Gwent Community Patch January 2024 – Review

Introduction

In this article I’d review Gwent: The Witcher Card Game Community Patch January 2024 generated by democratic voting via Balance Council tool. I’d analyze the patch change-by-change (some of the changes made, especially nerfs, were also discussed in my suggestions article).

Thanks to Reddit user ikz_pastor we have a comprehensive overview of votes made by many influential Gwent players. There is also a vod including notable CN players votes. With pitchforks ready and patch release discussion on Reddit opened, let’s look into the balance council results.

Balance Council Results

Nerf Brackets

(!) – buffs which I like
(?) – change which I dislike
(F) – don’t know if like or not, but let’s pray

-1 Power

King Demavend III (7 -> 6)

I advocated for provision nerf instead, so that Demavend plays into tall punish after Inspired Zeal charge is used.


Regis: Bloodlust (20 -> 19)

Good change, removing a bit of red coin reach abuse from this card as well as some power from absurdly point efficient combo with Ozzrel.


Radovid: Judgment (6 -> 5)

Good change.


Cave Troll (7 -> 6)

Advocated by various Russian content creators. Sabbath abuse with Defender would be less of an issue. At the same time there is a scent of Reavers Hunters nerf to 1 power in this change; now Cave Troll played outside Sabbath abuse becomes just a very weak card. I hate defenders, but have mixed feelings about this change.


Frenzied D’ao (7 -> 6)

Deserved. Now need to think what control could we buff instead or what engines nerf.


Dennis Cranmer (7 -> 6)

Good change, Dennis was always a very good card (for example was the sole reason for players like Redrame to try Golden Nekker Dwarves in the first half of 2023). Now with reworked Armorer’s Workshop and newly released Mahakam Pass, he just became too easy to setup also outside dedicated archetypes.


Vildkaarl (5 -> 4)

Now could be transformed with Svalblod Totem and requires one less ping from Ursine Ritual. I’m not a fan of this change, because it removes a bit of flavor and uniqueness from this card. Also, sometimes Vildkaarl at 5 power is useful to sink damage from cards like Cerys:Fearless.


Nauzicaa Sergeant (4 -> 3)
Slave Driver (3 -> 2)

NG Soldiers package could never sleep well when the Balance Concil is coming. I see where these nerfs comes from, yet I was fine with old numbers; if I had to nerf one of these cards it would be Segerant by 1 power. I predict both changes get reverted again in the next balance council because of sentiment.


Oxenfurt Scholar (4 -> 3)

Deserved nerf. Would be good to bring some non-abusive 4p bronzes power up in next councils, so that power gap between golds and bronzes, as well as bronzes between different factions becomes smaller.

+1 Provision

👑 Hidden Cache (14 -> 15)

Deserved buff, yet would improve rather linear engine overload decks (Passiflora, In Search Of Forgotten Treasures, Townsfolk + Treasure Huntress; lookup Syndicate leaders article).


👑 Fruits of Ysgith (12 -> 13)

Hopefully it would be the last buff to Fruits of Ysgith provision, because this leader is worth loads of raw points (Monsters leaders article). 


👑 Jackpot (13 -> 14)

(!) I like this buff most of all leaders, because Jackpot enables interesting strategies and combos.


Temple of Melitele: Congregation (13 -> 14)

Provision nerf deserved more because of variance and carryover abuse than performance of this particular card. Sad that 2nd form must suffer for 1st form sins.


Witches’ Sabbath (10 -> 11)

Disincentivize Sabbath abuse, which is oppressive for most decks lacking control.


Magic Compass (10 -> 11)

(?) I guess this change was made to prevent revert to 9 provision cost. Compass wasn’t played in the ladder meta and this change is very bad for creative deckbuilding.


Mutagenerator (8 -> 9)

Good change, win-con cards need win-con cost. Not sure if more nerfs would be needed…


Tempest (6 -> 7)

(?) I wouldn’t nerf a thinning card myself just because its comparable in power with other cards at the same provision cost. In reality Tempest usually doesn’t play for its ceiling raw value and sometimes plays much below.


Thirsty Dame (5 -> 6)

I understand the reasoning behind this change, but I don’t think it would have a good impact and wouldn’t nerf Dame myself. Let NG live. I fear this change (and other NG nerfs) would likely get reverted next patch because of sentiment.


Onager (5 -> 6)

A nerf which hits both engine overload and Priestess with one stone. Worth a try, Onager felt oppressive due to the absurdly high ceiling.

Buffs Brackets

(!) – buffs which I like
(?) – change which I dislike
(F) – don’t know if like or not, but let’s pray

+1 Power

Filavandrel aén Fidháil (4 -> 5)

I commented on this change on Reddit.


Lord Riptide (9 -> 10)

With a plan of provision nerf next, so that Might flavor is kept?


Coral (6 -> 7)

I liked Coral at 6 power so that common damage sometimes helps to deal with her. Apparently, others did not. Coral is very tempo abusive with Mask of Uroboros on blue coin whenever Skellige draws well; 7 power would left many decks disarmed.


Ethereal (4 -> 5)

+1 power on Ethereal is a huge buff; +2 to floor and also Ethereal is harder to remove. Ceiling is huge (~45 points) so that this card going through would just win the game. Would be an autoinclude in Fruits of Ysgith (maybe even combined with Mandrake?!). Brings new life to this card, but shall we really awake demons?


Eskel (3 -> 4)
Lambert (3 -> 4)

(!) Whole trio at 4 power now. I’m excited for this change to experiment with various Witcher decks. Sadly Compass got a weird provision nerf, so that the thinning aspect in SK wouldn’t be so juicy.


Hawker Smuggler (4 -> 5)

Nice buff, this engine would be now more considerable in Handbuff.


Immortal Cavalry (3 -> 4)

Big buff to Roegner decks. Card would surely make it to Golden Nekker, or Musicians variants of Shieldwall. 


Dun Banner (3 -> 4)

(F) Dun Banners seen no play, but this small power buff is really scary. Back in the days DB were played with King Foltest for tempo abuse in Pincer Maneuver Siege. Now with Foltest we potentially get +6 per turn engine in a devotion deck and DB could be revived with Princess Pavetta and play for huge points. Will lead to new decks and has to be monitored.


Cutup Lackey (4 -> 5)

Huge buff to Whoreson Senior. Lonely Lackeys probably still wouldn’t be played much, because Syndicate is stretched for bronzes having specific roles.

-1 Provision

👑 Inspired Zeal (15 -> 14)

A kind of substitute nerf – all overpowered order NR cards couldn’t be nerfed, so the leader accompanying them got hit instead. Understandable change balance-wise, but hopefully temporary until some balance between cards gets found. Another drawback is that one slot in the strongest buffs bracket got blocked this way.


Chapter of Wizards (13 -> 12)

Buff to Alumni and Spell NR. I’m not sure about this change; surely Alumni were underplayed, but this card seems fair to me at 13 cost. After all, we should try to bridge the point gap between golds and bronzes rather than buff crucial golds of greedy decks.


Triss: Telekinesis (11 -> 10)

Okay buff; would make Triss into Bone Talisman in swarms more of a consideration. Or Amorer’s Workshop abuse with Alissa in Scoia’tael 🙂


Geralt: Quen (10 -> 9)

(!) Support for Nekker Witchers / Nekker Midrange with small Witcher package decks and extra shield for King Roegner. Cool.


Fallen Knight (6 -> 5)

(!) Bringing more life to one of the weakest and most support reliant 6p engines. Interesting buff, still would really shine only in Congregate (maybe Cove ‘printing press’ too…) decks.

 

Circle of Life (5 -> 4)

Would be played everywhere in ST as possible no-cost red coin carryover card. Extra synergy with Nature’s Gift and Schirru decks, maybe less with Handbuff, because many versions need units rather than specials in the starting hand.


Sewer Raiders (5 -> 4)
Casino Bouncers (5 -> 4)

More thinning is very welcomed in SY. Sewer Raiders are good at 4 cost, Casino Bouncers just okay, but due to Fee could be created from Eventide Plunder and play as 11 for 4 with double thinning. There is a deck which already runs both of those thinning cards… Golden Nekker Salamander!


Tuirseach Skirmisher (5 -> 4)

(?) So that’s about mine and shinmiri impact on balance changes. Now we would see Skirms regularly played in Warriors just for discard with Mask of Uroboros on blue. If drawn in Round 3, then just discard with Tyr for +4.

Bare-Knuckle Brawler (5 -> 4)

People who voted for the nerf of this card (which was clearly unhealthy on the blue coin in Vice SY) deserve more respect. This card is hard to balance, but power buff was a better direction in my opinion, so that Brawler doesn’t evaporate the board at zero deckbuilding cost.

General Picture And Conclusions

  • The main netdeck of Northern Realms: Inspired Zeal Demavend Mutagenerator, got multiple nerfs: Mutagenerator, Temple of Melitele, Onager, King Demavend, Radovid:Judgement, as well as Inspired Zeal leader ability itself. In spite of this I think NR is still strong, would only get more varied on ladder.
  • The next most nerfed decks are Nilfgaard Soldiers (again…) and… Monsters Sabbath, which saw little play on ladder and performed rather poorly in Gwent Masters Finals. Prophylactic butchering.
  • Amongst buffs, Fruits of Ysgith got double: extra provision and Ethereal +1 power. Also Lord Riptide power buff would support multiple Monsters decks. Skellige Discard package got very improper buffs in my opinion: zero cost Skirmisher and 7 power Coral. Both of these changes are especially bad for Mask Of Uroboros abuse. Witchers decks got Eskel and Lambert +1 power as well as Geralt:Quen -1 provision, which is important for Golden Nekker. Another change which may have a big impact and leads to a new deck is Dun Banner +1 power buff. Handbuff also would be better than before, but probably still without competitive edge. Filavandrel is very strong now, to some extent has… antisynergy if Invigorate is played with normal Handbuff. There is an elementary risk of Torque => Filavandrel, which results in a casino ST special roll. On the other hand Invigorate alone is now enough to bring Filavandrel to 8 provision cost, where Frog Mating Season is available.
  • I’ve seen every change as suggested in the community. I rate this balance council okay overall, although there are a couple of questionable changes, like Magic Compass provision nerf.
  • Three leader ability buffs in +1 provision bracket are surprising for me. I thought the natural card nerfs direction would be more dominant, with 1 or 2 abilities buffs getting through.
  • Almost every change in the December 2023 Balance Council is impactful; no buffs went for gradual improvement of cards far from being played like Milaen or Prince Stennis.

Closure

Hope you enjoyed this patch analysis. See you on ladder in 2024! Also community Gwent World Cup would start this month…