Gwent

Skill beats Luck Ep. 10 – A talk with Snake about the History of Claymore

Introduction

The first competitive season this year has finished, while the next one already started. This means that also the first Qualifier Tournaments of 2022 are on their way as well. 

While we talked with Ryan Godric last episode in detail about the community in general, this time we have a special guest: Snake from Team Claymore. Mostly known in the CIS community, Claymore also organises a lot of tournaments open for everyone, like the currently running Love Tournament.
But what many non-competitive players might not know is, that Snake is one of the hard workers behind the scenes for the official Qualifier Tournaments. Let’s take a closer look on his work and also find out more about the history of Claymore

Meet the Manager

Name: Erik

Age: 33

Hobbies: Games, Cinema, Music, travelling on my Motorcycle

Favorite Card: Villentretenmerth

Favorite Faction: Northern Realms/Skellige

Section: Management Claymore

Claymore and the CIS Community

Everyone within the GWENT community who followed the recent months in the competitive scene noticed the rise of CIS GWENT teams and players. When renova- and I made our interview series Through the Thorns of Top 64 Qualifiers, we talked with players like Nik_r, iluxa or Ch.ase, while I also had the chance to interview arch1 for a Skill beats Luck episode.
Phoenix and GwentDetta are the top competitive teams of the CIS community, while Claymore can be considered as the headquarters. Translation of articles, organising events, helping out in official tournaments, Claymore is for the CIS community what the Piazza was for the Romans. Supported by the TGGwent team they do a tremendous job and are one of the reasons why GWENT is so popular in the CIS regions.

The Interview

Sawyer: First, thanks for being my guest this time. It’s rather unique to talk to people being involved more in the background of things. Many of our readers might know something about the work you do, but not really much about who you are.    
So maybe give us a short introduction about yourself, who you are in the GWENT community and how you’ve become involved in everything.

Snake: Hey! Thank you for inviting me, it is always a great pleasure to chat inside the GWENT community! 
My name is Erik, I’m from Minsk (Belarus), 33 (oh, God) years old. Currently working in IT. I’ve been a gamer since childhood and am a huge Witcher Universe fan.

My way to GWENT? Well, I read about it, played it in the Witcher 3, and waited for the standalone game to be announced. I started playing GWENT in the very beginning — since KillTheServers, which was even before Closed Beta. Then I somehow got the sacramental key and started playing and streaming on Twitch. That’s how I got to the global Discord server.
CIS players used another big Discord server (which is now integrated with Claymore, btw). Someone there was talking about some closed EU tournaments with quite valuable prizes from CD PROJEKT RED. That’s when I thought, “Why don’t we do the same? Let’s make our own tournament! Open for everyone!”. And they say: “Initiative is punishable” — so I had no way back. 

Now I’m a manager of the biggest CIS GWENT community — Claymore team. Not only do we produce daily content in Russian, we also organize plenty of tournaments: official qualifiers and our own Opens and Fast Cups. 

S: Impressive stuff, I noticed you’ve been involved in a lot of things. 
The Russian or CIS community grew a lot over the recent years. In a chat with arch1 from Team Phoenix, we already talked about the variety of teams etc.
Can you tell us a bit more about the journey of Claymore and also TGGwent?

Sn: Well, as I already said, Claymore or, rather, RuGwent Tournaments were born with the idea of creating our own tournament. And we started doing this when GWENT was in beta. With sheer enthusiasm, we set the seemingly-easy goal to make our own online tournament with livestreams. The first tournament with more than 250 CIS participants took place in early 2017. We were first to make a broadcast with both players’ hands shown. CD PROJEKT RED did the same much later with the help of ESL for some local tournament. And the Spectator mode was introduced years later. 
Tournaments were extremely successful, so we started making them on a monthly basis, constantly improving and rotating casters. To promote tourneys, we created social network accounts, and we started posting news as well. At this point, the second goal appeared — to become one of the best news and content creators in CIS.
I believe we succeeded. At some point, we even recorded some interviews in English with Chinese and German pro-players. Later, those appeared on the official GWENT web page. No one in CIS had ever done anything like that. All in all, trying to do everything qualitatively is one of the main pillars of our success. People can always feel if you are not completely into what you do. And you’ll get bored by such a job quite soon as well.

We started with CIS region — online tournaments took place once or even twice a month (and we’re trying to keep up with the temp now). First LAN took place at St. Petersburg in 2017, the next one was in Minsk in 2018 with the great help of Belarusian eSports Federation. All in all, we hosted 5 LANs and are willing to do more.

Back then in 2017 we grew to the EU and World level. At first, we helped Lifecoach. Later, in the beginning of 2018 we translated our online rules into English and started to make international tournaments with international live casters — we were first at that too!

Twitch online during the Beta was up to 3000 viewers. Our tournament casts (that were usually in Polish, English and Russian) were up to 1900 with 1700 average. The greatest achievement is, of course, the close partnership with CD PROJEKT RED as we organize all the qualifiers for GWENT Opens. 

Not only that, but we also helped them to make tournaments for other official GWENT partners — any kind of recognized content makers from all over the world.  

This is a shortened summary of what Claymore (former RuGwent Tournaments) has been doing. And besides the tournaments, people always want more content. Yet, one of our main platforms — vk.com/ is not available in Ukraine due to politics and guys from Ukraine decided to fill the lack with communication by creating a chat (and the TGGwent team of content creators) in Telegram. Their news channel was created back in the middle of 2020 and appeared to be quite popular in CIS community. Obviously, there’s not much official content in GWENT, and sometimes it is a rush to do something faster and better once there is something, but it is always good to have a healthy competition, and together we deliver news in Russian maybe even faster than they are delivered to most English-Speakers 🙂 Unfortunately, we don’t collaborate much, though. 

S: Wow, what a journey. From pure passion, you really built something big, which is now definitely one important pillar of the GWENT community.    
With multiple events happening over the year, official and community hosted, you’ve seen many different parts of the competitive scene already.
What does it take, and how is it like to organize events, content and communication?

Sn: Oh, it is really exciting and inspiring, though at the same moment you feel that burden of responsibility. Making a high-quality product that all participants would be comfortable with is always the highest priority for me. And this aspiration always makes me involved in the creation process.
We formed a cool organizing team and a lot of things have been repeated so many times. At this point, communicating with casters and participants or monitoring that everyone’s good is the only thing that may bring something unexpected. Once you have solid and detailed regulations and a plan with all little things considered, it becomes way easier for you.

S: True, a structure definitely helps.     
What events or exciting situations would come to your mind when you look into your GWENT past…and where would you say you would’ve done things maybe differently? 

Sn: All LANs and OPENs along with Challenger that I visited are the first to come to mind. Every meeting gave so many positive emotions and motivated me for further work with the community, content, team and development in general. So, yes. Live tournaments and after parties are the things that are unforgettable.

As for the things that I might have changed… I’m not sure if there is one. Looking back at how it all went, I like everything that happened to me and the team in general

S: Sounds like you’ve done everything right so far, and the success proves you right!        
Many competitive players will already know, and you already said it, but you often help out with the official qualifiers for the GWENT Opens. I can only imagine the effort to get everyone prepared and ready for it.
What does a qualifier weekend look like from your perspective?       

Sn: First of all, I have to say that everything begins a long way before the weekend. The more time you spend to get ready — the less unexpected things will occur during the tourney. So, you should always imagine yourself in the participants’ position  so that the questions will arise during preparation and not during the event itself.

A week before the qualifiers we create tournaments on Challonge and Platform, add participants to the Discord server, onboard casters and induct them into the process and nuances of communication. We also communicate with CD PROJEKT RED concerning tournaments, announcements and so on. Of course, checking and screening players’ decks is also on the list.  During the tournament day you should strictly follow the timings, control the information to be delivered to participants and viewers, do troubleshooting…. So, you’ll definitely have your mind blown by the amount of work to be done.

 All in all, every day of qualifiers usually takes at least 10-12 hours. And after that you have to summarize the results with a nice infographic, clear the discord, analyze the feedback if  any. All in all, you have to be really into the process.

S: I’ve never taken part as a player in such an event, but I was involved behind the scenes in smaller ones, so I can totally relate.    
Over the last months we had some chats as well, where you helped translate some articles from Bandit Gang into Russian. It shows how international the community is, from players taking part in events to content creation.                    

What are the differences for you between organizing things mainly for the CIS community and events like qualifiers or the CIS Cup, where also people from all over the world take part?

Sn: We do translate some of your articles and reference your meta and meme snapshots, yet some other articles such as Slavic Lore or some other Skill beats Luck were translated by TGGwent fellows — translating is a thing that takes a lot of effort and sometimes there are just not enough hands, so it is cool that those are still being delivered to people who don’t speak English. Besides, we do have a lot of our own lore content and are always happy to interact on that if needed!

As for organizing different things — all our tournaments are open for anyone of any origin and skill to participate. So, basically, there’s almost no difference at all. Rules for any of our tournaments are duplicated in Russian and in English, we can answer any questions at least in these two languages, and we always announce tourneys not only in our discord, but also on other teams discords and our twitter as well, so follow the news not to miss anything 😉

S: I will make sure of it, and also am glad for your continuous support!         
Recently we could see the road map for 2022 and where GWENT is heading. What are your thoughts on it?              

Sn: As any other player, I always wait for more various content. I’m willing to see what Golden Nekker will bring to us. And as we now know it is not a new GWENT mode, maybe they have an idea for the one that will not grow into a standalone as GWENT really lacks some in game modes. I hope this pause in journeys will help the team to look back on what has been done and improve the game. This includes draft mode, Card abilities rework, and some misconceptions in descriptions of those, etc.

As for the roadmap, I personally like the idea of the month-long breaks in April and July. This will help players to be better concentrated during the competitive seasons and not to burn out because of non-stop play. Yes, that will mean that we’ll have one Open less. Yet, I believe this lack will be more than compensated with the Play-in tournament where not only the best will perform, but the tournament format itself looks promising. And moreover, the rework of the CP system will show itself good enough, imo. Oh, and the gaps will also let different teams like us make their tournaments more popular — as we do a lot, so we are quite interested in promoting those. 

And All in all, unfortunately, CD PROJEKT RED don’t have any platform to test what they do. Chess tournament rules are still sometimes being reworked (previous time it happened last April). But without experimenting, you’ll not be able to come to an optimum, and it is never late to roll the changes back next year. 

S: Interesting, I think we just have to simply wait and see how everything works out this year.
The last couple of years, we must say, have been quite influenced by Corona. I often heard that, for especially that reason, it was “easier” to compete and take part in this virtual community.

But also, many real-life events happened inter in different teams.
You’ve ever meet anyone from the GWENT community in person? How much does GWENT influence your personal life?

Sn: Meeting like-minded people in person is always a great event. Of course, I met many players in person, mostly thanks to official LANs in Warsaw and our own ones in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. During my visits to Warsaw, I got acquainted with a lot of developers as well

Thanks to GWENT LANs, I started to travel more, so yes, they did influence my life a lot. New cities and countries, people and impressions — that is really cool! Because of GWENT, I can go to almost any country in the world and meet someone who I know there. So, once the pandemic is over, I’ll pay a visit to you too — beware! 🙂

And for quite a long time now we have dreamed of a global LAN in Moscow — gathering the best players and content creators, organizing tournaments and casting, chatting during the after-party. Such activities are always fun, cozy and unforgettable, especially when polished with Mahakam Ale 🙂

S: That would be awesome! But Moscow or St. Petersburg were always on my list as well, so maybe it’s me who rings your doorbell first!
The new year started as well as the first competitive season in GWENT is already finished.
What are your goals for 2022, personal as well, and what can we expect from Claymore this year?       

Sn: There is an important goal that I won’t announce now, but I’m sure it will please Claymore team as well as the whole CIS community in general. We’ll tell you once we’re close. We’re planning to make more and more high quality content (unfortunately, mostly in Russian) — Articles, translations, interviews, tests, Glossary (Aretuza Glossary was the one to inspire us), et cetera, et cetera… We’re turning five, so this is also a great opportunity to celebrate with the community with some contest or any other event. 

Sn: As for the tournaments, we always want more and better. If only we had more time for that — official qualis are more critical for players, and therefore most forces are there. We want our FastCups (BO1, SE) to happen more often. First Fastcup already took place on January 30. And we also want to launch our new format — Claymore Special (BO3, SE), where we’re planning to introduce special rules for your decks so that it will be fresh & fun. The first tournament is taking place on February 13s. And as it is really close to St Valentine’s Day, it will be LOVE special — you’ll have to include at least one couple from the list we made. You may not be late for the registration! 

And of course classic competitive Claymore Opens for those who love it harder or for those who want to get ready for the Qualis and understand how it all works.

S: So a lot of stuff in the pipes, looking forward to it!   
Thanks for taking part in the interview, really appreciate it! As always, I wish you good fortune in the wars to come.
Any closing words from you for our readers? Maybe a tip on how to draw your golds? 😉

Sn: Thank you for inviting me, it was really great to participate! I wish everyone not to be afraid of interesting and ambitious goals and follow them whatever it takes. Only challenging things can make you delighted and proud of what you’ve done. And this is not only about GWENT — this is a great life rule in general 😉 

And may the red coin be with you, may every keg contain a premium card, and may the odds be ever in your favor. In the name of Burza and Saint Shupe, Ahoy, my hooman friends!

Skill beats Luck Ep. 9 – About the GWENT Community with Ryan Godric

Introduction

Over the last months, we had the chance to talk with people from all over the world. We got insights from Pro Players, talked about what it takes to stream, cast or even manage and already got a first glimpse behind the scenes with MrRepek

After last weeks nostalgic chat with Masters winner Kolemoen, today we have another German guest: CD PROJEKT RED Community Specialst Ryan Godric
Let’s take another look behind the curtain and hear about his work within the GWENT Community. 

For our fellow German readers, you will find a link to the original German interview in the Additional Information!

Meet the Guest

Name: Ryan Schou

Age: 25

Hobbies: Movies, Video Games, Music, People

Section: Community Specialist 

Favorite Card: Ulfhedinn

Favorite Faction: Skellige

The GWENT Community

I maybe want to take this short section as an opportunity to share my thoughts about the community. 
While I was part of different eSport-Teams in the past and obviously are involved in other things outside GWENT, our community really is something special. 
People from all over the world came together to either stay longer in the Witcher universe or just wanted to try out another CCG. But while being so global, for me it always felt like a bigger family, a bunch of friends. If you watch your favorite channel on Twitch, most of the time you see people you know and have some sort of friendly connection. If you face certain opponents on ladder, you have the feeling that you know them, while maybe never even had a chat together. 
And when you have questions, feedback or want to get help, not only a broad landscape of Teams can help you out, but also the official members of CD PROJEKT RED. Through streams, shared tweets or simple conversations over Discord, you always find a helping hand. 
One of the persons who makes this all possible is Community Specialist Ryan Godric, so how about giving him the word and see, what his impressions of our community are.

Additional Information - Zusätzliche Infos

For our German readers and community, we prepared the original German interview as well, which you can find here in a Google Document!
Für unsere deutschsprachigen Leser haben wir das Original Interview zusätzlich aufbereitet, welches ihr in diesem Google Document findet!

The Interview

Sawyer: Hello Ryan, first of all thanks for taking part in our series! I guess many in the scene will already know you through your interviews with player during bigger GWENT Events.
But why don’t you introduce yourself for our readers as well? 

Ryan: Hello everyone, I am Ryan and I work since almost 2 years now for CD PROJECT RED as a Community Specialist for GWENT. I am from Cologne, where I studied Media at the university and moved to Warsaw for work in summer 2020.
Most of all I am interested in movies, video games, music and people. Especially I love to talking with others about media, society and other interesting things, I guess that comes in handy for my job. 

S: Then you were able to turn your hobby into your job, that’s awesome!
First you were in Team Aretuza, if I’m correct, and then work for CD PROJEKT RED.
How did your GWENT-Journey start, and how did you end up in CD PROJEKT RED?

R: My GWENT-Journey started in my hometown at Gamescom 2016, where I came in contact with GWENT the first time. There was a stand where you could play it and a friend of mine already heard of it. So I gave it a shot and entered the closed Beta. Fast-forward one year and I became a fan of The Witcher 3, played GWENT a bit and was again at the Gamescom. This time I spent more time there and met two people which really influenced me.

The first person was AshCosplay, a Cosplayer and Streamer from England. Through a short conversation, I found her Twitch Account and started streaming myself a bit. November 2017 was the time where I had my first GWENT Stream on English.

The second person of course was Pawel Burza, our Community Manager. He was an idol for me for a long time. 2017 I already told him at the Gamescom, that a year later I would be on this GWENT stage myself. Sadly 2018 was no Gamescom, but through regularly streaming and my engagement in the community I joined Team Aretuza. There I got to know the Community even better and tried to implement various projects, to increase the quality of content withing the GWENT scene.
For example, I travelled 2019 two times to Warsaw to produce Bonus Material for official GWENT tournaments. These were published interviews with casters, streamers and also a (sadly) failed documentation for the last challenger.
Start of 2020 there was an open job position in the CD PROJEKT RED GWENT-Team, on which I applied and thankfully got in the end.

S: Your passion definitely paid out in the end, well deserved.
If you are not busy answering questions of GWENT-Partners, players or interviewers, what are your tasks at CD PROJEKT RED

R: My tasks are very versatile, that’s why I love my job so much. On one hand I manage the daily exchange between players and developers, but also the organization of bigger projects, like the reveal-plan for an expansion.
On the other hand, I take care of the GWENT-Partner Program (answering applications or general communication) and of the production of interviews or trivia videos for our GWENT tournaments.
In addition, there are also some exciting sideprojects or smaller things, like the monthly winrate publication.

S: Sounds interesting. I remember my own application in summer 2020.
As a former team member of Team Aretuza you now are involved with everything as the Community Specialist for CD PROJEKT RED.
What changed for you, personally, with this change to the more “official” side? 

R: I hope, of course, that the GWENT Community will be as open and honest with me as before. But I understand, that I might be seen now as an official part of the company. So people might be a bit more careful towards me about what they say.
I definitely miss the daily private and intense conversations on our old TA Team Discord. But therefore I have a new “Team” now, if you want to put it like that, and the insight in the world of game development is really exciting. You get a totally different perspective on things and especially a face behind all these decisions. And personally, the passion in the Team for GWENT and the community drives me.
Sadly, I can’t invest as much time in playing as I used to, because you already spent 8h a day with the game. Nevertheless, I love playing GWENT! 

S: Understandable, but it surely is exciting to now know both sides of the gaming world.
If you look at the big GWENT events, then you quickly figure out how international the Community is. Now and again, people help you with translations, like Hesser or Pawel Burza himself.
How would you describe a  typical “press day” before an event? 

R: The procedure most starts 2-3 weeks before the event. First, we prepare the questions for each player for day 1 and day 2. Also, we ask our graphic designers to make the overlays with the correct names and a fitting design.
Our Event manager MrRepek helps to coordinate the recording times with the players, so that we can start with them 1-2 weeks before the tournament.
I take over the English once, while the rest most of the time are taken care of from Hesser. The interviews are then recorded online, produced and edited for the broadcast on the weekend. 

S: You not only help with the interviews, but also are our main contact person for the GWENT-Partners. Some people are waiting for the next Partner Tournament, others are not sure who the application systems works for everyone etc.
Can you maybe reveal us some future plans for the program and what we might expect? 

R: Unfortunately, I can’t “leak” anything for the Partner Program in 2022, but I can tell you that we are currently working on some big things for it. For example that we will prepare some sort of materials for the Partners, like graphic assets etc.

S: A pity, but I am looking forward to it anyway!
I guess it’s the same for you, but when I open my Discord, I see a lot of different channels. GWENT Teams, Streamers or specific tournament channels, everything is included, as well as the GWENT DE Channel.
I noticed that, except some examples like Kafunow or NewPieceYT, there’s relatively small amount of content online. We have Russian translations of articles, French streams, Spanish leagues or Polish tournaments, so why do you think there are so little German streams, events or articles? 

R: That’s a good question. I think there is no clear, simple answer for that, but many small things which play their part. On one hand, you have indeed many bigger German streamers (for example Crozyr) or creators who rather produce their content in English. I think the reason might be the audience. The viewer numbers are far smaller for German content than for English one. 

S: I guess so, but nevertheless I will try to publish a German interview as well now and then, maybe others will follow.
You streamed a bit yourself and also were invited as a guest in some events on Twitch.
I always wondered how do you moderate a Community, where most of them you only know with their “Nicknames”? 

R: In the Internet, Nicknames are nothing new. You treat people like these were their real names, in fact, I don’t know the real names of many community members. But it’s their right to keep this information for themselves. You don’t need much more than a Nickname to communicate anyway. And the recognition value for Nicknames are most of the time better than for “real” names.

S: True, sometimes I have the feeling I hear my Nickname more often than my real one.
During GWENT Masters Season 3 you introduced the Road Map for 2022. This time we only have 3 Opens before the Masters and also the droprate for the card expansions changed a bit.
Where would you see GWENT currently, and for what are you working towards? What do you hope for the game to happen in the coming year? 

R: I think 2022 will be a great opportunity for GWENT. First, you have the adjustment of the drop rates and work routine of our graphic designers. I think big changes are not always right for a running game, but smaller, finer alterations can be more effective and contribute to better to the enjoyment. I am already excited like everyone else for the new cards this year.

Speaking of the eSports section, I am very optimistic, that the new rules support a more “healthy” Pro-Scene. Less time spending in the ladder-grind and more targeted work through the introduction of new off seasons for the players. Also, the adaption of the Crownpoint System and the new World Masters Qualifier Tournament (no fixed name yet) are things, which I am really looking forward to.

All in all, I think that GWENT, even with one less Open, will be an amazing year for Pros and Viewers at the same time.

S: Sounds promising indeed.
Normally, my guests give us some advice for our readers.
The question is, how competitive o you play GWENT these days? And what you tell our Community for the upcoming year? 

R: My competitive time is over I guess, but I have always fun taking a week for myself to grind back to Pro-Rank.
Previously, I loved to play in Community Tournaments, which I can really recommend for everyone who have an urge for exciting GWENT matches. Most of the time the atmosphere is awesome, and you can have thrilling exchanges as well. 

S: Totally agree on that one!
Alright, thanks again for being my guest. As always, I wish you good fortune in the wars to come, and I am looking forward to watching many more of your stories and interviews! 

R: Thank you very much for the interview and the support! 

Skill beats Luck Ep. 8 – A relic from the past: Kolemoen, Masters Winner of Season 1

Introduction

This weekend was and will be the first big highlight for the Gwent community. With the CDPR Charity Stream on Friday, the still ongoing Team Battlecup, organized by cantarellka, and the first Bandit Gang Game Night on Sunday we have plenty of opportunities to engange with fellow Gwenters. 

But the most important thing is today is Saturday, which means another episode of Skill beats Luck. Last week we had a first glimpse behind the curtain, while talking to CDPR’s Event Manager MrRepek
This time I talked with a veteran from the past, Kolemoen. Winner of the Gwent Masters Season 1 and Finalist of Season 2, he is Team Aretuzas top player and without a doubt one of the best players of all time. Let’s see what he’s been up to since his victory and what he thinks about the current state of Gwent! 
For our fellow German readers, you will find a link to the original German interview in the Additional Information!

Meet the Player

Name: Benjamin Pfannstiel

Age: 31

Hobbies: Gaming, Biking, Logicpuzzles

Section: Pro Team (Aretuza)

Favorite Faction: Syndicate

Favorite Card: Amphibious Assault

 

Gwent Masters

While in recent interviews we talked with community tournament champions, the Official Gwent Masters is totally different. Of course, every tournament has its own charms and the potential of providing intense matches. But becoming the eventual winner of a Masters is something else.

Most of our readers might be familiar with the competitive ruleset and structure, but for everyone else, check out the official regulations on the homepage here
Anyhow, it takes a lot of time and effort to become a champion. To qualify you need to be a very consistent player on ladder. This was always the core part over the last seasons. Nevertheless, other aspects changed a bit. From winning Challengers over Qualifiers to now maybe ending up in a new “Qualifier Tournament” in Season 4, your skills are going to be tested in various ways and formats. And in the end of this journey, after thousands of games, the winner can take home a massive amount of price money in addition to the title. 
(If you are interested in what the Pro Players think about what it takes to become a champion, check out Gwent’s Elite episode 1!)

Kolemoen was able to qualify for Masters Season 1 and 2, ending up being the winner of #1 and finalist of #2 while collecting a price money of almost 140.000$ alone in these two events. Now we take a look on what happened since his title win and what his impressions of the competitive changes are.  

Additional Information - Zusätzliche Infos

For our German readers and community, we prepared the original German interview as well, which you can find here in a Google Document!
Für unsere deutschsprachigen Leser haben wir das Original Interview zusätzlich aufbereitet, welches ihr in diesem Google Document findet!

The Interview

Sawyer: Hey Kolemoen, first of all thanks for participating in the interview. I guess you are well known to most of our readers, but maybe you want to introduce yourself anyway.
What is there to know about you and how did you end up playing Gwent? Especially your journey from the first game to the first title, Team Aretuza and the win of the World Masters.

Kolemoen: Before Gwent I played Hearthstone on a semi-competitive level from where I got to know Lifecoach as a streamer. When he switched to Gwent, I also wanted to try the game and liked it more right away, as it seemed less dependent on chance. 
The first big tournament for which I could qualify was Gwent Challenger#2, which took place in the Moschen Castle in Poland and where I placed 2nd. This gave me the confidence to play Gwent as a full-time Pro.
The first tournament I won was the Red Dragon Cup in the Czech Republic, while the first official event, organized by CDPR, was Gwent Open#6. 

S: Interesting, seems like you adapted to the game pretty fast.
In the end of 2020 you were in the finale of Masters Season 2 and you won the postponed Masters 1 tournament last Summer. How have you been since then? 

K: Since the tournament win I didn’t really play Gwent, as I was a bit burned out. I continued my studies in mathematics, which I put on ice for a while because of Gwent.

S: Understandable after such a taxing time.
Some asked themselves “Where is Kolemoen?”, during Season 3.
Do you still play Gwent or keep an eye on the competitive Gwent community

K: I currently don’t play Gwent, but I still follow the patch notes and try to keep myself informed on what’s happening in the scene.

S: The game has changed tremendously since Homecoming. At the same time other CCG’s, like Legends of Runeterra or Storybook Brawl, appeared. What do you think fascinates people about such games? 

K: Legends of Runeterra obviously attracted many people because Riot created one of the biggest gaming franchises with League of Legends. And these customers hoped for them to create a good card game as well. We also have some people in Team Aretuza playing it. But it never appealed to me myself, as its core mechanics are still based on the same principles as Magic or Hearthstone. (Manasystem, Lifepoints, drawing one card per turn etc.)
Storybook Brawl is basically an optimized version of Hearthstone Battlegrounds, which again was inspired by previous auto battlers like Dota Auto Chess for example. It is a very diverting game with much RNG, but even so, a skilled player will have more success in the long run. But I have my doubts about games like these being suitable for tournaments.  
The variance is really high, so that it’s necessary for those tournaments to take part over many rounds to be meaningful. But such long tournaments are hard to market and without enough Twitch Viewers there are no reasons for the organizers to invest a lot of money. 

S: True, there are lots of similarities between these games. We will have to see in what direction Brawl might go.
We already had the chance to chat in German for previous interviews, which is a bit unusual, since most Gwent content is in English.
As a German native speaker, would you prefer more German content as well? Apart from your German team mate Kafunow, almost all German or Austrian players, like CrozyrShaggy, Damorquis or Gravesh stream mostly in English. 

K: I guess that is because you simply reach a broader audience with English content. Moreover most German speaking can speak or at least understand English as well. While on the other hand many people wouldn’t understand German if you are not from that region.

S: That makes sense. Still wondering why there are so many streams in other languages but only a few German ones.

Speaking of German streams, have you ever thought of streaming yourself? We could see you in tournaments or maybe a few podcasts, but how would a Kolemoen stream look like? 

K: I streamed a few times a few years ago but it was to tiring for me focusing on the game and answering questions from the chat the same time. But I could imagine that this could improve with a bit of practice. 

S: It would be pretty cool to see you back!
I think many would agree, when I say that you might be one of the best Gwent players of all time.
During your active seasons, what would you say was your key to success?
Surely it must be a huge motivation for the German speaking community to see that after CyberZ‘ win, two out of three Masters titles went to Germany.

K: It might sound arrogant, but I think in e-sports the most important factor for success is talent for the game. Of course, you need to also invest the required amount of time to improve, which most pro players are doing, you can be sure of that that.
Another important factor for me was my team. It is tremendously helpful for tournament preparation when you have other top players to practice with and with whom you can go through strategies.
For specific tournament wins nevertheless you can’t ignore that luck always plays a small part as well. 

S: Maybe…but in the end: Skill beats Luck.
Anyway, after the last Masters the Road Map or 2022 was announced.
What are your impressions and how would you see the future for (competitive) Gwent? Can we hope for an eventual comeback? 

K: I think the new competitive system is an improvement, because it will demand less time to grind. But I don’t think I will compete in the next season. Also I am not sure if I will ever join the competitive circuit again in the future, hard to say, but I don’t think so.
The monetary prices are sadly not as high as they used to be, so the time you need to invest to qualify for tournaments, which is still substantial, is hard to warrant.

S: Fair point. So after the holiday season and with the start of the new year, what are your goals for 2022, maybe even besides e-sports? 

K: I want to finish my studies this year and also try to do more sports in general. 

S: Decent goals, I wish you good luck with that and, as always, good fortune in the wars to come!
By any chance, you have any closing words or tips for our readers who might want to tackle Gwent Season 4?

K: Sure thing! I can’t give many tips for the current Meta though. But in general I would advise to only engage on a competitive level, if you really enjoy the game and are passionate enough to invest 40 hours a week in Gwent.
And if so, you will notice pretty soon if you are good enough and have what it takes to get to the top.

Deck Guide: Scoia’tael’s Boost Campaign

Overview

Scoia’tael has started its own boost campaign with the latest leader and card changes, plus new cards that have been added to the cardpool of Gwent. And are therefore, weirdly enough, the ones discriminating the humans for once…

Jokes aside, this deck has been performing quite well in the lower ranks, and according to anonymous sources its also considered a meta deck, although it’s no secret that I used to be a Pro Rank player and thus I have the advantage against lower ranked players.

The deck is all about boosting cards in your hand that benefit the most from it to require easy wins!

Pros

  • Carryovers points to other rounds
  • Stronk finishers
  • Thicc Aglaïs

Cons

  • Being pushed in round 2 which results in forcing to play one or more of your stronk finishers
  • Your engines being removed
  • Wrong cards receiving handbuff

Core Cards

Three key cards: Aglaïs, Sheldon Skaggs and Torgue are the cards that benefit most of the respective handbuff. Make sure to boost Torgue to spread the boost onto Aglaïs or Sheldon Skaggs. Cursed scroll allows you to draw one of the two.

Special cards: Since we play with lots of special cards it’s not a surprise that Gord has been included in the deck. Reason for why we play special cards is to make the chance of the handbuff landing on the three key cards that previously got mentioned. Also, half of the special cards handbuff units that are in your hand.

Handbuff engines: Dunca and Hawker Smugglers are important because they make sure that the three key cards receive their boost shots (pun intended).

The Deck

Bandit Gang’s Meme Snapshot for Gwent #5

Introduction

Many decks can be considered Meme Decks. 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 fifth edition of Bandit Gang’s Meme Snapshot! In case you missed out on the other editions, you can find them here. Once again, we want to use new concepts that weren’t included in the previous editions, 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 categories but have now added a new purpose to the Honorable Mentions category. The categories are as followed:

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.

4. Honorable Mentions: these are decks from community members that we wanted to give that extra spotlight. We encourage you to submit your own, read more about this in the Conclusion.

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:

The ball deck is back! This time, with a twist! If you are looking for a unique way to play ball, this is it. How does it work? The plan is to somehow survive to round 3. Mulligan away ball and do not use mentors nor Calveit! In round 3, open with Jan and follow with a spotter to give the opponent ball. BAM! Every Viper Witcher Mentor nets a hefty 15 points! Later, you can use Cantarella to play Ball or Double Cross, if the opponent has a draw mechanic. Discard won’t help your opponent with Gorthur Gvaed on board! 

 Pros:

– A lot of points in round 3

– Spread power → big cards and tall removal/engines

– You play ball in a fun way

Cons:

– Terrible round 1

– Vulnerable to bleed

– Draw dependent

Core Cards:

Gorthur Gvaed: Not only does it give you another Viper Witcher Mentor, but it can also line up a nice Cantarella or mess with your opponent’s draw.

Blightmaker: Pray to get both in round 1, because they are your only good plays in this round.

Spotter: How to ruin your opponent’s day with one simple trick?

Written by Bomblin

Overview:

Sooooo, this is a funny one… The main concept behind this deck is to use good old boy Erland as a big finisher in R3 with a high probability of survival even if you do not have last say. How do we do that, you say? By spawning as many same-type units as possible in R1 & R2 and then using Pavetta in R3 to put everything back in the deck so that Erland can be as “fat” as possible.

Pros:

– So greedy it’s actually fun!!!

– Nice point finisher

– Easy to understand strategy

Cons:

– So greedy it’s actually painful!!!

– Very RNG dependent

– It needs to win R1 and bleed the opponent heavily in R2 in order to create as many units as possible!!!

Core Cards:

Draug: Our main way to produce a lot of similar type of units (Revenants). Revenants can also help in winning some rounds and provide some control over your opponent’s board

The Land of a Thousand Fables: Perhaps the single most important card in the deck as we will use this in R2 to sacrifice our AA (preferably after using it at least once in R1) in order to create a second Draug (has 50% chance to either get Draug or Henselt through this method). Second Draug = more Revenants

Pavetta: Gets all those revenants and puts them back to the deck to increase Erland’s value

Erland: Our winning condition. If all goes according to plan you will get a big 25-30 points finisher, which will also have an additional advantage: Immunity!!

King Foltest: Helps create as many dun banner as possible in order to be used with Draug

Mushy Truffle + PFI: Again, used to create as many bodies as possible for Draug

Queen Meve + Voyomir: Can help in winning R1, pushing or defending a bleed in R2

Leader – Pincer Maneuver: Can help with the consistency and un-bricking our hand

Written by Pokkas88

Overview

Yes, you’re not having a fever dream, it is true, you can technically have at some point a 72-powered ogroid boy in the game of Gwent. So, how is it possible to achieve this? The process itself is actually quite simple. First of all, if the row on which you have Old Speartip: Asleep is full, he will not summon Old Speartip, yet the strengthening part of his ability will trigger. Second of all, there are many ways to spawn Old Speartip Asleep! Third, put the first and the second point together and you’ve got profit. Well… sort of! 

Pros:

– Gives you a reason to play practice mode or friendly matches.

– Intriguing gameplay, especially for fans of puzzle games (e. g. Thronebreaker). 

– A chance to make arguably one of the highest base power units possible in the game.

Cons:

– Pretty much unplayable outside of friendlies/practice. Insta-death to control. 

– Absurdly draw dependent, even with a variety of tutors. 

– No back-up plan and no real way of generating points outside of the core combo.

Core Cards

The Speartips: Always secure the sleepy Speartip in your hand. Always have the angry Speartip in your deck. As soon the countdown on sleepy Speartip reaches 1, or earlier, your row must be filled in order to block the summoning effect. Rinse and repeat.  

The Spawn Gang: The sequencing of playing your spawning engines is very important as you’re fighting both time and synergy. The ideal sequencing is: Idarran – Weavess: Incantation – Caranthir onto Old Speartip: Asleep – Arachas Queen onto one of the 1-powered copies – Abaya and Ritual Sacrifice onto Arachas Queen – use of order on Weavess: Incantantion on Arachas Queen.

Written by Mercernn

Overview:

With the addition of Arachas Queen, MO gained a valuable card that can be used in a multitude of different decks. It also has massive meme potential as some of the synergies it can help create are just plain epic. In this version of the deck, we are going to use AQ + Golyat to create as many Golyats as possible, mainly for two purposes: a) mill our opponent as much as possible and b) to be used with witches sabbath in r2 and r3 for the additional carryover and of course… mill our opponent even more!!!

Pros:

– Deck has some amazing synergies

– Flexible enough to use your cards differently depending on match up

-Massive point value if everything plays according to plan

– Some of the deathwish units can be replaced to your liking!!!

Cons:

– A banished AQ means you lose a big part of your strategy

– Very draw dependent

– Low consistency

Core Cards:

Arachas Queen: The main idea behind this deck. You consume a card on deploy and creating a second copy when its own deathwish ability activates. Used to create as many Golyats as possible but the deck includes other targets as backup (Manticore, Miruna)

Golyat: Summons highest provision unit from opp deck. Mill opportunity + good carryover points through Witches Sabbath

Witches Sabbath + Alissa: Can be used to replay our cards (preferably on both R2 & R3) and get more value out of them, especially if its Golyat. Spring equinox can purify our units in R2 if needed so we can replay in R3!!!

Haunt, Deathwish package, Ritual Sacrifice, Abaya: Can be used in many different ways. Push and win R1, abuse AQ synergy more (eg via Ritual or Abaya), push or a defend a bleed, used in long round R3

Written by Pokkas88

Overview:
The new change to the Initiative keyword means many things, one thing ensures is lots of fire. It’s been awhile since I played a Scorch deck so I thought why not have a bit of fun and try to set it up 4 times in a game! Our old friend Alissa Henson is here to help out with our shenanigans 

Pros:

-So much fire

-Its a Shupe deck

Cons:

-Fragile combo

-Lots of set up

Core Cards:

Scorch: Will burn the highest power units on board(including yours if you’re not careful) so we want to use all our damage cards to line up the opponents cards to same power 

Francesca Findabair: Allows for a glorious Double Scorch in one turn 

Alissa Henson: Puts Scorch back in deck to be played again 

Renew: Solely for Alissa again

Written by Kalvino

Overview:

What if Skellige had their own Iron Man? He wouldn’t be as impressive, but he would be a few fun points! The main idea here is to utilize Onslaught’s passive to give lots of armor to an Axe-Wielder which you then remove with Iris for a big boost and small Pew Pew.

Pros:

– Core pirates synergy is pretty good

– Crach is low-key MVP

– Has Uma

Cons:

– Requires opponent to play units

– Few consistency cards

Core Cards:

Iris Shade: Takes armor off your Axe-Wielder or another Pirate and boosts self 

Terror Crew Axe-Wielder: When it loses armor it damages so perfect target to remove armor from 

Elf and Onion Soup: Nice RNG spice, used on Roach & Knickers 

Iris’ Companions: Used to ensure you draw Iris

Written by Kalvino

Lore Friendly

Overview:

With a recent change to Regis, the deck got so much better! You can finally tutor Regis with cards like Joachim or Roderick. Spies are still a bit underwhelming but at least the board clear looks cool! You can also consider a version with more assimilate cards. It would be harder to lineup Regis but it would make games more winnable.

Pros:

– Amazing in a long round

– Can destroy greedy decks

– Good against swarmy decks

Cons:

– Terrible against unitless decks

– Spies are a bit underwhelming engines

– Very slow.

Core Cards:

Regis: tutor him now, yay! Remember that he still doesn’t work after you use orders (including leader ability!)

Joachim: With Coup, he can line up 1 and 4 powers values for Regis. If you add to it Roderick, you already have a great row for our favorite Vampire.

Ramon: Great with Impera enforcers. In some niche situations, you can play him with Cavalry.

Written by Bomblin

Overview:

A deck I have been working on for quite some time now, since CDPR buffed Vandergrift a few patches ago. I really wanted to create a Vandergrift + Vandergrift’s Blade deck and this buff served as a good excuse to play around with the Knight tag. This is a lore-friendly non-meme deck that is actually fun to play and a fresh alternative to what everybody is playing in NR right now!!!

Pros:

-Some good synergies with the Knight cards

-Good consistency

Has both control and defensive capabilities

Cons:

-Low tempo

-Bronze cards with Knight tag feel very underwhelming

-Difficult to deal with swarm decks

-Difficult to play against heavy control decks

Core Cards:

Vandergrift’s Blade + Reynard Odo: If played in the same round, these cards can basically boost every unit played by 2 (blade will only work with Knights though). The extra boost can help a lot of your cards survive their first turn on the board while for some it can boost their removal capability!!

Prophet Lebioda: Each unit played next to Lebioda gets that well needed shield!!

Prince Anseis, Seltkirk & Vissegerd: Some excellent removal options (Anseis & Seltkirk) while Vissegerd can act as a last say card that will gain a lot of charges if most of your units are boosted.

Donimir: Very important to at least protect your units… The more your units remain alive (and boosted) the more you increase your chances on winning!!

Vandergrift: Like seriously… who expects this… from NR… in this meta?

Raffard’s Vengeance + Thaler + AA + Cintrian Envoy: Some good options to use for thinning and getting the cards you want… Use wisely!!!

Written by Pokkas88

Overview:

It’s getting a bit chilly around here, let’s make sure our opponents are freezing too! I dont think I’ve ever seen anyone play a deck focused on Blizzard…probably because it’s a terrible idea. I thought to try it out in Monsters as our units should always be higher power than the opponents. Alissa back again to potentially play Blizzard twice! 

Pros:

– Actual Blizzard value

– Chonky units

– Lots of Pew Pew 

Cons:

– Low point output on our side

– Relies on opponents cards

Core Cards:

Blizzard: Destroys all lowest units (including ours) 

Alissa Henson: Double Blizzed fun

Saesenthessis Blaze, Ivo of Belhaven, Yennefer Conjurer, Nithral, & Myrgtabrakke: All these cards are used to damage the opponents units and set their power to be lower than any of ours 

Incubus: Pulls a high power bronzes from our graveyard and ideally a low power unit from the opponent 

Hideous Feast: Very useful card as it can damage opponents cards in range of Blizzard and boost our cards to safety

Written by Kalvino

Overview:

When talking about SY, there is always one specific card that comes to mind for me… COLLUSION!!!!! I always felt that this impactful crime has great potential and loved experimenting with it. In this lore-friendly deck, we are trying to use collusion not once, but twice!!  It is a bit challenging to pull through, but when it does it feels so rewarding. Most people right now expect to face SY Jackpot, so this deck will definitely catch many people by surprise!

Pros:

– Can use collusion in two different rounds or even in a single round for double the value

– Scenario can help in getting round control quickly

– Lots of different cards from different archetypes allow for a more flexible approach to each match up

Cons:

-Heavy control decks will limit your potential to set up the board properly for Collusion

– Coin usage is very important as we do not have infinite coin generation

– Tricky to navigate correctly

Core Cards:

Collusion + Alissa + Ferko: The main concept of the deck. Play collusion once, use Alissa to return the card from your graveyard to your deck, then replay collusion once more via Ferko if needed. Ferko can be used in the same round as well if collusion and Alissa are both in hand!!

Passiflora Scenario: Can be used to gain round control, set up those engines and fill your pockets with very much needed coins.

Bloody Good Friends + Sea Jackal (Leader charges): Main source for 3 of the 5 tags needed to get a full value collusion. Always keep 1 BGF & 1 Sea Jackal for each time you are going to play collusion

Whoreson’s Freak Show: Can be used alongside payday and Kurt to remove targets that can be dangerous for you when setting up your board.

The Mushy Truffle + Sly Seductress: A very strong synergy with the Passiflora scenario, can be a good alternative for a R3 encounter where collusion has already been used in previous rounds

Jacques + Helveed: Your main source of Firesworn in this deck. Even if one of those tokens survive it will be enough to trigger collusion. Also can be your spenders if needed.

Written by Pokkas88

Becoming A Pro

Overview

This deck emerged from a shower thought that I had around the time when Ardal aep Dahy was released. It revolved around giving Cantarella to the opponent and having them play it to his disadvantage or discard it. So browsing across the deck builder, I came across three cards that caught my attention: Saer Quan (in combination with Amnesty), Curse of Corruption and Count Caldwell. Saer Quan turned out to be a bit clunky and CoC is often unsynergistic with Snowdrop, so I eventually picked Count Caldwell

Combo is easy: Play Cantarella, then in another round, play Leader and place Caldwell as the second card from the top. Then you play Ardal on Cantarella, while you draw the top card. Now your opponent has Cantarella in his hand while Count Caldwell is on top of your deck, and you have the tallest unit on the board. Will he play it? 

Pros

Punishes curious opponents for playing Cantarella. Most of them are curious. 

Tall units and tall removal support the strategy 

Operator with Nilfgaardian Knight enables a Shaelmaar target and gives great bonded value to Illusionists later on. 

Cons

Totally falls apart if you don’t have dominance during the combo 

Combo only works in the last round. Otherwise, Cantarella will just not be played (probably) 

Doesn’t necessarily have the strongest round 1 

Core Cards

Ardal aep Dahy, Cantarella, Count Caldwell (or another target card) and a few tactics. The rest of the deck should just revolve around the strategy.

Written by Escanbryt

Overview:

This deck is incredibly fun and surprisingly strong (Got me to Pro this season with a 12-2-1 record). The core strategy you follow is to utilize Caravan Vanguards for filling your rows as much as possible, and then employ Cat Witcher Mentors and Gaetan to get payoff from the high amount of units. The deck also includes a carryover package with handbuff and Allgod, which works very well with your leader, as well as Harald Gord to help you in shorter rounds. 

Pros:

– Very powerful, Cat Witcher Mentors can consistently reach over 20 points of value if used correctly.

– Decent both in control and proactive play.

– Capable of excelling in both short and long rounds. 

Cons:

– Draw dependent to a degree, as it is easy to brick your hand and many of your cards are combo-based. 

– Vulnerable to wide punish (Lambert, Lacerate, the SK Rain Archetype). 

– The risk of overfilling is omnipresent and requires a lot of thinking ahead. 

Core Cards

Caravan Vanguard: A priceless card for this deck. They have a very nice value curve, starting at 7.5 (Unbonded + Bonded / 2) and growing for each additional trigger. You aim to play them always on the ranged row to get more units, rather than boost. In such a scenario, a bonded trigger can play for 9 points of raw value + 2 triggers on each Cat Witcher Mentor + 2 triggers on Gaetan. 

Teleportation: A surprisingly valuable combo card, which is intended to be used on Vanguards. Provided you have 2 Vanguards on the board (1 play), Teleportation on one of them will trigger bonded, thus resulting in 6 raw value points + 2 triggers on each subsequent Mentor + 2 triggers on Gaetan + 1 point on Harald Gord + potential healing/status removal. You can easily get over 10 points with this handy, cheap card! 

Cat Witcher Mentors + Gaetan: These are your payoff cards for row swarming. Always play Mentors after you swarm your row a bit, so that they couldn’t be removed by low damage and place them to the leftmost position for synergy with Gaetan later. Also, always calculate how many spots you need to preserve for Mentors and Gaetan (1-4). Once your row is filled with but one position left, play Gaetan which will not only trigger his ability, but also re-trigger Mentors’ abilities for every card moved provided you played them to the very left. This will also only work on Adrenaline 4. 

Written by Mercernn

Overview

The Skellige Rain Archetype should never be underestimated. It even was played in the last Masters, but we made some cheeky changes to it.
Obviously you try to overwhelm your opponent with the classic Discard Package, while using some of your Bronze Engines to secure a round. The core and idea of this deck though is, that you play your leader earlier than usual, but keep in mind that you want to play it with Gremist in hand or on board, so that you can purify Arnjolf. This way we make sure that you can replay it with Fucusya, so that you get 10 turns of rain, which your Messengers of the Sea and Rioghan can make use of.
Cards like Madman Lugos, Gigascorpion Decoction or Avallac’h give you some control options, while the Megascope might get you an additional Messenger.
Sequencing with this deck is key, so make sure to plan ahead to maximize your rain value!
Your last 3 plays, with Messengers on board, might look like this: Sigrdrifa’s Rite on another Messenger, Fucusya into Arnjolf and then Bride of the Sea replaying Sigrdrifa’s Rite into Rioghan.  

Pros:

– Great mixture of consistency, control and engines

– Gives Madman Lugos a chance to shine 

– Makes use of the pointswing potential from Rioghan the Undying, Messengers and Rain

– Still viable even if your combo bricks

Cons:

– Sequencing can get a bit itchy from time to time 

– Squirrel and especially Xavier Lemmens can ruin your day

– Kinda depends on drawing your bronze cards, especially your Messengers

– Not much Rain without the combo

Core Cards:

Fucusya: She is without a doubt one of the strongest card in game right now. You will need her to replay Arnjolf, while it is in Graveyard, to make use of the meme. Otherwise you are still able to play Little Havfrues, Messengers or something else with her, but it’s less fun. 

Rioghan the Undying: While never in your hand, you will need him together with your Messengers and Rain to get the maximum payoff. You will try to get him back with Sigrdrifa’s Rite. 

Messenger of the Sea: They are a strong bronze engine, helping you synergize and maximize your rain potential with Avallac’h, Little Havfrues and whatever you play with Fucusya. They are basically your points with this deck, therefore you want to use Freya’s Blessing and Megascopes on them as well. 

Suggestions:

If you want to play safe, you can change some cards, like Megascope for a Pellar to be able to purify Arnjolf or Tears of Siren to secure yourself some Rain. You can change Avallac’h for Heatwave, but he secures you enough Rain to get your Messengers going. Madman Lugos and Decoction are not mandatory, as well as Spore, but they surely help you to control your opponent’s board.

Written by Sawyer

Overview:

Mourntart got a very nice Provision change in the recent patch and finally feels pretty playable! The points just Pop onto the board! We would like to play into all 3 rounds and set up a giant graveyard for our Mourntart to feast on with last say. 

Pros:

-Consistent game plan

-Plenty of points in all rounds

-Only cares about setting up graveyard

Cons:

-Really needs last say 

-Needs the right cards early to ensure later combo

Core Cards:

Mourntart + Petri’s Philter: The perfect pay-off to your whole game of set up. Philter allows Mounrtart to be played last with zeal and dodge any removal 

Plague Maiden +  Yennefer of Vengerberg + Siegfried of Denesle: Great round 2 to slam points and intimidate the opponent and the purification of tokens means even more bodies for Mourntart 

Mushy Truffle + Caravan Vanguard + Lesser Witch + Celaeno Harpy: All of our bonded units spawn more and more units to fill up our graveyard

Written by Kalvino , Deck by Decode789

Honorable Mentions

Overview:

The inspiration for this deck came from me having the idea of using Ancient Foglets as finishers, slamming them with a lot of weather effects on the enemy rows. Looking at row effects, rag nah rook popped in the list and I thought that I could add Madoc as well, even if it would not be that consistent as I intended to spawn fog frost and cataclysm. With the addition of Arachas Queen I could review the deck and even make it greedier! So, without further ado, I present you “She-Troll white and the 7 Madocs”.

Pros:

-Fun meme deck with very good potential

-Utilizing Madoc in a fresh alternative way by using row effects to both damage AND produce points for our engines

-Massive points in a long round

Cons:

-Susceptible to tall/row punish

-Initial hand is very important to get the maximum amount of Madocs possible (7)

-If AQ gets heatwaved, the entire plan falls through

Core Cards:

Arachas Queen + Madoc: The core of this deck, we need to spawn as many as possible in R1 in order to guarantee our engines will get the maximum value in later rounds

Abaya + Decoy + Witches Sabbath: Very important cards that can help in getting further value from the AQ+ Madoc combo

Whispess Tribute + Whispering Hillock: Excellent cards that act as tutors for the cards we will need

She-Troll + Vran Warrior + Ancient Foglets: Our faithful engines that will produce the majority of points for us. Every time that Madoc’s ability is used, we will trigger these engines concurrently as She-Troll & Vran buff themselves whenever a unit is destroyed and Ancient Foglets buff themselves whenever row effects are applied!!!

Moon Dust + Dimeritium Bomb + Red Haze + Northern Wind: Our bombs that will summon our Madoc from the deck or graveyard. Only 6 of them so use strategically!!!

*Note – A full guide for this deck is included in the PlayGwent database

Written by UngryNab

Our good friend MrRepek created this wholesome deck for the community to help celebrate MissLadyJay and Crozyr’s Wedding!

Mercernn helped out during the stream and suggested we include it. Be sure to click the Deck picture to read MrRepek’s full guide.

Deck by MrRepek

Conclusion

This was our fifth 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 everyone providing us with their decks! Otherwise it would have been somewhat one-sided, with only decks from Bomblin, Kalvino, Pokkas 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, Kalvino, Pokkas and I will fare thee well, and we’ll see you again in Meme Snapshot #6!

Now is the time to shine, oh memers of the Gwent community! Got a deck that’s so bad it’s good? One that’s kinda out there but still got you to pro, or one that’s lore friendly? Then please send an email to teambanditgang@gmail.com and we will consider putting it in our next Meme Snapshot!

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

Skill beats Luck Ep. 7 – Behind the scenes with CDPR Event Manager MrRepek

Introduction

For most of us, the holiday season has come to an end and the new year 2022 began. Surely not the start I hoped for as a Darts and Gerwyn “The Iceman” Price fan, …but in terms of Gwent we have an exciting year to look forward to. Not only did the new competitive season just start, but also some old journeys will come back to the shop and new and exciting cards are already in the making. 
Also you can expect now more frequent episodes of Skill beats Luck in the near future, including amazing guests from all over the world, while I also have some special episodes in mind already. Stay tuned!

Last episode we had a chat with Team Legacy’s Danirai, the winner of the Duel of Dogs No.2, where we talked about his route to victory, his opinion on Gwent in general and how the Gwent community was the foundation of real-life friendships.
While normally our guests are either players, streamers or casters, this time we will get a closer look behind the scenes of Gwent and CDPR with our guest Maciej Reputakowski-Madej or better known as MrRepek. As the Event Manager of CDPR he was involved with many different Gwent Events, like working on official tournaments, conventions, or PR-campaigns.

Let’s take a closer look at our community from a different perspective and get some insights from behind the curtain!

Meet the Guest

Name: Maciej Reputakowski-Madej

Age: 41

Hobbies: Streaming, TV Shows, Boardgames & RPG, Comics, Football

Section: Event Manager CDPR

Favorite Faction: Bandits

Favorite Card: Shupe’s Day Off

About CDPR

CD PROJEKT RED is, as most of you already know, a video game development studio and publisher with its origins in Poland. Founded in the 90s by Michał Kiciński and Marcin Iwiński,  the company starting with localization and translating games into Polish. Years later, 2007, the first adaption of Andrzej Sapkowskis novels of Wiedźmin, The Witcher was born.           
After the success, 2011 The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings followed as well as The Witcher 3: Wildhunt 2015/2016 with getting a next-gen update 2022.    
As for Gwent, the journey started in 2018 as a spinoff card game featured in Wild Hunt. While also developing and publishing other games like Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales, Cyberpunk 2077 or The Witcher: Monster Slayer (for Android and iOS), CDPR is also known for their REDengine used in their games and their game distribution service Good Old Games, GOG for short. 

With over 1000 employees working in their Studios in Warsaw, Cracow, Wrocław and now also Vancouver and Boston, CDPR is growing and keeps creating games, which tell “breathtaking, mature stories to global audiences, without losing the attention to detail”.

For more information check out their homepage or one of the different community forums to get to know the company and people behind it… just continue reading to hear what MrRepek has to say!

The Interview

Sawyer: Welcome Repek, I really appreciate you taking part in our series! 

For many in the community you are a very familiar face, but maybe you can tell our readers a bit more about yourself as well. Especially your way to CDPR and your strong connection to a certain ogroid…    

Repek: Thank you for having me! I am always humbled by such invitations and really appreciate them.

My road to CDPR had started before Witcher 1 was released. I wanted to become a writer and applied back then and once again when REDs were working on Witcher 3. Finally I realized that maybe it is not my way to get into the games development industry. Four years ago CDPR was looking for someone with experience in events and card games… So, it took me only about 13 years, but it seems that third time’s the charm.

And speaking of Shupe … I know that Midwinter Update does not invoke the best memories, but that was the moment when I met our friendly troll. It was love at first sight.

S: Seems like your persistence paid off…luckily for all of us and Shupe!      
Besides sometimes streaming Gwent, you are mainly the Event Manager of CDPR. But what does this actually mean? How can we imagine what your tasks and duties are?

R: I enjoy streaming but I am doing it just for fun and to stay in touch with the game and the community.

As the Events Team we are supporting whoever needs our help. It means taking care of our booths at conventions and presenting the games to the community and the press, but also organizing internal events like Holiday parties and Social Fridays. It is just a tip of the iceberg and it never gets boring. Oh, and we have Gwent tournaments of course…

S: Sounds like a lot of work, but also very exciting.     
When I think back, my journey with the Witcher began when I realized that I bought Witcher 3 at some point but never played it, heard it was good and…the rest is history.

 Since when are you part of the Witcher universe, if you can say it like that, and what got you hooked on it?

R: For me it all started in the early 90s. My older cousin brought me a book titled “Sword of Destiny” and… the rest is history. In Poland, if you were a nerd, it was not possible to miss the phenomenon of the Witcher. Not everyone liked the books or even understood them, but everyone knew that something extraordinary was happening.

I always loved Sapkowski’s style of writing. He is Polish but he never seemed to be afraid to use Arthurian myth or Celtic mythology as a foundation of his works. Over 30 years ago it was not that common in our fantasy literature.

S: I can relate as I actually just finished the first book myself!            
So you’ve kinda experienced the whole journey of Gwent from a different perspective than most of our readers.
Do you have certain milestones you remember fondly or also experienced moments where you’ve thought “why not stick with dice poker?”

R: If you like dice poker, you can always replay Witcher 2 for the fifth time, right?

Seriously though, I have many great memories when it comes to the whole Gwent journey. Tournaments, events, even the challenging moments are important to me. But the event I love the most is the last Challenger of Season 1. (You can rewatch the quarterfinals here and semis & final here)
It was not the biggest in scale (like tournaments in Moszna Castle or in Wieliczka Salt Mine), but we invited community members to our studio in Warsaw and spent a wonderful weekend together. Such memories live forever.

S: I can only imagine, let’s hope these kinds of events will be back in the future.
On Twitch we can see you guys creating streaming events, besides from the official tournaments, like TWIG for example or charity streams.        

What is it like behind the scenes to organize these kinds of events, which, because of Corona, are happening for us only virtual?

R: TWIG is Burza’s thing so you have to ask him. I try to follow it every week and I really like the new format with invited guests. I believe that from the organizational perspective they are much easier to prepare, as you only need a camera, mic and some free time. Oh, and a tub from time to time.

Charity streams require more time to prepare. For example, we need tons of approvals from our legal team. I do not want to spoil too much (the community team would kill me), but something is brewing…

S: I am already excited…and also know the struggles organizing these events, as I worked on a charity event together with ShupeTV myself back in August.       
Obviously, you have been not only involved with Gwent, but also other projects, like Thronebreaker or Cyberpunk.
What would you say are the differences between working on an ongoing CCG like Gwent and an open-world RPG like Cyberpunk?

R: As the E-sports team, we are really experienced when it comes to Gwent events. So far we organized 24 official tournaments. I am not saying we are doing it on an autopilot now, but – after such blows as Covid hitting Masters Finals – hardly anything surprises us. Just like the game, it is an ongoing, exciting experience. And it is free to play!

Cyberpunk 2077 was and is a whole different story. The scope of the pre-launch campaign was so big that I cannot compare it to anything else that happened in my professional career. For me and the Events Team it meant traveling a lot, meeting thousands of people from the community, presenting the demo over and over again. It was an amazing adventure which was unfortunately brutally stopped by Covid.

S: Speaking about Cyberpunk…you were not only working on PR-campaigns but also involved in some technical manners, like the face scanning process.
What was it like and how would you describe your experience? 

R: It is a good example of what people from the Events Team help with. Almost three years ago we cooperated with an external company who came to our studio to make professional scans of our faces. They built a special ring with around 100 connected cameras and we just had to make sure that over 80 RED and GOG employees appear in this science-fiction environement.

It was totally worth the effort. The Characters Team could use the scans as in-game models for many NPCs in Night City. This way the visuals of characters in the open world are much more diversified. For us it is also quite funny to see our colleagues in the game (especially when they punch you to death, haha).

I was lucky to be picked by Characters Team too. You can find me in the Pharmaceutics near Skyline/Salinas. For a Cyberpunk fan like me, it is a big deal to contribute to this game. I hope they won’t remove me in any upcoming patch.

S: Seems like a unique and exciting process, as well as a great memory. Can’t think of any reason why they should remove you in the future.
Also, people are eager to know what future projects CDPR is currently working on. Witcher 4, Cyberpunk DLCs, Golden Nekker.

I am sure your options to reveal some leeks are limited, but I can’t avoid trying anyway. And if not about the games, what events are planned in 2022, especially the Gwent community can look forward to? 

R: They will carve it on my tombstone, but I will keep saying this: “There is only one Master of the Leeks at CDPR and his name is Paweł Burza“. That being said, we already shared some information on what’s going to happen in 2022. A company like CDPR never sleeps so you can expect cool new stuff.

In December we concluded Season 3 of Gwent Masters and the new season already started.  I’m not gonna lie, I am already looking forward to Gwent Opens. I just love the atmosphere of these tournaments.

S: I see. That sounds promising!          
With the holiday season coming to an end and 2022 already in the starting blocks, maybe tell us how Christmas looks like at CDPR.
Also, do you have any resolutions or goals for the new year? 

R: Holidays time was very special for the company and for the Events Team in part-icular.
We just helped the Internal Culture Team in organizing an outdoor party for RED and our friends from GOG. After another demanding year everyone de-served a moment of re-laxation. It was a very challenging project but very rewarding at the same time.

Personally, I am not setting any big goals for 2022. I am just going to expect the un-expected and react accordingly. It worked for me for the past 2 years.

S: Reminds me of the Law of Surprise, which seems to end really well!       
Finally, when can we expect a Gwent face-off between Henry Cavill and Keanu Reeves? What would you think their favorite factions might be if you have to guess?

R: Both of us can only do one thing: dream! Dream big!

I can totally see Keanu playing a refined Bandits themed deck (with Shupe, because why not). Henry would, of course, pick a Witcher deck with special appearances by Ciri and Yennefer (#TeamYen here, sorry). Factions do not matter, they are both playing neutral cards and agree to not use their leader abilities.

I’d love to make such a show match happen.

S: A big hit for all Trissers for sure, but also based on Cavill’s fondness for games my bets are on him.   
 
Jokes aside, I am really grateful for this opportunity of having you here. Thank you and as always, good fortune in the wars to come. Normally the Pro-Players in this series end with some advice for Gwent…what would be your advice for everyone not only interested in playing games, but also trying to become involved as a designer, developer, or any other role behind the scenes of the gaming industry? 

R: I’ve just reached PRO Rank (again!) but all I can say is: have fun. If you are not enjoying what you are doing WHEN PLAYING A GAME, what’s the point in playing it in the first place? Entertainment should not feel like punishment.

It works for me when it comes to my job too. Of course, you need certain skills and stubbornness to get where you want to be. There is no shortcut. You play a lot to become a pro player. You write to become a writer and you organize your own events to prove you can work as an event manager. However, when you are there, in your own Promised Land, it is good to remember you are not doing it only for money.
If you are not enjoying it, you won’t give your best” – Repko Coelho.

Once again, thank you for having me. Team Bandit Gang FTW!

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #12

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

Desperation

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

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

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

Art Source

Saulrenith

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

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

Art Source

Kraken

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

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

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

Art Source

Saimaa

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

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

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

Art Source

Bork

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

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

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

Art Source

Mourning a Loss

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

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

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

Art Source

Maugrim

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

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

Art Source

Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #11

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

Goetia

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

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

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

Art source is here.

His Excellency

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

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

Art source is here.

Dancing Nancy

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

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

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

Art source is here.

Heretic

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

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

Art source is here.

Blades of Destiny

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

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

Art source is here.

Leshen

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

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

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

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

Meve's Guard

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

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

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

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

Art source is here.

Deck Guides: King Bran Pirates and Cerys: Fearless Alchemy

Overview

I’ll be honest: When King Bran was revealed, I got his ability with the excess damage wrong. I thought that the boost would be the sum of excess dealt during the game, yet in fact it’s only one point for each time some excess damage is dealt. So the first idea to utilize Cards like Hjalmar, Carlo Varese or Terror of the Seas with as much armor as possible didn’t turn out that exciting. Instead you need to go for many different excess damage plays and this is where Crach an Craite begins to shine. He can passively kill the opponent’s lowest unit, while often exceeding the damage that is needed for that.

Combine that with the new Onslaught ability and all the armor gained will be put to good use. For that we need lots of ships and pirates of course. Here I go back to an old deck of mine that had many bronze pirates and only the Tidecloak Hideaway as ships. The latter will be among your opening plays in round one, when you have a hand full of pirates. Your stratagem can be the boost target here, otherwise you need to play a different unit first. Otherwise just get the strategy with Crach an Craite going, and try to play the Covenant of Steel first. Sadly, Crach can be controlled rather easily. Afterwards just play cheap bronze pirates if you are far enough ahead on tempo and try to develop some armor hand-buff.

Whether or not you are bleeding in round two depends on the game, I think. Sigrdrifa’s Rite can bring back Crach or the defender to finish what you began. Your finishing plays will be King Bran and Terror of the Seas. Iris: Shade can be played anytime when one unit has too much armor it doesn’t need.

Pros:

  • Crach can be quite disruptive for the opponent if he sticks
  • Lots of armor to mitigate incoming damage
  • Veteran buff by Bran is well utilized despite being no warrior deck

Cons:

  • Strategy for Brans boosts relies on Crachs survival
  • The usual awkward aspects of the pirate archetype
  • Leader ability is rather specific and can be played around with boosts

The Deck

Core Cards

King Bran: Boosts five units in this deck and himself passively, while sometimes amounting a boost of around eight points. Good value.

Crach an Craite: Disrupts the setup of the opponent and feeds the boosting of King Bran. Also the main card that converts armor to points.

Covenant of Steel: Feels like an important card in this deck. Crach alone is a bit vulnerable.

Tidecloak Hideaway: Cheap and good tempo play in the beginning of the game.

Anything with pirate tags: This deck relies on their tags, so that Crach, Hideaway and the leader ability remain effective.

Overview

The obvious choice for Cerys: Fearless would certainly be the selfwound archetype around Ursine Ritual. While that is a relatively functional archetype, an alchemy deck can also utilize Cerys very well. There are many cards in here that harm themselves or their allies and will eventually summon Cerys from the deck, such as Melusine, Svalblod Priest, or Little Havfrue. Be aware though that hitting armor will not count for Cerys, but hitting Armored Drakkar or Dracoturtle with Cerys order ability or Mardroeme pays off quite well instead.

But how do we make more from Cerys after she is summoned? There is no gigantic combo in mind here, because the timing of her summoning can be clunky and we don’t want to invest too much in it. But the Little Havfrues inflict four damage to themselves when calling the rain and damage over time is dealt by Melusine and Svalblod Priests. This damage can be redirected on armor, a weak token or the Crowmother, who will just return when you play the next alchemy card.

The alchemy archetype itself plays as we know it. Gedyneith and The Mushy Truffle are very good cards for this and all the remaining cards synergize around this perfectly.

Pros:

  • Built on an already strong archetype
  • Doesn’t fail if Cerys underperforms
  • Brings a lot of points to the board when uncontrolled

Cons:

  • Sometimes inconsistent, doesn’t use the discard package
  • Can be awkward to play against heavy control decks
  • Few control tools on its own

The Deck

Core Cards

Cerys: Fearless: Hits the board by herself and can be good value. Cards like Roach in comparison have similar provision costs but have nothing to offer once summoned.

Melusine, Svalblod Priest, Little Havfrue: Necessary for the selfwounding and staples in the usual alchemy deck

Dracoturtle, Armored Drakkar, Crowmother: Targets for selfwounding and Cerys damage redirection

Alchemy package: The backbone of this deck

Considerations: Bride of the Sea would be also great in this, but I didn’t find the space for her

Calveit and Ardal Psuedo-Hyperthin : Deck Guide for NG

“Our fates are written in the stars.” – Jan Calveit –

“A general commands his force. He does not rush and thrash about like some rabid hound.” – Ardal aep Dahy –

Credit to: Danamariani for inspiring this deck. 

Introduction

Jan Calveit and Ardal aep Dahy reinforce Nilfgaard’s Enslave-Tactics archetype in a much needed update. While these brilliant commanders can augment any standard Enslave deck (with an Assimilate package), today we present something suitably intricate for the Great Sun: Psuedo-Hyperthin

Jan Calveit maximizes the use of one’s provisions and facilitates precise draws. This creates “effective” thinning without the use of actual thinning cards to enable Hyperthin cards Triss Merigold and Yennefer: Divination.

Jan also allows us to circumvent the traditional “12 tactics + 13 units” rule of 6 power Enslave and play a non-tactics/unit card by minimizing “wasted” provisions. Typically, 6-power Enslave requires following a “12 tactics + 13 units” rule. Jan allows us to circumvent this by minimizing “wasted provisions” of a 26th card added purely to follow Enslave requirements as we draw only our best cards. Hence this deck is able to field a non-unit/tactic , Portal, unlike other Enslave 6 decks. 

Ardal like Enslave, is at his strongest in 12-tactics decks. 

Pros

  • Incredibly satisfying, challenging to pilot, 26 card meme-ing. 
  • Consistent across games thanks to Calveit
  • Strong short Round 3

Cons

  • Incredibly frustrating (for opponent and/or  you), challenging to pilot, 26 card meme-ing. 
  • Inconsistent Round 1 and RNG Xarthisius (and mages). 
  • Can struggle to generate points if engines are removed. 

Gameplan

Mulligan: Aggressively dump Triss Merigold and Yennefer: Divination Round 1. The aim is to get Portal, Hefty Helge and plenty of tactics to see through Rounds 1 and maybe 2. Keep the other golds, ensure Fire Scorpions and Imperial Golem are in deck unless you have a plan using “hand improvers” (Snowdrop and Doadrick Leumaerts) to shuffle them back in after Jan so you can draw into more tactics. 

Round 1: Attempt to put down tactics-engines and delete the opponent’s board. If both “hand improvers” are available, they can net you more/better tactics while serving as a 2-point engine. Ardal can be played if he is in hand for more tactics. If the draw was especially poor and Portal was missed, play Jan to ensure it arrives by Round 2. DO NOT play Jan if there are insufficient tactics in hand to survive a Round 2 bleed. 

Round 2: Optimally, the plan is to bleed the opponent, dumping the majority of tactics, thinning out Fire Scorpions with Portal, if that was not done Round 1, and preparing for a short Round 3. DO NOT play Portal if the opponent dry-passes. We need BOTH Fire Scorpions thinned. Save it for Round 3 if necessary. If Round 1 was lost, ideally we are holding the “hand-improving” duo/engine to help fend of the opponent’s bleed. Xarthisius can come in clutch defending bleeds with a tactic for the engines or high-roll Nilfgaardian Knight/Imperial Golem, which should be the only units left in deck. If one is confident of avoiding bricks, Nilfgaardian Knight is a good proactive play to open a bleed. Remember to play Jan here if you havn’t, feel free to play Ardal, especially if you havn’t played Jan

Round 3: Ideally you have as few cards as possible here, with (only) Imperial Golem in deck. Finish off with Triss and Yenn. Try to have a unit that sticks and a proactive play (like Knight) so they have targets. If Ardal is still in hand, having Nilfgaardian Knight in deck ensures he doesn’t entirely brick the mages if he draws Golem. Remember to play Ardal BEFORE the opponent plays their last card. 

Core Cards

  • Jan Calveit: Lynch pin of this deck. Ideally played just before exiting round 2. Keep track of the card order to ensure optimum mulligans/use of “hand improvers”. More below in “Considerations”.
  • Ardal aep Dahy: With 12 tactics, serves as a powerful reset, playing for roughly 15 points and extending the round with “effective” card advantage (as the card you draw should be better than the card you returned to the opponent’s hand). Ideally played in round 1/2 to enable a tactic to be kept in hand or drawn in complement with tactics-engines. CALCULATE your mulligans after playing Jan.
  • Xarthisius: Ideally played in Round 2 with aforementioned chance to highroll on Golem/Knight or play a tactic in complement with tactics engines.
  • Triss Merigold & Yennefer: Divination: Key finishers for the short round 3, play for 22 points pulling Nilfgaardian Knight with a maximum potential of 30 points pulling Imperial Golem. Triss may be played against a high value target Round 2, with 8 power reach. 
  • Doadrick Leumaerts & Snowdrop: Ideally played together, help move bricks into deck and find tactics in Rounds 1/2. 
  • Portal, Hefty Helge & Fire Scorpions: play these as soon as possible to empower your removal tactics. Portal is essential to thinning Scorpions out to enable Yenn and Triss

Combos

  • Blue-coin Crystal Skull on Helge or Fire Scorpion helps kill everything, potentially giving Assassination more value. 
  • Doadrick and Snowdrop combined are hard to remove, creating a 2-point per turn engine. Play Doadrick first so he is ready to boost Snowdrop to 8 points immediately. 
  • Coated Weapons can place a brick on the opponent’s deck for Vilgefortz to pull. 
  • If there is nothing for Vilgefortz to destroy on the opponent’s side, he can be used to pull Imperial Golem/Nilfgaardian Knight for a sizeable amount of points. 
  • Nilfgaardian Knight’s boost is easily negated with Ardal, Vilgefortz and Triss. Play him if you can avoid bricks. 

Considerations

Be AWARE that once Jan is played, you are  locking yourself out of tactics. This can be problematic if you require them in Round 2 and Jan was played in Round 1. Thus be wary of committing him early. Other than those in hand,  Xarthisius’ RNG and the “hand-improvers” can help in getting the needed tactics. Playing the “hand-improvers” AFTER Jan has huge trade-off if one is forced to shuffle units back into the deck, reducing the points Triss, Yenn and Xarth produce or having to keep those cards in hand rather than drawing into them naturally before Round 3 and having tactics to bleed the opponent. 

Be CAREFUL with using Ardal, especially in Round 3 if “hand-improvers” are not available. Bricking the mages can happen especially if Nilfgaardian Knight has been teched-out. Generally, using him in Round 1/2 is preferable to Round 3 (before Jan) to grab an extra tactic for the engines. 

Tech choices are numerous. Ardal, Vilgefortz, Doadrick, Snowdrop, Nilfgaardian Knight and the tactics mix can all be substituted based on piloting skill and risk appetite. For instance, Vilgefortz can be side-graded to Ffion var Gaernal to protect engines or upgraded to Leo Bonhart, while an Experimental Remedy is downgraded to Ointment. Similarly, an Experimental Remedy can be upgraded to Treason while Doadrick is downgraded to Peter Saar Gwynleve. The permutations are endless as long as one adheres to 12 tactics, 13 units and Portal

Conclusion

Draw all your golds and win.