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The Fire That Lasts Forever

In our (mostly) beloved world of Gwent, we have many different religions. They are a very important part of the life of peasants, aristocrats, kings and, well, everyone. There are so many different worships: some count their believers in thousands, others’ you can count on two hands. Different cults have a huge impact on people’s lives. There is only a small number of people who don’t believe in any kind of religion (Geralt for example), but there is normally a long backstory about it. Large numbers of people could die for what they believe in, mostly Skelligers, but not only them. There are mainly 3 groups of religions: Nordling’s* worships, Skelliger’s cults, and Nilfgaardian’s Great Sun religion. And the Firesworn seem to be the most influential Nordling one…

*Nordling is someone from Northern Realms.

Introduction

The national religion in Redania and Novigrad, and one of the biggest in the whole Northern Realms, the Firesworn are led by Cyrus Engelkind Hemmelfart and it is one of the most racist and unfavorable to magic, religion in the whole Witcher world. Burning witches, non-humans, or just political opponents isn’t something unusual. The Eternal Fire, although it doesn’t have any official army, is a formidable enemy in battle. Temple guards, the Order of the Flaming Rose, or even witch hunters, all do what Hemmelfart commands. Because of its power and intolerance, not everyone who declares themselves as a firesworn believes in it. But those who believe, believe that the flame will protect the city from monsters. As far as we can tell, it doesn’t work at all. It even might have its own monster species, like Zeugl.

Eternal Fire   

 Firesworns burning, well, definitely someone

In TheWitcher: Game of Imagination (polish pen and paper RPG) you can find a nice legend about the origin of Eternal Fire and Novigrad

When the first human colonists left their boats, they saw an amazing elven city. In the few next days, they came closer to the city. And then, elves just simply left it, without a known reason. When colonists were wandering around abandoned buildings, they saw a light from one palace. They came inside and found a human sitting next to the fire burning inside. He gave them food and drinks and said “I protect this – the Eternal Fire. As long as it burns, that city and our civilization will last.” Then he disappeared. A group of people, led by Hieronimus Brunckhorst stayed to protect the fire, and Hieronimus later became the first Hierarch of Novigrad.

Cyrus Engelkind Hemmelfart

Cyrus is quite an interesting person. The mischievous would describe him as half old man half whale, but there aren’t any who are unkind to him –  they were burned a long time ago. But the most iconic thing about him isn’t his look, it is his voice. Gwent says that “Hemmelfart never utters – he thunders”, and it is probably the best comparison. His voice makes people, even his allies, fear him. Nobody remembers how he became firesworn’s leader. Or nobody wants to remember. Sometimes it is just better to not know about certain things. The ear that has heard too many things, is cut off along with the head. He has everything that you can dream of: tons of money, almost unlimited power, and the best prostitutes at his bed. Everybody in Novigrad knows that, but if you would say it loud you would be… yes, burned, how did you know that? People also hear rumors about his meetings with Novigrad’s gang leaders, as they seem to be in some sort of alliance.

Cyrus Engelkind Hemmelfart   

Pope John Paul II  Also Hemmelfart

How to blame

Even if the Eternal Fire itself was just religion, it had a bigger impact on the Witcher world than you can imagine. They taught people to blame and to hate. Thousands of lives were brutally ended, to spread the faith. Most of these crimes belong to the Witch Hunters, a highly fanatic organization with sorcerers. Only during the witch hunts between 1272 and 1276 (more or less during the Witcher 3 events) they killed over a dozen mages. The most notable ones were: Assire van Anahid, Síle de Tansarville, Philippa Eilhart, Sabrina Glevissig, Fringilla Vigo, and Adelbertus Kalkstein (even though he wasn’t a mage). The Eternal Fire also heavily supported almost every pogrom, when people were basically trying to kill every non-human in the village. In a single pogrom, people usually kill hundreds of them.

One of the Witch Hunters       

Pogrom at Wetteron (in Lyria)

Order of the Flaming Rose

The main military power of the Eternal Fire. Even though it is officially independent, they just do what the church says. They declare themselves as “protectors of the weakest and spreaders of the only proper religion”. The whole organization was built on foundations of The Order of the White Rose, which was operating in Temeria for centuries. But it was heavily reformed by Jacques de Aldersberg, the first Grandmaster of the order. It burned heretics, mages, and non-humans from time to time. His connections with a criminal organization – Salamandra, are also known. The result was the rise of “greater brothers” – mutated, giant monks with superhuman strength. The Order doesn’t last long under Jacques de Aldersberg’s reign, as he was killed by Geralt, a witcher, whose deeds could be talked about for hours. With the death of Jacob, the Order lost its strength. Next, Grandmasters made the order less radical, although the Order had its monasteries in various kingdoms, it remained only in Redania. During the third Nilfgaard war, when the front reached the Pontar, they were sent by Radovid V to fight. Most monks got killed, and Radovid sold the property of the Order and dissolved it. Ex-monks joined the witch hunters or followed Ulrich. He then founded the “Fallen Knights”, a criminal organization that specialized in producing Fisstech (drugs), and hating Radovid.

Jaques de Aldersberg   

Ulrich

Someone might say that Gwent firesworns are three completely different religions, and you know what? He would be right in some way.

Worship of the Prophet Lebioda

Lebioda was a prophet (wow, such unexpected news). All of his wisdom, visions, and parables are written all together in “The Good Book of Prophet Lebioda’s Wisdom” (aka Eycyk’s book from Thronebreaker). His worship is professed in the whole of the Northern Realms, and in Toussaint, where it is probably a national religion. 

During his life, he was teaching the people and doing miracles. He died in Kaedwen near Ban Ard, trying to stop a local dragon from harassing villagers. And the dragon… just simply ate him. Later his worshipers dug up his remains from the dragon’s remains. He ended up in a sarcophagus in Novigrad’s Great Temple. It might suggest that he was one of the firesworns, and his religion has good relations with Eternal Fire. Also, some Gwent voice lines suggest that too, but in books, his religion has almost nothing in common with the Eternal Fire.

His worshippers believe that he will come to life again, and live “as the good book says”. They may also kiss his remains on certain days (imagine kissing the remains of a dead guy that was in shit, yuck). It is also a very non-human-friendly religion.

Prophet Lebioda   

His biggest statue in Toussaint

Flagellants

Quite an unknown religion, even among lore keepers. It has its origin somewhere in Toussaint, but you can find them in Novigrad too. We don’t know much about what they believe in, apart from that they whip themselves to atone for all humankind’s wrongs and to appease the gods and gain their favor. Gwent suggests to us that they are one thing, but in The Witcher 3, they are more like an independent religion.

Flagellants in Novigrad   

A tag of the Flagellants

Final Words

After what I wrote about the Eternal Fire, they seem to be so evil, but what if it was like that? Without them, Novigrad would probably stay as a little city, and they also had a huge impact on the economy, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Also sometimes they were actually helping poor people. But overall yeah, they still look like the bad guys.

Well, that seems to be everything. Hope you learned something new, and that you haven’t fallen asleep reading that. Hael Ker’z… I mean, see ya!

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

How To Properly Calculate The Value Of Thinning Cards

There has been some controversy and common misconceptions surrounding the way thinning cards like Roach are evaluated. This article will provide a clear description on how thinning cards reach more value than their initial value and proposes a method of calculating the true value using a mathematical formula. This method also provides further insight for veterans and newcomers alike. It needs to be said that this method still doesn’t paint the full picture but approximates it decently.

Thinning cards, thinning tools, and tutors are cards in Gwent that reduce the size of your deck during gameplay. They serve up to three purposes: (1) provide extra points over one or multiple rounds; (2) allow flexibility and access to key cards of your strategy; (3) improve future draws. A thinning card can serve one or all of these purposes. This article will use examples of thinning cards to explain how these purposes affect their true value. The examples used are Wild Hunt Riders, Royal Decree, Roach, Knickers and Oneiromency. It is useful to be familiar with these cards before reading the rest of this article.

Thinning in practice

Let’s start with Wild Hunt Riders. Wild Hunt Riders plays for 8 points for 5 provisions. It does not allow access to key cards or to be flexible, since it always summons the other copy from your deck, unless it is in your hand. Having the second copy in your hand is a downside, because Rider when played is only 4 points since its ability is blocked when in hand. It also limits your hand by 1 useful card. Besides giving points without playing it from hand, it also reduces your deck by 1 card. If a normal deck has 25 cards with 165 provisions total, the average provision of a card in the deck is 6.6. Since you draw 10 cards at the start of the game, one of which is 5 provisions, the average provisions left in deck is 100.6. Distributed over 15 cards, that makes 6.7 provisions per card in your deck on average. This average is in practice much lower, since you can have up to 2 or 3 mulligans to improve your hand at the beginning of a round. When the Riders enter the battlefield, only 14 cards are left in the deck, consisting of 95.6 provisions.  The new provision average of a card in deck is around 6.8 provisions. Your future draws have improved by 0.1 provision per card. Since you have 3 draws and 2 mulligans per round, and still 2 rounds to go, it is estimated that the extra value gained by thinning your deck is 1 point. 1 point does not seem a lot, but this value is considered carry over and is amplified when combined with other thinning cards. Furthermore, if your deck is polarized in its provisions, which to an extent all decks are, thinning your deck is actually more beneficial.

Let’s consider the worst case scenario: your opening hand contains only 4 provision cards and one 5 provision Rider, and all your good gold cards are left in your deck. 124 of the 165 provisions are unavailable for the first round. However, you do have a Wild Hunt Rider in hand. When Wild Hunt Rider summons its other copy from the deck, only 14 cards remain accumulating 119 provisions. The deck provision average has been increased from 8,3 to 8,5 provisions per card. Applying the same method as earlier, Wild Hunt Riders now estimates 2 points of carry over.

These scenarios show that thinning your deck is beneficial. They show that Wild Hunt Riders’ ‘thinning value’ is somewhere between 0 and 2 points. The 0 points is arrived when wild hunt riders are played in the last round, when the thinning value cannot be utilized. To drive the point home, let’s consider Wild hunt Riders one last time, but now with the inclusion of Royal Decree.

In this scenario you play Royal Decree to thin out both Riders in the first round. Royal decree is 10 provisions and riders are both 5, meaning the rest of the cards are worth 6.6 provision on average. Both Riders are in your deck and Royal Decree is in your hand. Therefore, around 96 provisions remain in the deck. After this, you play Royal Decree into the Riders. The provisions have dropped to 86 and the card total to 13. The average provision value per card has increased from 6.4 to 6.6, meaning that the thinning value equals 2 points in this scenario. The real value of this play is not 8 points solely from the riders, but actually 10 points, which is in par with the provision cost of royal decree. This shows that using multiple thinning cards is beneficial (to a certain extent).

Another benefit of Royal Decree, which has been overlooked thus far, is its flexibility described in purpose 2. Holding on to Royal Decree will guarantee access to one of your critical golds if you do not draw them, or enable you to answer a threat of your opponent’s with one of your ‘tech cards’. This benefit cannot be evaluated quantitatively, but is too large to be neglected in this article. Consistency is key to building a competitive deck, which is why these thinning cards score higher than thinning cards that do not share this quality.

How to calculate the thinning value

The calculations in the examples show the thought process of the method, but do not explain step by step how the numbers are derived. In this section, the calculation is dissected into a systemic method and ultimately combined in a single formula.

First, the relevant thinning cards are isolated from the deck, and the sum of their provisions is subtracted from the total provisions of your starting deck. The new value is the total provisions of the rest of the cards, which will be divided by the number of those cards to obtain the average provision value of the remaining cards. Thus:

P stands for provisions and N stands for number of cards.

With the average provisions of the remaining cards, the distribution of provisions between hand and deck can be calculated. In this case, we must distinguish between the ‘thinned card(s)’ and the ‘thinner card’, i.e. the card that is played from hand which thins the thinned card(s), because these cards are not always identical. Some thinned cards have multiple options of thinner cards in a deck. Roach, for example, can be pulled by any gold card. In that case, it is advised to choose the most frequently used thinner card in the calculation. 

There is one card which has no thinner card: Knickers. The calculation of the value of Knickers is disconnected from this method, and needs a different approach. In the example with Royal Decree and Wild Hunt Riders, Royal Decree is the thinner card while the Riders are the thinned cards. With this distinction, the amount of provisions left in your deck before thinning equals the provision of the thinned cards plus the number of other cards times the average provisions of a remaining card. Thus:

The Provisions left in deck after thinning is obtained by subtracting the provisions of the thinned cards from the equation:

Now that the provisions before and after thinning are determined, the next step is to calculate the change in average provisions per card in your deck. Divide the provisions before and after thinning by the number of cards left in deck respectively and subtract the fractions from each other:

The total thinning value is the provision change times the number of new cards drawn during the rest of the game. Which is estimated to be 10 after the first round. It is possible to draw the same card again after the mulligan phase, which decreases the thinning value. This, however, is based on chance. The final step is this:

By adding the thinning value to the thinner card’s initial value, you get a better representation of their combined power. It is possible that the thinning value is negative. In that case thinning your deck takes away value of your future draws. This downside of some cards can be minimized when the number of new cards drawn equals zero. Understanding when thinning is beneficial is a tool gwent players can use to play more optimally and ultimately win more games. 

Conclusion

As mentioned earlier, this method still doesn’t describe every interaction: for instance, some thinning cards can be summoned multiple times over multiple rounds. For example, Flying Redanian can be summoned from the graveyard as well as from the deck. This multiple-level carryover can be included in the calculation as just 6 extra points but that is just a simplification of a complex system. Another card that falls outside this approach is Knickers. Knickers thins itself and at a random time. It does not have a so-called thinner card. However, this approach can still be used to calculate its thinning value, since the thinner card’s provision is not used in the formula. There are some other things not which are not taken into account. For instance, the extra value of knickers can take opponents by surprise and its armor can potentially be 1 more point of damage mitigation.

Furthermore, purpose 2 cannot be evaluated because of its qualitative nature. The overall value of cards which serve this purpose must be assumed higher than the approximate value obtained by this method. Likewise, the value of thinning cards is best described as a range of probable values. Within this range not all values are equally likely. The true value depends on the scenario in which the thinning cards are played. This method excels in calculating the value in specific scenarios but is weaker at finding the average thinning value of thinning cards. After all, this is only one method on how to calculate thinning values. Perhaps I will discuss the other method(s) one day.

Bonus: Echo

As a bonus, we look towards the unique ability of Oneiromancy to be played twice thanks to its Echo ability. We once again consider a deck with 165 provisions and 25 cards. This time, Oneiromancy is in the starting hand and there are two 10 provision cards in the deck which we intend to play with Oneiromancy. That leaves 132 provisions among the rest of the 22 cards which is on average 6 provisions per card. Thus the hand contains on average 67 provisions and the deck 98 provisions. The average provision of a card in deck is 98/15 = 6.53 provisions.

After Oneiromancy takes one 10-provision card out of the deck, the deck only has 88 provisions over 14 cards which is 6.29 provisions per card on average. Taking a 10 provision card out of your deck in round 1 has negative thinning value. However, since Oneiromancy is placed on top of the deck after a round ends, it reduces the downside of the negative thinning value substantially.

To understand why, let’s think of it as Oneiromancy is already in hand (it is guaranteed to end there) before you draw cards in round 2, but you only draw 2 cards instead. This shift in perspective allows us to see that the number of new cards drawn has decreased from the rule of thumb of 10 cards to 9 cards. Thus, when calculating the thinning value of Oneiromancy in this example, we take the difference in average provisions which is -0.248 and multiply it by 9. The result is -2.2 points of thinning value on average instead of -2.5 points when Oneiromancy does not end up back in your hand, for example when the opponent plays Squirrel to banish it.

This seems like it is still a downside to the card, but in this example a 10 provision card was played with it and also it was played in round 1 where there are still 10 approximately future draws left. Understandably, players tend to play the first Oneiromancy in round 2 for optimally a low provision card. This removes the downside completely. And, last but not least, don’t forget the flexibility of the card described by purpose 2 in the introduction. Having 2 flexible cards to play is a major upside which cannot be calculated here. So it is safe to say that Oneiromancy is a banger card when played optimally. 

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

The Tunes of Gwent’s Elite – A Soundtrack for Climbing and Grinding

Written by Sawyer1888 and the seal of approval from Babyjosus.

Introduction

Season 3 of Gwent Masters in full swing, with its first highlight releasing next weekend. The first Gwent Open of the season will also take place from the 24th to 25th of April, including a spicy line up: Pajabol, Tailbot, Redrame, Shaggyccg, kams134, Forever_Yolo, Bart933 and Gravesh. All will fight for a spot in the Gwent Masters 2021.

And since I wrote the first article of this series, which from now on I will call “Gwent’s Elite”, a few months have passed already. During that time, we saw Pajabol becoming the winner of Gwent Masters Season 2, experienced the Way of the Witcher expansion, and got introduced to the new road map of 2021 for Gwent.     

Games were decided, MMR was grinded, tournaments were organized and meanwhile we had daily streams full of entertainment, cardjamming, funny moments, and tilted reactions. But after the recent DMCA issues, I had the feeling that something was missing. Of course, certain song requests were allowed and we found alternatives in the in-game soundtrack or DMCA-free lists, but I guess we all agree that we miss the old ability to stream with our favorite music in the background. So I asked myself “Hey, what are all these people listening to anyway? Why not ask them and create a playlist full of everyone’s favorite tunes? What music helps the pros to focus, what music are streamers listening to in private? And what music do they enjoy the most?”  And that’s exactly what I did.

Additional Information

For the people in a hurry, you will find the Spotify link here. You are also able to check out this document, where every person involved is listed with their music, which is already linked for you. In addition, there is a list of everyone who helped me at the end of the article, where you can also see the links of their Twitch and Twitter accounts, as well as each homepage of their respective teams. As I am still only human, some might not be quoted or even questioned, but as I want to treat this as an ongoing project, feel free to message me your tunes on Discord! Thanks a lot for all the support!

Project Idea and Process

The idea of this project was to include as many people as possible from the competitive scene, but also streamers and content creators. I asked them what their favorite songs are, what they like to listen to while jamming cards and what tunes are their viewers’ most wanted.
Over 50 people from over 20 different countries responded and helped me create this unique playlist. I’m really glad to be part of this community and during my work, I talked to many amazing people from all over the world. I was introduced to Turkish rock music, Italian rap, jams from South Africa, Polish tunes, Russian gachi, Asian vibes and a mixture of nature sounds and epic game soundtracks – just to mention a few genres. 

This all showed me how easy it can be to connect to people, even if they’ve never heard of you and live a thousand miles away. It also made me realize that behind all these nicknames and MMR stats are real people, unique characters, who all have a different approach when it comes to playing and enjoying Gwent. Listening to people at 4am discuss what they think about classical music while grinding ladder, how dark metal helps them to get into the zone, or how they actually created different tracks for grinding in the morning, evening or for tournaments…it was a real exciting journey which comes to an end with this international playlist of over a 100 songs! 

But before I let you enjoy all their tunes yourself, let’s take a quick look at how important music might be in general for getting into the zone, staying focused and what some of them told me about their personal experience.

Music is the strongest Form of Magic

In the world of The Witcher and also Gwent, we were provided with an awesome and unique soundtrack by Marcin Przybyłowicz and Percival, but also by Mikolai Stroinski und Piotr Adamczyk. Even if Triss or Yennefer might disagree, I think Marilyn Manson was right when he said that “music is the strongest form of magic.”

It can get us into a romantic mood, it can push us, it can create memories, or it can help alleviate our pain. In terms of this article, I would say that all of these factors matter. When we are tilted, it can help us calm down (Sebasar); when we are eager to push, it can give us an extra boost (NingunoSirve); and when we might be tired or exhausted, it can cheer us up and keep us going. (Kolemoen, SuperSpock)
And after questioning almost 60 people, I can tell that there is no “universal” type of music that works for everyone. Even if some argue that classical music is the best way to focus, I would agree with Team Legacy’s InNomineSatanas that this is not true. What kind of music I listen to really depends on my mood (energiix) and apparently also on what I want to achieve“. (ceely) Some people need to listen to orchestral soundtracks which are generally calm, setting up “the correct ambiance […] to properly pay attention to [their] games” TiltBro93 says, while “anything loud or aggressive would be a distraction”. Meanwhile, Movius00 from Team ESC admits that he likes the kind of music that heats you up, tunes that empower you and give you energy. The kind of songs that when you win a difficult game you jump from your seat.” Music here seems to support two different approaches for grinding: being calm and collected to focus or being pumped up. 

Some people vary their tunes depending if its morning or evening (Count-Dooku), while some choose their music specifically for a certain faction they play. (Forever_Tabaki)

Interestingly, even if many people like to listen to music for a certain amount of time, for example Ci_87 who only listens to music in the first days of the season, some of them turn it off when they need to focus. darthlothins, Kolemoen, Saber97,_and wickedsyam don’t listen to music at all during their climb, while lerio2 for example does better without music anyway. 

So after all we can say that, for most of them, music helps to get into the “zone” (Shaggyccg) and has an important role in their attempt to grind, climb, and focus. Although sometimes music might be a distraction and can tank your performance, when you are too engaged in the lyrics and sounds (Gravesh), it is a way to not go crazy, [while] performing routine tasks, which helps to delineate a repetitive process so as not to drown in it.”(renova-) And let’s be real, as exciting the soundtrack and game can be, playing it over hundreds of games each season can feel kinda repetitive. 

With the recent struggles of the DMCA restrictions, many streamers were forced to create alternative playlists including various game or movie soundtracks. But some streamers still allow song requests and play their own tunes, which sometimes is very different from their private preference. So, let’s not keep you waiting any longer and get right into the playlist, where you can decide for yourself what tracks you like the most and whose tastes might surprise you!
(In this document you can find every participant with most of their submissions, to be able to get a detailed insight)

 

 

Final Word

This playlist contains almost every song submitted to me, while I had to make some cuts owing to the amount of songs I received. I hope that I did all of you justice, so don’t be sad if you might not find every single song in the list or document. 

The first part includes more rock-related tunes, going to what I would call “clubmusic” and hip hop. Followed by some chillin sounds, it will end in some unique songs and selected game or movie tracks.  Maybe some songs would fit in a different genre but I tried my best to structure them at least a bit. 

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and that it helps you to achieve whatever you want to achieve in Gwent. And if not Gwent, it might get you into the right mood for accomplishing other tasks!

Cheers to everyone, and have fun with “The Tunes of Gwent’s Elite”. I’m already looking forward to the next project!

Thank you!

Team Bandit Gang:
Babyjosus, Bomblin, enerGiiX, Enz0neplays, Escanbryt, GhostArya, gwentsonneillon, Hawgplex, iancm97, JSN991, Koumakis, Mercernn, Renova-, SuperSpock9000, TheOneChristo, wickedsyam, Zubedoo

White lining w no text - Copy
Team Duello

Team Nomad Gaming:
BAKERHUN, Count-Dooku, Ganfi12

Nomad Nagy Transp

Team Nova:
Jamedi, NingunoSirve

Team Phoenix:
Ch.ase, Forever_Tabaki, Snow_Socrates

Y-X4mFMN_400x400-removebg-preview

Team Swallow: 
wangid

tdgp68deozx41

And also:
ForeverYOLO322, Kerpeten96, MissLadyJay

Gwent Popularity

You ever wonder how many other people are playing Gwent? If this number is increasing or if the player base is shrinking and the game we all love isn’t in a good spot anymore? While CDPR is usually quite forthcoming with information, they don’t seem to release these numbers. Consequently, wild theories float around about the state of the game. Here we’ll have a look at the numbers we can get and check if Gwent is still going strong or if it is essentially on life support as some proclaim.

How many players are in Pro Rank?

While it is essentially impossible to get a view of what is happening on Ranked (but before Pro Rank), Seasonal and Draft, it is possible to get the total number of Pro Players each season from Play Gwent. Technical details can be found here. As you can see in the graph below, since the beginning of Masters 2 the number of players has increased considerably. A little over a year ago there were fewer than 3000 players dwelling in Pro Rank while a few months ago during the season of the Wild Hunt it peaked with almost 22 500 Pro players. Then it fell back to below 15k. While this might look like a sharp drop in popularity, we must consider the length of each season! 

Fewer players in Pro Rank =/= fewer active players!

During long seasons more players can get into Pro Rank. Lerio2 recently wrote an article on how Pro Rank expands during the season and could show that apart from the first few days this increase is fairly linear (make sure to check out Lerio2’s article here).  So, we can get a reasonable estimate how many players reach Pro Rank per day simply by dividing the total number of players (minus the top 500 players that stay in Pro Rank) by the number of days in the season, which in turn is a proxy for the number of active players or popularity.

When taking the length of each season into account it paints a different picture. While the game has seen a very respectable growth, going from 100 players making Pro Rank per day to over 500, during the Season of Mahakam there was a sharp drop. Season of Mahakam was a non-competitive season, where reaching the top ranks doesn’t qualify you for official tournaments anymore, so that could be a cause for this drop. There were no major changes, so the meta got a bit stale for some and there are a couple holidays (fall break and thanksgiving) where players might choose to spend their time otherwise. But it is anyone’s guess, feel free to share other points of views in the comments!

Though it is surprising that despite a fresh set being released (Way of the Witcher) during the Season of the Wild Hunt, the player activity didn’t surpass the Season of the Cat … could Christmas and New Year be the culprit here? The most recent two seasons were short, 22 and 28 days respectively, so while fewer players made it to Pro Rank overall, the players entering pro rank is comparable to the Season of the Cat 2020. While this shows there hasn’t been a huge decline in the number of players, it does highlight that active players have plateaued, at least for the last few months. 

Is Gwent dead?

No! Stop listening to Reddit! There were a few issues going into 2021 with Gwent, and a recent cyberattack on CDPR didn’t make the developer’s lives easier. While that might have slowed the growth, Gwent still has more active players than ever.  With twelve new cards of iconic characters, powerful enough to shake up the meta my prediction is that the number of players will start to tick up soon… and once the Season of the Bear 2021 is over, I’ll rerun my scripts to check! Stay tuned.

Power creep in Gwent (Why is Skellige so good?)

Twelve new cards have arrived with the patch 8.3. If you frequent Twitch chats or the Gwent subreddit you may have seen some complain about Eist Tuirseach. Is he or the Skellige faction too strong? Do new cards have to be much stronger than the old ones? I would like to look at the bigger picture rather than discuss Eist in particular. So, let’s have a discussion about power creep, it’s possible benefits or downsides, and finally determine whether it can be an issue for Gwent.

Power creep and game balance

There are many games that add new content over time while keeping old things. It can be new quests, new items or, in the case of Gwent and other card games, it is cards and new mechanics. What happens in most cases is that developers tend to make these new things more or less better than what was already present in the game. And this is called power creep – new content is better than the old one and makes it to a certain degree obsolete. Thus, players who want to use the best options available shift towards new content making old cards much less preferred.

Why does power creep exist?

Well, the answer is rather simple: Main goal of games is to be played and generate income for the developers. When something new is added, it changes the players’ experience a bit, as out of sudden the game feels fresher, and thus keeps the interest of theirs. This helps to keep the player base numbers high, and at the same time it encourages the players to spend their money on the game. New expansion usually forces players to adapt to it and get their hands on it. Why does this all matter? Because it’s especially true if new cards are in many aspects much better than previously available options and that’s when power creep comes to play.

How does it influence the game?

Expansions and new content are not necessarily a bad thing, of course, they also provide developers the opportunity to build on things already existing and to broaden the possible options which can make the game much more complex, interesting and subjectively, though perhaps most importantly, more fun. Moreover, new content is needed in the case of multiplayer games more than often to keep players engaged as they are key for these games given that they last only if people are interested in them.

Change of pace is usually something welcomed, but it can come with a downside to some players. Those who enjoy a certain strategy or an archetype might find out that their favourite playstyle is much worse than it used to be. Many of us have a favourite faction in Gwent, an archetype or a card, and with every expansion or patch there might come changes affecting them. These can make whatever is close to the player’s heart rather underwhelming, and while sometimes it is possible to adapt old strategies and veteran cards to a new meta, it is definitely not always the case. The decks that tend to be most affected by this are the ones that are not trying to be the most competitive but aim to utilise niche cards or strategies. In other words, you could call them memes. You can find a bit more about the struggle of memes in Gwent in Sawyer’s article.

How is Gwent dealing with power creep related issues?

I think that there is a consensus about Gwent being one of the very few genuinely Free to Play games, as it is not too hard to acquire cards from the game’s expansions. This would apply even for a brand new player or someone returning to the game after a long break. Although, the fact that the expansion kegs, apart from the most recent expansion at that very moment, are not in the game shop anymore might come up as a potential issue in the future. Why? Because it can make it slightly harder to get specific cards, but luckily, you should still be able to eventually get enough scraps to craft them even in spite of Shupe’s reluctance to give you what you wished for.

A point related to this is the frequency of new content addition. The more often you add new, slightly better cards, the sooner power creep can become an apparent issue. Players often call for something new, and it is certainly not easy to figure out how often to shake things up. That is where regular monthly patches are helpful to not only fix obvious issues but also to buff older cards which don’t see play.

Right before patch 8.3 a Gwent roadmap for 2021 was announced informing us about more frequent new cards but smaller amounts of them each time they drop. This could potentially cause problems very soon if we get new cards better than everything else every two months. At the same time, Gwent developers have proclaimed they want to avoid filler cards in expansions and avoid power crept cards, so they are well aware of this.

Evolution of Gwent

At the very beginning of this article, I have asked the question about power creep affecting Gwent. Now it is time to delve into it and look at cards added to the game throughout history. There are many types of cards that are either relying to a certain degree on either other cards, leader abilities, or are gaining points over time (engines). This unfortunately makes it quite hard to quantify their value and compare them with one another. For this reason, I have decided to choose specific examples of cards introduced at different time points and demonstrate power creep on them.

Why is Skellige so good?

Let’s have a look at three units from Skellige: Tuirseach Veteran, Drummond Berserker and Bear Witcher. Tuirseach Veteran has been present in Gwent for a long time as a part of the starter set. But the other two 5 provision units were introduced in two most recent expansions (Master Mirror and Way of The Witcher). There is one more thing they share, namely that when they are played, they all enter the fray as 5 powered units, but there is a difference in their points output. Veteran relies on external factors (self-wound strategies) to be worth more than 5. Berserker will deal 2 random damage pings and transform into 6-point Bear Abomination, and finally Bear Witcher can deal 3 damage if his adrenaline condition is met (both are worth 8 points).

In vacuum there is not that big of a difference between the last two, but in practice the situation is different. Veteran needs help from allied units while his counterparts need something to damage. When MM or WoTW were released these new 5 provision bronzes soon became staples (here it is worth noting Drummond Berserker after release had one-point higher ceiling before a nerf). Simply because existing synergies allowed them to play for even more points while there was close to no downside. Another reason why Tuirseach Veteran sees less play is that if he is answered (opponent destroys him) he leaves nothing behind. This can be best demonstrated if all the three mentioned cards are destroyed by a 5-point removal right after you play them. Veteran traded equally and you get no points, Berserker dealt that 1 random damage, so you gained a point this turn and finally Bear Witcher granted you 3 points. Damaging units also synergise well with many other Skellige cards enabling their Bloodthirst.

When you go through neutral 5 provision cards but also other factions’ ones you will notice there aren’t many cards worth 8 points. Only engines if not answered can gain you this many points. And yes, Endrega Larvas or other cards can play for 10+ points quite often but they need few turns while Skellige can get it in one turn. I admit this is looking only at specific provisions so overall the difference may not be so big.

Cards vs. Archetypes

I would argue, using this example, that the point ceiling of the same provision cards doesn’t change drastically and can be seen only over an extended period of time. Nonetheless, new cards gradually increase their strength, and many old cards can’t compete with them anymore. Something else changes more and that is the strength of synergies and archetypes surrounding these cards. Berserker was part of the first iterations of the SK Warriors decks not just because of his strength but due to his Warrior tag fitting perfectly into the deck along with the random pings. Similar point can be made about Bear Witcher – he is slightly better providing 3 targeted damage, but the synergies made him shine. With Haern Caduch or Geralt: Quen he could become the face of Skellige after WoTW release even if he lacks the Warrior tag.

Forgotten cards and keywords

This illustrates how older cards are not always lacking too much in raw power, but the existence of neutrals such as Wolf Pack or Peasant Militia should not be forgotten. Squirrel same as them can be only 4 points for 4 provisions which is rather underwhelming but there is a potential upside of banishing an Oneiromancy or Madoc. Wolf Pack shares the Beast tag, and I can’t think of a scenario when you would prefer it over Squirrel. Number of bronze cards have received a buff or a rework in the past year and suddenly they have seen much more play. This is a step in the right direction which should continue.

There are several cards which stayed the same since Homecoming. Some of them even still see play and aren’t a source of complaints, for example Tridam Infantry. But others don’t fit into any of existing archetypes, are extremely conditional or simply lack points. These cards deserve either reworks, which have proven to be a possible solution, or to receive support from newly added cards. A vital piece of this can be new keywords – think of Adrenaline and the witcher trio (it is not included in every deck, but it sees regular play now). The developers have shown they can make bad cards playable again, and that they are able to invent mechanics which are beneficial to the game. Still, it is a bit sad those aren’t used more often in following expansions or to rework older cards. Luckily, this might be changing as we have seen the Devotion keyword used on the most recently released cards.

Conclusion

Power creep is present in Gwent, which is not surprising, but developers of the game are utilising a number of strategies to limit it. They are creating strong archetypes rather than printing overpowered cards. Furthermore, there are also many useful mechanics and limitations allowing careful balancing of the game. Such mechanics would include the minimum units requirement or provisions when it comes to deck building and mechanics like Adrenaline or Devotion for specific cards. Along with the generous in-game economy, this should hopefully mean a bright future for Gwent.

Bandit Gang’s Worst 5 Cards of The Way Of The Witcher Expansion

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

After Bandit Gang’s Top 5 cards of The Way of The Witcher Expansion, we of course had to do a 5 Worst Cards of The Way Of The Witcher Expansion. So here we are. All members had the chance to put in their votes based on card art and/or ability.  In the end 17 members voted, including 11 from Content Team and 6 from the Competitive Team (Pro Team & Academy Team). We ended up with the following 5 cards, from least voted card to the most voted card.

*Hnnnh…* hm, wha? Sorry, nodded off.

#5 Fallen Rayla

This cool-looking chick of a card has unfortunately gotten the #5 spot in the 5 worst cards. Its too conditional and only playable with Salamander which is a meme combo card.

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

#4 Viy

After playing with Viy and having to face the card quite a bunch on ladder. The members have decided its one of the worst cards in the game. Not worst as in its a bad card, but worst because its not healthy for the game. The ability is pretty binary and ”dumb”. Some of the members didn’t even want to say Viy out loud since they are still experiencing PTSD.

Most of the votes came from the Competitve Team, although it was a close call because the Content Team also massively voted on this card. Hence the grey color.

#3 Cosimo Malaspina

If it was for SpecimenGwent it wouldn’t be included in the 5 worst cards at all, but that guy is no Bandit Gang so there was no way he could bring out his vote. The average value is not high, this has been tested by Bomblin. You can see the work in progress data here.

Most of the votes came from the Content Team, hence the pink color. If the Content Team of Bandit Gang can’t even make this card work than maybe CDPR should rework or buff the card…

EnML1mQXEAIexvT

#2 Maxii Van Dekkar

This card has no synergy with whatsoever that exists in the current card-pool. Which means that the card is just a 6 for 6. Absolute garbage.

Four from the Content Team and three from the Competitive Team. Which means almost the whole Competitive Team has voted this card to be trash. Hence why we decided to give it the grey color.

#1 Arch Griffin

While it was included in the top 5 cards, it turns out that everyone except Babyjosus* has changed their opinion about the card. The reasoning for this is that its a meme card that can easily be answered by tall removal and/or heatwave. People say that because of this weakness its a worse version of Viy, who has been dominating the meta.

*Babyjosus’s Arch Griffin Deck for the few cool people out there. If a Deck Guide is wanted, Babyjosus will provide. Let him know in the comment section down below the article.

Six out of the eight votes came from the Content Team which means that two of them were the Competitive Team. Hence why we decided to give it the pink color. Babyjosus wants to let the six people of the Content Team know that he is very disappointed in them. They will soon re-evaluate their position on the Content Team.

This is team Bandit Gang’s worst 5 cards of the WOTW expansion. We hope you have enjoyed our top 5 and worst 5 cards of WOTW. Do you agree or disagree with us? Let us know your worst 5 cards! We are looking forward to do these type of articles again whenever an expansion releases.

Favoritism in the Gwent Partners Program during Reveal Seasons

Introduction

A reader unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the Gwent community might falsely assume that they might have discovered the only gaming community fascinated with vegetables, well leeks to be more exact, and presumably healthy lifestyle. Have all the news segments and articles about obesity and junk food among this sedentary subculture been fabricated out of thin air? Well, that’s unfortunately not what this article aims to delve into, but allow me nonetheless to place this topic question on the window sill of my article, for any crafty passing-trough writer to steal.

The legendary Gwent “Leek Season” describes a period of approximately a month before the release of an expansion for the game, during which content creators that have entered the official Gwent Partners Program as well as CDPR themselves and other affiliated individuals such as artists, or popular personalities from the Gwent community reveal cards that will be coming to the game in the upcoming expansion. Seems pretty cut and dried, not? Well, it might be, but not in the sense you might think at first perhaps.

The aim of this article is to analyze the process of card reveals with a focus on the peculiarities of what precedes the revelation itself, that is the selection of the limited number of Gwent partners that will get reveals, and to provide partial insight into how the distribution of card reveals is made among the partners. Ultimately, the article seeks to provide an alternative to the established system through the means of constructive criticism as well as arguments for the change.

 

The Case

I think I should introduce the body of my article by stating that I am a Gwent partner and I have experienced two expansions with their two respective leek seasons (Master Mirror and Way of the Witcher) and I have not had a reveal before. Before I started working on this article, it was rather difficult for me to find a position where I could dodge any bias and judge the situation fairly and objectively considering I am a cog in the machine that I aim to rewire, if not to dismantle, by my words, nonetheless, I believe that thanks to the method that I have chosen to use and a few rules that I made for myself, the article should be as fair and as objective as possible.

What was my methodology then and the reasons for it? In short, my suspicion for a very long time was that some partners are prioritized in the selection over others, therefore I have gone through every single season of card reveals and noted who got a reveal before, nonetheless due to the fact that there were numerous variables in play in each and every season, be it the number of reveals, preceding expansions, cards revealed by CDPR, etc. I have decided to only focus on the state of the latest expansion, Way of the Witcher. The potential article covering the whole entirety of Gwent expansions reveals therefore rests for now right next to one about the healthy lifestyle of the Gwent community.

Alongside individuals that have had a reveal before, I have also naturally noted the ones who haven’t and finally made a special category for CDPR’s official reveals and affiliated individuals (tournament casters, faction ambassadors, etc.) as well as anomalous cases (e.g. card artists). More than three categories could be made, but considering how small the selection pool of one expansion is, I decided to not divide the numbers any further for clarity as well as to minimize the impact of abnormalities.

 

The Gwent Faction Ambassadors have been proudly bearing their banners for almost two years now, one of their privileges being regular card reveals of cards from their chosen factions. 

Finally, to take emotions out of the equation, as I will be technically speaking (or writing) about some of the most beloved members of the Gwent community, I have decided to not mention who I have placed into which category, in fact, the analysis will stay completely anonymous, each individual being represented just as a numerical fraction. Thanks to the fact that all of the card reveal threads have been archived on Reddit, I can and will share all of the sources that were used for making this article at the very end for anyone that would like to verify my data.

Mentioning verification, I do believe that some individuals could be placed in two categories based upon how you judge their involvement with CDPR. A perfect example of this would be chat moderators for CDPR’s Twitch account, which I have personally decided to not include among CDPR and misc. but one could place them there, therefore the approach that I have chosen to go with does not evade statistical flaws completely, which would disappear if a larger pool of compared reveals could be used and more categories to be made, but for the aforementioned reasons, this isn’t an option in my opinion. Furthermore, there was also a case of an individual who got a reveal before, albeit not for their personal channel, but for a project with another creator. This case I have counted as a repeated reveal, especially considering the other co-creator also had numerous reveals before. Also, one case of a Gwent team getting a reveal appeared, this one was counted as the first reveal, despite the fact that multiple members of the said team had been given reveals before.

Ultimately, a very limited amount of reveals from previous expansions had no traceable link to whoever revealed them and therefore the sources are not perfectly clear either, paradoxically though, two out of the three categories would not get reduced, even if the links were there and I believe that this imperfection in fact only emboldens the argument that I want to make. That being the fact that some partners are prioritized over others as the only outcome possible from the uncharted reveals could possibly be an increase in size for the “had a reveal before category” in the latest and future reveal seasons.

 

The Data

Finally, let us take a look at the data itself. The reveal campaign for the Way of the Witcher expansion has brought us exactly 71 card reveals. In spite of that, there can be found 75 cards on the WotW reveal page, but 4 of these cards are tokens that were not given a reveal of their own, these being Red, Blue, and Green mutagen and Saber-Tooth Tiger: Stealth. Interestingly enough, there was in fact another token that was given a reveal, that being Witcher Student, which will be naturally counted among the normal card reveals.

If we break down the 71 cards into the aforementioned categories, the largest group becomes what I decided to dub “Regular Reveals” (CDPR, Faction Ambassadors, Casters, Community hubs’ representatives) with 30 reveals that add up to 42.25% of the entire card reveals’ pool. The numbers are much closer with the remaining two categories that I have named “First Partner reveals,” for, surprisingly, partners that had their first times with this expansion, and “Recurring Partner Reveals,” for partners that have had at least one reveal before, but some of them in fact have had even up to 4, potentially even more if we count in cooperative projects! These two categories split the pie (And there is a lot of pie analogies and metaphors in this article, isn’t it?) by getting 22 reveals (30.99%) and 19 reveals (26.76%) respectively.

For even closer comparison we can omit Regular Reveals which leaves us with 41 and sets the numbers to 53.66% for First Partner Reveals and 46.34% for Recurring Partner Reveals.

Taking into account all the statistical factors that I’ve mentioned before, that is among others a rather small card reveal pool, individuals with ambiguous categorization, forced simplification, and more, we cannot make any final statement that would unequivocally prove anything, nonetheless, we can observe that a very high number of partners is getting their second, third, or maybe even fourth reveals, such high amount of them in fact, that they almost even out with first-timers.

 

The Questioning

Now you might be asking yourself, does it even matter? Surely some content creators deserved getting more reveals, right? And I wouldn’t disagree completely, though I would like to present an opposing view to such mentality. Yes, some people have been making their name in the Gwent community, uploading, writing, streaming, or competing for years, nonetheless, while it makes sense in their individual cases, what sense does it make in the greater scope of things? What sense does it make for a brand new content creator that is wondering whether they should or shouldn’t apply for the Gwent Partners program? Is it even worth it to enter a group of fellow creators, provided that those who win win more and those who don’t win are either ignored or pushed to the sidelines?

Now, to be fair, the Gwent Partners program isn’t only about card reveals, in fact, it is very generous towards those who enter it, nonetheless there is so little coming from it on the basis of involvement and cooperation from your side that in the end, the reveals is all that it can boil down to in the case of your active participation unless you enjoy providing regular feedback (which you can also on the CDPR forums or community hubs) or participate in the very sparse Partners tournaments.

Furthermore, it can be so impactful and beneficial for a new or a smaller content creator to be able to shout: “Hey, I exist! I’m revealing a card for the game that I love and while you’re at it, feel free to check out my channel and help me out.” Creativity has no bounds and small steps like this, if done correctly, can jumpstart a new channel, bring a bunch of new followers, gain some public awareness. For instance, I have never before heard of Xioniz, but thanks to his very clever card reveal I have visited both his Youtube and Twitch channels and had a good time there, despite him making content predominantly in Polish, simply because of the card reveal, of the way I could be introduced to him as someone that cares about what they do and they do it with passion. On the other hand, I dare to argue that for larger content creators with established viewer bases that already are in the public eye and have ties to other individuals that they can cooperate with and mutually expand their viewer bases (which is exclusively what the Recurring Partner Reveals category consists of), it is almost negligible whether they get a handful of new followers or not from getting a bit more attention thanks to the card reveal, in the end, it is more of a fun and exciting opportunity to get a sneak peek for what is to come.

If CDPR wants to stay on good terms with the most successful of Gwent content creators, why not engage with them in some way that goes beyond the Partners program? Add easter eggs to the flavor texts of the new cards, allow them to participate in PTR’s, make card arts with something that is connected to them, or even use their resemblance and their personalities to give life to completely new characters, I could see it already… But I’m digressing here! The topic of shortcomings of the Gwent Partners Program has been also brought up before by my fellow teammate, Babyjosus. 

Back to the topic, I simply do not know why are “those who already won” prioritized over those who are only starting their climb to the top, presumably because the prior are considered to be reliable long-term participants in the program or literal “partners” and CDPR wants to stay on good terms with them. That being said, while I do not want to take away anything from them and I think they deserve what they were given, at the same time I would like to give what they have to the small, fragile, and growing partners, that might actually find a great use for the spotlight. For as long as this “VIP reveal club” is a thing and the selection is done purely on the personal choice of whoever is in command, a strong aftertaste of favoritism will be left in the mouths of those who hoped to get a chance for a card reveal but were not chosen over someone who had 3 reveals before.

This is especially painful as this expansion was one of the first where the selection was done purely by CDPR. To explain this, in the previous expansions Partners were asked to let the person in charge know whether they want a reveal or not in a dedicated text channel which usually resulted in an avalanche of requests and demands on what type of card would people want and how their viewers would be excited by it, etc. In short, convince us that you’re more worth it than the guy next to you. I personally have been very disappointed by this approach as it brings the worst in people in my opinion. Individuals who haven’t been active on their respective platforms reappeared magically, people who had had a reveal or two before presented their preferences for what they’d like to get this time, and worst of all some of them were actually selected because why not. I think I cannot judge anyone, in fact, I’d be guilty too because we all want a card of our own, but for as long as this is meant to be a program without any hierarchy, where all are given equal opportunities to participate and cooperate, such approach just feels flawed and corruptive. In fact, the influence of “asking and potentially getting” has been so strong that many requests were made in the respective channel this year even in spite of the fact that they supposedly shouldn’t have affected much and while I cannot show messages of other people without their approval, many of the ones who asked were given reveals and at least one of them was given the exact type of card they asked for, that being a meme card.

I have asked for a reveal before once, not really expecting anything. This reveal season I didn’t do so both because I have grown critical of the system and because I wanted to stay as unbiased as possible.

 

The Proposal

So, what would be the solution? Before I present my take on what would make the system fairer in my eyes, let me mention that it’s completely up to CDPR to do whatever they want with the Partners Program, it is purely their initiative and in fact, there is no legal involvement of the individual partners, no closure on how many reveals they have to get or anything like that, so nobody is bound to do anything, everything is based upon goodwill. Furthermore, I can see pros and cons for both the established system and for the one that I would like to propose, therefore, one could object to mine just as critically as I have been trying to throughout this article to the current system and that is completely fair and a correct thing to do.

I personally believe that in order to make anything as fair as possible you need to take the human factor out of the equation. Without anyone deciding who deserves it more than anyone else, who would fill a certain category well and how to make it so, so that nobody would feel offended, but also without anyone trying to not to mix their personal preferences and opinions in the selection process, without any person being tasked with a burden like this, it would be much easier to find a state of balance, perhaps seemingly unfair sometimes, but unfair in a “fair” way. How to achieve that you might ask and what does it mean in the first place? Well, there are multiple ways with their respective nuances, but I’d personally argue for just making a list of all the Gwent Partners, alphabetical, randomized, it wouldn’t matter as much in my eyes for as long as there would be one criterion followed and that is: “Those who have had a reveal before go to the bottom of the list. The more reveals you have had, the further down you go.” When a new expansion arrives, you could go from the top down taking only Partners that haven’t had a reveal before, and once the reveal campaign would end, you would just take those who got a reveal before and placed them on the bottom. Next expansion the process would repeat. When new partners join the program, you either shuffle them among those who haven’t had a reveal before or put them on the top. Once you’d have no partners without first reveals, you’d move on to second reveals. Over time, as new partners regularly join the ranks of grizzled veterans, a healthy mix of first-timers and recurrent partners could be achieved in every expansion.

The arguments for this system:

  1. Treats all partners equally.
  2. Is very beneficial for new partners.
  3. Simplifies the selection process.
  4. Introduces more creators to the community.
  5. The chances of each partner getting at least one reveal are higher.

The arguments against this system:

  1. While the selection process is simpler, making and updating a list of partners is required.
  2. It isn’t as beneficial for old partners (especially those who have had reveals before).
  3. Prevents CDPR from highlighting certain individuals.
  4. The chances of getting your second or more reveals are lower.
  5. Introduces new creators that might not be seen as reliable (might leave Gwent for something else).

 

Conclusion

In reality, I could easily see the current system stay unchanged, all that is need for a more fair environment to be achieved is to reduce the amount of recurring partner reveals. You can still highlight anyone that deserved it in that period of the year, but the numbers shouldn’t be almost 50:50 in my honest opinion. If we take into account how many partners there are (This list is obsolete, by the way, there are many, many more!) and that some people were given a reveal almost every single expansion season despite being on the same level as anyone else, participating in a system like this may feel very, very underwhelming and might even discourage people from ever asking for a reveal in the future, it certainly discouraged me.

Whatever the situation will be when the future expansions come out, I hope that as many new partners as possible will get a chance to cooperate and show proudly what they have achieved. Not only what they build on their channels, blogs, and ladder reports, but also where has that all lead them, that they became the official Gwent Partners and can cooperate with those who made a game that means so much to them. Merry Christmas and thank you for reading this article everyone!


Sources

Top 5 Chests In Gwent

Gwent is pretty awesome.

It’s a strategy based CCG with some of the best artwork ever put to a card game before, and the game covers so many different subjects through its artwork. Syndicate takes you through this almost Pirates of the Caribbean-esque setting on one hand, and Skellige can drop you in this Viking utopia filled with mead and hearty songs galore. Its appeal is so vast that even the most passionate of card game disliking individuals would still look at the cards in Gwent and go “That’s pretty cool.

We’ve covered a lot about Gwent world here at Bandit Gang. We’ve looked at what some of the best players in the scene think about the pro grind, to what sort of effect memes have in the game. To say we go above and beyond here at Bandit Gang would be a pretty big understatement, but one thing we’ve not actually tackled just yet is looking at the really REALLY serious topics to discuss with Gwent. Well, dear readers, this is where we change that.

It was pretty tough, really. After touching on some of the most thought-provoking topics that one can tackle with Gwent. We’ve talked with talented players like Redrame, Demarcation, Tailbot, and so many more to pick their brains about the game. When you manage to break ground on topics like that – where can you go from there? It took time but we got there – the ultimate subject to tackle with Gwent.

Who has the best chest?

Yes, we know! It’s a subject you all have wondered about in your spare time. At the cafe, at a bar mitzvah, or even at the Beyblade tournaments held at your local park. It’s just something we’ve all pondered. Every character has some kind of chest, you know they do. Some have bigger ones, some have rather compact ones. Some display their chest proudly! We see them as the focus of card arts time and time again. It’s time to stop wondering on the subject and we properly line it out for all – because it’s gone on for too long that we’ve left this question unanswered.

Please enjoy this look at who has the best chests in Gwent, not just the best. The Top 5 Chests in Gwent!

5) Roderick of Dun Tynne

Starting off our list of the Top 5 Chests in Gwent is Roderick of Dun Tynne! Roderick is a card NG players know and love, it’s a fantastic thinning element – sometimes he feels like you’re taking a big chance, and other times he is the perfect card to confirm your victory! Roderick has a really plentiful chest that is the envy of many around him without a doubt – we’ve included him at our number five spot because he just can’t seem to manage his chest very well!

The man of Dun Tynne has far too much in his chest, it’s overflowing and clearly too small to get the job done. You’d think a man with such wealth would have a bit of a bigger chest, but alas – sometimes that is an issue men of power have to face in their life. Having a big chest isn’t everything after all, but it sure isn’t going to help you get the top spot on a list focusing on the best chest in Gwent! It’s just not versatile enough Roderick.

Better luck next time buddy.

4) Angoulême

Next up in the chest listing is the lovely Angoulême! She’s a character that fans of the books know quite well as a dear friend of Geralt of Rivia. For us Gwent players, she often sees play when you want to get a bit risky with your decks. Her ability can either be the most amazing clutch play in the world, or it could just lead to some serious disappointment. Though with the new location cards…

Do you know what isn’t disappointing? Angoulême’s chest! Angoulême has a fantastic chest, much bigger than Roderick’s already – the only little issue is that sources do claim it’s somewhat dubious on if it IS her chest… When questioned on the subject, Bandit Gang was met with some serious threats of violence and an adamant claim that the contents of the chest belonged to her. These questionable standards of Angoulême’s chest have left us being unable to rank it any higher. Also the state of it! Honestly…

In the end, Angoulême’s chest was a bit too suspicious for us…

3) Tidecloak Hideaway

The Tidecloaks are a pretty rough set of characters, known for terrorizing the streets of Novigrad under the rule of Gudrun Bjornsdottir. They are a bad group of characters and they deal in quite the nasty sort of odds and ends. Drugs, weapons, and of course… loot. They have multiple little storehouses, laundering schemes, and of course hideaways! The Tidecloak Hideaway showcases this in abundance, you can see all sorts of storage on full display in the card art for this once mighty vessel of the sea.

The chest, or rather, chests here – are very vast and varied! This ship showcases a large array of different chests with all manner of goods being handled by the crewmates on board. One cannot ignore the abundance of wonderful chests here – sadly quality is what we want to focus on in this list. Yes, the quantity is pretty clear but the haphazard and shoddy care these chests are being given is simply inexcusable. We want to put it higher on the list but it’s just not up to code.

Maybe a bit more polish next time, peeps.

2) Fence

Ah yes… a fence. What a lovely occupation ay? Incredibly well-mannered individuals with nothing but the best interests of their clients at heart. The Fence from Syndicate is a prime example of this. She is clearly proud of her goods, but the chests, in particular, are well kept and clearly been polished to perfection. We’re talking the best Chest in Gwent here and a lot of the ones the Fence has are very impressive!

We do want to point out that we are aware of the hypocrisy in previous rankings such as owning the chests, their quantity, and other hangups we raised in place of morals. However after very lucrative and rewarding talks with the Fence, we settle- ahem, decided on the number 2 spot together. It was a 100% legitimate discussion and in no way influenced by monetary compensation.

Did you guys know that Novigrad has great gambling spots?

1) Halfing Safecracker

Tempo incarnate and a staple in any good crime deck. The halfling safecracker is often underestimated for his size before showcasing through his exceptional safecracking skills that he is indeed a force to be feared. We are dropping all pretense for this one because when it comes to Gwent cards that focus on chests… this has to take the cake in our opinion.

The chest in this card is sharing half the subject focus and is actually one of the biggest chests drawn to a card so far that we could locate. So far Gwent has no cards that exclusively focus on a single chest of any kind. It’s an unfortunate fact that chest lovers must struggle with every day. Maybe one day we’ll get a mimic card and we’ll need to revise the list…

He may be a halfling, at least he’s got a full chest!

Well, that was rather enjoyable!

We hope you all are pleased with our write up on the Top 5 Chests in Gwent as we are. We always set high standards here at Bandit Gang and try and develop the envelope past what others in the Gwent scene are doing and we think we hit the nail on the head with this one. It was a pretty tough list to conceive and took a lot of effort and research, scrolling through every card for about ten minutes wasn’t an easy task.

We soldiered on however and did our very best to bring you the content you guys deserve. If you feel we missed out on any deserving chest-based cards that deserve the spotlight, please let us know in the comment section below as we’d love to hear from you Gwent loving chest fans!

If you liked our article, please consider checking out our articles section where you can find a bunch of fantastic writes up by some of our talented team members. Everything from member interviews to deck guides!

General Manager of Bandit Gang, King Denpai wrote this! If you wanna check him out – go follow him on Twitter and Twitch! He streams and rambles all the time on his social media pages! Thanks for reading.

Bandit Gang’s Top 5 Cards of The Way Of The Witcher Expansion

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

After the latest expansion the Way Of The Witcher (WOTW) got announced, we know that you all were eager to find out what we think about it. And so, we have decided to make a top 5 cards of the WOTW expansion. All members had the chance to put in their votes based on card art and/or ability. In the end 13 members voted, including 9 from Content Team and 4 from the Competitive Team (Pro Team & Academy Team). We ended up with the following 5 cards, from least voted card to the most voted card.

So pay attention now, you might learn something!

#5 Ivar Evil-Eye

He looks cool, contains a lot of tempo, is a good control card and will carry Nilfgaard on its own. If you really want to, you can put this card in any Nilfgaard deck!

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

#4 Snowdrop

Snowdrop can be lots of value in Nilfgaard when you pair it with cards like Doadrick, Isbel and the leader ability Tactical Decision. If you are not a big fan of the faction, you can also play it in Skellige with the Discard archetype.

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

#3 Salamander

This card has crazy potential when you combine with Syanna and Madame Luiza. Molegion confirmed it in Crozyr’s chat that you can play the card twice in one turn. If you want to play it in a more of a meta version, then you could kill it with self poison and play it again with Renew. Or if you don’t benefit from self poison then you could even kill it with Offering. Or if that’s too memey for you, then you could destroy it with Mutants Maker.

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

#2 Arch Griffin

Arch Griffin has huge meme potential, but at the same time might work in hybrid off-meta decks with Pincer Maneuver. Which finally makes that leader ability somewhat playable again. You most likely want to play it in round 1 or round 2.

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

#1 Viy

Almost all the people that voted picked Viy as their number 1 card of the expansion. Perhaps, because the card feels very beta Gwent. The members are looking forward to make it as tall as possible, most likely you would have to build the deck around the card.  Of course if you do that, Heatwave is your worst enemy. But then again, Caranthir is your best friend.

Most of the votes came from the Content Team but its worth mentioning that three out of four people from the Competitive Team voted on Viy. Hence why we decided to give it the grey color.

This is team Bandit Gang’s top 5 cards of the WOTW expansion. We hope everyone will have tons of fun today! Let us know what your top 5 cards are in the comment section below.

Inside the minds of Gwent’s Elite – About Pro Players Mentality

Written by Sawyer1888 

Introduction

The time has come, as our dear friend Hemdall would say. Although it’s the Gwent Masters of Season 2, this week from December 5th – 6th we will see the first ever played World Masters. Over a duration of 9 seasons, we’ve seen dozens of Qualifiers and 4 Opens which decided who will take part in this tournament. Now there will be a Clash of the best 8 current Gwent players:
Demarcation, wangid1, Tailbot, Pajabol, kams134, Saber97, Gravesh and kolemoen.

During this impressive journey I asked myself the question what it takes to be a professional Gwent Player and what it takes to compete constantly on such a high level? Probably it’s the same question many of you asked, no matter on which level your abilities in this game currently are. Fighting to get into Pro Rank, grinding the ladder to stay top 500, pushing through to top 200, claiming a spot in a Qualifiers event or even winning a tournament.

In order to do so I gathered thoughts and impressions from some of the best players in Gwent, including almost every team, while also getting in contact with experienced casters and people close to the development section.

Additional Information

(For people in a hurry I wrote a short abstract or summary of this article, which you can find at the end, above the note of thanks, but I would appreciate you to value the work I and all the guys put into this! As I am only human, maybe some of you feel left out, because I couldn’t manage to talk to everyone. For this I am sorry, but if so, make sure to contact me on Discord to be part of the next one! Also some of the people I talked to might not even be quoted, but I am deeply thankful for every insight I got and you will see yourself mentioned in the note of thanks at the end of the article! There will be a list of everyone who helped me creating this article and where you can also find the links of their Twitch and Twitter accounts, while also being able to visit every Teams homepage.)

So the goal of my survey and this article was to find out, not only what it might take to be a professional, but also what kind of mindset you need to keep your game on a high standard over such a long time. Therefore, I contacted top players, casters and people involved in the competitive scene via Discord, while giving everyone the same question to answer me, to make it comparable. The question or task I gave them was kinda vague, to give them full freedom of speech:

”Describe in one or two sentences what it takes to be a Pro Player in terms of motivation and mentality, while pointing out like 3 key aspects.”

And I was overwhelmed with the huge amount of responses I got from people who might never heard of me before. Again, a huge thank you, just another sign of what a great community the Gwent scene is.

Key Aspects For A Professional Player

Enjoy yourself and what you do

First of all you have some basic aspects you need to follow to get up your game and be competitive. These factors might count for every esports game, but also for every sport in general. One of them is to have fun at what you do and to actually enjoy the game you are competing in.” (Kolemoen) It is important for almost everything in Life I guess, but especially if this takes a huge part and a huge amount of time in your Life, at least on a certain period. To enjoy the things you do and also have a positive attitude or good sportsmanship is key to stay calm, if you walk into an intense situation”. (ceely) By this I don’t mean to only enjoy the game, Gwent in particular, but also yourself while playing the game. The grind can be pretty hard and often exhausting, so being able to make the best of it is very important. (beefox3) For some people the progress on the other hand is way more important than just the simple joy, so they even force themselves to play, but that’s kinda just part of the grind.” (pajabol)
We can see, that a positive attitude towards yourself, the game and your opponent is a main factor for just getting in the mood to even think about being competitive, while fun helps you to not take everything to hard. But in some moments the urge to be successful becomes stronger and the progress, winning itself can even be a greater motivation. (Tailbot)

A supportive but also competitive environment

In addition to this, the environment is also another main aspect of being a professional Player. Not only a Team, where you have the ability to talk about stuff, scrim, get feedback or help in personal matters (Avades, Sonneillon, Kolemoen), but also a competitive scene, where you can push your limits against the best players possible. That’s why some players, like Neverhoodl, find it more interesting to play in tournaments vs. other top Players, instead of just grinding the ladder. So on the one hand you need your own Team to get support and even to be able to get closer into the game (MyaMon). On the other hand you also want to have strong opponents, which also keep you hungry in general. It’s always nice in every sport to beat a well known opponent. Creating this kind of environment also needs a large community to take part in. In this case it’s the Gwent Community, which feels like a big family for some and might even be the reason to keep in touch with the game for so long (TheaBeasty). It makes things like Streaming possible and gives people the opportunity to even play for titles. The Gwent Community is probably one of the best communities that I’ve ever known and I totally agree with Poisound from Team Nova, it is.

Time and dedication

We discussed two aspects so far, which can easily be valid for any other Esports. The third one will also be a more general factor: Time.
Many people underestimate the amount of time you need to put into practicing, grinding, improving and also failing. It takes time and dedication, the player has to be somewhat passionate about the game to spend so much time says Sikamouk from Team Bandit Gang, while also there’s a difference between time in playing and time trying to improve.” (Avades) Everyone watching the Opens or the upcoming Masters will see a few hours of top level gameplay. Small mistakes will be noticed and smart plays will be praised. For some it will be all over after round 1, maybe even after only 3 games played. But it took them thousands of games to get to this point, just for one chance to stay on top of all other players. Even if some of them sometimes stream their games, you won’t be able to follow the whole journey these players took over the last months and how many hours were spent grinding alone, dealing with defeats while also not being able to enjoy a victory. The next game is already waiting, so no time to lose while grinding for MMR. Making this possible sometimes takes a certain routine, a schedule, to maximize your efficiency. (Demarcation) It could be just 2 hours in a day but with total concentration.” (IgniFriend)

What It Takes To Be A Gwent Champion

So, what does it take to be competitive and professional? Apparently these 3 aspects are key: Passion for the things you do and being able to enjoy yourself. A community where it all can take part, including a supportive team and also a healthy rivalry between competitive teams. And also time, a lot of time, efficiently spent with dedication and full concentration.

But all of these aspects sound kinda universal, like fundamental basics for every sport. The question is now, what does it mean to be a professional Gwent Player? Is it only to draw your Golds? Do I just need matchups in my favor, the right coin for my deck and a bit of RNG luck? Well, lets find out. 

Deckbuilding and game knowledge

Assuming that almost every reader of this article is kinda familiar with the ruleset of Gwent, I won’t explain certain terms. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section. As we all know, you need to have a certain understanding of the game. This includes knowledge about decks and deckbuilding itself, the current META and also the ability to read matchups. (Kwild) You need to be able to take advantage of this knowledge. These things can be acquired by grinding the ladder, watching streams, talking to your teammates and staying in touch with current meta snapshots. But that’s only a small part for what it takes to be a Champion. You also need an understanding of lineup dynamics and the tournament format says Redrame. The difference between open decklists in tournaments and maybe the surprise value of itchy cards on ladder is huge. You always have to be critical of your own plays and deck choices (Saber97_), so you can get an advantage over your opponent. A win can be decided in the deckbuilder by making the right choices, putting in the right tech-cards and reflect on matchups which can be in your favour, to maximize your odds. On ladder you can optimize your playstyle with a certain meta deck, but when you lose don’t blame the meta, create it! (TheaBeasty) To figure out a unique playstyle for yourself and improving your deckbuilding skills helps a lot, says magpie131, who often gave an Open a bit of spice with his creative decks.

The will to improve yourself

After hearing that someone could say alright cool, I copy the decks from the metasnapshot, adjust them a bit by putting in an Igni, Yrden or whatever and I’m good to go right? Well, not quite. The most important aspect for almost everyone I asked was the will to improve yourself and learn from your mistakes. The measure of a pro player is not by how they win, but how they lose”. (Synergygod3773) So you kinda need to have the ability to be impartial to yourself (iluxa228) to actually figure out what you might could have done better and what might be out of control. It’s important to focus on the parts of the game which you can control (Saber97_) which means, that you can’t just blame bad luck, bad RNG, bad draws, bad matchups or the wrong coinflip. Of course, all of these things can be tough obstacles to overcome, but it takes no skill to forfeit every game you missed some Gold Cards, didn’t manage to win a certain round in a certain matchup or to just go into the game while thinking you already lost this when seeing the opponents leader. There’s a cognitive bias towards negative outcomes, so it’s easy to say I just got unlucky without evaluating the situation and play the exact same way the next time.” (Redrame) Identify your mistakes in each game, evaluate your plays, think about possible outcomes and then just learn from your mistakes and never repeat them”. (raduAndrada) Therefore it is a good habit to briefly analyze your match trying to understand matchups you’ve just played”. (pawloex)

The Champions Mentality

To achieve this it takes two things: A lot of practice and to fully immerse yourself in this Esport discipline”. (Dobermann) This means on the one hand to constantly stay hungry for self-improvement at the expense of comfort (Damorquis), while you also have to play a lot of ladder games; and sometimes it will feel like a bit of chore, which you have to power through.” (Shaggyccg) On the other hand tho it’s about to have the right mindset, the Pro Player Mentality, to be capable of doing all these things. Here is what some of the people I asked said about this:

Sonneillon

All it takes for motivation and mentality is the confidence of being able to compete at the highest level.

shinmiri2

Always be looking to improve yourself and yearn to be the best player you can be. […] Make the most out of the time given to you to look and plan ahead.”

molegion

If you want to be the best, then your goal should be always to become better rather than simply win.”

Poisound

Perseverance, never give up, being there and try to improve to be the best.”

pajabol

I would say that the most important thing is not giving up even in tough moments.”

Movius

The most important aspect of being a Pro Player is to have the perfect balance between believing in yourself and in your abilities, while still remain open minded to the suggestions and critics that can come from other players.”

RyanGodric

I believe that in order to become a successful pro player, you need to have an open mind about the game and not be swayed too much by public opinion.”

So, summarizing all of these statements you can see how important it is to have the right attitude and mindset not only in general, but also particular as a Gwent Player. Card games always have a certain RNG factor in it and also Gwent is a card game where you can’t win without a good and timely fortune,” (Dobermann), but you can always maximize your chances by minimizing your mistakes.

Dealing with tilt

Unfortunately, this won’t work all the time. You have to realize that the effort does not necessarily have to pay off. Since only a small percentage of pro players achieve real success.” (Gnomberserk) But realizing this can often result in feeling unlucky, feeling salty and at the end becoming tilted. Tilt can and will ruin even the best players if it isn’t managed properly Saber97_ says, and many people I talked to told me something about the way how you deal with tilt, how you prevent it or what to do when you know you became tilted anyway. There is no universal recipe for how to deal with Tilt, but what we can all agree with is: you play like hot ass when you’re tilted.” (bushr)
We all have to find our own way and strategy on how we want to handle bad feelings, especially when it’s just a card game in the end. Remember the first main aspect we discussed: You have to enjoy what you do and Gwent is always more fun when you’ve got your friends to talk about the games you played.” (raduAndrada)

Conclusion

The question behind this article was to get a deeper insight into a Pro Players Mind, while also hoping to get to know, what it takes to be a Professional Gwent Player and what kind of a mentality you need to have. Main factors in general are having fun, being in a supportive and also competitive environment and also having enough time to play, practice and improve. Especially in Gwent, where grinding take a lot of time, you have to stay determined and motivate enough to achieve your goals.

 I believe that every person is capable of excellence if they are determined and motivated enough to achieve it. “Where there is a will there is a way” mentality is what really gives people who truly want something the edge to achieve whatever it is that they set their mind to.” (Spyro_ZA)

Staying hungry, trying to improve, learning from mistakes and setting up their mind into a Champions Mentality are the key aspects to what it takes to become a Professional Gwent Player. All other obstacles will become redundant in the long way, because one missed card might decide a game, but not your whole season. One loss might hurt and be frustrating, but it’s up to you how you want to come back after this defeat and what you take from it. To draw your golds and win is easy, but to manage to squeeze an almost impossible win with an awkward hand distinguishes a rather Casual Player from a Champion.

I bet you all can do it and push forward, and if not, it’s only a game. But the urge to improve yourself, not letting yourself down and believing in your ability to climb out from whatever position you might be in life, that’s a valuable lesson I learned over the last month and I’m pretty sure that Gwent and its community helped me with it. So, as we now know what it takes to be a Champion and also a Top Player, let’s see who will overcome his opponents on this weekend and be crowned as the World Gwent Master!

Summary

This article is based on a small survey where professional players, casters and people involved in the competitive scene of gwent were asked about their opinion what it takes to be a Pro and to compete on such a high level for a long period of time. The main aspects that were mentioned about competing in general were:
– Enjoyment, so the ability to enjoy yourself, the game and what you do.
– A supportive Team, while also being involved in a competitive environment, including the larger community in which everything takes place.
– Time to play the game, practice and improve. 

These fundamentals help the players to actually get into a competetitive mindset. For gwent in particular there where four key factors:
– Deckbuilding skills and knowledge about the game, which means being flexible between tournament and ladder setups. 
– The will to improve yourself, learning from your mistakes and the ability to distinguish between bad luck and bad judgement. 
– A certain mentality, I call the Champions Mentality, to stay focused, motivated and be able to push further. 
– Being able to prevent or to deal with tilt, with defeats and losing streaks. 

All of these aspects were important to not only be able to compete on such a high level for a longer period, but also always finding the thrive and motivation to become a champion in the end.

Thank you!

I really want to thank all the guys and girls talking to me and helping me to write this article, I really appreciate it! It was just a fantastic experience for me to talk to so many people from different nations, while everyone was so supportive and helpful. I really hope that this Article will do you justice and I tried my best to make room for each and everyone of you!

Team Bandit Gang:
enerGiix, JSN991, Sikamouk, Sonneillon, SuperSpock9000 and SynergyGod3773

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Team Swallow:
Demarcation

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And also: 
magpie131molegion and RyanGodric

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