The Essential Guide to Every Word You Need in Gwent

Trained Hawk, illustrated by: Karol Bem

Newcomers to Gwent are often overwhelmed by the vocabulary of guides and instructions. Nobody reads glossaries, and for that reason we have curated terms and concepts with added details that will put you on the level in no time. Mastering these concepts will easily see you to pro rank and beyond. Links have been placed so if one encounters an unfamiliar term, one can easily refer to it lower down the guide, or find an explanation of it in a detailed article. Happy learning!

Note: This page is a fluid piece of work and will be updated to the best of our ability.  

Basic Gwent Terms

Artifact: A card that stays on the battlefield but does not have a strength value. This is the least common type of card. 

Bronze/Gold Cards: Gold cards usually play for more points and cost more provisions than bronze cards. You can add up to 2 copies of the same bronze card to a deck, but golds are limited to one copy. You can distinguish gold cards from bronzes by their golden border.

Provision Cost: In Gwent, every card is assigned a provision cost, roughly meaning how much of your deck’s total resources need to be used to put this card in your deck. It also represents the expected number of points a card will be worth in a game. Provision cost is roughly equal to the expected points a card will play for, with a small percentage on top.  For example, 4 provision cost cards usually play for 4-7 points, and 5 provision cost cards play for 6-8 points.

Red-coin/Blue-coin: Blue-coin means going first in the match, Red-coin means going second. These terms are not included in the game, but are well known among players in the community. See Coin Advantage for the implications of this. 

Special Card: A card that does not have a strength value, and is sent to the graveyard immediately after being played.

Summon: Summoned cards simply appear on the board without being played. Note that this does not trigger Deploy abilities. 

Tempo: The number of points played in a turn. A card is said to be “high tempo” if it puts a large number of points (roughly 8 or more) on the board in a single turn. For example, Old Speartip is high tempo, playing for 12 points in a single turn. Low tempo cards take time to output potential points.  For example, Engines and Scenario cards play for initially low points, and output more as they are procced over following turns. 

Unit: A card that has a strength value and stays on the battlefield. This is the most common type of card.

Card Functions

Brick: When a card plays for less than its intended value. For example, Geralt of Rivia is said to be bricked if your opponent doesn’t control a card with 9 or more strength and it cannot activate its ability.

Control: Cards designed to disrupt the opponent’s strategy, usually through damage or locks e.g. Alzur’s Thunder. Damages a unit by 5 and can remove an engine from the board. Most greedy cards start with 5 or less strength, so standard removals reliably control them.

Engine: Cards that potentially play for more points the longer they stay on the battlefield. Some engines are more threatening than others. In general, if an engine puts out more than 1 point per turn, it is considered threatening. Nekkers are engines, since they are boosted by 1 point every time you play a unit with higher strength.

Finisher: A type of pointslam that plays for more or less points depending on the board state, and is most effective when played at the end of a round. For example, Geralt of Rivia is often used as a finisher, since at the end of the round the opponent is most likely to have a high-strength unit.

Greed: A card (or strategy) is considered greedy if it can play for many points, provided the opponent does not answer it with control cards. Engines are generally considered greedy cards, though they can also function as control if they deal damage over time. The Beast is a popular greedy card from the Monsters faction, while Assimilate is generally a greedy strategy/archetype

Pointslam: Cards that play for a high number of points with minimal risk. For example, Old Speartip is a pointslam card since it plays for 12 points with no downside.

Pre-Condition: Cards that help fulfil other cards’ conditions. For instance, Impera Brigade requires that a Soldier card be on your side of the board to trigger its deploy ability. Thus, a Soldier on your side of the board serves as its pre-condition. 

Tutor: Cards that plays/draws cards from your deck. Tutors can be units, special cards, or artifacts. For example, Oneiromancy is a special card that plays any card from your deck. Tutors often have limitations on the types of card that they can be played. Thus, they brick if there is no card of the required type in the deck.

Key Gameplay Concepts

Bleed: Players who win round control may choose to play deeply into round two to force their opponent to play good cards at sub-optimal times. This process is called bleeding. Not to be confused with the status that damages a unit by 1 at the end of its turn. Click here for a guide on this key practice. 

Blue Coin Abuse: Less common than Red Coin Abuse, this refers to the advantageous use of Stratagems in particular decks in combination with certain cards. For instance, Crystal Skull on Griffin Witcher (in NR Witchers) and Ciri: Dash (in Keltullis decks) are known for this type of abuse.

Card Advantage: If one player has more cards than the other at the start of round 3, they are said to have gained card advantage. Card advantage also guarantees last say, and usually results in winning the game.

Carryover: Some cards can be played in one round and generate points in another round, generating what’s known as carryover. There are several forms of carryover, including handbuff (Circle of Life), deck buff (Allgod, Erland of Larvik), resilience (Ciri: Nova), graveyard setup (Derran), and deck manipulation (Maxii Van Dekkar).

Coin Advantage: Blue coin is considered a disadvantage because if you pass while behind in score, your opponent will almost always gain card advantage. Conversely, a player with Red coin has the option to play extremely low tempo cards and focus on generating carryover. Stratagems help reduce the advantage afforded by Red coin, giving a small point boost to the blue coin player. Click here for a reminder on what coins mean. 

Devotion: A deck fulfils the Devotion requirement when it contains no neutral cards. Certain cards are stronger when their Devotion requirement is met, such as Viraxas. Others, for example, are unusable without it, such as Aen Elle Conqueror, who destroys himself if the condition is not met. Devotion decks tend to have powerful abilities but often lack consistency and/or control.  Note that (non)-devotion status of a deck can often give away its composition. 

Disloyal: Disloyal cards can only be played on the opponent’s side of the board and have “Spying” status. While the unit plays for negative points, these cards usually have Deploy effects that offset their negative initial value. Currently, most Disloyal cards belong to the Nilfgaard faction.

Last Say: Whoever plays the last card of the match is said to have last say. This is important as it allows you to play a tall card without worrying about whether the opponent has a tall punish, or play your own tall punish without worrying that your opponent will play a taller unit. 

Proactivity: Proactive cards are able to play for full or almost full value even when there are no other cards on the board. For example, Svalblod Totem is a proactive card common in Skellige decks. When deckbuilding, always make sure to include some proactive cards to avoid awkward situations when one is starting first in a round, especially when Blue coin. 

Reach: Reach is the number of points you can play in a single turn. Reach is most important to keep track of in round 1 on Red coin. This ensures that should Blue coin pass first, you can win with equal cards left and hence card advantage as they must play a card to win round 2. Similarly, if you are being bled in round 2, catching up in one card will maintain card parity. Reach is roughly equal to the highest tempo card playable, plus your leader ability. Do account for your own and your opponent’s engines. Ideally, one achieves reach without using your leader ability.

Reactivity: Some cards interact with other cards,  playing for no value on an empty board. These cards are reactive. For example, Alzur’s Thunder is a reactive card. Having too many reactive cards in your deck can cause you to struggle when making the first few moves of a round.

Red Coin Abuse: Red coin abuse is a tactic employed by some decks where only reactive damage cards are played, making it difficult for the opponent to develop their board while also forcing the opponent to use up proactive cards. Another form of Red coin abuse involves out-tempoing the opponent in round 1, usually allowing the player to pass while out of reach, gaining card advantage in the process. This tactic is often used by Lippy Gudmund decks in conjunction with Cerys an Craite.

Risk: A card’s risk is roughly its immediate strength contribution minus its provision cost, excluding its (conditonal) effects. E.g.  Geralt of Rivia is strength 3, provision cost of 10. This card is quite risky as the difference in minimum points value and provision cost is high. Conversely, Aen Elle Conqueror is very low risk, with 7 strength and 4 provision cost. Generally, a mixture of high and low risk cards prevents control-heavy opponents from preventing your cards from playing for their value. If you take too little risk, you may lose to greedy opponents who play riskier cards and manage to fulfil their conditions. Almost all decks have some control. Thus, it is best to play riskier cards when your opponent runs out of control options.

Round Control: Whoever wins round 1 gains round control as it grants them the option to play as long or short a round 2 as they wish. This may be to lengthen round 3 if one has many engines, or shorten it if one has higher tempo cards, and/or to bleed the opponent of their more useful cards.

Row Punish: As the name suggests, these are cards that punish the opponent for placing too many units on the same row. Lacerate, for instance, damages all units on a row by 2. To avoid getting hit by row punish, spread your units on different rows as necessary.

Standard removal: Because most engines in the game start at 4 or 5 power, standard removal is defined as any card that damages within this range. If an engine is boosted to 6 or more strength, it is said to be out of standard removal range. There are, of course, exceptions to this, such as Whoreson Junior.

Tall Punish: Cards that gain value by targeting a single enemy unit with high power. Geralt of Rivia is an example of tall punish. Avoid tall punish by distributing boosts evenly among units, bleeding the opponent, using a Defender, and putting less high base power units in your deck to begin with.

Tempo Pass: Tempo passing is a technique where a player commits a large number of points quickly in round 1 and passes, exceeding their opponent’s reach. This forces the opponent to play multiple cards to catch up, preventing them from bleeding in round 2. A tempo pass forces a long round 3, and may also force your opponent to use their leader to maintain even cards.

Thinning: In general, you want to have access to your high-end gold cards by the end of the game. Thinning cards remove cards from your deck, improving the chance of drawing your gold cards in round 3. Thinning is provided by tutors as well as cards that can be summoned from the deck, such as Wild Hunt Riders. In general, all tutors provide thinning, but not all thinning comes from tutors. Check out an analysis of this here

Trading Up/Trading down: This refers to the situation where after an exchange of two cards, one player has more (or less) resultant points. This manifests in two ways:

In the points themselves:

For example, if a Northern Realms player plays Temerian Drummer (Which boosts the unit to the right by 1 at the end of its turn) and then their opponent destroys it with Alzur’s Thunder, the Northern Realms player would have traded up by 1 point, as the Drummer has a 1 point boost still on the board.

Note: One should consider potential points when trading removal for engines. 

In the provision cost of the cards

This type of trading occurs when a higher provision cost card is used to negate a lower provision one, or vice-versa. For instance, if Korathi Heatwave at 10 provisions was used to banish a threatening engine like Anna Strenger worth 7 provisions, or if Spores at 4 provisions resets a 9 provision Ozzrel to 1 power. In these cases, it is about how many points you are denying from your opponent, rather than the single-turn provision to provision trade.

Bad Cards

In Gwent, some cards are considered bad cards. These are cards that struggle to play for as many points as one would expect based on their provision cost. A general rule for finding bad cards is to consider the following when designing a deck:

  1. How does the card fit into my strategy? Will it function as an engine, control, or point-slam?
  2. What is the risk associated with the card?
  3. How easily can the card’s value match its provision cost?
  4. Are there similar cards that play for more value?
  5. What is the chance that the card will brick?

Gwent Slang

Archetypes: A set of cards and leader combinations that execute particular concepts or strategies. Check out our Archetype Guide for analysis. 

Elder Bears: High cost cards that are easily shutdown and therefore play for as much points as an Elder Bear, a relatively poor 6 provision 6 power card.  For example, Stefan Skellen and Vysogota of Corvo

Meta: The most common decks one will face. The meta (or meta decks) refers to the most powerful and popular decks. While powerful and popular are not necessarily equivalent, they are generally related. 

Package: A set of cards within a deck that may complement each other and work independently. For example, Nilfgaard has: Spy, Assimilate, and Aristocrat-Ball packages that can be swapped in and out of decks. Low-unit decks often make use of the Madoc package, which consists of Madoc and 4-5 Bomb cards.

Meme: Meme decks are generally (significantly) weaker than meta-decks and can mean several different things along a spectrum of strength/weakness. Our series on memes gives the full low-down and see the best options in our Bandit Gang Meme Snapshot

Pro: Contextually indicates reaching Pro rank (Rank 0), or Professional, referring to players who regularly fit for spots and compete in official tournaments. 

Shortforms: Gwent, like any game, has many shortform terms for its cards. Examples include: Blood Eagle = beagle, Alzur’s Double Cross = ADC, Amphibious Assault = AA. 

Smurf: Refers to returning/veteran players with new accounts or old accounts at a low rank who thus play far better than their true rank and have better cards than their peers. It can also refer to when an individual finds a particularly effective deck and climbs the ladder quickly with it. 

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