CDPR

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

Introduction

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

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

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

Meet the Guest

Name: Ryan Schou

Age: 25

Hobbies: Movies, Video Games, Music, People

Section: Community Specialist 

Favorite Card: Ulfhedinn

Favorite Faction: Skellige

The GWENT Community

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

Additional Information - Zusätzliche Infos

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

The Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Introduction

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

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

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

Meet the Guest

Name: Maciej Reputakowski-Madej

Age: 41

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

Section: Event Manager CDPR

Favorite Faction: Bandits

Favorite Card: Shupe’s Day Off

About CDPR

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

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

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

The Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Gascon’s Most Wanted #7: ShadowplayRed

This is ‘’Gascon’s Most Wanted’’, a series by Babyjosus where he sits down with fellow content creators and pro players within the Gwent community. Our favorite content creators and pro players tell us about themselves but also about the happy, the sad and the most memorable moments throughout their careers. In this edition, Babyjosus speaks with ShadowplayRed, who is the bossman for Team Leviathan Gaming. They talk about Gwent, the foundation of TLG, The Invitational II and TLG TV.

Babyjosus: Some of the readers might not know, but we go way back, I remember still being a part of Team Rankstar when we first met. And that team is no longer active. I believe you even streamed a little on Twitch back then. How has life been treating you lately?

ShadowplayRed: I started in Gwent right at the start of open beta. Heard about it in closed beta, started following content then got in at the start. Soon after I got very hooked, sunk so many hours into it on PS4 than 6 months into open beta I moved to PC…sunk even more time in. When I moved to PC, I began streaming and really getting more into the Twitch Community where I met loads of great people, content creators and streamers including you, ser. Lately, after years of being a chef in New Orleans. I moved home and have taken a job with the United States Postal Service. It has kept me extremely busy along with TLG duties like our expansion last year to Legends of Runeterra. Besides that, I am just hanging and creating with the team while praying to Brother Jams.

BJ: A busy bossman you are. I also noticed you started playing Gwent yourself again, and got featured in Ladder Leverage from DevilDriven as well. How are you enjoying the game these days?

SPR: Yep. I recently picked the game back up after nearly 4 months off. When I started my new job, it was the holidays and shipping was nonstop…so was work. Plus, we had our first major LoR event, so I just had no time to play anything including Gwent. I like to hang out with the Gwent team a lot in our private team TV. I saw the AQ Swarm deck Green-Knight was playing, so I just built something from memory of my own. Jammed some games starting at rank 12 and moved to pro rank in just under a week with an 83% win rate. Played it a few days in pro rank and really enjoyed it, so DevilDriven asked me back onto Ladder Leverage this last week. It was a lot of fun working with DD again. He’s a great friend and one of the OGs in content creation in the Gwent Community. He works hard and really does so much for the team with the LL Series. I look forward to being back on again one day. Who knows? I might try hard back to the pro ladder and actually play four factions this season haha.

BJ: DevilDriven is a great content creator indeed. Now I know you are the bossman for TLG, and in my opinion TLG has become one of the most, if not the most established team when it comes to Gwent right now, do you feel the same way?

SPR: Well first of all, thank you for the compliments. Next, yes I do think TLG is the best team in Gwent at the moment. Now, it might seem arrogant to boast that but, currently we hold the Season 2 title thanks to Paja and the bond we have as a team I believe is stronger than any around. After a slow start in Season 2, we caught fire and just ran with it. We already have our first teammate into the first Open of Season 3 and I could see us adding more to that Open these upcoming Qualifiers. The team is hungry and ready to clap some cheeks this season, so keep an eye out…we are eager to build on last season’s success and ready to repeat, if we are so fortunate. 

BJ: How did you start TLG to begin with? And what is it’s secret behind its latest success?

SPR: TLG was founded by myself, Beardybog and SeriousAdam (who is no longer with the team). Although, we wouldn’t be where we are today without the hard work by my current/former Partners including wusubi, CP_Money, WellMax along with the rest of the team. We are one big family that harass the hell out of each other and mald together on a daily basis. I attribute much of our success in that we are an incredibly tight knit group and all great friends (even when we pretend not to be). The latest success was due to dedication and borderline insanity by the pro team, those supporting them. It takes a truly dedicated yet crazy person to dedicate hours upon hours to Gwent… especially in certain metas. 

BJ: To me it sounds like you guys are a group of people it would be fun to drink some beers with in a bar. Maybe in July it would be possible again to go to a bar. Speaking of July, there will be the second edition of The Invitational. I remember participating in the first edition and it was awesome to play against some of the best players in Gwent. What goes into preparing for such a big event? And do you have any tips & tricks for us at Team Bandit Gang? Because we are planning to organize Duel of Dogs 2 later this year.

SPR: Preparation for an event of this magnitude is beyond comprehension. Last year’s inaugural event we tested the boundaries of what the Gwent world has witnessed from a community held event. In saying that, we had a lot of hiccups throughout the way and learned a lot from our mistakes. This year’s event will go over better and I feel it will top last year’s in many ways. Max already has much more time to produce the visual spectacle he provides while wusubi, myself and the other admins are preparing an even better tourney experience for the competitor compared to last year. If I can give you any advice, have a great support team like we do at TLG and the success will follow. I am only as strong as those that support me.

BJ: Duly noted. And not only that is happening over there at TLG, recently you guys introduced TLG TV. Could you elaborate what that is all about and what we can expect from it?

SPR: TLG TV is a brainchild of WellMax and myself. I had been wanting to bring back Faction Chat for a while, but didn’t have the means of producing it. When Max came on board he began to mention that we should work harder on monetizing our Twitch and Youtube channels, through that we conceived TLG TV. Spyro had been itching to do a podcast and Jaggerous was super eager to do more content as well. So Zwei Null was to be our flagship show for TLG TV then we built off that with loads of entertainment for both games we are involved in as well as variety shows. I am super excited for this more than anything we are doing this year, so make sure to follow our socials for each weekly schedule.

BJ: That does sound awesome! Is there anything else that we can expect from TLG this year?

SPR: TLG TV will continue to grow with new shows and entertainment. Not to mention we just partnered with QuillandLance to double his monthly prize pool for the QuillandCup tourney series to $200. We also have a couple things in the works for Legends of Runeterra and as always for our friends in the Gwent Community. I can leak that TLG Civil War will be coming at you later on in 2021, so STAY TUNED!!

BJ: Any final words that you want to say to the reader?

SPR: To the Gwent Community, thank you all so much for the support you give TLG. We might be a bunch of Toxic Lads(AND LASSES) Gamers, but we have a soft side too…even if wusubi doesn’t want to admit it. To you BJ, thanks for being a unique, cool dude and always being super chill to talk to. I appreciate you thinking of me in this interview. Lastly, to my team…you all are the fuckin best! I love each and every one of you, even if you StalinPing me more often than not. Hugs.

IF YOU WANT TO SEE MORE OF TLG THEN YOU CAN FIND THEM HERE.

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

Gascon’s Most Wanted #6: Anna Podedworna

This is ‘’Gascon’s Most Wanted’’, a series by Babyjosus where he sits down with fellow content creators and pro players within the Gwent community. Our favorite content creators and pro players tell us about themselves but also about the happy, the sad and the most memorable moments throughout their careers. In this edition, Babyjosus speaks with Anna Podedworna, who is the Lead Concept Artist for Flying Wild Hog but known within the Gwent community for her work when she was a concept artist and illustrator for CD Projekt RED. They talk about her career, the process when working on an art piece, but also about her future plans.

Babyjosus: First of all, thank you for taking the time to have this interview with me. I remember that you said to me that you were swamped up with work. Could you give some insight of what you have been working on?

Anna Podedworna: I always have a few projects going at the same time. Unfortunately, most of the stuff I work on has not been announced yet so I cannot talk about it. All I can say is that at the moment a solid chunk of my time is allocated to working on Magic the Gathering.

BJ: Has the situation regarding COVID-19 affected your work in any way?

AP: If anything, the COVID situation had a positive effect on my work. I have no complaints when it comes to working from home plus I’m a nocturnal creature by nature. My productivity has been through the roof in recent months. 

BJ: Working from home has its advantages. I read that you studied architecture and engineering and while attending your university you did a ton of work as a freelancer. Mostly book covers, fashion designs, comic books, tattoos, and I believe an assortment of private commissions. Now you are involved in the video game industry through your work for Flying Wild Hog. And have been before, because of the work you did for CDPR for Gwent: The Witcher Card Game. How do you look back on your journey?

AP: Well if you put it like that, it almost sounds like my professional career was a continuous vortex of chaos. No solid plan, just dumb luck and me randomly smashing into opportunities with surprisingly great timing. Which is very true and makes for a fun journey. So, I would rate it a 10/10.

BJ: Your art in Gwent has gotten a lot of praise by the Gwent community and you even won the Into the Pixel award in 2018 for your art piece on Ida Emean. Do you have a personal favorite when it comes to card arts that you made for Gwent?

AP: My favorite card is the recently released “Squirrel”. It was the very last card I’ve illustrated for Gwent. It is also a card with a little bit of a back story. The first game director of Gwent had a very strong and mysterious dislike towards squirrels. Upon the discovery of that fact I made it my life goal to put as many squirrels into Gwent as possible. The first attempt of smuggling one into the game was the “Iorveth: Meditation” card. But of course, such a small squirrel would not suffice. Unfortunately, many more of my Gwent squirrelification attempts were tragically thwarted. Five game directors later, when I already knew I was leaving the company – it was now or never. I’ve illustrated the darn squirrel and left it for the game designers to figure out what to do with it. They did not disappoint. Now the Squirrel is in the game and it brings me a lot of joy.

BJ: Alongside your personal favorite. Is there a Gwent card you worked on that stands out to you, for a good or bad reason?

AP: I suppose “Damned Sorceress” was a bit of a pain in the ass to paint. That contorted arm gave me a lot of trouble.

BJ: She truly was a damned sorceress to draw then. What is the process when working on an art piece – where do you get your inspiration from for example?

AP: The process of creating illustrations for card games is pretty streamlined. I start with three different composition sketches. One gets picked by the art director. Then I paint it in a grayscale to ensure correct values. Later, I add color, sprinkle some more details and Photoshop magic and ta-dah: you get a finished illustration. As for the inspiration – I find it everywhere. Everything from day-to-day life, through people, movies, books, or games can be a source. 

BJ: Was there a moment when it was very difficult for you to finish an art piece?

AP: Definitely. Sometimes, I don’t plan out the illustration well enough and end up paying for it close to the finish line. 

BJ: So, what is the average duration you spend on an art piece such as a card art for Gwent?

AP: It used to take me around 40 hours to finish Gwent illustrations. Now I’ve managed to streamline the process better and cut the time down to closer to 25 hours.

BJ: That’s an insane amount of hours when you think about it. But, I suppose that’s why the quality of the card arts are so high. Aside of having worked on card art for Gwent, I was wondering if you have ever played the game yourself?

AP: I’ve tried to get into Gwent many times. Unfortunately, I’m absolutely HORRIBLE at it. In the early days of Gwent, we had a placeholder AI that randomly picked out and played cards. I was losing games against THAT. I’m literally worse than a random card generator. Much time has passed and I’m still garbage and resigned to remaining garbage at Gwent.

BJ: Going back to you, what would you like to work on some day – any project you have been dreaming of? 

AP: I don’t really operate with any particular end goal or dream project in mind. I’m happy with my current projects and I’m sure at some point I’ll smash into something else that will make me happy too.

BJ: Fair enough. I saw that you have done a lot of artwork on your ArtStation – ever thought of publishing some of them in the format of an artbook?

AP: I was thinking about it for some time now. I would like to create more original, non-client work first though.

BJ: I would love to get a copy; in the meantime, I will keep an eye out for when you publish anything new. What is your advice to someone who does traditional art but would like to get into painting digitally?

AP: If you have a decent base knowledge of traditional media you’ll have no problem picking up digital art. It’s way easier, just grab the cheapest tablet and you’re good to go. Most software is pretty intuitive, plus all of the basics will be covered by free online tutorials. 

BJ: We are nearing the end of the interview. Do you have any favorite artists that you would recommend to the reader to check out?

AP: It feels that I have a new favourite artist every day. Here are few artists definitely worth checking out: Andrey Surnov, Piotr Jabłoński, Johannes Voss, Simon Stålenhag, Kazuo Oga.

BJ: To finish the interview, just one more question. What is your last wish Anna?

AP: I wish for more squirrels in Gwent. Lorenzo, it’s up to you now.

BJ: I will make sure to send this article to him!

IF YOU WANT TO SEE MORE OF ANNA PODEDWORNA THEN YOU CAN FIND HER ON TWITTER, TUMBLR AND ARTSTATION.

Gascon’s Most Wanted #2: Freddybabes

This is ‘’Gascon’s Most Wanted’’, a series by Babyjosus where he sits down with fellow content creators and pro players within the Gwent community. Our favorite content creators and pro players tell us about themselves but also about the happy, the sad and the most memorable moments throughout their career. In this edition, Babyjosus speaks with Freddybabes, three-time official Gwent tournament winner and participant for the upcoming World Masters tournament. They talk about Gwent Masters, streaming Gwent on Twitch and take a little peek at what’s to come for the Gwent superstar.

Babyjosus: Where were you when you heard the news about Gwent Masters being postponed due to COVID-19?

Freddybabes: I was at home and in the middle of a preparation session testing my lineup when I saw the news.

BJ: I can understand that it must have felt like a bummer to hear it only a couple of days before you had to compete. Does it have any consequences for you not being able to compete?

FB: The main thing that hurts is feeling so ready to play, being in the mindset of preparing as hard as you can and then having the rug pulled out from underneath your feet so to speak. It’s quite difficult to reset mentally and get back into a positive frame of mind. Other than that, the feeling of wasting some of your lineup ideas sucks and of course the delay in gaining any money is quite a big deal. I was personally working on the assumption that I’d have an extra $5000+ dollars this time next month so you can imagine how that can disrupt your life.

BJ: Yeah, I can imagine. I hope the situation around COVID-19 will calm down. And correct me if I am wrong but I believe you prepared the last Challenger with BeardyBog. Did you prepare with him this time again?

FB: That’s correct. This time I had some small help from BeardyBog but also from several others. I won’t say any other names in case it gives away some information for the next tournament.

BJ: That’s fine with me. Out of a scale of 1 and 15. How confident were you about your lineup?

FB: I would say around a 12. After playing some more games recently and seeing the meta develop I would probably lower it to 10, haha. I definitely felt a bit rushed for this tournament and tried so many different decks and strategies it was very difficult to settle on one.

BJ: Do you think your lineup will drastically change now that Gwent Masters is postponed?

FB: For sure. The tournament won’t happen for months most likely if not longer so there will be updates and changes before the tournament takes place. This will make my previous lineup redundant.

BJ: Your friend GameKing will also be participating in the Gwent Masters. How would you feel like if you had to play against him?

FB: That would definitely suck. We were already quite sad to see that there was no chance of us playing in the final due to the bracket. If the bracket is reshuffled, then it would be nice for one of us to not have to eliminate the other. Overall though I’m friends with several of the players so it will be sad to play against them as well.

BJ: I am sure they will reshuffle it. But let’s see what CDPR ends up doing regarding the bracket. What are you going to do with the extra time that has been given to you?

FB: I plan to play a lot more and immerse myself in Gwent so that hopefully I feel less time pressured for next time. I also plan to experiment more before the tournament itself so I have an idea of what spicy things might actually be secretly good.

BJ: I ask this question to everyone else, but could you tell me something about yourself and what made you start doing content creation?

FB: I got into streaming after making a Gwent deck guide which became quite popular and I wanted to share my insights on the game as at the time, in beta, I was a high ranked player. I really enjoyed streaming and interacting with the community, so it just became a natural way to spend a lot of my time.

BJ: I noticed you started streaming Gwent on Twitch again after being absent from streaming. What made you decide to stream again?

FB: With the virus causing tournaments to be delayed or cancelled and there not being much to do outside I figure I need to do something with my time which I would normally just spend preparing for tournaments or trying other games. Streaming makes sense as I’m no longer feeling burnt out after having such a long break from it and I can simultaneously prepare for World Masters further.

BJ: I can relate to being burnt out on Gwent. What’s your story?

FB: I think at some point Gwent and streaming became a job for me rather than a hobby, probably mostly because I joined team Complexity, so I had a fixed number of hours I had to stream in a month and responsibilities to maintain while streaming. Once I left Complexity I realized how burnt out I had become, and without the financial incentive to stream anymore it felt right to just stop. Thankfully, a long break can help with those feelings, I think, although it’s still important to never overwork yourself, especially when it comes to something such as streaming.

BJ: Since I am a fan of your work, I know you have been making videos for YouTube as well in the past. On one of your recent streams you mentioned that you are not sure if you should go back to content creation on YouTube. Could you elaborate what you meant with this?

FB: YouTube has always been challenging for me to pursue because I tend to get caught up in the numbers and analytics of it more so than with other platforms. When my content becomes irregular on YouTube, I see big decreases in the performance of the videos which makes me sad, if I’m being honest. I enjoy making videos a lot, it’s just a matter of becoming consistent with them again or learning to overcome the negative feelings that come with the analytics. That being said, I’m planning on starting to make videos consistently again, hopefully this time for a longer period.

BJ: It’s nice to hear you are planning to on start making videos again. I always enjoyed them but do hope you manage to stay positive when doing so. By the way, I know you are still sharing a place together with the ImpetuousPanda and I hope you don’t feel uncomfortable with what I am about to ask. But do you have any plans on living together with your girlfriend?

FB: I definitely want to sometime in the future yes. Most likely I will stop living with Panda once our contract ends and find somewhere new, either just for myself or with others but we’ll see.

BJ: What can we expect from FreddyBabes in the future?

FB: I’m really wanting to return to my roots and stream somewhat regularly and hopefully make some videos on the side. It’s a very cool feeling to interact with the community after a long absence. Obviously look out for me in tournaments as well when those finally end up happening.

BJ: I think that’s all from me today. Do you have anything you want to say to the reader?

FB: Thanks for reading and thanks to you BJ for taking the time to ask these questions. I hope everyone reading stays safe and healthy and happy in these strange times!

BJ: The same goes to you Freddo.

IF YOU WANT TO SEE MORE OF FREDDYBABES THEN YOU CAN FIND HIM ON TWITTER, TWITCH AND YOUTUBE.