Released at 13th April 2023 Claw&Dagger expansion for Gwent: The Witcher Card Game consists of 24 factional cards – 4 per faction. On top of that, there were few reworks and balance changes amongst old cards (Gwent 11.4 patch notes). In this article I would look into changes card by card and then derive some general conclusions.
Card by card breakdown this time has been done in two structured google docs. That’s the main, analytical body of the article, about 30 pages in total:
Those are workshop docs, so some descriptions may be cut off in weird places and most evals are not strict. I’d like to hear your feedback on what was missed or mistaken there.
Tierlist Claw & Dagger
- Potential to unleash
Hive Mind, Drakenborg, The Heist, Eveline Gallo, Abduction
- Good at least for archetype
Trickster, Open Sesame!, Kikimore Stalker, Kelpie, Redanian Secret Service, Toxicologist
Redanian Agent, Sea Serpent, Anglerfish, Oxenfurt Guard, Backup Plan, Kikimore Hatchling (too slow, but 4p)
- Conditional / Overcosted
Sigismund Dijkstra, Acid Spit, Kraken, Telianyn Aep Collen, Sandor De Baccala, Contaminator
- Too Weak
- Good / interesting design
Hive Mind – enables thematic engine overload and is skillful to play, possibly adapting to matchup / game situation
Abduction – reversed AA, interesting idea for payoff in Cloggers deck and beyond
Kikimore Stalker – unique engine source of control in Arachas Swarm decks, maybe too much of a blue coin abuse card. Possibly also supports consume variants with Vrans.
Anglerfish – interesting type of thinning card, which however do not address main Rain problems.
Acid Spit – very thematic and fun to play, but a bit flawed design due to low tempo and leader coupling (otherwise trades down to lock/purify like nothing else).
- Bad design
- Rage-inducing design
Drakenborg – this card possess very complex effect, but at the end of the day it seems to be designed EXACTLY for abuse with Dwimveandra. The net effect otherwise is ‘summon a unit and lock it’, which has no upside over Royal Decree in the current card pool.
Drakenborg in practice is justified only by order abuse with Dwimveandra; immunity (Temple of Melitele) or devotion (Tir Na Lia) treatment would simply kill the card.
After combo gets set up, each Dwimveandra plays as about 30 points for 5 provision (23p for 1c in nullified system with base 7). Drakenborg into Sigi + order click assuming 10 extra boost on Sigi and no order use is net worth 7p for 13c in nullified system. A single Dwim makes it go to 30 for 14 => from 1:2 to 2:1 ratio. Dwim returns the investment and each next order reset would simply rocket the points out of normal decks reach.
I predict the new cards to not bring great meta shifts. Drakenborg + Dwimveandra abuse is probably the strongest combo to reckon with in practice. Syndicate Bounty Nekker in an engine heavy version topped Gwent 11.3 meta and due to its versality and tall punishes, it probably would remain so.
All-in Dwimveandra + Drakenborg variants would struggle against combo of low + tall removal, as well as artifact removal, so I predict more flexible version as one of meta picks for NR.
Arachas Swarm got two interesting cards and Kikimore Queen buff. Nevertheless I don’t predict AS to achieve more than low Tier 2.
Rain also got a couple of interesting cards in Claw and Dagger. Nevertheless, it was out of meta not because of lack of cards to play, but because intrinsic weaknesses and bad matchups table. This situation wouldn’t change, so I don’t predict Rain to reach high tiers in Gwent 11.4 meta either.
If NG would be popular and running small clogging package (Toxicologists, Coated Weapons), then Golden Nekker Pirates may go out of the meta. Otherwise, the deck remains lit and perhaps still main SK option.
New gold cards supporting Elves archetype have good potential, but are a bit of win more character – shining when everything goes well, but backfiring in any trouble. Harmony probably would remain the main option for ST.
Hope you had a good read! While I predict the meta would remain very similar to Gwent 11.4 with Syndicate in Tier1, I also really look forward to see new competitive decks (Drakenborg excluded ;-)).
See you on ladder!