In spite of only 20 changes, Gwent 11.11. community balance patch ignited no less emotions than the preceeding debut of the Balance Council. The main reason are massive reverts of Nilfgaard nerfs.
Before moving on, you may like to check out other patch reviews and opinions:
I’d start the article from some supplementary info to the preceeding October Season report.
October Season Supplement
I couldn’t access game client during interseason break, therefore sadly I have no profile picture to share.
I changed NR deck to the most overpowered one.
Scoia’tael was the main surprise for me. I tanked Golden Nekker Pendant to 2500, then climbed to 2530, but decided to try some variety. Forge Constructs is a very chill deck, having no typical high-end powerplays, but pretty good consistency and lots of tools for various matchups. Also 5 damage Colossal Ifrit is very satisfying. I regarded this deck as capped at 2550 region before, but somehow kept winning games. At the peak of 2656 fMMR I got Gord + Decree from The Last Wish and picked Decree for extra value on Gord… (to understand this sentence, read The Last Wish text for the first time).
Balance Council Results
The Great Oak 9p => 10p helps midrange ST decks, capable of filling a row fast. It was already played in Renfri Precision Strike, as run by CaptainFlixon (which was low Tier2 however).
Nauzicaa Sergeant 3p => 4p is a buff justfied alone (Sergeant is annoyingly solid at 4 power, but clearly underwhelming at 3), but in conjunction with Slave Driver 6c => 5c, the (too)efficient pointslam NG packet returns to the game, which maybe is too early after nerf. I’d like Nauzicaa Sergeant to stay at 3p for the moment being – note that this buff wasn’t suggested in the Pro Players Balance Council.
Reaver Hunters 1p=>2p – return from the wheelchair. Reavers probably wouldn’t still be a very strong pick for ladder with NG comeback (also Reaver Scout 5c=>6c nerf matters a lot).
Alba Armored Cavalry 4p=>5p – deserved buff, control should at least trade even vs bronze engines.
Oakcritters 2p=>3p – Oakcritters were never really played after release and it wasn’t even the sin of card itself (8 for 4 isn’t bad), but complete lack of supporting archetype. As 10 for 4 Oakcritters become real bronze payoff rather than okay inclusion for Devotion ST. Good buff, but sadly doesn’t support any particular archetype. Devotion Harmony would have to cut Saskia:Commander or (more likely) go for highroll of not pulling Oakcritters with Saskia.
Madam Marquise Serenity 5p=>4p – a justified nerf. Even without Tribute, this card plays as >+2 per turn engine +4 coins + 9 body.
Rainfarn of Attre – placeholder
Joachim de Wett 4p=>3p – a buff for… hard to say what in particular. I’m not a fan of this change, adding raw value to Joachim (+Coup de Grace), but removing purify counterplay. Also 1p disloyal Joachim not staying on the board after Coup removes lot of flavor of board clog, or status synergy in decks like Aristocrats.
Lord Riptide 10p => 9p – another change I dislike. 10p was the exact number needed for Might. Lord Riptide was considerable for nerf, but provision only, power should have stood at 10. I hate this change along with Joachim, because reverting them is unlikely and the game keeps losing part of design finesse for no real reason.
Incubus 6p=>5p – as postulated by Pro Players Council, justified change.
Magic Compass 9c =>10c – justified nerf, Compass was too strong in Skellige Golden Nekker decks – let’s work on less brutal ways to make this cool card see more play!
Golden Nekker 9c=>10c – counterproductive given Magic Compass nerf; Golden Nekker decks weren’t meta outside Compass and nerf to GN would just discourage creative deckbuilding. I don’t like this change.
Mutagenerator 7c=>8c – the only repeated nerf and probably Mutagenerator reached the sweetspot now.
Reaver Scout 5c => 6c – I was skeptical for this nerf at first, but after late season experience with Zeal Nekker I have no doubts it was a necessary nerf. Mutagenerator double proc is too much.
Enraged Cyclops 4c=>5c – I’m not a fan of this change. There are only two real payoffs for Ogroids: Enraged Cyclops and King Chrum. At 5c Cyclops are just a decent bronze rather than real payoff; moreover Incubus into Enraged Cyclops becomes more variant; 14 for 5 vs Siege Masters or Highwayman; nothing vs Erland Shupe NR.
The Eternal Eclipse 15c=>14c – justified buff to unjustified archetype.
Vilgefortz 10c=>9c – as in Pro Players Council.
Open, Sesame! 6c=>5c – Vice got overnerfed and Sesame is too weak at 6 provision – good buff.
Thirsty Dame 6c =>5c – controversial buff, aimed at making Aristocrats good again. To be monitored; Pulling The Strings at 5c finally didn’t prove oppressive in spite of many worries, so maybe Aristocrats wouldn’t become as dominant in the mainstream as before first community patch.
Slave Driver 6c => 5c – apparently this buff is also controversial, maybe because Sergeant got power buffed along. I think Slave Driver belongs to 5c with current power with no doubt. It is Soldiers payoff card, and backbone to not only ‘boring’ Renfri/Battle Stations Soldiers, but also wholesome Double Madoc or Big Ivo. Also a thinning agent when combined with Magne Division – alternative to Jan Calveit.
Full Vote List And Thoughts
- Provision Increase (~nerf) section was strongly driven by temporary meta: Compass, Scout, Mutagenerator, Cyclops Warrior and Golden Nekker were are all distinctively strong cards in the temporary environment. Next slots though are harder to understand. Sove was already nerfed in the preceeding patch, but landed a step away from catching another one. Maybe that’s because of Patricidal Fury Warriors still being popular at lower ranks? Or maybe still PTSD from the past? Fruits of Ysgith were also a common pick. Probably stems from seeing one leader staying behind in provision (but I think Fruits are in an okay spot, +1 prov is considerable indeed, but surely not more). Onager is temp. meta again. Siege probably just to revert what was viewed as an unnecessary buff (but I think buff was acceptable, Siege is low tempo and not an autoinclude even in decks running siege engines). Pro Council recommendation Roach is only 10.
- Power Decrease (~nerf) list bring ambivalent feelings to me. On one hand voters visibly tried to avoid nerfs by picking spies, which is a good idea in my opinion. On the other hand, Lord Riptide is the 2nd pick when -1 power rather than +1 provision permanently hurts Ogroids design logic. I think this list requires special attention to align votes, because we may lose lots of flavor in the future, likely there would be a need to use gimmick votes. Lara or Kraken ‘buffs’ also removes some flavor; for example Lara is harder to summon on opponent’s side of the board with Witches’ Sabbath.
- Provision Decrease (~buff) is overall reasonable, but also extremely retrovertive: Top6 changes are reverts. I think Brawler back at 4 provision is a bad idea, rather +1 power should be used; zero cost for complete obliteration of engines decks on blue coin proven to be unhealthy. Tuirseach Skirmisher to 4 provision is a similar story – why not to run a pair to get extra tempo from blue coin at zero cost with Mask of Uroboros? Could also play them in any Tyr deck at no expense. Also Portal doesn’t really need to be buffed further; for example Portal into Fiends is now 16 for 11 with double thinning. Battle Stations! at the last slot underline revertive tendency.
- Power Increase (~buff) – again there is some retrovertive force visible – Top3 are reverts, but also many of those reside on lower slots: Phillippe, Vanadain, Angus, Calveit and… Torres. The latter is especially hard to understand. Filavandrel – 3-stars pick of Shinmiri’s Balance Coalition ended up on 15th slot. There were some concerns regarding similarity to Forest Protector when it comes to power buff, against which I argued when Fila was at 12c. Now, at 11c, i’m not sure anymore.
- I don’t think any influence group impacted vote results really deep; not even Pro Players Balance Council was very effective in my opinion. I think massive reverts would have happened without any suggestions. Footprint changes like Bear Witcher Adept or Roach didn’t make it to Top5, while Oxenfurt Scholar got completely neglected somehow. Not to mention ‘Considerations’ section. Also if voters copied NG reverts from Pro Council, there would be no space for Nauzicaa Sergeant buff (3rd most popular), unless the vote cards were unbalanced and all-in devoted to NG buffs.
- The overnerf scenario from the 1st Council repeated in the 2nd for Ogroids.
- It is important to realise that ‘haters’ do not matter for buffs and ‘lovers’ do not matter for nerfs. Just like in politics, the chance to get elected is higher when loved by 40% and hated by 60%, than when positively tolerated by 100%. That’s exactly the case of Nilfgaardian pendulum we observed in the 1st and 2nd balance council.
- This patch very clearly shows that buffs/nerfs has to be very well thought with no compromise. ‘Temporary balance’ nerf to Lord Riptide in power rather than provision and buff to Joachim de Wett would likely remain there for a very long time, permanently removing some design beauty and logic from the game.
- Skellige lost Magic Compass, while Self-wound took multiple nerfs – would we see a competitive Skellige deck on Gwent Masters 5 Finals?
Patch 11.11. brings both hope and concerns. Honestly, Nilfgaard back in the game is the least concern for me, but changes hard to revert in the democratic voting and placing temporary measures over long-term logic are. We could act rationally in a local sense and still dig own grave in the long term.
Thanks for reading, more articles to follow soon!