serious threat to every deck out there.

The expansion included the new thinning mage package consisting of Blightmaker and Mage Assassin, supported by Dead Man’s Tongue. This allows you to contest every round easily, finding your key gold cards, while not losing any control power. A devastating mixture of tools and a blessing for every loyal Nilfgaardian on ladder or in tournaments, to be sure.

Conclusion and Outlook

After three articles, sadly all good things must come to an end. We interviewed some of the best inside the CIS community, talked about decision making and deckbuilding, while always keeping an eye on how to prepare for open decklist events. 

This weekend, July 3rd and 4th, OPEN#2 will take place and we want to wish all the participants good luck! They fought their way through different metas and tournaments to be able to maybe secure a ticket for the World Masters Season 3 at the end of the year. Cards which were dominant vanished, leader abilities changed and define the current meta, while the tournament client problems have remained the same.

We hope that you could gain some insight and experience while reading and that you have enjoyed our attempt to bring you closer to the competitive mindset. We are hugely grateful for everyone who joined us on this journey.

Special thanks again to Weevil89 for helping out with the editing! 

Wishing you all the best of luck in your ladder climbing – until next time! 

renova- and Sawyer1888