This article is the final part of the ‘Bleeding&Pushing’ trilogy. It is highly recommended to read the first: ‘How To Play Round 2‘ and the second: ‘Types Of Bleeds And Pushes in Gwent‘ chapter before, because language and concepts would be inherited from them.
In this tutorial we would step into the boots of the side defending the bleed more than before. We would wonder what makes a push successful and how to prevent it. Then we move to some general observations which stem from analysis done in all chapters. We conclude with a handful of tips and takeouts.
P1 = player with initiative in R2
P2 = player going second in R2
Defending The Push
P2 has to predict the general shape of opponent’s deck before the game starts (meta knowledge, ladder experience, or the recognition of possible win conditions and cards going well with particular leader abilities). Given this prediction, P2 has to determine which kinds of bleeds and pushes are in P1 toolbox. If those are extremely threating, P2 obviously should try to win R1 if possible. Well, in this section we deal with the impossible part – Round 1 is already assessed as lost.
- vs Shortening R3
Depends on particular situation. In the classical case of Pointslam vs Engines, the more cards in R2 the better. Don’t try to keep up with P1 tempo or get ahead early on with the pointslam part of your deck. Instead try to develop your engines in a normal way, while keeping pointslam for the reach in case opponent passes. When your engines are already well developed and outvalue opponent’s – try to get ahead.
Try to assess how strong your hand may be with respect to opponent’s. If your hand is weak, consider playing strong engine (probably also being a bleed target) early. If you do it too late, then you lost both a crucial card and valuable turns in Round 3.
- vs First Say Abuse
The best way to defend against first say abuse is shortening Round 2. Assuming the advantage comes from faster setup/reactive engines, P2 should opt for a hand with reactive/pointslam elements – weakest setup elements get mulled out. For example P2 should keep Boiling Oil rather than Reinforced Ballista in a Siege mirror; Bloody Good Fun rather than Cutup Lackey in a Crimes mirror (Gwent 10.9)
- vs Hand Quality Advantage
You just lose. All what could be done is playing as many bronzes as possible in Round 1.
- vs Tempo Abuse
First thing to decide is how much of a threat tempo abuse really is – could opponent benefit a lot from early pass and double last say, or not?
For example if pure pointslam deck like Deathwish goes early for high tempo against Engines with cards like Dettlaff Higher Vampire and Haunt, then they probably would not pass very soon. Long round against engines would rather still be lost, even with card advantage. Then Engines deck could develop in a normal way.
On the other hand, if double last say could really be abused, then P2 should refrain from playing low tempo cards (even engines) in first moves. Such card should not be played at all in R2 even if fitting in natrual sequence of devoloping engines first / countering opponent’s engines.
Usually short R1 will be prefered to have more time to catch up in R2.
- vs Push Against Leader
If its possible to trade leader in R2 for any R3 advantage (extra card, denying some kind of carryover) – do so!
Also many problems could be solved by fighting hard in R2 for the last say.
- vs Push For Carryover / Against Carryover
If running cards which counter opponent’s carryover tools, keep them over weakest bronzes even if those play for higher instant value.
If opponent pushes against carryover and possess tools to counter carryover cards, try to keep the reach for them to be played after pass.
- vs Desperado
Unfortuately it is usually impossible to distinguish a Desperado from other types of push, at least early on. Just be careful, try to take the safest line while thinking about R3 win-con all the time.
Defending The Bleed
- vs Getting out a single card
Let’s start from the (1) case from ‘Types Of Bleeds And Pushes’ – strong engine/Scenario. The first crucial part here is the assessment of mutual hand power.
1) Is your hand + leader without crucial card good enough to outpoint opponent’s counterpart?
If yes, then greeding the single card would be correct.
2) If not, then think about opponent’s win condition in Round 3. Do they need to keep it in hand, or would they just win thanks to better topdecks?
If opponent’s R3 win-con has to be kept in hand, then there is another argument for greed. P1 would have to commit the win con as the last card to get the crucial card out. The greed wouldn’t work if win-con is enough for 2:0, or P1 has something else as the last card, which still gets the target card out
3) If greed options did not pass points assessment test, would it be possible to win R2 with target mulled out?
If yes and there is good enough chance to get the win-con back, then mulligan is correct. If not, think of the best moment to play the target in R2. Playing it early would be good if longer R3 is better. Playing it late would be better for short round and maybe would help to make some good trades meanwhile.
In the case of type (2) of the target card (‘source of all points’), P2 should keep the reach of the best non-target card. At the moment the reach is lost, playing (2) becomes a consideration, but going a card down may still be better. Going a card down rather than card up would be usually worth ~16 points of carryover + double last say for P1 rather than last say for P2 . That’s definitely a lot, but Simlas into 5 Waylays in Gwent 10.9 is worth 32 points + synergies in an Elves deck (proven that Waylays find targets). The surplus of Simlas over average card would be then unironically comparable with 16+ points of carryover.
The later (2) is played, the better trades usually were done on the path. Just don’t start to commit important R3 golds other than (2) (unless (2) could be saved).
- vs Disrupting Card Packet
As stated in the preceeding chapter of tutorial, this type of bleeding is almost impossible to defend, unless something in P1’s hand prevent going deep enough. The best case is when packet consists of just 2 cards and opponent has win-con as last card. Then getting ahead at 2 cards may be enough to defend the bleed.
Otherwise, the loss of at least one piece has to be accepted. Don’t try to go ahead early on, as the bleed probably would be long. Commit the piece with best long round value, while saving short round ones.
If very convenient about hand quality advantage, it is also possible to mull out one or more pieces to shorten the packet in R2. That’s rather a niche scenario though.
- vs Payoff Split
Nothing particularly clever could be done. Early pass in R1 would help to get better value from payoff card in R2. Right at the moment payoff card closes the point gap and the rest of the hand would be enough to maintain card advantage – commit it.
- vs Quality (Value) Bleed
But for extremal cases, Quality Bleed is not something threatening to assume from opponent in a card down R2 bleed.
On the other hand, when losing on even, P2 may start to consider mulling out some cards if hand is too strong. The priority would be strongest low tempo cards (like Scenarios).
- vs Bleeding Against Hand
Think about cards (other than win-cons) which could be forced to play late in the sequencing (suboptimal value early on) and possibly mulligan them out.
For example P2 may run Spores as green power punish against some P1 units, including a gold win-con, and its value in R3 may be very good for a bronze. But in R2 push opponent happens to play none of those units, but hoards one in hand, while P2 is left with 2 cards packet and Spores. Due to zero point Spores, massive commitment of whole packet is needed if P2 can’t get ahead, while P1 will simply pass instead of playing last card.
- vs Provoking An Answer
The question to ask is basically how big the threat really is. Would the threat make enough points to force the extra card? If not, then just don’t get provoked 😉
If yes, then the question is when exactly to answer it. Going back to example with strong engine and SK Warriors (from preceeding article) – is opponent’s deck engine heavy? If so, then they would probably play more engines after the main threat. Then the best strategy would be to hoard leader for a few turns, let some engines get deployed, and use leader only right before payoff part starts.
- Necessary Hand Power
Any of the main push/bleed actions (but for Quality Bleed and obviously Desperado), need strong, playable hand from P1. Hands with bricks, or too many weak cards (for bleeding a single target usually one would ruin the whole plan, unless opponent gets provoked), are useless for R2 push/bleed. Opponent would simply get card advantage (or according to visualization from the first part of tutorial – Ciri:Nova out of thin air) while main push objective would not be achieved. If R2 hand is already good enough for a sensible push, it is better not to take risky mulligans.
- Pointslam Core
As the result of a deep push, both players usually have 1-2 cards left in hand for R3. The player defending bleed has to expect being shortened down to 2 cards even if many points ahead. The player who pushes would usually like to have a powerplay left as the last card rather than rely on topdecks.
These observations lead to conclusion that almost every deck should have at least one or two strong pointslam plays at the high end. Otherwise, both bleeding and defending the bleed become troublesome; in the extreme case the deck simply loses whenever bled down to 2 cards, even when card up. Decks not running pointslam core would then have to win Round 1 everytime from both coins, which is possible only in unbalanced gamestate.
- Secret Power Of Charges
The charge-type leader abilities gain special power in active Round 2. Charges could be used to get ahead without commiting full leader. Having just 3 extra points from leader would be enough to get ahead for whole R2 if hands are even. When a one-shot leader faces such situation, then often trading leaders becomes obligatory. Otherwise, according to visualization, a leader charge spawns a Ciri:Nova, which means outstanding value. For example Reckless Flurry or Deadeye Ambush would play as effective 17+ points, and if one charge was used, bring 14+ carryover to R3.
Charge-type leaders are especially strong when defending the bleed, as second say makes it easier to assess necessary reach or get ahead at the right moment.
- Secret Power Of Oneiromancy
Printed in Gwent 7.0.0 patch (Master Mirror expansion), Oneiromancy is still one of main tutors used in competitive decks. The value of double tutoring apparently is worth excess provision whenever a deck needs specific cards in specific rounds.
When it comes to R2 push, Oneiromancy gets special value of guaranteed topdecks and also tempo control – flexibility of choice of the tutored card. Oneiromancy makes it easier to go down to zero cards in Round 2 for P1, as short R3 win-con would always be guaranteed. In the case of very good draws, Oneiromancy also lets P1 to mulligan the R3 win-con out for the same purpose.
- Evaluating The Position
As you may have noticed, in multiple places in the tutorial appear sentences like: ‘if P1 hand have at least equal points to P2…’. Such evaluations have to be done over the board, or before on paper for typical matchups, and seldomly are easy. Most often players simply rely on their (and others) experience or intuition.
Evaluation of the position is one of the elements shared by both Gwent and chess. In chess good position leads the way for active play and attack against opponent’s weaknesses. In Gwent good position enables for example various kinds of bleeds in R2, while bad position usually means that being passive is correct.
Let’s take for example ‘Payoff Split’ from P2 perspective. To avoid being bled, P2 should fight for R1 (attack). But if P2 position in R1 is bad, then attack becomes counterproductive and only worsens position as R2 becomes shorter. If P2 evaluates R1 hand as too weak, then should play passively and pass early (defence). Correct evaluation leads to correct gameplan!
- Bleeding, Deckbuilding & Meta
What are the characteristics of a deck good at bleeding? Lots of strong proactive plays (as reactive elements may struggle to find optimal value with first say), zero or little R2 unplayable cards on high end, very strong pointslam core and topdecks of pointslam type. If bleeding is the win condition, then also Round 1 must be based on powerful preparation team (‘Into The Rule Of 16’).
Bleeding is like witchers – unnatural, but sometimes necessary to defeat monsters coming out from the deckbuilder. Time to time there happen exceptions, but in general top meta decks should be able to bleed well only when necessary, and win long round 3 otherwise. Have a look at Vampires as a perfect example of this theory in Gwent 10.9; thanks to Renfri+Regis combo this deck could win any matchup in a short round after successful bleed. But successful bleed as a win condition is not reliable enough and the deck overall rating is only low Tier 2.
Handful Of Concluding Basic Tips
- Don’t push R2 without a reason (remember Gwentstone).
- Define the exact purpose of the push and evaluate your hand before playing a card.
- Always think of Round 3 position. Try to get ahead only if unfavored.
- Try to predict opponent’s R2 gameplan and if impossible to win R1, at least try to manipulate R2 length accordingly.
- Pushing works best against combo and engine decks.
Thanks for reading! Hope the length of the article did not disappoint and the concluding chapter is epic enough. Let me know if there are topics, observations or bleed types which are important, but weren’t discussed in the tutorial.
Have good Gwent R2s with your eyes widely open and your draws decent enough!