Resources - Part 1: A Guest Piece by Gnurrgard
How do I use spies/Ciri? - This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions from new players. Giving your opponent 10+ stats doesn’t seem right when the goal of the game is to have more points than your opponent. Intermediate players will often answer with “Just play it when you‘re about to lose the round or play it when you won the first round.” This behavior is something I also see very often on ladder: my opponent playing Ciri while he is behind, followed by me passing and him still being at an insurmountable point disadvantage which forces him to pass, too. He used a valuable gold card just to test if I intended to continue the round, which I obviously didn’t.
As you can see here, the Ciri was not exerting any pressure, letting the axemen player pass comfortably.
I believe the best use of spies and Ciri is to put pressure on and punish an opponent that fails to keep up with you on tempo. The reason why Ciri is a gold card (and rightfully so) is that in this situation, she further advances your game state as opposed to closing the gap between you and your opponent. When I thought about this, I realized that you‘re basically trading tempo for card advantage.
In Gwent, we‘re trading resources all the time. Knowing what resources we have at our disposal, understanding how they interact with each other and how you can use them to ultimately win two rounds is a big step towards being a great player.
This article will be split in two parts: The first one will cover the resources and how I would define them while in the second part we will take a look at how they interact with each other.
This Ciri is putting the axemen player into a dilemma where he either has to go down 3 cards or lose with a card disadvantage
Let‘s start off with the most prominent resource. Value is the number of points on the table. The player with the most value wins the round. In regards to a card, a cards value is the number of points it achieved at the end of the round. Let‘s take Wild Hunt Hound for example: You‘re gaining 4 value initially and up to 2 value per turn through the frost effect.
The value of removal is harder to evaluate: Let‘s assume you use Alzur’s Thunder on an Arachas Behemoth. You initially gain 5 value, but you‘re also denying your opponent value out of his card.
In “The Theory of Everything,” Patrick Chapin classifies various in-game resources. One of these classifications is “Resources you begin the game with but do not gain naturally.” In card games like Magic and Hearthstone, these are your health points. This category is often overlooked as a resource because in these games, the primary win-condition is to diminish this resource for your opponent. As your opponent is trying to do the same to you, you are incentivized to protect it.
But technically you only need 1 health point to not lose the game.
Similarly in Gwent, you are allowed to lose 1 round over the course of the game, why not try to benefit of this fact?
“Many players make the mistake of thinking their life total matters beyond the fact when it is zero you are dead. It is true that it matters when you are using your life as a resource but this is exactly the point.” -Patrick Chapin about life as a resource.
A term most are familiar with from mana-based games, tempo measures the impact a card has the moment it is played. Playing Crones is a 20-tempo play.
If we extend the term to players, tempo describes the current point difference.
To generate value and tempo, we need cards. The more cards we have, the more value we are able to make in a round. But more importantly, having more cards gives us options. In a game that revolves around getting more points than the opponent, being able to choose between multiple cards is invaluable to maximize our value. An additional benefit of having more cards than your opponent is being able to play the last card in a round. Since the nature of Gwent is highly reactive, having the last say is often game-deciding.
One distinction we have to make to other games like Yu-Gi-Oh! for example is that we only count cards in our hands as opposed to also counting cards on the board. Those cards have already been converted to tempo and/or value.
When I started writing this article, I only had the aforementioned resources in mind. But when I worked on the interactions and trade-offs between the resources, it became apparent that your ability to do power plays is limited and can be converted into other resources, making it a resource itself.
Two of the most prominent power plays in the current metagame are Crones and Reaver Hunters, for example. These cards have a high concentration of value distributed over just a few cards.
Bringing the game into a state where your opponent’s card quality is lower than yours is also the incentive when you‘re bleeding your opponent .
You normally don’t want to face too many of them in round 3!
Resources and resource management is something that is integral to any card game. We now know which resources we have in Gwent and just by being aware of them we can get a better grasp of what is going on in the game. Ideally you want to make your plays with a specific resource in mind.
In Part 2 we will take a look at how to convert these resources into each other and how we use these interactions to execute our gameplan for a victorious outcome.
Matchup Guide: Discard Skellige vs Weather Monsters - by GumGum
With the recent announcement of the ranked season ending soon on the 27th August, many people are beginning to climb again and aim for their rank 20, Grandmaster or even top 100.
Just as important as it is to choose/add/build/netdeck your deck, it is just as important to know the strengths and weaknesses of the matchups you are going to meet. This time we will be highlighting the Dagon Weather vs Discard Skellige Matchup. A matchup you will see a lot in the coming days! So here is a small preparation and matchup guide for you:
Discard Skellige is an archetype which has been prevalent and been played in different variations since the very start of Gwent and Closed Beta. Of all the mechanics which do something in return for late game power and setup, discarding very likely has the strongest power and synergy between all of the others (reveal, mulligan, consume) and can provide immense point-swings through their preferred leader King Bran. While they have very strong lategame resources for point-generating themselves through Pirate Captains or Skirmishers, they also have very strong removal-tools in their gold-spots with Coral and Madman Lugos. While Discard Skellige very often lacks the power to win a deep round 1, they make up for it with the decent carry-over they get into the next round, denying a potential drypass from the opponent. While losing round 1 is generally okay with this deck, you want to be able to at least go 1 card up in the process.
While weather effects are vastly weaker than they have been in previous patches, Dagon has continued to roll forward as one of the pillars of the meta. The ability to produce points while playing weather through cards like Dagon, Wild Hunt Hound, and Impenetrable Fog allows the deck to play interaction without losing tempo, something few other factions are capable of doing. These decks use a combination of these weather generators to keep their opponents’ boards in check while simultaneously thinning their own deck, allowing them a higher degree of consistency. Along with this, Celaeno Harpy and Earth Elemental provide respectable board presence when played and reward you with additional strength in future rounds. This combination of resiliency and removal lets the deck go toe-to-toe with most others in the meta. While opponents may be able to answer either the weather or your units, they struggle to deal with both at the same time. This is furthered by the power swings available to Monsters in their gold and silver slots. Woodland Spirit and Caranthir provide large point swings while producing weather, while cards like Water Hag, Old Speartip and Bekker’s Twister Mirror provide answers for nearly every scenario. At the same time Monsters can easily swap a few cards around and tech for specific matchups like the current Caretaker-inclusion, who mainly serves as a Skellige counter, but also has great value in almost any other matchup.
Monster: In the mulligan the monster player should look for golds as he can, as well as tools to win round 1 such as Wild Hunt Hounds. The most important thing is to get rid of are “blank” cards and cards that are not going to help winning round 1 – Biting Frost / Foglets and Archgriffins.
A good hand in this matchup can look like this.:
Skellige: As Skellige the mulligan is a bit more difficult than for the monster player. Generally you want to keep all golds, and get rid of all blank cards as well. The general priority is :
• Cerys > Pirate Duplicates > Raiders if Ermion is not in the starting hand > Olgierd > Morkvarg (one of them is alright, Olgierd in hand is generally better) > Raiders if Ermion is in hand
If it is possible to still draw into Pirates and / or Cerys for the third mulligan it’s usually better to not try to go for it, unless the hand is extremely bad and you feel like you need to risk something to take the game. If possible it’s as always a good idea to go for blacklist value to increase the odds to draw into good cards. You should already be aware during your mulligan what you are going to discard with your leader ability and Ermion.
A good hand for this matchup could look like this.:
The way the first round plays out is determined by which player has to go first. Both players should try to take the round on even cards or 1 card down. Going down 2 cards is usually a bad idea, because it’s almost impossible to catch up in card advantage in round 2. The Skellige player usually wants to line up one or if it is possible even two War Longships before he starts discarding units with Clan Dimun Pirate, King Bran faction ability etc. His counterpart tries to deny War Longship value if possible. The player who goes second decide the tempo at which round 1 is played. If the monster player opens with a really high tempo play – Caranthir into siege is a good example for that – the Skellige player is already locked from playing his second ship most of the time, because he might not be able to compete with another high value play. It’s important to always try to think about the next play your opponent could do and try make sure the card you decide to commit allows you to overcome each possible play your opponent can do next. If that’s not possible you should make sure you are able to leave the round in a healthy spot which can be either a card with less possibly less / even carryover, even cards with more carryover, or better than that. Making sure the Cerys counter is at 2 with Morkvarg and Olgierd coming back into round 2 helps a lot to beat the Monster player in terms of carryover into round 2.
One thing the Skellige player needs to keep in mind is to not save multiple Clan Dimun Pirate Captain for the last round, because that might setup your opponent for a huge Scorch. In other matchups, known to run Scorch effects the Discard player can sometimes afford to do that, because the Skirmisher is capable to represent a Scorch shield, but in the current meta almost all monster players use Caretaker so you cannot afford to discard him multiple times without taking the risk to give your opponent some insane value that way.
The Monster player’s main task is to save tools so he can win round 3. Good cards to do that can be Woodland Spirit, Fire Elemental, Caretaker -> Gremist, Bekker’s Twisted Mirror / Scorch etc. Trying to eliminate Morkvarg before round 2 or 3 is another solid avenue to ensure greater odds of victory.
In round 2 it is all about maintaining, annihilating or increasing the advantage or disadvantage the actual player left round 1 with. One way in which players tend to misplay a lot, even in fairly high mmr ratings, is by answering the opponent’s spy with their own in situations where they do not have the tempo to do so. This does not do anything if the opponent passes afterwards because they are forced to commit another card anyways. Making sure to have the last play in round 3 helps for sure, but the most important thing is to not fall down a card, especially if the card count both players go into round 3 with is low. Speaking of card count: Monsters usually perform better than Skellige in an extended round 3, because they can get some good value out of weather. That is especially huge if the monster player was able to steal Gremist before. In a really short round 3 of only 1 -3 cards from each side monster usually wins if they have a really powerful finisher. Some examples for that are combinations of the following cards : Woodland Spirit, Fire Elemental, Scorch, BTM, Crones. One player being able to 2 – 0 the opponent is fairly uncommon in this matchup, and usually only happens if someone misplayed, or drew extremely unluckily. As a Skellige player it helps a lot to make sure Cerys can be revived once more in round 3. So saving Ermion to Discard remaining Raiders or additional Freyas often times helps to win round 3.
The final round comes down to how well both players managed their resources in the previous rounds. Often times the correct sequencing is a deciding factor as well. It’s important for both players to try to guess the remaining cards in the opponent’s hand. You can restrict the possibilities by checking how many silver and gold cards he already played, and by the way he is playing out his card. If a monster player would use Jotunn on a Discard Skellige siege row instead of another row that would damage for more, for example, you can be certain he has a Bekker’s Twisted Mirror in his hand which he does not want to compromise with greedy damage, so you can try to block it if possible, etc.
Some more things to keep in mind during the entire game:
• Gremist is a really powerful tool for the Skellige player and can help a lot in round 1. However he can backfire quite a bit if stolen by Caretaker later.
• Always keep in mind for how much the weather hits your score as Skellige.
• If playing Skellige and discarding Units with Ships on the board always keep in mind that you don’t get the maximum value if you hit harpy eggs and lose 2 points instead of gaining 2 – even more so when they can spawn next to an Earth Elemental
• Carryover between round 1 and 2 is a huge decider for the overall outcome of this specific matchup and players on both sides have to keep track of how much the opposing player currently generates through carry-over compared to your own. Usually if the Skellige player both gets Olgierd and Morkvarg out and manages to do the required setup for a round 2 Cerys, he should be leading that battle, but don’t underestimate the carryover monster can make. Without a surprise Ekkimara-tech, it usually caps at roughly 20 points max, but the average case is more in the range of 9-12 points from eggs and elementals.
Which cards to play around and to be aware of.
-Boats: A very important tool for discard Skellige in round 1, but usually a very bad card in future rounds. As Skellige player, you want to mulligan aggressively for ships,- if for nothing else they can trade for very valuable removal- units or cards like Lugos in a Skellige mirror.
As monster player, you want to put frost on the backrow on round 1 as early as possible, as this puts the discard player on a timer and unable to get full value out of their ships.
-Coral: Coral can provide immense pointswings and punish greedy decks heavily. It is not as great against most Dagon lists, but still provides enough value to include. She can decide games single-handedly, if your opponent is not aware of her or cant play around her. Dagon players have to be careful where they put their buffs to not allow coral to become too big.
-Raider: The core card of this archetype and maybe the strongest bronze card in the deck. Both as player and as opponent you have to keep track of how many raiders have been played, as this is very important to how much of a point-swing discard Skellige is able to create. Usually you want to discard 1 raider with bran, 1-2 with Ermion and eventually with Lugos.
-Pirate Captains: Huge point generator for skellige and very good late game card, but netherless should be played in different rounds to play around Scorch and other detrimental effects. Try to play them, while at the same time blocking a potential BTM with Freyas. Before passing or playing further into a round the Monster player, should always be aware of the current Captain-strength.
- Caretaker: A very important card in this matchup as he can get huge value from for example stealing a Skirmisher. He is the reason, why you should not discard any Skirmishers against Monster and just mulligan them away if you can as Skellige.
Bekker’s Twisted Mirror / Scorch: Most Dagon lists include either Bekker’s Twisted Mirror or Scorch. Until your opponent uses one of these cards you should try to minimize the value of both of them and try to read whether your opponent is using BTM or Scorch (or either). Try to not to commit multiple Pirate Captains into the same round unless you can stagger their strength with Fog.
Water Hag: Even though Water Hag is a lot better in other matchups it can still provide some huge swings if you have multiple units in the same row. If possible it’s always a good idea to split up units into multiple rounds to keep the Water Hag value small.
- Woodland Spirit: Woodland Spirit is usually the trump card of Dagon, so its often times played as one of the last two remaining cards. If the opponent plays it before his last card it’s usually an indicator that the last card is either a Commanders Horn, a Potion or a potential Bekkers Twisted Mirror.
• Scorch & Bekker’s Twisted Mirror:**
While certainly better in the “Dorf” / Reaver Hunter / Consume matchups, Bekkers Twisted mirror can quickly force you to gamble or even become entirely dead in the Skellige matchup. If you play against Skellige a lot consider swapping it out for a Scorch. If this were the only decks clashing 24/7, you might even play both.
Another Graveyard-hate unit, which has a decent body and is able to steal cards from the filled Skellige graveyard like a potential Olgierd or Skirmisher.
• Alzurs Thunder: Direct removal for ships,- usually under the powercurve though.
• Immune Boost: The classic monster tech in many decks these days as it provides good value and protection from weather techs.
• Clan Tordarroch Armorsmith: Putting units back to base-strength, - usually works well against fog, but isn’t really an option against frost. An uncommon card in this meta.
While overall a very close and also exciting matchup, we still came to the conclusion that Monsters are slightly favoured due to their consistency, flexability and the inclusion of techs being much easier.
The decklists used in TGO are generally optimized for strike format so they might not be the best for ladder climbs. Nonetheless, you can find some ideas to build your own:
Week 3 of The Gwentlemen’s Invitational was just as thrilling as the first two, and at 2pm EST/8pm CEST on Tuesday, August 22nd, we’re excited to bring you 2 of the series played this week, shoutcasted by 4 of Gwent’s finest: ImpetuousPanda, SirPumpkn (formerly known as PumpkinShit), Swim and Vishra - and hosted by Hg3 and Jaggerous!
For Week 3, the two highlight matches are:
Group 3 F2K Group 3 vs. Commander’s Horn Commandos: Mithranor’s F2K faction takes on Gwent veteran McBeard in a pitched battle! This intense matchup is casted by Swim and SirPumpkn.
Card Game Nerds vs. Team XD Esports International: Smoonay’s team of experienced ladder players go up against an infamous team we’ve seen before - Merchant’s Team XD, fresh off their victories against GameKing and CDPR themselves! This fierce showdown is casted by Vishra and ImpetuousPanda.
Tune in at 2pm EST/8pm CEST to the Gwentlemen Twitch channel for the full cast!
Check out the rest of the results of Week 3’s bracket here:
100% of all donations given to Gwentlemen for the duration of the tournament will be added to the prize pool, so every penny given directly ups the ante for everyone involved - the prize pool has already risen to over $900 thanks to generous community donations!