Sawyer1888

Deck Guide: Toxic Aristocrats

Overview


Since the Price of Power Expansion, maybe even before, Masquerade Ball disappeared. That might not change with this Guide, but it gives you an impression of how a classic Masquerade Ball deck could look like these days. And while testing, it turned out to be actually stronger than expected. 

One of the biggest weaknesses of playing this deck was always to get bled in Round 2, losing your Scenario or not drawing into it in Round 3. With the introduction of Jan Calveit as a card, we won’t have this problem anymore, as we can secure drawing into the cards we really need.  
To avoid the bleeding, we want to win Round 1 as efficient as possible. To help with that in addition to the tempo of Calveit, we play Ring of Favor, together with the Blightmaker and Mage Assassin combo. Fangs of the Empire with maybe Maraal or Cupbearer can also help to threaten some reach, while if necessary, we can take it with the removal potential of Vincent or grab a good unit with Vigo’s Muzzle

Obviously, you need a playable Round 1 hand to be able to do so, but with so many options to contest, you should be fine. If you feel not being able to secure Round 1, it might be an idea to hold Calveit, so your Scenario won’t get bled in Round 2 or even mulligan it away…but that’s a gamble and your call to take or not. 

The huge potential in this deck lies in its power combo: Masquerade Ball and Philippe Van Moorlehem. Protected behind Ffion var Gaernel, we should be able to gain a lot of points with our Thirsty Dames. Use your aristocrats wisely, you don’t need to instantly poison the unit you want to kill. Poison a unit with the spawned Fangs, then lock it with Philippe. Do the same with the other one and maybe even with Maraal as well. Gain statuses for your Dames and, depending on how long the Round takes, finish it off with Philippe and your remaining removals. 
Vigo’s Muzzle locks first before it grabs the unit, so it boosts your Dames as well as your leader ability Imposter. Keep that in mind to not waste points, but you don’t have to combine them necessarily. 

Pros: 
– A lot more flexibility to win Round 1 than old Ball decks, while also being consistent for your Round 3. 
– Versatile with thinning, points, removal and control. Even Bronze cards like Experimental Remedy, Van Moorlehem Hunter or Imperial Diplomacy can turn out valuable. 
– You can be toxic without being rude and Poison makes cool sound effects. Masquerade Ball is also better than Blue Balls

Cons:
Calveit Round 1 is not guaranteed, as well as your Blightmaker package. It needs a decent understanding of the matchup to know what Gold cards to commit Round 1. 
– Sequencing with Philippe, Dames and Poison is key to get the most points, but it might be weak against wide or no-unit decks. 
– It is not meant to be a 2:0 deck, as it needs some time to develop its power in a longer Round 3. 

The Deck

Core Cards

Ring of Favor helps you to secure Round 1, but be aware of your opponent might have it as well.

Masquerade Ball obviously is your main threat and gives you engines and removal

Philippe Van Moorlehem not only has a cool name, but can be really powerful if used together with your Dames and Poisons.

Ffion var Gaernel protects your important engines. Always play him in the Melee Row, as you want to defend your Maraal as well. 

Vincent Van Moorlehem is a decent removal for defenders, veiled units, Ciri:Nova or anything you gave Poison or Lock to. Together with your leader ability Imposter, it can be even a one turn removal. 

End of Year Interview 2021 Sawyer1888: ‘I am proud on every success I can get’

At Bandit Gang, the end of the year means the end of year interviews. All members are put to the test one by one about the events of the past year that shaped them. Private as well as business. In these interviews in which no mince of words will be stated, no taboos exist, sometimes harsh words are used and where you get a nice insight into the soul life of the interviewee.

Babyjosus: Welcome Sawyer, you are the next in line after Mercernn! How would you reflect on the year 2021?

Sawyer1888: First of all, nice to see your End of the Year Interviews are back and glad to be part of it again. This year was, interesting I would say. It had its ups and downs for me in my personal life, with some unique moments, like being announced to be the best mate of a friend at his wedding, winning some Gwent Tournaments or making some process elsewhere. Corona still has a big influence, so I am proud on every success I can get. 

BJ: Thanks man! Its a lot of time and commitment, but all worth it in the end. And I know you achieved certain goals with the academy team since you became their manager this year. How do you look back at your journey as an academy manager?

S: It was and still is a very exciting experience. One of my highlights was the Charity Event with Shupe TV for sure, as I could feel the team spirit while everyone was helping each other. But it was also stressful from time to time, as you have to organize things through different time zones and when I felt my motivation to play Gwent slacking, I had to still keep in touch with the game to be a good manager. But after all, I am very proud of how the Academy has improved and would call everyone in there a friend.

BJ: That surely was awesome to organize. You also have been working on a variety of projects regarding your writing for the website. What has that been like?

S: Actually I miss the writing from time to time, while I was to busy managing or organizing stuff. So with the introduction of the Skill beats Luck Series I found the perfect format for me I think. Having so many different guests from different communities and countries is amazing, and for 2021 I can promise you guys some exciting new interviews coming as well. Maybe I will even find the time again for a Gwents Elite #3, as the last two parts were pretty successful; I am still listening to some of those songs from the Spotify list I created.

BJ: I love how much that playlist was appreciated by people in the community. Hope to see you do more stuff like this in 2022! How was the year 2021 for darts?

S: Oh, it was very entertaining. Gerwyn “The Iceman” Price started the year with becoming world champion and world #1, won both of the European Tour events and also the Grand Slam in November for a 3rd time already. Kinda sad that he missed the whole Premier League dure to a Covid Infection, but he came back strong.      

Also his fellow Welshman Johnny “The Ferret” Clayton was producing magnificent darts this year…now it’s nice to have the framed picture signed by them both, even before Price won the Worlds and Clayton the Premier League or Grand Prix.        

Currently the World Championships are running again till January 3rd, while many top ten players are in decent form, it can be very interesting to see who goes through in the end. Hopefully Price will defend his title, so I can let everyone know again in our Discord 😊

BJ: Looking forward to watch the match tonight! Is there anything that you would like to do next year?

S: Well I want to finally finish my Master Thesis and end my study time with a success. Maybe trying to find an internship, to get going again in a fitting work environment, as I am currently having a study-job in an office which is cool, but has nothing to do with Geography and Spatial Planning.  The next steps would be to find my physical form again, as I was kinda slacking during the pandemic and joining a Darts Team, which turned out to be very difficult with all the restrictions. But I know from the past, that with a bit of routine, I can throw a decent dart, so I want to keep pushing forward.

BJ: Do you have any new year’s resolutions?

S: Difficult to say, but probably to follow my words and keep fighting. Maybe it is time to stop putting the pandemic in front as an excuse and start finding ways to achieve my goals again.

BJ: Anything you want to say to the reader in anticipation of 2022?

S: Be kind and humble. I experienced life over the recent past from a difficult perspective, so you never know who else currently is as well. Encourage yourself and others to think outside the box, no matter how the box looks like, as fear is the mind-killer.

BJ: Cheers and happy new year!

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*Sawyer's Top 10 Cards of 2021

*Sawyer’s top 10 doesn’t contain any kind of bias for NG and SK at all.

1.
Fercart: As it had the best reveal so far as well as the artwork and ability.

2. Fucusya: Is its flexibility levels up every Skellige deck.

3. The Mushy Truffle: As it allows a variety of interesting combos.

4. The Witchfinder: As I love bounty archetypes and this card can be very dangerous.

5. Blightmaker/Mage Assassin: As it’s such a strong thinning package, helping Nilfgaard to be more consistent.

6. Artaud Terranova: Because with a decent set-up and timing, it can be devasting.

7. Skjordal: As I loved his ability before and with the new King Bran it’s even better.

8. Gedyneith: because of the provision changes for the druids it becomes much more playable, together with Bride of the Sea for example.

9. Gorthur Gvaed: As it carried me to victory in the Nilfgaard Tournament.

10. Witch Apprentice: Because it’s a flying pig.

Weekly Bandit Gang Content Update #3

Welcome to your weekly Bandit Gang content update.

Hello Strays of Spalla!

Another splendid week we had last week, and another splendid week ahead of us. Last weekend we had the Season of the Bear Top 64 Qualifier and it was casted by one of our Content Creators and it was so cool to see that we had BG representation for the very first time on an official tournament cast!  I am speaking of TheOneChristo  who casted the final two games alongside his longtime friend WatchFlake. You can find the matches on his YouTube channel. This is just another example that not only we are growing as a team, but also that our members are getting more recognition in the community. We are immensely proud of him getting this opportunity and nailing it!

Listen to the Tunes of Gwents Elite, a soundtrack for Climbing and Grinding the ladder

Ever wondered what your favorite streamers listen to? Academy Manager and Article Writer Sawyer1888 , talked with over 60 people from the Gwent community about their favorite music to create this unique playlist: The Tunes of Gwents Elite. You can read more about it here , but make sure to give it a listen too!

The man put in a lot of time and effort into this specific project, he said so himself that over 50 hours were spend reaching out to all the people and talking to them. This is just another example of how we at Bandit Gang prefer quality over quantity.

Do you have a passion for Graphic Design or Article Writing? Then I want you for Bandit Gang!

Made by: Mercernn

If you have passion for Graphic Design or Article Writing and you would like to join an amazing group of people then please contact me. For more information on how to contact me you can click here.

This weeks uploads on the Bandit Gang YouTube

Illustrator: NotKelseyArt

Thank you so much for reading, and for supporting our content at Bandit Gang. Next week I will be back with more content to go through. But for now, I hope you will have a nice rest of your week!

Yours,

BJ
Content Manager
Team Bandit Gang

Sawyer1888 – What’s In My Deckbuilder?

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

Sawyer1888's Deck Picks

As creative as my content sometimes seems, when it comes to decknames I’m pretty dull I suppose. All of my decks have rather efficient names, so I always know what’s in there. Every deck seems to follow a strict control routine, except my Assimilate list and I never have more than one deck for a leader. My seasonal decks are always called “Seasonal”, so I never confuse it. Maybe I just fulfill the German cliché of trying to be effective. 

Midrange NR
This deck is called Midrange NR, for whatever reason, and is kinda an “optimized” tournament version of the Zeal Boys I made a few months ago, which actually ended up on the trending page of the week back then. I always loved to be flexible with single commandos and a siege, while not having to miss classic NR trades like Seltkirk for duels or the Frigate engine. This deck, except one change, also won me the first bandit gang intern tournament, which I am very proud of, so I always keep it. And yes, War Chariot would be better, but the artwork of Frenzied D’ao is way cooler.

Savage
After I was annoyed by all this engine heavy decks during the late summer and autumn of last year, I created this abomination of a unitless control pile. “Savage” does the trick on red coin against Shieldwall, Hidden Cache, Assimilate or other engine decks, while also can be awkward to play against when you want to control yourself, because of the immune wolves. I actually received positive feedback when I shared a deckguide for its first version and while I also bring it to tournaments, it’s my “go to” deck to teach some meta players in casual a lesson…

SK Control
SK Control, a rather functional title, is one of my favorite decks. Every time I grind back to pro rank, I play a version of this deck. Also its original version was my first deck for what I did a Co-Op stream with team Kreves beefox3, which was really fun! Normally it used to play Lugos and Herkja as well together with Patricidal Fury, but the current meta kinda demands some flexibility and changes. I never play Totem, ever, because why playing self damage stuff when you could play controlling warriors?

Assimilate Ball & Lock Emhyr
Well, as NG is my most loved and favorite faction, I always have some Nilfgaard lists in my storage. Especially after winning the Tuvyean y Gloir tournament, where I experienced the Cantarella and Location combo for the first time, I always try to include this. So one of my decks is a classic Assimilate Ball list, including this combination, while the other NG list is more focused on the new card Emhyr, supported by a control heavy lock and soldier package. My favorite card Fergus always finds decent value, while I sadly cut Palmerin for Cupbearer, which seems the safer pic combined with the poisons and Masquerade Ball.

Who Is Sawyer1888?

Sawyer1888 has been known in his Gwent career for his amazing articles that he has been writing for the Bandit Gang website, but also for clapping players in Community Tournaments like he did in the Meme Series between KRV vs BG & in the Tuvean y Gloir by winning the whole thing.

And as of recent , Sawyer1888 has been promoted to Academy Manager. This because of his passion for competition in Gwent and his skill-set when it comes to organizing. We have faith that he can bring the Academy Team to the next level!

If you missed the fifth edition of ”What’s In My Deckbuilder?” then you can check that out here. Also please consider checking out our article section where you can find plenty of articles. From member interviews to deck guides and more!

Weissenberg’s thoughts, Weevil89’s casting experience, Zubedoo’s road to the final, Sawyer1888’s victory speech

Intro

Tuvean y Gloir (Death and Glory) was a periodic Nilfgaard-exclusive tournament organised by Weissenberg where eight participants battled for the Emperor’s favor. Players had to craft three different Nilfgaard decks with three different leader abilities. Said decks were to exclude three specific cards banned by the Imperial Council of Gwent. The three cards were Masquerade Ball, Kolgrim and Tourney Shaelmaar. During the quarter and semifinals players had to face one another in a single elimination battle using the best out of three format. And the final was to be held according to the best out of five clash. The tournament happened last weekend on March 13-14 and was casted live on Twitch by Weissenberg & Weevil89. And Zubedoo & Sawyer1888 represented Bandit Gang in the tournament.

Graphic made by Weissenberg.

Weissenberg's thoughts:

”Tuvean y Gloir was supposed to be a small viewer-based tournament. I wasn’t going to put too much effort into prep and production. But, after receiving an overwhelmingly positive response to the initiative I decided it will be worth the while. Eventually I ended up doing much more than I imagined I would. Weevil, due to his experience in marketing, was bombarding me with ideas and ways to improve the viewing experience and it motivated me greatly. In the end organizing the tournament proved much more exciting and rewarding than I expected. It was still a small event, but to me it felt almost like casting an official tournament. I’m proud of what we achieved with Weevil and looking forward to future collaborations.”

Weevil89's casting experience:

”As my first casting experience in quite a while, the experience was thoroughly enjoyable. I was quite nervous at first, but I quickly found my feet. Weissenberg was awesome to work with – cool, professional, and passionate. He set up a wonderful tournament and I was glad to be a part of it.

The choice to ban Masquerade Ball and Kolgrim was a smart one, and it forced players to create decks that went beyond the meta we are all familiar with. As expected, most players brought an Assimilate deck, since it can still do well without the Nilfgaard scenario. And I have to say, it was those matches that proved the most interesting. Whether it was chains of Coup de Graces on Anna Henrietta or filling each others’ boards, it made for some very dramatic moments throughout.

A particular highlight for me was the double Madoc deck that Xhanthiax brought on the first day. Because lists were semi-open, only Weissenberg and I saw it coming, and it certainly delivered. A swift victory indeed. Sadly, that path to glory was cut short by a rather lucky Triss play by our man Sawyer who, by all accounts, barely slipped up throughout the tournament.

Before Day 1 drew to a close, there was a slight complication which made things even more interesting – one of the participants, Azra11, withdrew from the event for personal reasons, and offered his place to Zubedooo, whose performance he enjoyed in the first match. Although unexpected, Zubedooo took it humbly and gave Sawyer a run for his money, tying up the final set at 2-2 before Sawyer claimed victory.

Looking back, I am pleased with how things went, but for the players and for Weissenberg and myself. I’m happy with the job I did with casting, and I would welcome any such opportunities again. I’m not sure what we would have done if Zubedooo had won, but even Sawyer’s victory had many shouting “rigged” from the stands. I guess we will never know.”

Zubedoo's road to the final:

First off, taking part in an NG-only tourney is in itself an amazing thing, as we all know NG mirrors are always fun and need more thinking than usual for every play we make. Initially I was knocked out in the quarters of day 1 itself, but due to some situations that came up, I was brought back in to the tournament. Like a true Nilfgaardian, I did not let go of this opportunity and grabbed the finals spot and was simply ecstatic when I did it. Cherry on the top for me was the BG only finale between me and Sawyer, it was an honor to go toe to toe with a player like Sawyer who is super competitive and has that “Win till I die” attitude.

The finals were really intense, he was winning 2-0 initially and then I almost come in with a reverse sweep, but ultimately Sawyer took the finals 3-2 and it was a blast to take part in that finals. I have played in very few tournaments before, so overcoming some pressure was a task, but ultimately I did overcome that and it feels great, more so that I have the push now to take part in even more tournaments in the future.

I would like to thank Weissenberg for giving me the opportunity to take part in the tournament and casting it along side Weevil and making the experience even more fun. I did not take the W in the tournament, but I had a lot of fun and that is what really matters in anything we do even in life. If I had to give a highlight in the tourney, it is the 2-0 SMORC win I took with my Double Cross deck to get into the finals, my heart was racing and I was even more pumped to get into the finals and put up a good fight!”

Sawyer's victory speech:

”Everything got a bit itchy, when the patch was delayed and everyone only had a few days to test out the new cards and changes, which lead to the overall opinion, that Anna Henrietta was just good enough in every NG mirror to almost auto-include her in every deck. We delivered the decks a day before the tournament and after the draw show we also knew who we would face in the bracket.

Saturday the 13th Weissenberg and Weevil casted the qualifiers, while the Semis and Final were played on Sunday the 14th.  Without going into too much detail, I really liked all the artwork made for the tournament, especially the layout of the stream, graphics for the decklists and also the Nilfgaard only music to create a fitting atmosphere. The communication via discord worked pretty well and easily, while also the timed schedule was at least for Europeans quite pleasant. At the start it was meant to be closed decklist, which thankfully got reworked to be a kinda open decklist tournament after all. So again, I appreciate the flexibility and communication between the organizers and players.     

But, and there is always a but, sadly the tournament client acted wildly from time to time, which is an ongoing thing since months. We can just hope that CDPR tries to work on this fast enough, so future events can work even more smoothly. It’s always a shame to delay matches or even not being able to stream them. In conclusion I would say that this tournament was a great success and fun for everyone to watch, while it also was way more intense and skill dependent than I honestly expected. 

I just hope that CDPR will highlight these kinds of events in the future a bit more and support the community in offering some smaller prizes or advertise the streams. Events like the QuillandLance Cup, the Kreve League, the TLG Invitational or other ongoing leagues shape and strengthen the community, while also advertising the games abilities. It would be a wasted opportunity to never mention them in at least a monthly recap video, some weekly tweets on Twitter or promoting it in any other way officially.    

It brings people together and allows us to take part in a growing scene, while meeting new people and enjoying the game together. Sometimes it feels like only when known “Pro Players” take part in certain events, they are taken more seriously, but it’s also the content creators, article writers, streamers etc. who try their best and are actually able to play some decent rounds of Gwent.”

Graphic made by Weissenberg.

Final Remarks

We are immensely proud of Weevil for helping out with the casting and overcoming his insecurities. And of course we are proud of Zubedoo and Sawyer for participating and both representing us in the finals. Overall the tournament was a great event for people that are loyal to the Emperor to participate in. Tuvean y Glour 2 can’t happen soon enough in our opinion!

Once upon a time… – New Years resolutions for Memery in Gwent

Introduction - Current State

So, the Way of the Witcher expansion is now a month old, Pajabol is the winner of the Gwent Masters Season 2 and 2020 lies behind us.
What is the current state of Memery in Gwent right now in my opinion and what would I wish for in 2021?

As mentioned in some articles before, which you can check out here, I already talked about the power gap between memes and meta, tried to define what the term “meme” in general might mean and which obstacles you have to overcome to be a memer, if you desire to.         
In this current Season and also the Season of the Wolf, starting this week, we know what we have to expect from the meta. It will be a mix between Viy and Lippy decks, paired with Lockdown and ST Movement. Sometimes you face good old SK Warriors, Hidden Cache, some Kolgrim piles or even NR Witcher Swarm.
You can argue that this might be a good sign to see a viable meta list for each faction and indeed, every faction has his dark horses cruising on ladder. The problem I and also some people in the scene see is, that many matchups feel very binary. You need certain techs, certain coins, certain matchups to make each strategy powerful or at least being able to compete. A strong hand for Lippy on red coin feels overwhelming, with the recent buffs to some thinning cards and new added cards like Snowdrop. Without the removal options against Viy you will struggle to keep up with the points, while you also want to have removal abilities to handle ST’s Cat Witchers and other movement engines. Oh right, do you have a purify? Heatwave already used? How do you want to get through the defender to deal with Kolgrim?       
The Way of the Witcher introduced us some cards, which will see balance changes for sure in February, but it kinda shows the direction I already talked about in the past. Meta decks become more rock paper scissors like, where some certain cards can be game deciding or certain matchups are really hard to deal with. And that’s where my thoughts and fears as a memer come in play.

Meming in the Way of the Witcher

As a memer I want to make some combos outside of meta synergies. A memer sees potential in cards you wouldn’t see regularly on ladder, while building a deck around it and making them viable. But in this current state of the meta, you kinda have to fit certain tech cards to survive long enough against these decks, to play out your combo. This costs you some provisions and reduces your meme potential. Therefore memes right now, like Alzur Arch Griffin decks, Enforcer Idarran swarms or some movement decks getting pretty rare and are also kinda a hybrid between meta and meme. Lockdown kills almost every meme, heatwave deals with your key card. Viy outpoints you while you can’t make it to round 3 against Lippy. And a 2:0 vs. an early Gezras might be certain anyway.   
If you look around on PlayGwent, you don’t see many meme decks on its own. They are all hybrids, some “meme” versions of meta lists, including every important card and then just a few surprise cards. The powercreep of some leaders, units or specials also reduced the variety of memes and their potential to work. Every deck right now has the same key aspects: powerful thinning, neutral removal, oneiromancy and some good working faction own engines. Lippy is just a neutral thinning and removal deck, build around double Cerys and the SK discard package and location. 

The question is now, what to do?

The Evolution of Casual and Unranked

Well, this also leads me to another problem, mentioned before, which has grown with this new expansion: casual or unranked mode. Many people get sick of facing Viy and Lippy, they don’t want to play on ladder, are afraid or don’t see the point. But they want to try out their Tier 2 or Tier 3 lists maybe, so they go in casual mode to play some games, farm some crownpoints and do their quests. Some people in my Team, like KingDenpai or Bomblin, experienced the same: casual is swarmed by meta lists and is sometimes even harder to play than reaching pro rank. The amount of people already being in pro rank, over thousands of games experience, deciding to play their meta lists on unranked has grown tremendously.
So as a memer, the need to have at least some tech cards and answers in your deck to deal with some of the known meta combos is huge, which means trying out full meme combinations seems almost impossible. Sure, this might change this month when actually CrownPoints are on the stake, nevertheless the struggle to be a memer continues.

Alternatives and Solutions

As a change, I don’t want to just complain, I want to offer solutions. And the solutions don’t need to be setting up a safe space for memers, but to evaluate the importance of flexibility in playing Gwent in general.

Draft Mode and Arena

With the removal of classic Arena, we now have Draft which is, with no disrespect, terrible. You don’t get any rewards for winning and it doesn’t cost you anything to play, so you just redraft till you have some broken ass combo deck. Multiple thinning vs. charge spamming decks can be considered as the standard Draft experience. I would like to see a rework of Draft in terms of the packages and the possibility to pick them. One thinning package is enough. Let us pick between 3 special packages and don’t give us random packages which have no synergy at all. At least our legendary should always support the leader ability we just picked. I see a high potential to make Draft a cool alternative to play, but right now it is not really enjoyable.

Seasonal for everyone

And what about seasonal? Well…it kinda depends on the season. With all these new witcher cards it might be interesting to see how the Season of the Wolf might play out, but why don’t we have every seasonal mode available? Make the season about the rewards and certain items, maybe even create an own seasonal ladder where people can compete if they want to. And then have every seasonal mode available for friendlys, please make it happen! It would give every noncompetitive player the possibility to try out fun stuff with their friends, while also, if being tired of the actual ladder, try to give seasonal a shot and see some progress there as well. Imagine being able to play vs. streamers in viewer battles and select a certain seasonal! I know, that’s not for everyone, but I bet a huge amount of people would enjoy it.

Old but gold

In terms of card…it was already announced that the next expansion will take another 3 months. Okay, but why not try to make a “rework” kind of expansion in between? An overhaul of all the left-over cards which nobody touched in years. Why are new cards reworked two or three times, while Wolf Pack remains as it is forever? How can Iorveth’s Gambit be 13 provisions…while Viy or Harald cost 12? Dandelion: Vainglory kills a beast…cool, but the only beast seeing played right now to make it worth it’s 10 provision is a specter! Maybe I am lucky to kill a boosted Slyzard or a Bear Abomination, but that seems to be it. Make it 8 provisions, so at least you get the value back, if you even face a deck with beasts in it.
So my solution here would be to think of some cards which can support certain archetypes but are out of their provision value or rework some leftover cards to fit them in into the meta. The NG Sergeant or SK Hunter changes were awesome, so I know it’s possible.

Conclusion

As a conclusion I would say that we have to be careful to not left the more meme and casual oriented audience behind, when creating new cards. The kinda easily handled meta lists right now opened the door for many maybe not so skilled players to reach higher MMR, while being stuck with autopilot decks like Lippy, Viy and Kolgrim.
The ability to create own homebrews decreased in my opinion, which you can see in unranked and seasonal, where nothing is tested, just optimized. People scream for a meta list for ladder and seasonal in the first 3 days after a patch, relying on the provided snapshots. Small tournaments end up being meta battles as well, because nobody wants to be the one bringing “memes” and getting slaughtered on stream first round, that’s how weak the potential of memes is right now.
The optimization of the Draft mode and the ability to play different seasonal modes with friends would help to create a healthy alternative and break from a quite meta heavy ladder, while an update on leftover cards might help to make memes more viable and increases the deckbuilding process in general. Let’s hope for the best this year, I’m really looking forward to it! Stay safe, stay humble and don’t let your memes be dreams!

End of Year Interview 2020 Sawyer1888: ‘Probably my latest article about Pro Player Mentality was the hardest one, but also the one I’m the proudest of’

At Bandit Gang, the end of the year means the end of year interviews. All members are put to the test one by one about the events of the past year that shaped them. Private as well as business. In these interviews in which no mince of words will be stated, no taboos exist, sometimes harsh words are used and where you get a nice insight into the soul life of the interviewee.

Babyjosus: Hey Sawyer, thanks for joining me. You are not only the second person I am interviewing for the End of Year interviews but also the second German. Coincidence? I think not! I would say this year has been truly something else. How would you reflect on the year 2020?

Sawyer: Hey BJ, thanks for involving me into your series, appreciate it! So…I think personally this year was one of the worst years I’ve ever had, not only cause of corona but also because of my private issues and obstacles I had and still have to overcome.  But it was also the year I got introduced into the Twitch and Gwent Community, while joining Team Bandit Gang as a writer. I had positive moments, chats and a lot of fun in this community and with my new team, while on the other side personal life still seems to take a lot of recovering in the upcoming year. Nevertheless, I hope to take the whole experience of this year as a lesson, make use of it and only think back of what it was worth in the end.

BJ: You joined us during corona as an article writer for Gwent, how have you enjoyed it so far?

S: It was a pretty cool and unique experience for me. I was involved in Esport Teams in the past, but most of them were Germans only. It really helped my English skills in some ways, I hope, and I also made a lot of new friends. Having a small space in life where you can be creative while also getting positive feedback for it felt pretty good, especially in tough times like right now. Who knows, maybe in a few years I’ll write articles in my job or even a book and I might say “This is where it all started”.

BJ: Yeah, I remember you telling me about your esports experience in the past. Which article would  you say that you are the proudest of? And which of them was the toughest for you to write?

S: Probably my latest Article about Pro Player Mentality was the hardest one, but also the one I’m the proudest of. It took a lot of work to contact all these players, while I also felt a bit unsecure on how they’ll all react. Not everyone knows who I am and I have a lot of respect for the “Champions” of our Gwent scene. So now getting in touch with so many of them, while also being able to create something I really think was worth creating and working on, feels amazing and really satisfying in the end. I hope that people enjoy it while reading as much as I did while working on it.

BJ: I read it and as you know you have gotten my seal of approval for it. While reading it I imagined you as a guru of the competitive scene. Sharing the knowledge that you gained over the last days with a warm voice which gave me comfort. But, you are not only a guru when it comes to that. You also are a darts guru from my perspective. I know you like to watch it a lot. Was there any particular match that happened this year that will forever stay with you?

S: I love Darts, that’s right. I love the simple aspect of being responsible for how far you can get and without any chance of blaming something else than your throw. If you win, it’s yours to take and if you lose, it’s yours to reflect on. Corona hit darts hard as any other sport this year, so I really appreciate the PDC (Professional Darts Cooperation) to handle things so well and make tournaments and all that possible. As a huge Gerwyn Price fan I probably would say that the World Grand Prix semi-final against Dave “Chizzy” Chisnall was probably one of the most intense matches for me to watch this year. He had to dig really deep, defended his throw, lead by a few Sets and had to survive 3 match darts in the end. After that he even managed to win the whole thing against Dirk van Duijvenbode, an aubergine farmer. Imagine, an ex-rugby player vs. an aubergine farmer in the World Grand Prix of Darts, life tells the most interesting stories.

BJ: Yeah, I was hoping the aubergine farmer would win because of his Dutch nationality 😉 And is there anything that you would like to do next year? This can be regarding article writing or something else.

S: To finish my master thesis and finally move out of my students apartment and hopefully out of my students life. It’s time for a change and I want to take the next step.

BJ: That’s a good plan and I hope you will be able to do it. Do you have any new year’s resolutions?

S: Hell no, after the last year I understood what Chris Cornell said, that to be yourself, is all that you can do.

BJ: Fair enough. Anything you want to say to the reader in anticipation of 2021?

S: Well, without sounding to cheesy, but I really hope that everyone always finds a way to keep in touch with the little things in life. This year was tough for all of us and I think that the Twitch and Gwent community in general did a massive job to remind us, how important a bit of daily joy can be. So, I guess I just want to thank all the streamers and users in chat for making my day during this quarantine, I hope I gave something back as well.

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*Sawyer's Top 10 Cards of 2020

*Sawyer’s top 10 doesn’t contain any kind of bias for NG and SK at all.

10. Arnaghad aka that guy I don’t know how to spell – He looks like a real promising cheese card for SK…but also to be a good use for my favorite faction NG with Imposter.

9. An Craite Raiders – One of my favorite Bronzes this year. Love the set up value together with Harald.

8. Gerd – Hopefully will support my greedy and control heavy Skellige playstyle.

7. Idr and Koshchey – For me this bug duo just looks super scary, in terms of art work and card value.

6. Herkja – Love the horn sound. I often play with cards like Madman Lugos, Donar and other Bloodlust stuff, so if not answered, this card really sets it up well.

5. Braathens – Love create stuff, while it also is so flexible and has a great art work.

4. Skjordal – Pure damage while also playing for points. Rip NR engines.

3. Fergus – Enforcers go Brrrt. And it’s also the Card that won me the Bandit Champion Title as my last play (Roderick into Fergus for double trigger Scenario, while an Enforcer on board).

2. Harald – Harald is cheat, simple. If not answered it can be devastating in a Bloodthirst deck.

1. Usurper – I love the sound and animation, it feels powerful to grab something from your opponent, while triggering Ball and also gaining Enforcer Charges.

To Meme or not to Meme – An update on Memery in Gwent

This article is written by Sawyer1888 and edited by Babyjosus.

Introduction

After watching the Gwent Partners Tournament #3 and experiencing the recent changes, I was thinking about memery again, just like Geralt is doing in the banner, and where my place as a memer might be. If you are interested in the match I played there against Trynet123 then go check out the viewer battle here.

So, here we are again, another month another meta…or at least kinda. With the recent patch we got some changes, which nerfed NR a bit, helped SY to create new decks around Cesar and saw finally the end of double scenarios. Not mentioning that NG is overall in a bad shape right now or into the top tier meta lists, this updates goal is not to criticize the meta, but to take a new look on memery in Gwent. For that, anyhow, we need to break down at least some things in the current meta.

Struggling to make memes work and where to go

To create a meme, you want to make unique synergies. You want to play cards outside the meta, think outside just pointslam, removal and techs. You want to focus on whats happening on your side of the board, at least most of the times, and seek for combo-value from cards, which are almost useless on their own. For that, you need to put in a whole bunch of cards to work together, which you also need in one round, just to make it work. And if it works, pretty often you just only get the equal value of some high prov meta cards. Take an Aglais deck for example, which needs a lot of work to do to make her real big. Syanna maybe, some Thunderbolts, a Defender, also you want to have last say and so on. Or you just play Anseis and Viraxes, click Shieldwall leader twice. That’s maybe not the same amount of points, but you get the idea behind this thought. (Currently we are working on a detailed data bank, which will try to show the numbers between meta and memery, so stay alert for new stuff on this page!).

Maybe you get there, you made it work and outpoint your opponent once. And people might say “damn, Aglais is huge”, but that might only work once in five matches like that. Also, you don’t only pay the provisions for all the meme cards you need to make it work, you also passively pay the price of not putting in all these autoinclude cards mentioned before. So therefore you need to still find cards and other strategies than your main meme, to just stay alive in the match. And trying out stuff outside the meta, while getting permanently clapped can be pretty exhausting. Of course it makes fun, when you are a streamer, have a community cheering for you and your placements are done. But when you are alone on your own, kinda tired of seeing the same stuff all over on ladder, where can you go? 

You could suggest that unranked might be the place for memery, but in my experience so many people play meta lists there as well. I witnessed enough experienced players, playing their meta lists on unranked, just to farm crown points for journey, cause new players or memers in unranked are easy prey. And yes, they have every right to do so. So where and when to meme around? The common reddit user might just answer: “ree, opponent plays better deck than me, that’s not fair” but that’s not the point behind these thoughts.

You also want these crown points, cause you like to have the journey stuff. Therefore you need to win rounds…which can be a bit harder when you meme. And when pro ladder takes to much effort for maybe newer players, the higher you get in ranks, the more meta you see. Seems like finding a place for memery can be difficult.

The gap between memery and meta

As stated before, the power gap between memes and meta list is quite huge. The last partners open showed us, that memes can win some games, but only if the hand is almost perfect to get the whole synergy, while the opponent mustn’t interrupt the ongoing meme as well. In the end, none of the memes could prevail, and the Gwent partners who choose to bring normal meta lists shaped the later stages of the tournament. Yes, I acknowledge the competitive character of these events and the will to achieve a victory here. And yes, I respect all the people to make these choice…but it feels kinda depressing to have the chance to actually show entertaining decks, difficult synergies and funny moments, but rather pick the meta we can witness daily anyway.

In my opinion, the problem here is that the new expansion kinda increased the power gaps between meta lists as well as between meta and memes. The new cards, including the scenarios and some stuff from before, make older faction archetypes almost obsolete. We see warrior SK and sometimes a beast/druid package. We see a control/engine NR, MO with hunger or Kelly and some ST symbiosis and elve decks now. Reading this, you could argue that’s at least a few options for every faction right? 
Well, only on the topside. On the bottom, every faction uses a whole bunch of cards, which are almost autoinclude in every deck. Doesn’t matter what type of deck you want to play, these cards are just to good to skip. That means, that only slight changes are made, which makes playing against these factions kinda repetitive. And that’s where the memery dilemma comes in.

Conclusion and Outlook

This update wanted to take a look on the problems memery faces right now in Gwent. I didn’t come up with any solutions, but I am working on some ideas right now, as mentioned before. We will try to come up with more suggestions to make memes great again, while also keeping the competitive environment and character of the game in mind!    
     
With the recent card changes, all focused on what its to strong or to weak in the current meta, the memes are left behind. Old cards like Fringilla are still in the starter deck, but never got touched. Wolf Pack stays the same forever, while the new expansion cards got reworked twice sometimes. It feels like every expansion there is a new layer of cards worked on, while stuff deep down sets on dust. Also some memes around Caranthir, like Phoenix spam, which could be actually valuable right now after the provision buff, got killed, cause of the Ethereal meta. The power gap between memes and meta where shown in the latest partners tournament, where the chance to think outside the meta was missed by some contenders. And with no tournaments to qualify for the next months, with the vanishing of the arena mode in a week…whats left to meme for?

I know its hard work to please everyone and certainly the competitive scene might need more focus. But maybe we could try to think about different archetypes, which represent the identity of each faction, work on cards which are left behind and remember that Gwent is also about fun and the ability to let as forget the dull everyday routine…so therefore we need to break out of a dull everymonth meta, to always say YES to the question: Up for a round of Gwent?