Closed Beta-Throwback Part 1: Introduction and Strongest Cards
• 26th May: Introduction and Strongest Cards of the Closed Beta
• 2nd June : Most powerful and meta defining decks in the Closed Beta
• 9th June : Recap and foresight
Starting off the first part, this article will focus on showcasing some of the most powerful cards in the closed beta, this will be a Top 5 list of the most powerful Bronze, Silver and Goldcards, with an extra section for all spells of all colours. The criterias for making this list, are playrates over the different patches, as well as impact on the meta, and strength. Next week, the series will continue by highlighting some of the most powerful and meta defining decks, their creators, and why they were that impactful in the game. In 2 weeks there will be another article that’s drawing a conclusion of the beta, and gives some foresights on what to expect, where we see Gwent in a year, and more…
• Shani / Bloody Baron
Aglais: The fact, that Aglais was still an autoinclude card into every single Scoia’tel deck despite her being nerfed in almost every single patch indicates quite well the powerlevel Aglais used to have. At the start of the beta, Aglais was a 7 strength, agile, non relentless (this tag did not exist back then) gold unit, which was able to replay a spell, either out of your own, or out of your opponent’s graveyard, including aeromancy with a weather of your choice, firstlight with either the rally, or the clear skies effect, or even the old decoy, that will be mentioned later in the spells section. For most cards in this toplist it is necessary to highlight a version of them for a very specific patch – that’s not the case for Aglais, as she was one of the best gold cards through every single patch we had so far. In the Open Beta she will be working different, and is pushed more into the direction of being a great tech choice in certain metas, but for the time of the closed beta, she’s definitetly up there. Aglais ability will live on through Eithne´s leaderability though.
Shani / Bloody Baron: Shani and Bloody Baron take the second place in the ranking of the most powerful gold cards. Both of these cards were played in most Northern Realms decks throughout all patches. For the newer players among us: Baron’s Botchling used to work a lot differently and basically had the same effect as Nenneke, so before the “permadeath” tag was introduced to the game, there was a lot of insane medic chaining. People demoted the Bloody Baron with a Kaedweni Seargent to resurrect him later with Shani. But not only the Botchling was powerful, before promoted gold status expired at the start of each round you could buff the Botchling up and promote him, to make up a serious thread for the opponent, that was quite difficult to deal with in the next round.
Ciri: Ciri as a card, with her effect survived pretty much from the start of the beta. The only thing that ever changed was a nerf to her strength (8 -> 6), people never stopped playing her, as card advantage or the possibility to force an opponent out of a round 1 by playing her, have always been extremely powerful tools. This made her one of the most solid gold choices among all factions, and definetly the deserved number 3 in this toplist.
Caretaker: Caretaker was not only an extremely hard bossfight in the first expansion of The Witcher 3, but is in fact a gold card, which despite that he is extremely strong, and it’s hard to imagine a monster deck without him, was never nerfed, except for the passive nerf by making medics permadeath. Stealing cards from your opponent, can open up opportunities and plays a faction never had without them, and deny factions that rely on units in their graveyard (Northern Realms, Skellige) certain plays.
Geralt:Igni: Number 5 on the toplist of goldcards in the closed beta is the neutral golden Geralt:Igni. His impact is gigantic, even when you don’t expect your opponent to play him in his deck you would always rather play around him if you can. If you don’t he’s able to punish this extremely hard. He kind of resembles the first card after the classic scorch you have to learn to play around and weaken his effect as much as possible. Even on the top levels of play, and after his nerfs (Strength 6 -> 4, Minimum Row Strength to trigger the effect 15->20) he still sees play whenever the meta starts becoming greedy, and big units are played.
• King of Beggers
• Nenneke / Sigdrifa
• Morkvark / Olgierd
• King of Beggers: The champion of the silver cards in the closed beta is the King of Beggers. He was not in the game at the start of the beta, but was introduced a bit later with the first wave of new cards, and ever since then his playrates have been insanely high. Every faction excluding Nilfgaard played him in the last patch throughout various archetypes and with different goals playing him.
• Nenneke / Sigdrifa: Resurrecting of units, and silver cards especially has always been an extremely strong effect, because you basicially get the effect of card of your choice a second time, and some extra strength attached to it. Both Nenneke for the Northern Realms and Sigdrifa for the Skellige faction, have been autoinclude into every single deck of their actual faction since the start of the beta.
•** Morkvarg / Olgierd**: Being able to carry over strength through rounds is a very strong mechanic was discovered already very on in the beta. Morkvarg and especially Olgierd saw extreme amounts of play and popularity and had whole decks built around making them untouchable through stuff like the old promote mechanic in Northern Realms, which locked buffed strength into base strength, while even staying golden. Later on Olgierd saw play again in the Scoia-tel Ciri Dash deck, which used madroemes to buff his basestrength.
Similarily Morkvarg is used in Skellige using their Shieldsmiths to buff his base-strength as much as possible. Shieldsmith were able to buff 4 early on in the beta.
• Ocvist: It took the players some time, to really figure out how much power Ocvist had, but when they did he was absolutely insane. The “old” Octvist was not only able to trigger the effect once as the current version of the card does. He was able to do it multiple times in a game. Before the nerf to him everyone was pretty much forced to have an answer to him (Alzurs Thunder) in his deck, otherwise the player facing Octvist was quickly multiple cards down. To this day he is continuing to be a really good card, but the weakening of having the last play makes him not as important as he used to.
• Roach: Geralt’s horse was a part of a lot of decks in the closed beta, as she makes every single gold better by 3, or even more if you play Skellige. Roach also thins your deck, which has always been an important tool, and has some actual synergies with cards like Milva (revert coinflip in r1), or Vilgefortz (immediate target for him).
Early on in the beta, It was not unusual to see a 50 +strength golden roach in Northern Realms and potnetially even higher, due to mechanics being much different back then.
Roach will have her ability drastically changed though and will probably see less play then throughout all of the closed beta.
• Elven Mercenary
• Field Medic
• Priestess of Freya
• Mahakam Defender / Hawker Healer
Elven Mercenary: Scoia’tel does not have any muster units, so they always relied on mercenaries and Rally effects, to thin their decks effectively. This bronze card definetely provide a lot more than the average value of a bronze card, which is 8, and whenever you wanted to build a serious Scoia’tel list in the closed beta you could pretty much start by putting 3 Elven Mercenaries into it. Elven Mercenary faced some nerfs during the closed beta, the most memorable one was the addition of the “relentless” tag, which stopped Blue Mountain Commandos from replaying them for another spell.
Priestess of Freya: Probablz the most played unit in the Skellige faction, not onlz due to her remarkable voice/line. Priestess of Freya allows you to resurrect whatever bronze unit in your graveyard. As mentioned multiple times resurrecting stuff is always powerful, but even more in Skellige, as the units got an additional base strength every round. Priestess of Freya also has some great synergy with King of Beggers, because with her being a 1 strength unit he can draw her from your deck, so it was possible to do a medic chains (Sigdrifa -> KoB -> Priestess of Freya), even after the introduction of the Permadeath Tag.
Field Medic: And yet another medic in the toplist. Even though Field Medics, are random, that’s usually not even an issue, because all possible targets are good in usual Northern Realms decks. Resurecting reaver scouts can result into huge chains, even after the addition of the Permadeath tag.
Nekker: Nekker used to be a pretty basic vanilla card at the start of the beta. After some time it got reworked to it’s current state, except for the breedable tag, and single-handedly established an entire archetype, we nowadays call Consume Monsters. Nekkers synergies quite well with a variety of devourers, as well as Nekker warriors, and allow you to get even more carry over value, and additional tempo by consuming them whenever you need it.
Mahakam Defender / Hawker Healer: Even though Mahakam Defender and Hawker Healer, don’t have much in common, and have entirely different effects, it still makes sense to mention them both, because they enabled swim_’s legendary Melee stacking “Dorf” deck, and they have quite some natural synergie. Before the changes of the last closed beta patch Mahakam Defender was a 4 strength unit, who gained resilience after each round. So played in round 1 he had an overall value of 12, which is already fairly good for a bronze card. But given the fact, that you could heavily stack the melee row, and Hawker Healers buff applied to the entire row, this was actually an insanely powerful combo, and is definetly worth being mentioned in this list.
• Dimeritium Bomb
• Commanders Horn
• First Light
Scorch: Even though Scorch has never been part of every single meta deck at any point of the Beta, it’s still an extremely important one, because you will always play around it if possible, and, because it was included in the standard set, every new player has we all learn to be aware of its effect really quickly – and scorch ourselves a few times, before we learn how it really works.
Dimeritium Bomb: Dimeritium Bomb comes second in this list, as a card that used to be even more powerful in its first version. It used to reset all units on the board to base strength, and was mainly used in Skellige to make up really high last card swings. In later stages it was a always a good counter to aggressive metas using high green buffs, such as “Dorfs”.
Decoy: While making thoughts about this list, I was 100% certain that Decoy would be the #1 of spells for quite some time. The effect of the old version of decoy was “return a card on your side of the battlefield to your hand”, so it basically worked like a cardadvantage spy, that doesn’t give any strength to your opponent. In fact it was extremely strong, and a must have card for every single deck, and every game had a certain stage where both players were just bouncing spies back and forth.
Commanders Horn: Our #4 is Commanders Horn, with a quite similar reasoning as Scorch. It’s included in the starter cards and viable until the top levels of play. In comparision to Scorch it was actually nerfed a few times, the first change was that it did not double the strength of all units in a row anymore, but only added 4 to all of them. The second came with the positioning update last patch and caused it to only buff up to 5 adjancent targets. Nonetheless it is still played a lot.
First Light: First Light comes in as #5, and is actually one out of few cards in that list that got buffed during the Closed Beta. At the very first build it used to only remove weathers, and did not have the rally effect to choose from. With the addition of the rally effect, it became an extremely versatile card, that basically still is a tech, but with almost no drawback at all.
Milva / Cahir
Borkh / Villentretenmerth
Lugos / Insengrim
These are some more cards worth mentioning: Milva and Cahir were exceptionally mean and almost toxic to the opposing player if you are up a card and your opponent already had to pass, which was easy to enable in their archetypes. Lugos, Isengrim were quite similar, but last plays you could do, even when down in cards, and that were extremely swingy. To clarify old Lugos used to gain strength for each discarded unit and the very first Isengrim used to spawn a Neophyte for each spell played in the game. Latter was changed very quickly though. Madroeme basicially enabled the PFI Foltest archetype, and was extremely oppressive for one patch, but was quite mediocre afterwards. Villentrethenmerth always had the same effect, but his strength used to be higher (9 -> 7 -> 4), if your deck can handle him he’s always a decent choice, and can make high swings happen, only issue is that he has a lot of counterplay, and can backfire, which caused him to not be on the toplist. Netherless he saw a lot of play in top Ranks in mostly Northern Realms control or Scoia´tel Eithne control list. A Threat, which especially Skellige had a hard time dealing with, taking them completely out of the meta.
While this is a subjective list, we certainly hope you can agree to our list and some of you might get throwbacks to the last 7 months in closed beta of Gwent. Next part will be dealing with strongest decks in closed beta.