Streaming

Skill beats Luck Ep. 4 – A different perspective with TheOneChristo

Introduction

Recently we had the chance to talk to some Pro Players from Bandit Gang. In the last episode, Arch1 from Team Phoenix was our guest…so I thought “why not spice things up a bit?” Let’s try to look at Gwent from a different perspective. 

To do so, I talked to (TheOne) Christo this time. He is not only an experienced Gwent and card game player himself, but also an official Gwent caster. So let me introduce you to our guest first, before we talk a bit about casting, streaming, and his experiences with card games in general. 

Meet the Caster

Name: Christopher

Age: Boomer

Hobbies: Streaming

Section: Content Team

Favourite Faction: Skellige

Favourite Card: Whoreson Junior 

Between Casting and Playing the Game

Playing a game, in this case Gwent, always comes with certain goals. Taking part in community events, reaching a certain position on ladder, or just trying to be creative. But when these events that people qualified for are happening, who are the people guiding us through the tournament? What does it take to be a caster and entertain hundreds or maybe even thousands of viewers? 

Christo worked his way from streaming Gwent to being involved in different games as well, like Mythgard and Kards. While Mythgard is a fantasy cyberpunk oriented card game  with a unique lane and mana system, Kards is a card game based on WWII, using concepts of strategy games as well. You can find more information about Mythgard here and Kards here.

So if you ever get tired of Gwent, make sure to check these out!

Now, let’s see what Christo had to say about being a player, caster, and streamer and where his journey started! 

The Interview

Sawyer: Most of our readers might just know you as a caster, but you also love to play card games.
Can you maybe tell us about your journey into card games in general, and a bit about yourself?

Christo: I have been playing card games, I want to say my whole life. Some of my earliest memories are getting together with my family for Christmas or Thanksgiving and having my grandfather teach me a card game that we’d play and probably wager nickels and dimes on.

Fast forward a few years, (Watch)Flake and another buddy of mine started playing Young Jedi TCG and they introduced me to that. We quickly skipped to the much more complex Star Wars CCG. I spent most of my days during High School at the local card shop playing whatever games were going around. We jumped into Lord of the Rings TCG and a very little bit of Magic (because even 20 years ago it was expensive to get into). I even started playing Raw Deal competitively (based on WWE wrestling) for a bit and ended up being one of the top ranked players in the country.

Then digital CCGs showed up and we all started playing Hearthstone. I continued to dip my toes into new games that came my way like Mythgard, Kards and eventually Gwent.

S: Seems like you’ve been involved in card games almost your entire life. 
When you started streaming, what was your motivation and what were your expectations? Did you always want to cast games? 

C: I started streaming when the pandemic hit because I essentially had extra time. I had the webcam and mic because I was working from home and doing a bunch of video calls. Also my girlfriend was working weird hours, so she was often gone in the evenings. If I was going to sit at home and play games alone, I might as well do it on Twitch and have a bit of social interaction along with it and see where it leads. I don’t even think I expected it to become more than just a hobby, but I was having fun and that’s all that mattered at the time.

I can’t say that I necessarily thought about casting immediately. I’ve always been very competitive at everything I’ve done, whether that be card games, or school or sports growing up. So I thought more about the competitive side of things in Gwent and finished top 500 a few times. I just didn’t feel like I had the time to really improve and compete at the highest level, so I thought about how else I could be involved in the competitive scene.

Initially, before casting, I got involved with 983 Media. There I started to admin tournaments and got a bit of a feel for how things run on the back end. Then I got an opportunity in front of the camera and had a blast. It reminded me of watching sports and hearing the added flavor that amazing commentators can add to a game.

S: So after streaming for a while, what was your first casting experience? How did it go from there to where you are now? 

C: Is it bad that I can’t remember my first casting experience? I would say that it was one of the first Battle of the Bandits events about a year ago.

I think for me and my path to casting, joining Team Bandit Gang was really important. It gave me the opportunity to cast in events like the Battle of the Bandits, Duel of Dogs, BG vs Kreve Meme Tournament, the recent charity series and more. Secondly, being a part of 983 Media was great, because I had worked with them as a tourney admin. And when they saw me cast some Gwent events and the opportunity came up to cast Mythgard, I was an easy choice.

S: That makes sense. As you already mentioned, apart from Gwent you are also involved in Mythgard and Kards. 
How would you describe the differences in casting and maybe the community around it? 

C: I think every game and their community are all unique. Mythgard had been around for a few years, but they weren’t necessarily seeing as much success as they’d like, so they launched their eSports scene this year to try and attract more attention, putting up a $20k prize pool. They had a small competitive scene but some of the players were such big names because they had been dominating the top of the ladder for years.


Mythgard is also a bit more complex to cast because there are so many different things going on. The battlefield feels a bit bigger than Gwent so you constantly have to observe every little action a player takes and how that impacts the game in 3-5, even 10 turns.

Kards was the opposite of Mythgard, they came out of Beta in 2020 and jumped right into eSports. A big part of that was bringing on 983 and using them to help grow the tournament scene. There are events going on every month for a cash prize, as well as monthly qualifiers (similar to the Gwent Qualifiers/Opens) where players can qualify for the World Championships.


This has been a lot of fun since the community is really starting to gravitate towards these events. There’s been more and more of a demand for tournaments at all levels and it’s interesting watching the eSports scene of Kards take shape over the last year and a half. I don’t actually cast Kards, I host a “pre game” show, where I get to interview players or dissect decks with a panel of experts. It’s a lot of fun and a nice change from casting.

S: With the opportunity to cast Open Qualifiers in Gwent, you made a big step forward. What do you like about casting Gwent and the game in general?

C: I am always impressed by how good the top competitive players are. It’s the same in every game I’ve been a part of, but especially when you watch events like the World Championships and you put the players into these high stakes tournament situations. It is absolutely wild, with open decklists, bans, pre-determined coins etc, seeing how well they see the game and know all the lines. 

That’s the excitement that I really enjoy and love being a part of. 

S: The game but also the community is shifting very often.
Do you have to prepare before a cast? What makes a good caster in your opinion?

C: You always have to prepare for a cast! All the best casters do and in part it involves being familiar with the meta, the matchups, what key cards do, certain combos that may exist etc.

The other thing I think is very important, is understanding the community and the story behind the games. Anybody can do “play by play” when it comes to a card game. Player 1 plays this it has this effect, player 2 plays this, it counters that effect and all that. However, that doesn’t add much to the game. The best casters tell a story and it can last the whole event, it can even carry on from one event to the next. 

What is this player’s history? What events have they been a part of in the past? Have they played this opponent before? What was the result? Then when you get into the game, the same thing. What’s this matchup like? How can they win this matchup? What are the key sequences to look out for? 

If you can incorporate that into your casting and really tell a story you can absolutely captivate an audience. 

S: That’s an interesting thought. Compared to other games, though, Gwent is not small but also not the biggest game. 

What would you say it takes to “improve” or evolve the competitive scene in terms of audience or event character?

C: I am a sucker for good production value. It’s obviously more challenging with Covid and everything done remotely. Seeing some of the older Gwent tournaments that were done in Poland, dressed up with different looks, I find that to be the most interesting to watch. The challenge with doing things remotely is that there is more of a chance of problems and when you do have problems, there are no distractions, so the casters are forced to kill time and it can make the event feel long and sometimes boring.

Having more going on obviously makes this easier. I remember a scene where Flake was killing some time by trying to interview an Owl, so when you’re in person, it’s easier to keep people engaged.

S: You have also been a part of Bandit Gang a long time. Other casters, like Mcbeard, never joined a team. 

What influenced your decision to join the Bandits and how did it shape you?

C: When I joined Bandit Gang, I was still newish to streaming and playing Gwent. It was a huge opportunity for me to learn from more seasoned veterans, whether that was about how to best create content, or to improve my skills at the game. I mentioned earlier the opportunity that it gave me to cast some of the Bandit Gang events. Obviously if you’re a part of a team, you are a higher priority to cast their events and that is what gets your name out there.

It worked out so nicely for me because when BG approached me, I had already become very friendly with members such as BabyJosus and Mercernn. They were two of the first Gwent streamers I watched, based on their time slot and my work schedule. 

I think that it’s really been great being around a group of like-minded individuals and it makes things easier.

S: That’s really nice to hear! 

Normally we always ask about some advice for our players. 

But what advice would you give to people who maybe also want to be a caster?

C: I would give you three simple tips:

Practice. A lot. Great casters make things seem easy and you might think to yourself, just give me a mic and I’ll be fine, but it’s not the case. Start by practice casting over events you’re watching, then look for every opportunity to get reps in during events.

Don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities. To play off the end of the previous point, don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities to cast. There are all kinds of community events out there, both big and small, and you will never get an opportunity if you don’t ask for it. People have asked me how I got to cast the Qualifiers…I just asked? Don’t get me wrong, I had experience and had documented previous casting to show my work, so it wasn’t just blindly asking. That said, I never would have gotten the opportunity if I didn’t approach CDPR about it.

Ask for feedback. You are not perfect, nobody is. If you can think you’re going to get better simply by practice and not asking others for feedback, it’s not going to happen. I know a lot of casters preach watching back their casts and taking notes, which I think is great, however some events can go on for 4-6 hours and there is no chance I will rewatch the whole thing, so I’ll pick a choose a few games to watch that I’ve made a mental note about and will critique myself, but the best you can ask for is outside help.

S: Interesting, that’s some good advice for sure! 

Last but not least, there are rumors that you accepted the challenge from one of BGs most feared members, Sawyer1888. 

Are you afraid? How do you handle the pressure and will you prepare?

C: I would never have dreamed of declining this challenge from the great Sawyer.
For anybody who has seen my stream, they know that I am cool as a cucumber and that I will not stress or crack under the pressure. When the time comes for the battle, I will be ready. 

S: Tough words…but in the end the cards will decide. 

Thank you for taking part in the interview and I wish you good fortune in the wars to come! 

C: My pleasure, looking forward to see you on the battlefield!

The Etiquette of Gwent – How to Duel Like a True Gwentleman

This article was written by Mercernn and edited by Weevil89

Chivalry, pride or honour are oftentimes the first casualties of any battle, but what about a game representing a battle of two armies? Does it apply there as well? Can you use any means necessary to best your opponent? Are there any repercussions for doing so? What are the unspoken rules of playing Gwent?

The chances are that you’ve been asking yourself some of these questions before, unless you main Nilfgaard, that is… Well, regardless, perhaps at least a sparkle of conscience made your black matter consider the concept of a fair and noble fight being a possibility, so let’s not give up yet.

So, where do you find the answers to your questions regarding Gwent manners? Well, just like in the case of real life manners, there is no ultimate, omniscient rulebook that would clearly state what is or isn’t required of you in every single situation, although some pretend to be. Most of the rules are unspoken and are learned by simply playing the game and communicating with other players. For those of you, our dear Gwenty players, who would be completely new to the game or just preferred staying in their comfort zone of a nice wall to hug, for you we’ve got a short summary of Gwent’s Etiquette in 9 easy steps.

1) Sending GGs

GGs, standing for Good Game, can be sent by clicking a button found in your final score screen at the very end of your match. By clicking it, you essentially let your opponent know that you’ve enjoyed the game and send them a bit of resources in return. Sounds simple enough? Well, so is potato salad and yet your mother will always argue with your aunt whether you should add celery or not in it… The problem with GGs is that each and every person experiences their sending and receiving differently. Some people think that you should send them always – it’s just a game after all, kinda like you should always eat your potato salad regardless of celery infestation as it’s food after all… food is perhaps a strong word, but let’s say it won’t poison you. Other people send GGs only when they actually enjoy the game, and then there are such people who never send them. What is the proper way of using them, then? It depends solely on you and there are virtually no repercussions for not sending anything. Nevertheless, we can recommend doing so if not for keeping the spirit of the game, then for an in-game contract called ‘United We Stand!’ that can reward you with up to 15 reward points simply for clicking a button. Well, clicking a button 5000 times, but still…

2) Roping

No, it is not a BDSM technique, nor a rodeo term. Roping, coming from the metaphorical “burning rope”, indicating how much time you have left for making your turn or shuffling your cards, describes a situation in which either you or your opponent take more time than necessary to take your turn. This makes the game significantly longer and arguably less enjoyable, though the connoisseurs among you who look forward to traffic jams, just so that they could feel the time being wasted, might actually like this… For the rest of us, roping means wasted time. But on the other hand, making hasty plays just so that you would evade roping isn’t correct either. Take your time if you need to think about your play, there’s nothing wrong about that, just try avoid doing so every turn as that can be very infuriating for your opponent.

3) Emote Spam

At least one of your friends is like that: whatever happens, whether it is a ground-breaking piece of news or just some trivial information, they have to react to it as if it were the discovery of the Americas. Furthermore, as you’ve surely noticed, a small speech bubble next to your leader model allows you to communicate with your opponent through a series of about half a dozen of voice lines that are unique to each and every leader. I guess you can see where I’m heading with this. Some opponents will be more keen than others to use their emotes beyond their intended meaning. This can get annoying very fast, especially with the limited emote selection you’ve got at your disposal. Although, you can actually mute your opponent by clicking a speech bubble next to their leader model, it is still considered a rather rude behavior. Once again, the emotes are there for a reason, so please do not be afraid to use them, perhaps just limit your usage of them to no more than 5 emotes per match – unless you genuinely feel the need to click “Well Played” when your opponent plays well. Sounds strange, I know.

4) Quitting and Passing

This is a fairly simple one. In short, you’ve got two ways of ending your matches: either by holding the pass button situated on the coin in the right side of the screen that is also used by ending your turns, or by using the Esc key. Using the pass button is virtually always better, because both players get more resources or progression as a reward as by rule the shorter the game is, the less gracious the algorithm that decides what kind of reward you get becomes. Using the escape key, however, is a big no no in this rule book. If you were very annoyed with your opponent, though, your game got glitched, or you had to step away from your PC very fast, do not hesitate to use the Esc button, since there is a reason it is in the game – just don’t end every game with it, as you’re depriving both yourself and your opponent of additional resources. It’s more like an emergency exit.

5) “Overplaying”

Speaking of ending matches, a very common (yet also a very controversial) sight that you’ll encounter is that sometimes, your opponent will still keep on playing even though they have already won the match mathematically. This not only makes the game last longer, but you’re also forced to watch your opponent beat you (while likely taunting you several times in the process). Just imagine a chess player winning a game in 2 turns (which is possible, by the way) and then proceeding to play the rest of the game while their opponent has to watch. Besides this type who enjoys rubbing salt in the wound, a special case of overplaying would be when you’re trying to fulfil a certain achievement, contract or quest, e.g. by playing 20 fee units in one match, which is usually quite obvious to spot in casual play or seasonal mode.

6) Netdecking

Netdecking describes a process in which one person, oftentimes either a pro player or a popular content creator, builds a deck that is then shared with the public either via a screenshot or a linked decklist on sites such as playgwent.com, the official Gwent website, or sites of Gwent gaming teams that regularly make meta reports. These decks are then downloaded by numerous users and can completely change the gaming experience for other players. This can negatively impact the so-called metagame for many reasons. Firstly, it saturates the meta with a particular deck, the effect usually lasting for a couple of days. Secondly, it makes it difficult for new players to cope since the meta is changing constantly. On the other hand, though, it normally doesn’t last very long because of how quickly experienced players will move to counter it. While they can be fairly troublesome, there is nothing wrong with using netdecks, perhaps just the fact that it might discourage you from experimenting on your own, which can be a lot of fun, too. Not everyone will hold such a stance, though, so every now and then someone might not GG you, send you an angry message or complain about you on Reddit. But at the end of the day, you’re not breaking any rules and if you actually enjoy the game this way, there is nothing stopping you. The fact is, master deckbuilders often underestimate the knowledge and awareness needed to build competitively viable decks efficiently, so for many players (especially new ones) netdecks provide a nice alternative.

7) Streamsniping

Streamsniping describes a very despicable tactic which is present not just in Gwent but in many other games as well. In this case, it refers to identifying your opponent as a streamer (perhaps one you know already) by their username, deck, playstyle, leader model, etc., opening up their stream and basically peeking into their hand to gain an unfair advantage. There is probably no need for us to explain how unfair and disgraceful such behavior is, but perhaps just a cherry on the top is the fact that more often than not your sniped prey will find out where the shots came from. Truly, playing with the knowledge of what your opponent is holding in their hand makes you play your own cards in such an unusual way that it’s very easy for your opponent to see through your tricks, so we strongly advise you not to roll the dice – especially if you actually enjoyed watching the stream before this!

8) Smurfing

Yes, we know that the word ‘smurf’ can be used for literally anything in the popular kids show, and no, we’re not smurfing about smurfing your smurfing uncle Billy-Bob in this smurfing article you smurfing donkey! Jokes aside, Smurfing or playing with a smurf account describes a situation in which an already experienced player makes a secondary account on which (s)he, of course, has to climb from the very bottom of the ladder back to the top. While there is nothing wrong with this, you also have to keep in mind that less experienced players will not be able to spot this at first. The experienced player will also have a lot of in-game knowledge, allowing them to prioritize cards to craft for deck-building, among other things. This makes the game very unenjoyable for the rows of greenhorn players that they’ll stampede over on their way to pro rank. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent this from happening, though there are a few ways of minimizing the impact it can have on the new players, such as not playing with the strongest Meta decks out there to give them at least a bit of chance, or even letting them win if you can see they struggle even with the basic rules of the game, though this is completely up to you of course. If you are a new player and you feel like you were summarily stomped by Mystic Echo several times in a row, it is possible that you have found one of these players and you are well within your right to “forget” to GG them.

9) Just follow your heart

Often times all that is needed is to imagine being in your opponent’s shoes. No need to read lengthy forum posts and articles, as after all, there is a human just like you behind that Gaunter O’Dimm or blobulous Svalblod leader model.

And this is where our journey ends, dear readers! We hope that this article will help you with answering any questions about what is or isn’t rude in Gwent and that you’ll not have to worry about making any faux pas in the future. Thank you for stopping by and please accept our personal GG for making it to the very end!

Is The Gwent Partner Program Worth Striving For?

This article was written by Babyjosus and edited by Banditpig.

What is the Gwent partner program?

On April the 25th CD Projekt Red (CDPR) presented the Gwent partners program to the community. This program is focused on supporting Gwent content creators who would like to grow their channels, participate in closed PTR sessions for upcoming expansions, share their feedback about the game, and simply keep in touch with CDPR in the Gwent partners discord. Once you become a Gwent Partner you will receive an official badge to display on your streams/videos, as well as a unique in-game title: Royal Envoy, as well as the Partner Cardback. Aside from that you have a chance as a Gwent partner to get featured on the official social media channels as ‘’Creator of the Week’’. You can apply for the Gwent partner program if you publish Gwent content regularly, for a growing audience. All you need to do is to send an email to CDPR and tell them about yourself and your channel. As you can tell the exact requirements of joining the program are quite vague, so it’s up to you if you decide if you are worthy of applying for the Gwent partner program. CDPR will then review your application and after some time you receive a response.

Many content creators, including myself, decided to apply for the partner program in the beginning. The reason that I applied to the partner program was because of the closed PTR sessions. Everything else was a nice bonus. As you’d expect, many of those who were accepted decided to share their success on social media. My impression which is based on posts that I have seen is that you get easily accepted to the partner program if you are member of a popular Gwent team, even if you rarely or haven’t published any Gwent content yet.

What is my issue with the Gwent partner program?

For the latest expansion, Merchants of Ofir, there was no closed PTR nor a reveal campaign for partners. Which was one of the only benefits of being a partner. During the closed PTR sessions partners were given the opportunity to test out new cards and give their feedback on them. This allowed partners to discuss card abilities with the developers and help identify bugs and balancing issues before general release. After the closed PTR sessions some of the partners were given a card to reveal which they could then post on their social media. CDPR never explained what their reasoning was that they decided against a PTR involving the partners, leaving us with speculation ranging from they don’t trust their partners not to leak any content in advance all the way to the panic that the communities reaction to no content was becoming louder and pushed Merchants of Ofir out rapidly, which is partly why the partner discord was filled with daily bug reports for both cards and visual effects which would normally have been ironed out. Some clarity on this from them would be very welcome. The Gwent Partner program is to have an appeal to content creators, I feel that it is vital that CDPR bring back access to the closed PTR sessions and the reveal campaigns for partners. Without this, the benefits of participating as a Gwent partner are hugely limited. A fellow Gwent partner said the following about the Gwent partner program:

”In the beginning there was access to closed PTR where your feedback helped improve the state of the game. There was even a streaming partner cash tournament to help bring in bigger numbers to a streamer’s audience. Although the streamer tournament ended up being a one-off event, CDPR followed up partner support with card reveals for a new expansion, which helped create a minor amount of hype around a partner’s stream. However, it appears now that CDPR don’t really want to support their partners anymore. They literally took the only two perks for being a partner away with the most recent expansion.”

Another point of attention that I want to bring up is that CDPR hasn’t been featuring partners in the ”Creator of the Week” for some time despite creators continually making Gwent content. The last time a partner was featured was November the 7th when LordBushWook was featured. This is a missed opportunity for partners to grow their channels and for Gwent to gain free advertising via social media. By comparison Magic: The Gathering Arena feature a creator every day and Hearthstone feature at least 2 a week and regularly plug content/streams of partners. Which is something that CDPR has done in the past. For example, I remember that CDPR tweeted about Ceely doing a subathon where she cosplayed as Ciri. They could do this more often if you ask me.

How do other games run their programs?

It’s odd to me that there were content creators that got denied even when they regularly published content related to Gwent. That is why I think the requirements for the partner program are unclear and flawed. If you look at other partner programs for example, it’s a lot clearer what the requirements for acceptance are;

To become a partner for League of Legends, your content needs to be at least 30% about League of Legends based. If you stream on Twitch you also need to average 50+ concurrent viewers in the past 30 days. If you create content on YouTube you need to have at least 5,000+ average views on your video content in the past 30 days and at least 1000 YouTube subscribers. Another example that I want to give is the Mythgard partner program. For Twitch you need to be an affiliate with at least 500 followers and 10+ average concurrent viewers, while for YouTube you need to have at least 5000 subscribers and 500 views. This is, in my opinion what CDPR should have done when they decided to present the partner program for Gwent. If you know what the requirements are as a content creator, you can set goals for yourself and work towards those.

What would I do?

First, I would look at the current Gwent partners and kick the inactive ones from the program to make room for new content creators to apply for the program. In order to do this, I would like to see the current requirements changed. A suggestion for the requirements could be that when you are a partner on Twitch or YouTube, and you publish Gwent content frequently, you get accepted to the program. If you are an affiliate you would need to have at least 500 followers and 25+ average concurrent viewers on Twitch. Similarly, on YouTube you would need to have at least 1000 subscribers and 500 views. Writers that would like to apply to the partner program wouldn’t be able to join with the requirements that I suggested, that’s why I think there should be different requirements for writers. To ensure that it’s worth striving for the Gwent partner program I think CDPR should review their Gwent partners periodically. So, if a Gwent partner is inactive or doesn’t meet the requirements, that Gwent partner should get removed from the partner program in my opinion. Second, I would bring back closed PTR, the reveal campaign and the ‘’Creator of the week’’. In the end the partner program is there to help support your community, both the content creator and the viewer. An idea would be that partners are getting the opportunity to give away a variety of kegs (or other rewards) during certain releases. This could vary in 5, 10 and 20 kegs for example. This could also be the featured Gwent partner of the week that gets access to do giveaways. The content creator is benefiting from the higher viewing number and the viewers by earning in-game cards. Another idea is that the Twitch drops are increased in the stream of the featured Gwent partner of the week. These drops could also very well be in-game cosmetics than the ones we are currently used to receive.

Conclusion

We don’t know what the direction of the partner program is now. And it’s being overshadowed by Gwent Masters, season 2 and the release of Gwent on Android. I hope that Gwent partners will be used more in the future. Because as it stands now, the only reason to apply for the partner program seems to be cosmetics. For me personally that’s not what would make me strive to become a Gwent partner. And with Gwent Masters being postponed due to the COVID-19, its giving CDPR an opportunity to make use of their Gwent partners to promote the release of Gwent on Android with giveaways. The partner program has a lot of potential but it’s not being used to its full extend. The biggest asset Gwent has is its community of loyal players and content creators. CDPR should engage them more and make content creators strive to become a Gwent partner!