Gwent Community Patch April 2024 – Review


In this article I’d review Gwent: The Witcher Card Game Community Patch April 2024 generated by democratic voting via Balance Council tool. I’d analyze the patch change-by-change and then provide summary and a general review.

Also check out hot discussion of balance changes on Reddit

Before Patch

Ladder meta has reached a well-balanced state. In spite of Precision Strike Midrange being by far the most popular and successful deck in the mainstream, none of its elements stood out as unfair. It was just Precision Strike leader ability perfectly synergising with Renfri and Iris Von Everec, so that high consistency, pointslam and efficient control made the deck very strong.

Deck was distinguished by very low variance and was able to contest most matchups, but hard to say it was even favored against high ladder meta picks. In fact I perceived unplayed in mainstream Mobilization Golden Nekker Ship Ballistas as the deck most deserving a nerf, and reached 2700 in 79 games with it. Flotsam combined with Golden Nekker poses too many threats in one turn.

Northern Realms in general possessed many absurdly cheap ways of generating points. Out of those Temerian Infantry + Casting Contest combo, seen especially in Stockpile decks stood out in March 2024. While there was a bit of tradeoff for Temerian power coming from awkward sequencing in a long round (couldn’t use damage engines + leader early for removal), in practice Stockpile even used Temerians for high tempo R2 bleed. Watching Stockpile opponent play 15 for 5 Casting Contests when meanwhile your golds play for less points was no joy. Temerian Infantry deserved a nerf.

In spite of high popularity early in the season, in the second half Double Madoc completely vanished from the high ladder. Probably because of a bad matchup against Precision Strike Renfri netdeck (Cyprian Wiley, leader ability + Squirrel), which was faced roughly every fourth game. Double Madoc was an unpleasant deck to face because of its linearity and carryover abuse. Predicting PS Renfri getting some nerfs, Double Madoc definitely deserved slight nerfs too. As only NG out of all Madoc builds proven an offender, nerfs should have been directed specifically to NG cards – maybe Slave Driver?

From balance/gameplay considerations around 5 cards deserved a nerf; it means that the remaining 15 prov+/power- changes were likely to contribute to overnerfs or get turned to buffs.

Balance Council Results

Nerf Brackets

(++) Change I like a lot
(+) Change I like
(/) Okay
(-) Change I dislike
(- -) Change I dislike a lot

-1 Power

The Great Oak (10 -> 9)

(-) The Great Oak got buffed to 10 power  in BC#2 before Gwent World Masters. The purpose was to provide Scoia’tael with a new win condition on the high-end. In spite of Renfri PS omnipresence, I don’t think TGO was the card deserving a nerf yet.

Phoenix (5 -> 4)

(/) Phoenix got buffed in the first balance council. This card had a very good ceiling and vitality made it play in the initial round for value better than most bronzes. Phoenix wasn’t played much in decks other than Double Madoc probably because of consistency issues. Now it would be unplayed, but it is one of lazy Double Madoc nerfs which triggers me least.

Letho: Kingslayer (5 -> 4)

(-) A lazy nerf to Double Madoc, limits deckbuilding opportunities. Still not the most triggering.

Vernon Roche (3 -> 2)

(-) I would absolutely hate this change if Flotsam stood at 9 cost. Now I only don’t understand – why to buff already played card and promote engine overload already prevalent in NR even more? Or Travelling Priestess?

Idarran of Ulivo (6 -> 5)

(-) Reavers weren’t in the meta, so this nerf just stems from dislike of Idarran decks (Idarran was played in my GN 2700 mmr deck, but didn’t feel essential for the deck to work). With high ceiling cards simpler than Idarran being prevalent in the meta, this change has no effect other than limiting deckbuilding creativity. 

Traheaern var Vdyffir (4 -> 3)

(/) Now it could stay.

Sapper (2 -> 1)

(–) Nerfing a balanced card because of Slave Driver interaction. 

Dwarven Chariot (3 -> 2)

(/) I can’t blame this change because I had it in my balance council votes. It is more to take a break from Armor ST rather than balance (but Chariot was ofc a strong bronze).

Musicians of Blaviken (4 -> 3)

(-) After the buff of thinning pairs to 4 cost as well as some strong 4-cost cards (Griffin Witcher Adept, Kaedweni Revenant…) Musicians weren’t overall as good as before. I’m not a huge fan of Musicians design, but nevertheless 3 power impedes inventing new decks running them. Also lore suffered in the most tragic way.

Griffin Witcher Adept (5 -> 4)

(/) Buffed GWA felt strong, but NR Witchers were seldom at high MMRs. Personally I’d let GWA stay at 5 power at least one more season

+1 Provision

👑 Pirate’s Cove (15 -> 16)

(/) Not justified balancewise with Kerpeten reaching almost 2700 with Cove Gangs deck, but one has to acknowledge how hard it was to find reasonable nerfs. Brings Gangs more to spotlight.

👑 Reckless Flurry (15 -> 16)

(+) Flurry seen no play. Maybe that’s a technical leader not directly supporting any full developed archetype, but such leaders deserve to be a considerable option too for more variety.

👑 Patricidal Fury (14 -> 15)

(+) A host for many interesting decks (Skellige leader abilities) – deserves to be on par in provision cost with other leaders, while too well working cards (Sove) get nerfed instead.


Renfri (14 -> 15)

(/) If we want to see more variety in Gwent decks high ends, strongest pointslam cards have to be nerfed at some point. Nerf mostly directed against Precision Strike Renfri.

Melitele (13 -> 14)

(-) I don’t understand this nerf. While a bit solitaire, Melitele is one of the least stable (draw variance, limited control) and most unique Northern Realms archetypes. The only element I felt really abusive was Radovid + Decoy (or Temple of Melitele 2nd form) combo, which effectively sometimes brings ~50 points of carryover. This one could have been addressed instead for example with Radovid -1 power. Makes Melitele decks even more rigid.


Madoc (10 -> 11)

(–) Obviously non-problematic card gets nerfed because of Double Madoc NG. “Nobody plays Madoc in other decks anyway”. Nobody will play Madoc ever thanks to such an approach… 

Flotsam (9 -> 10)

(++) Very deserved; this location power is similar to others, while in Golden Nekker decks could provide threat overload impossible to control.

Sigvald (9 -> 10)

(-) Self-wound netdeck had to get a small nerf, but at this point Sigvald is the wrong object. While he sometimes is a win condition against decks not having proper answers, his effective value in my experience was fair with respect to provision cost, often underwhelming vs control decks. Also Sigvald gets brought out of Golden Nekker range, which cuts another branch of considerable builds. Kaer Trolde (abused with Dwimveandras and played in almost every Skellige deck) and Svalblod (killing any swarm deck and promoting uninteractive rather than ‘red’ Self-wound) were better picks.

Iris’ Companions (7 -> 8)

(-) Understandably comes from the struggle to find a good nerf object in Precision Strike Renfri. The problem is this nerf is attributed to the wrong card out of the Iris package. It is the Iris von Everec effect being perceived as too strong in Renfri perfect thin decks or NR Erland carryover abuse. No reason to nerf Companions instead; what if we want to play Companions with Iris:Shade in an Armor build deck (Dwarves, Pirates…) instead?

Temerian Infantry (5 -> 6)

(++) Obvious and good.

Buff Brackets

+1 Power

Radeyah (8 -> 9)

(/) Incentivizes more experiments with highlander decks.

Whoreson Junior (4 -> 5)

(-) I don’t see a justification for this buff; Whoreson Junior was already the main reason to play Devotion. Ideally there should be a Devo deck which considers cutting Whoreson Junior; instead we are likely to see all SY become Devo just to host Whoreson for efficient control.

Malena (5 -> 6)

(+) A buff to floor. I have mixed feelings about powerbuffing such a high ceiling, dominant engine, but definitely worth trying.

Nauzicaa Sergeant (3 -> 4)

(/) I’d like to see this buff accompanied by Slave Driver nerf.

Nilfgaardian Knight (8 -> 9)

(/) NG Knight becomes a provision worth proactive play. Huge buff also to Spotter spam decks, where NG Knight is deckbuffed. The ceiling of such deck gets increased by 5-10 points.

Imperial Diviner (4 -> 5)

(/) Deserved.

Knight-Errant (2 -> 3)

(/) Not sure if powerbuffing most greedy bronze engines is the best direction but sure.

Casino Bouncers (4 -> 5)

(/) Let’s see how this unplayed card now performs in practice; would it be too much tempo and make SY too straightforward or not.

Fallen Knight (4 -> 5)

(-) I felt FK well balanced after the provision buff which made some people rant more time than they had spent playing Firesworn. 4 power made this card tricky to use as R1 play against decks like PS Renfri. I see then where the power buff idea came from and I’m sure it would be welcomed by many players. But in my opinion it makes the life too easy at this point and troublesome with Cyrus Hemmelfart. It is also a model example of a greedy engine buff which would polarize the game in Gwentfinity to engines+control with little space for other types of cards (especially bronzes) in the future.  

Wild Hunt Hound (3 -> 4)

(/) Not sure what we intellectually accomplish by making the WHH an okay bronze engine, but definitely deserved.

-1 Provsion

Ulrich (11 -> 10)

(+) Ulrich seen no play even in dedicated Firesworn builds lately. Welcomed buff.

Novigradian Justice (10 -> 9)

(/) I don’t know the idea behind this buff, but ok. NJ was already played in Forge Dwarves. Now it becomes more of a consideration also for Syndicate where it could for example become a Brawler on steroids with extra thinning.

Ithlinne Aegli (10 -> 9)

(+) Deserved.

Aglaïs (10 -> 9)

(+) Deserved and interesting when it comes to optimal Golden Nekker build. We want to have Aglais in hand for handbuff and in the deck for possible GN finisher.

The Naglfar (9 -> 8)

(/) Not bad, not necessary either.

Frog Mating Season (8 -> 7)

(/) Buff to Movement (where FMS is necessary), Symbiosis (where it’s a consideration), as well as a bunch of other niche decks (Imagawa Inspirational Ballads, Prism Pendant…). The context of Filavandrel is especially interesting; now Isengrim’s Council or Circle of Life could set up a huge play!

Ferko the Sculptor (8 -> 7)

(+) Compared with counterparts from other factions (Fauve, Vabjorn), Ferko is harder to include because Syndicate builds need cards obeying different functions. Good buff, support to Crimes and consistency overall (finding Sesames…).

Treant Boar (7 -> 6)

(+) Was underwhelming and slow at 7 cost even for Movement standards. 

Fercart (7 -> 6)

(+) Picked by Nik as a new support to Assimilate. Nice buff in many regards; for example, helps Assimilate from blue coin (extra tempo for a tactic and possibly Torres/Calveit draw).

Duchess’ Informant (5 -> 4)

(/) Assimilate won in Nik’s poll on what to buff and Informant wasn’t the most stupid card to pick to satisfy baboons and not break the game. High reward bronze card with a bit of risk if topdecked. Wasn’t played outside 1x copy for Artorius/Braathens in Assimilate. Now frees 1 provision in Ass and becomes a tech choice for other NG decks as well; Operator shenanigans become more tempting too.

Breakdown And Origins

In this Balance Council we witnessed the birth of Chinese Balance Comitee, where 8 notable CN players suggest changes to community to better align votes (check out their vod). Let’s see who influenced balance changes in what extent:

Fast breakdown of changes origins done by Matol.

(Similar work has also been done by CN community in a vod)

Nik_r(K): 18
Metallic Danny(D): 8
China Coalition(C): 7
Necrotal(N): 5

Does so high influence of RU community come from the difference in playerbase size? Yes. In the Top500 of Pro Ladder there was almost 10x more Russians, 4x more Chinese and 2.5x more Ukrainians than Polish players. Meanwhile PL high ladder base is still ~1.5x bigger than US (pictures under links from Nimbot by Nimporte).


  • With the lack of standing out nerf targets in PS Renfri and Double Madoc, both of these decks got overnerfed with multiple changes. Many of those are extremely lazy, killing a card to get an instant meta shift.
  • Stockpile with Temerian Infantries got fewer and better directed nerfs. The way it is supposed to be with meta decks. In spite of a couple of nerfs, Northern Realms would still be a strong faction.
  • Many nerfs discentivize experiments with new decks and due to lack of good nerf targets come from sentiment rather than real balance considerations. 
  • Stuff to try out: 
    • Monsters | –
    • Northern Realms | Knights
    • Nilfgaard | Assimilate, Spotters Spam, Operator + Informant combo decks (for example Practitioners spam), Illusionists into NG Knights spam with Triss: Meteor Shower, Spies…
    • Skellige | Shupe Lippy (Radeyah +1 power, Reckless Flurry +1 provision)
    • Scoia’tael | Movement Nekker, Handbuff Nekker, Gift with Filavandrel, PS ST Witchers with Filavandrel
    • Syndicate | multiple buffs, but especially Devotion Firesworn


  • The overnerf story from the 1st Balance Council repeated itself for the first time. In my opinion it’s way dumber than back then because there are fewer changes and more experience and coordination in the community. Many nerfs are lazy, of type: “Is this card played anywhere but [disliked meta deck]?” – “No, let’s kill it”. That’s for example the case of Madoc and Sappers. They could be played in thematic ST Dragons or control oriented Reckless Flurry. But these are not meta decks, so we assume they do not exist. We kill these cards and limit variety in the game without even doing basic math balance considerations. Madoc is a sub meta level card due to the quality of bomb cards, considerable almost exclusively in decks where bombs damage could be supported with leader for removal. Sappers are worth about 3 + quality of average topdeck on deploy and if somehow stick on the board could improve the value of other bombs, so they may even start to play on power vs provision curve. As we don’t want to play many bombs in the decisive round (outside Double Madoc), Sappers would be Round 1 card, where they also help to thin the deck a bit. The only troublesome part about Sapper is the combination with Slave Drivers, where we suddenly get access to effectively 4 power Sapper costing 1 provision less. Note that power nerf to Sapper changes nothing to this value.
  • To avoid more overnerfs in the future we need to do basic math have more communication between balance groups (Nik_r, MetallicDanny, China…). This time we had a typical case where too few nerfs were natural to make, about 5/20. The rest of the changes was mostly used to overnerf two disliked popular decks, with exception of a few leader buffs. To choose proper nerfs we have to think of a bigger picture and uniformly nerf cards which are simply strong but not troublesome right now.
  • I didn’t widely share my votes this time, nor commented changes suggested by influencers when they got released. If I’d have time I’d try to be more active in the future and make some impact.


Hope you had a good read!

Apparently I like to write Balance Patch Reviews again, maybe because got triggered by some changes. Please, don’t make it repeat!