Sepro

Gwent Popularity

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

How many players are in Pro Rank?

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

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

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

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

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

Is Gwent dead?

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

Sepro – 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!

Sepro's Deck Picks

There are no two ways about it, I’m a net-decker! Spending time in the deckbuilder is my least favorite aspect of collectable card games. Especially in Gwent, once you hit Pro Rank* pretty much everyone you’ll face is playing meta decks, so if you want to stand a change you have to play very optimized decks yourself. While there is certainly more creativity in lower ranks, I consider it a plus playing in an environment where there are a limited number of meta decks people play, this allows me to really learn how these decks work, which tactics you need to win certain match-ups… Though as a consequence, the list below will not be the most original one, and I can’t take credit for creating these decks. My NR, SK and NG lists are from TLG’s meta report, the Elves list is adapted from the Elves deck from the previous season from their report.

*I play the majority of my games in Pro Rank and with the exception of the first season I have hit Pro Rank every season since I started playing Gwent about a year ago.

NR Witchers
I started playing NR Witchers last season for the simple reason I wanted to play the new cards Way of the Witcher introduced, and this deck includes a lot of them. While I disliked the engine heavy strategies NR gravitated towards in previous seasons (think of Shieldwall with Anna Strenger, Reynard Odo, Vysogota of Corvo, … ) this deck I enjoy playing and made it past 2500 fMMR for the first time ever piloting it.

Ursine Warriors
The last two seasons I’ve played Lippy as my deck of choice for SK. While I don’t think Lippy is as linear as some claim it is, it was time to shift back to a play-style that fits me better. Traditionally I’ve been doing well with SK Warriors in various shapes and the amount of control combined with putting some bodies on the board is a strategy I like in other card games too. If SK Warriors is viable it is an obvious choice for me to include.

Cloggers
Had to see what all the fuzz was about and decided to play the deck myself. A new archetype emerging is cool and preventing your opponent from drawing their good cards is very flavorful for Nilfgaard. I do like the idea of messing with your opponent’s deck, but the concept needs fine tuning. Apart from running Maxii there is little opponents can do about this apart from drawing their golds round one as they might not see them otherwise. When playing this deck, I get the distinct feeling that winning or losing is based solely on whether my opponent was able to draw their high-end cards early on. Not the most satisfying deck to play.

All in Elves
Probably the most original deck in the list due to the inclusion of Saskia. With Novigradian Justice being nerfed this deck needed a big play to tempo ahead, playing for 11 points Saskia plays that role well. She also puts an extra body on the board which has synergy with Gezras, Isengrim and Yaevinn or in case there is an opposing Sabertooth Tiger. This deck worked quite well climbing back up to Pro Rank early in the season, but would require a few adjustments to work well against decks that have appeared more recently (like Arachas Swarm). Also note the lack of movement engines, didn’t like this play-style in NR a couple months ago and don’t like it in ST now.

Ciri’s Poisonous Bounty
Pulled this list from the website as I needed something fast to play a few casual games against my brother (who hadn’t played in a while and didn’t have access to the cards and scraps to craft an optimized meta deck). Syndicate is probably my favorite faction (my bank allows you to put a custom image on your debit card and I’ve put the Syndicate card back there because … you know … bank … Vivaldi bank … coins …) but hasn’t really been viable since Hidden Cache was pushed out of the meta, therefore I have played the fewest games with it. Here combining two packages (self poison and bounties) feels a little clunky, but there is some potential and with a few good cards to support these archetypes they might see more competitive play at one point.

Who Is Sepro?

Sepro is a Guest Writer for Bandit Gang. He is a so called Data Expert for Gwent. Whenever we need certain statistics, we simply have to do a quick phone call to Belgium in order to get some of the insights that we require. If he doesn’t posts for the Bandit Gang website, he posts on his own blog. You can check out Sepro’s blog here where he posts about programming, gaming & technology. The Gwent related posts are to be found here.

If you missed the third 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!