8th Gwent Balance Council (May 2024) – Meta, Buffs & Nerfs Ideas

Introduction

With the May Season 2024 coming to conclusion after Gwent Community Open #2 (Reddit) and BaM2 Cup (Reddit), I’d like to sketch the current state of the game with respect to archetypes and what interesting could be done. Then I’d present my Balance Council votes.

Meta

I’d refer to strong and popular decks in tournaments, because I didn’t play at high MMR level enough yet in the current season. Check out BaM2 decklists for links.

Monsters | Arachas Swarm Tatterwing, White Frost, GN Relicts, GN Vampires, Deathwish, Arachas Swarm Idr Sabbath, (Fruits Of Ysgith Werewolf, Carapace Ogroids) 

Nilfgaard | Imposter Aristocrats, Double Cross Henry Shupe / Enslave 6 Henry Assimilate, Toussaintois Hospitality Beauclair Calveit, TH Rot Tossers, (Imperial Formation Spotters Spam / Soldiers)

Northern Realms | Knights, Inspired Zeal Temple Demavend, Shieldwall Alumni, (Shieldwall Nekker)

Skellige | Onslaught Pirates Compass, Ursine Ritual Self-wound, (Alchemy, Warriors)

Scoia’tael | Precision Strike Simlas Waylays, Guerilla Tactics Control, Guerilla Tactics Ale Of Ancestors, Mahakam Forge Dwarves, (Nature’s Gift Symbiosis)

Syndicate | Lined Pockets / Off The Books Vice, Pirate’s Cove Gangs

Onslaught Pirates are the most popular deck on pro ladder and outnumber other SK picks. Most versions are heavily tempo abuse with Musicians of Blaviken, Knickers and Roach, which makes win on even cards when going second a serious threat. That being said, Pirates netdecks lack raw points and flexibilty; as long as opponent doesn’t overcommit to prevent lose on even, Pirates would often struggle to make use from favored position after Round 1.

From competitive standpoint (at least mine) Pirates are not an issue. We may want to discentivize tempo abuse, which is not pleasant to face, especially in casual play.  Dimun Smuggler is the main unit supporting this strategy – it may take a provision nerf. Anything more would be an overnerf.

According to data and my observations, the game is decently balanced, with Syndicate being a bit ahead of other factions thanks to flexibility and heavy carryover abuse. It is one of the rare seasons where SY has highest ‘Top4’ winrate in the mainstream; it is a bit concerning because in 2023 best fMMR scores were achieved with SY even when it done bad in general stats (Masters 5 highscores)

What's Missing

Monsters | Good variety of playable archetypes. Classical Swarm is overshined by Tatterwing; could consider provision nerf to Tatterwing and power buffs to swarm specific units (Arachas Behemoth…) / bringing cards to Golden Nekker range (Yennefer of Vengerberg,  Germain Piquant…). Classical Vampires with Regis: Reborn (often comes down as worse Morvudd; -1 provision) and Dettlaff van der Eretein (+1 power) deserve upgrades. Ogroids are sometimes still met on ladder, but don’t make full use of specific cards; -1 cost to Old Speartip, Girdle Of Giant Strength and most spicely Ogre Warrior would be welcomed. 

Nilfgaard | From meta NG decks, Rot Tossers Spam stand out in terms of abuse, especially of reach from red coin. Therefore +1 cost to Ffion is welcomed and in line with defenders nerfs from the last patch. Don’t power buff Imperial Enforcers! – this card is already decent as I’ve shown in my streams. Hyperthin deserves some love: Albrich at 4 power is not good enough (+1 power) to compete with meta decks. Imperial Golem (+1 power, supports also cool Constructs NG decks), Rience (-1 cost), Vicovaro Novice (+1 power) are also welcomed.

Northern Realms | Last season Alumni catched a slight nerf with +1 cost to Donimir. Small nerfs to Demavend in Zeal netdeck are welcomed still. NR deserves provision buffs to many gold cards (Draug, Viraxas, War Elephant…) which would make archetype play welcomed rather than Temple of Melitele. Lyrian Scytheman +1 power is another good idea to buff Swarm and Uprising leader

Skellige | There is a decent fraction of unplayed cards in Skellige, especially red Self-wound deserves buffs to interesting cards, like Olaf (-1 cost) or Cerys: Fearless (-1 cost). Artis +1 power is also welcomed – this card invites specific deckbuiding, but right now is not worth it and dies too easily. Hjalmar: Seawolf is a Pirates big play – using him rather than Compass and other pointslam plays (Fucusya, Sove…) should be incentivized with -1 cost. Finally, Drummond Shieldmaiden deserve -1 cost; they are overcosted as thinnners and play as effective 7 for 6 rn. This indirectly buffs Cerys An Craite. Also Boatbuilders are cool, but unused card due to too low tempo (+1 power).

Scoia’tael | Whisperer of Dol Blathanna buffed to 4 power in the May patch is abusrdly strong at times, but I think we can tolerate it for now; average value in May 2024 meta wasn’t outstanding. Simlas + Waylays combo is generically troublesome; we see it autoinclude in every type of Elves and main pointslam play in Control Precision Strike. I think Vanadain deserves +1 provision nerf and Simlas + 1 cost also has to be done sooner or later. In terms of buffs, supporting Dwarfs with buffs to archetype specific underplayed cards (Munro, Gabor, even Barclay Els…) is welcomed; meta Dwarves are Brouver big threat accompanied by Zoltan: Warrior pointslam and control cards. Also -1 cost to Living Armor is a cool buff to Constructs decks in every archetype, but in particular to Golden Nekker Armor Dwarves. Triss: Butterflies +1 power is a good buff to Invigorate and Renfri decks, which get a chance to become more consistent at the price of peak power.

Syndicate | Novigrad and King Of Beggars package is now a starter for most Syndicate decks – they deserve a provision nerf. Out of those two, especially Novigrad carryover abuse is troublesome in gameplay; the threat of getting 9 coins + random unit surplus for the next round is ridiculous. KoB is just 13 points roach-spender. It should be accompanied by buffs to other cards. For example Lieutenant Von Herst + 1 power and Back-Alley Chemist +1 power would help to develop value from Fallen Knights / Mutants buffed in the previous councils.

My Votes

Closure

Hope that you enjoyed this short guide to current meta, my view and votes. Of course I obviously couldn’t include all cool ideas and perhaps missed one or two meta decks in the breakdown. 

Let’s have a good next Gwent month! Meanwhile, I invite you to check out my streams on Twitch – i’d likely try to climb these last days!