Renfri Needs a Gwent Card #11

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

Goetia

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

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

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

Art source is here.

His Excellency

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

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

Art source is here.

Dancing Nancy

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

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

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

Art source is here.

Heretic

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

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

Art source is here.

Blades of Destiny

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

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

Art source is here.

Leshen

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

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

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

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

Meve's Guard

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

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

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

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

Art source is here.

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