For the first ever major Gwent content update, Swim and Rysik analyze the recently revealed cards, and discuss their expected impacts on the metagame in the new and highly anticipated ranked mode. Bear in mind these analyses and predictions will be made with the competitive meta in mind, and that the list will be sorted by descending perceived impactfulness. It's an exciting time for all of us in the Gwent community, so let's get started.
We expect the cards in this category to have a powerful and immediate effect on the metagame. These cards will be seen immediately and often, and will shape this upcoming meta and potentially more to come.
Neutral, Bronze, Special
Choose one: Mutagen: Increase base strength of a non-Gold unit on your side by 4. Spores: Decrease base strength of a non-Gold unit on your opponent's side by 4. (Units sent to the graveyard with 0 base strength are removed from the game)
This is THE meta defining card for the upcoming patch. In conjunction with medics, or other persistent cards, this card can all but guarantee 12 points of value spread over 3 rounds. The reason this card will be so prevalent is even decks that don’t partake in these persistent-card strategies (namely Scoia’tael), can still get 12 points of value by using the Spores effect on an enemy persistent card. It can also be used as very efficient removal that can shut out medics. Northern Realms has been relying on timer cards (Reaver Hunters, Ocvist) in conjunction with medics as backup and that strategy will in all likelihood no longer work. These little shrooms will also mess up Skellige tactics as well, by eliminating the 4 strength Sigrdrifa on round 2 so it can’t be restored on round 3. Mardroeme is a powerhouse of versatility, in its very worst case scenario representing 4 points of removal. I’d consider this card a very solid replacement to Alzur’s Thunder in terms of removal, as the latter is often used on 3-4 strength units anyway. Even against Scoia’tael, the current top tier faction, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using spores to snipe an Elven Mercenary early into round 1, denying bounce and buff potential. It can be used on Foglets in monsters and cards such as Olgierd and Roach could even make a reappearance.
Synergizes with: Elven Mercenary.
Synergizes with / Strong against: Medics, Morkvarg, Foglets, Poor Infantry, Roach, Olgierd.
Neutral, Gold, Melee 8 STR
Choose a row on the opposing side and move all units one row upwards. Deal 1 Damage to each moved unit. (Damage is applied after weather effects are)
Expect this card to have a huge impact on the upcoming metagame. Moving an entire row (plus damage) is an incredibly strong ability for an 8 strength unit to have. Expect Dol Blathanna Trapper to very suddenly see a lot of play. At its worst, this card is still a very solid 10-12 point play. At its best, it’s an auto win on round 1 when combined with weather. Damage is applied after weather, so units moved into weather will be destroyed. We expect many competitive decks to be able to find room for this card in the upcoming patch.
Synergizes with: Fog, Rain, Dol Blathanna Trapper, Lacerate, Phillipa.
Strong against: Ancient Foglet, Foglet, Frost Giant, Coral.
These cards will likely see immediate play in high-tier decks, but don’t have the meta-defining influence of the above category.
King of Beggars
Neutral, Silver, Ranged 4 STR
Play the weakest non-Gold card from your deck (draws are resolved randomly).
This card has powerful synergy with both Northern Realms and Monsters decks, as those decks not only have premium silver cards to grab with King of Beggars (Priscilla and possibly Frightener), but also these factions have very little draw power so weakening your future draws by pulling silver cards doesn’t matter very much (this is the same reason that these factions can use witchers so effectively). The reason this card is inherently so strong though is that it doesn’t even really need to pull a silver card to get value. 4 strength plus a bronze is fine on its own -- provided that you don’t have any RNG in the equation. Additionally, it could really enable Frightener decks because unlike Priscilla, if you play Frightener you’re building your deck around it and King of Beggars gives you really important consistency. As long as you don’t have situational cards fighting for the weakest position in your deck, this card is never truly bad.
Synergizes with: Frightener, Priscilla.
Many of these cards might be low impact in the upcoming competitive meta, but all of them will be very important cards for the game moving forward. These cards are inherently strong but many currently lack the tools to reach their full potential. Keep an eye on all of these cards, particularly in future patches.
Neutral, Gold, Special
Revive a friendly Gold unit.
This card is very interesting. It will find a home in any deck that involves gold cards that are key to the deck’s overall strategy. The best example of this right now would probably be Northern Realms demote/medic decks, being able to reuse Shani or Bloody Baron in round 2 or 3. However, this card has a major flaw in that, while at its best it can enable your best Gold card to be used twice, that comes at a hefty price of being very situational. You can only reliably use it on a gold card that you’ve played in an earlier round, which often requires playing a little awkwardly to make it work. Keep an eye out for this card moving forward though -- it will enable decks to be built around specific powerhouse gold cards.
Synergizes with: High-value gold cards.
Countered by: Dimeritium Shackles, Kaedweni Sergeant.
Bekker’s Twisted Mirror
Neutral, Gold, Special
Swap the strength of the strongest and weakest units on the battlefield. Ties are resolved randomly. (Doesn’t alter base strengths)
One of the most interesting cards revealed, this card opens up huge possibilities for combos. Even your 1 power unit swapping with their 10 will be as much as a 18 point swing in a way that can’t properly be removed by weather or scorch effects. However, this will largely be limited to round 1 and will require including 1-2 strength units in your deck that you may otherwise not have wanted to include. When played alongside Yennefer, Mirror will steal their strength and lock it behind the gold body of your Unicorn/Chironex. There are possibilities for using this on cards such as Zoltan Chivay or Madman Lugos, although these are unlikely to come to fruition competitively in the foreseeable future. Ultimately, it’s extremely hard to analyze this card. Northern Realms has the hardest time finding the requisite 1-2 strength units, but the other factions are viable candidates for this card.
Synergizes with: Yennefer, 1-2 strength units.
Strong against: 10+ strength units.
Countered by: Dimeritium Shackles, low power units.
Skellige, Gold, Agile 7 STR
Move all friendly units to this row.
This is a tricky card to analyze. On one hand, pulling units out of weather and possibly setting up Clan Heymaey Skalds can be great. On the other, its worst case scenario is even worse than a gold 7: sometimes you can be forced to play this card in a position where its effect will have a negative impact. Definitely a meta-dependent card, it has a very unique and powerful effect, just be careful with it. On that note, it may suffer in the upcoming meta because of Aard. Pulling units out of frost and rain to the safety of the ranged row can often be met by an Aard that knocks you back into the rain and out of the game. Avoiding weather also isn’t very important given First Light’s present prevalence.
Synergizes with: Clan Heymaey Skald.
Strong against: Weather.
Neutral, Bronze, Special.
Choose a unit on the battlefield set it to base strength, and remove any special effects (gold, adrenaline rush, resilience).
This card has spawned many a divisive discussion since its reveal. The problem with this card is most of the cards it hard-counters are generally weak cards. It’s great against Borkh and it can be alright against a few cards like Kayran, adrenaline rush, or even possibly some very strange things like Bekker’s Twisted Mirror (buffing a gold card). For the most part, however, this card might be a bit too situational right now. It certainly won’t see play in Northern Realms as they already have this tool, but I see this card possibly being played as a weaker albeit neutral Kaedweni Sergeant. It could allow Skellige to, in the future, resurrect a very high value gold card (we don’t think there’s anything worthy of that in the game yet), and it could be good in weather decks as a tech card with a much more reliable impact, but again that seems unlikely in the immediate future.
Synergizes with: Medics, Weather.
Strong against: Borkh, Dwarves, Kayran.
Monsters, Gold, Siege 8 STR
Devour 3 friendly non-Gold units and absorb their Strength.
Very interesting card. It can synergize with the monster ability by devouring weaker units, although this application is limited to early rounds and weak units are maybe better avoided in monsters. It also can be used on Foglets as a 14 point gold, more if you use Mardroeme on the Foglets beforehand, although Foglets might not be competitively viable if First Light continues to oppress the meta. Ultimately, however, this card suffers for the same reason that Quen and Keira do, which is that there is an inevitable window that the opponent can respond to your board before Kayran gets the chance to transfer their strength. There will eventually be a fleshed out devour archetype with more cards like Arachas Behemoth, and this card could shine provided that archetype works well, but that may not happen any time in the near future. Additionally, if this card ever was to start seeing real popularity, cards like Dimeritium Shackle and Bekker’s Twisted Mirror could prevent it from being too powerful.
Synergizes with: Arachas Behemoth, Foglet, Mardroeme.
Countered by: Dimeritium Shackle, Bekker’s Twisted Mirror.
Iris Von Everec
Neutral, Silver, Disloyal-Siege 3 STR
If destroyed increase strength of all units on the opposite side by 3.
This card is somewhat similar to Sabrina, but a bit better for a few reasons, the foremost of which being that it’s neutral. Additionally, mass buffs are better than mass damage, as the deck can be built to support them, and damage is mostly only good for precision removal, which Sabrina lacks the capacity for. Despite that, it’s important to note that this card suffers the same drawbacks as Sabrina, it’s a bit unreliable and requires not only a combo enabler but a board setup, and drawing this card later can be pretty awful.
Synergizes with: Swarm decks, ambush traps.
Neutral, Bronze, Special
Give all instances of a non-gold unit on your side a shield that protects its bearer from a single damage instance (shields don't protect against “destroy” effects).
While protecting units could open up huge potential in terms of expanding the competitively viable card pool, this card has very fundamental flaws that it must overcome before doing so. The problem is that almost no plays actually telegraph that there’s about to be a weather, Phillipa, or otherwise major source of damage. Also, given the alternating action style of tempo to this game, there’s no real window to protect units without giving the opponent an opportunity to play their big damage card first. There is one method to using these shields that mostly circumvents this rule, however, that being weather effects. Shields allow you to use weather on a row you occupy without harming your units. However, in future iterations of the game there will certainly be cheaper and more effective ways to destroy these shields.
Synergizes with: Weather, Foltest, Poor Infantry.
Strong against: Weather.
Northern Realms, Gold, Agile 7 STR
Give shield to every non-gold unit on this row. Shield cancels next reducing strength effect. Activates once (shields don't protect against “destroy” effects).
This card probably sounds better on paper than she actually will be. It’s a bit hard to say that she will be bad, but she definitely will be at least a little awkward, since the utility she provides isn’t very single-minded. She’s a strange mix of proactive and reactive elements, so it’s hard to find room to play her, similar to Quen. You have to play her late enough that she puts shields up on value units, and early enough that your units haven’t already died.
Synergizes with: Weather, Foltest, Poor Infantry.
Strong against: Weather.
Alzur's Double Cross
Neutral, Silver, Special
Play the highest strength non-Gold unit from your deck.
This card is obviously similar to King of Beggars, but loses the 4 strength and the potential for medic replayability. In addition to those, usually you’d want to play this kind of ability reactively, and high strength units are more often proactive than reactive. At its best, you can pull Yaevinn or maybe Stennis with this card, but it struggles in matches when you’ve already drawn your spy. This card is definitely underwhelming presently but has a unique effect and easily will fit into a deck one day, and so secures this standing in this list.
Synergizes with: Yaevinn, Stennis, Donar an Hindar.
Neutral, Gold, Ranged 9 STR
When this card is sent from the field to the graveyard, move her to deck and add 3 base strength.
This card requires a lot of synergy to be valuable, but it
does have a very unique effect. Inherently the card is meant to be played in Skellige or possibly Scoia’tael (their faction identity is a little muddled right now). The best case for this card is to couple it with a lot of draw tools to achieve a 27 card deck with 6 gold cards. That’s a huge amount of value, but requires a lot of specific setup: 13 draw/thinning tools, plus finding Dash on round 1. In addition to that, 3 of your 6 golds will essentially be valued at vanilla Geralt, who is slightly mediocre. Ciri: Dash is additionally made worse when considering Johnny, a silver card that can fulfill her role (adding golds to your deck) with all the utility that Johnny provides as well. It’s possible that given a few more drawing tools and maybe a buff to either her or King Bran, she could see play, albeit probably only in Skellige decks. Ultimately, she’s likely too unreliable to be competitive without a change in the tools Skellige has at its disposal, but that change is likely to happen in the near future.
Synergizes with: Draw power.
These cards won’t find homes in competitive decks without significant changes to them or the game. These changes are certainly possible, and in some cases probable, but it will likely be some time before any of these cards see competitive play.
Scoia'tael, Silver, Agile 4 STR
Remove 1 strength from a random opposing non-gold unit whenever a revealed Elf unit appears on your side.
This marks the 6th addition to the game of a 4 strength silver card that has no impact if it dies immediately. Other members of the Silver-4 club include Ocvist, Odrin, Dandelion, Ves, and Ele’yas. These types of cards are basically doomed to remain in this tier competitively. Ocvist was a bit of an exception previously, for two reasons. It has an inherently very strong effect, and it could be buffed and revived in Northern Realms decks, of which most of this club are exclusive to. However, even Northern Realms likely won’t be able to run these cards competitively anymore due to the existence of Mardroeme. Malena’s random damage effect could be more powerful in the future if we see more cards with the shield effect, but she and the other members of the Silver-4 club are simply too limited right now by their strength, as there’s currently no viable method to proactively protect cards. If such a mechanic were to be implemented, this would be an incalculable game-changer in terms of card viability. That day may never come but if it does, the Silver-4 club will be ready.
Synergizes with: Elves.
Strong against: Quen.
Scoia'tael, Gold, Agile 4 STR
Ambush. Triggered whenever a Special Card is played and changes it to a Scorch instead.
At first glance, it might seem like this card could find a home in some future dedicated Ambush deck. The problem with this is that he works very poorly with Wardancers. There’s really no proper niche this card fills. It fails as a tech card, a synergy card, and as a consistent value card. Schirru and Ida Emean could be used in tandem for a special-denial deck. However, he simply doesn’t really fit properly into the current Scoia’tael archetype.
Synergizes with: Few specials, small units.
Will counter: Key specials, large units.
Monsters, Silver, Melee, 4 STR
Every 3 turns, remove a random non-gold unit from your graveyard and absorb its strength.
Silver-4 club again. It’s actually insane how much worse than ghoul this card is. If this card was bronze it still wouldn’t see the light of day. There’s honestly not even very much more we can say about this card.
Synergizes with: ???
Strong against: ???
Champion of Champions
Skellige, Silver, Agile, 4 STR
Gain 2 strength at the start of your turn if it´s the sole unit on its row.
8th member of the Silver-4 club. You don’t even need to remove this card, it can be shut down with any spy. Come to think of it, it can be shut down with anything. If you see this one in a keg pick something you already have instead.
Synergizes with: Needing more scraps.
Strong against: Unlucky keg openers.
So all in all, the game’s getting 20 new cards, mostly silvers and golds, with a large amount of neutrals. While many of the cards won’t see competitive play, more than enough will to ensure a very diverse next couple of weeks, hopefully with a major balance patch involved. Despite all that however, we remain most excited for the new Ranked mode and Leaderboards system, which make us very hopeful for the future of competitive Gwent. I hope this article has made you all if nothing else at least a little more prepared for what to expect in the upcoming week.