4th Gwent Balance Council January 2024 – Buffs & Nerfs Ideas

Ladder Meta Brief

What I’ve mostly met on high ladder:

Monsters | Deathwish, Fruits Of Ysgith (Lilit Omen, Regis + Ozzrel, Control…), Ogroids, Koshchey

Nilfgaard | Hospitality Shenanigans, Enslave 6 (usually w Ivo), Aristocrats, Cutisits

Northern Realms | Renfri Priestess, GN Zeal, Uprising Renfri Coen, Melitele

Skellige | Rain Beasts, Self-Wound, Warriors

Scoia’tael | Non-Devo Gift, Harmony

Syndicate | Jackpot Yago, Hidden Cache Greed

Syndicate is the strongest faction in my opinion; it has the best winrate in Top16 and 5/16 players have the highest peak with it at the moment I write this article. In spite of buffs to Fallen Knights and Whoreson Senior in BC#3, Syndicate still opted for coin play. 

Below Syndicate I think the field is rather even. Nilfgaard stands out as the least successful faction according to stats, but I believe it is only partially true. NG and NR are common picks for memes, while their best lists are often not straightforward to play. On ladder I’ve met mostly Ivo NG with recently nerfed Slave Drivers and Nauzicaa Sergeants. I doubt this list is the best ladder pick, but making a big Ivo is surely both chill and satisfying.

Nerf Brackets Ideas

-1 power

  1. Madam Marquise Serenity – auto include card, >+3 per turn engine with double thinning, often wins on even from blue, especially in Jackpot with The Flying Redanian.
  2. Captain Yago – very strong card in Jackpot, requires one spender sticking on the board to play for 25 points. Power nerf over provision nerf has no justification here but for lack of suitable power nerf ideas.
  3. Dana Meadbh – Dana Meadbh ‘answer or lose’ opener is not healthy for the game and now it is commonly run in Harmony alongside with Ihuarraquax, which is even more toxic. Nerf to base power worked okay for similar cards: Angus Bri Cri and Vanadain replayed with Heist, while Elves still made it to World Masters 5. Nerf wouldn’t impact 2nd form Dana.
  4. Coral – too strong with Mask Of Uroboros in Skellige.
  5. Regis: Bloodlust – reach abuse card, too strong in combo with Ozzrel, always problematic to face from blue coin when missing tall punish.
  6. Travelling Priestess – 2 points nerf to Round 3 power of Priestess NR, which may invite more search for other decks instead. 
  7. Rainfarn Of Attre – to improve Hospitality Knights and not overnerf current meta.
  8. Brewess: Ritual – Deathwish is probably the strongest Monsters deck on the high ladder right now. A small power nerf to Brewess would make tempo abuse in round 1 less of an issue, but unfortunately also contest vs engine decks from red coin would be harder.
  9. Artorius Vigo & Braathens – already meta cards when buffed in balance council #1 (especially Artorius). With Assimilate already being a top dog in NG and having high discrepancy between bronze and gold power, this change should be reverted at some point in order to boost other aspects of Assimilate decks.
  10. Sove – this card is coupled with Patrcidal Fury, which is a leader ability supporting many interesting archetypes. Nerfing Sove leads the way to put PF back at 165 provision. 

Considerations:

Hvitr and Aelydia – a bit controversial; card is very good at 6/6, very hard to remove and trading up to all control tools from similar provision cost range. It could also contribute to blue coin tempo pass which is one of most toxic SY features right now. At 5p/6c HaA would be easier to remove while still trading up in points to most control tools.

Sigvald – extremely controversial, but Sigvald at 7 power coupled with cards like Kaer Trolde trivialises Self-wound, which right now comes down to dropping rocks and finishing with Svalblod. At the same time defending the bleed is very easy with this deck. 6p Sigvald would play in Enslave 6.

+1 provision

  1. Novigrad – flexible high end card, playing as ~12 coins + unit rolled ~ 19 points in a long round, or as 25+ points when played for carryover. Compare it with another coin generating card – Sigi Reuven; the raw value of Novigrad is 5-10 points higher. Doesn’t support any particular archetype and disincentivize thematic deckbuilding.
  2. Svalblod – win con cards need win con provision cost. Svalblod plays for huge value with Ursine Ritual/Totem and for a good value even without them in a fitting deck.
  3. Turiseach Skirmishers – zero cost +4 value with Mask of Uroboros; need at least 1 excess cost.
  4. Corrupted Flaminica – archetype payoff card, so should be visibly better than its midrange counterparts at the same provision cost. But not 10 points better, let alone 30 points in extreme cases (image). Deserves moving to 9-cost and then further thought.
  5. The Flying Redanian – after 3=>4 power buff, The Flying Redanian plays roughly as 20 points for 9 provision if we can develop its value in each round (+1 thinning). Payoff card for Hidden Cache / Jackpot, but deserves a small nerf (compare with Roach).
  6. Lord Riptide – autoinclude, finishing the move to 10p/9c started in the previous council
  7. False Ciri – too efficient; 20+ points potential for 6 cost. False Ciri combos outshine too many other possibilities in NG, which should get buffed instead.
  8. Casino Bouncers – a step towards 5p/5c so that Eventide Plunder rolls are no longer possible. 
  9. King Of Beggars – strong card, structurally embedded in most meta SY builds not only because of raw power, but providing extra spender coming from the deck. Because of KoB, many decks force a tribute package. 
  10. Leader abilities: Pirate’s Cove, Reckless Flurry, Invigorate

Considerations:

Kaer Trolde – this card is okay balanced right now in my opinion in decks like Patricidal Fury Warriors. The reason for a nerf lies in Self-Wound decks. Kaer Trolde (along with Svalblod) invites building Self-Wound on cards like Sigvald/Olgierd/Dracoturtle and could be further abused with Dwimveandra.

Now that's too much...

Buff Brackets Ideas

+1 power

  1. Drummond Queensguard – at 5 power DQ would be an interesting engine to consider for Self-wound archetype – finally it wouldn’t go only tall, but also wide. Berserk:3 may be instantly triggered with Totem. Queensguard would also have synergy with interesting underplayed cards like Heulyn and Flaminica.
  2. Triss: Butterflies – played as a tutor in R3 Triss:Butterflies brings only 7 raw points, which is a bit below bronze level and often loses the game. Buff to this card would make Renfri decks consider going for less greed and also improve Handbuff.
  3. Albrich – from my Nilfgaard leader abilities adventures I noticed that Hyperthin lost many games to engine decks even when the round got shortened. Albrich power buff would provide way more firepower exactly to Hyperthin rather than Renfri Tactical Decision w Albrich.
  4. Poor Fucking Infantry – Uprising swarm support; Poor Fucking Infantry could also be spawned by Mushy Truffle.
  5. Zoltan: Scoundrel – a buff for swarm decks and Dwarves
  6. Boatbuilders – armor-oriented Skellige struggles and +1 power buff to Boatbuilders is very useful to improve the tempo of this card. Also additional value for Dimun Warship summoning this card back. 
  7. Harpy Egg – invites more classical Deathwish play with Necromancer’s Tome and Maerloorn
  8. Kerack Frigate – support for NR swarm; this card traded too badly to locks/removal. Both Frigates and Poor Fucking Infantry may indirectly bring life to cards like Kennet And Gar. 
  9. Greater Brothers – +1 power here is very useful for combo play: 1 more click possible and 2 more points of wound for cards like Arena Endrega or Bekker’s Dark Mirror. New metabreaker along with Blindeye Apothecaries and Vlodimir?!
  10. Saesenthessis: Blaze – underpowered finisher in Dragons decks

Considerations:

Blue Stripes Commando – the only way to bring Blue Stripes back to playable state; may follow up with nerfs in the next balance councils if needed (for example cost nerf on self)

Bear Witcher Adept – with Portal being buffed to 11 provision cost, this change is a bit scary because of possible tempo abuse. The point though is not value Portal and if this proves troublesome we could just add +1 cost to BWA. The main idea is to indirectly buff Havfrue Singer, which is an engine with good potential, but lacking good board setup to shine. BWA coming on the board at 5 power is more likely to survive. Then Havfrue Singer + Svalblod Priest could generate +4 per turn engine board. Standalone playable Adept would also be a good proactive support for Golden Nekker Witchers, which often lacks proactive plays.

Slave Infantry (along with 1x/2x provision nerf; better start from the latter) – a complex idea. The point is to make Slave Infantry a backbone of Swarm oriented decks with Vreemde payoff rather than just a blant 4 cost filler / tech.

-1 provision

  1. Doadrick Leumaerts – dual faction card; provides consistency but also possibly many cool combos in NG Hyperthin decks and others.
  2. Yennefer Of Vengerberg – incentivizing fast (over)swarms, also in Golden Nekker versions.
  3. Rience – Hyperthin / Clog support, a card with a rich effect, but still a bit overcosted
  4. Cerys: Fearless – support for red self-wound and a chance to bring more dynamics to Golden Nekker SK decks.
  5. Grand Inquisitor Helveed – a bit riskier than before as Fallen Knight got a provision buff, but I’d still like to see Golden Nekker Firesworn in action at least for a season.
  6. Aglais – Golden Nekker with Aglais last say would be something interesting to try and the card itself is overcosted. 
  7. Selective Mutation – overcosted, 4 tempo tutor, decent only in NR Witchers decks with Griffin Witcher Adepts. Pursuing the direction of buffs to Witchers after Trio+Quen.
  8. Serrit – most overcosted out of NG trio
  9. Hjalmar: Seawolf – very overcosted payoff for Pirates archetype
  10. Drummond Shieldmaiden – 7p for 6c, easy to set up only with Ursine Ritual; deserves a provision buff. Indirect buff to Cerys An Craite, may nerf Cerys next if too good value + thinning. 

My Votes

(This time I ordered ideas more or less in terms of my personal priorities, so the picture is 4xTop3s).

Closure

Hope you enjoyed this list of balance council ideas for buffs and nerfs and maybe got some inspiration. I didn’t plan to write my suggestions this time, but too many people have asked me about it. 

Let me know if I’ve missed something important.