Rogues Gallery #2: Nekkers
Rogues gallery is a weekly column on some of the strongest, most interesting or meta defining cards in the game. Each week Gravez takes a closer look at a single card; its strengths, weaknesses, applications and its place in the Witcher Universe.
DISCLAIMER: The article contains minor spoilers of Witcher novels.
DISCLAIMER: The article is written on patch 0.8.72, some information might be outdated
The second and third cards I want to take a closer look at are the notorious Nekkers. These primitive, social ogroids, are the bane of the forest villagers in the Witcher world. They are short, agile and compensate for their relative weakness with the numbers they provide. They are usually led by their chieftains, warriors, somewhat larger Nekkers, who yell (or skitter, growl… fuck if I know) out commands to their brethren. You can recognize them by their larger stature and their clay marked bodies.
Nekkers can be found all around the Witcher universe. They tend to build their nests burrowed underground, close to the roads and prey on the travelers, merchants or even caravans passing by. When threatened, Nekkers will call for aid, so it’s essential you finish them off for good when engaging, and make sure you are not swarmed by their nigh endless numbers.
In Gwent, Nekkers are a melee row, 3 strength bronze units that gain 1 strength whenever your unit consumes another, regardless of the Nekker’s location (hand, board or deck). When killed, the nekker will summon another nekker from the deck.
Nekker Warriors on the other hand, are a melee row 5 strength bronze unit, that creates two copies of a chosen unit on the board and puts it at the bottom of your deck.
The Streets of Gwentsglow: Episode II
The tale of the Nekker boys is as tragic as it’s inspiring. Before the war broke up between the families, Nekkers were young boys living in Orianna’s Orphanage down in the Lower Whorelam. The little delinquents always had the neck for trouble, and they got kicked out before they even hit puberty when they were caught stealing Orianna’s jewelry. The kids ended up on the streets of Gwentsglow. The three older ones began recruiting more homeless kids into their gang, while the younger ones spent their days stealing and pickpocketing where they could. Their lives weren’t easy. They were scrawny, weak and small, as they often went to sleep hungry. Most of them developed goiter due to malnourishment. They did learn how to protect themselves though. Most of them barely reaching 3 feet (about 90cm) in height, they were an easy pick, so they started walking around in groups of three. As soon as one got into trouble, the other two jumped out and helped.
The things changed rapidly when the war broke out. The Cosa Monstra boss, Tito Kayran, took notice of the lil thugs and took them under his wing. Nekkers ran the streets for him, and in return, he took care of them. Whenever he or one of his capos or soldiers scored, the Nekkers got a cut, and some of them grew to be as big as the wise guys themselves. Nevertheless, Nekkers remain true to their roots. They live out on the streets, taking care of each other, with one of them always waiting to fill his fallen brother’s place. The older, experienced Nekkers keep an eye out for like-minded kids to bring them into their ranks, slowly train them while their older siblings put their lives on the line for the Don.
Nekkers are ruthless, vicious and cunning. They cause disarray amongst the supporters of the other families, especially paired with the Cosa Monstra’s time-tested skills that allow their goons to remain in battle even long after the enemy has retreated and recovered for the next fight. It has gotten so bad the other families resorted to special tactics just to deal with the gang. They’ve begun recruiting retired detectives such as Cleaver to find and lock up the gang members, breaking the chain of command. Some began contaminating the streets with Mardroeme gas, or even bring in trained assassins the likes of Whoreson to murder the key members of the gang. Moorvran’s family has even gone as far as to bring in Sweers, notorious assassin that makes entire families disappear from the face of the earth.
Even Projekt Yard has decided to take Nekkers under closer look, after an influential Gwentsglow citizen, Jacque James Tapon suffered a nervous breakdown when confronted by the gang during one of his evening strolls.
What does the future hold for Gwentsglow city? Are the city’s finest under the lead of Commissioner Geralt ready to take on the families? Is president Rethazski calling in the national guard? Is Mr. Tapon ever going to be the same? Find all this and more next week on The Streets of Gwentsglow.
Nekkers are a force to be reckoned with, there is no doubt about it. Back at the start of the open beta, our goitered little Ogroids were a simple muster unit, not much more than a melee Arachas. They barely saw any play, so the CDPR changed them and turned them into one of the most fun, interesting and powerful bronze units in the game.
As a typical consume deck packs upwards of 10 consume units, they quite quickly grow beyond the bounds of a normal bronze units, provide a carryover strength as they replace themselves on the board, and are often used as a scorch shield for the rest of the Monster player’s deck. When properly managed using the Nekker Warrior and proper positioning Nekkers can single-handedly carry the entire deck. In correlation with the incredible Monster faction passive ability and Ekkimaras/Vran Warriors, It is exceptionally easy to carry over upwards of 30 strength through the rounds, making it very hard for certain factions to compete.
That said, Nekkers are not impossible to deal with. Units with lock toggle can be used to prevent the Nekker on the board to summon another one when the round ends. Cards that can banish units, such as Cyprian Walley and Letho can work in a similar way. Sweers has a unique way of dealing with nekkers, as he pulls all the copies of them from the deck and puts them straight into their graveyard/ Even so, Nekkers and their synergy with the faction passive ability are without a doubt one of the main reasons the Monster decks have been in the top tier of the metagame ever since their change.
Not unlike Aglais, Nekkers along with Nekker Warriors are some of the cards that have defined the last patch’s metagame. They are definitely one of the cards on my watch list as we’re moving towards the end of the closed beta, and I can’t wait to see if the little buggers are going to remain as obnoxiously adorable, or are they going to see changes as well.