Gwent

Guide – Double Down

This article is part of a Bandit Gang series covering the many different seasonal modes, each 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

Whenever you play a unit from your hand, play a unit with the same provision cost from your deck. Your starting deck is doubled in size at the start of the match.

This one was once connected to the Season of the Elves, and it’s very rewarding for good deckbuilders. Double Down can be very random with the units that are being played from deck, so all units that share the same provisions should have similar or at least compatible purposes. And if this is done well, it enables quick engine setups, particular two-card-combos or strong finishing moves. Another thing that favors engines here is the fact that few special cards are being played. So effectively, there is less control around.

Now what are the options that you can play? Assimilate is an obvious choice, since half your cards are not in your “starting deck”, so they will trigger the mechanic. One thing to note here is that all the duplicates are non-premium cards. So if you play a deck with full premium cards, you can distinguish the assimilate triggers from the starting deck cards.

But this mode is more than just Nilfgaard. Northern Realms have great engines and Pincer Maneuver in combination with an early double Erland brings so much value. Monsters have a strong relict archetype and the crones are just awesome as a sixpack. Combine that with some quick thrive cards or maybe some rat clogging and you are good to go. And there is certainly much more, because all the greedy strategies are more likely to succeed. Have fun!

Through the Thorns of Top-64 Qualifiers to GWENT Open. Part 2

Written by renova- & Sawyer1888 and edited by Weevil89

Introduction

Welcome, dear readers, to part 2 of our “Through the Thorns of Top 64 Qualifiers to GWENT Open” series, and welcome in particular to our returning readers. In the first part, Akela114 and BigKukuRUzina35 offered their thoughts and impressions on their journey to GWENT OPEN#2. If you missed out and would like to read more about it, you can catch up here

This time, we want to take a closer look at Team Phoenix player Ch.ase and GwentDetta representative Nik_r, who both secured their spots in the upcoming Open#2 in the second qualifiers of the Season of the Elf in May.  

Season of the Elf 2nd Qualifiers Winners Interview

A Short Recap

As with the first article, we will go through different sets of questions with the players. The first set deals with general information and some background facts about them. In the second set, we will discuss deckbuilding strategies and the mentality behind certain in-game decisions. The article will conclude with some final advice from the pro players and their general outlook on the game. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it. 

During my (renova-) talk with Ch.ase and Nik_r, the winners of the top 64 qualifier of the Season of he Elf, I spotted some similarities but also some differences between this and my first interview series. Before talking to Akela114 and BigKukuRUzina35, I wanted to find out how pro players prepared for the qualifiers and how they approached decision making in high-stakes games.

To refresh your memory, you can watch the VOD of the official cast of the finals on LionHart’s YouTube channel below:
Winners bracket final Ch.ase vs. Nik_r and Losers bracket final Nik_r vs. Ryazanov13

You can also find all decklists from Day 1 here and the Decks and bracket from Day 2 here

In light of what we learned in part 1, your task for today is to dive back into the Season of the Elf and its meta in an effort to learn more about the deckbuilding strategies, in-game decision making skills, and personalities of these two stars from the CIS community. 

Meet the Qualified Player: Ch.ase

Name: Vitaliy

Age: 21

City: Smolensk

 

Hobbies: Gwent

Favorite Faction: Syndicate

Favorite Card: Morkvarg: Heart of Terror

Meet the Qualified Player: Nik_r

Name: Nikita

Age: 33

City: Kerc/Krasnodar

Hobbies: Business, Gwent, and a Comfortable Couch 🙂

Favorite Faction: Nilfgaard

Favorite Card: Ferko the Sculptor

Chapter 1: General Questions

The first set of questions is devoted to impressions of the previous meta, the tournament, and Gwent in general.

How and when did you get to know Gwent?

Ch.ase: With the help of The Witcher 3. Then I accidentally found out that there is a separate Gwent game and started playing it a little.

Nik_rAs with many others, in the The Witcher 3. I really liked this game. I completed all the quests and unlocked all the achievements. And then I was looking for add-ons for the game and came across an independent Gwent game in the recommendations. I downloaded, installed it and started loving it even more 🙂 Since the days of OBT [Open Beta Test], I’ve been here.

How did you end up playing Gwent competitively at a professional level?

C: It happened during Open Beta. Initially, when the first season of Gwent Masters had just begun, I did not have any set goals for myself and played regular Ranked ladder where there was a cosmetics grind (earlier Pro ladder was a separate one). Later, when Midwinter came with a stagnation in Gwent, I thought more about this question and somehow just decided to devote more time to Gwent and progress to the Pro ladder from the regular Ranked.

N: It wasn’t a deliberate decision. Moreover, I still do not consider myself an e-sportsman and do not set specific goals of getting into tournaments. I play in qualifier events more as a streamer than as a professional player, and I usually do it without delay. Both times, when I got to the Open, my streams were called something like “losing 0:3 and going to rest”. But it turned out a little differently 🙂

What approach do you use to practice on ladder and to get to the top?

C: I don’t have any particular approach. I just play when I want to and that’s it.

N: It is very difficult, I am an old grump. Many decks I absolutely do not like and even if they are very strong, I will never play them. Viy, Kolgrim, and current versions of Jackpot are the latest examples. Of course, it often interferes with me.

How did you assess the state of the Season of the Elf meta (during which you qualified)?

C: The meta was really bad. First, there was a tier-1 Syndicate deck that simply did not have any bad matchups and completely dominated, and which anyone could use to reach 2600 mmr with minimal effort. Next, there was Skellige, which I liked due to the high-roll nature of its discard mechanics.  Everyone refused to add Blood Eagle to their decks because of its low point output, although for me it was a more reliable build. In the end, the winners were the ones who found all of their discard cards in round 1, since in round 3 it could ruin everything if you didn’t find them right away.

N: Better than now. There were six playable and almost equal factions, as shown by the players who qualified. Now the situation has changed and we are back to the times when there are two way too strong factions, one is very strong and the remaining three are extremely weak (in my personal opinion, of course). This greatly affects my interest in the game, including in watching tournaments, because I know in advance what the majority of players will take to a best of three (BO3).

How do you usually prepare for qualifications?

C: I basically don’t prepare for the first day of top-64 qualifiers and tend to just take strong decks. For top-16, I have already sorted out matchups, and I also play practice sessions with teammates if I need to.

N: It depends on my mood. Usually, I just take what I like and what I can play on, so that both the viewers and I have fun during the stream 🙂

What role does the team play in your Gwent life?

C: I would not say that the team acts for me primarily as a Gwent assistant. For me, many teammates have already become good friends with whom it is simply interesting to communicate on general topics. They are also highly skilled at Gwent and can help if needed.

N: A very large one. I am happy that I ended up in GwentDetta and have the opportunity to communicate with such wonderful guys every day. Without them, of course, nothing would have happened. But there is also a big problem: I worry much more about other people’s results than about my own. When I beat Ryazanov13 in the qualifying finals, I was very upset. I think it was visible on the stream as well. And after Gwent Masters with the participation of magpie131, I did not enter the game for four days. It was the worst moment for me in all my time playing Gwent.

How is the deck selection going before any tournament?

C: It all depends on the meta.

N: As mentioned earlier, I usually take what I like. But often I adapt decks for a certain idea, depending on what my favorable matchups are.

What is the difference between the approach to deck chooding on the first and second days of the top-64 qualifiers?

C: On the first day, I just take the strongest decks. On the second day, I bring decks which counter my opponent’s strategies, if such decks exist. If not, then I just take the decks that are the most fun to play with.

N: As a general rule, on the first day everyone takes the strongest decks. There are very few tactical moments and a lot is decided by chance in BO3. But on the second day, you have to think, since there are many more strategies and there is an opportunity to come up with something interesting in a best of five (BO5).

Do you think you have any weaknesses when it comes to Gwent?

C: Very often I play too quickly because of overconfidence, and it makes me miss or overlook important interactions.

N: Oh, there are a lot of them. I am prone to tilt, I am a very adventurous person myself and at the same time quite stubborn. Even if it is obvious to me that my deck is not working, I will continue to suffer playing it, falling lower and lower. And then, heroically, I will pull myself from the bottom like Baron Munchausen 🙂

Are there any players who inspire you in one way or another?

C: During the 2nd season of Gwent Masters, it was Demarcation. It was always interesting for me to see how he played in tournaments, and in the ladder it was interesting for me to play against him. Now there are probably none.

N: First of all, there are my teammates. I would also highlight Redrame, Pajabol, and Gravesh. It’s a pity that Gravesh began to play much less and streams less often –  as for me, his streams were the best in the entire history of Gwent 🙂

Chapter 2: Personal Questions

In this part of the article, we will learn from the players what was behind their choice of decks for the tournament, as well as analyze in detail with the interviewees several controversial or curious moments from a series where these players faced each other in the final stage of the qualifiers. 

Deckbuilding: Ch.ase

You can find Ch.ase’s decks by clicking the factions buttons

Against which matchups did you use Crushing and Serpent Traps with Hattori in the Scoia’tael deck?

C: Keltullis and Scoia’tael mirror matches.

What do you think of the other build with the Great Oak in this tournament? Is it too expensive for a deck that already has a problem with the number of gold cards?

C: I didn’t like The Great Oak. This card without an idea built around it just plays for points. In my build, there was a greater sense of purpose. The build with Ele’yas and Toruviel was also good.

How did you come up Lined Pockets ability after Pirate’s Cove performed so well in the Top 16 qualifiers?

C: I wasn’t the only one who chose Lined Pockets. This ability did not have any bad matchups, but only became stronger and could calmly win against Pirate’s Cove in a long round. I think people started playing Pirate’s Cove just to try something new.

Nilfgaard’s deck with Menno was pretty popular, but does he justify his provision cost? You included Artorius in this slot, so how was he helpful?

C: To pull out the dogs or roll a spy similar to Braathens. He also made it possible sometimes to play two engines in a single turn.

Have you strengthened the decks in any way for mirrors?

C: As mentioned above about Scoia’tael, I added 2 Crushing Traps.

Deckbuilding: Nik_r

You can find Nik_r’s decks by clicking the factions buttons

On the first day of qualifications, you took elves with Radeyah as one of the three decks, but on the second day you left Scoia’tael behind. What was behind this decision?

N: On the first day, it became clear that many people had chosen the elves as their prey. I was afraid of this even before the qualifiers and wanted to take NR witchers, but still decided to take a chance which, sadly, did not pay off. On the second day, I decided to act differently and take decks that had favorable matchups against Monsters and any anti-elf decks. As a result, my first opponent, Freddybabes, took a lineup that simply destroys the elves. If I had brought them, my path to Open would have been very short 🙂

In recent seasons, Imprisonment has gained more and more popularity for Nilfgaard. How has the good old Double Cross performed, especially in factional mirror matches?

N: I like Double Cross, since it forces the opponent to make bad decisions. To play around it, my opponent has to play stronger cards much earlier than he/she wants. But in mirrors, this ability can be problematic as you just don’t have enough space on the board to play all your cards.

 

Why did you decide not to add dog thinning to the Nilfgaard deck?

N: To be honest, I don’t remember anymore 🙂 I like this thinning, but I guess the other cards seemed more important to me.

What did you add Artefact Compression for in the Skellige deck?

N: It seemed to me that Artefact Compression is more interesting than Spores: it can optionally play as another lock, if necessary. Given that I wanted to play against Monsters first, that made sense. And against Nilfgaard as well, if Joachim pulls out some kind of engine, it looks tempting to reset and block it at the same time 🙂

Most often, in Northern Realms witchers’ decks, we can see only one tall removal. Why did you decide to play both Prince Anséis and Geralt of Rivia at the same time? And why did you give up on Keldar?

N: Prince Anséis and Geralt of Rivia make matches against Keltullis much easier, and also increase the chances of winning against Viy. Since I did not plan to ban Nilfgaard, against which Keldar is less useful, the it was an easy decision to cut him.

Games: Ch.ase

Ch.ase vs Nik_r

How did you plan the game for the blue/red coins?

C: Scoia’tael has always been for the Red coin, since on the Blue one they are simply unplayable against any matchups. For the rest of the decks, I was repelled by the opponent’s decks and thought carefully about what he would choose.

What was your game plan for a Nilfgaard mirror match? In general, how should you play such a matchup?

С: Nilfgaard mirrors are a bit silly 🙂 In that meta, having last say was decisive as there was basically only one uninteractive card (Yennefer’s Invocation), sometimes two (Coup de Grace into Emissary). Now Vincent and Dead Man’s Tongue emerged and this is not that important anymore. In general, it is often more profitable to counter an opponent’s engines than to spam the board.

In the elven match against witchers, you played Oneiromancy quite early, abandoning the opportunity to play Feign Death in the second round. Did you take the risk on purpose or didnt you see any chances for yourself in the short round 3 without scenario, even having card advantage?

C: Witchers do not pass even after seeing the scenario in such matchups, so it was more profitable for the opponent to just proceed to the third round with some carryover and bleed cards out of me in round 2. There was a Griffin Witcher Adept for 9 points and I decided to play a trap thereby blocking his Amphibious Assault and not letting him take round control. He also had Vesemir: Mentor in his hand, which he had not yet played, and was a low tempo move.

 

In the replay of this match, conversely, you gave up Feign Death pretty soon. Why? How can a player determine when it is better to give up a scenario to not risk losing 0-2 while managing resources effectively?

C: It depends on the situation. Sometimes you play the scenario so that your bronze cards just become tempo ones, so for the next round you keep gold cards and win with those. In some cases, however, you spend a scenario to force your opponent to pass because, for example, you have too many gold cards in your hand and you do not want him to push you.

 

Why did you decide to play with Oneiromancy for a dryad instead of some bronze elf to activate the scenario and prevent the need to spend an additional leader charge? Could it be possible to hit with the Trap not on a two-power unit, so as not to create a fifth elf to summon Aelirenn?

C: It was my mistake. I was looking for different options, but in the end I didn’t have enough time and played it in a hurry.

 

How do you decide whether to spend Korathi Heatwave on Masquerade Ball during the bleed while playing Reckless Flurry?

C: If the opponent plays the scenario right at the beginning of the second round, thereby trying to force you to go into a long third round, it is worth spending. If this happens on 3-4 cards, you can pass.

 

Were there any moments in this series in which you would have acted differently today?

C: I would like to fix the situations with Aelirenn and Vernossiel, when I could have cut my opponent’s value from a potential Lyrian Scytheman and if I played Nature’s Rebuke as my last card. In general, I played worse on Scoia’tael than on other factions, since I practiced with this deck only a little despite having many opportunities to do otherwise.

Games: Nik_r

Nik_r vs Ch.ase

How did you plan the game for the blue/red coins? 

N: I wanted to play the Nilfgaard mirror match right away, because I thought I had a good chance of winning. For the Blue coin, of course, I always planned to take witchers – this is the best matchup against elves. From there, I hoped that the score would be 2:0 and I would only have to win one out of three Skellige games 🙂

You lost all three times in this series against Nilfgaard. How did that happen?

N: There were a lot of mistakes. I played this series terribly and I am still ashamed 🙂

In general what was your strategy in the NG Mirror?

N: This is the strangest mirror match in Gwent. It is difficult to strategise, so you must always adapt to individual circumstances 🙂 Most importantly, try not to overswarm your side of the board or else you will have no space 🙂

Why did you decide to bleed Ch.ase in the second round?

N: I filled my board too easily, so the long round was very unpleasant for me. In general, bleeding looked like a good idea, because the opponent would always face a serious dilemma – to keep Masquerade Ball in hand and potentially give me the opportunity to play it with my leader, or play it early and go to the third round without it while I still have mine. Both of these scenarios were less than ideal for Ch.ase. But I did not find Masquerade Ball with my leader. Taking into account the fact that before that I made a bunch of mistakes – exposing Braathens to Coup de Grace, for example, – the game ended there.

And how did you decide whether to throw Coup de Grace at Braathens or at Joachim, thus losing points from the poison?

N: At that moment, I was already tilting quite hard and just wanted the game to end 🙂 So do not try to find logic in my moves – there wasn’t any 🙂

In the next match with your Northern Realms witchers, you went to bleed the elves realizing that, most likely, you would not recover your card advantage. Did you intend to shorten the third round here? What was the best outcome for you in this game?

N: Yes, I needed to make him get rid of Feign Death or Vernossiel, and also pull out Aelirenn. In general, this is a very convenient matchup for the witchers, even without Keldar and with Geralt, who plays for a measly 3 points. The fact that the first game ended in a draw is primarily due to Ch.ase, who played very well.

In the second round in the match against Skellige, how did you decide that giving up your leader would be better than staying a card down?

N: Oh, this is another match that I played terribly. Sorry, guys 🙂 I could have kept my leader and not lost my card if I had played Fergus into Tyrggvi earlier and replayed him. A very, very bad match from me. Against players like Ch.ase, you can’t afford to play this way.

Were there any moments in this episode in which you would have acted differently today?

N: Yes, there are a lot of them. But this series pissed me off a lot: I saw my mistakes and I was really ashamed by my performance. It’s a pity that I had to take out all my anger on my teammate, but I honestly tried with all my might to dissuade him from taking Keltullis to these qualifiers 🙂

Final Word

What advice do you have for beginners and those looking to develop their Gwent skills?

Ch.ase:  Try to think more. Thinking + luck = you can manage everything in Gwent. 

Nik_r:  Find enjoyment in it. If you like what you are doing, the result will definitely come. 

Conclusion

Part 2 of this article series helped us to take an even deeper look into the mindset of competitive players. Based on their experience and insight, we hope you have come to better understand how they make decisions, in particular while preparing for open decklist events.

Grinding ladder is the bread and butter for every top player. But only the finetuning and preparation for open decklist events, thinking about certain matchups, evaluating the coinflips, and taking advantage of the full knowledge of your opponents’ decks will allow you to eventually walk with the pros. 

Special thanks to both Ch.ase and Nik_r for taking their time to answer these questions. Also thanks again to Weevil89 for helping out with the editing but thank you especially to our dear readers for sticking with us through this series!

The upcoming OPEN#2 will provide a different meta, but the preparation will stay the same. In the next and final article of this series, we want to compare the shifts and changes between the metas from the qualifiers and the current meta, in which the tournament will take place. 

We wish you good fortune in the wars to come!

renova- and Sawyer1888

Contacts

Through the Thorns of Top-64 Qualifiers to GWENT Open. Part 1

Written by renova- and edited by Sawyer1888 & Weevil89

Introduction

With the upcoming Open#2 we wanted to take a closer look on the qualified players, especially on the players coming from the CIS community (Commonwealth of Independet States).

If we look back two seasons and turn to the second qualifiers of the Season of the Bear in April, one may note an interesting tendency of the CIS players to snatch tickets to OPEN#2, because the winners of this particular top 64 qualifications were Russian players Akela114, representing GwentDetta, and BigKukuRUzina35 (also known as iluxa228), a Team Legacy player.

This trend continued in the Season of the Elf, taking place in May, which culminated in Team Phoenix’s Russian player Ch.ase qualifying for the GWENT OPEN#2 as well as Ukrainian Nik_r, the representative of GwentDetta. 
(You may also recognize, that in the most recent top 16 qualifier of the Season of Magic BigKukuRUzina35 could secure himself and again for the CIS community his next ticket for Open#3 already, which underlines their current dominance in the pro scene.)

Have you ever wondered what is behind the success of professional players? What decisions – both during the game session and in the process of preparing decks – allow them to become the best among the best?

In a series of three articles, we will try to explore these two sides of the game in more detail using the example of the top 64 qualifications from the Bear and Elf seasons. In the first two parts, we will talk with the winners to try to better understand how professional players think, how they manage tournament rulesets, as well as some particular in-game decisions. In the final part, we’ll dive into the stats of the top 64 qualifiers to see how much the meta can change in just one season, comparing the most played cards, bans, and favored factions for tournaments to also have an outlook on the upcoming OPEN#2.

Season of the Bear 2nd Qualifiers Winners Interview

Shortcut

In this article, we will go through different sets of questions. The first set deals with general information and some background facts about the players. In the second set, we will discuss deckbuilding strategies and the mentality behind certain in-game decisions. The article will conclude with some final advice from the pro players and their general outlook on the game. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. 

I began by chatting with Akela114 and BigKukuRUzina35 from the Season of the Bear qualifiers. We discussed their approach to choosing and changing decks during the tournament, as well as what kinds of controversial or entertaining moments they observed from specific matches of the tournament.

To refresh your memory, you can watch the VOD of the official cast of the final matches on TheOneChristo’s YouTube channel:
Winners bracket final Akela114 vs. John/Sally and Losers bracket final
BigKukuRuzina (Iluxa) vs. John/Sally

Sadly the video footage of the match between Akela114 and BigKukuRUzina35 is no longer available, so you have to rely on your memory and the insights of the players.

If you are interested in what decks they played, you can find everything here from the first day and the second day.

The main task for you today is to turn away from the current meta and go back to the past in order to better imagine the look of the Season of the Bear and prepare for similarly turbulent metas in the future. And even if you’re not interested in diving into the meta matching process, this interview is an opportunity to get to know the stars of Gwent and improve your understanding of the mindset of a professional player.

Meet the Qualified Player: Akela114

Name: Oleg Nikolaev 

Age: 25

City: Novosibirsk

 

Hobbies: Gwent

Favorite Faction: Skellige

Favorite Card: Knickers

Meet the Qualified Player: BigKukuRUzina35

Name: Ilya Lyapin 

Age: 19

City: Vologda

 

Hobbies: Football, LEGO, Computer Games

Favorite Faction: Northern Realms

Favorite Card: Priscilla

Chapter 1: General Questions

The first set of questions is devoted to impressions of the previous meta, the tournament, and Gwent in general.

How long have you been playing Gwent?

Akela114: Since summer 2017.

BigKukuRUzina35: For three years, starting with the Sihil meta in Homecoming.

What’s behind your nickname?

A: The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling is one of my favorite literary works from my childhood. Akela is one of the main characters.

B: Nickname means big corn in Russian, and 35 is the number of the region where I live.

How do you assess the state of the Season of the Bear meta? 

A: Scoia’tael and Northern Realms were clearly inferior in strength to the other four factions. Monsters, Nilfgaard, Syndicate, and Skellige were at about the same level, but there is no need to talk about the variety of archetypes playable at a competitive level. In short, the meta was rather boring and monotonous.

B: The meta was quite balanced, with the exception of two cards in my opinion: Halfling Safecracker and Eist. As an improvement, I would suggest removing Counter: 2 for Eist, so that he could summon only one squad, and as for Halfling Safecracker, I would reduce its based power by at least 1.

Which faction did you score the most MMR last season? What helped to achieve this?

A: For the last two seasons, Skellige has been my top MMR faction. The Devotion Warriors deck has remained pretty much the same for a large number of seasons, so most matchups are fairly well researched, which affects the quality of the game and brings results.

 

B: Last season before the qualifier, it was an elves scenario deck. A great number of successful matchups and the effect of surprise helped a lot, since no one else played it.

In terms of preparing for the qualifications, Akela admitted that he hardly prepared. He noted that usually he just brings ladder decks to the tournaments with a couple of changes. At the same time, BigKukuRUzina35 always discusses strategies with teammates. In preparation, he came up with an idea to counter both NG and SY.

What are your general impressions of the qualifications, what do you remember the most?

A: Naturally, the most memorable was the decisive final match, which earned me the opportunity to take part in the Gwent Open tournament.

B: I really liked my games, although they is always room for improvement. I also remember the games with TailBot [probably, he meant ToBliat, Kappa], were very nerve-racking.

How can you explain that during the qualifiers, at least twice, the eminent players lost after two wins three times in a row on SY?

A: Syndicate is bad on blue coin (going first). At the same time, for the game against SY on red (going second), the opponent can pick up a good matchup, having three decks in stock. Also, the deck is very dependent on drawing well in each round.

B: I have not seen these games, so it’s hard to talk about them. Personally, I think that Syndicate has at least three bad matchups: Skellige, Arachas and Nilfgaard, so I don’t see anything surprising that such comebacks happened.

What determines the choice of stratagem for the deck? 

A: The choice of a stratagem depends both on the specifics of the deck  and on the expected lineup of the opponent (if you plan to play against SY or BG, for example, Crystal Skull would be a good choice).

B: Personally, my choice was based on matchups with NG and SY, so I mostly chose Crystal Skull to combat the opponent’s poisons.

Have players tried to sharpen decks against specific factions, such as Syndicate, which was very powerful in that meta? All of BigKukuRUzina35’s decks, except for Symbiosis, were geared towards games against both Syndicate and Nilfgaard. Akela took a different approach: he didn’t sharpen the lineups for any specific decks, but at the same time tried to add 1-2 cards to the decks, which gave him an advantage in mirror matches.

What mindset did you build on the blue / red coins in the final matches?

A: Consider the last game against John丶Sally.

For the first match, I took Skellige. My build plays pretty well on blue coin against Syndicate and, as I thought, against Scoia’tael. It is also relatively easy to secure round one and last say, which is crucial in this matchup. 

For the second match, due to my Arachas Swarm deck being banned, Syndicate looked like a good option. But from my opponent, I expected to see Skellige or Nilfgaard (because of its favorable matchup against both MO and SY).

As a result, after two games I was left with Skellige and Syndicate. SY is clearly good for the second match, and Skellige, as I said earlier, for the first one, so the picks for the remaining matches did not cause difficulties

B: When I chose a deck based on the coin, I began by asking myself what deck my opponent was most likely to choose. This would often lead to less predictable decisions, such as taking Symbiosis on red coin, so the matchup was still favored. I think it’s much better to catch a good matchup with the “wrong” coin than a bad matchup with the right one.

Have you realized any mistakes you made during the qualifying games, or anything you could have done better?

A: There were certainly mistakes. For example, in the game against iluxa228 (NG – SK), I did not pay attention to the fact that he removed the Joachim de Wett I had played in the first round, with Hjalmar an Craite. I only realized it when I tried to execute the normal Cantarella combo and it led to several subsequent misplays. 

B: The most glaring mistake was in the first match with lNeverHooD. In the second round, I played Korathi Heatwave into Jacques de Aldersberg, my entire leader ability and Talisman in order to reach the third round on even cards, although if I had played Triss instead, then I would have been able to keep the leader ability and comfortably play Spontaneous Evolution into a leader charge. As a result, the match ended as a draw instead of a victory.

Chapter 2: Personal Questions

In this part of the article, we will learn from the players what was behind their choice of decks for the tournament, as well as analyze in detail with the interviewees several controversial or curious moments from specific matches with various players in the final stage of the qualifiers. 

Perhaps the most amusing thing would be to analyze the answers of Akela and iluxa in their battle against each other and see the opinions for the same match from both sides – so let’s start there.

Deckbuilding: Akela114

You can find Akela’s decks by clicking the factions buttons

What was the basis for choosing a faction ban on the last day of qualification?

A: My lineup was weak against Arachas Swarm and Geralt: Yrden, so the original plan was to ban this particular deck.

Why did you choose the Portal version of the Monsters Deck for the tournament? 

A: I chose the deck for red coin matches. Knickers and Portal create some useful tempo. Portal also makes it possible to gain a large number of points in a short round, which is useful in some matchups.

What are the advantages of MO versions with Location, but without Yrden, which is considered by many to be an autoinclude card for the Arachas Swarm?

A: I expected to see Skellige and Nilfgaard at the tournament, and Geralt: Yrden is bad against these factions. Yrden is good against Syndicate, but this deck can win without it since the main objective is to counter the key engines of the deck. The only bad matchup that I expected to see in the opponents’ lineup was Arachas with Yrden, which I banned.

Skellige decks in the tournament looked mostly the same. The main differences are in the choice of cards for 10 provisions. What can you say about your Morkvarg and Tyrggvi? 

A: Tyrggvi is an example of a card for mirror matches. Morkvarg is not replaceable against Syndicate, Nilfgaard, or Northern Realms.

Why did you add Professor to your deck before he became so popular the following season?

A: Professor is a good value card that allows you to postpone Tunnel Drill placement and significantly increase its value. It is also a nice control option which allows you to take care of some pesky engines. 

Many players made some changes to their decks after the first game day, but you left your MO and SY intact, changing only Slave Hunters to Alba Armored Cavalries in NG. For example, for many players, Whoreson Junior, who almost no one had played before, became a godsend, and by the second day the number of players playing him had grown even more.

A: Whoreson Junior is a great card, but may not do well against Skellige. Players who planned to ban this deck got rid of this problem and built a lineup against other decks. Nonetheless, Whoreson Junior, in this case, is a great inclusion.

Speaking of Alba. What matchups / cards did you add these soldiers to against?

A: Against Skellige. The key task in this matchup is to deal with your opponent’s engines. Whoever does this better wins the game.

Deckbuilding: BigKukuRUzina35

You can find iluxa’s decks by clicking the factions buttons

A deck with Jacques, Sir Skewertooth vs an option with Whoreson Junior, Sigi Reuven. The first version is more standard, but Whoreson Junior made an appearance almost everywhere. How do you explain this?

B: Whoreson Junior turned out to be unusually good: he opposes Nilfgaard very well and, together with Dip in the Pontar, is able to destroy any unit with 6 power or less. He also serves as a spare Tunnel Drill against Arachas Swarm and very effectively copes with Cleaver in a mirror match. The only bad matchup for him is obviously Skellige due to the lack of boosted units.

What is the advantage of building a SY deck without the Flying Redanian? Is it (not) needed?

B: I often felt a shortage of coins in the deck, so in the end I decided to remove The Flying Redanian, which made it possible to add both Sigi Reuven and Triss: Telekinesis. In my opinion, The Flying Redanian is not impactful enough for 9 provisions, plus it is not always possible to play it in round 3.

On the first day, you played Arachas without Yrden, but with Curse of Corruption, Wild Hunt Riders, Location. What did the choice of the version of the Monsters deck depend on on both qualifying days?

B: On the first day, I knew that I would only play against Syndicate and Nilfgaard, so I decided to remove Geralt: Yrden, which cannot be left in hand against Nilfgaard because of the Double Cross ability. Instead, I added Curse of Corruption that performed essentially the same function. On the second day, Arachas Swarm was added to NG and SY, so respectively, I was forced to use Yrden in the Arachas Swarm deck so I wouldn’t auto-lose mirror matches.

Skellige decks in the tournament looked almost exactly the same, the main differences being in the choice of 10-provision cards. What can you say about the choice of Morkvarg and Hjalmar?

B: Morkvarg is indispensable in matchups with Syndicate and Nilfgaard, since he counters Cleaver and many important NG engines. The same can be said about Hjalmar an Craite. Given the inability to pull Morkvarg out from the deck, he sometimes saved me in matchups against Syndicate and could counter Cleaver if we didn’t draw Morkvarg. He is also very strong against NG.

Was Symbiosis the cool option? How did Scoia’tael, which most players did not take to the qualifiers, cope with the then dominant NG and SY?

B: Syndicate was definitely the worst matchup for Symbiosis due to the huge number of removal cards. Conversely, Nilfgaard was a very favorable matchup because I could easily counter poisons and double Joachim with Dryad’s Caress. In addition, NG lacked answers to the Symbiosis engines, and Double Cross is weak as a leader ability in this matchup. Crushing Trap was taken exclusively for a matchup with Arachas Swarm.

What was it like to be the only person not to qualify with Nilfgaard on the second day? What was the reason for this?

B: As a true patriot of Temeria, I have no moral right to take Nilfgaard to a tournament and generally play this faction representing nasty decks with a bunch of nasty mechanics and stupid cards.

Map_temeria

Games: Akela114

Akela114 vs BigKukuRUzina35

In the match against iluxa228, you only lost the NG vs ST matchup. Don’t you think that the resources given away in the first round (Braathens, Vigo, Joachim, Roderick, Coupe de Gras, Menno) were a bit excessive? Yes, of course, against Scoia’tael you want to have a round control and get the last say, and yet, perhaps you should have saved more golds for the third round?

Scr4

A: This matchup is very difficult, Nilfgaard is going through the bleed quite hard, so I decided to take the first round and fight my opponent in a long round 3. Despite the obvious overcommitment of resources, in my opinion the decision was correct.

In the same match, having played Gorthur Gvaed in the second round on eight cards before the pass, you gave iluxa one of the poisons, despite the fact that you spent only one optional one (with Artorius Vigo) in the first round. The Location showed your opponent many good cards and given that ST has no problems with purify and has a veil from Shaping Nature, wouldn’t an additional poison be superfluous? And in general, the knowledge that you can have a maximum of two poisons in your hand (one of which is an optional defender cleansing), does it provide more freedom to your opponent in some situations? Or did you just want to make it difficult for your opponent to find use for an essentially useless 4-provision card?

A: In this match, poisons are almost impossible to realize, so giving Fangs to the opponent, in my opinion, was a good decision.

Games: BigKukuRUzina35

Against all the opponents who brought SK, you banned this particular faction. Did you see it as stronger than the same considered tier-1 NG and SY, or were just your specific variations of decks sharpened as much as possible against most popular versions with a pre-planned SK ban? For example, the same Whoreson Junior added by you on the second day is very useless against the Skellige warriors.

B: Exactly, my decks were sharpened for matches against Nilfgaard, Arachas and Syndicate, and against Skellige they had bad matchups.

Akela114 vs BigKukuRUzina35

You can watch this match here.

For what purpose did you keep Defender in the ST game against Akela’s NG for so long? We might think that you wanted to benefit from a poison or Joachim, but in the end you threw a veil on the Hamadryad before Figgis was placed, but did not wait for Joachim. Was this an attempt to protect Gezras the next turn in case the opponent did not find the purify?

Scr1

B: I did not want to spam the back row ahead of time, as Akels could throw spies there.

After a drawn SK against MO match, during a replay, Akela managed to find Portal in the first round, and that time you failed to pass on 7 cards while maintaining the point advantage as it was a game before. In the end, you decided to use Eist + your leader ability. What are your thoughts on this line of play?

Scr2

B: Yes, I made a desperate move and overestimated my capabilities in a long round.

In the same match, did you not consider leaving the opponent’s Arachas Drones on the board so they might fill their board?

B: It would have been the right decision, but I didn’t think of it.

In the  NG vs SK match, you gave life to a swordsman for a very long time, whom the enemy pulled out of your deck with the help of Experimental Remedy, which ultimately absorbed a lot of damage, in fact, devaluating it due to the ability to heal. Wasn’t it worth killing him at the very beginning to exclude such a risk, or in this case there would not be enough control over other engines?

B: Akela didn’t have any warriors in his graveyard, and because of it he couldn’t replay my Harald. That’s why I didn’t kill a Greatsword.

The final SY mirror match, of course, could not help but be remembered for the third round. At the end of the round you, having no other spenders, chose not to spend 8 coins with Tunnel Drill, even though Sigi Reuven was waiting to be played next. To bluff like this, of course, you need to have a will of steel, so I must ask you: in the end, was it worth it?

Scr3

B: As the final score showed, no. But I didn’t think I would lose a game by only 7 points with a whole bank of unspent coins.

 

Final Word

What advice can you give to less experienced players looking to take higher positions in the ladder?

Akela114: To achieve the best result, in my opinion, you need to evenly wager on all the factions that you have chosen (such as the top four decks for a given season), experiment with decks for the first half of the season and, if possible, play the maximum possible number of games in the final days.

BigKukuRUzina35: Thoroughly analyze your games, concentrate on the game as much as possible, do not blame your defeats on bad draws, and always think whether there was a line of play that could have won a game from a seemingly losing position.

Conclusion

Today we were able to lift the veil on how professional Gwenters reason when considering the choice of decks for tournaments and making certain decisions during their games, and get closer to the esports scene more generally. By developing analytical skills, training, and learning from the experiences of the Gwent oldies, we hope you can improve your level of play and climb the ladder more successfully.

Never give up and go for your dream, not forgetting that behind every great victory there is a huge amount of work and perseverance, as well as a sea of practice and mistakes.

Many thanks to both Akela114 and BigKukuRUzina35 for participating in the interview, and to Sawyer1888 and Weevil89 for helping out with the edits. Most of all, thank you to you, the readers, for taking the time to read this article. 

In the next one, we will conduct a study in which we will try to establish what changes have occurred in the competitive scene of the Season of the Elf compared to the meta of the Season of the Bear and, if the opportunity arises, talk with the winners of the last top 64 qualifiers.

All the best and every success in Gwent!

renova-

 

Contacts

Freddybabes – What’s In My Deckbuilder?

This is ”Whats In My Deckbuilder?”, a series by Babyjosus where he asks Bandit Gang members and other people from the community to share their insights about what kind of decks they have in their deckbuilder. The decks in one’s deckbuilder often says a lot about the person. This person could be a deckbuilder at heart and plays with his/her own homebrews and even personalizes them by giving them names. But of course you also have the person that looks up a meta snapshot and starts netdecking the best decks from it and might not even bother to give them unique names. Oh well, there is only one way to find out and that is by exposing them through this series!

Freddybabes's Deck Picks

GREEDY BOUNTIES
Bounty deck I’ve been playing a lot of, very fun with quite a lot of power.

GENERIC KELLY DECK
Generic Keltullis deck with added witch apprentices for when the ladder is very NR heavy.

SIEGE DRAUG NR
The best NR deck I’ve played this patch, great value from lots of powerful win cons.

PATIENT NR
An early build with mages and Priscilla / Dandelion, not super strong but was very fun at start of the patch.

KOSHCHEY RELICTS
Relict monsters with an Ihuarraquax, not optimal version of this kind of deck but had a blast playing it.

TRIPLE DAGUR
My attempt at a Skellige rain deck, discovered that Melusine cultists aren’t great, but the deck was a blast nonetheless.

BLIGHTBALL
Good old-fashioned Nilfgaard, cut Cupbearer for Dead Mans Tongue like a madlad, otherwise pretty similar to what I used at world masters last patch.

Who Is Freddybabes?

Freddybabes aka Freddo is a partnered streamer, YouTuber and competitive player for Team Leviathan Gaming. As a competitive player he managed to win three official Gwent tournaments, usually bringing decks with a special twist. You can find Freddo on Twitter here.

If you missed the eleventh edition of ”What’s In My Deckbuilder?” then you can check that out here. Also 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 #2

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.

Jailbreak

This is a card that plays off of one of Syndicate’s greatest strengths: versatility. It’s reminiscent of Collusion, yet can achieve full value on an empty board or with minimal setup. It also encourages diversity in deckbuilding, since having a variety of bronze units from different gangs in your graveyard allows you to choose the exact effect needed. For example, if you need more crownsplitters for tunnel drill, you can Jailbreak a Coerced Blacksmith from your graveyard. Need raw tempo and a spender? Jailbreak into Sea Jackal‘s got your back. Accidentally drew an odd number of poisons? Resurrect a Salamandra. You get the idea.

The original artist is a chap by the name of Jesper Ejsing. His art is visible on artstation, linked here. In the uncropped art, it looks like a dude on a dragon is breaking an eleven lady out of jail. I could be wrong, though. Maybe he’s attacking her? I don’t really know.

Ilya the Merc

Whenever I play bounty, I find it’s pretty easy to overprofit from killing a tall unit, or simply from having too many coins in the bank. Ilya allows you more breathing room when handling bounties, and provides a payoff for killing units with greater than 9 points of base strength. Her order ability isn’t extremely strong, but it can gain her an extra 3 points if she destroys the Flying Redanian. It can also give extra reach to damage spenders.
 
I’ve determined that a fellow named Rudy Siswanto is the original artist. You can find his Artstation account here. He’s quite talented, so I suggest you check it out. He appears to have done the art for Protofleder. Pretty cool. 

Grottore

Grottore appeared in the Witcher 3 as the boss during the quest Feet as Cold as Ice. Although he’s just another quest boss, I found him to be quite interesting and memorable. He seemed to have a bit of personality, collecting random stuff in his cave and killing off those insufferable knights of Croissant… I mean Toussaint.

It’s been a while since deathwish was a viable archetype in the Monsters faction, outside of Viy. Personally, I’d like to see it make a comeback, as yeeting enemy units with Imperial Manticore and yoinking them with Miruna is simply too much fun. This card acts as a companion to Dettlaff: Higher Vampire, providing a similar high tempo play. Due to the Sabbath condition, you can choose whether you want to summon the deathwish unit from your graveyard or deck. Summoning from the deck is usually better, as it provides thinning and also avoids the possibility of summoning a bricked Archespore.

Original art source is here. On second thought, let’s not go to DeviantArt. ‘Tis a silly place.

Nightshade

The seconds tick by, stretching into minutes and then hours. The sun sets and the moon rises while Nightshade waits for the perfect opportunity. Late in the night her victim steals by, convinced that he is secure under the cover of darkness. He is wrong. A blade flashing in the moonlight and an eerie silence are the only clues that Nightshade has done her work. The corpse is dragged into a nearby alleyway and disposed in a sewer, never to be seen again. Another clean kill.

I don’t think anything captures assassination any better than a unit leaping from the top of a Nilfgaard player’s deck to destroy a unit the opponent played. It’s so elegant and unexpected, and fits in perfectly with the deck manipulation theme that CDPR has chosen to take with Nilfgaard. I’d love to see a card like this in play, though to be on the receiving end especially would be pretty rage inducing.

The card art in this case was designed by an artist called AReum Kim. Additional renders of Nightshade can be found here.

Mercurus

One of the problems with trap cards is that they tend to punish the player for playing high cost cards. The result is that traps can easily be avoided by simply playing low cost cards. There need to be more traps that punish the player for playing low cost cards. It’s this observation that lead me to create Mercurus, which acts in a manner similar to a trap card, and penalizes the opponent for playing a low provision card. If your opponent has Red coin (goes second) and repeatedly plays weak cards, Mercurus can be used to set up a tempo pass, forcing a long round with Masquerade Ball.

With Nightshade and Mercurus in the same deck, you can put the opponent in a situation where they don’t know whether to play a high end gold or a low prov bronze. Mind games!

Also, this card’s flavortext is oddly appropriate as playing a 10 provision or higher card causes Mercurus to destroy himself. If he were added to Gwent, it’d be cool if he had a special voiceline that triggered only if he was destroyed. A long, drawn out “Noooooooooooo!” is exactly the sort of thing that Gwent needs more of.

I wasn’t able to track down the original art source, though it looks like it appeared on the cover a DnD book at some point.

Surprise

This card acts as potentially 6+ removal, while also setting up your deck for some manipulation. A downside of this card is that the damage dealt may reveal the card moved to the top. For me, this card is on the edge of being able to be bronze. As long as there aren’t too many agents with 7+ strength, it’s probably safe to make it bronze. 6 prov is a neglected range anyway. What’s cool about this card for me is its flexibility. It can act as removal, deck manipulation, and soft tutoring.

I was going to make it able to move any unit, but I don’t think we need any more ways to abuse Tibor Eggebracht than than already exist. 13 damage on a 6 prov card would be pretty broken.

Also, can we take a moment to appreciate how hilarious this art is? This dude is just chilling and writing some shit down while this assassin girl stands behind him with the most mischevious expression on her face. Poor dude’s about to get bellclapped with a pair of daggers. Ouch.

This appears to be the original art source, though I’m told this art was used to advertise an expansion for Elder Scrolls Online.

Vanmuutugleek

I’ve always found life deep in the ocean to possess a singularly bizarre majesty. I imagine the witcher universe is no different, with great monstrosities like Dagon and Vanmuutugleek hidden beneath the waves, living far outside the ken of man.

I came across this beautiful squid art and instantly knew I had to make a Gwent card out of it. It was pretty obviously monsters faction material, so I came up with an ability designed specifically to synergize with Koschey thrive decks. I’ve played Koschey a fair number of times, and the two biggest issues are choosing what to play before Koschey’s adrenaline kicks in and getting stuck with monsters that can’t proc thrive. This card is designed to solve both issues.

I’ve also introduced a new status, called Invisibility. Invisibility acts as temporary immunity, and is countered by ping damage. Invisibility allows low-strength order cards and engines to be viable, without being completely unanswerable or hard countering decks which rely on pure damage such as Skellige Warriors.

The card art is unfortunately a cropped version of the original, which can be found here. Mark Facey is the original artist.

Guide – Battle Rush

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 it was created, so that you can see 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 remember to have fun! – MAIN PAGE

Both players have just 8 seconds to complete their turn and 15 seconds to complete the redrawing phase.

Battle Rush really is a fan favorite and used to be part of the Draconid season. It is very fast paced and the games are significantly shorter, making it a great opportunity to gather daily crowns or progress leader masteries. While it doesn’t necessarily require specific deck building, it eliminates decks that have too many actions per turn. You also won’t have time to make too many considerations for each play, so it’s quite important that you have a bit of practice with your list and know which lines to play. Misplays come easier but it doesn’t bother you as much, you are just here to jam some games, right?

The easiest approach here are of course autopilot decks that you play with little interaction to your opponent. Thrive decks have always been popular here and Viy certainly fits as well. But what about engine decks that test your opponent’s ability (and your own) to do quick maths? Miscounting leads to awkward and bad passes from time to time. So maybe you want to play a Scoia’tael movement deck or some vampires? There are a lot of options and some surprising combos that would usually be considered as a meme can sometimes have an edge over predictable meta lists.

In short, just play what you feel comfortable with. Make adjustments to cards and combos that take too much time to execute. There will be lists attached to this quick overview, but there are a lot more options and all are strongly influenced by balancing changes and card additions that are going to happen in the future.

The Essential Guide to Every Word You Need in Gwent

Trained Hawk, illustrated by: Karol Bem

Newcomers to Gwent are often overwhelmed by the vocabulary of guides and instructions. Nobody reads glossaries, and for that reason we have curated terms and concepts with added details that will put you on the level in no time. Mastering these concepts will easily see you to pro rank and beyond. Links have been placed so if one encounters an unfamiliar term, one can easily refer to it lower down the guide, or find an explanation of it in a detailed article. Happy learning!

Note: This page is a fluid piece of work and will be updated to the best of our ability.  

Basic Gwent Terms

Artifact: A card that stays on the battlefield but does not have a strength value. This is the least common type of card. 

Bronze/Gold Cards: Gold cards usually play for more points and cost more provisions than bronze cards. You can add up to 2 copies of the same bronze card to a deck, but golds are limited to one copy. You can distinguish gold cards from bronzes by their golden border.

Provision Cost: In Gwent, every card is assigned a provision cost, roughly meaning how much of your deck’s total resources need to be used to put this card in your deck. It also represents the expected number of points a card will be worth in a game. Provision cost is roughly equal to the expected points a card will play for, with a small percentage on top.  For example, 4 provision cost cards usually play for 4-7 points, and 5 provision cost cards play for 6-8 points.

Red-coin/Blue-coin: Blue-coin means going first in the match, Red-coin means going second. These terms are not included in the game, but are well known among players in the community. See Coin Advantage for the implications of this. 

Special Card: A card that does not have a strength value, and is sent to the graveyard immediately after being played.

Summon: Summoned cards simply appear on the board without being played. Note that this does not trigger Deploy abilities. 

Tempo: The number of points played in a turn. A card is said to be “high tempo” if it puts a large number of points (roughly 8 or more) on the board in a single turn. For example, Old Speartip is high tempo, playing for 12 points in a single turn. Low tempo cards take time to output potential points.  For example, Engines and Scenario cards play for initially low points, and output more as they are procced over following turns. 

Unit: A card that has a strength value and stays on the battlefield. This is the most common type of card.

Card Functions

Brick: When a card plays for less than its intended value. For example, Geralt of Rivia is said to be bricked if your opponent doesn’t control a card with 9 or more strength and it cannot activate its ability.

Control: Cards designed to disrupt the opponent’s strategy, usually through damage or locks e.g. Alzur’s Thunder. Damages a unit by 5 and can remove an engine from the board. Most greedy cards start with 5 or less strength, so standard removals reliably control them.

Engine: Cards that potentially play for more points the longer they stay on the battlefield. Some engines are more threatening than others. In general, if an engine puts out more than 1 point per turn, it is considered threatening. Nekkers are engines, since they are boosted by 1 point every time you play a unit with higher strength.

Finisher: A type of pointslam that plays for more or less points depending on the board state, and is most effective when played at the end of a round. For example, Geralt of Rivia is often used as a finisher, since at the end of the round the opponent is most likely to have a high-strength unit.

Greed: A card (or strategy) is considered greedy if it can play for many points, provided the opponent does not answer it with control cards. Engines are generally considered greedy cards, though they can also function as control if they deal damage over time. The Beast is a popular greedy card from the Monsters faction, while Assimilate is generally a greedy strategy/archetype

Pointslam: Cards that play for a high number of points with minimal risk. For example, Old Speartip is a pointslam card since it plays for 12 points with no downside.

Pre-Condition: Cards that help fulfil other cards’ conditions. For instance, Impera Brigade requires that a Soldier card be on your side of the board to trigger its deploy ability. Thus, a Soldier on your side of the board serves as its pre-condition. 

Tutor: Cards that plays/draws cards from your deck. Tutors can be units, special cards, or artifacts. For example, Oneiromancy is a special card that plays any card from your deck. Tutors often have limitations on the types of card that they can be played. Thus, they brick if there is no card of the required type in the deck.

Key Gameplay Concepts

Bleed: Players who win round control may choose to play deeply into round two to force their opponent to play good cards at sub-optimal times. This process is called bleeding. Not to be confused with the status that damages a unit by 1 at the end of its turn. Click here for a guide on this key practice. 

Blue Coin Abuse: Less common than Red Coin Abuse, this refers to the advantageous use of Stratagems in particular decks in combination with certain cards. For instance, Crystal Skull on Griffin Witcher (in NR Witchers) and Ciri: Dash (in Keltullis decks) are known for this type of abuse.

Card Advantage: If one player has more cards than the other at the start of round 3, they are said to have gained card advantage. Card advantage also guarantees last say, and usually results in winning the game.

Carryover: Some cards can be played in one round and generate points in another round, generating what’s known as carryover. There are several forms of carryover, including handbuff (Circle of Life), deck buff (Allgod, Erland of Larvik), resilience (Ciri: Nova), graveyard setup (Derran), and deck manipulation (Maxii Van Dekkar).

Coin Advantage: Blue coin is considered a disadvantage because if you pass while behind in score, your opponent will almost always gain card advantage. Conversely, a player with Red coin has the option to play extremely low tempo cards and focus on generating carryover. Stratagems help reduce the advantage afforded by Red coin, giving a small point boost to the blue coin player. Click here for a reminder on what coins mean. 

Devotion: A deck fulfils the Devotion requirement when it contains no neutral cards. Certain cards are stronger when their Devotion requirement is met, such as Viraxas. Others, for example, are unusable without it, such as Aen Elle Conqueror, who destroys himself if the condition is not met. Devotion decks tend to have powerful abilities but often lack consistency and/or control.  Note that (non)-devotion status of a deck can often give away its composition. 

Disloyal: Disloyal cards can only be played on the opponent’s side of the board and have “Spying” status. While the unit plays for negative points, these cards usually have Deploy effects that offset their negative initial value. Currently, most Disloyal cards belong to the Nilfgaard faction.

Last Say: Whoever plays the last card of the match is said to have last say. This is important as it allows you to play a tall card without worrying about whether the opponent has a tall punish, or play your own tall punish without worrying that your opponent will play a taller unit. 

Proactivity: Proactive cards are able to play for full or almost full value even when there are no other cards on the board. For example, Svalblod Totem is a proactive card common in Skellige decks. When deckbuilding, always make sure to include some proactive cards to avoid awkward situations when one is starting first in a round, especially when Blue coin. 

Reach: Reach is the number of points you can play in a single turn. Reach is most important to keep track of in round 1 on Red coin. This ensures that should Blue coin pass first, you can win with equal cards left and hence card advantage as they must play a card to win round 2. Similarly, if you are being bled in round 2, catching up in one card will maintain card parity. Reach is roughly equal to the highest tempo card playable, plus your leader ability. Do account for your own and your opponent’s engines. Ideally, one achieves reach without using your leader ability.

Reactivity: Some cards interact with other cards,  playing for no value on an empty board. These cards are reactive. For example, Alzur’s Thunder is a reactive card. Having too many reactive cards in your deck can cause you to struggle when making the first few moves of a round.

Red Coin Abuse: Red coin abuse is a tactic employed by some decks where only reactive damage cards are played, making it difficult for the opponent to develop their board while also forcing the opponent to use up proactive cards. Another form of Red coin abuse involves out-tempoing the opponent in round 1, usually allowing the player to pass while out of reach, gaining card advantage in the process. This tactic is often used by Lippy Gudmund decks in conjunction with Cerys an Craite.

Risk: A card’s risk is roughly its immediate strength contribution minus its provision cost, excluding its (conditonal) effects. E.g.  Geralt of Rivia is strength 3, provision cost of 10. This card is quite risky as the difference in minimum points value and provision cost is high. Conversely, Aen Elle Conqueror is very low risk, with 7 strength and 4 provision cost. Generally, a mixture of high and low risk cards prevents control-heavy opponents from preventing your cards from playing for their value. If you take too little risk, you may lose to greedy opponents who play riskier cards and manage to fulfil their conditions. Almost all decks have some control. Thus, it is best to play riskier cards when your opponent runs out of control options.

Round Control: Whoever wins round 1 gains round control as it grants them the option to play as long or short a round 2 as they wish. This may be to lengthen round 3 if one has many engines, or shorten it if one has higher tempo cards, and/or to bleed the opponent of their more useful cards.

Row Punish: As the name suggests, these are cards that punish the opponent for placing too many units on the same row. Lacerate, for instance, damages all units on a row by 2. To avoid getting hit by row punish, spread your units on different rows as necessary.

Standard removal: Because most engines in the game start at 4 or 5 power, standard removal is defined as any card that damages within this range. If an engine is boosted to 6 or more strength, it is said to be out of standard removal range. There are, of course, exceptions to this, such as Whoreson Junior.

Tall Punish: Cards that gain value by targeting a single enemy unit with high power. Geralt of Rivia is an example of tall punish. Avoid tall punish by distributing boosts evenly among units, bleeding the opponent, using a Defender, and putting less high base power units in your deck to begin with.

Tempo Pass: Tempo passing is a technique where a player commits a large number of points quickly in round 1 and passes, exceeding their opponent’s reach. This forces the opponent to play multiple cards to catch up, preventing them from bleeding in round 2. A tempo pass forces a long round 3, and may also force your opponent to use their leader to maintain even cards.

Thinning: In general, you want to have access to your high-end gold cards by the end of the game. Thinning cards remove cards from your deck, improving the chance of drawing your gold cards in round 3. Thinning is provided by tutors as well as cards that can be summoned from the deck, such as Wild Hunt Riders. In general, all tutors provide thinning, but not all thinning comes from tutors. Check out an analysis of this here

Trading Up/Trading down: This refers to the situation where after an exchange of two cards, one player has more (or less) resultant points. This manifests in two ways:

In the points themselves:

For example, if a Northern Realms player plays Temerian Drummer (Which boosts the unit to the right by 1 at the end of its turn) and then their opponent destroys it with Alzur’s Thunder, the Northern Realms player would have traded up by 1 point, as the Drummer has a 1 point boost still on the board.

Note: One should consider potential points when trading removal for engines. 

In the provision cost of the cards

This type of trading occurs when a higher provision cost card is used to negate a lower provision one, or vice-versa. For instance, if Korathi Heatwave at 10 provisions was used to banish a threatening engine like Anna Strenger worth 7 provisions, or if Spores at 4 provisions resets a 9 provision Ozzrel to 1 power. In these cases, it is about how many points you are denying from your opponent, rather than the single-turn provision to provision trade.

Bad Cards

In Gwent, some cards are considered bad cards. These are cards that struggle to play for as many points as one would expect based on their provision cost. A general rule for finding bad cards is to consider the following when designing a deck:

  1. How does the card fit into my strategy? Will it function as an engine, control, or point-slam?
  2. What is the risk associated with the card?
  3. How easily can the card’s value match its provision cost?
  4. Are there similar cards that play for more value?
  5. What is the chance that the card will brick?

Gwent Slang

Archetypes: A set of cards and leader combinations that execute particular concepts or strategies. Check out our Archetype Guide for analysis. 

Elder Bears: High cost cards that are easily shutdown and therefore play for as much points as an Elder Bear, a relatively poor 6 provision 6 power card.  For example, Stefan Skellen and Vysogota of Corvo

Meta: The most common decks one will face. The meta (or meta decks) refers to the most powerful and popular decks. While powerful and popular are not necessarily equivalent, they are generally related. 

Package: A set of cards within a deck that may complement each other and work independently. For example, Nilfgaard has: Spy, Assimilate, and Aristocrat-Ball packages that can be swapped in and out of decks. Low-unit decks often make use of the Madoc package, which consists of Madoc and 4-5 Bomb cards.

Meme: Meme decks are generally (significantly) weaker than meta-decks and can mean several different things along a spectrum of strength/weakness. Our series on memes gives the full low-down and see the best options in our Bandit Gang Meme Snapshot

Pro: Contextually indicates reaching Pro rank (Rank 0), or Professional, referring to players who regularly fit for spots and compete in official tournaments. 

Shortforms: Gwent, like any game, has many shortform terms for its cards. Examples include: Blood Eagle = beagle, Alzur’s Double Cross = ADC, Amphibious Assault = AA. 

Smurf: Refers to returning/veteran players with new accounts or old accounts at a low rank who thus play far better than their true rank and have better cards than their peers. It can also refer to when an individual finds a particularly effective deck and climbs the ladder quickly with it. 

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #1

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.

Renfri: Bandit Queen

I think it’s only fair to begin this series with Renfri herself, one of the most memorable foes Geralt of Rivia ever faced. As a talented swordswoman and intelligent adversary, she gave Geralt a run for his money in more ways than one. Not only did she prove a capable foe in combat, she also challenged his conceptions of morality, forcing Geralt to choose–to the best of his understanding–the lesser evil.

As a Gwent card, I envision Renfri as the lynchpin of the underdeveloped Bandit archetype. She provides a substantial payoff by summoning bandits to the board that were played in previous rounds. All hail the Queen of the Bandits!

Graverobber

So, y’all are gonna hate this card for what it does to Oneiromancy, but I honestly kinda miss the old bullshit Nilfgaard that made you want to tear your hair out.

For reference, the old Nilfgaard was the one that had locks, tactics and poison for days, double Masquerade Ball, and lousy pointslam and even lousier engines. Maybe a year ago, it was pretty normal to queue into Nilfgaard and accept that your first few cards were gonna get yeeted by Tourney Joust and Assassination. They made redcoin abuse into a freaking art.

The new Nilfgaard is actually pretty greedy and doesn’t run that many locks. It also only runs a couple poisons, and even has a fair amount of points after you heatwave their ball. It always wants a long round and plays tons of assimilate. Assimilate used to be a meme, goddammit.

Sigh.

Anyhoo, this guy steals your oneiromancy and synergizes with Joachim DeWett. Deal with it.

Dagon

Although I didn’t play Gwent during the beta when Dagon reigned in all his power and glory, I’ve learned of him from other players and am impressed by the aura of reverence he commands even in absence.

This version of Dagon is potentially a 4 point per turn engine that keeps spawning Fog on enemy rows as long as their units keep dying. However, he might be a touch underpowered compared to cards like Unseen Elder and Dettlaff, who play equal to their provisions much more easily. It’s probably reasonable to buff him to 8 strength, or to increase the initial fog duration from 1 to 2 turns.

King Henselt

I recently read about 40-card Foltest and was inspired to make a card that motivated players to add more than 25 cards to their deck in a similar way. This is what I came up with.

Henselt boosts bronze units in your hands by 4, essentially turning a number of bronze cards in gold cards in a manner similar to Amphibious Assault. You gain charges by converting 8-10 prov cards in your deck into multiple 4-5 prov cards. Immunity both serves to protect Henselt and makes it very difficult for him to gain charges through Stockpile, Winch, or Aretuza Adept, which is not his intended use. Also, you can’t boost gold units which prevents him from bolstering already powerful golds like Prince Anseis, Anna Strenger, or Vysogota.

I didn’t give him zeal since he has immunity, so make sure you play around Curse of Corruption and Predatory Dive and you’ll be fine.

Drogodar

You may recall that Drogodar was the bard who played at the ill-fated feast hosted at Kaer Trolde during King’s Gambit in the Witcher 3. He, along with a number of other Skelligers, was eaten by a werebear which is honestly a pretty badass way to die.

This card allows Skellige to replay high end gold cards from their graveyard in a manner reminiscent of the old Second Wind leader ability. However, he’s somewhat low tempo and only plays for 5 points unless he discards a Tuirseach Skirmisher.

Elven Princess

This card acts as a bridge between the elf and handbuff archetypes. I really like “bridge” cards because they can be used in more than one type of deck and encourage creativity. Currently, Nilfgaard has the most bridge cards, since there’s tons of connections between Spies, Assimilate, Status, Tactics, Deck Manipulation, and Soldiers. Take Rot Tosser, for example. It supports Assimilate, Status, and Spies. Personally, I’d like to see more bridge cards in other factions.

Power wise, this card might seem a little OP, but it’s 2 provisions more than Isengrim and plays into tall punish. Elves don’t normally play into tall punish, so I think you would essentially only run this card to buff Aglais or Sheldon Skaggs. Additionally, this card is quite low tempo after her boosts are transferred as only a meager 4 points remain on the board.

Sasha

A lot of factions now have the ability to build hyperthin decks that end up with only a small number of cards by the end of round 3. Nilfgaard has Kolgrim, SK has the Discard package, and ST has Precision Strike + Novigradian Justice. I’d like to see a neutral card that rewards these decks with some form of payoff, which is why I created Sasha.

Balancing a card like Sasha is difficult, since she has to have a meaningful payoff for hyperthin decks without being viable in ordinary decks. In this case, I chose to keep her at 9 provisions to allow her to synergize with Ciri: Nova while also requiring a significant commitment in terms of provisions.

Guide – Patience is a Virtue!

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

At the start of your turn, transform all cards in your hand into random ones that cost 1 provision more

“Patience is a Virtue!” is the first Seasonal game mode that has been introduced after switching from a monthly rotation to a weekly one, making it the first one that has no particular season associated with it. The feedback on this mode was slightly polarized, with some people enjoying the big variety of possible outcomes and others feeling helpless with the inability to synergize anything at all when given the wrong cards.

When it comes to deckbuilding, it’s not about creating a strong strategy, but to include the few things that slightly matter besides the randomness here. Generally, cards that summon from your deck can be useful, specifically Roach and Knickers. While you will often not meet the requirements for other cards that summon from the deck, there’s also no downside to including them, so why not? Another thing that you want is a balanced provision distribution to avoid a bricked hand. The reason for this is that you can actually brick on scenarios in high provision range before they revert to 4 provision cards. So always keep some medium to high provision cards available. Last but not least, chances are not bad to roll into Shupe or Radeyah, so just play a starting deck without duplicates.

The choice of leader or even faction almost makes no difference here, I’d say. There is one exception, though, which is Pincer Maneuver from Northern Realms. This one lets you pick a faction card from your deck while shuffling a useless card back into it – twice! So you can actually utilize your strong cards left in the deck when you have nothing better to play in hand. Pick whatever combos you want to play with this, and the rest is up to RNGesus.

Bandit Gang’s Top 5 Cards of Price of Power Expansion: Once Upon a Pyre

This article has been written by Babyjosus in collaboration with Bomblin.

After the latest expansion, Price of Power (PoP), got announced, we know that you all were eager to find out what we think about it. And so, we have decided to make a Top 5 cards of the PoP: Once Upon a Pyre expansion. All members had the chance to put in their votes based on card art and/or ability. In the end 18 members voted, including 12 from Content Team and 6 from the Competitive Team (Pro Team & Academy Team). We ended up with the following 5 cards, from least voted card to the most voted card. Side Note: 5 cards of the expansion pack didn’t got any votes at all.

So pay attention now, you might just learn something!

#5 Gerhart of Aelle

The main reason why this card is in the Top 5 is because Content Team member Mercernn got to reveal this card. And the second reason must be of course that its a legendary card that supports the Mage archetype that has been neglected for a very long time by Jason Slama and co!

Most of the votes came from the Content Team, hence the pink color.

#4 Fulmar

Fulmar, Hjalmar, whatever its name is, it got included in our Top 5 because just like Gerhart of Aelle, this card supports a forgotten archetype in Gwent, which is the druid archetype. Fulmar is a great card to use alongside Gedyneith.

Most of the votes came from the Competitive Team, hence the grey color.

#3 Megascope

Megascope gets the third spot in our Top 5, mainly because it has great potential with Idarran, paired with a high value bronze like  Cintrian Royal Guard. A more meme approach is to play it on a Crow Messenger.

All the votes came from the Content Team, hence the pink color.

# 2 Francesca Findabair

The ability and card art from Francesca Findabair is a blast from the past. It allows you to play specials twice, and because it’s not faction restricted, you can play Shupe twice. Nuff said.

Most of the votes came from the Content Team, hence the pink color.

#1 Blightmaker

Blightmaker is flexible because it can be played on a Mage or a special card, but it will be at its most powerful paired with the Mage Assassin.

Pretty much everyone that voted voted for this card. Since the card will see a lot of play in the meta, we decided to give it the grey competitive color.

And that’s it for Team Bandit Gang’s top 5 cards of the Price of Power: Once Upon a Pyre expansion. We hope everyone will have tons of fun in the upcoming weeks with these cards while we wait for the next installment in a couple of months. Let us know what your top 5 cards are in the comment section down below.

Best of luck,

Bomblin & BJ