Most card games use the same basic terminology, but since Gwent is unlike most other card games, the terminology that has to be used requires of us to define some of these terms anew, so that we’re on the same page when discussing them.
Card advantage is a concept as old as collectible card games themselves. The meaning is simple; the player who has more cards combined on the field and in their hand, has the card advantage. If you play Poor Infantry, you get card advantage. If you play a Swallow, you lose card advantage. These and other examples mean, that card advantage is not really an appropriate term for this game as it doesn’t really reflect actual ‘advantage’ either player has.
The term I propose we use instead of card advantage is move advantage. What does it mean? If you have more plays left in hand than your opponent does, you have move advantage. Keep in mind, that you should count move advantage after both players made the same amount of moves; the player to go second in a round does not automatically gain move advantage because it’s their turn and they didn’t make a play yet. A ‘move play’ is one that leaves you with the same amount of cards as you had before, for example playing Decoy.
To gauge the balance of strength on board I propose we use the term power. Power is exactly what it sounds like; it’s the combined strength one has on their board, and you have an advantage in power if you have more power than the opponent does. A power play is one that adds a lot of strength to your board or subtracts a lot of strength from your opponent’s board. A fine example of that is Madman Lugos.
Tempo is a really complicated term that has some parts of both move and power. Tempo is a measure of how effectively you trade your move advantage into power or power into move advantage. To ‘have tempo’ you have to keep up with your opponent in both power and moves, so that you don’t fall too far back in either, because otherwise your opponent might just pass and leave you at your disadvantagous position. A good example of a ‘tempo power play’ is playing Witchers, because they put a lot of power on the board for little move investment. A nice ‘tempo move play’ is passing early when you have a big advantage, because then your opponent might be forced to use multiple moves to catch back.
Even though the typical split of aggro/midrange/control doesn’t really apply to this game, control as a term is still applicable, it just means a slightly different thing. To control the round is to set the round’s tempo, to be the one that decides when is the time to end the round and go into the next one. In order to do that you have to keep up in tempo. It usually happens when you’re the player that has won the 1st round.
A combo is a combination of two or more cards that is more powerful than the sum of those cards in a void. The simplest way one can combo is to have a lot of strength on a row that you then use Commander’s Horn on.
Setup is just a simple matter of doing a play that benefits further rounds. A good example is using Last Wish to discard Queensguard in order for them to be later on revived. A setup play can still impact your board on the same turn, just like what Clan Tordarroch Shieldsmith does, by increasing base power of a unit that might benefit from that increase over further rounds too.
A counter play is when you’re disrupting opponents combo, so that it either can’t be done at all or is significantly less effective. A nice example of that is using Stammelford’s Tremors just before your opponent wants to Thunderbolt Potion their Scoia’tel Neophytes.
Stalling is when you’re playing for time. What it means is that you’re in control and deciding to have you both use your cards in order to go into the next round with a simplified game state. Even if you don’t put too much power onto the board, your opponent still has to respect the cards you have left in your hand and can’t afford to pass out of fear of simply losing the game.
Redrawing is an action constituting of shuffling a card from hand into the deck and then drawing a card.
Thinning is any action that reduces the amount of cards left in the deck; drawing, discarding.
Bouncing is a term meaning any action that returns card(s) from the board into the hand.