Bleeding & Pushing or How To Play Round 2?


After a solid introduction into main deckbuilding concepts in the two preceeding Gwent Pro Tutorial articles (1,2), we change the topic. This time we would study the main Round 2 gameplay techniques: Bleeding and Pushing. 

There is a couple of resources already available on the internet. A guide to Round Lengths and Bleeding by Lemon from Team Kreve,  The Strategy of Bleeding by Akaean from Team Bandit Gang, and finally Advanced Strategies youtube cycle from Spyro. Let’s see if we could give this knowledge a scholar touch.

Bleeding ≠ Pushing

Whenever the player with initiative in R2 decides to go below 7 cards, we call it a push. The push could be very short (soft-push), or very deep with the purpose of winning the round (2:0 attempt, going ‘zwei-null’). Not every push is a bleed

A bleed is a push which forces opponent to non-symmetrical, unwanted commitments. It is not opponent’s side of the board being a blood bath – it is opponent’s heart bleeding from the loss of beloved powerplays.

If you aspire to be a Gwentleman of culture, never call a 2:0 push bleeding since now, or you will be expelled from the society.

Above 7 cards

When being above 7 cards in R2, it is often plausible to test the grounds with no risk. Without commiting to real push yet, it is possible to play an engine/pointslam opener with the hope of getting stronger engine/engine type card out. The cost of testing the grounds above 7 cards is at worst 1 mulligan less than opponent if they get ahead.

The more cards above 7, the more suboptimal opponent’s sequencing could be if they rely on playing powerful engines early.

Round 2 Main Positions

  • Card down

Card down scenario occurs when a player wins Round 1 with one card less than opponent. In other words, playing extra card to close the point gap was necessary in R1. This scenario is the most common one.

The player defending push (P2) in R2 could play two last cards without answer (double last say), while the player with initiative (P1) has first say and could develop engines first.

  1. To force the last card, all P1 cards in total must gain value equal or higher than the same number of best cards in P2 hand.

  2. To force a single particular card (bleeding target) same condition must be obeyed but with this card excluded.

  3. If P1 passes in R2 without getting ahead, then P2 would have extra card and last say in R3.

  4. If P1 goes down to zero cards, then they no longer threat any kind of control.

To understand better what 4. means, imagine a game where P1 has Vigo’s Muzzle in the deck, while P2 list plays Damien de la Tour. As long as P1 doesn’t play last card, P2 would avoid to play Damien. If P1 are smart, they wouldn’t play the last card, and P2 would have to lose a card to activate Damien played second-to-last.

  • Win on even

Win-on-even scenario occurs when a player wins Round 1 with same number of cards in hand as opponent. In other words P2 was forced to pass on even cards while not being ahead in points.

P2 could play only the last card without answer (single last say), while the player with initiative (P1) has first say and could develop engines first.

  1. To force the last card, all but one P1 cards must gain value equal or higher than the same number of best cards in opponent’s hand.


  2. To force a single particular card (bleeding target) same condition must be obeyed but with this card excluded.


  3. If P1 passes without getting ahead, then P1 doesn’t lose last say and card.


  4. If P2 isn’t ahead, then P1 could pass and get double last say with card advantage in R3


  5. Unlike in ‘Card down’ case, no powerful ‘two turn shooters’ (like Damien etc.) could stop P1 from playing last card.

Losing on even is in general case a very troublesome position, because P2 has to be prepared for a 2:0 push, while P1 may just go very deep and force very good trades instead. Unless P2 has more points in one card less than P1, bleed doesn’t get stopped before last card.

Still, some decks couldn’t exploit a win on even with R2 push, and should opt for a pass instead. Those are usually engine oriented decks, with slow scaling and weak topdecks in a short Round 3. The common saying that R2 push after win on even is ‘free’ is not exactly true.


Gwentstone is a variant of Gwent where cards have power equal to provision and no abilities. Shupe likes to explain Gwent ideas to his colleagues using this simple game. This way they just could use rocks to play instead of weird papers.

Shupe is the unbeaten master of Gwentstone. What is his secret? Well, maybe nothing to be especially proud of. 

His troll opponents are very aggressive, always try to win Round 1, and always do push in Round 2. When Shupe tries to stop them, they roar: ‘ME PUSH, ME SMASH!!!’. Winning without attack is something inconceivable for casual troll’s mind. What happens everytime is that Shupe trades one of their big stones with two smaller ones, or just keeps placing on the board stones a little bit heavier than opponent’s. 

Admittedly, Shupe once went for ‘PUSH, SMASH!!!’ line himself, but only when he had heaviest hand he ever witnessed.

Push Is Unnatural

As Gwentstone teaches us, push is an unnatural, economically unjustifed act, which occurs in Gwent only because of card and leader abilties. Otherwise, the only reason for push would be having significantly stronger hand than opponent and only objective – 2:0.

At the same time, you shouldn’t also be excessively afraid of pushing; after all if your best cards are exactly as strong as opponent’s best cards, you would never lose card advantage, nor trade really badly! (CD Rule 1). Pushing is just something you shouldn’t do blindly and without a reason; for example a short push with good tempo cards to test the grounds may be useful in closed decklists ladder environment.

Getting Ahead & Raw CA Value

The abbrevation CA stands for Card Advantage. How much is it worth to get ahead? The main and only benefit from getting ahead as P2 is saving one card from hand in case P1 opts for a instant pass. Let’s consider it in raw points (Gwentstone manner).

From P2 perspective, getting ahead is worth the value of weakest card kept in hand, or in case this card quality is below average level: the value of average card left in the deck. It stems from the fact that a very weak card could be mulliganed in R3. Good players often try to avoid playing weak cards when bled – better to commit strong cards and mull out trash in the next round, than to commit trash first and then being forced to throw out strong cards anyway with no card saved.

P1 doesn’t know P2 hand, so has to make predictions. The bleed targets would usually be saved in P2 hand; the shorter the hand, the greater the chance that only targets are left. Being ahead could grow to massive value in such case, and P1 may consider passing if nothing but a bleed target gets opponent ahead. On the other hand, at early R2 push stage, raw CA value would be worth about average level for P2 deck.

Instead of having extra card in hand, in Gwent 10.9 power level reality the raw CA value could be visualized as P2 spawning Ciri:Nova whenever getting ahead (at early stages). Definitely something to avoid! Note that similar effective carryover is gained for R2 by P1 winning on even in R1 rather than winning a card down!

The Noble Art Of Bleeding

We would conclude this theoretical tutorial with a general observation. The topic of bleeding and pushing probably would be continued in the future with more practical examples, although those tend to outdate very fast.

There are 2 polar states of the meta.

  1. Zero-push meta – each incentive to push results in a loss of card advantage or Gwentstone-like trades. This type of meta occured in the early Homecoming, where control was stronger than engines. It leads to very repeatable games and also invites surprise value cards to cheese the long round outcome.
  2. All-push meta – the side which wins R1 always goes for all-in push in Round 2. This type of meta occured for two seasons after Aerondight release. Current (Gwent 10.9) meta is also a bit biased towards ‘all-push’, with most decks opening R2 with strong plays. All-push meta is strongly draw dependent, because of high drawing variance at early stages. Also usually blue coin is favored because of easier round control and first say (which is also typically prefered in all-push meta, because otherwise push would take place from bad position).
Bleeding in its noble form is possible only when 1) and 2) are in balance. The more bleeding opportunities, the more skillful and playable the meta.


Thanks for reading! Hope that presented methodical approach would help you to understand better how Round 2 works. The topic is very rich and this article dealt just with fundamentals. To be continued…